The real sound of 2012

From hip-hop to folk-pop, Elisa Bray highlights 10 of the exciting acts we'd like to see make it big this year

 

HIP-HOP

Azealia Banks

If hip-hop is going to continue to enjoy a resurgence this year, it will, mostly, be thanks to Azealia Banks. When the little-known teenager topped the NME's Cool List in November, people quickly turned to YouTube to hear "212", a punchy hip-hop song with filthy lyrics and a bold, belting voice set to electro beats. Then followed a place on the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll. The New Yorker's knack for melody and inventive rapping have led to comparisons with Missy Elliott and she has been working on her debut album with award-winning producer Paul Epworth, famous for work with Florence and the Machine and Adele.

For fans of Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott

DANCE

The 2 Bears

The various talented members of electronic band Hot Chip are no strangers to side projects, with Alexis Taylor's jazz impro outfit About Group, and Al Doyle and Felix Martin forming New Build. Founder Joe Goddard has teamed up with Greco-Roman's Raf Rundell to form The 2 Bears (above), creating upbeat electro-house – and dance music's hottest new property. The outfit has unlikely fans in Elton John and Paul McCartney. A guest at Kate Moss's wedding, Paul McCartney is said to have heard DJ Nick Grimshaw play their song "Bear Hug" and told him how he loved it and it sounded amazing on the dance floor. The 2 Bears have been storming festival stages and DJ booths for the past 18 months, while tracks from their first three EPs have become mainstays in clubs and on radio with Andrew Weatherall, Erol Alkan and Pete Tong playing them. The album Be Strong is out on 30 January on Southern Fried.

For fans of Hot Chip, Leftfield

POP

Lana Del Rey

Del Rey became the internet sensation of the year after the video for her song "Video Games" racked up millions of views on YouTube and led her first gig to sell out within half an hour. Del Rey's internet hit was also hailed by many as the song of the year. A performance on Later... with Jools Holland proved her ability to recreate her recording live, her intoxicating voice recalling Stevie Nicks and Nancy Sinatra, while her first UK gig, at the Scala, displayed more of her self-dubbed "Hollywood sadcore" that bodes well for the self-styled "gangsta Nancy Sinatra"'s debut album Born to Die , which is out on 30 January, on Polydor.

For fans of Julee Cruise, Nancy Sinatra

INDIE

I Break Horses

The Swedish duo made many critics' and blogs' end of year lists for their shoegazey electro-dream pop debut album that strikes a chord with fans of M83, fellow Bella Union label mates Beach House and The Antlers. Real life couple Maria Linden and Fredrik Balck named themselves after a Smog song, and their dramatic, captivating debut album Hearts trades in whispered ethereal harmonies, lush swathes of synths and glistening electronics. They also have a fan in Batman actor Cillian Murphy, so much so that he stars in the video to their anthemic single "Winter Beats".

For fans of M83, Beach House, the Antlers

INDIE POP

Friends

Formed in September 2010, Brooklyn band Friends played their first show – for their sassy singer Samantha Urbani's birthday party in her backyard – six days later. They found themselves thrust into a showcase at the annual CMJ festival shortly after and have been receiving offers to play hip spots all over New York – and now the UK – ever since. 23-year-old Urbani was home-schooled by her artistic single mother, always encouraged to be creatively expressive, and that sense of joyous free spirit has transferred to the music – light, fresh, loose, but percussive, synth pop with slinky basslines and some rhythmic cowbell. Glowing praise has centred around the single "I'm His Girl", which has received much airplay on Radio 1 and 6 Music, and they were the one act on an independent label to be tipped by the BBC Sound of 2012 poll. They quickly sold out a London gig for February, but another date has been added.

For fans of Neneh Cherry, Sleigh Bells

FOLK-POP

Beth Jeans Houghton

Houghton began songwriting aged 16, after she fell in love with a Japanese Fender Stratocaster in a shop window. Her debut album has been a long time in the making. The quirky Newcastle singer-songwriter has taken nearly four years to put out Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose, and was heavily tipped – by myself included – back in 2009, when, aged 19, she released her first EP, which was laden with mesmerising, idiosyncratic psych-folk arrangements incorporating layers of shimmering piano, guitar and delicate vocals, and warm brass all delivered by her band The Hooves of Destiny. But the wait, which ends on 6 February with the Mute release, is well worth it, following up her EPs with more shimmering loveliness in songs such as "Sweet Tooth Bird".

For fans of Laura Marling, St Vincent

Jodie Marie

The story of how the Welsh folk-pop singer was discovered is the stuff of fairytales. Although she had been singing since she was just six, it was a landlady at a pub where Marie's plumber father was working who told a guest about the girl's voice. Next, she found herself with a manager at the age of 16, and a record deal followed. Marie's voice really is that captivating: pure, and lilting. Now 21, having been working with singer songwriter producer Ed Harcourt, she is preparing to release her album, which includes single "Single Blank Canvas", on 5 March.

For fans of Adele, Carole King, Patsy Cline

Boy & Bear

Dubbed the Australian Mumford and Sons for melodic folk-pop which wears its heart boldly on its sleeve, Boy & Bear are already huge stars in their home country, where they've just won a string of Arias, the Australian equivalent of the Brit Awards. They're also a success in America, where they supported Mumford and Sons. With their debut album Moonfire set for release on 16 January on V2 Records, and a tour to follow in spring, it's only time before they repeat that success here.

For fans of Mumford and Sons, Crowded House

EXPERIMENTAL INDIE-ROCK

Caveman

It's hard to believe that Caveman remain such a secret, recalling as they do Merriweather Post Pavilion-era Animal Collective with the infectious melodies of The Shins. Risen from ashes of indie-rock band The Subjects, Matthew Iwanusa, main singer songwriter, and guitarist Jimmy "Cobra" Carbonetti formed Caveman, a New York-based five-piece. Tribal drumming drives their sound, but four-part harmonies, spaced-out guitars and synths are just as integral. They released their debut album CoCo Beware on their own label and have just signed with Fat Possum in America, and have shared the stage with bands including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Here We Go Magic, among others. There's a chance to see Caveman next month when they make their debut appearance in London, at the Macbeth.

For fans of The Shins, Animal Collective

Alt-J

Following in the tradition of experimental art-rock bands such as !!!, this band chose a symbol for their name (except they're not called Triangle, but Alt-J – the keys you hit on an Apple keyboard to create the symbol). They've already been hailed "the lifeblood of new music" by Radio 1's Zane Lowe; the Leeds quartet are inventive, melding reverb-drenched blues-soul vocals with a variety of playful percussion and dissonant melodies. They've also been a hit online, gathering 2,500 Facebook fans and nearly 50,000 plays of their songs on Soundcloud within months.

For fans of Foals, !!!

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice