A look back at 10 breakout acts whose chart action Billboard heralded early on
For a second year, Billboard presented our weekly "Bubbling Under" column, named after the longtime chart that tracks activity below the Billboard Hot 100.
The idea was to spotlight up-and-coming acts on the verge of breakout chart action. Last year, the feature marked, in many cases, our first editorial or chart ink on such eventual stars as Imagine Dragons, Florida Georgia Line, Kendrick Lamar, the Lumineers, Emeli Sande and more.
By year's end 2013, it looks like the feature has again served as a valuable barometer of future success.
Let's look back at 10 of the acts featured in Bubbling Under this year and their eventual chart heat.
What we said on Feb. 2:
Little Mix is about to take flight with its debut single "Wings." The British female vocal quartet was formed on the 2011 edition of "The X Factor" in the U.K. and is heading to U.S. shores in March. While the SYCO/Columbia act's former U.K. No. 1 single won't be issued to radio and retail until February, its music video has been a consistent top 15-seller in the iTunes Store since its release in December.
The act's debut album "DNA" roared to a No. 4 start on the Billboard 200 the week of June 15. It's sold 121,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, and generated the group's introductory Pop Songs radio hit "Wings."
What we said on March 30:
British rocker Frank Turner is approaching his first airplay chart ink, as the rollicking "Recovery" (Interscope) gains below Alternative and Adult Alternative Songs. The track previews his fifth studio album, "Tape Deck Heart," due April 23. Between March 9-16, Turner squeezed in 10 sets at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, prompting him to humorously list on his official website "die in a heap" as hisMarch 17 activity. He survived to begin a European tour on April 17.
Turner survived, and thrived, as "Recovery" went on to top Adult Alternative Songs for two weeks and reach the Alternative Songs top 20. Follow-up "The Way I Tend to Be" rose to No. 8 on Adult Alternative Songs earlier this month, while "Tape Deck Heart" entered and peaked at No. 4 on Folk Albums.
What we said on April 27:
Four acts boast a top 10 hit on both the Official U.K. singles and albums charts this week: P!nk, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and - a name likely unfamiliar to Americans - British rock band Bastille. The act's debut album "Bad Blood" (Virgin/Capitol) opened at No. 1 in March, powered by its top 10 single "Pompeii." Plans are in the works for an American release of the album, while "Pompeii" is garnering early U.S. radio support, including at alternative WROX Norfolk, Va. (268 plays through April 14, according to Nielsen BDS).
U.S. fans followed the lead of those across the pond, as "Pompeii" crowned Alternative Songs for four weeks. Amazingly, with the song at No. 2 this week, it's remained in the Alternative Songs chart's top two for three months running. It's also become a multi-format smash, jumping 25-21 on Pop Songs and 21-17 on Adult Pop Songs this week. Meanwhile, "Bad Blood" debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 11 in September and has sold 134,000.
What we said on May 4:
New Island Def Jam signee August Alsina looks to make his first chart appearance with "I Luv This Sh*t," which is nearing Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop. The Trinidad James-assisted track will be featured on the New Orleans crooner's debut album, due later this year. The song's video has racked 1.1 million YouTube views since its Valentine's Day posting.
The "luv" for Alsina was reciprocated, as his breakout track ruled the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart for two weeks in October. Follow-up "Ghetto," featuring fellow 2013 "Bubbling Under" act Rich Homie Quan, debuts this week on the ranking at No. 34.
What we said on May 25:
"All the Little Lights" (Nettwerk), the third album from British folk-rocker Passenger (aka, Mike Rosenberg), reached No. 7 on Heatseekers Albums and No. 8 on Folk Albums earlier this year. Since, the set's single "Let Her Go" has blasted to worldwide success, hitting No. 1 on 14 international charts. Adult pop KLLC San Francisco is helping bring the song, whose video boasts 31 million YouTube views, to U.S. audiences (14 plays in the May 6-12 BDS tracking week). Passenger, who's received praise from fellow Brit Ed Sheeran, will tour the U.S. from mid-July through early September.
Like Bastille, Passenger rode U.K. success to multi-format American acceptance, as "Let Her Go" became a Hot 100 top 10 earlier this month and has sold a hefty 1.8 million downloads. "All the Little Lights" has led Folk Albums for four weeks, amid a nearly year-long chart run, and sold 143,000.
A Great Big World
What we said on May 25:
After A Great Big World wrote "This Is the New Year" a few years ago, the act knew it wanted to get the anthem placed on Fox's "Glee." Fast-forward to 2013 and that's just what happened, as the then-unsigned singer/songwriter duo's tune aired on the show in January. By April, the pair had signed to Epic. Now, its version of the song is bubbling under Pop Songs with plays at 32 reporters.
"New Year" made for a nice introduction, squeaking onto Adult Pop Songs for a No. 39 peak in August. The act then issued follow-up single "Say Something," but it wasn't until the stark ballad was rereleased with Christina Aguilera that it exploded, blasting onto Digital Songs at No. 1 in November and reaching the Hot 100's top 10 this month. Having passed a million downloads sold, it continues to challenge for the Hot 100's top spot.
What we said on June 22:
Sixteen-year-old Lorde (nee Ella Yelich-O'Connor) draws her first ink on a domestic Billboard songs chart, as "Royals" (Lava/Republic) bows on Adult Alternative Songs at No. 28. The song spent three weeks at No. 1 in her native New Zealand in March/April, while parent EP "The Love Club" leapt onto Heatseekers Albums at No. 8 last month. The singer/songwriter signed her deal at 13 and took her stage name, and penned her debut hit, simply because "I was interested in aristocracy at the time," she has explained.
How's the cover of Billboard magazine as a gauge of her growth? Slightly more than two months after her "Bubbling Under" bow, Lorde graced the cover of our issue celebrating 25 years of the Alternative Songs chart. She added her own chart history, inking the longest command on the ranking (seven weeks for "Royals") by a woman in a lead role ever. The track, of course, became ubiquitous, dominating the Hot 100 for nine weeks and selling 4 million downloads. Proper debut album "Pure Heroine" has sold 541,000, while new single "Team" looks like a smash, too, scaling the Hot 100's top 25 and aiming for the Alternative Songs chart's summit.
What we said on Aug. 31:
After premiering on Billboard.com in May, "Animals" (Spinnin') marks Dutch DJ/producer Martin Garrix's first chart hit, as the hard-hitting EDM track bullets at No. 16 on Dance/Electronic Songs. The single is likewise drawing worldwide attention, having reached the top 10 on five rankings in Billboard's international charts menu, including crowning the Poland and, this week, Belgium digital song tallies.
Another act that made its way to the U.S. after worldwide buzz, Garrix became a fresh face in EDM's continued rise. This month, the cut topped Dance Club Songs (Dec. 14) and ascended to the Dance/Electronic Songs and Dance/Mix Show Airplay charts' top five.
Dan + Shay
What we said on Oct. 26:
Singer/songwriters Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney) snare the Hot Shot Debut at No. 55 on the BDS-based Country Airplay chart with their first single, "19 You + Me," the lead track from the twosome's Warner Bros. debut album, due early next year. The set was co-produced by Smyers, Mooney and Scott Hendricks, with whom the pair penned "19." Smyers is a native of Pennsylvania and Mooney hails from Arkansas.
Following the footsteps of Florida Georgia Line (No. 1 on Country Airplay this week with "Stay," the act's fourth leader in as many tries), Dan + Shay continue a wave of new duos crashing onto country airwaves. "19 You + Me" bullets at No. 22 on the ranking this week, making the song a potentially bigger hit to watch in 2014.
What we said on Nov. 23:
American Authors ascend to the Adult Pop Songs airplay chart's top 15 (17-15) and debut on Triple A at No. 27 with "Best Day of My Life" (Island Def Jam). The song was originally worked to alternative, but radio interest soared at the aforementioned formats following its exposure in a Lowe's TV ad. The track from the Brooklyn-based band, which formed at Boston's Berklee College of Music in 2006, is also building familiarity via its placement in the trailer for the new Vince Vaughn movie "Delivery Man."
"Life" is good for American Authors, having reached the Hot 100's top 40 last week. Radio is leading the way, as the memorable riff-infused track this week rises 7-6 on Adult Pop Songs and debuts on Pop Songs at No. 38 and Alternative Songs at No. 39. Like Dan + Shay's debut hit, "Life" could be only just beginning for what could be one of next year's biggest new acts.
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield, Wade Jessen, Gordon Murray and Rauly Ramirez of the Billboard charts department