We can’t believe it’s been a year already either, but indeed, next week will mark the return of the Popdust 40, our annual list of the 40 greatest pop stars in music. Will Lady Gaga be able to hold on to her top spot for a second year? Will Kanye West or Justin Bieber challenge for the throne? You’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime, we need help with our 40th artist slot, which we’ve left open for you guys to decide.
Below, check out the profiles for four artists we think have a reasonable claim to our final slot, and vote for your favorite, with the winner earning the privilege of kicking off our second annual Popdust 40 list. Vote in the middle, and be sure to come back next week as we unveil the list in all its Top 40—literally—glory.
Voting ends Sunday night at midnight. You can vote as many times as you want.
Still a week away from releasing her debut album Ora, Kosovo-by-way-of-The-U.K. singer/songwriter RITA ORA is on her way to becoming one of the biggest stars on both sides of the Atlantic. She’s already topped the U.K. harts with her smashes “R.I.P.” and “Hot Right Now,” but after signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and scoring her first U.S. hit with the party-starting “How We Do,” it seems only a matter of time before the sexy, talented Ora challenges for the top stretches of our Popdust 40 list.
Winners of the “Best Worldwide Act” winner at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards, BIG BANG are one of the leading lights of K-Pop’s international outreach, mixing hip-hop swag with boy band heartthrobbiness on hits like “Bad Boy” and “Monster.” With a U.S. takeover in the works—the group will be playing its first stateside shows this November—Big Bang could end up being to South Korea what The Wanted and One Direction have been to the U.K. this year.
The runner-up in the sixth series of the U.K.’s X Factor, OLLY MURS has since well out-paced winner Joe McElderry in international popularity, scoring a trio of UK chart toppers and positing a bid for Stateside popularity with the Chiddy Bang-featuring “Heart Skips a Beat.” Handsome, charming and TV-experienced, Olly has already well eclipsed his reality show roots in his home country, and with a gig supporting One Direction on their U.S. tour, America should quickly fall in line as well.
With a gig at the London Olympics adding to his international profile, 20-year-old singer-songwriter ED SHEERAN looks to be the U.K.’s most successful red-headed musical import since Ginger Spice. His album + scored a Top Five debut in the States, and lead single “The A Team” is currently climbing the charts. With a Taylor Swift duet in the can sure to send his pop Q rating through the roof, Sheeran is poised to be one of the biggest breakout stars from any country in 2012.