2012 brought the music industry some unique new artists who renewed our faith in music with their eclectic style and true substance. It also showed us that music lovers are still willing to pay for the music (or the image) that they love with both new and already established artists leading the charts and making bank like never before. Now that the year is coming to a close check out the Hottest Artists of 2012 that made the world listen up and take notice.
Elle’s soulful raspy voice and colorful funky style was introduced to the masses in 2010 when she became one of the first artists to be featured in BET’s Music Matters campaign. Her first single “Only Wanna Give it to You” featured rapper J.Cole (the two went to college together) and became a radio hit. Her second single fared even better. Elle’s jazz tinged pop/rnb is a refreshing drink lemonade in a fridge full of over saturated sugar water, that’s got us all asking for a refill.
Miguel’s music is a sonic fusion of electronic r&b, funk-rock, and hip-hop that culminates in a surge of undeniable s e x y. His voice is smooth, his lyrics are sultry, and he ain’t hard on the eyes either. This half-Mexican, half-Black crooner came to prominence as his first single “All I Want is You” gradually gained radio play between 2010-2011, leading to his second single “Sure Thing” which reached No.1. His debut album All I Want is You became a sleeper hit, making its way back unto the charts in 2011 after it’s initial 2010 release was a dud. But 2012 has been Miguel’s best year thus far. He’s been busy playing award shows, touring, and releasing his critically acclaimed second album, Kaleidoscope Dream.
The British girl with the big soulful voice blew the world away when she stepped on the scene in 2008. Her debut album 19 was certified 4 times platinum in the UK and double platinum in the US only to be surpassed by the success of her sophomore album, 21, which was certified Diamond in the US, and sold over 25 million copies world wide. At the 2012 Grammy’s Adele swept in every category she was nominated, winning six awards on top of the two Grammy’s she had already acquired for her debut album in 2009. The passionate songbird once again received acclaim, this time for her James Bond theme song “Skyfall” created for the latest Bond film of the same title. This December Billboard magazine named Adele artist of the year and her 21 best album of the year. She is the first artist to achieve both accolades two years in a row.
Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia/Ultra mixtape presented the world to a musical enigma. Critics and music lovers the Internet over were hard-pressed to pin down his style, and it was a welcome change. His music is raw, real, and relatable. His two singles “Novacane” and “Swim Good” charted success in 2011 but the real headline is in Ocean’s open letter in 2012 detailing his experience with unrequited love for another man. It was a shocking admission that endeared him to many people for his courageous act. It also exposed him to an even bigger audience.
What year isn’t the best year ever for Taylor Swift? Her latest album Red sold 1.2 million copies in its first week and became her third number one album, making it the second highest debut for a female artist, behind Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again. Swift’s first single from the record “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was an instant commercial hit after her much anticipated though unspectacular performance of the song at the 2012 VMA’s.
Out the gate only a year, The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) has made a huge impact on listeners, being called the “songbird of his generation” by The Source and the “best musical talent since Michael Jackson” by John Norris of MTV. His free nine-track album House of Balloons was released in March 2011 to much critical praise. This eclectic Canadian RnB artist began touring the US by performing at Coachella in April 2012 and then selling out shows in other parts of the country. The Weeknd has also made his way across Europe performing in various festivals across the continent. In November 2012, the 22-year old released his album Trilogy which consists of remastered versions of his three previously released mixtapes and 3 new songs.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Never underestimate the power of a teen idol! Thanks to Justin Bieber’s announcement that fellow Canadian and former Canadian Idol contestant Carly Rae Jepsen would be signed to his manager’s record label, Jepsen shot to fame. Her lead single “Call Me Maybe” was a digital and radio breakout hit. Billboard even named her their Rising Star of 2012.
Lamar has been dubbed “The New King of the West Coast” by his hip-hop predecessors Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and The Game. Before Lamar had even come to prominence this year with the announcement that he had been signed to an Aftermath-Interscope deal, he had already collaborated with several major hip-hop artists like Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, and J.Cole, amongst others. His debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city has been certified Gold since it’s October 2012 release.
While no one was looking the boy band its return. These young British boys won the hearts of teenage girls everywhere after they placed 3rd on the X Factor in 2010. Their song “What Makes You Beautiful” was a huge hit the world over. Their good looks, goofy teenage boy antics, and soppy pop songs produced 2 number one albums and a sold out world tour in 2012. According to Sony Music Entertainment, One Direction represents a $50 million business. It’s good to be a boy band! All is right in the world.
Rihanna was all over 2012 with her provocative Twitter/Instagram photos, a movie debut in Battleship, her controversial reunion with Chris Brown, sassy fashion choices, touring, and the release of her seventh studio album Unapologetic.
The Biebs remains seated on his teen heartthrob throne with a reinvention of his image and music for a more mature urban sound. His single “Boyfriend” from third studio album Believe sold 521,000 digital units in the first week, becoming the 2nd highest debut digital sales week in history, while the album itself debuted at number one in its June 2012 release.
This 22-year old British-Albanian beauty looks like a combination of Gwen Stefani and Beyonce, which is fitting since Ora names the two successful female artists as her biggest influences. With her Roc Nation label boss Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce helping drive her career, a Jazzy voiced Rita is making a place for herself in music.
2 Chainz’s mixtape True REALigion made it’s way to the Billboard charts after its November 2011 release, spurring a host of features including one on Kanye’s “Mercy” and Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap.” His first studio album Based on a T.R.U. Story debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 200, with his lead single “No Lie” featuring Drake. In 2012, 2 Chainz performed at the MTV VMA’s, held a mostly sold out first tour, won 4 BET Hip-Hop Awards, and received 3 Grammy nominations for the upcoming 2013 Grammys, including best Rap Album.
The eclectic musician started 2012 with 6 Grammy nominations and a performance on the awards show. While he didn’t take home an award, that did nothing to put his fire out. Bruno continued touring worldwide and earned several other accolades. His first single “Locked Out of Heaven” from his sophomore album went digital in October just before Mars acted as Saturday Night Live host and musical guest to much positive reception. His 2nd album Unorthodox Jukebox debuted at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts while his single continues to defend it’s ground at No. 1 of the Billboard Hot 100.
After taking a break for marriage and her first go round at motherhood, Alicia Keys returned to music, a girl on fire! With a new, more edgy and sophisticated look, Keys debuted her lead single “Girl On Fire” during the 2012 VMA’s and released her 5th studio album of the same title. Both the original single and the remix featuring Nicki Minaj received mostly positive reviews while the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts in November.