One of 2014's best dance tracks came from ZHU—a completely anonymous DJ/producer who shuns social media and having his picture taken. Steven Zhu finally revealed himself in a live performance in November, but not before racking up millions of views on YouTube and Soundcloud that undoubtedly helped him snatch a GRAMMY nod for Best Dance Recording. With beat breakdowns as good as this, ZHU should be expected to continue making HQ EDM throughout 2015 and establish himself as a festival staple.
Ryn Weaver is your favorite singer's favorite singer. Hayley Williams, Charli XCX, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos and Jessie Ware have all bestowed their praises onto the San Diego singer. Meanwhile, super-producer Benny Blanco (a.k.a. the man who helped helm recent smashes like Iggy Azalea's "Black Widow," Maroon 5's "Animals" and Ed Sheeran's "Don't") is working closely with her and calls her a "sure thing." We're convinced.
MNEK is the British producer/singer who's been finding critical success (like garnering a GRAMMY nod for his work on Duke Dumont's "Need U") and co-signs from pop legends (including Madonna and Kylie Minogue). The 20-year-old ended 2014 by releasing his spastic new song "The Rhythm." If it's the note he chose to end the year on, we're expecting big things in 2015 when his full-length debut drops.
Fifteen-year-old X Factor finalist Bea Miller has collected a passionate following in her few years on this earth, catching the attention of the likes of Demi Lovato, who brought her on tour last fall. Her Young Blood EP indicates stadium-sized pop-rock with empowering lyrics as heard in the excellent title track. For 2015, we think it's time for Lorde to take a step back and let another smart teen take over.
How many artists have gotten their big break thanks to a Twitter DM? Count XOV as one of the lucky few. The Swedish artist got a direct message from Lorde (which he originally thought was spam), asking for his help on a track to the latest Hunger Games soundtrack that the Kiwi curated. While the singer/producer had previously remained anonymous, he stepped into the spotlight with "Animal" (above) and followed up with the equally great "Boys Don't Cry."
Rising Chicago native Tink is already getting comparisons to Lauryn Hill for her thought-provoking lyrics and ability to glide between singing and rapping. And get this: She's only 19. Tink has racked up an eclectic array of collaborators including Jeremih and Sleigh Bells and has earned praise from Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliott. Her Timbaland-helmed debut album is due this year.
As leader of K-pop group 2NE1, CL is already an established star earning praises from Diplo, M.I.A, Snoop Dogg and more. But this spring, she'll look to expand her solo star power through a full-fledged U.S. solo career with the help of Justin Bieber/Ariana Grande manager Scooter Braun. How will the music sound? Based off the strength of "MTBD," a solo track which she co-wrote and Rolling Stone called the "centerpiece" of 2NE1's Crush album, chances are it'll be bangin'.
Whether or not you know her name, you've probably already heard LOLO singing the hook to Fall Out Boy's "Centuries" and contributing vocals to Panic! At the Disco's "Miss Jackson." Signed to Pete Wentz's DCD2 Records, the singer/former Broadway star is working on an album that is shaping up to be a soulful, funky take on alt rock.
Hailing from Los Angeles via Michigan, BØRNS is gaining diverse fans thanks to a handful of subtle, genre-defying tracks. The track "10,000 Emerald Pools," off his 2014 EP Candy, got a major push after being selected for iTunes' Single of the Week, likely picking up even more fans in the process.
Another talent hailing from Chicago, Lil Durk looks poised to make a big mark on the hip hop scene in 2015. After being picked as a 2014 XXL Freshmen Class honoree, the 22-year-old is prepping his debut full-length Remember My Name through a deal with Def Jam Records (home to recent breakout stars like YG, Big Sean and Iggy Azalea) and French Montana's imprint.