1. Nicki Minaj
A spitfire female rapper, Nicki Minaj tops the list of Breakout Artists. With in-your-face lyrics, a fierce personality and a style all of her own, the 26-year-old from Trinidad burst onto the music scene this year. After being signed in 2009 by Young Money Entertainment, she appeared on one of the biggest tracks of the beginning of 2010, “Bed Rock,” which also featured heavyweights Lil’ Wayne, Drake and Lloyd. Nicki won numerous awards including BET’s Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, Best New Artist, the Teen Choice Award’s Choice Breakout Artist, and the BET Hip-Hop Award for Rookie of the Year. Minaj also appeared on tracks with Trey Songz, Ludacris, Sean Kingston and Will.I.Am. By October of this year, Minaj was the first artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously and dropped her debut album “Pink Friday” this past November.
2. Justin Beiber
This 16-year-old from Ontario made the biggest teenage splash since the time of boy bands in 2010. After releasing singles “One Time”, “One Less Lonely Girl”, and “Favorite Girl” in late 2009, Beiber began receiving worldwide recognition. In January, Beiber collaborated with Ludacris to create the smash hit “Baby” which would become his biggest hit to date. Throughout the year Beiber became a household name, appearing on television shows such as “The View”, “CSI”, and “Saturday Night Live.”
Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. became a sensation in 2010. Better known by B.o.B., this rapper released his debut single “Nothin’ on You”, which also featured fellow newcomer Bruno Mars, early in the year. The single would ultimately reach the No.1 position of the Billboard Hot 100. Following the success of the song, B.o.B. released his album “B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray” in April and the album skyrocketed to the No. 1 status on the Billboard 200, Billboard R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums, and BIllboard Rap Albums. To date, B.o.B. has been nominated for multiple awards including the American Music Awards Best Breakthrough Artist, Best Hip-Hop Artist, the BET Awards Best Male Awards, and MTV’s Video Music Awards Video of the Year, Best Collaboration, Best Hip-Hop Video and Best Pop Video.
4. Bruno Mars
Hawaiian native Bruno Mars became a part of the music scene by working in the background, co-writing singles “Right Round” by Flo-Rida, “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan, and “F**K You” by Cee-Lo Green. In 2010 however, after appearing on Travie McCoy’s smash single “Billionaire” and B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You”, Mars established himself as an independent artist. In October, Mars released his debut album “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” which featured the lead single “Just the Way Your Are” which reached the Top 10 chart positions in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Though she appeared on 2009’s smash “Right Round” by Flo-Rida, Ke$ha’s solo success came late in 2009 with her debut single “Tik Tok,” a song about partying that would reach number one in 11 countries. Appearing as a hot mess party girl most of the time, Ke$ha released her debut album “Animal” in January. Though it received mixed reviews from multiple critics, the album debuted in the number one spot on the Billboard 200. “Animal” also featured singles “Blah Blah Blah” and “Your Love is My Drug” which also made Top 10 appearances on various charts. Most recently, Ke$ha released the single “We R Who We R” which appeared on “Animal’s” extended version entitled “Cannibal.” After co-headlining a summer tour with Rihanna, 2011 looks equally promising for this young female artist who will headline her “Get Sleazy” tour.
6. Zac Brown Band
Whether you love country music or hate it, you probably knew of the Zac Brown Band. Coming off the 2009 single “Chicken Fried,” this group appeared at Bonnaroo, the Country Music Awards and opened for the Dave Matthews Band on their summer tour. The band also was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, as well as Best Country Album. The group won the Grammy for Best New Artist and the CMA’s New Artist of the Year.
7. Taio Cruz
Though a United Kingdom success since 2006, the 27-year-old London native found American success in 2010. Cruz released his second album “Rokstarr” in late 2009 and broke through on the US charts with his hit “Break Your Heart” which featured American heavy weight Ludacris and peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. During the summer, it was hard to turn on the radio and not blast Cruz’s second hit “Dynamite.” This upbeat dance track reached the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached top positions in Australia, the United Kingdom, Zew Zealand, and Australia.
8. Sam Adams
Whether you love or hate Boston’s Boy, Massachusetts’s own Sam Adams had a whirlwind of a year. Coming off the YouTube sensation of his remix of Asher Roth’s 2009 hit “I Love College”, Adams’ “I Hate College” gained attention by fans and record labels. In March, Adams released his EP, “Boston’s Boy” which featured eight original tracks and in July re-released a deluxe version. The album debuted at No.1 on the iTunes hip-hop chart in its first week. The EP included singles “Driving Me Crazy”, “Just Sayin’”, and “Still I Rise.” Adams headlined Barstool Sports’ Stoolapalooza tour, which traveled to various New England universities in the spring. 2010 proved that Sam Adams was much more than a Boston brew, but also a new artist to keep an eye on.
9. Lee Brice
Lee Brice has been around the country music charts since 2007. 2010, however, proved a bigger and better year than any before for this singer and songwriter. In June, Brice released his first debut studio album “Love Like Crazy,” which rose to No. 44 on the US charts and peaked in the No.9 spot on the country charts. The single with the same name was released in 2009 and went gold. 2010 saw further chart success for Brice after releasing the second single from the album “Beautiful Every Time” a popular tune among country lovers.
10. The Glee Cast
Following 2009’s debut success of Fox’s newest high school sitcom “Glee”, high schools “Gleeks” across America downloaded and discovered their new found love for chorale. 2010 continued and gained greater success for the cast. Since its inception, the show’s cast has released five soundtracks, the first three reaching top five positions in the United States. Various cover singles have also been released, many of which have also reached chart positions. 2011 promises the return of this quirky show that gives hope for all the “Gleeks” out there.
Ashley Berger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.