When it comes to music, the United States and Great Britain have a good thing going. Americans may have "invented" blues, rock, soul, hip-hop and house, but the Brits have a solid history of giving these sounds a fresh spin and inspiring Yanks to step up their game.
In recent years, U.K. acts ranging from Alt-J and Arctic Monkeys to Adele and Sam Smith have made major inroads on this side of the pond. Read on for 15 up-and-coming artists poised to lead the charge in 2015. Resistance is futile. Prepare to wave the Union Jack and turn up the bloody volume.
GEORGE EZRAThis fresh-faced folk-pop ...
GEORGE EZRA This fresh-faced folk-pop singer-songwriter kicked off what promises to be a massive 2015 by touring with both Sam Smith and Hozier -- fellow emotive Englishmen he’s often compared to. Americans know him mainly for “Budapest,” which spent 10 weeks atop the Adult Alternative Songs chart, and this April, Ezra will make plenty of new chums by strumming his vintage hollow-body guitar onstage at Coachella. -- KP
ELLA HENDERSONAfter finishing sixth o...
ELLA HENDERSON After finishing sixth on Britain’s X Factor in 2012, this soul-pop siren refused to fade away. Her breakthrough came in 2014, when her retro-modern R&B single “Ghost” and full-length debut, Chapter One, both topped the U.K. charts. Stateside, Henderson floated “Ghost” to No. 21 on the Hot 100 and missed out on a top 10 album by one place. Luckily, she’s only 19, and she’s already wowed Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman and others. Her day will come. -- KP
JAMES BAYMaybe it’s the hat. Wh...
JAMES BAY Maybe it’s the hat. Whether he's opening for the Rolling Stones or standing onstage to accept the BRIT Critics Choice Award, Bay looks the part of the modern troubadour. But he’s got the soulful pop tunes to back up the image, and his single “Let It Go,” from the EP of the same name, went Top 20 on Billboard's Adult Alternative Songs. When Bay’s debut, Chaos and the Calm, drops March 24, expect fedora sales to go through the roof. -- KP
GORGON CITYThe North London duo becam...
GORGON CITY The North London duo became one of deep house's most significant breakout acts last year. Their debut album Sirens cracked the top 10 Dance/Electronic Albums, producing Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart-topping singles "Here for You" and "Ready For Your Love," as well as Dance Club No. 1 "Go All Night." With a nuanced new live show planned for the Coachella and Governor's Ball festivals, Gorgon City looks ready to maximize on their current momentum. -- MM
ROYAL BLOODSome U.K. bands are said t...
ROYAL BLOOD Some U.K. bands are said to be “too British” for American tastes. Not Royal Blood. This Brighton duo delivers chugging garage-rock riffs that fans of the Black Keys and Jack White are sure to dig. Last month, Royal Blood celebrated its best British group win at the Brit Awards by performing “Figure It Out,” a Top 10 Alternative Songs smash with a mean riff and monster of a chorus. -- KP
YEARS & YEARSIn Britain, the only...
YEARS & YEARS In Britain, the only thing tastier than bangers and mash is bangers with soul -- peppy dance tunes featuring heartfelt vocals. Disclosure and Clean Bandit have mastered the recipe, and so have Years & Years, winners of the BBC’s Sound of 2015 poll. The electro-pop trio describes its sound as “feelings, emotions, and synths,” and that sums up the three terrific singles (“Take Shelter,” “King,” and “Desire”) it’s landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart. -- KP
WOLF ALICEOn “Giant Peach,&rdqu...
WOLF ALICE On “Giant Peach,” the lead single from this London foursome’s forthcoming debut album, My Love Is Cool, the guitars are indeed enormous, and the melody is sticky sweet. With her fierce lyrics and cool fashion sense, singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell could be the next great rock goddess. She’s part Chrissie Hynde and part Courtney Love, and when she and her bandmates grab hold of a noisy-sexy groove, it’s pretty irresistible. -- KP
JUNGLEIt’s important to stretch...
JUNGLE It’s important to stretch before listening to Jungle’s self-titled debut, a No. 3 hit on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart. The London disco-funk collective makes music that inspires some serious movement, and the videos for “Time,” “Julia,” and “Busy Earnin’” feature eye-popping choreography every bit as catchy as the songs’ hooks. This spring, Jungle will tour with Alt-J and turn the fields of Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Sasquatch into euphoric dance floors. -- KP
MNEKThis flat-topped 20-year-old sing...
MNEK This flat-topped 20-year-old singer, songwriter and producer is known mostly for his collaborations with fellow U.K. dance acts (he’s sung hooks on deep-house cuts like Gorgon City’s “Ready for Your Love” and Rudimental’s “Baby”). More recently, MNEK co-wrote “Living for Love” for Madonna’s Rebel Heart, and he’s placed a pair of tracks on the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart. If his latest, “The Rhythm,” becomes the next “Latch,” 2015 will be crackling year. -- KP
DUKE DUMONTWith a trio of No. 1 Dance...
DUKE DUMONT With a trio of No. 1 Dance Club tunes -- "Need U (100%)," "I Got U" and "Won't Look Back" -- the Harrow native has gone from newcomer to full-fledged breakthrough, chalking up a well-earned Grammy nod in the process. Dumont blends lighthearted vocal hooks with U.K. piano house elements to infectious effect. Already the subject of a Las Vegas bidding war, his buoyant and accessible style might lead to a legitimate pop crossover in the coming year. -- MM
DRENGEIf this duo’s name is puz...
DRENGE If this duo’s name is puzzling (it’s Danish for “boys”), its song titles tell a clearer story. Drenge’s 2013 self-titled debut features grungy ragers called “Bloodsports” and “Face Like a Skull,” and the lead single from the band’s forthcoming sophomore effort, Undertow, may be its ultimate statement of purpose: “We Can Do What We Want.” When Drenge played the tune for Letterman, it’s a wonder his audience didn’t go mental like the hooligans in the video. -- KP
SCUBAAs underground dance music's wat...
SCUBA As underground dance music's waters rise in America, Scuba has the right name and sound to swim to the top. Already a staple at European festivals and credible clubs like Berghain and Fabric, the Hotflush Recordings founder is coming off a 2014 campaign that included coveted U.S. bookings at Coachella and Electric Zoo. He should see his stateside profile continue to blossom with more than a little help from forthcoming full-length, Claustrophobia. -- MM
CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMENFour Briti...
CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN Four British dudes with guitars and funny haircuts fly to New York, play the Ed Sullivan Theater and create a buzz. Sound familiar? Catfish and the Bottlemen aren’t quite the Beatles -- they’re Welsh, and their sound is more Strokes than it is “Fab Four -- but their single “Kathleen” is darn catchy. In addition to flooring Letterman, the tune went Top 20 on the Alternative Songs chart, setting the stage for a winter U.S. tour that just might spark some Catfishmania. -- KP
TEMPLESThe wigged-out spirit of &lsqu...
TEMPLES The wigged-out spirit of ‘60s psychedelia survives in Temples, whose fans include Noel Gallagher of Oasis, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and, oddly enough, Ellen Degeneres. There’s a lot to love about this foursome’s swirling, kaleidoscopic, hyper-tuneful rock ‘n’ roll, and the 2014 album Sun Structures -- a No. 4 hit on the Top Heatseekers chart. Next up for these sonic voyagers: a North American tour that includes stops at Sasquatch and Bonnaroo. -- KP
DUSKYWhile they have yet to make a sp...
DUSKY While they have yet to make a splash on the American charts, this North London outfit has become a burgeoning club sensation with two Beatport No. 1s for smooth singles "Careless" and "Yoohoo." Drawing accolades from key tastemakers like Pete Tong and Annie Mac while filling clubs across the globe, Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman are a radio-friendly release away from Dance Club chart crossover. Don't sleep on this fast-rising duo. -- MM