rising artist spotlight

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Yuna is a huge star in her native Malaysia, known for indie folk pop-tinged tracks. I first noticed the 29-year-old singer-songwriter with her killer cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” She’s about to release her fifth studio album and showing off a brand new sound.

It appears Yuna is transitioning to R&B. The tracks she’s shared off Chapters, out May 20, show off a sexier and more sensual vibe. It’s the most evident on her Usher collaboration, “Crush.” Girlfriend is serving up major Aaliyah vibes. Her voice is like butter.

Check out her Usher duet below, along with “Places To Go” produced by the legendary DJ Premier. Who knew Yuna had such urban swagger. I’m loving her new sound.

listen after the jump

Rising Artist Spotlight: Mackenzie Thoms

In: Donovan, Music

Tori Kelly proved last year she didn’t need to win American Idol to make a huge splash in the recording history. Girlfriend became the “It Girl” of the year despite not even making the voting rounds. The 23-year-old singer was certainly the one that got away. Here’s another rising talent that the FOX singing competition rejected.

Mackenzie Thoms tried out for Season 11 of American Idol. Clearly he didn’t make it far because I don’t really remember him on the show. Like Tori proved, that doesn’t matter if you got mad skills.

The Seattle-raised singer made heads turn with his debut single “Conviction,” released last year. His latest, “Do Me All Again,” is even better. It’s R&B with a pop sensibility and radio friendly. Give it a listen below, along with his previous single.

“‘Do Me All Again’ is about the difficulty being in a relationship. Basically me asking the other person if being with me was worth the heartache. When I wrote this song it was with 2 of my friends when I was in a moment of vulnerability. I really wanted to be express my situation at the time. So that’s what I did. I hope when people listen they realize that nobody should ever be with a person who’s only giving or getting half of themselves.” – Mackenzie Thoms

listen to his music after the jump


Initially, I was turned off by Pia Mia. I know she can’t help it, but I found her name borderline annoying. Silly, right? Anyway. Despite my attempt not to like her, the 19-year-old singer won me over with her Chris Brown-assisted single, “Do It Again.” She’s followed that up with an even more fantastic offering.

If you like “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, you’ll love “Touch.” Since the track was co-produced by BLOOD, the same person who assisted Skrillex on The Biebs song, it’s not surprising both tropical house-tinged tracks sound quite similar. In her case though, the summery vibe is fitting given her exotic heritage.

For the accompanying visual, the diva from Guam chose to film in Australia. Wise decision given her previous track charted quite well Down Under. Pia looks great in the Dave Meyers-directed music video, but the choreography is a bit pedestrian. Doesn’t really matter though, because “Touch” is sensational. It’s my new obsession. Check it out below.

watch video after the jump


If you’re hoping this is another dig aimed a Katy Perry, you’re out of luck. This “Bad Blood” is a hot new track from rising artist Nao.

The British R&B singer debuted her new single on BBC Radio 1 earlier this week. The track, produced by Grades, is off her forthcoming debut album. If you love the slinky soul jam, be sure to check out her EPs- February 15 and So Good. There’s also her Disclosure collaboration, “Super Ego.”

Commit Nao to memory. This rising talent is surely here to stay. Check out “Bad Blood” below. If this blows up, I can totally see some mashup artist mixing it with Taylor Swift’s hit single. That would be epic.

listen after the jump


Tom Aspaul is a rising singer and record producer whose recent writing credits include penning tracks for Little Boots, Karen Harding and Kylie Minogue. He steps away from his pen for a moment to stand in the spotlight. The Brit teams up with XY Constant for a new banger title “Do It Well.”

My friend from across the pond recently shared this track with me and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I get a Years & Years-type of vibe from it. Looking forward to more from these two talented individuals, especially Aspaul. Love his sweet innocent-sounding voice. Check out “Do It Well” below.

listen after the jump

Rising Artist Spotlight: Maliibu N Helene

In: Donovan, Music

Can’t really explain why, but I’m kinda obsessed with these two chicks. How could I not? One of them spells their name, Maliibu with two ‘i’s. Can’t get any more ghetto fabulous than that 😉

Maliibu N Helene are an exciting new duo signed to Island Records. Helen Britany is a Cali-via-Jersey songstress while Maliibu Miitch is a South Bronx rapper. Together, they’re poised to make a big splash this summer. Especially, with their hot new single, “Figure 8.”

“The fact that our partnership does work and that we truly enjoy each other’s company and love making music together shows that it doesn’t matter where you grew up or what you’ve been through,” Helene says. “Music is the one thing that can bring people together. It’s universal.”

Figure 8” is another DJ Mustard-produced masterpiece. DJs have been pushing this hardcore at the clubs recently which will no doubt translate to a strong showing on the charts.

The accompanying clip is a fun romp that boasts some simple yet fun moves. It’s all about the choreography during the chorus. Not surprisingly, I’ve dropped those moves several times since seeing it. Check out their music videos below.

watch video after the jump


Back in 2013, I questioned if Tori Kelly was the one American Idol let slip through their fingers. The California native auditioned for the ninth season of the FOX singing competition, making it to Hollywood but failing to make the Top 24. Simon Cowell called her “almost annoying” during her audition. Fast forward years later and it’s the 22-year-old who’s now having the last laugh.

After Idol, Tori became a huge YouTube personality. Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, scooped her up and guided her to a record deal with Capitol Records.

The infectious lead single, “Nobody Love,” off her debut album is building buzz and destined to be her breakout hit. That shouldn’t be a surprise given that it’s produced by Max Martin. The Swedish hitmaker has crafted hits for Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and P!nk to name a few.

Commit Tori Kelly to memory because mark my words, she’ll be pop’s next big sensation. Check out her “Nobody Love” music video below.

watch video after the jump

Let St. Lucia ‘Elevate’ You With His Hot New Track

In: Donovan, Music

I’m calling it now. “Elevate” is going to be a huge summer hit in 2014. That’s right. 2014. No typo here. Just like Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” Emeli Sande’s “Next To You” or countless other international tracks, it’ll take a year for North American radio to embrace this talented (and cute I might add) South African singer.

St. Lucia is actually a one-man band fronted by Jean-Philip Grobler. He’s opened for acts like Ellie Goulding in the past and released a successful EP last year. He’s back and with a hot new track to boot. “Elevate” reminds me something Phil Collins would’ve done back in the 80s but with a modern twist. It’s tropical synth-pop. Is that even a genre? Regardless of what category you’d put him under, there’s no confusion that his new single is fantastic. Check it out below.

listen to the hot track after the jump

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