One for the New Guys

Dave Iannacone

New music comes and goes all the time; that’s how the business works. In the digital age, it’s become increasingly easier for new and indie acts to find their niche in the pop music market, and right now, we’re experiencing somewhat of a rare influx. As I took a look at the current top-10 best selling songs on iTunes, I realized that five of them are from newcomers to the American music market. Oddly enough, only one of them is American. As much as we’re all used to seeing acts come and go, we’re really being bombarded at the moment. Maybe it’s because the “regulars” are taking a break. Beyoncé’s being a mom, Gaga’s prepping a tour, Jay-Z and Kanye are wrapping up Watch the Throne, and Katy Perry is half-heartedly milking a two year old album. So maybe there’s just room for these newbies. Strangely enough, most of them aren’t newbies at all.

The front-runner of them all is clearly fun., who are currently holding the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row (going on three) with their single, “We Are Young.” Now, the group isn’t exactly brand new. They’ve been around for a few years, but have seen next to no success until a Glee cover and Chevrolet Super Bowl commercial used the song. All of the sudden, they’ve got the number one song in the county. Even the fact that Janelle Monáe is featured on the track hardly helped it become a hit. For a song that was most likely doomed for underground appreciation only, its instant promotion to mid-party anthem is hardly anything for fun. to complain about.

Then there’s Belgium-born, Australian-raised Gotye, an artist who’s been around for over a decade but has seen absolutely no success anywhere in the world. Having been cranking out indie pop/alternative songs for years, he finally got one to slip through the cracks. “Somebody That I Used to Know,” features another newcomer, Kimbra and has made a rapid upgrade for alternative radio to top-40. Despite the critical praise for the song, the track didn’t get a big promotional boost like “We Are Young” did, so its success is even more surprisingly. It’s currently sitting nicely at number two on iTunes, and is likely to bounce further up the top-10 on the Hot 100 next week.

In addition, there’s Canadian Idol finalist Carly Rae Jepsen, who’s lighting things up with her US debut, “Call Me Maybe.” This is another head scratcher because she only came in third place on the show, but her first album and subsequent singles did absolutely nothing in Canada. Now, she’s back and seeing success on both sides of the border.

Finally, we’re left with the UK’s proper answer to the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, albeit 15 years too late. Boy bands, boy bands, boy bands! First we have The Wanted, who have seen major success in the UK since 2010, but have now taken to America. Their single “Glad You Came” is a top-3 hit here, despite them literally coming from nowhere. Then there’s One Direction, The Wanted’s little brothers, if you will. These boys have recently been stealing a bit of Bieber’s thunder since cracking the US. One Direction was compiled from X Factor (UK) rejectees, who came together and competed as a group. They finished in third, but have made a huge splash ever since. Now, with their single “What Makes You Beautiful,” they are taking over America. If you don’t believe me, their album has officially become the first debut album by a British group to EVER debut at number one. Yes, not the Beatles, not the Rolling Stones, not even the Spice Girls were able to accomplish this. That’s the power of pre-teen girls for you!

So all in all, there’s nothing like some good, exciting acts to really keep the heart of the music industry beating. Clearly pop music is thriving more than ever, and even artists who have maintained some serious indie cred are topping the charts. I hope that Gaga and Beyoncé know what they’re getting themselves into when they decide to come back!