Americans love British music – there’s no other way around it. Outside of American artists, British artists are more likely to have success in America than any other nationality. From The Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Amy Winehouse and Adele, the number of artists who’ve made it big in the States is staggering.
With the Olympics taking place in London this year, what’s already turned into a large amount of new music from UK-based artists on American charts is only going to get bigger. Scores of the biggest names in the UK will be featured during the Olympics, many of whom most audiences will already know.
For every artist audiences know, though, there are scores more that Americans either don’t know, or are just discovering. Here are some of the biggest burgeoning pop acts from the UK that you may not know (yet).
Scottish DJ Calvin Harris has experienced moderate success in the UK since his debut album, I Created Disco, came out in 2007. In the past year, though, he’s gone from moderate success to global phenomenon. First was his collaboration with Rihanna on “We Found Love,” which Harris solely produced and wrote; that massive hit was followed by his US solo chart breakthrough on “Feel So Close.”
After finishing fourth during the seventh season of The X Factor’s UK edition, the spunky Cher Lloyd is poised for success on both sides of the pond. Her first British single, “Swagger Jagger,” debuted at #1, while her current American single, the cheeky “Want U Back,” is racing up the charts now.
Americans mostly know of Cheryl Cole as the American X Factor judge who was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger. In her native UK, though, Cheryl (who is reinventing herself as a unimonikered pop star, like Madonna or Cher) is a phenomenon. Singles like “Fight for This Love” and “Promise This” have dominated UK charts. Her third album, A Million Lights, features her latest #1 single, “Call My Name,” a collaboration with Calvin Harris.
Welsh singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis, also known as Marina and the Diamonds, is a bigger name in the UK than the US, where her indie-tinged debut album The Family Jewels spawned several hit songs. For her sophomore album, the more pop-focused Electra Heart, Marina collaborated with a number of popular American producers. Electra Heart just came out in the US, along with Marina’s latest single, “How to Be a Heartbreaker.”
Over a year after its initial release stateside, Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” is just now becoming a Top 10 single on Billboard’s Hot 100. With the song hitting #6 in its 27th chart week, “Lights” set the record for the longest climb to the Top 10 in the Hot 100’s history for a non-country female artist. In her native England, Goulding’s been releasing music since 2009, where songs like “Starry Eyed” and a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” have become major hits.
Another song that’s racing up the American charts these days is “How We Do (Party),” the debut single from Rita Ora. Ora is a part of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, and even as an artist who’s just starting to become successful, her Jay-Z ties have already led her to a guest judging role on the UK X Factor and an opening gig for Coldplay. Additionally, her UK debut single, “R.I.P.,” debuted at the top of the UK Singles Chart. Her debut album, Ora, will be out later this year.
Olly Murs is a bigger name in the UK than the US, but that’s slowly starting to change. The former X Factor runner-up is currently opening for fellow British boys One Direction, which may be as solid a promotional opportunity as anyone could want this year. He’s also promoting his single “Heart Skips a Beat,” which hit #1 in the UK, to American radio. His American debut album, In Case You Didn’t Know, is slated to come out later this year.
Speaking of One Direction, chances are they’re the most well known name on this list. The group’s debut album, Up All Night, debuted at #1 earlier this year, and it’s the third-biggest selling album in the US during 2012 to date. Their debut single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” was a massive radio hit, and their second single, “One Thing,” looks to duplicate that song’s success. In the midst of a massively successful American tour, the group is working on their sophomore album, due out this winter.
While the boys of One Direction target preteen girls with their songs, the men of The Wanted have their targets set a little older. Propelled by their smash hit “Glad You Came,” which the band admits does refer to something a little bit…naughty, the group is currently promoting their new single “Chasing the Sun” to radio. An EP of songs from their two British-released albums came out a few months ago, with a brand-new album slated for release this fall.