Arts & Entertainment
3 min

The year ahead in music

Essential bands and artists to watch in 2014

Sharaya — an artist to watch in 2014. Credit: -

With The Great Fourth Quarter Pop Diva Clusterfuck of 2013 firmly in the rearview, Playlisp is already looking ahead to the music that’s on deck for 2014. Here are eight acts — both established and new — we’re counting on to queer up the pop world in the next 12 months.

Sharaya J
Sharaya J stayed mostly under the radar in 2013, releasing the Jersey club anthem “Banji” and a Dead Presidents-inspired video for “Smash Up the Place/Snatch Yo Wigs.” The latter flipped Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” into a contemporary banger and featured a cameo by Missy Elliott, who signed the New Jersey rapper/dancer to her label, The Goldmind Inc. Expect more in 2014.

Kiddy Smile
Staying on the banjee tip, Kiddy Smile is a fashion-forward Parisian house vocalist and rapper heavily influenced by the New York 1990s ballroom scene. Since being “discovered” by The Gossip’s Beth Ditto, he’s performed alongside Hercules & Love Affair, covered Toronto house group Azari & III’s “Manic” and released the throwback house-pop jam “Get Myself Alone.” His debut EP, Worthy of Your Love, is due this year.

The Hidden Cameras
The Hidden Cameras’ sixth studio album, Age, comes out on Jan 21 and is billed as a deconstructive take on band main man Joel Gibb’s musical roots. The video for the Mary Margaret O’Hara–featuring lead single, “Gay Goth Scene,” was a hit on the short-film festival circuit in 2013, and the video for the second single, “Year of the Spawn,” is shaping up as another cinematic work: it’s being helmed by Wild Combination and Teenage director Matt Wolf. (Watch for our interview with Joel Gibb in an upcoming issue of Xtra.)

Expect another sonic reinvention on Kelis’s sixth album, Food, her first for respected left-field electronic and hip-hop label Ninja Tune. Produced by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Food promises to return the R&B diva-turned-hot-sauce entrepreneur to her soul roots. The press material calls it “raw,” “alternative” and “Spector-esque” — worlds away from the Ibiza-friendly jams off 2010’s Flesh Tone.

Kylie Minogue
Since parting ways with her longtime manager to sign with Jay-Z’s management company, Roc Nation, Kylie Minogue has been busy working on her 12th studio album — due early in 2014 — with producers Pharrell Williams and Darkchild and songwriter Sia Furler. Sustained mainstream success in North America has long eluded Kylie, so will the move to Roc Nation signify a new sound? Or perhaps a play for EDM-obsessed American radio? Listen to the first single from the album and tell us what you think . . .

For much of the year, Robyn remained typically cryptic on the status of the follow-up to her acclaimed 2010 album, Body Talk. Finally, in December, the Swedish pop star announced that she and Norwegian production duo Röyksopp are “making music again” and will embark on a joint tour later this year. Expect some sort of release to coincide with that.

Sam Smith
British singer/songwriter Sam Smith broke out with a stunning vocal turn on Disclosure’s break-out single “Latch” in 2012. He later reteamed with the house-pop duo on “Together” — a collaboration with Nile Rodgers and Jimmy Naples — and has garnered significant buzz in the UK as a solo act. His debut album, In the Lonely Hour, will be released on May 26; the lead single, “Money on My Mind,” comes out in February.

Toronto synth-pop group Trust built up a solid fanbase after the release of their dance-y debut in 2012. Drummer Maya Postepski has since dropped out of the picture, leaving singer Robert Alfons to proceed as a solo act. Trust’s Joyland album is out March 4 and is full of goth-y dance bangers and weird and warbling falsetto. Check out "Rescue, Mister."