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This article is from Issue 56: Mar/Apr 2012

2012 New Music Guide

Our picks for this year's emerging artists and trends you'll want to know.

Every year, RELEVANT makes a series of predictions about the coming year in music, some of which are more accurate than others. But that’s because, like anything else you try to predict in pop culture, it’s pretty much impossible to guess half of what happens. After all, who really thought Arcade Fire would win the Grammy for Album of the Year last year? Apparently not Twitter users—who spent most of the night after asking what an Arcade Fire was.

But none of that will stop us from making predictions about the trends, bands and albums that will change music in 2012—and obviously this year, we’ll be completely correct. Some bands we've come to expect great music from will finally deliver (maybe Muse or the Killers), some groups that disappeared for a while will return (examples: Air, who make dull music interesting somehow, and Soundgarden, who will likely do the opposite), and then 2012’s version of Foster the People (bold prediction: Electric Guest) will come out of nowhere and take over the radio. At least at that point we won't have to deal with the hype about Lana Del Rey.

ARENAS BELONG TO SKRILLEX

Pop radio sounded more and more like a dance club in 2011, between the weirdo lewd bounce tracks of LMFAO, David Guetta and his parade of guest vocalists, and U.K. producer Calvin Harris—with some help from Rihanna—who brought a straight-ahead house track to the top of the charts with “We Found Love.” This trend looks to continue, mostly because the music producers working on mainstream pop records were reminded at some point that people actually enjoy dancing or, at the very least, shifting their weight rhythmically in the bucket seats of their vehicles. Beyond that, there’s still another popular sub-genre of dance music out there mostly focused on giant bass drops accented with bits of melody, with Deadmau5, Kaskade and Bassnectar filling tents and giant halls across the country. Even though Swedish House Mafia sold out Madison Square Garden in 2011 and Daft Punk could take over the world, strangely, there hasn’t been a massive star from that field.


If someone’s going to pull it off, it’ll be Sonny Moore, better known as Skrillex.