It's the most wonderful time of the year: list season. And more than anything, that means it's time for our annual Sound of list. Recent years have seen our tastes diverge from that of the BBC (and this year's list reflects that more than ever), but we still adhere to their general guidelines for our list. Furthermore, in an effort to avoid any conflict of interest, our own Neon Gold acts are ineligible for this list, as are acts featured on any previous installments of our Sound of lists. Now that we've got that all squared away, it's time to dive in.
THE WEEKEND // With the consensus favorites on most lists this year ineligible for ours (HAIM due to their Neon Gold affiliation, Sky Ferreira due to her cameo on our Sound of 2010 list), The Weeknd remains the only logical fit for the top spot. It's hardly a bold pick, given the incredible run he's already had, but with a major label deal now finally in place and marquee collaborations beginning to filter in, 2013 looks to be the year Abel Tesfaye breaks through the glass ceiling of 2011's House of Balloons and into the mainstream.
STREAM: "Remember You" (ft. The Weeknd) - Wiz Khalifa
HAERTS // Sure, they've only got one song out at the moment, but it's one of the best songs of the year and just the tip of the iceberg for this lot. From the handful of other tracks we've heard through the grapevine and the collection of incredible secret shows they've put on over the past month, we've got every expectation that HAERTS will be the breakout new Brooklyn act of next year. With their official live debut set for next month and a burgeoning arsenal of incredible new songs waiting in the wings, it's all eyes on HAERTS next year.
STREAM: "Wings" - HAERTS
ATLAS GENIUS // First discovered by many on these very pages in the summer of 2011, Atlas Genius have already been lighting up the alternative charts with their flagship single "Trojans" for most of the last year. They cruise headstrong into the new year with their debut album set for release in February and as good a foundation as any for a massive 2013.
STREAM: "Back Seat" - Atlas Genius
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD // It's boom or bust for this lot in 2013, but if it goes, something tells us it's gonna go. The majors will have you believe that being a new band in the modern age is about creating and curating content above all else, and if that's true, nobody's killing it harder than The Neighbourhood, who are effortlessly churning out incredible videos in their signature film noir style on the regular at this point. Plus "Sweater Weather" remains one of the best songs of 2012 and potentially one of 2013's biggest singles at alternative radio, and frontman Jesse Rutherford is an undeniable star. It's a very delicate line they walk between the Warped Tour and Pitchfork, but if anyone can do it it's these guys.
STREAM: "Sweater Weather" - The Neighbourhood
ANGEL HAZE // Azealia Banks waltzed into 2012 with just about everything going right for her, but somewhere during the string of follow up singles that fell far short of the mark set by "212" and countless album delays, Angel Haze quietly arrived on the scene and established herself as the more promising female MC of the two. Stay tuned.
DOWNLOAD: "Cleaning Out My Closet" - Angel Haze
SIR SLY // Arriving under cover of darkness late in the summer of 2012 with a knockout one-two punch of debut tracks in "Ghost" and "You Found Out", Sr. Sly caused boundless speculation as to their true identities, so hard was it to accept a brand new act could arrive with such a polished and fully-formed sound and vision. Then in late 2012 they evolved into Sir Sly as three more show-stopping demos began to circulate behind the scenes, and with their debut live shows set for early 2013, we fully expect them to be the must-see unsigned band of SXSW. Look for them to take a run at The Neighbourhood's Southern California alt radio throne by late 2013.
STREAM: "Ghost" - Sir Sly
TOM ODELL // Already the winner of the Brits Critics' Choice Award this year, Tom Odell's Songs For Another Love EP was one of our favorite releases of late 2012 and boasts one of the best songs of the year on the title track. With virtually no legitimate competition in the male solo artist field this year and a Top 5 finish on the BBC's Sound of list all but guaranteed, 2013 is Odell's for the taking.
DOWNLOAD: "Another Love" - Tom Odell
MØ // Our favorite discovery of CMJ 2012, we watched MØ arrive out of nowhere to throw down one of the best sets of the week in a packed Greenpoint loft, and her star's only continued to rise on the strength of her intoxicating live presence since then. With debut offerings "Pilgrim" and "Maiden" currently lighting up the blogs and an album's worth of solid gold demos already up her sleeve, we fully expect MØ to be the name on everyone's lips come SX next year.
DOWNLOAD: "Pilgrim" - MØ
CHVRCHES // Glasgow's CHVRCHES first debuted on these pages in May of 2012 and have since taken the industry by storm, even prompting some discussion of "Neon Gold pop" as an emerging genre which was amusing to say the least. With the band rumored to be close to signing significant deals on both sides of the Atlantic and the hype storm set to make landfall stateside as the band hits US shores for SX next year, CHVRCHES have every opportunity to make 2013 their own.
STREAM: "Lies" - CHVRCHES
SWIM DEEP // Proper guitar bands aren't even really our thing these days, yet Swim Deep have already produced some of our favorite singles of 2012 in "King City" and "Honey". We've been hearing "bands are back" for a few years now, but 2013 feels like the year that hopeful sentiment finally becomes a reality in the UK, and if we had to back one horse in that race you better believe it's Swim Deep.
STREAM: "King City" - Swim Deep
PACIFIC AIR // Pacific Air kind of sound like that first soundtrack from The OC in band form, and to those preparing to scoff at that notion, please know that's praise of the highest order in our book. But yeah, outside of the solid gold hooks and beyond-their-years songwriting of their debut EP, the Lawhon brothers have got the sync game on lock. Get ready to hear these dudes in every commercial out there next year.
STREAM: "Roses" - Pacific Air
KATE BOY // Kate Boy were a late entry to the 2013 hype race but wasted no time making their presence known with "Northern Lights" and its brilliant accompanying video. Like the perfect middle point between Icona Pop and Niki And The Dove, the chorus of "Northern Lights" exploded with all the shouty brilliance of the former, with all the shadowy intrigue of the latter brooding in the verses over a relentless bassline. It's still early for the mysterious Scandinavians, but all signs point to Kate Boy as the next great hope for Swedish pop in 2013.
STREAM: "Northern Lights" - Kate Boy
GOLDROOM // Our favorite electronic producer of the year shined in 2012 with remix after remix of tropical pop bliss, and looks set to make the jump to the next level in 2013, as he steps out from behind the decks and onto the live stage in the new year.
STREAM: "Fifteen" (ft. Chela) - Goldroom
CAPITAL CITIES // This one's been a long time coming, but after pushing their still-brilliant debut single "Safe and Sound" for nearly 18 months now, it's finally starting to happen for Capital Cities. They've already got one of our absolute favorite live shows around, but now with a major label deal firmly in place with Captiol and the song finally starting to connect in a big way at radio, it seems like this one could actually go. Definitely one to watch in the months to come.
STREAM: "Safe and Sound" - Capital Cities
THE LAST BISON // With every label looking high and low for their own indie folk act to follow Mumford and The Lumineers into the charts, Universal Republic seem to have found themselves the frontrunners with The Last Bison. While frontman Benjamin Hardesty is a bit too Mumford 2.0 try-hard for us at times, we recognize a big song when we hear one and "Switzerland" is just that. Expect to hear this one everywhere in a few months time.
DOWNLOAD: "Switzerland" - The Last Bison