When you think "music in 2012," you probably think of household names like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, One Direction, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, The Wanted, and Carly Rae Jepsen. (Or maybe you just think of "Call Me Maybe." That's OK too.) Punk went Pop several times, we discovered some AMAZING breakthrough acts like The Weeknd, Icona Pop, and MGK, but boosting up those massive artists was a foundation of incredibly talented, criminally underrated artists, acts, and bands we couldn't stop listening to. You know, the artists who probably influence those marquee names, or even more likely, WRITE for them. So, in celebration of those unsung (er, sung?) heroes of 2012, we here at Buzzworthy felt compelled to name names. We pooled our favorite overlooked acts of 2013 and came up with a list of artists with cult followings, or acts just on the verge of developing one.
Here's the great thing: You still have a few weeks left in the year to get familiar with artists like the über-eclectic Freelance Whales, the darkly dance-able Diamond Rings, and the acid-tongued Angel Haze. So when they finally blow up in 2013 -- and we're confident they will -- you can say you were a fan all along.
+ Angel Haze: Razor-tongued D.C. rapper Angel Haze may be young (21, to be exact), but her particular brand of gritty hip-hop already has her in the same league as some professionals twice her age. Recently signed to Republic Records, the BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher alum initially earned internet cred (the best kind, if you ask us) by freestyling to Drake, Beyoncé, and Jamie Foxx. Now she’s already released her Reservation EP as well as a mixtape, Classick, featuring a critically acclaimed rendition of Eminem’s "Cleanin' Out My Closet." Young, strong, AND musically literate. We're already fans, but we can't wait to see Angel Haze's name -- and hear that voice -- everywhere near year. -- Rachel Brodsky
+ Big Deal: The are-they-or-aren't-they musical couple is one of the cutest, coolest bands we've seen since the xx, all heartbroken harmonies and unrequited feelings. The U.K. duo's been buzzed about across the pond for a while, but this is the year they brought moody debut Lights Out to the U.S., where they didn't need a rhythm section to roar through SXSW. Armed with just guitars and vocals, their music should've been soundtracking "Pretty Little Liars" rain-kissing scenes months ago. Make that ish happen. -- David Greenwald
+ Blackbear: The fact that Blackbear co-wrote Justin Bieber’s "Boyfriend" but has yet to have a Top 10 record of his own just doesn't make any sense to us. We’ve been captivated by the underground indie artist also known as Mat Musto, who plays down grimy, moody pop-tinged jams, and his Sex The Mixtape strikes the perfect balance between “slick pop” and “underground cool.” Or, in simpler terms, it kinda sounds like an unofficial mixtape that’s secretly been released by a major label. And did we mention that it features cameos from Mike Posner, James Blake, and T. Mills? Fix this, people! #Blackbeartopten. -- Jenna Rubenstein
+ Chad Valley: English electro-popper Chad Valley (real name Hugo Manuel) absolutely slayed us with his understated lush electronica and rich vocals (his sound is like if Calvin Harris chilled out for a second). With songs like “Tell All Your Friends” and “I Owe You This” featuring synth-pop star Twin Shadow, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have had Chad on repeat in 2012 (and there’s nothing keeping you from doing that in 2013). -- Michael Depland
+ Charli XCX: She's been stirring up all sorts of trouble abroad the past few years as a LDN club kid, and now she's finally begun making a serious splash in the States. The brooding goth-pop princess stole our hearts this year with jagged, unusual cuts like "Nuclear Seasons" (sort of '80s electro-pop-meets-Kate Bush) and "You're The One," an industrial synth-pop ode. And with plenty of experimental mix tapes and features popping up all over 2012, Charli made sure that all eyes were locked on her major 2013 debut. -- Brad Stern
+ Cris Cab: When you’ve got a co-sign from Pharrell and Wyclef, and your single features a cameo from Big Sean, you kinda know you’re on the right track. For all these reasons (plus his seriously sultry vox, and, we're not gonna lie, that face!) we fell hard for Cris Cab. His Big Sean-assisted single, "Good Girls (Don’t Grow On Trees)," was the perfect summer soundtrack, not to mention his equally hooky and serene "Paradise On Earth." We're already Team Cris, and we’re rooting for his unique brand of island-infused pop to reign supreme next year. -- JR
+ D-WHY: We’ve been on board that D-WHY train ever since he convincingly shouted "devil horns to all my haters" while wearing a perfectly tailored flannel shirt. But it’s not just D’s sartorial sense that landed him on this list (although, note to EVERY GUY EVERYWHERE: Copy that look right now.) Rather, it’s the West Virginia rapper's slick flow and ability to bend and stretch a phrase that hooked us immediately. And we’re not the only ones hot for D-WHY either: The "One Day After 2 Chainz (Birthday Song Remix)" singer has a fan in Hit-Boy, Boi-1da, Dot, and T-Minus, who produced "Kill Me Now,"one of the standout track’s on D-WHY’s Don’t Flatter Yourself mixtape -- which by the way jumped to the No. 1 spot on Billboard's "Next Big Sound" chart as the FASTEST accelerating artist on the internet. And did we mention you can cop it for free? Happy Hanukkah! -- JR
+ Diamond Rings: Brooding synth-pop act Diamond Rings (known also as John O’Regan) already exploded in indie circles, and judging by his glittery Bowie persona and his Billy Idol-meets-Depeche Mode post-punk tracks, we’re frankly a little shocked that he’s still relatively still under-the-radar. Having gained serious internet praise from places like Pitchfork, the Toronto-based singer is currently riding a wave of success from his hook-laden sophomore album, Free Dimensional, a tightly composed dance-pop record featuring tracks such as “I’m Just Me” and “Runaway.” Post-punk jams may always be a thing, but Diamond Rings' David Bowie/Grace Jones-GLAM schtick makes him a lot harder to miss. Play him at your New Year's Eve party so you can at least try to pretend you were all over him in 2012 like you should've been. -- RB
+ DIIV: Not content sprinkling bleached-out guitar vibes all over Beach Fossils, Zachary Cole Smith started this side project in New York City this year as a showcase for his signature happy-being-sad guitar lines, and he promptly began outshining his old gig. While they became a blog-wave favorite since the release of their debut, Oshin, and blissful songs like "How Long Have You Known" became a Tumblr-mixtape staple, there are still way too many people out there who don't know what it's like to stare wistfully at the ocean on a sunny day and feel bummed out about how beautiful everything is. -- Luke O'Neil
+ Frank + Derol: Admittedly, the Cyrus connection is what caught our eye -- Brandi Cyrus, one half of the Frank + Derol duo, is Miley’s sister. But it’s their clever wordplay and heady harmonies (think Tegan And Sara) that caught our ear. Frank + Derol create the sort of intellectual-ingenue pop (no offense, Carly Rae Jepsen) that makes us miss classic ‘90s twee indie acts like Mary Lou Lord. We first fell in love with "Barely Love You Too" this summer, with the act’s signing to Interscope, and we’re living for the prospect of a full-length smart-girl soundtrack in 2013. -- Tamar Anitai
Check out more of our favorite criminally overlooked artists of 2012 after the jump.