The Gummy Awards 2012: Best New Act

The Gummys! We’re still in it! So far this week you’ve crowned M.I.A. & Romain Gavras’s “Bad Girls” with this year’s Gummy for Best Video, and Japandroids’ “House That Heaven Built” as this year’s Best Track. Today we learn about your favorite rookies and hope that, unlike the Grammys, this Best New Artist designation ensures a long and fruitful career full of blogposts and monetized streams galore. (If you know how these guys can at least break even, let us know.)

On to the results: On a straight count of the ballot, if you had your way, this year’s winner would be Frank Ocean, and this year’s runner-up would be Purity Ring. Those would be tremendous and logical choices, if only you hadn’t made Frank Ocean #9 and Purity Ring #10 in last year’s Gummys. With Frank and Purity Ring sadly ineligible, we’re left with a list of 10 artists that is still very sharp and genre-spanning. There wasn’t tremendous overlap between your selections and our list of Best New Artists from earlier this year, but there we have consensus where it counts — up at #1 — so clearly we are all still able to hang out and be friends. Without further, here is your list of 2012′s Best New Artists. DIIV on in.

Death Grips

10. Death Grips

Mac DeMarco

09. Mac DeMarco

Divine Fits

08. Divine Fits

Father John Misty

07. Father John Misty


06. Grimes


05. Jessie Ware


04. METZ


03. Kendrick Lamar


02. Alt-J


01. DIIV

To recap:

10. Death Grips
09. Mac DeMarco
08. Divine Fits
07. Father John Misty
06. Grimes
05. Jessie Ware
04. METZ
03. Kendrick Lamar
02. Alt-J
01. DIIV

UPDATE: Here are the results in all categories:

Comments (85)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. As much as I like DIIV, I can’t help but think of them as a not-quite-as-good version of Real Estate.

    Also, didn’t Death Grips put an album out last year? How are we defining a New Act?

    • n/m, I reread the article and I think I figured it out

    • I think “new act” = “got more exposure/popular this year than in past years.” I’m not sure that I agree with that definition, but I can’t think of a better one, either.

      • My understanding based on the article is that the only criterea is that the band can’t have appeared in a previous best new acts list. I guess this is fair, if enough people considered Kendrick Lamar to be a new act that he got the third most votes, he can be a new act god damnit

  3. So what qualifies someone as a new artist? I mean, for example: GKMC was’s label debut, but Section.80 was in the 2011 list for best albums.
    I took a more strict view of “new artist” so I went with Joey Badass.

  4. No love for Angel Haze? Sigh.

  5. Now that I have seen an actual picture of Alt-J, I have become disillusioned. They look 13. I won’t lie, I had this vision of the lead singer being someone who looks like George Clinton, only 8 feet taller.

  6. TNGHT could have been on the list.

  7. DIIV, you’re in a band that people like, cheer up!

  8. Kendrick at #3

    Because “Section.80″ never happened last year…

  9. I got a giggle out of the divine fits pick. Just seems weird to think of those guys as rookies in any context.

  10. Wait, our favorite new act is a bunch of Raiders fans? I can’t be havin this. Bo in fact does not know.

  11. My personal fav new band was Merchandise, because I love anything that sounds like ’90s Moz + No Age.

  12. I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing them, but does anyone else on SG not like Deathgrips?
    Not saying they’re bad, but they don’t appeal to me in the least bit and I’m just curious if anyone else feels that way.

    • I can appreciate why people like them, but they’re not my cup of tea either. Also, their label antics annoyed me.

    • I’ll go ahead and say they’re bad. Call me old-fashioned, but I think a song should have at least one of the following:

      a) melody
      b) harmony
      c) rhythm
      d) lyrics

    • Apparently SG themselves don’t like Death Grips, seeing as they didn’t appear on their Top 50.

    • I really liked The Money Store, but I found a lot of the tracks on that album very catchy and even poppy in a weird way. Wasn’t that into No Love Deep Web.

      • Yeah, for me, Death Grips has been love hate. I thought that their mixtape last year was OK, but it was a bit abrasive. Then they added in pop stylings into The Money Store, and I was in love! I hoped that they would shoot for more pop on their mixtape, which they didn’t, and thus NO LOVE DEEP WEB kind of alienated me. So, I like poppy Death Grips (I’ve Seen Footage, Hacker) more than No Love Deep Web Death Grips.

      • Opposite here. Even though I could hear the pop stylings in The Money Store, the music still felt like I should bash my skull on the sidewalk. So the more agressive and experimental NO LOVE DEEP WEB felt more in line with howt Death Grips should sound. And based on interviews, the band themselves felt the same way.

        Plus I think the last two tracks on NLDW are the best they’ve ever recorded. In fact, it’s the only reason I kind of defend them now. “Hacker” and “Get Got” are great on TMS but the whole album, and this could be said for NLDW too, is a bit of a slog.

        • Even though I think Death Grips is the greatest thing to happen to music this year, I can’t even listen to TMS in one sitting without getting a little exhausted. NLDW is a much more streamlined experience, but it’s also flatter, if you ask me. “Artificial Death in the West”, “Whammy”, and “Black Dice” (especially “Black Dice”) are all stellar, but nothing on that album excites me like “The Cage” or “The Fever (Aye Aye)” from TMS, you know?

          It’s a good thing both came out this year, or else I’d be sad.

          • Anybody else think of maybe putting together a Death Grips greatest hits between the two?

            Take the best songs from each and put them together? So long as the last three tracks are “Hacker” into “Bass rattle stars out the sky” into “Artificial death in the west” I’d be happy. And sticking with “Get Got” as the opener is cool too.

            Any takers?

          • Since I can’t reply to raptor’s comment I’ll just do it here:

            I was thinking of doing that exact thing as I was typing that. I’m too busy listening to Big Boi’s new album (and I actually think it’s a little better than Chico Dusty, because I like dark synthpop shit), but Greatest Grips sounds like a fun idea that I’ll take a crack at.

          • @Raptor – Surely you mean a greatest hits from between the ‘three’? Ex-Military is great and Takyon and Guillotine are still two of my favourite Death Grips tracks.

    • I like “I’ve Seen Footage.” That is all, the rest sounds awful.

    • No, yeah, they suck.

  13. So I guess we’re just going to ignore J Tillman’s first 7 albums?

    • I was thinking the same thing. Father John Misty is a bit of a rebrand in terms of sound and image, so I get it, but it’s not too removed from what he’s been doing for years. It’s like giving best new artist to Sun Kil Moon, Caribou, Viktor Vaughn, Prince’s “love symbol,” Yusuf Islam, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, any of the Silver Mt. Zion names, or Chris Gaines in the year of their first release.

    • Tillman himself has said himself that those albums were not really himself. “I got tired of J”. Working under the Father John Misty moniker is a complete new direction for him, and he’s put together a good band behind him. To me, that qualifies as a new artist.

  14. Would have loved to see Swearin or Polica make the list.

  15. Nothing against Divine Fits, but what kind of person goes “ah yes, I’m putting in my vote for the old guys in the supergroup.”

  16. No Joey Bada$$? and Kendrick and Death Grips both put out albums last year. I guess im glad to see Mac Demarco on there

  17. So I guess nobody likes Death Grips and a lot of people like Alt-J but won’t admit it. Love that Father John Misty and Divine Fits are well liked by the ‘Gum.

  18. Death Grips are 10th because they released a freaking album last year. If they were completely new, they would have been something like 2nd or first. Also, shout out to Metz.

  19. I feel like I wasted a vote with “Bob Dylan”

  20. Grimes ain’t a new act :S

  21. Grimes? New??? I have to admit that I haven’t discovered her music until October 2011 (“Oblivion” Free Download Post). The buzz around her started this year, but, c’mon, Geidi Primes (her debut) was already released in 2010!

  22. OK hands up who thinks Kendrick Lamar and Grimes are new?

  23. DIIV is popular?!


  24. where the hell is dr. dee? What is wrong with you people? It’s like if mercy beat didn’t include the beatles as best new act of 1963. beautiful analogy and completely appropriate.

  25. saw DIIV open for Japandroids last week… man, they do NOT translate well live. Yikes!

    • odd, i saw them at black cat in dc on friday and thought they were spot on. granted, i also heard that zachary just left the stage at the show on sunday mid-set.

      either way, good list guys!

    • I’m the opposite. I was into their debut single, and the show they played in Albany, NY blew me away with it’s raw energy. But the LP itself wasn’t really rubbing me the right way. Awesome live though.

    • Saw them in Austin a few months back with Frankie Rose. They were great.

  26. Okay, obviously ‘new’ artist basically just means ‘has never been on Best New Artist list for the Gummies before’. (And even then…)

    To clear up:

    Death Grips realeased Exmilitary last year.
    Grimes put out Geidi Primes last year (and the Dark Primes EP).
    Kendrick Lamar had Section.80 out last year.

    And Father John Misty isn’t the only suspect ‘new’ artist. He did make albums as J. Tillman before and was the Fleet Foxes drummer, but DIIV member Zachary Cole Smith is the guitarist for Beach Fossils, and Divine Fits have members who were part of Handsome Furs and Spoon.

    Basically, enough bitching. The criteria wasn’t watertight, but this is what we voted for, right? Right.

  27. I guess a lot more people like Alt-J than are willing to admit. I’m also surprised to learn that their singer isn’t in fact a billy goat.

  28. No Hundred Waters?? For shame, Stereogum. For shame.

  29. Since the name of the category was “top new act”, not “rookie of the year”, Divine Fits and Father John Misty were fair game, but it should disqualify Death Grips, Grimes and Kendrick Lamar.

  30. no luv for TOPS : \

  31. DIIV sound like every other post-punk-shoegaze revivalist band that’s come out in the past few years. every song sounds exactly the same. boring. and they look goofy.

  32. I guess everybody forgot about Django Django…

  33. Getting in the festivus-spirit early with an airing of music-related grievances for 2012.

    Biggest disappointments of the year:

  34. good blogos thanks

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