We've told you in past years to watch out for Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Ellie Goulding, Surfer Blood, Local Natives and Phantogram, so with much excitement we're proud to give you our list of Artists to Watch for in 2011.
Hands down the British are the most accomplished at sorting out the best new musicians by way of the BBC Sound of 2011, for which Jessie J has been nominated, and the Critics Choice BRIT Award, which Jessie J has just won. Jessie J started as a songwriter, writing hits for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown and Alicia Keys. Her destructively catchy single "Dude It Like A Dude" (youtube), a song which makes more sense when you learn she's a lesbian, was released in November and has already spread like wildfire. However, I chose to post the above video to display just how seriously talented this girl is. There's no vocal editing or unnecessary autotune there, that's her just singing in her bedroom, and it's amazing. She's got the vocals of Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson combined with the come-at-me-bro attitude of Nicki Minaj. Don't be surprised if she becomes unstoppable in 2011.
The Vaccines have also made a name for themselves across the pond, also earning a spot on BBC's Sound of 2011 and gaining plenty of attention for their 60's-esque light grunge alternative rock. In a bit of a sounds-like-someone-sold-their-soul story, the band formed in June 2010, released a demo weeks later, had it awarded "Hottest Record in the World" by Zane Lowe by August, played one gig in Leicester and then set off for their first UK tour, ending in their first London performance which sold out (they had to turn 200 people away) and played to an audience which included Alex Kapranos (lead singer of Franz Ferdinand), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) and Clash. While Lise is unsure what they'd really sound like if they lowered the reverb a bit, there's no doubt they have the power of supreme hype behind them, and they haven't even released a record yet.
Foster the People
Foster The People is an unsigned LA-based indie-pop band who formed in 2009 and got a bump in popularity after some SXSW performances and Hype Machine love this year. They are set on finishing their record and releasing their first three singles on iTunes later this month before going on California/Australia tour (apparently Australia's ahead of the pack). If their record holds just a few tracks as sweetly crafted as the sensation above, no doubt you'll be hearing them on the radio and reading about them on 2011's Best Albums lists.
In 2007, at the age of 15, missing-Olsen Sky Ferreira went ahead and promoted herself at clubs in LA, which must've done something because two years later she was signed to Parlophone. Now, after nearly four years of work and two relatively successful singles, Sky Ferreira will release her debut album next week. Although this one could be a flash in the pan, when you start off with this much glitter, production and money-backing early on in your career, there's always some way of bouncing back via home acoustic roots method if things don't catch on. Only time will tell how this one ends up.
Tennis is comprised of husband-and-wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. In case you haven't heard the story, one day the two decided to leave their Denver town and travel around the world by sailboat for eight months. When they returned, they poked around with the idea of creating an indie rock band and sing all about their adventures, and in the end said, "why not?" 2010 saw a release of a couple of these tracks, with "Marathon" being their greatest hit on the internet (that video above has over 100,000 views). They still need to put together more songs before setting a full release date, but if they can keep the adoration they've gotten this far, they'll be singing their indie pop sea stories for us all throughout 2011.
Tropical Folk Pop. That's right, we said Tropical Folk Pop. Considering that many of those who remember watching Lion King in the theater are now twenty-something hipsters, this is one of the most brilliant combination we can think of. Ben Schneider, aka Lord Huron, self-released two EPs this year containing the most simply lush and joy-expelling tracks we've come across in a long while. With rhythms shifting, light and playful, and arpeggios swarming like fireflies, Lord Huron's music rises majestically and takes you into a wispy dream world of magic. The boy - er, Lord- is making four small stops to play live alongside Tennis (above) this year, and given the complexity of his instrumentation, everyone is eager to find out what that'll be like. We can't wait for a full length which will hopefully see the light of day in 2011, but until then, we'll be keeping our ears open for more Simba-inspired music.
Ugh, we hate ourselves, but we have to put ten-year old Willow Smith on this list. Daughter of Hollywood stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Willow released her first whiplash-inducing single in September of 2010 and then got signed by Jay-Z's label after everyone on the internet became obsessed with the hypnotic and sassy track. She performed her signature song on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest (it hurt to type that) and although her second leaked song "Rockstar" failed to make the same splash as "Whip My Hair," no doubt eyes will be on this little one to see what she can bring in 2011.
The blogsphere just loves Warpaint right now. Another LA group, this four-women experimental art rock group released their first full length The Fool in October and by virtue of momentous hype Lise can't even remember what she thought of them the first time she heard them. All new-ness of experiencing Warpaint has been moved to "Oh yeah, that track's by Warpaint" which must mean something good for the band that formed in 2004.