This year's 21 Under 21 list -- our annual look at the hottest artists in all genres who can't yet legally purchase alcohol -- includes bubblegum divas, punky boy bands, plucky country pairs, two types of rap duos, and one very large K-pop ensemble. And that's just the beginning. The 21 creators celebrated below all make different types of tunes, but they've all achieved great things in their relatively short time on this planet. Another thing many share in common is an industrious use of social media.
View Charts Legend. See More Year-End Charts. The Weeknd.
The song hit 1 on the Billboard Emerging Artist Chart before the mysterious Weaver had even played an official show. He dropped his debut project, the song Indigo Child , at the end of August and has already topped year-end lists, signed to Columbia Records, opened for OutKast and been the subject of a New York Times profile. Not too shabby for an year-old. Raury is still trying to figure out his particular sound — drawing from influences ranging from Cody ChesnuTT to Janelle Monae to psychedelic folk, an unlikely pastiche — but still, he has the world's attention. This band of Pennsylvania upstarts — all the members are 20 years old or younger — play imaginative indie rock: high-energy songs that meander through folk, blues and classic rock. It's a potent sound that has earned the group plenty of hype and plum spots at ACL and Lollapalooza.
Our editorial content is not influenced by any commissions we receive. Every year, we talk about how eclectic the mix of new artists is, but it's impossible to avoid. The world is still flattening out, and the artists who are emerging today know fewer boundaries than any generation we've ever seen making music. At the same time, listeners are becoming more open-minded. We've seen a drug-fueled, shadowy figure from Toronto become a superstar. We've seen a teenager from New Zealand make the biggest pop song in the world. And we've seen a group of oddballs from California develop a die-hard international following. Nothing is off limits. In , young artists were unafraid to carve out their own path and follow their instincts. Some went futuristic, others went retro.