Emeli Sandé (with Naughty Boy) — “Wonder”
(from Our Version of Events) — Wonder - Our Version of Events

Rebecca Ferguson — “Nothing’s Real But Love” (from Heaven) — Nothing's Real But Love - Heaven

Adele’s runaway smash album 21 just spent its seventy-fifth consecutive week securely ensconced in the Billboard 200 chart’s top ten, and what fresh hell hath her Grammy-gouging triumph wrought? Record companies worldwide are now turning over every last British pebble hoping against hope to run across the next one of her. And whaddaya know: a pair of compelling contenders have stepped forward this summer, patiently laying in wait for a breakout of their own. Keep a firm eye peeled on the staggering Scottish lass Sandé, whose dazzling debut effort Events — a wondrous, deeply melodic epic that comes off as an incomprehensibly brilliant cross between the best of Alicia Keys and Coldplay — stands alongside Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball as my favorite album from 2012’s first half. I’m not quite so keen on the uneven first full record from Ferguson (the runner-up a couple of years back on the U.K.’s The X Factor), but man, did she pop out of the box with a dynamite introductory single, a blah lyric that Miss Rebecca — who sangs, honey, with pure sweet soul, like Amy, Aretha, and Annie all rolled into one stunning set of powerhouse pipes — delivers as though Rilke himself wrote it. Love’s real, to be sure, but bracing talent is pretty real, too, and these two young ladies got it. In spades.

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