The Best of What's Next

26 Emerging Artists You Must Know

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Lists like this often end up being only superficially about the artist's work. The focus shifts instead toward triangulating which act is going to be the next to blow up (as if being the best were somehow a prerequisite for achieving blown-upness).

We at Paste navigated this minefield through democracy—it’s an election year, after all. We nominated the new-ish artists we were most passionate about. Then we voted. Then we tallied the votes. A simple enough formula.

We invited four of our favorites from the list—our cover stars—to meet up at Milk Studios in New York City and have their picture taken together. It was a fun afternoon and an interesting study in contrasts: Lidell’s goofing for the camera loosening up Painter, The Bridges’ bashful lead singer; the wake-up-and-go fashion stylings of Vernon next to the meticulously coifed and tuxedoed Monáe.

Every artist in this feature has made some shockingly great music right out of the gates. May they all sell millions of records in their lifetime, or at least have long careers that make listeners feel like a million bucks.

Bon Iver: Daydream Hibernation

The Bridges: All In The Family

Janelle Monáe: Music You Can Believe In

Jamie Lidell: Modernity Can't Save Your Soul

...and 22 more artists you ignore at your peril

Listen to Paste's Best of What's Next artists:

Best of Whats Next 08

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