4. Passion Pit
For Passion Pit’s sophomore studio effort, singer-songwriter Michael Angelakos drew lyrical inspiration from recent tumultuous episodes of bipolar disorder. Once again, Angelakos managed to wrangle his deeply troubled mind into a beautifully crafted album containing elements of pop, rock and electronica. He escalated Passion Pit’s signature synth-driven sound with some new soul, pouring all of his heart and voice into R&B-inflected tracks like “Constant Conversations.”
“Somebody That I Used To Know” morphed this little-known experimental artist into a full-blown pop culture phenomenon. The video for the track was imitated countless times, most notably in a skit on SNL. Viral videos, including Walk Off the Earth’s multimillion-hit Youtube cover, catapulted Gotye to fame and sent the single straight to No. 1 on the charts, where it stayed for a record-breaking eight weeks.
This year’s most successful breakout band was no doubt this New York City-based trio. Nate Ruess’s vocal range knows no limits, breathing life into every song on their bestselling sophomore album, Some Nights. The hit single “We Are Young” became a commercial success as it was featured in a Superbowl commercial and covered on Glee, but despite being overplayed, it retains its influence as the anthem of America’s youth.
1. Marina and The Diamonds
Welsh solo artist Marina Diamandis coined her stage name, Marina and The Diamonds, to honor her fans—“The Diamonds”—who supported her from the start. A singer-songwriter sensation in a world of pop “artists” who lack the ability to produce their own music, Marina turned music media on its head when she rose to fame by word of mouth—and a cult-like Tumblr following. Her groundbreaking approach to pop soared in this year’s concept album, Electra Heart, inspired by different female archetypes constructed by society: the Primadonna, Su-Barbie-a, the Teen Idle and the Homewrecker. This is more than a simple story of lovelorn tragedy, but a harshly true tale of a society brainwashed by sex symbols and in desperate need of change. The lyrics are honest and heartbreaking, but they culminate with a message of hope not only for love, but also for the music industry. While her first album incited buzz and rave reviews in the indie community, this year’s sophomore effort Electra Heart truly asserted her as a force to be reckoned with. This “Primadonna” girl is poised for indie pop-stardom.