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South by Southwest Class of 2014: Pop Artists to Watch in Austin


We're only days away to the official start of the Music portion of the annual South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive festival that formally kicks off next week Wednesday. The action-packed Austin, TX festival has tradionally been a fantastic platform for young, up-and-coming artists to play lots of shows, get noticed and expand their fanbase among the many influencers and other tastemaker types that trek to South by Southwest from all over the world.

This year, I will be attending South by Southwest for the fourth year in a row. Over those past few years, the festival has ballooned into a gigantic happening with brands promoting their wares, labels parading their latest signings and promising indie upstars trying to get attention while we all stand in line for hours to get some authentic Austin BBQ for lunch. 

For me personally, South by Southwest has been a great place to see many of the acts I'd been blogging about for months and also discover a few new ones. I remember the years I saw Frankmusik and Marina & The Diamonds for the first time while I zig-zagged around town to interview (then) newcomers like Ellie Goulding, Dev and Neon Hitch. My big discovery last year was Disclosure who played a 1 a.m. show just outside the Austin city center that was attended by a hundred people or so. The group was still unsigned in America at the time (they were scooped up by Cherrytree Records right after) but that performance put them in pole position for success stateside.

I will be spending a few days in Austin next week before heading to Miami for the Winter Music Conference. I compiled a shortlist of artists that will perform at South by Southwest that I believe will leave Austin by the end of next week with more momentum for continued success.  Read on for a few notes about some of those artists to watch at South by Southwest and listen to all of my picks on the SXSW 2014: Pop playlist on Beats Music.

Redbullet Betty Who: Frequent readers of this blog will certainly not be surprised by this selection. I've been a supporter of Betty Who since day one. I exclusively premiered her "Somebody Loves You" late 2012 that became a blog sensation and turned Who into one of the hottest new talents on the pop scene to watch. (Listen on Beats)

Redbullet Chloe Howl: The British singer has been been a blog darling for years now and she's finally making it to the U.S. to properly kick off  promo for her debut EP that is released in America on Tuesday. It's fun, clever and hooky electro-pop that pop lovers everywhere will embrace. (Listen on Beats)

Redbullet Jetta: After blogging about her incredible "Start A Riot" years ago, I finally saw Jetta perform live at South by Southwest upstairs in a small dive bar on 6th Street. I was blown away by her confidence and powerful vocals. Now, one year later, she's one of the biggest priorities on Republic Records and her single "Feels Like Coming Home" is gaining heat on radio following its feature in a Google commercial. Jetta is the real deal and she's most definitely one to keep on the center of your radar. (Listen on Beats)

Redbullet Tove Lo: The Swedish singer/songwriter has written many of your favorite pop songs including a few gems on Icona Pop's debut album. Following the release of the single "Habits," she's getting ready to step into the spotlight and her just-released EP Truth Serum gives a taste of what's to come. It combines brutally honest lyricism with a bittersweet sentiment that the Swedes have perfected. I'm a big fan and I'm very curious to see her live show. (Listen on Beats)

Redbullet Sam Smith: Following his hits with Naughty Boy and Disclosure, Smith is about to release one of the most exciting albums of 2014. I've heard snippets of it and it blew me away. His music fits right on the bleeding edge of soul and pop much like how Adele positioned her first two albums. Seeing Sam Smith live is an equally impressive experience that is even more special in small, intimate venues that South by Southwest is made off. (Listen on Beats)

Redbullet Gorgon City: Disclosure are the bonafide kings of the commercial deep house revival and they have paved the way for acts like Gorgon City to bring more of that viby house coolness. The duo just celebrated a massive U.K. hit with "Ready for Your Love" featuring MNEK that most certainly has the potential to crossover into the pop world with a little push and persistence. (Listen on Beats)

Redbullet Liz: In recent weeks, I've been obsessed with Liz's new EP that is a collection of songs that celebrates everything that we love so much about '90s R&B and pop. It's a sound that is retro in its original but forward in its execution. She's could easily be one of the biggest new acts to emerge in 2014 with South by Southwest as a kick off point. (Listen on Beats

Also on the list: RAC, Matthew Koma and Le Youth.

March 8, 2014 | Permalink