BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #10 to #1

#10 Carlos Nóbrega “Music Makes You Lose Control”

Portugal’s Carlos Nóbrega is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 thanks to a steady stream of dance singles which tantalized my ears more with each song, stemming from his appearance on This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One with “Pitiful”.  This culminated in the late summer release of “Music Makes You Lose Control” (MMYLC), a dance party rave-up that is so worthy of a big, big production number with lots of costumes!  Carlos wants to party but knows how to tease (“Electrify me with that body / You make me sweat like nobody”), and brings diverse influences from the likes of Britney Spears through to Daft Punk to the table.  Simply put, it’s a song that creates a whole lot of fun within its 3 minute timeframe without going over the top.  Look for Carlos’ album to surface in the New Year – I’ll certainly have the scoop when it happens.  MMYLC was #1 for one appearance in early November – post Hallowe’en blast 🙂

#9 Jeronimo “One Kiss”

“One Kiss” is one of those songs that triggers immediate reaction – and sends people to iTunes for purchase.  I’m no exception to that, and the song paved the way for the enjoyable album of the same name from Jeronimo, the young Brazil-born Dutch singer/actor with a super unique voice.  From the songwriting to the vocal to the music, “One Kiss” is a tiny perfect record in so many ways.  It’s a feel good song that makes you smile.  The music has traditional European folk elements, Jeronimo’s vocal is playful without being pleading, and you can learn the lyrics after one listen.  “One Kiss” is a case in point for European songs that don’t get promoted well outside of their countries of origin.  With the right songs, Jeronimo has huge potential to breakout worldwide, and he is someone to root for.  He himself is a charmer, his connection with his fan base is top notch (watch out for his tweet bombs on Twitter 😉 ), and his song “It’s A Fun Thing” is even the Cartoon Network’s signature song in Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand.  Watch the video for “One Kiss” below and don’t tell me that by the end you aren’t smiling.

#8 Eric Saade “Backseat”

“Backseat” is the third song and second album track from Saade Volume 2 to grace this list.  Eric Saade is no stranger to the list, as both “Popular” and “Made Of Pop” ranked in my Top 10 of 2011 (“Popular” was #1).  I’m anxious to hear more songs from his upcoming fourth album, but I’m still wrapped up in the last two 😉  “Backseat” is danceable pop with grinding and rocking guitar sounds similar to what we were given a taste of on Volume 1 with the odd but infectious “Killed By A Cop”.  Eric certainly has the ladies wrapped around his finger with the (somewhat unintended?) suggestive lyrics which probably prevented this from being a single.  “Backseat” shows Eric Saade at his most intense and driven, and he continues to display more sides of his talents with each release.

#7 Bright Light Bright Light “Waiting For The Feeling”

Bright Light Bright Light’s album Make Me Believe In Hope is popping up on more year end Best Of album lists than any that I’ve heard this year.  It’s essentially Rod Thomas’ greatest hits of songs that he’s been releasing since 2009.  Also no stranger to this list (“A New Word To Say” and “Love Part II” were in my Top 10 of 2010), Rod has a way of finding moments in time to write and sing about that are sometimes within relationships or even after them.  He seizes romance, where it can be found.  If it can’t be found, he asks why, and sometimes offers his take on it.  It makes for a compelling listen and an experience like no other.  “Waiting For The Feeling” is one of my absolute favourites by BLx2, and it held court for a good part of the Spring at the top of my chart (4 appearances = 8 weeks).  When not performing, Rod keeps busy DJing in London, remixing (“Stupid Mistake” by Darren Hayes was one of his projects), and often offering up mixtapes and thoughtful mashups for free.  Make Me Believe In Hope truly opened up the doors to the world for Bright Light Bright Light in 2012.  I just know the world will embrace his next set of songs in a bigger way when they arrive.

#6 Zedd featuring Matthew Koma “Spectrum”

“Spectrum” kind of came out of nowhere this past summer as a result of teaming German DJ/producer Zedd (Anton Zaslavski) with New York singer-on-the-rise Matthew Koma (one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13).  It turned out to be a dream collaboration, with Matthew’s romantic and boyish vocal, heartfelt lyrics (“We’ll run where lights won’t chase us / Hide where love can save us / I will never let you go”), and production awash in layers of sound that all achieve a fine balance like no other song this year.  Add a video with an alien love story with Taryn Manning as the love interest, rave reviews for Zedd’s album Clarity, and a #1 placing for “Spectrum” as Billboard’s Dance Club Play hit of 2012, and lift off was achieved for both talents.  Zedd apparently is working on Lady GaGa’s upcoming ARTPOP release while Matthew’s album Propaganda is due in early 2013.

#5 Eric Saade featuring Dev “Hotter Than Fire”

The only single release from Saade Volume 2 (which was #1 on my chart for three appearances – 6 weeks) finds Eric paired up with American singer/rapper/songwriter Dev, which helped give the Swedish singer some international starpower behind his music.  While there voices are good counterparts to each other, “Hotter Than Fire” itself is a strong enough song that could have been a worldwide hit if there had been more focus on achieving that status.  Eric’s playful and sexy vocal certainly sent enough hearts aflutter, and the singer marketed himself well to the Nordic countries with continuous touring through most of 2012.  So the next step has to be a worldwide profile.  “Hotter Than Fire” also benefitted from having two videos – I’m still kind of partial to the original, which I believe was shot in one take with some decent effects.

#4 River Tiber “Someday”

While “Symmetry” (#11) was the first song that introduced me to River Tiber, it was “Someday” (which was #1 on my chart for three appearances – 6 weeks) that drew me in to their album From Now On.  While River Tiber has many influences in its music which stem from jazz to classical to experimental electronica, the incredible vocal and guitar playing on “Someday” by Tommy Paxton-Beesley just reminded me so much of Jeff Buckley’s work, which continued to prevail throughout the album unlike other performers whose Buckley-esque sound can usually only be heard on one song.  But Tommy and his band prove that they have so much to offer, with new album Synapses out tomorrow.  River Tiber is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13, and probably the one for which I have the highest expectations for whatever Tommy and band can achieve.  “Someday” is one of those songs that has you in its corner from its first note to its last (in this case, it’s a well placed last breath).

#3 Rune RK & DATABOY “Memorize Me”

I was so excited when I first found out “Memorize Me” was seeing an official release (after hearing it in the summer of 2011) that I put it on my chart later that year… but had to remove it when release was delayed (only songs that are officially released in some way can appear on my chart – one of my few rules J ).  But that release date did come, and the song re-entered the chart at #1 for 4 appearances (8 weeks) for the Danish producer/DJ who brought us the original “Calabria” back in 2002, pairing up with outstanding Austin electronica whizzes and vocalists, DATABOY.  “Memorize Me” is a dazzling club track whose music makes you visualize sandy beaches of Ibiza and whose lyrics weave a mesmerizing spell (the song even has kind of a commanding, eerie undertone) thanks to DATABOY’s interpretation.  Shortly after official release came a provocative video for the song where two children were let loose (seemingly on their own) in a city to behave and act only as kids do, even if it meant finding their way through a Pride parade and a concert – we are all kids at heart.

#2 Chris Wallace “Remember When (Push Rewind)”

“Remember When (Push Rewind)” is the purest of pop songs that I heard in 2012.  It sends me back to my Top 40 days in the ‘70’s when classic hits were all about songs to which you could relate in some ways.  It literally came out of nowhere, on an independent record label, by singer/songwriter Chris Wallace, who had some success as the leader of the group The White Tie Affair (which got to open for Lady GaGa on tour among its successes).  You’ve read it enough already in this Top 10 listening, but Chris Wallace has one of those voices that is simply like no other, it is highly recognizable.  He can sing anything and I’m sure must have offers to be a featured vocalist on some songs.  He’s also a talented songwriter as the breadth of his songs on his debut album Push Rewind easily showcases.  That album has a few more hits up its sleeve.  But getting back to “Remember When” – it is THE ‘song that could’ for 2012.  It has already become a Top 30 radio hit in the US and I’m waiting for the day in 2013 when it will arrive on Billboard’s Hot 100.  The song also came packaged with an excellent video that shows off Chris’ on camera personality as well as the song’s story.  “Remember When” was #1 on my chart for 4 appearances (8 weeks) during the summer.

#1  DATABOY “Dreams Are Gold”

 “Dreams Are Gold” is my favourite song of 2012.  It’s the title song from the debut album by the Austin duo which comprises Adam Bailey and Cameron Maxwell.  I had the opportunity to see the duo in a thus far rare concert appearance in New York in April 2011 (but somehow did not get to meet them!).  Since then, their songs have appeared frequently in my chart, with the essential summer song “Just Once” my #4 song of 2011.  Dreams Are Gold is a collection of all of their songs released since 2010, plus several gems that they held back for inclusion such as “Genius”, “Unfriend”, and “Shoplift Your Love” – these guys pick great themes and write sometimes very direct lyrics that might seem abrupt at first, but this is part of what they’re all about.  What I love, love, love most about DATABOY is their ability to articulate situations to which anyone can relate, and set it to music to which you can dance.  And that’s why I adore “Dreams Are Gold”.  The song is about moving on after the end of what seemed to be a good relationship.  The target of the song is accused of being a “dream, dream, stealer, stealer”, but we’re not to dwell on that (“But I’m not gonna lose sleep about it”… “Won’t cry on my pillow”…) because hopes and dreams cannot be crushed or dismissed – they are GOLD, so go out and have a great time.  I totally subscribe to that thinking so “Dreams Are Gold” is WOW in just so many ways for me.  While the song had two appearances (4 weeks) at #1, its entire chart run was spent in my Top 10.

BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #30 to #21

#30  John De Sohn featuring Andreas Moe “Long Time”

One of Sweden’s best exports in 2012 is “Long Time”, a huge domestic hit that became a Top 25 North American dance club hit as well.  It also had the distinction of being picked up for Tiesto’s Club Life Miami Calling Volume 2 compilation alongside of tunes by its creator and remixes of songs by Gotye, Coldplay, The Young & Famous, Afrojack and more.  It was also the first time some of you heard Andreas Moe, who is one of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 and had my #36 hit of 2012, “Collecting Sunlight”.

 

#29  Lifehouse featuring Natasha Bedingfield “Between The Raindrops”

While it may not have been a complete surprise that Natasha (long a friend of the band) was featured on the lead off single from Lifehouse’s Almeria album, it may have struck fans that this country-tinged song took two steps back from those on their rocking last album Smoke And Mirrors.  But “Between The Raindrops” is a real grower and the harmonies between Jason Wade and Natasha couldn’t be better.

 

#28  Adam Tyler “Music Freak”

The last of two songs from Shattered Ice to appear in this list, “Music Freak” is one of Adam Tyler’s songs that I can totally identify with 🙂  So it’s great for the rest of us long time music fans and chart buffs to know that the singer is in this club too.  It’s also one of his best singalong songs to date.  Hear the song on Spotify at the link below, and watch the video below when Adam performed in Miami (he also performed in Stockholm, London, and Barcelona this year!).

#27  The Wanted “Glad You Came”

A #1 hit in the UK in 2011, it was no shocker that both The Wanted and One Direction arrived on the scene at the same time and have both had significant success, not unlike Backstreet Boys and *N Sync at the end of the 90’s.  What makes “Glad You Came” stand out is the lilting melody that transforms into an almost traditional UK folk-oriented club hit, complete with soulful vocals from guys who can sing.  The Wanted are expected to release two albums in 2013, one that is scarily replete with major guest stars.  We’ll wait to see if their talent shines through and they have the same caliber of songwriting (keeping Ed Drewett in the mix might be worthwhile).

 

#26  Colin Munroe featuring Pusha T “The Fight Of My Life”

After disappearing from view for a while to regroup after personal and professional losses, Toronto’s Colin Munroe came out punching with a free download album Unsung Hero, which attracted names like Pusha T, RZA, Kendrick Lamar, and Cassie to the table, as well as a new record deal.  It’s an outstanding album that’s hard to classify (lots of pop, R&B/soul, and rap within) full of soaring, triumphant moments like “The Fight Of My Life”.  Colin’s vocals are alternately heartfelt and soaring – let’s hope his next release brings him the commercial success that he deserves.

 

#25 Foster The People “Call It What You Want”

No, Foster The People are not one-hit wonders after last year’s massive hit “Pumped Up Kicks”.  Follow up singles “Don’t Stop” and “Helena Beat” did moderately well in North America (better in places like Australia), while clubs favoured two other songs, one being the playful “Call It What You Want”.  The video is also kind of irresistible and enjoyable in a ‘what will happen next’ sense.

 

#24 Graffiti6 “Free”

After being lavished with praise by bloggers and tastemakers a few years back, London duo Graffiti6 (Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers) signed to a major label in 2011 and by the end of the year released an EP followed by the album Colours in 2012.  “Free” became one of a few songs on this listing ‘that could’ – it gradually found fans, radio station adds, sales, and even airplay in supermarkets.  Its vibrant melody as well as vocals by Jamie that are exuberant and full of personality completely sold me, and I expect great things from Graffiti6 to follow.

 

#23 Tao Hypah “Celeb”

It was pretty instantaneous… the best dance compilation of 2012 This Beat Is… Poptronik Volume One already featured songs that were known to me, and it got better with the inclusion of others that weren’t familiar to me like #53 “How It Feels To Be A Man” by Markus Riva, “Pitiful” by Carlos Nóbrega (one of my 13 Performers to Watch in ’13), and “Celeb” by half-Japanese Netherlands singer Tao Hypah.   “Celeb” is one of the most original records of the year, offered initially as a free download, which spins the tale of a guy who catches the coattails of an A list gal on the way back to the D list (one specific name comes to mind!).  Its refrain will leave you humming for weeks and if you catch yourself singing, just mind the line about snorting cocaine out in public 😉

 

#22 Stone Walters “Home”

Another of my 13 Performers To Watch For ’13 is UK soul singer Stone Walters.  His song “Home” (a free download) is one of those songs of the year that became my rock, that would ground me when I was pondering other important issues – you can never reinforce the importance of home and family enough, and “Home” celebrates just that.  Stone is a diverse singer who can sing R&B/soul one moment, and pop/rock the next.  I think he has a great future ahead.

#21  RAC featuring Penguin Prison “Hollywood”

RAC stands for Remix Artist Collective, a trio of US based DJ/producers who have remixed or worked with the likes of Foster The People, Gossip, Tokyo Police Club, U2, Bloc Party, and Chromeo.  “Hollywood” is their first single release, with no one better to sing it than Chris Glover of Penguin Prison (who has another song higher in the list).  Its funky groove, sense of whimsy, and interesting story along with Chris’ trademark vocals made it one of my go-to songs mid-year.  Penguin Prison also performed the song in concert when I saw them in June, which was a treat.  

BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #60 to #41

Today I bring you the big middle bit of the list, a delightful array of 20 songs that more than tickled my fancy throughout the year.  So this post is a little long, but bear with me…

Click here to view songs #75 to #41  :)

Three singers in this list escaped from an often horrible fate in the music industry – record company hell.  Tyler Hilton had never been away from the music scene, and of course showed up on TV quite regularly in One Tree Hill as Chris Keller.  After many delays in trying to release a sophomore album, seven years perhaps is a long time between albums but his TV and film popularity preceded him and Tyler definitely grew in that time.  So he ended up releasing his album Forget The Storm independently, and toured throughout North America, the UK, and Europe.  It’s a fine rocking effort and gave Tyler the opportunity to connect with many fans who have been waiting for him, and “Prince Of Nothing Charming” became yet another Top 10 entry on my chart for him.  Ryan Star is another fantastic singer whose previous record company was doing nothing to help the release of new songs after some success in 2010 with the album 11:59.  So he switched to Island Records and saw his single “Stay Awhile” (video below) released while he works on a new album.  Phenomenal piano man Jon McLaughlin also parted ways with his previous record company only to sign a new deal with Razor & Tie after releasing the exceptional (and now, no longer available) Forever If Ever album independently.  Two of his songs slid into the Top 10 and both long runs on the chart.  “Promising Promises” was originally featured on Forever If Ever but ended up being the title song of his re-released album.  And to whet our appetite for that album, Jon teamed up with Sara Bareilles in one of those pairings where the voices just go so well together.  A rerecording of “Summer Is Over” (video below) was the song the singer was waiting for to throw him back into the spotlight after touring North America for most of the year.

His initial songs didn’t really draw me in, but I thought “Better Than I Know Myself” by Adam Lambert had a lot of personal conviction in the vocal performance, and showed a more vulnerable side of the singer, so it became his first chart entry for me.  Darren Hayes’ third and final entry in this list peaked in January where some chartphiles carried over “Bloodstained Heart” from 2011 (that song was #22 on last year’s list).  “Black Out The Sun” is a lilting and sombre affair led by another wonderful vocal by Darren.  Another darker song captured with a fine and appropriate vocal is Jane Badler’s theatrical “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” (video below), a song that gets better with repeated listenings (there are also many delightful remixes available).  The Australia-based actress best known for TV’s “V” is well on her way with another career as a pop singer.  And did funky pop seem out of vogue?  Not if you’re Sam Sparro, who released his sophomore album Return To Paradise mid-year with lead single “Happiness” in advance.  The album is a moody but always danceable affair, and is much better as a long-player than to isolate most of the songs individually.

Singles still go very steady in my musical world.  “Champagne” gave the start of the year its fizz courtesy of Australian singer Nelson Clemente.  Converse shoes had a stroke of brilliance by creating a free download with a highly entertaining video (below) to promote its products.  So Foster The People head honcho Mark Foster gets paired up with Canadian producer/DJ extraordinaire A-Trak for the song “Warrior”, and who gets to save the day not only in one of the year’s most entertaining videos, but as the song’s vocalist?  New Zealand chanteuse Kimbra, who duetted with Gotye on the year’s biggest song “Somebody That I Used To Know”.  US production duo The Knocks did the rather unthinkable – they transformed M83’s ethereal “Midnight City” into a 3 minute pop song with the help of singer Mandy Lee, in a free download and a fine video (also below) to showcase the singer.  I ended up liking it even better than the original so it ranks in the Top 50.  Minnesota’s Nicole Brenny, known as Vague-à-bonde, is an emerging talent to watch who is recording a new album as well as a video for the song that reached the Top 10 on my chart, “Evolved”.  The song has a gentle vocal whose toe-tapping refrain throttles you and makes you want more.  UK quartet Boy Banned seemed on the bubble to go on to big things by the end of 2011, however the bubble exploded when they split after the release of the immensely likeable “The Stars Are Saying Yes” and its utterly charming video (also below).  “Only The Horses” by Scissor Sisters proved that this outfit can produce fine original pop singles that sparkle amid an inconsistent album, outside of its engaging presence in the dance/EDM community with fun records like “Let’s Have A Kiki”.  “Horses” became their first Top 5 hit on my chart.

The remaining songs in this group are featured in albums that have held their own since their release.  “Unheard” is a jaunty album track from Netherlands singer Jeronimo, whose song “It’s A Fun Thing” is the Cartoon Network theme song in the south Pacific part of the world.  His unique voice and eagerness to please made his album One Kiss one of the most solid records of the year, even if it didn’t receive release in North America.  Another song from that record ranks higher up on the list 🙂 Markus Riva’s “How It Feels To Be A Man” is the Latvian singer’s second entry on the chart, and one of the highlights of the year’s best dance compilations This Beat Is…Poptronik Volume One that morphed into a summer dance festival on the beaches outside of Barcelona.  Volume Two and another festival are in the works for this year.  Another song from the compilation is featured later on as well.  I proclaimed Brooklyn’s Matt & Kim as pop music’s hardest working duo after partaking in their most enjoyable show, where they had to work around a power failure (with the effortless help of the audience).  “Let’s Go” is the song and video (below) that took them back to a simple and basic but high energy sound on their latest album Lightning.

Boston sextet Gentlemen Hall are one of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 and mix journeyman rock in with powerful, lush instrumentation on their EP When We All Disappear, which is still available for free on their website.  While every song on that EP is strong, it was the joyous “All Our Love” and its accompanying video (below) that captured my attention this past Spring.  And what would the year be without me including two songs from Austin duo DATABOY’s Dreams Are Gold album?  “Lotion” was initially released on the free Summer Now EP, which led up to the release of their long-awaited full album.  That record contains some of the most entertaining and heartfelt songs of the year, all also designed to make you dance, one being “Genius”, which could be the new unofficial theme song for “The Big Bang Theory”.  Without question, Dreams Are Gold is my favourite album of 2012, and you’ll find two more DATABOY songs much higher on this list in the next few days 🙂

BILLCS Music Blog’s Top 75 Songs of 2012 – #75 to #61

As in other years, most of my favourite songs of 2012 boiled down to the following criteria:  Music that makes you feel good and want to dance along, and voices/lyrics that just amazed.  There were several new great voices and faces, some returnees, and of course the completely unexpected.  In order to appear on this list, a song must have appeared and peaked on my personal chart between January 2 and December 17 published charts.  If it hadn’t attained its peak position yet, it will appear on my year end chart for 2013.

Click here to view songs #75 to #61  🙂

Three carryovers into 2012 in our first group of #75 through #61 are The Midway State’s “Fire!”,  Lady GaGa’s “Marry The Night”, and “Angel” by Darren Hayes.  Wrapping up their touring on their Paris Or India album, Toronto quartet The Midway State otherwise took a break from music in 2012, and I hope these talented friends will engage us again next year.  You could hear an excerpt of “Fire!” in Bell Canada commercials, and of course their biggest hit “Never Again” is the ringback for Rogers cellular phones.  GaGa was everywhere in 2012, it’s hard to say where The Born This Way Ball didn’t visit!  But a new Ball is on deck as is her forthcoming album ARTPOP, and I’m expecting a new single sometime in early 2013 to promote her touring in North America.  “Angel” by Darren Hayes was a personal choice to carry over.  You couldn’t possibly ask for a more reverent Madonna cover choice – it kept appearing on my iPod Touch shuffle, and as the vinyl flip side to “Talk Talk Talk”, it landed on my chart after the run of another song on this list, “Stupid Mistake”.  Darren’s Secret Codes And Battleships continued to be one of my most played albums into 2012, and one more carryover from that album is ranked higher on this list.  Watch the stunning video for “Stupid Mistake” and listen to Bright Light Bright Light’s percolating remix below as well.

More than ever, my chart contained a cornucopia of worldwide artists appear more than in any other year in recent memory.  Music has no official borders, only those that the music industry continues to put up which hinders availability of recordings and the ability of performers to tour.  Latvia is represented with singer/DJ/model Markus Riva and his dance rave-up “We Dance 4 Reason”, with another song to follow higher up.  “Turn It Up” is the high energy follow up to “Pitiful” for Portugal’s Carlos Nobrega, who is one of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 and has another song much later in the countdown.  The worldwide breakout from France this year is M83 whose hook from “Midnight City” (outstanding video below) is imprinted on the year (and an even better cover version appears higher up on the list), which led to sellout shows around the world.  Canadians Marianas Trench had their most successful year ever with last year’s Ever After album and the single “Fallout” among others.  Lead singer Josh Ramsay not only produced that album but is now a Grammy-nominee for co-writing Canadian label mate Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”.  German DJ/producers Spencer & Hill paired up with the always amazing US vocalist Nadia Ali for “Believe It”, which is your dance song for weekend release after a hard work week.

There are three UK artists in this group.  Keane had a successful year around the world with their Strangeland album, led by the glorious “Silenced By The Night” this past Spring.  “Lights Out” was the second single from duo Bim’s EP of affecting and emotional electropop, Lifelines.  Bim are another of my 13 Performers to Watch for ’13 And a favourite from her Little Belter shows and the subsequent album, Elouise covered “Could It Be Magic” – less like the Barry Manilow version and more like Donna Summer’s – which turned out to be somewhat bittersweet as the song appeared on my chart at the time of the disco legend’s death.  Elouise is off to dazzle Australian audiences with the Little Belter show in early ’13 – the rest of the world will undoubtedly follow.

Three USA performers round out the list.  L.A. quartet Saint Motel released a quirky but very smart album Voyeur this past summer, and toured to support it.  The band’s singer also is responsible for directing the group’s unique videos, so check out the one for “Benny Goodman” below.  Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die” dominated airwaves and TV video play at the top of the year and solidified her instant presence on the pop music scene (strangely yielding no Grammy nominations).  And the mixtape Hunter by Baiyu, generating the title song on this list, dazzled enough people to land her as a contestant on The CW’s “The Next” and on my 13 Performers To Watch for ’13 list.