Discover MTV’s 13 Artists To Watch of 2013.
Last year around this time, we threw our support into up-and-coming artists like Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Alabama Shakes, Frank Ocean and fun. And at the risk of pulling a humble brag, we’d just like to point out that the latter three of those aforementioned artists now have 15 Grammy nominations among them. And now we’re delving into a new batch of emerging artists for 2013, a mission we’re (understandably) calling “MTV Artist to Watch.” Spanning a diverse range of genres — from EDM to hip-hop, pop, and indie rock — we’ll be spending 2013 bringing you live performances and brand-new videos as well as exclusive insider access to this new crop of artists and their music.
To kick off MTV’s 2013 “Artist to Watch” short list, get to know 13 of our favorite artists on the rise, some of whom you might even recognize (hello, Mahonies!). And clear out some space on your hard drive/ phone/ music database of choice, because you’re going to want to hear a lot more from these acts this year.
+ ALT-J: British indie-rock newcomers Alt-J have a taste for the obscure. Named for the keyboard shortcut used on Apple OS X to insert the Greek letter Delta (we told you things were about to get nerdy), Alt-J find a joyous medium of folk, pop, hip-hop, trip-hop, indie-rock quirk, and synth riffs — a winning combination featured on 2012’s full-length debut, An Awesome Wave, which has won the band the 2012 British Mercury Prize and was announced as BBC Radio 6 Music Album of the Year 2012. You know what? Consider us all nerds now. + WATCH ALT-J’S MTV HIVE ’LIVE IN BOSTON’ PERFORMANCE.
+ AUSTIN MAHONE: At just 16 years old, pop boy wonder Austin Mahone isn’t just a Justin Bieber impersonator — dude has racked up some major cred of his own (just count the YouTube views). In 2012 alone, the “Say Somethin’” singer got picked up by Chase/Universal Republic, dropped a “Buzzworthy Live” acoustic in our studio, got himself a sweet ride, developed a pop star-appropriate six-pack, released the brand-new single “Say You’re Just A Friend” (featuring Flo Rida!), announced his opening tour dates with TAYLOR SWIFT, and yes, met Justin Bieber. After fawning over Austin’s smooth vocals all last year, we’re convinced this teenage sweetheart will be breaking plenty more hearts in the months to come. + WATCH AUSTIN MAHONE’S ’SAY SOMETHIN” VIDEO.
+ BECKY G: Even if her name sounds unfamiliar, you may have heard 15-year-old singer, songwriter, and rapper Becky G before — she recently starred in Cher Lloyd’s best friend anthem, “Oath,” AND even costarred in Cody Simpson’s “Wish U Were Here” video. Citing influence from names like Katy Perry, Lauryn Hill, TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, and Bruno Mars, the fast-talking teenage firecracker got her start in the industry unusually early. By 13 Becky taught herself to play the guitar AND began working with production team The Jam (Brandy, JoJo) on new tracks like “Novacane,” “Otis,” and “Lighters.” If the above is any indication of her success, we’re sure this pop-star sidekick will be taking center stage in no time. + WATCH BECKY G’S ’PROBLEM (THE MONSTER REMIX)’ VIDEO FEATURING WILL.I.AM.
+ GOLD FIELDS: We knew we were onto a good thing after listening to (ahem, dancing like CRAZY to) Aussie hook masters Gold Fields. Channeling influences from like-minded dance floor acts Cut Copy (also from Australia!) and Bloc Party, the indie quartet have circled the rhythmic globe, expertly remixing Yelle’s “Chimie Physique” and Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk” and churning out their own synth-driven playlist staples like the harmonious “Treehouse” and the glossily produced “Dark Again.” Though they’ve only just been signed to Astralwerks Records (Hot Chip, Kraftwerk), Gold Fields have plenty to look forward to in 2013, what with the release of their debut album, Black Sun. We’re sure that this opening act will be catapulted to headliner before the year is out. + WATCH GOLD FIELD’S ’DARK AGAIN’ VIDEO.
+ HUNTER HAYES: Up-and-coming country crooner Hunter Hayes doesn’t just have age on his side (he’s only 21!), but he’s been closing in on the industry vets for quite some time. The multi-instrumentalist got his start performing on shows like “Maury,” “Rosie O’Donnell,” “Figure It Out,” and “America’s Most Talented Kids,” and went on to co-write “Play” for country staples Rascal Flatts and tour with pop crossover Taylor Swift in 2011. Uh, how’s that for a résumé? Now signed to Atlantic Records, Hunter’s been steadily promoting his self-titled debut, and has been nominated for THREE 2013 Grammy Awards including “Best New Artist.” + WATCH HUNTER HAYES’ ’WANTED’ VIDEO.
Check out more Artists To Watch in 2013 after the jump!
+ JESSIE WARE: We’ve been “devoted” to soulful British vocalist Jessie Ware for a while now, especially after hearing her guest spot on SBTRKT’s electro debut, then later, on her excellent full-length debut, Devotion. In addition to touring with the likes of U.K. producer and singer Jack Peñate, Jessie’s laid-back, slow-burning style have received comparisons to everyone from Sade, Little Dragon, and Robyn, and Devotion even went on to chart in the Top 5, earn rave reviews from the Guardian and the NME, and was nominated for the British Mercury Prize. Is it any wonder we’re still devoted?
+ JOEY BADA$$: This 17-year-old rapper may have been born in the mid ’90s (guh), but he and the Brooklyn-based artist collective “the Progressive Era” (the Pro Era for short) are dedicated to honoring vintage hip-hop. Gaining speed after his video for “Survival Tactics” hit the web, Joey went on to released his critically acclaimed record 1999 in the summer of 2012. Lauded for his maturity at such a young age, Joey frequently references samples from hip-hop greats before him like MF Doom, Lord Finesse, 2Pac, and the late J Dilla. And if things keep going the way they are for the young MC, Joey’s name is bound to top the “greats” list, too. + WATCH JOEY BADA$$’S ’WAVES’ VIDEO.
+ MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS: Seattle-based rapper Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) may have been circling the scene since 2000 (he once went by Professor Macklemore), but his recent widespread recognition is probably thanks in part to his collabos with producer Ryan Lewis. The pair first teamed up in 2008 and have worked closely together ever since, releasing albums such as 2009’s The VS. EP, 2012’s The Heist (which came in at No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes download charts and No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts), and a selection of other singles, such as the tear-jerking tolerance jam, “Same Love.” + WATCH MACKLEMORE FEATURING RYAN LEWIS PERFORM ’THRIFT SHOP’ WITH WANZ ON VH1’S ’BIG MORNING BUZZ.’
+ ROBERT DELONG: DIY mastermind, singer-songwriter, and self-proclaimed philosophizer Robert DeLong has officially captured audiences with his multifaceted brand of EDM, infusing synth, jazz, pop, and even dubstep all into one rhythmic cocktail. The instrumentalist is well known to use drums, keyboards, laptops, drum pads (and pretty much everything else available) to create a stunning set of jams (see: “Global Concepts,” “Happy,” and “What Did You Think About”), and we’re positive there’s plenty more on the horizon. Just listen to 2012’s Global Concepts EP, then tell us you’re not a Robert DeLong convert. + WATCH ROBERT DELONG’S ’GLOBAL CONCEPTS’ VIDEO.
+ TWENTY | ONE | PILOTS: Genre mashers Twenty | One | Pilots are pretty much out to please everybody on the musical spectrum. Finding new ways to incorporate hip-hop, piano-rock, and pure, unbridled pop in their music (best seen on tracks like the crazy energetic “Holding On To You,” “Guns For Hands,” and the rest of their major-label debut, Vessel) the Columbus-based two-piece aren’t afraid to get a little experimental (both on stage and in their music videos), something we’re incredibly excited to witness as the year unfolds.
+ TRINIDAD JAMES: The lyrically and sartorially colorful Trinidad James may as well be the King Midas of the hip-hop world: The stylish rapper is known for peppering himself with all manner of gold teeth, grills, rings, cash, shades, plus plenty more dodads and trinkets that remind us the similarly adorned Wiz Khalifa or Lil Wayne. Yep, it’s probably safe to assume that Trinidadian rapper has a thing for gold, naming his premiere singles “All Gold Everything” and “Gold On My Macbook.” Recently signed to iconic hip-hop label Def Jam, Trinidad has already garnered ‘net buzz AND peer praise: “Trinidad James is spitting that fire right now,” MMG cohort Meek Mill has said in an interview. “He’s shining, he’s living, he’s buzzing fast. He’s doing his thing. All love. You know what I’m saying? He’s a cool homie.” + WATCH TRINIDAD JAMES’ ’ALL GOLD EVERYTHING’ VIDEO.
+ THE WEEKND: Brooding R&B singer Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) may have closed out 2012 with a critically acclaimed major-label debut, Trilogy (which in addition to a few new tracks, included remastered songs from three prior mixtapes, House Of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence), but his two-year-old internet/industry buzz indicates that Abel should have no trouble conquering the new year either. The Canadian singer has seen Trilogy go gold, and unleashed a remarkable set of new, emotionally charged songs like “Twenty Eight,” “Valerie,” and “Til Dawn (Here Comes The Sun),” not to mention participated in a number of high-profile collabs with hip-hop’s major players, such as fellow Canadian rapper Drake and Wiz Khalifa. + WATCH THE WEEKND’S ’THE ZONE’ VIDEO.
+ ZEDD: Though his name may evoke images of European bottled water, this EDM wiz kid’s name will be recognizable soon enough. Helping to carry dubstep-driven, head-spinning electro jams well into 2013, Russian-German electronic dance music producer Zedd (aka Anton Zaslavski or German for “get ready to dance your a** off,” if you like) got his start remixing a TON of pop stars’ songs (dude’s tackled songs by Black Eyed Peas, and Skrillex, to name a few), and even co-produced Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj’s “Beauty And A Beat” with pop mastermind Max Martin. You may have even heard Lady Gaga herself shouting the 23-year-old electro artist’s name off the rooftops — she and Zedd have been hard at work writing songs that may appear on her upcoming (and highly anticipated) album, ARTPOP. In addition to his MULTIPLE remixes, Zedd has released his own album, 2012’s Clarity via Interscope records. + WATCH ZEDD’S ’STACHE’ VIDEO.