• Global Music Trends You Don’t Know About But Should

    You know that one song everyone in the city seems to know the words to? It plays over and over in every restaurant, through every speaker, at every party--it's like a craze has swept your city--or even country! Oftentimes, this effect is designated to a certain area. In other parts of the world they're rocking out to tunes that sound entirely different. It might seem like everyone on earth is obsessed with electro-pop. In reality, music trends around the world vary a ton. Wondering what they're listening to in Iceland? Japan? We're here to guide you through music trends around the world you might not know about. Beef up that playlist with something a little different!
  • UK Pop

    When you think about British music you might think about a certain band of adorable boys or maybe even grimy dubstep, but what your ears probably have yet to be graced with is this ambient pop that is dominating the electronic music scene in the UK right now. We are familiar with the Ellie Goulding style, but there is so much more that hasn’t hit the U.S. PC Music is a record label out of the UK that is basically the epicenter of this new, plur-esque sound. While PC keeps to the underground and emerging artists, here are the top UK artists embodying the new wave electric sound:
  • Clean Bandit

    British electronic music group hit the UK charts with this single, “Rather Be” at No. 1 this year. Their fusion of electro and classic sounds has had them topping UK charts since 2012.
  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor

    Sophie Ellis-Bextor is a British singer, songwriter, model and DJ. Former lead singer of ‘90s band Theaudience, Bextor has made a name for herself with her nu-disco, ‘80s-influenced sound. Her latest album, Wanderlust, was just released this year with hit single, “Young Blood.” The single reached No. 3 on the UK Indie Singles Chart.
  • Matrix & Futurebound

    Matrix and Futurebound are a duo that has had three UK top 30 hits, including “All I Know”, “Magnetic Eyes” and their latest, “Control” that peaked at No. 7 on the UK Charts this year. The song has been their biggest hit to date, and sounds like the ideal poppy club hit. Check it out.
  • Brasil Baile Funk

    Baile funk, better known to natives as funk carioca or favela funk is a type of dance music hailing from Rio. The name doesn’t just refer to the music, but the cultural amenities that accompany it. The style fills parties and discotheques all over Sud-América. The style has derived from late ‘80s and early ‘90s style “booty music” or “Miami bass” but developed into so much more. Baile funk has been the influence of so many pop and electronic artists, like Diplo and Nelly Furtado. Some old school but recognizable tracks include “808 Volt Mix” by DJ Battery Brain and Hassan’s “Pump Up The Party.” These rhythms and beats hold the roots of so much modern hip-hop. Although baile funk has come a long way since its ‘90s style, the modern pop take on it is really something else. Check out some of Brasil’s top artists:
  • Jota Quest

    Jota Quest is a Brazilian band that was originally formed in the ‘90s. The band stood out amongst others due their blue eyes soul-pop sound, like baile funk. Following the success of their album Dias Mejores, the band went on a “J15-15” tour where they would play for three to five hours and introduce new tracks to their fans. Their later album, Quinze won a Latin Grammy for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop album. Check out their funky hit, “Mondaou.”
  • Valesca Popozuda

    Valesca Popozuda is a Brazilian musician, dancer and former reality TV contestant. She is the lead singer of the carioca funk band, Gaiola das Popozudas. Her latest hit, “Beijinho No Ombro” is a rather intense funk song. She’s basically a Brazilian Lady Gaga and a pop queen. She performed “Beijinho No Ombro” on popular Brazilian talk show, Encontro. Check it out.
  • P9

    P9 is a Brazilian pop boy band out of Rio. They’re basically the Brazilian One Direction but funkier. Their first single, “My Favorite Girl” was released last year in an eponymous EP to iTunes. Within 24 hours it broke the record for views of a Brazilian band on YouTube, with almost 2.5 million views. They have more a pop feel than other baile funk artists, but the influence is still apparent and sets them apart from typical bubble gum pop stars.
  • Japan’s J-Pop

    When we think Japan, we think of cutting edge, colorful style, delicious bento box lunches, massive department stores and imaginative manga. It’s a country with some of the most explosive pop culture on earth. But what about music? Japan is always pushing boundaries when it comes to the latest sounds. J-pop is a phenomenon that encompasses every amazing aspect of Japanese culture phonetically. We all know K-pop, the numbingly hardcore bubble-gum pop that dominates the Korean music scene. J-pop is different. J-pop has its roots in ‘60’s pop and rock, like a modern kawaii take on The Beatles. It’s a fuse of electronic pop and rock that has become the New Wave craze in Japan.
  • Yellow Music Orchestra

    Okay, even though Yellow Magic Orchestra, also known as YMO, has been around since the ‘70s they’re still an extremely relevant aspect of Japanese pop music culture. They are basically the Japanese originators of synth pop, ambient electronica and modern J-pop. They’re known (along with other J-Pop bands) for their use of The Roland TR-808 Rhythm composer, a programmable drum machine that made way in the ‘80s. They’ve had nine studio albums, 13 live albums, six compilation albums and 23 singles. Basically, if you want to know about Japanese music you better start with YMO.
  • AKB48

    AKB48 is a Japanese idol girl group and as of last year the group has 89 members. Basically, the group is based out of a theatre in Akihabara (an area in Tokyo). The group goes beyond any typical pop group: it has its own theatre to perform out of. Its creator, Yasushi Akimoto wanted to give fans a different experience, a place where they can come and be overwhelmed by J-Pop goodness. The group has subgroups (to make things a little easier) but has had mind-numbing success as a whole. Its all about bubblegum pop and synchronized dancing that makes fans go wild. They’ve been praised by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and so much more it seems it must be common knowledge to know about the enormous pop group. They’ve won every (15) award they have been nominated for and sold close to 30 million singles worldwide.
  • Ayumi Hamasaki

    Ayumi Hamasaki is what we imagine would come from Madonna and Lady Gaga having a super baby that somehow turned out a J-Pop princess (she even has a hit song called “Poker Face.") Also known as Ayu, this model, actress and singer/songwriter has been dubbed the “Empress of Pop” because she’s basically the biggest pop star in all of Asia. She’s behind many fashion and music trends that flourish throughout China, Singapore and Southeast Asia. She has sold over 50 million records in Japan and has had 14 albums. You don’t know J-Pop if you don’t know Ayumi Hamasaki. Just allow yourself to be wowed by her performance of “Wake Me Up” for her 15th anniversary tour.
  • Icelandic Electro-Folk

    Iceland, one of the most mysterious and wonderful places on this earth, it’s no wonder it’s also home to some of the most incredible musicians. We're familiar with Sigur Rós, Björk, and Of Monsters and Men. We've also probably been blown away by their music. But Iceland has so much more to offer that remains (for the most part) unheard by by non-Icelanders. Yes, we're familiar with folk music and heavy electronic synths, but together? Not exactly. The Icelanders have a way of combining the two into what, we can call nothing short of an experience. The sheer linguistics of Icelanders could be an instrument in itself. Even if the lyrics are in English, the elf-like voices are enough to move you to a different place and time. The music is not only transcendent but ethereal. It’s folk music you can imagine hearing at a music festival or dance club. If you're looking for the full roundup of what's coming out of Iceland, check out Pigeons and Planes’ article “Icelandic Bands That You Need To Hear.
  • Samaris

    As Pigeons and Planes so eloquently puts it, Samaris’ “rolling, psychedelic waves of low-level synths and bass” teeters on the edge of perfection. Samaris is a three piece group, with electronic keyboard, vocals and, interesting but not surprising, clarinet. The group formed back in 2011 and blew up after winning Iceland's Músíktilraunir (which translates to Music Experiments in English). Their self-titled debut album, which was released last year, was highly influenced by 19th-century Icelandic poetry. Their music is directly available for download here.
  • Múm

    Múm's music can be characterized by their soft vocals, glitchy beats and use of unconventional instruments. Their whispery vocals and vibrating rhythms make for an interesting combination — as if you're floating and dancing at a festival at the same time. The band formed back in the ‘90s, and they released their seventh studio album, Smilewound, last year, with their single "Toothwheels." Check it out.
  • Pascal Pinon

    Pascal Pinon is an incredible twosome, comprised of sisters Ásthildur and Jófríður Ákadóttir. They formed back in '09 and have produced three albums since. Their first was self-produced, and the second two with Morr Music. In sync with other Icelandic music trends, the sisters have a weak spot for the lo-fi sound of cassette tapes and toy synths. Their latest album, aptly titled Twosomeness, includes their enchanting single "Bloom."