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Top 10 New Pop Artists To Watch in 2012

The Best Of Rising Artists


These are 10 of the top new artists to keep an eye on in 2012. They show some of the greatest promise of breaking through to the pop mainstream. Get to know them now before they are household names.

1. Frank Ocean

The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Frank Ocean is a member of the hip hop collective OFWGKTA along with 2011 MTV Video Music Awards Best New Artist winner Tyler, the Creator. However, he is often identified as having a somewhat more subtle approach than his colleagues in the group. In 2011 Frank Ocean appeared on Beyonce's album 4 as wella s the Watch the Throne collection by Jay-Z and Kanye West. Frank Ocean's own single "Novacane" received critical acclaim and landed in the top 20 of the R&B chart. A debut solo album is expected early in 2012.

Watch "Novacane"

2. Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran
Courtesy Atlantic

20 year old singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was one of the biggest breakthrough artists of 2011 in the UK. His first single "The A Team" went to the top 3 and his debut album + opened at #1 on the album chart. Atlantic Records will be bringing Ed Sheeran to the US in early 2012 as an opening act for Snow Patrol on tour. "The A Team" will be promoted first to adult alternative radio at the end of February 2012.

Watch "The A Team"

3. Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey
Courtesy Interscope

Lana Del Rey has been the subject of both critical acclaim for the noirish feel of her music and sneering accusations of a lack of authenticity as an artist. Her single "Video Games" was a top 10 UK pop hit in 2011. A Lana Del Rey EP has been released in the US in advance of her first album Born To Die hitting stores at the end of January. A Saturday Night Live performance that didn't go well has dampened some enthusiasm, but her debut album will still be watched very closely.

Watch "Video Games"

4. Skrillex

Photo by Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

Skrillex is well known in dance remix circles, but now his stature as an independent artist is beginning to explode. He has received five Grammy Award nominations for 2012 including being the first DJ/remix artist to be nominated for Best New Artist. His latest EP Bangarang debuted at #15 on the album chart at the end of 2011 and looks like a contender for top 10 status. Look for 2012 to be a year in which the star of Skrillex shines even brighter.

Listen to "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites"

5. Karmin

Courtesy Epic Records

Engaged duo Karmin first gained major notice from their covers of rap hits like Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" and Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass." The pair then put out an original song "Crash Your Party" in 2011 and reached the top 40 in pop radio airplay. A debut album is expected in February.

Watch "Crash Your Party"

6. Michael Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka
Photo courtesy Polydor Records

Soul singer Michael Kiwanuka topped this year's BBC Sounds of 2012 poll as their top artist to watch in the new year. His sound is steeped in the classic R&B of artists like Bill Withers and Otis Redding. He grew up in London, but his parents are from Uganda. Michael Kiwanuka's debut album Home Again is set for a March 23, 2012 release in the UK.

Watch "Home Again"

7. Cher Lloyd

Cher Lloyd
Photo by Dave Hogan / Getty Images

18 year old Cher Lloyd captured fourth place on X Factor UK in 2010. She has since gone on to significant success as a solo artist. Her first two singles have reached the top 5 and her debut album Sticks + Stones reached #4 and was certified gold. Her latest single "Want U Back" has been released in remixed form to feature Astro from the first season of X Factor USA. A US release for Sticks + Stones is expected later this year.

Watch "Want U Back"

8. A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky
Photo by Ysa Perez

Rapper A$AP Rocky was born and raised in Harlem. His given name is Rakim Mayers, and he was named after rapper Rakim of Eric B. and Rakim. A$AP Rocky released a critically acclaimed mixtape LiveLoveA$AP in 2011. He also signed a recording deal with Sony estimated to be worth $3 million. Look for more music from A$AP Rocky in 2012.

Watch "Peso"

9. T. Mills

T. Mills
Courtesy Sony

T. Mills gained some of his first major attention as an artist performing on the 2009 Warped Tour. His style is a blend of pop and hip-hop with a strong, in your face attitude. His second EP Leaving Home appeared last summer on major label Columbia Records.

Watch "Stupid Boy"

10. Gotye

Courtesy Eleven

Belgian born Gotye has been releasing music in Australia, his home from age 2, since 2003. However, this year he looks set for a major international breakthrough. The album Making Mirrors was released in the summer of 2011 and went to #1 in Australia. It features the single "Somebody That I Used To Know" which has topped charts at home and across Europe. The song is just beginning to climb pop charts here in the US.

Watch "Somebody That I Used To Know"

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