Familiarize yourself with 30 artists we obsessed over in 2013.
Who ruled your playlist this year? If you were anything like us, you probably obsessed over names like Lorde, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus, and maybe you got familiar with a bunch of 2013 breakthrough acts like 5 Seconds Of Summer, Sleeping With Sirens, and HAIM. But what about the artists that stayed under the radar? You know, the artists who probably opened for the aforementioned arena seat-fillers? Or influenced and inspired them? Or, you know, wrote their music?
In celebration of these mega-talented names who we sincerely hope you didn’t sleep on, we felt compelled to gather up some of our favorite acts of 2013 and give them a massive Internet group hug. Call the po-lice. Call the guv-nah. These 30 artists are so good it’s criminal. We present them to you here today in hopes you get your s*** together and your life right and give them the love they so deserve.
You still have a few weeks left in the year to get familiar with artists like dream-pop act Pure Bathing Culture, Glaswegian synthpop trio Chvrches, and the Pro Era rapper Joey Bada$$. So when everybody’s reblogging them in 2014, you can say that you knew them when.
Active Child: This electronic artist has opened for M83 and turned Ellie Goulding‘s head: She covered his “Hanging On” on Halcyon. The pair collaborated on his Rapor EP, released in October, which also notched a Mikky Ekko appearance and placed a track in the film “The Host.” With its Bon Iver-esque vocals, the EP’s probably the most chilled-out release in Vagrant Records history, but don’t expect songs such as “She Cut Me” to put you to sleep. Look for a full-length sequel in “mid-2014.” –David Greenwald
Betty Who: If you’ve never heard of synth-pop singer Betty Who, here’s a quick who’s who on Who: The Australian-born, Berklee-schooled singer-songwriter burst onto the scene this year with her ridiculously poppy (and free!) debut EP, The Movement. Drawing listeners in with an arsenal of hooks and choruses (think: Katy Perry meets Robyn) and an M83-esque electronica overlay, Betty had the blogosphere on lock late last year with the premiere of her shimmering debut single, “Somebody Loves You” (which, incidentally, is the perfect song to accompany your Home Depot marriage proposal), and now she’s got even more love to share with her latest single and video for “You’re In Love.” Look out for Betty’s upcoming debut album, which is scheduled for a 2014 release. –Rachel Brodsky
The Ceremonies: If you’re not familiar with NYC indie-pop act The Ceremonies, aka brothers Matthew, Michael, and Mark Cook, maybe you’ll remember them as 2013 American Music Awards presenters OR one of MTV’s Artists To Watch! Heavily influenced by ’80s post-punkers Echo & The Bunnymen, The Ceremonies originally started while Michael and Mark were still in high school. Though they currently have a solid collection of singles out (their rollicking debut “Land Of Gathering” chief among them), the brothers are currently hard at work prepping their debut EP, which they self-produced with the help of Danny Garibay. Look out for The Ceremonies on tour through March 2014. –RB
Chance The Rapper: Chicago’s Chancelor Bennett, better known as underground hip-hop player Chance The Rapper, has two solid (and free!) mixtapes to his name (10 Day and Acid Rap), and so far he’s began to gain press AND collabs; Chance got name-dropped in Complex’s list of “10 Chicago Rappers To Watch Out For” and he’s worked with everyone from Childish Gambino to Joey Bada$$. Most recently, Chance earned a feature spot on Justin Bieber’s #MusicMondays release “Confidence,” and you know what that means: If the Biebs has his eye on you, your “criminally overlooked” days are gonna be over VERY soon. –RB
Chvrches: Glaswegian synth-pop trio and Hive Artists To Watch alum Chvrches might have yet to break through mainstream pop radio, but heaven knows they’re gaining a devoted following. Their critically praised debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, scored a solid 80 on Metacritic, and the band, comprising Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty, came in fifth on the BBC’s Sound of 2013 earlier this year. On top of that, Chvrches debuted their single “The Mother We Share” on “Jimmy Fallon,” and Lauren, who attended journalism school before Chvrches hit it big, penned a viral op-ed piece in The Guardian on the sexist remarks directed toward her through the band’s social media sites. Synth-pop AND feminism?? Be still, my beating heart. –RB
Darling Parade: Many Darling Parade fans might agree with the alt-rock band’s “overlooked” status. The MTV Artist To Watch, who sound an awful lot like fellow punk-flecked pop players Paramore, won last June’s “Make A Band Famous” OMA category and subsequently got to perform live at MTV’s VMA Week. Despite their big OMA win, the Nashville band, which comprises Kristin Kearns, Nate McCoy, Dustin McCoy, and Casey Conrad, have been moving slowly but surely toward stardom: In 2012, Darling Parade toured with “The Voice” winner Cassadee Pope, and later that year they opened for Cherri Bomb and Chevelle at Summerfest 2012. In 2013, the band unveiled their debut LP, Battle Scars and Broken Hearts, thanks in part to help from their devoted fans, who raised a whopping $16,000 to fund the disc. Watch the band’s just-released video for “Crash & Burn.” –RB
Check out more criminally overlooked bands after the jump!
Dinner And A Suit: With a name from the Great Depression and a modern synth-pop sound, Dinner and a Suit had a pretty stylish 2013. In addition to opening for bands like Lawson and The Parlotones, the band showed off their music video skills with the special effects-driven “Heartbreak” and toured their buns off for Since Our Departure, an album the band’s due to follow up — probably right after “Heartbreak” stops blowing up the radio. –DG
Driver Friendly: When we first met this Austin-based alt-rock troupe at the 2013 mtvU Woodies Festival, they charmed us with their favorite Texan phrase: “Full bucket.” But the boys aren’t just a band with adorable mottos. They’re also really good at channeling early-to-mid-aughts pop acts like Jimmy Eat World and OK GO with up-tempo songs like “Ghosts,” “Run,” and “Mesidonna.” In the last year alone, Driver Friendly released their latest EP, Peaks + Valleys and hit the road for Warped Tour 2013. Up next, the band will be touring with Motion City Soundtrack and Relient K. –RB
Travis Garland: This Lubbock, Tex., resident released his self-titled album in September (which peaked on iTunes’ pop chart at No. 6), and the grown-up set is full of seductive, Frank Ocean-style R&B. Garland even collaborated with a former Odd Future member, doing “AllSheWannaDo” with the hip-hop collective’s Casey Veggies. The singer, whose latest single is titled “Motel Pool,” will close out 2013 with a New Year’s Eve show in L.A. He hasn’t announced his plans for next year yet, though we’re hoping they include blowing up and taking his shirt off in cities across America. –DG
Gilbere Forte: The Philadelphia/Los Angeles hip-hop artist is probably the only MC in the game to sample Fiona Apple, bragging up a storm over an “Every Single Night” loop on “Pray,” the title track from his latest mixtape. “Pray” also found him working with Active Child, who lent a vocal hook to the foggy “Nolita.” The MC’s left-field production and hard-spitting flow scored him a record deal with Epic, and he’ll make his major label debut in 2014. –DG
Foxygen: The psych-pop revivalists scored some best-of-2013 acclaim for sophomore set We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, a title that wasn’t kidding around. Like an indie-pop Wu-Tang Clan, the group has also generated solo albums including Jonathan Rado’s “Law and Order” and Sam France’s “Star Power.” After surviving rumors of a potential breakup, the band will be coming on strong from now on: In October, Foxygen announced its next three (three!) albums. Up first is Foxygen… & Star Power, a release Sam France says is “really long with a lot of songs.” Keep ‘em coming. –DG
Flatbush Zombies: The Brooklyn hip-hop crew followed up their D.R.U.G.S. mixtape this year with another hot tape, the smoke-filled Better Off Dead. Their trip turned eerie on songs like “Death,” a track that remembers that the group has “Zombies” in their name, and the MCs tapped Action Bronson and Danny Brown for scary-good guest spots. The guys dropped by MTV Rapfix when the show went live from Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, and they turned up on Joey Bada$$’s “My Jeep” in October, but their 2014 plans — a debut album, perhaps? — remain hazy. –DG