Don't mind the accents
It seems like every couple of years heralds a new British invasion, whether it's Oasis, The Spice Girls, or the retro song stylings of Amy Winehouse and company.
But with Adele's ascension to superstar status, there's a whole new crop of British singers crossing the pond for a shot at stardom in the United States. Forget the dueling British boy bands, these ladies (and one gent) are not-so-quietly storming the American scene with sounds and songs that defy conventional pop radio.
Ellie Goulding made it big in England in 2010, even performing her hit cover of "Your Song" at the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton. She first tried to repeat that success in America in the summer of 2011, including a performance on Saturday Night Live, yet America seemed to issue a collective shrug at her ethereal (and dubstep-friendly) pop tunes.
But this year, with little to no fanfare, her first American single, "Lights," has climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts, positively smashing the success of much more hyped British releases (sorry, Cheryl Cole). Lights is also the most-tagged song on Shazam, which means people are both curious about the music and not sure who she is yet.
Lady Gaga might show up at awards ceremonies inside an egg but when it comes to music, Marina and the Diamonds out-quirks any other pop star, hands down. Occasionally theatrical with a big voice that has as many personalities as Nicki Minaj has wigs, Marina has followed up on her debut album, The Family Jewels, with a concept album about a deeply shallow Hollywood culture and an obsession with fame.
Lead single "Primadonna" is an addictive faux-sweet anthem with a big, soupy, electronic bass.
A cuter, British version of Karmin, Cher Lloyd has perfected air-light bubblegum pop with Bad Girls' Club sass, a hint of white girl rap and signature grunt in "Want U Back." This is the song of the summer that you claim to hate but end up singing when drunk, so don't fight it. At least Lloyd's Essex accent is real.
If there's a British successor to Adele in adult contemporary music, it might be Emeli Sandé, whose throbbing piano ballad "Next To Me" has already become a huge hit around the world. Adele might prefer to sing about her broken heart, but Sandé's ode to her good man is just as nice.
"How We Do (Party)" hasn't burned up the charts like some of the other British singles on this list (though she's currently sitting at No. 2 in Dance/Club songs), but I firmly believe that by the time Ora's album comes out in September, every sorority girl in America will be singing "party and bullshit and party and bullshit." She's got Jay-Z and MTV behind her, so don't count Rita Ora out yet.
You may never have heard his name, but his hit "Too Close" is virtually inescapable (thanks, Internet Explorer) and has pushed dubstep ever closer to the mainstream, for better or worse.
This 19-year-old has already been releasing music for four(!) years and joined Robyn, Azealia Banks, Rye Rye in the club of kick-ass chicks making too-good-for-radio dance/pop/rap/electronic/whatever music. If you missed her at SXSW this year, check out her free, downloadable mixtape and then tell your friends about her. You'll feel cool.