1. Blowing Up: Sam Smith (22)
You’ve probably heard of Sam Smith by now and you probably can’t forget this angelic songbird with the range of a synthesizer. When I saw him perform live, every time he hit a ridiculous note you could hear women swoon and guys say, “Damn,” while Smith would blush in humility.
His talent is so undeniable that I imagine he’ll continue to complement electronic music like he did with Disclosure, and every other genre for a long time. Nowadays, it’s rare that a solo artist can sit down at a piano and produce a hit, and although his first album was disappointing at a few points, I’m excited to watch him mature and diversify as he refines his art.
2. Slowly Blowing Up: Banks (26)
Jillian Banks has the authentic pain of Bon Iver and dark, beautifully haunting vocals likened to Aaliyah. She presses her lips to the heartstrings we’ve tied to the pangs of unrequited love and screams through them with her 2014 release of Goddess; an album that cathartically walks us into those memories over futuristic, warping bass notes.
The album was a creative risk, as it seems like Banks could take one step to the right and attract enormous attention from the pop genre, but she’s placed herself at the top of an unsaturated genre and her songwriting skills are more than evident; in the last year she’s been featured in the movie Divergent and her first album reached #12 on the Billboard Top #200.
3. Blowing Up Quickly: Raury (18)
This 18 year old Atlanta native was courted by four different record labels before signing, and opened for Outkast last weekend to display his medley-like genre that taps on hip-hop, folk, R&B, and rock with thunderous, raw bass drums that, when coupled with his inspiring, ‘rally cry’ lyrics, make you believe in all of life’s silver linings.
Raury’s only released one volume of work with his mixtape, Indigo Child, which was ambitious and aware of its adolescence, and rarely missed the mark for me.
4. About to Blow Up: Ryn Weaver (22)
This is critically my boldest call for an artist who’s ‘blowing up,’ but I could care less. Ryn Weaver blew my mind with her first single Octahate and then again with her five song EP, Promises, which couples her Lana Del Rey-type vocals with a cool, electro-pop sound that feels completely her own.
She came out of nowhere, I was driving and listening to my Soundcloud app when she found her way into my stream and I almost pulled over to see who it was because it gave me the chills. Her friendship with Benny Blanco — a guy who’s produced 27 top-ten singles with Britney Spears, Maroon 5 and others — is a good indicator of the potential this artist has to infect the airwaves any moment now.