Five weeks after we launched the Best New Band program, we’re a little stunned by how things turned out. Thrilled by voter turnout (in the millions!), fan engagement, and artist participation. Shocked and awed by our finalists’ successes. And dying of excitement and impatience as the clock counts down the remaining 9 days until the voting period ends…and we all get to see who will be crowned the Best Band in the World.
We knew the 10 finalists were brilliant and talented, and hoped that by grouping them together, more people would discover new music and break out of comfort zones delineated by genre and nationality. Our hopes were met…but not quite exactly as we expected. In fact, every week brought new twists and turns to the BNB race, so many we’re not quite sure how this will all play out. But if we have to pick 5, here are the top 5 things that surprised us, intrigued us, or otherwise surpassed our expectations.
The Whole World Is Voting
MTV Iggy is available online internationally, so this may not appear all that extraordinary. But consider this — we’ve received votes from 166 countries. That’s out of a total of 194 countries recognized by the United Nations. This includes countries like Micronesia, Andorra, and Suriname.
If you want to be a sour kill-joy and point out that we’re still 15% short of full global reach, we encourage you to contact the Arctic Circle. When Facebook sets up servers there, we expect that region will join in voting too.
The Philippines Really Loves Music
About two weeks into the voting period we noticed that this small archipelago nation raced to #2 among voting countries. It’s still at that spot, by the way, holding steady beneath the US. We wondered out loud about this development, and a horde of Blackjacks set us straight — 2NE1 member Dara spent her teen years in the Philippines and enjoys massive support from the country.
That said, Filipinos are also voting for all the other bands as well. From Skrillex’s dubstep to Angus & Julia Stone’s indie folk to Zowie’s glittery pop — the Philippines is home to music lovers of all shapes, sizes, and genres. We’re not surprised. We’re impressed.
The Runaway Success of La Vida Boheme
To call La Vida Boheme the youngest/newest band among our finalists might be a debatable point since 2NE1is just as young and dropped their first single, “Lollipop,” as recently as 2009. But the boys of LVB were a hometown Caracas, grassroots, unsigned affair until this year.
They released their first album, Nuestra, May 2011, and now just 5 months later they’re nominated for 2 Latin Grammy awards, a finalist for MTV Iggy’s Best Band in the World, and everyone wants a piece of their paint-splattered dance punk pie. Their songs are on the FIFA soundtrack, they’re playing shows with Los Amigos Invisibles, and they’ve already been censored by Youtube…the path to rock’n'roll stardom is being paved beneath their feet and we couldn’t be more delighted.
The Non-Discovery of Zowie
The Kiwi popstar won our hearts with her single “Love Demolition,” and the stream of violence-themed songs she’s released since then (“Smash It,” “Bite Back,” “Broken Machine”) just made us love her even more. But that aggression is simply a thin veneer, translucently coating internationally accessible, irresistibly cute electro-pop – so why didn’t more people gobble her up?
Zowie and 2NE1 occupy a similar post-Gaga space, so if you like 2NE1′s “I Am The Best,” listen to Zowie’s “Smash It“…maybe you’ll discover why this New Zealand popstar is just as fierce as the first ladies of Kpop.
Yuna Fans Cross Genres For Her
As mentioned above, we expected kpop 2NE1 fans to discover electropop Zowie, and vice versa. We expected indie folk Angus & Julia Stone fans to discover quirky folk-y singer/songwriter Yuna, and vice versa. Hell, even Yuna said that “out of all the finalists, I would find out more about them [Angus & Julia]“. So it’s been a bit of a wonderful surprise to see that, time and time again, fans didn’t stay within tidy genre boxes…And no one peeled off as many fans, cross-genre, as Yuna.
The 2NE1 superfan we recently interviewed wants 2NE1 to collaborate with Yuna, and people on the streets of Seoul, Korea told us that they want 2NE1 to win, but they like Yuna the best. On second thought, this shouldn’t be that unexpected — Yuna crossed genres herself to cover the grunge-era masterpiece “Come As You Are” to intoxicating effect. The Malaysian pixie with the unforgettable voice just might quietly charm her way across the finish line…