After a somewhat bleak hiatus, where the musical landscape was drab and detached, good (pop) music is suddenly flaring back into action again. Refreshingly, talented artists are being given a pedestal in popular media and are being appreciated at an international level, rather than being shoved away into the ‘indie’ category and never quite ‘making it’. 2012 was the boost that many of them needed, and now 2013 is the exciting year to see what these new artists have to offer or which seasoned performers will make a triumphant comeback after a few quiet years. This my list of the top 13 artists that I am eagerly watching this year, ranging from music veterans to breakthrough artists. Some have new albums planned for release in 2013 and some are artists who are worth watching this year due to their continuous progress.
13) Paramore’s new album
To be released on April the 9th (the American release date, presumably), Paramore’s self-titled release will hopefully continue their string of powerful albums. With their last album being all the way back in 2009 and with the reshuffling of the band members, hopefully Paramore will come up out rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to rock. Their 2009 album, Brand New Eyes, managed to balance along the tightrope between being commercially successful and still musically brilliant, with gorgeous songs like All I Wanted, Misguided Ghosts and the huge hit, The Only Exception, proving that you can be both successful and talented. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new band lineup perform over the course of a whole album, and what else the beautiful Hayley Williams has up her sleeve in regards to vocal performance and lyrics.
12) Mumford & Sons’ future
Last year’s Babel propelled Mumford & Sons all the way up to the stratosphere. Touring all around the world, filling arenas with hordes of passionate fans who know every single word of every single song, the humble folk band surely couldn’t have imagined their style of music gaining such a global fan base. Luckily, the world has embraced Mumford & Sons with arms wide open, sending both their debut album Sigh No More and 2012’s release Babel into the modern history books as some of the best albums to come out of the UK recently. Surely still buzzing from their recent success, 2013 sees further touring, media exposure and success for Mumford & Sons. Despite not having any records scheduled for release in 2013, Mumford & Sons are still one of those bands that millions, including myself, are watching eagerly for any further sparks of genius.
11) Fun.’s Future
Another band that has been steadfastly working away in the music industry for years but has only really penetrated into the public consciousness recently is the brilliantly named fun. They certainly have a hard task ahead of them this year when it comes to topping what they produced last year. With such huge (and genuinely beautiful) anthems such as the pumping We Are Young, the solemn Some Nights & the rousing Carry On, fun. were responsible for some of the biggest and most enjoyable hits of 2012. No new releases are scheduled for 2013, but we can still expect a lot from this New York trio, who are wildly touring the world and uploading videos and songs regularly.
10) The Future of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
To say that 2012 was incredible for this hip hop duo is an understatement. Blasting into our speakers with the refreshingly poetic Same Love and the pulsating Thrift Shop, to name just a few, this pair present hip hop in a new light, whilst retaining the roots of the genre. Blaring trumpets, unique subject matter, soothing piano and surpisingly gentle rapping are quite unusual to see in hip hop or rap, which is what set Macklemore & Ryan Lewis apart from the rest.
There is no doubt that as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tour the world (including Australia in February: yay!), they will continue to deliver both meaningful songs which touch on equality and troubled childhoods and also energetic anthems that are about a little more than just booze and cars. This is what makes 2013 a particularly exciting year for the duo, and has fans eagerly anticipating their next cinematic music video and witty track.
9) Predictions for Rizzle Kicks
Well…. 2013 is waiting for these kids. The past two years have been a wild ride for the Brighton “indie-pop” duo. Their music, complete with witty rapping, smooth vocals and spirit-lifting melodies, appeals to the older generation who grew up as hip hop first began to emerge out of America and also the younger generation who are desperately seeking something energetic that isn’t completely mindless. The world’s been missing music like this, and who would have thought that two teens from the south of England would fill the gaping whole in our musical diets? Now in their 20s, Rizzle Kicks are consistently releasing new music videos, live clips, collaborations and new tracks full of their brilliantly simple lyrics. The pair are practically sprinting towards their dazzlingly bright future. Below is a video of one of their biggest hits, and also one of their best songs, Mama Do the Hump, off their debut album Stereotypical (in an of itself a brilliant name for an album, showing some of their lyrical skill)
8) Vampire Weekend’s new record
The bright spark that is indie band Vampire Weekend is back to stun yet again when their third album comes out, due for the 7th of May. As yet untitled, we can bet that this album will capture a thousand different cultures yet loudly fly the flag for New York as the band’s previous releases have done. Ezra Koenig’s unpretentious voice combined with the deceptively simple melodies always modestly become hits, yet there is still enough integrity left within the band for the fans to feel part of something special as they devour song after song. With Vampire Weekend being quite inactive lately, fans have certainly been waiting a long time to hear from their heroes, and I am quite sure that the band will not disappoint once the 7th of May rolls around.
7) Ed Sheeran’s Continued Success
Ed Sheeran must still be dizzy from his whirlwind 2012. But no, he’s still not slowing down. In the middle of a worldwide tour as I write, the 21 year old delivered so much with his debut album (2011’s ‘+’) and has just finished releasing a string of incredible videos for some of the album’s highlights. Already a powerhouse in modern music and having collaborated with a string of incredible artists, none of us can comprehend what he is capable of in the year to come. Below is an incredible live performance filmed at Hinge Studios in Chicago that proves why we should all be very, very excited about 2013:
6) San Cisco’s Singles
A modest Western Australian band, San Cisco’s music is a sampling of pop and indie delicacies. Their bright and unapologetically enthusiastic tunes have had thousands keen to see what the four-piece can deliver next. With their debut album causing quite a stir in late 2012, a string of short and sweet music videos and a song featured in a Vodafone advertisement, things are certainly on the upwards trajectory for San Cisco. They’ve given us a glimpse of their first big project of 2013: a video for the song Fred Astaire, which is to be debuted soon. This heralds a thrilling new phase for the youngsters from Fremantle.
5) Johnny Marr’s first solo album
When compared to the rest of the artists in this list, Johnny Marr is perhaps the most obvious misfit among the group. The guitarist is a veteran of the music industry, and quite rightly hailed as a legend. Despite playing in bands since his teens (most notably in The Smiths between 1982 and 1987, being responsible for some of the most important moments in British rock history and continuously demonstrating his genius on the guitar) this year will see Johnny Marr’s first ever solo album.
The Messenger is due for release on the 25th of February, and legions of devoted Johnny Marr admirers are eagerly awaiting it. I expect the record to be a culmination of his 30+ years of brilliant work, yet for it to be his shining moment, considering that the record is all his this time. Marr has always been revered and respected in everything that he has previously done, but now it’s all about him. Before the album is unveiled, the single Upstarts will be released on the 18th of February. Let’s see what the alternative legend can bring when given the stage all to himself.
4) The Rising Star of Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey looks every part the glamorous superstar, and her 2012 album Born to Die only served to further promote that image. The album boasted powerful ballads and incredible melodies, allowing Del Rey to explore the ranges of her voice and stun with her moving lyrics. 2013 will undoubtedly see her experimenting and extending what she can do musically. Already, it’s evident that her voice is only improving. When comparing live performances from early 2012 and the gushing reviews that she regularly receives from recent concerts, it’s clear to see that her singing abilities have developed and matured immensely in just a year. Her mind’s landscape is fascinating, poetic and morbid, and only her lyrics can give us an exclusive glimpse of this. 2013 can only mean more and more success for this incredible artist.
3) Devlin’s Epic Rap Record
Dagenham’s very own Devlin woke the sterile British rap scene with his 2010 album Bud, Sweat and Beers and since then has only gone from strength to strength. Collaborating with artists such as Labrinth, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Example and many more, his fusion of meaningful grime and inviting hip hop is clearly proving successful. His new album, A Moving Picture, is available to pre-order from ITunes on the 4th of February, and the first single from said album, Rewind, is available on the 27th of January (the video for Rewind is here). The album will undoubtedly touch upon the universal themes that Devlin is renowned for writing about, and will definitely not lack passion. This is one of the albums that I’m putting aside coins for in my piggy bank (metaphorically), and will rush out to the stores to buy as soon as it hits Australian shelves.
2) Janet Devlin’s debut
First of all: no, there’s no relation between Janet Devlin and the aforementioned rapper Devlin. Now that that’s cleared, time to talk about all that 2013 holds in store for Janet, or rather, what she holds in store for us. Since alerting the world of her talent on X-Factor, Janet has spent a year or so working exclusively on her own material. She has just amassed enough funds on www.pledgemusic.com to release her debut album in March. The Irish sweetheart possesses a wholesome and unadorned voice, complete with quirks and vocal ‘hiccups’ which makes her singing style all that more enjoyable. Listening to her sing and seeing the way that she behaves on stage immediately brings a smile to the viewer’s face, because of her quietly proud mannerisms. Her own songwriting talent is evident, which makes her upcoming album that much more of a must-have. Below is a clip of her performing two original works at the legendary Steelworks Studios:
aaaaaand finally, my most anticipated new release of 2013 is….
1) The Mend’s Debut Album
The Mend are probably one of the lesser-known acts on this list, yet by far the one that I am anticipating the most this year. 2012 was when success struck them, after they gained recognition and made it to the finals of Britain’s Got Talent. Losing the competition to a woman with enough time on her hands to do tricks with her dog didn’t bring The Mend down. Instead, they set about creating more of their own songs, adding to the original songs that they already had in their arsenal. With their debut album due for release sometime this year, the full scope of their melodies and harmonies will finally be unveiled to the world. Their debut single, Where Were You, is available to preorder now from ITunes, giving a great glimpse into what the EP will include (to be released on the 24th of March). By far the most unique and vocally diverse group in decades, The Mend have all the hallmarks of those destined for stardom, yet enough common sense, creativity and originality not to blend into the big mainstream car-crash that is JLS and The Wanted. Below is a video of The Mend performing an original song live at Steelworks Studios:
These are the albums and acts that I am most eagerly awaiting this year, and I hope that you too find some of these enjoyable.