Breakout Artists of 2011

Wiz Khalifa

After the success of his recent mixtape, “Kush & Orange Juice,” and his Pittsburgh-repping hit, “Black and Yellow,” Wiz Khalifa is most likely primed for superstardom. His lethargic flow fits well with his content, often about his lust for women and/or his obsession with marijuana. Even if his subject matter is trite, Khalifa will be one of the most recognized rappers in hip-hop by the end of a year that will also host new records from Drake, Lil Wayne and a collaboration between Kanye West and Jay-Z.

Bon Iver

Hanging out with Kanye West has its perks. Bon Iver, beloved in indie cliques, had his (heavily auto-tuned) voice heard by millions on West’s newest album in the brilliant song, “Lost in the World.” However, Bon Iver is most beloved for his somber love songs, ideal for wintery break-up mixtapes or Romantic retreats to the woods. Much less melodramatic than it seems, Bon Iver’s music is smart, poetic and accessible with a sincerity that could catch onto the masses if placed on the right movie soundtrack.

The Big Pink

One of the most underrated albums of 2009, The Big Pink’s eclectic debut, “A Brief History of Love,” mixes hip-hop instrumentals, fuzzy guitars, reverberating vocals, and large choruses, crafting the promising group’s unique sound. The two-piece plans to make a hip-hop inspired record in 2011, which sounds strange coming from an indie-rock band. However, after hearing the group’s reworking of Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams,” where they turned a pop gem into a haunting acoustic song, these guys prove that they can successfully cull from an unlikely genre to make their distinct brand of music.

Two Door Cinema Club

Even with the perennial coverage of indie-rock, some bands slip through the cracks. Two Door Cinema Club belong in this category; while the music networking site, Last fm, has the group co-headlining their festival with Tokyo Police Club, this Irish group has not garnered the attention they deserve after their impressive debut, “Tourist History.” Recorded in the same studio where Phoenix produced “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” Two Door Cinema Club draw similarities to their studio-sharing contemporaries, creating infectious pop songs that are ideal for your 30-second commercial clip—isn’t that how all indie bands hit it big these days?

Kevin Stevens can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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