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9 Breakout Pop Artists of 2012


There's no better way to get through the post-Labor Day grind than with some great new jams. We've got you covered with this roundup of musical up-and-comers we can't get enough of—all with new albums out now or soon.

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MNDR (pictured above)
Album: Feed Me Diamonds (out now)
Why you should listen: Plaintive synths, stuttering house beats, and quicksilver vocals make the 33-year-old electro artist Amanda Warner a good bet to become New York's next downtown pop princess (the fact that she's a creative muse to Mark Ronson won't hurt, either).


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twin_shadow_blog.jpg TWIN SHADOW
Album: Confess (out now)
Why you should listen: With its Morrissey-style vocals, ringing guitars, and brooding keys, the second album from the Brooklyn-based Dominican native George Lewis Jr., 29, manages to be moody and rousing at the same time.


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marina_blog.jpg MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS
Album: Electra Heart (out now)
Why you should listen: Welsh-born Marina Diamandis (the "Diamonds" refers to her fans, not a band), 26, is bringing the fist-pumping, Dr. Luke- and Diplo-produced anthems of her sophomore effort (already No. 1 in the U.K.) to the rest of the world as the opening act on Coldplay's current international tour.


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big_krit_blog.jpgBIG K.R.I.T.
Album: Live From the Underground (out now)
Why you should listen: The 25-year-old Mississippian fuses the syrupy swagger of Southern rap with classic R&B bass lines and choruses for a sound that just gets better as the night goes on.


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passion_pit_by_ jason_nocito_blog.jpg PASSION PIT
Album: Gossamer (out now)
Why you should listen: The indie outfit from Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the funny name (it's a term for a drive-in movie theater) finally follow up on their cult-favorite 2010 debut, Manners, with another maximalist, party-hardy collection of pop confections spiked with dark, depressive lyrics ("I'm so self-loathing that it's hard for me to see")—a combination that makes perfect sense following 25-year-old frontman Michael Angelakos' recent revelation that he's been struggling with bipolar disorder.


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breakout_pop_stars_asap_rocky.jpg

A$AP ROCKY
Album: LongLiveA$AP (out October 31)
Why you should listen: With his 2011 mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, the syrup-swilling, purple-dank-smoking, grilled and pigtailed Harlemite scored a $3 million record deal and an opening spot on Drake's tour (not to mention haters like Odd Future's Hodgy Beats, who dubbed him A$AP Copy), but the 23-year-old self-proclaimed "pretty muthafucka" isn't sweating any of it—as he puts it on "Goldie," the album's banging first single, "Niggas talk shit till they get lockjaw."


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purity_ring_sebastian_mlynarski_blog.jpg PURITY RING
Album: Shrines (out now)
Why you should listen: This two-year-old Canadian electronic-music duo (vocalist Megan James and producer Corin Roddick) have created an entirely original debut full of ethereal synths, deliriously manic beats, and darkly alluring lyrics ("Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you") that beg for multiple listenings.


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michael_kiwanuka_blog.jpg MICHAEL KIWANUKA
Album: Home Again (out now)
Why you should listen: He's the 25-year-old son of Ugandan immigrants who grew up in North London, but his sound feels profoundly American: a loose-limbed, easygoing brand of retro-soul reminiscent of Otis Redding and Bill Withers. The album's first song, "Tell Me a Tale," is a study in timelessness, with lines like "Tell me a tale that always was/ Sing me a song that I'll always be in" and a warm arrangement featuring bright sax, strings, and flute that'll make you feel like you're right at home.


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diamond_rings_by_norman_wong.jpg DIAMOND RINGS
Album: Free Dimensional (out October 23)
Why you should listen: The 27-year-old Toronto musician was a fairly standard-issue indie-rock frontman before reinventing himself (partly in response to the onset of Chrohn's disease) as something far more interesting and memorable: a gender-bending new New Wave star with a predilection for lipstick and eyeliner and a moody, dark, romantic sound with shades of Suicide and Joy Division. His sophomore album sounds like it was made for that 4 a.m. moment when you decide, to hell with it, you're going to stay up to see the sun rise.


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—Details Editors


Also on Details.com:
Introducing Michael Kiwanuka
The xx: Can England's Coolest Band Conquer the World?
Antibalas Reinvent the Rhythm Method

Photos (From top): Matt Salacuse; Getty Images; Caspar Balslev/Courtesy of Atlantic Records; Getty Images; Jason Nocito; asapmob.com; Sebastian Mlynarski; Rogger Dekker; Norman Wong.
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