Five Up-And-Coming Asian Artists to Watch in 2013

Asian artists are having a huge impact on the worldwide music scene, starting with a social media presence, then making the transition to live shows around the world. These five artists have made a name for themselves regionally and have great promise for breaking worldwide in 2013.

While the internet and social media has made it easier for bands to spread the word about themselves, it has also resulted in a tad bit of overkill. There is too much music to take in, too many artists to be noticed amongst a crowd of millions. Yet still some artists find their way to a million YouTube views, or hundreds of thousands of Facebook Likes. Even with impressive numbers online, however, it still comes down to a perfect storm of music, personality, and blind luck to break it big on the world stage (isn't that right, Robbie Williams?)

We want to introduce you to five artists from Asia who have already had a bit of homeland success, and have even reached out worldwide to some extent. But these artists are still far from household names in the United States, Europe, or South America. Take a look and listen to each of them and see for yourself. Are any of these artists one that you might voluntarily tell others about because you're into them?


CNBlue is a Korean band who began their careers as an indie club-touring band in Japan. With a debut album that did nothing, their second album charted lightly, reaching the #227 spot on a Japanese chart. They then blew-up in 2010, setting the record for achieving No. 1 on South Korea's television music charts program in the shortest time since debut: reaching #1 only 15 days after debuting with "I'm A Loner."

Something that has helped CNBlue's popular are their many product endorsements. Since 2010, the band has endorsed 16 products, including TGIFriday's and Samsung's Galaxy Note.

Jay Chou

Jay Chou (aka "King of Manopop") was discovered in a talent show in 1998 and has since written many songs for others. He released his first solo album in 2000 and has become a million-selling artist across much of Asia.

For Jay, his prolific writing has helped keep his career going strong. Since 2000 he has released one album per year. He has also become an award-winning actor, director, and now runs his own record label, JVR Music.


Innocently, two young girls created their "Jayesslee" YouTube username in 2008 and uploaded a video of themselves singing in a messy bedroom (not expecting many people to watch it). Their videos caught on, however, and their account blew up after they covered Tamia's hit, "Officially Missing You." Dozens of videos and nearly 150 million views later, the duo are household names in Asia but have yet to make a Rebecca Black-like splash in the States.

Not relying entirely on viral videos, Jayesslee took to the air. In 2010 they performed their debut concert in Los Angeles. Since then, they have toured extensively across the USA, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.


Terracotta's story began at a quaint lake, near which the band rehearsed and recorded their first songs. A single managed to make its way onto local radio and the band wound up with a #1 hit on stations all over Thailand.

Terracotta had their song "Nak-pra-da-narm" ("Aquanaut") placed in the 2010 movie Sammy's Adventure. This helped skyrocket the YouTube views for their latest single, "Chemical," which now has upwards of 20,000,000 views. Most recently, their acoustic cover of Jack Johnson's "Better Together" received over 1,000 positive comments from U.S. soil, and hit 3,000,000 views within few months.

Zee Avi

Zee Avi signed with Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records and released her debut album to wide critical acclaim. She has also landed spots on major U.S. tours and festivals including SXSW, Bonnaroo, and Lilith Fair.

Her affinity for the U.S. led her to move to the States. Her latest songwriting efforts were inspired by a trip to the Florida Everglades, once she returned to her apartment in Brooklyn, New York. While Zee's popularity is on the rise, perhaps 2013 will catapult her into the Esperanza Spalding stratosphere, or even beyond to the Taylor Swift outer reaches of the musical solar system.

A Rather Healthy Social Media Presence
Artist Facebook Likes YouTube Views Twitter Followers Like It?
CNBlue 1,300,000 30,000,000 675,000
Jayesslee 713,000 145,000,000 89,000
Jay Chou 2,100,000 55,000,000 n/a
Terracotta 549,000 26,000,000 240,000
Zee Avi 244,000 6,000,000 94,000

What does it take to be a world renowned pop star? The numbers above tell a pretty clear story: these artists have many, many fans on the internet. Time will tell as to whether they take the next step, from regional and online success to global pop music domination. Let's meet here again in December to see how they fared.

Posted on 2/21/13