Pop Heats Up SXSW

  • Kerli performs at South by Southwest on March 17
    Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
  • Ellie Goulding performs at South by Southwest on March 18
    Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
  • Oh Land performs at South by Southwest on March 19
    Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
  • Dev at the mtvU Woodie Awards during South by Southwest on March 16
    Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
  • The Cataracs at the mtvU Woodie Awards during South by Southwest on March 16
    Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Traditionally, the annual South by Southwest festival has been a mecca for lovers of indie and alternative rock. But over the past few years the event has invited more pop, dance and urban artists to perform, which has made the festival lineup more balanced and given it a bit of a mainstream edge.

A slew of pop newcomers from all over the world headed to Austin, Texas, last week to showcase their music at this year's festival. International performers included artists such as Ellie Goulding (UK), Eliza Doolittle (UK), Zowie (New Zealand), Frankmusik (UK), Oh Land (Denmark), Kerli (Estonia), Bright Light Bright Light (UK), the Good Natured (UK), and Neon Hitch (UK).

But promising new artists from the United States also traveled to the Lone Star State to play shows, including the Cataracs and Dev, Theophilus London, and Jessie And The Toy Boys.

Already a bona fide hit artist in the UK, Goulding played a dozen shows at South by Southwest in support of the North American release of her debut album, Lights. Her sparkly blend of pop, folk and electronica impressed people at the Fader Fort (a SXSW event organized by The Fader) as well as attendees at the Rolling Stone magazine showcase at La Zona Rosa.

Online sensation Dev and her pals of the Cataracs packed a full house of raving fans at the Phoenix, playing a heady mix of their fun and forward dance pop. Their set included the fan favorite "Bass Down Low," which has received more than 9 million plays on YouTube.

Zowie delivered a powerful performance at the Nylon magazine party on the rooftop of the W Hotel, playing a set of songs that neatly balanced between edgy electronica and sweeping girl-power rock.

Fresh off her tour with '80s electronica icons OMD, Oh Land (consisting of Nanna Øland Fabricius) performed songs around downtown Austin, fully living up to the buzz surrounding her self-titled release.

Emerging British electro-pop artist Bright Light Bright Light (the brainchild of Rod Thomas) stirred up a dance party at BMI's showcase at the Ghost Room with uplifting songs like "Love Part II" and "Disco Moment."

Frankmusik (aka Vincent Frank) made his long-awaited return to the stage at Perez Hilton's One Night In Austin party on March 19. The singer radiated an intense sonic burst of pop goodness that energized the Texas crowd and had them on their feet and humming along instantly.

After touring with Example in the UK earlier this month, Neon Hitch played several gigs in Austin in support of her forthcoming debut album, Beg Borrow And Steal, including "Get Over U," her new Benny Blanco-produced single that she co-wrote with Sia.

And making a quick stop in town was Jessie And The Toy Boys (led by Jessie Malakouti), who performed her single "Push It," which was produced by No Doubt's Tony Kanal and Jimmy Harry.

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