We've got some issues with the role the BBC's Sound of... lists have come to play in the current music climate, but still we love lists too much to sit idly by and not contribute our own for the year to come. As per usual, we're following the rules and regulations of the BBC's list, but going one step further than years past and excluding our own Neon Gold (or Beyond Gold) acts from inclusion (sorry fam). And so on we go then, 15 reasons not to end it all in 2012.
AZEALIA BANKS // In May 2009 we wrote the following: "New girl on the block Azealia Banks hasn't even finished high school and she's already the hottest new lady MC in the game. With rhymes like a sailor and major league flow, the 17 year old is a hip hop sensation just waiting to happen and it's only a matter of time before major labels are beating down her door, checkbooks in hand. Wake up A&R's, the next big thing is calling." It took a long minute, but 18 months later those last words have never been more true. The first true superstar of 2012 is ready to take the throne.
STREAM: "212" - Azealia Banks
MADEON // A little over a year ago Starsmith hit us up to tell us about an unknown 16 year old French kid who'd sent him tracks for production advice that was incredibly special. And well, he pretty much nailed it. Barely 12 months later, Madeon's being hailed as the future of electronic music and has every major label in the game falling all over themselves to win his hand. His "Pop Culture" live mash up video (and its accompanying 7+ million views) has a lot to do with this, but while it's a genius marketing tool, it's hardly the reason he's the future. He's the future because even at only 17 years old, he's already garnering (justified) comparisons to Daft Punk, and if the tracks we've heard behind closed doors are any indication, it's time to pass the torch.
STREAM: "Shuriken" - Madeon
WALK THE MOON // Most likely to do a Foster in 2012, Walk The Moon are hardly the coolest band in the world, nor do they come from anywhere near that same vaguely hipster place Foster The People did, but at the end of the day, that's not what matters. Massive songs are, and Walk The Moon have those in spades. From their quintessential anthem "Anna Sun" to newer smashes like "Next In Line", the Ohio four-piece have the arena-ready live show to match, are already cultivating a rabid fan base and are going to be omnipresent in 2012, whether you like it or not.
STREAM: "Anna Sun" - Walk The Moon
GOTYE // He survives the Neon Gold clause disqualifying artists we've worked with because a) you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who actually considers Gotye a Neon Gold artist and b) it was on an entirely different album cycle over two years ago that we released his Learnalilgivinanlovin' 7". We could go on with the excuses but frankly, after preaching for five years to anyone who would listen that Gotye was the future of music, we're just thrilled that it's finally happening. Sure, Universal Republic could drop the ball on this (though they've got Communion/Island there to right the ship in the UK), but you needn't look further than his just announced and sold-out-in-seconds NYC/LA dates to see that Gotye's time has finally arrived in this country.
STREAM: "Somebody That I Used To Know" - Gotye
ST. LUCIA // HeavyRoc has done it again. After bringing Alex Winston to the masses last year, The Knocks returned in 2011 to do the same for their latest adopted family member, launching St. Lucia into the stratosphere on the back of untouchable tracks like "All Eyes On You" and "We Got It Wrong". Hailing from Brooklyn by way of Liverpool and South Africa, St. Lucia's global upbringing is reflected in the unique nature of his tropical electronic pop, which sounds as if its simultaneously from nowhere and everywhere at once, futuristic nostalgia pop from another time and place. With an immaculate debut EP lined up for release in early 2012, he's about to be all over your stereo and we look forward to watching him reign supreme in the months to come.
STREAM: "We Got It Wrong" - St. Lucia
ELECTRIC GUEST // Our favorite album of 2011 wasn't in fact released this year, as Electric Guest prepare their incredible debut record for release on Downtown in the first half of 2012. From the same management team that brought you Foster The People, Electric Guest are an LA two-piece fronted by Asa Taccone - younger brother of The Lonely Island and SNL's Jorma Taccone and co-writer of a little Emmy-winning number called "Dick In A Box" - whose tracks soundtracked our summer on repeat before blowing us away at CMJ this October. Taccone, not unlike his brother, is a natural star and born frontman, and with a nigh-on flawless Dangermouse-produced LP featuring surefire smashes like "This Head That I Hold" and "Awake" (sadly recently removed from Soundcloud) waiting in the wings, big things lie ahead for this lot in the year to come.
STREAM: "Troubleman" - Electric Guest
REPTAR // One of the most unique and exciting bands to emerge from the US in years, Reptar had a banner year in 2011 on the strength of their phenomenal debut Oblangle Fizz EP and their insane live show. Frontman Graham Ulicny is one of the best performers we've seen at this level in ages, coming off like like Isaac Brock fronting Passion Pit, an expert in his very own brand of furious pop music. Hallmark anthems "Houseboat Babies" and "Stuck In My Id" were already two of this years biggest indie partystarters, and with a debut album promising more of the same in 2012, you can bet we'll be keeping a close eye on this lot as they ready what is perhaps our most hotly anticipated release of next year.
STREAM: "Houseboat Babies" - Reptar
CHARLI XCX // She's been kicking around for a long minute now, but it seems like 17 year old Charli XCX is finally ready to seize the spotlight. Coming off like the perfect combination of Gwen Stefani and Marina ("Nuclear Seasons" is "Radioactive" could have been if it traded the club for the apocalypse), Charli had a massive 2011 that saw rapturous critical acclaim (even Pitchfork got involved) for her singles "Stay Away" and the AMAZING "Nuclear Seasons, as well as a show-stealing vocal turn on Alex Metric's "End of the World".
STREAM: "Nuclear Seasons" - Charli XCX
NIKI & THE DOVE // From the same team that brought you Icona Pop come their countrymen Niki & The Dove, The Knife to Icona's Robyn in Sweden's 2012 pop landscape. With arresting, otherworldly vocals and a downright hypnotic live show, the mysterious duo trade the club for the forest as they write some of the most compelling pop music around. Big things ahead.
STREAM: "The Drummer" - Niki & The Dove
CLOCK OPERA // Sure, he made our list last year, but with his debut album finally ready for release in early 2012, we'd be remiss not to give him the shine here once again. It may be a long road to the top for these guys (let's call it the Metronomy route), but we've said it once and we'll say it again, this band is going to change people.
STREAM: "Lesson No. 7" - Clock Opera
ARTHUR BEATRICE // Despite not having released a note of music and a penchant for bucking any music industry convention you throw at them, Arthur Beatrice have become perhaps the most sought after unsigned band in the UK. After repeatedly hearing from labels that bands "have to have an online presence" to succeed, they went and set up the genius www.online-presence.info, an online exhibition space for new artists and writers to show their work alongside the band's own material. Then there's their Open Assembly club nights, curated by and featuring the band playing alongside their favorite new artists. It's beautiful to watch a young band actually fostering a scene around themselves, and Arthur Beatrice seem to be doing everything right. Granted, none of that means much of anything if there aren't the songs and live show to match, but rest assured, you won't be disappointed.
FRIENDS // All it took was one listen to Friends' debut single "Friend Crush" for us to track them down by any means possible and get them on our Popshop club night last March, but then they went and blew the doors wide open on follow up single "I'm His Girl", a serious single of the year candidate and one of the most buzzed about tracks of the fall. Still they seem a little too cool for us to be totally comfortable with, but there's no denying the immense promise on display here.
STREAM: "I'm His Girl" - Friends
FOE // We've been singing FOE's praises for a while now, but even we weren't prepared for the dropkick to the jaw that is her debut album Bad Dream Hotline. Massive guitars, genius songwriting and insane production from boyfriend/collaborator Entrepreneurs converge to create an album that stands alone in the music landscape of 2012. It's no-holds-barred rock seen through a demented pop lens, and it's fucking brilliant.
STREAM: "Tyrant Song" - FOE
GROSS MAGIC // Coming out of nowhere with one of the best and most unique tracks of the year on "Sweetest Touch", Gross Magic stands apart from the pack in the race for 2012 supremacy. They've done the right deals in the right places, and with the right luck may well be the act to help carry on the rock revival the UK's been so desperately waiting for.
STREAM: "Sweetest Touch" - Gross Magic
GABRIEL BRUCE // A brooding, original voice in the crowded London singer songwriter scene, Gabriel Bruce is a macabre treasure. Debut single "Sleep Paralysis" is a meditation on the crippling phenomenon of the same name and comes complete with a picture book documenting the condition and the experiences of those affected by it. He's a fascinating talent, and while there's literally no telling where this might go, you better believe we're excited to find out.
STREAM: "Sleep Paralysis" - Gabriel Bruce