June 25, 2012 12:00 PM

>EMELI SANDE Our Version of Events There’s a reason why this Scottish singer-songwriter was tapped to open for Coldplay on tour this summer: Her album, which opened at No. 1 in the U.K. in February, is one of the year’s best debuts. With shades of blues, jazz and gospel, she makes richly toned and textured R&B. Highlights include “Clown,” a ballad that will make you cry until the makeup runs down your face.


ED SHEERAN Like Sandé, this Englishman is one of VH1’s You Oughta Know artists, and the video for first single “The A Team”—a heartbreaker about a young woman dealing with drug addiction and prostitution—is in heavy rotation. Folkified tunes like this evoke James Blunt and Damien Rice, but the more soulful Sheeran also boasts a bit o’ B-boy swagger, busting out some hip-hop flows.


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