Take one look at the 2014 music charts, and it's clear that this has been the year of the newcomer. While pop veterans like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Katy Perry were busy touring the world and yukking it up on the red carpet, young artists like FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, and Banks seemingly came out of nowhere to rule the radio, snagging magazine covers, posing for designer campaigns, and charming the fashion industry along the way.
Ahead, the top 10 up-and-comers that have made 2014 infinitely more awesome, leaving a lasting impression with their music and style alike. Before we look ahead to the new year, let's look back at the new talent that's made these last 12 months so rad.
Matthew Hemerlein, the 30-year-old man behind the monicker, spent last fall opening for Lorde, where he caught the attention of thousands of screaming girls — and one Karl Lagerfeld. The Keiser tapped the brooding, brilliantly-tressed classical musician to soundtrack his latest commercial, which you've surely seen on repeat over the holidays. The only thing dreamier than an ultra-modern atmospheric spin on the Grease classic "You're The One That I Want" is a dude who wears a worn-to-shreds jean jacket and well-loved vintage band tees while plucking his heart out on the violin, all which play second fiddle — mind the pun —to his expertly tousled hair.
After releasing her moody masterpiece of a debut album, Jillian Banks (who records under only her last name) provided a live soundtrack at just about every Fashion Week party that mattered, from Refinery29 to 3.1 Phillip Lim. Then, she was tapped by Coach to star alongside Zoe Kravitz and Odeya Rush in the label's fall campaign, which you've probably seen wallpapered on subways around New York City. There's no question as to why she caught the eye of a classic brand looking to attract a cooler customer: Though the music she's making is alt-R&B, her look is thoroughly goth goddess. Think Wednesday Addams meets "The Craft," two iconic pop culture touchstones the fashion industry can never get enough of. Bewitching, indeed.
The British rockers have been a big deal across the pond for awhile, but it took a little love from Taylor Swift to catch a break in America. In the midst of Swift's "1989" media blitz, she was photographed in the band's tour tee — and then, shortly after, was spotted allegedly making out with Karlie Kloss at their sold-out New York City show. But the supposed girl-on-girl action is neither here nor there. In his black gravity-defying skinny jeans, persistently shaggy mop, and tattoos (so many tattoos), Matty Healy is the only fellow boy bander who can out-style Harry Styles, which explains Taylor's attraction.
The best thing about Lorde, other than her expertly everygirl music, is her exceptionally everygirl style. While her pop-star peers like Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea were performing in platform pumps and skimpy leotards, the 18-year-old small-town New Zealand native was stepping into the spotlight — often on the very same stage — in old-school Armani and vintage Vionnet. The admirably self-aware teen, who has bravely embraced her pale skin and curly locks since day one, can rock a pantsuit better than Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. And she has, many times.
This Mercury Prize-nominated, Vogue-approved, oft-paparazzi-ed "It" girl propelled onto the scene this year with her genre-defying debut album and boundary-pushing personal style. She became something of a household name overnight, partly due to her undeniable talents, but also because of her vampire dreamboat boyfriend, Robert Pattinson. Though she's become the envy of girls everywhere, it's more likely due to her ability to wear pigtail braids, berets, and baby hairs (often all at once) than to the guy on her arm.
First Aid Kit
The fantastically-fringed sisters from Sweden have been making dreamy folk music for a few years now, but when they unveiled their latest album, "Stay Gold," Johanna and Klara Söderberg introduced a whole new aesthetic to match. Gone was their signature hippie garb, replaced with gilded threads that look as if they were spun from precious metal: foiled baby-doll dresses, sequin duster jackets, and the shiniest platforms you ever did see. If they stay this gold, they're destined for even bigger things next year.
No one has embraced the '90s resurgence quite as successfully as Charli XCX, who was wearing pleated plaid minis long before she reenacted "Clueless" with Iggy Azalea in the "Fancy" music video. Her straight-out-of-Delias vibe — aided by Spice Girls-inspired platforms and slip dresses that would make Courtney Love proud — is in line with her rebellious pop music that wouldn't have been out of place blasting from a boombox 20 years ago.
This hip-hop duo's biggest hit may be called "No Flex Zone," but the Mississippi-born brothers certainly have wardrobes worth flexin' over. (The fashion crowd will surely recognize the track from Solange's adorable wedding dance with her son.) For their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, 19-year-old Swae Lee and 20-year-old Slim Jimmy wore skinny jeans, circle-lens sunglasses, and one ridiculously rad orange fur coat that looked as if it came straight from a Betsey Johnson catwalk. It was a bold move for a widely unknown act, but as they say in "No Flex Zone," a track that references both Balmain and Alexander Wang, "I'm a trendsetter, I'm a go getter."
When a band is fronted by a dude who used to walk the runways for designers like Saint Laurent and Gucci, there's simply no way they're not going to be stylish. Matt Hitt, a baby-faced boy from Britain, moved to NYC to make music, but instead found himself moonlighting as a model. These days, he's doing the rocker thing full-time, but he and his black denim-bedecked bandmates still look as though they belong in an ad for Dr. Martens. (Coincidentally — or maybe not! — Drowners toured with the boot brand last fall.) Further fashion cred comes courtesy of Hitt's girlfriend, Hollywood offspring and "Fifty Shades of Grey" leading lady Dakota Johnson, who, when not on screen in BDSM lingerie, is quite the budding style icon.
Not many 13-year-olds get top billing at the esteemed Fader Fort during CMJ, but Willow Smith is not your average eighth grader. (In fact, as we all learned from that bonkers New York Times profile, the girl doesn't even go to school.) But while most kids her age are still shopping at Justice, Willow's wearing "Ain't No Wifey" crop tops, Givenchy platforms, and a whole lot of MSFTs streetwear (she's always reppin' for big bro Jaden's clothing line...even when no one else is). She can be over-the-top precocious — and so is her style — but it's also really impressive to have such a give-no-fucks attitude towards fashion at her age.
Touring is tough, especially for a young, buzzy Pitchfork-approved band who's only recently blown up. To make life on the road as easy as possible, The Preatures' knockout front lady, Izzi Manfredi, took to wearing little boys' American Apparel tees (all the better to show off her midriff) and Nars Schiap lipstick at every single show. The Aussie singer proves the power of having a signature (not to mention that powerhouse voice).