Breakout, Breakout, Breakout!


By Alan Ho


Last year,we saw a LOT of breakouts; among the names were Kacey Musgraves, Lorde, Florida-Georgia Line, Kendrick Lamar, Bastille, Macklemore/Ryan Lewis, Imagine Dragons and Zedd.  And its never too early to forecast potential breakout acts for 2014…names you will know by the end of this year…so here are some names to watch out for:


Yes, he began to create momentum the last two years, but he hadn’t reemerged as a one-man show until last November, thus gaining the kind of traction the original Passenger was unable to create about a decade ago when they formed.  Now after some of that momentum saw him tour his native UK and also Ireland and other points around the world, he is about to break out big time here in North America, where his breakout single “Let Her Go” has ruled the Heatseekers Chart for Billboard for 8 weeks and 45 weeks overall.  Get ready “passengers” and strap on the seat belt!!!


This Scottish synth-pop trio spent the past year building up to what is expected to be a breakout 2014.  First came SXSW and them bagging the inagural Grulke Prize, then showcase appearances with Depeche Mode and the Jimmy Kimmel Show. 

The group ended the year with the release of their debut album, to relatively modest sales but high critical praise, setting the stage for a breakout year this year to prove that they are about to take their place up high on the totem pole of synth-pop.

Paradise Fears

This South Dakota alt-rock group has actually been around since 2010 but like Passenger, they have spent the past year creating momentum that could propel them to higher ground and into breakout territory before this year is over.  And they have done all this without the benefit of established management and a record label to work with.   The group, formed in high school once sold 24,000 copies of the debut album in 2011 by simply following tours as they hit their home state and going directly to waiting fans in ticket and admission lines.

Now they have seen time with acts like The Summer Set and All Time Low and released an EP that debuted no. 2 on the iTunes Alternative Chart and no. 19 overall, giving the group some big momentum heading into the year.  Could they sign with a label…perhaps land a spot on Warped this year?  Who knows…but we’ll keep watching and so should you!

Schoolboy Q

The rapper has actually been around for a few years, but it had always generally been (he has a couple albums and a mixtape or two) in the shadow of last year’s breakout star in hip-hop, Kendrick Lamar as he was a key element in Lamar’s Black Hippy Crew.  Now as widely expected, he is ready to venture out on his own and make his own shadow as he is set to drop his third solo effort in February that should catch a lot of eyeballs and ears this year.

Fifth Harmony

I had to wrestle with this for a bit and the fact that counterparts Little Mix had plenty of ink last year made the choice for me.  So I am sticking with the talented girls of Fifth Harmony, who have a better chance to take an empty throne left by Destiny’s Child and the Spice Girls for girl groups.  A very solid EP release earlier last year leaves a lot of pop lovers salivating over what the girls are capable of doing and it’s worth to say the EP should generate massive momentum as they look for bigger and better things this year.

Hunter Hayes

He’s been doing country music since he was a kid, armed with a cassette tape release, a few albums and writing some of the biggest hits by other established country stars.  However, a large relative shadow had been shrouding him in relative obscurity until 2012 when he teamed with Craig Kallman and now he has a few hits to call his own, toured with Carrie Underwood and compete with some of the same established stars he co-wrote for.  His long-awaited breakout could and should happen this year as “I Want Crazy” has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance.  A win there should propel him the momentum needed to turn 2014 into the Year of Hunter in country music.

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