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10 singers you need to know about in 2012

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With chart-topping Florence Welch as our cover star this week, Stylist's Anita Bhagwandas introduces ten up-and-coming singers to pop on your radar...

1. Grimes

Claire Boucher aka Grimes merges candy floss pink vocals with pivoting beats wrapped up in a dreamlike, ethereal guise. This Montreal native is the accessible end of the barrage of electro acts that the first half of the year is serving up. Think Nite Jewel with fairies jumping across The Knife’s keyboards wearing little moonboots.

2. Jess Mills


Let’s get this out of the way now. Jess Mills is the daughter of Labour MP Tessa Jowell and lawyer David Mills. And yes, in part, she does subscribe to the middle-class singer-songwriter gone electro, with a little Topshop rebellion added into the mix. But, if like me, you wondered who had covered The Cure’s A Forest with such dark serenity, then to paraphrase New Girl, it’s Jess.

3. Iggy Azalea


Australian Iggy Azalea might be the newest face in male-dominated rap scene, but she also holds her own in the pop market. She’s part of the YouTube movement uploading their videos and watching them soar into notoriety. She’ll probably grace the cover of Dazed & Confused within 6 months, so name drop her now for instant kudos.

4. Lissy Trullie

She’s best friends with Chloë Sevigny, is a former model and lives that androgynous wistful existence of a late twenty-something in New York. Jealousy aside, Trullie’s scuzzy low-fi sound pays tribute to the raw production on The Strokes’ Is This It, and it’s a breath of fresh air. She’s one part Karen O and one part Kim Deal; but the soft focus garage rock glaze is entirely her own.

5. Ren Harvieu


She’s not strictly a newcomer, because last May Harvieu was poised, pointing towards stardom, when she sustained a back injury that left her paralyzed. At the tender age of 21, she’s back with an added depth to her music and it’s evolved in a way that absolutely belies her age. Her new-found intoxicating noir is evident; with touches of melancholia on enchanting tracks Forever in Blue, and a little more reverb on the top notes. Salford’s answer to Patsy Cline shoots for the stars, but her appeal will travel farther than she’d ever imagined.

6. Jessie Ware

A swift detour from journalism (she worked on the Jewish Chronicle) set Londoner Jessie Ware on the path to soul stardom. She’s the poster girl for 90’s R&B; it’s Sade taken to the next frontier, with slick production and a timeless, relaxing quality that’s gathering her column inches by the truckload. Although this means she’s occupying slightly niche territory, we’re in awe of Ware’s dedication to her true sound.

7. Karima Francis

The only way to truly explain Karima Francis’ sound is to compare her to Tracy Chapman. What’s impressive, immediately, is the truth behind the lyrics and the anguish lacerating through her vocals, bathed in absolute simplicity. She was a Guardian One to Watch back in 2009, but with a recent London show sending ripples through the music scene, this is going to be her year to truly shine.

8. Louise and The Pins

Louise Hull aka Louise and The Pins, takes Madeleine Peyroux’s melodies and fuses them with the gravel of Kitty Daisy and Lewis. The rockabilly elements are merged with Johnny Cash’s countrified tones, swaddled in retro Americana. You simply can’t help but be won over by her vintage-style, land-girl birdsong.

9. Gabby Young and Other Animals

There’s a transparency and pureness in Gabby Young’s voice that cuts across all realities. It’s in stark contrast her on-stage theatricality that plays her choir-girl vocals against her gin soaked, Gogol Bordello inspired folk backing band. She takes words like ethereal and magical to the outermost parameters, creating a sound so uniquely her own.

10. Foe

Hailing from Fleet, Hannah Louise Clark aka Foe has something of an erratic approach to her art. At times she pours out poignant laments like PJ Harvey, but at her best, she’s a modern incarnation of Katie Jane Garside (of Daisy Chainsaw fame), dark, complex and utterly compelling.

Picture credit: Rex Features

Words: Anita Bhagwandas

What do you think? Do you agree with our choices of the singers to watch for 2012? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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