Best New Artist – 2012 PopCrush Music Awards
While some of the artists nominated in our Best New Artist category have been around for a few years, they made their big breaks into the mainstream pop scene in 2012. Sharp-tongued rapper Azealia Banks, spunky British songstress Cher Lloyd, silky smooth crooner Frank Ocean and Jay-Z protégé Rita Ora are some of the entertainers in the running for the 2012 PopCrush Music Award for Best New Artist, with a few other contenders as well.
Azealia Banks released her sexual-charged dance-hop hit '212' in 2011, but the 'Liquorice' rapper really made a name for herself in 2012. From her '1991' LP and 'Fantasea' mixtape to her fashion-forward and innovative music videos, Banks has been everywhere this year, covering magazines with her beautiful mermaid hair and landing gigs at festivals like Coachella. She's even gotten enough recognition on her own to turn down an opening spot on Nicki Minaj's tour, without even a bat of her sky-high lashes.
Former 'X Factor' contestant Cher Lloyd has also been blowing up in a major way this year, especially because of her massive hit 'Want U Back,' which took over the airwaves in the summer of 2012. Her debut album 'Sticks + Stones' impacted within the Top 10 on the Billboard 200, and her follow-up single 'Oath' has become a BFF anthem for the 21st century. On top of all this, she's been playing gigs all over the States while still making time for her fiance and her pet pooches.
Ed Sheeran is also nominated for Best New Artist in PopCrush's 2012 Music Awards. Not only did the adorable redheaded Brit have a string of his own successful singles off of his debut album '+' this year -- 2011's 'The A Team' and 'Lego House' gained tons of momentum this year, while 'Drunk,' 'Small Bump,' and 'Give Me Love' are picking up airplay now -- but he also wrote songs like One Direction's 'Little Things' and 'Everything Has Changed' (he's also featured on the track) for Taylor Swift's 'Red' album.
Meanwhile, Frank Ocean might not be a new name to all of you, but he certainly owned 2012 with his incredible, critically-acclaimed debut album, 'channel ORANGE.' His thoughtful and deeply personal songwriting is a breath of fresh air in mainstream pop, with tracks like 'Thinkin' Bout You' and 'Sweet Life' addressing everything from the hardships of love to the socioeconomic and cultural differences within our country. Mix these solo accomplishments with a feature on Jay-Z and Kanye West's 'No Church in the Wild,' and you've got one of the hottest and most buzzed-about newcomers of 2012.
Closing out our list of nominees are Lana Del Rey, Psy and Rita Ora. Del Rey took the pop world by storm with her smoky and sultry vocals. In 2012 alone, she dropped her debut album (at least as Lana Del Rey) 'Born to Die,' with songs like the title track, 'Video Games,' 'National Anthem' and 'Blue Jeans' taking off. She also released her 'Paradise' EP, which includes her newer hits like 'Ride' and 'Cola.' Del Rey is a perfect example of the ever-changing state of pop, as she isn't worried about nailing the Top 40 formula more than getting her unique voice out there.
On the other hand, we've got Korean rapper Psy and Rita Ora, both of whom have had Top 40 hits this year, with the former really taking over the charts. Whether you like it or not, Psy's 'Gangnam Style' has become one of the definitive tracks of 2012, with its bouncy beat and sing-along chorus. Psy, who is now under the same guidance as Justin Bieber, even started a dance craze with 'Gangnam Style,' and don't even get us started on the video!
Meanwhile, Kosovo-born beauty Rita Ora, who has been taken under the wing of Jay-Z, had a huge year in 2012, busting into the spotlight with her single 'How We Do (Party).' Ora, who has also seen her singles 'R.I.P.' and 'Shine Ya Light' pick up tons of listeners, has now become a household name thanks to her distinctive vocals, amazing style, gorgeous looks and immense amounts of talent and star power.
Who has got your vote for 2012's Best New Artist? Vote for the singer and/or rapper you believe should take home the PopCrush Music Award below! Remember you can vote once per hour until the poll closes on Jan. 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!