Each Friday, Billboard presents Bubbling Under, a weekly look at new and noteworthy acts making their way toward Billboard chart success. Up this week: Kongos, We Are Toonz, Natalie Stovall and the Drive and Eli Jas
Having grown its fanbase through incessant touring — including a key opening slot for Linkin Park in South Africa in 2012 — sibling quintet Kongos makes its Billboard chart debut, as “Come With Me Now” (Epic) soars onto Rock Airplay at No. 26 and Alternative at No. 32. The band continues its torrid touring pace by opening for Airborne Toxic Event this month and will play the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del., in June.
We Are Toonz
Atlanta teen quintet We Are Toonz heats up mainstream R&B/hip-hop airwaves with “Drop That #NaeNae” (VPP/SkunkFunk), which drew 1.7 million listeners (up 80%) in the Jan. 20-26 Nielsen BDS tracking week. The song’s popularity continues to build thanks to its accompanying dance, the Nae Nae, which is based on Martin Lawrence’s Sheneneh Jenkins character from his ’90s sitcom “Martin.” The group has employed social media to promote its breakout track and dance, spurring 1.1 million usages of the #NaeNae hashtag in the past 90 days, according to Twitter.
Natalie Stovall and the Drive
Natalie Stovall and the Drive, a high-energy touring act fronted by its fiddle-playing namesake, motors toward the Country Airplay chart with its debut single, “Baby Come On With It” (HitShop). Performing since age 10, Stovall formed the band seven years ago after cutting her live performance teeth playing fiddle in a band at the now-defunct Opryland Themepark in Nashville. “Baby” appears on the band’s self-titled EP, released late last year.
Eli Jas simmers just under the Tropical Airplay chart with “Deseandote,” featuring Fito Blanko (Top Stop). Jas’ powerful voice commands the infectious dance track, which blends merengue and pop with Blanko’s added urban twist. Born and raised in Manhattan, Jas’ diverse influences are apparent in her fusion of styles. Tropical radio is taking notice, including WAMG-AM Boston, which played the song 26 times last week.
Reporting by Wade Jessen, Amaya Mendizabal, Rauly Ramirez and Gary Trust of the Billboard charts department