Meet MTV's Artists To Watch 2014!
At the beginning of every year, we like to handpick our favorite up-and-coming Artists To Watch from all genres of music. Twelve months ago, we placed our bets on the likes of Austin Mahone, The Weeknd, Zedd, Jessie Ware, Joey Bada$$, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
WE KNOW, you've probably never heard of ANY of those COMPLETELY unsuccessful musicians.
OK, sarcasm over. Every single member of MTV's Artist To Watch Class of 2013 had a phenomenal year. But, as much as we'd like to proud-cry as we pore over a pile of yearbooks as Vitamin C's "Graduation (Friends Forever)" plays in the background, it's a new year, which mean that we've got a whole new set of soon-to-be household names to introduce you to.
Spanning nearly every musical genre (hip-hop, rock, pop, rap, R&B, EDM, OMGWTFBBQ, etc.), meet MTV's Artist To Watch Class of 2014! Ugh, we told ourselves we wouldn't cry...
Where They're From: London, U.K.
Why They Rule: This alt-rock quartet have played tracks from their masterful debut studio album, 2013's Bad Blood, to sold-out crowds worldwide, which lends further credence to our theory that Dan Smith's soaring tenor vocals are truly the language that knows no borders.
But seriously, their invigorating sound is nearly peerless when it comes to pumping you up. Mix the transcendental melodies of Coldplay with some Thirty Seconds To Mars-sized instrumentals and even a little bit of basso profondo Enya chanting, and you've got a patented Bastille stadium-rocker. Set 'em as your daily alarm, and you'll be primed and ready to absolutely demolish life every day, guaranteed.
What You Need To Do Now: Come alive with a little help from Bastille's "Pompeii" video.
Where They're From: Glasgow, Scotland
Why They Rule: The electro-pop sounds that this Glaswegian synth-pop trio produced on their first studio effort, 2013's The Bones Of What You Believe, are the genre's apotheosis. Seriously, if you were as smart as CHVRCHES... you'd... be CHVRCHES. Related: Our CHVRCHES Stanning knows no bounds.
What You Need To Do Now: Transcend the hollow husk you call reality by watching CHVRCHES' "The Mother We Share" video.
Who: Danny Brown
Where He's From: Detroit
Why He Rules: Well for one, the 32-year-old rapper name-drops Lt. Daniels in the opening line on Old's "Dip," so #obsessed. Beyond that, Danny's got some very unique musical sensibilities that truly set him apart from his peers on the rap scene.
From his Lou Reed-sampling single, "Grown Up" to that literally cartoonish cameo in Bob Dylan's interactive "Like A Rolling Stone" video -- not to mention his stylish, David Bowie-esque Pied Piper persona all day, every day -- Danny's forging a totally unexpected path in hip-hop, one that allows his lyrics to touch on everything from over-prescribing children to "over-prescribing" on a wild night out.
What You Need To Do Now: Watch Danny Brown's "Grown Up" video, and just TRY to imagine what it's like to be inside his head.
Where They're From: Los Angeles
Why They Rule: Musical siblings always make everything better. (We think it's called, like, the HAIM Principle or something?) With the release of their debut studio album, Talking Dreams, last October, the Sierota brothers and sister of alt-pop quartet Echosmith added even more supporting evidence to that extremely scientific theory.
No matter how old you get, there's a certain truth to the titular lyric of "Cool Kids" ("I wish that I could be like the cool kids/ 'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in") that'll tug at your heartstrings. The fact that actual teenagers are performing such music with an authentic, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros kinda folk-pop artistry only ups the #feelings factor.
What You Need To Do Now: Check out Echosmith's "Cool Kids" video, then promptly begin writing fan fiction about discovering you're the lost Sierota sibling.
Who: Fifth Harmony
Where They're From: Season 2, "The X Factor" (pretty sure that's a place)
Why They Rule: Normani, Lauren, Camila, Ally, and Dinah Jane -- otherwise known as Fifth Harmony -- dropped their tightly produced, insanely infectious Better Together EP in October. True to its genre's namesake, that six-track piece of bubblegum will stick to you like crazy.
While Harmonizers stay glued to their Google Alerts for news of 5H's 2014 debut album release, at least they've got tracks like the laid-back "Don't Wanna Dance Alone," the adrenaline-pumping "Leave My Heart Out Of This," and the absolute sugar high that is "Me & My Girls" to keep them company.
What You Need To Do Now: Break up with someone RIGHT NOW so you can relate to Fifth Harmony's "Miss Movin' On" video on the deepest possible level. #SoundAdvice
Where He's From: Sydney, Australia
Why He Rules: Much like Vegemite, 22-year-old Flume (aka Harley Streten) is HUGE in his native Australia. Unlike Vegemite, however, this EDM-maker's hypnotically trance-like catalog is exactly what Americans want to consume. (Sorry, Vegemite, we just can't with you.)
We imagine the 22-year-old's American takeover will look something like his video for "Insane" featuring Moon Holiday. Amidst the pulsing synth and "Akira"-meets-"2001: A Space Odyssey" visuals, the hook drones on: "The only risk is that you'll go insane." That's it? COOL WITH US, FLUME.
What You Need To Do Now: Drift off this plane to the tune of Flume's "Sleepless" video.
Who: Jake Miller
Where He's From: Miami
Why He Rules: This 21-year-old pop crooner's got everything you could want in an artist. Dually talented at singing and rapping, Jake alternates which talent he favors from track to track. On "Collide," our guy unleashes a total "Starships"-meets-"Digital Love" summertime banger, yet on "A Million Lives," he spits intensely personal verses inspired by the lives of individual fans.
And, that's not even mentioning Jake's
BEAUTIFUL GUNS OMFG very charismatic stage presence. Check out his debut album, 2013's Us Against Them, if you haven't yet.
What You Need To Do Now: Play Jake Miller's "Collide" video. Your day will instantly get better. Trust us.
Who: Jhené Aiko
Where She's From: Los Angeles, CA
Why She Rules: After lending her gorgeous, simmering vocals to A listers like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, J. Cole, and Big Sean, Jhené's finally gonna get the solo spotlight she deserves once her debut LP, Souled Out, drops later this year.
Also, have you listened to her track on Solange's Saint Heron compilation, "Drinking And Driving"? I mean, HAVE YOU EVEN?
What You Need To Do Now: Is your life as romantic and serene as Jhené Aiko's "Bed Peace" video featuring Childish Gambino yet? Work on that.
Who: Martin Garrix
Where He's From: Amsterdam
Why He Rules: In 2013, Martin's smash hit, "Animals," took the top spot on Beatport, making him the youngest artist ever to nab that spot.
"Youngest," eh? Just how old is he? Let's see... Oh my God, this EDM prodigy has conquered the electronic music world, and he's only 17 years old. BRB, life crisis.
What You Need To Do Now: Pump Martin Garrix's "Animals" video, and throw an impromptu dance party with any casual bystander. We don't care if it's your mom. GO.
Who: Tori Kelly
Where She's From: Wildomar, CA
Why She Rules: This 21-year-old singer-songwriter has racked up more than 60 million YouTube views, all due to her soaring vocals and skillful guitar-playing. (I mean, that "P.Y.T." cover? HOLY SH*T.)
Imagine if you combined Nelly Furtado's earlier acoustic sensibilities with a technically skilled voice capable of some never-ending runs à la Jojo. Oh wait, YOU DON'T HAVE TO because Tori Kelly exists.
What You Need To Do Now: Prep a bowl of feelings-flavored comfort food. After one view of Tori Kelly's "Dear No One" video, you'll need it.
Who: Vic Mensa
Where He's From: Chicago
Why He Rules: I mean, this photo on the 20-year-old musician's Tumblr alone. But aside from that, Vic's critically acclaimed 2013 mixtape, INNANETAPE, sounds like the greatest, most aimless day ever. The Stevie Wonder-esque, feel-good hooks on "Orange Soda" (think Frank Ocean's "Sweet Life") alone will burrow their way so far into your head, they're basically filing for a change of address.
Also, try (and fail) to keep a tally of all the pop-cultural references Vic name-drops on "Lovely Day." (He alludes to "Moulin Rouge," "Top Gun," and "Rugrats" all in the span of about five seconds.) Along with Angel Haze's "Echelon (It's My Way)," this track's easily one of the most accurate sonic representations of the Tumblr generation. #StatementsThatWillSurelyGoOverWellOnTumblr
What You Need To Do Now: Try to keep up with Vic Mensa's "Lovely Day" video.
Where They're From: Manchester, U.K.
Why They Rule: Have you seen this British rock foursome's "Make Out" video, which parodies the likes of Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry? Umm, we'll take our pop with a side of meta any day.
What You Need To Do Now: Watch Rixton's "Make Out" video.
Photo credit: MTV, Virgin, Glassnote Entertainment Group, Fool's Gold, Warner Bros., Epic, Mom + Pop, Entertainment One, Def Jam, Republic, Capitol, Vic Mensa, Interscope