Featured Artists: Recognizing The Next Big Thing

Featured Artists: Recognizing The Next Big Thing

When a popular artist releases a song featuring a lesser known singer or rapper, it’s hard to pay much attention to the person you’re not familiar with.

Break that habit.

You kick yourself because the sudden superstar on the radio sounds so familiar, and then you realize that he was featured on last summer’s overplayed song that everyone knows the lyrics to.

It happened with Bruno Mars.

Mars lent his vocals to artists such as B.o.B. and Travie McCoy, and attached his smooth voice to their well-loved songs, “Nothin’ on You” and “Billionaire”, respectively.  Only working behind the scenes writing material and producing, Mars had failed attempts under his belt for trying to branch out on his own as a singer.

That is, until 2010—the year that brought out blue skies, sunshine, and a whole lot of catchy songs.  Soon his career as a solo artist kicked off and everyone, whether they liked it or not, could belt out the majority of the words to “Grenade”.  The guy doomed to sing the soulful and sometimes overly poppy hooks had worked his way to fame and out of the ‘feat.’ waiting room.

The same story plays out for fast-rising star Sam Smith.

Smith won over the hearts and R&B loving souls of the world with “Stay With Me”.  His vibrato shot up your spine and tickled at something in your brain, and you thought maybe you had heard him before?  Ah, and you did!  Another featured artist strikes again.

First featured on a single by UK band, Disclosure, he was listened to but not necessarily heard.  Then he scored another feature, but nothing to fully demonstrate him as an artist—merely touch and go bits to get his talent out to the people.

He’s received glowing attention from fellow Brit, Ed Sheeran, who praises him as the rare and wonderful combination of a good person with a great album.  Things only seem to be looking up for the hopeful new male diva of music. and his female power vocal influences would be proud.

Brilliant entertainers that have managed their way to the top, or at least very close to the top, and we’ve only mentioned two!

There are many other once featured artists who are now breaking out with their own solo music, like Emeli Sandé (feat. on “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth), Jhené Aiko (feat. on “Beware” by Big Sean), and Ella Eyre (feat. on “Think About It” by Naughty Boy).

So, the lesson for today?  Keep an eye on the underdog, because who knows what they’ll do next.

Is there anyone who you think is the next big thing?

Leave your comments below!

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A broke but happy twenty-year old who is the owner of a new pup and less sleep. Currently studying Korean and meddling in International Relations.