Here it is: the NME 100, our annual rundown of 100 brand new artists who’ll dominate 2019.
You’ll find the rappers ready to take drill mainstream, the punk bands ready to change the nation and the pop stars and bands ready to take festival season and beyond by storm.
You may know some names, and plenty will be brand new, but we’re confident that your new favourite is to be found here.
Don’t forget to listen to them all in our playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, and you can read our headline interview with the most talked-about teen on the planet, Billie Eilish, right here.
We’ve done it in alphabetical order (no rankings here, they’re all winners) across two pages, so hit ‘next’ when you reach the bottom.
Compiled by: Thomas Smith, NME New Music Editor
Words: Jordan Bassett, Andrew Trendell, El Hunt, Tom Connick, Dan Stubbs, Rhian Daly, Sam Moore
The Kanye-approved rapper bringing emotion to glitchy rap bangers
From: North Bergen, USA
Sounds like: Dark, moody rap that dares you to confront your inner feelings
For fans of: Kanye West, Drake, JPEGMAFIA
USP: She transcends other emo rappers by trying to find the beauty in her pain.
Why you’re going to love her: You probably already do – even if you don’t realise it. 070 Shake was one of the highlights of the Kanye-produced albums ‘Ye’, ‘Nasir’ (by Nas), and ‘Daytona’ (by Pusha T), bringing her unique voice and energy to each, effortlessly putting herself in the same league as rap’s greats. In her own songs, she’s even more of a shape-shifter, pulling from sadness, anger, and addiction to deliver verses that range from beauty to pain.
Key track: ‘I Laugh When I’m With Friends But I’m Sad When I’m Alone’ (RD)
The ridiculously talented teenager trading geography homework for giant bangers
From: Bedfordshire, UK
Sounds like: Lovestruck diary scribbles shot through a psych-pop lens
For fans of: Steve Lacy, Rex Orange County, Mac DeMarco
USP: This ridiculously talented 15-year-old musician squeezes in bedroom recording sessions between chemistry classes and homework. He used to feign headaches in order to skive off singing lessons, but after some firm encouragement he bit the bullet and handed his demoes around the classroom. He’s never looked back since.
Why you’re going to love him: Teenage infatuation makes growing up an especially turbulent time, and though 20-somethings might say otherwise, that lusty chaos never really subsides: just look at the way people conduct themselves on Tinder. Fittingly the pains and tribulations of young love are all over Alfie Templemen’s music, shot through a kaleidoscopic haze that recalls Kevin Parker if he was into lounge-jazz.
Key Track: ‘Like An Animal’ (EH)
Teen prodigy whose self-assured banger ‘Baddest’ went viral
From: Enfield, UK
Sounds like: Smugly deleting the numbers of every single fuck-boy you dated in 2018
For fans of: Rihanna, Jhene Aiko, Kojo Funds
USP: Monet holds the impressive title of ‘longest serving Nala’ in the West End production of The Lion King. She landed the role when she was just eight years old, putting most of our supporting school panto roles to shame.
Why you’re going to love her: The stupidly catchy ‘Baddest’ – her debut single – racked up one million streams in a single week; probably due to so many listeners, including us, hammering the repeat button.
Key track: ‘Baddest’ (RD)
Amyl & The Sniffers
Rough Trade-signed riff-raff ushering a new age of bristling garage-punk
From: Melbourne, Australia
Sounds like: The Damned down under
For fans of: Sheer Mag, The Distillers, The Strokes
USP: Embracing the Australian ‘bogan’ stereotype, these Rough Trade signees are a liquor-swigging, poppers-snooting, mullet-rocking gang whose music straddles punk and FM rock – and whose gigs are sweatier than a Bondi Beach BBQ.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re all about capturing lightning a bottle (a bottle of White Lightning, most likely). One of their two EPs to date, ‘Giddy Up’, was written, recorded and released in just 12 hours.
Key track: Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled) (DS)
The winsome college indie band taking on the world
From: Nashville, USA
Sounds like: Knowingly naïve, romantic indie-pop underpinned by hip-hop-influenced percussion
For fans of: MGMT, FUN, The Spinto Band
USP: Weird production sound effects and obscure, ethereal vocals meet with massive pop choruses, resulting in deceptively ambitious songs that are DIY in attitude but future chart fodder in effect.
Why you’re going to love them: The trio are local heroes at US college Vanterbilt, where they’re studying, yet their tracks ‘Didya Think’ and ‘Big Fat Mouth’ have racked up millions on streams on Spotify, and they’ve since landed a deal with Atlantic Records. They’re in the very strange position of being a local band with a global fanbase – and it’s always fun to get onboard with an act on the ground and watch them grow.
Key track: ‘Big Fat Mouth’ (JB)
Art School Girlfriend
The producer making introspective music for bleak times
From: Wrexham, Wales
Sounds like: The perfect soundtrack for days when your head feels like it’s being suffocated by dark clouds
For fans of: Beach House, Daughter, The xx
USP: Her sparse, gorgeous mix of droning electronics and glittering guitars, which form haunting soundscapes in their own right.
Why you’re going to love her: Sometimes you need songs that indulge in the bleak and the melancholy, and Art School Girlfriend (aka Polly Mackey) is an expert at it. But instead of woe-is-me sadness, her music turns those feelings into something beautiful – nocturnal, floating songs that drift between unsettling and comforting, as she weaves poetry over the top.
Key track: ‘Distance (Blank)’ (RD)
A dark-pop queen for even darker times
Sounds like: Slick and cinematic pop-noir from the 22nd Century
For fans of: Tove Lo, The Weeknd, Grimes
USP: At just 17-years-old, she’s light years ahead of a lot of her peers in terms of creative songwriting, with millions of streams and a cult army of hardcore fans to back that popularity up.
Why you’re going to love her: Inspired by Studio Ghibli, TV, technology and the woes of Gen Z, AU/RA has the dark bangers lined up to get us through this millennial mindfuck.
Key track: ‘Panic Room’ (AT)
The old-school rock ‘n’ rollers with bags of confidence
From: Leeds, UK
Sounds like: Cacophonous guitar rock with a hint of psychobilly and massive production values
For fans of: Circa Waves, Marmozets, Royal Blood
USP: This is good old-fashioned rock’n’roll given a cinematic sheen – every track sounds like you’re trapped in a chase scene.
Why you’re going to love them: At beginning of ‘Million Dollar Man’, frontman Jordan Bell snarls, “Allow me to introduce myself – I’m a million dollar man”, cribbing from the Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, an indication that Avalanche Party mean business.
Key track: ‘Million Dollar Man’ (JB)
The London rapper making sounds with Afrobeat and grime
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Afrobeat meets grime, as the 23-year-old rapper combines to sunny rhythms of the former with the staccato basslines of the latter
For fans of: NSG, Not3s, Stefflon Don
USP: He’s a viral success story with the tunes to match – his track ‘Jumanji’ has racked up more than 35 million since it was uploaded in October, and he was quick to capitalise on its popularity, turning in a series of sun-kissed rap and R&B crossovers such as the buoyant ‘079ME’.
Why you’re going to love him: Despite his stellar talent, B-Young – real name Bertan Jafer – has an easygoing persona, in interviews appearing to be pleasantly surprised at his ongoing viral fame. He was a studio producer before stardom beckoned, which perhaps explains the finesse and polish to his tracks. A rare artist who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Key track: ‘079ME’ (JB)
The reggaeton hero riding the dancehall wave
From: Vilassar de Mar, Spain
Sounds like: Reggaeton, dancehall and pop electronica overlaid with icy auto-tuned rap vocals
For fans of: Sean Paul, Rihanna, Popcaan
USP: 21-year-old Bad Gyal, real name Alba Farelo, broke through with ‘Pai’, a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Work’ but sung in Catalan. She revels in bringing her reggaeton influences to the fore, both riding and defining the current global trend.
Why you’re going to love her: Last year, Popcaan released the killer album ‘Forever’, proving pop, dancehall and reggaeton can be a formidable commerical force world-wide. This is likely to be the sound of 2019 and few are doing with the kind of carefree, fun-loving spirit that only Bad Gyal can bring.
Key track: ‘Candela’ (JB)
A fusion of Brit-rap and choppy indie, which inspires as many Snapchats as it does mosh-pits
From: London, UK
Sounds like: A young British rapper brought up on the 2000s’ indie boom
For fans of: Jamie T, Akala, King Krule
USP: Bakar’s live shows are as ambitious as they are riotous. At a recent headliner at The Dome in London, he built a whole house on stage, arriving by torchlight and acting out a fake robbery as he thrashed through his wares, an ever-swelling mosh-pit in front of him.
Why you’re going to love him: Perfectly treading the line between indie belters and Brit-rap bars, Bakar’s a one-man hit factory. Tracks like ‘All In’ come off like King Krule-esque grungy jazz, while the menacing ‘Dracula’ borders on clattering punk. Brought up on Bloc Party as much as he was, he’s the perfect encapsulation of Britain’s youthful eclecticism.
Key Track: ‘All In’ (TC)
The teenage folkie making vulnerable, relatable gold
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Delicate acoustic gems and an invitation to read Bea Kristi’s diary
For fans of: Soccer Mommy, (Sandy) Alex G, Lucy Dacus
USP: Her youthful vulnerability, which makes her personal lyrics all the more impactful.
Why you’re going to love her: Beabadoobee writes relatable indie-folk that gets right into the crevices of your brain. Her recent EP ‘Patched Up’ might be concerned with the trials of teen hood but the issues she deals with – crushing hard on your peers, being kept up at night by your brain, and dealing with the responsibilities of adulthood – transcend age brackets.
Key track: ‘Art Class’ (RD)
The most talked-about teen on the planet, with global stardom at her fingertips
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: Whispery pop given a bolshy hip-hop makeover
For fans of: Khalid, Dua Lipa, Lorde
USP: She’s 17, has nearly 11m followers on Instagram and is fast becoming a voice of a generation because of it. Her lyricism is both wistful and assertive – there’s a manifesto for Gen Z waiting to be written by Billie.
Why you’re going to love them: Debut EP ‘Don’t Smile At Me’ was a superb introduction to pop’s next queen, and last year’s string of singles including the booming ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’ and the hypnotising ‘When The Party’s Over’ hints at a charming performer ready to take her skills to the next level.
Key track: ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’ (TS)
Idiosyncratic, psychedelic math-rock that challenges at every turn
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Absolutely nothing else around right now
For fans of: Battles, CHON, Holy Fuck
USP: Black Midi’s drummer, Morgan Simpson, has to be seen to be believed. A whirlwind of jazzy ghost notes and thunderous breakdowns, he sits at the back of the stage tying himself in knots, night after night. In a band of impossibly talented musicians, he’s the glue.
Why you’re going to love them: If your music taste leans a little left-of-centre, Black Midi are the band you’ve been waiting for. Word-of-mouth buzz made them one of last year’s most hyped, but they didn’t succumb to the pressure – debut single ‘bmbmbm’, released last summer, was proof every superlative was deserved. A twisted, mutating take on musical extremity, it’s an example of the math-esque wizardry Black Midi can cook up.
Key Track: ‘bmbmbm’ (TC)
The Aussie gang making starry-eyed garage-pop to brighten your day
From: Sydney, Australia
Sounds like: Swirling metal-gilded garage-pop that transports you to another realm
For fans of: Deerhunter, DIIV, Hinds
USP: Their dreamy atmospherics, which make their songs feel like vintage discoveries that are rich with lush texture.
Why you’re going to love them: Their lyrics are frank and pack a big punch, from ‘Ludlow (Do You Believe In Karma?)’s “You know that every move you make makes my heart break/But you’re still moving aren’t ya?” to ‘Silver’s comment on ageing: “Everyone I know is turning silver.” Their self-titled EP is really a masterclass in lines that creep up on you and resonate.
Key track: ‘Silver’ (RD)
Eternal sunshine of the spotless kind
From: Bergen, Norway
Sounds like: Wittily-penned, blissed-out slacker rock with a tropical bounce
For fans of: Mac DeMarco, Rex Orange County, Vampire Weekend
USP: It’s a band consisting of teenage Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz and his college classmates, with everything they do feeling like rascals at play.
Why you’re going to love him: This wunderkind makes shamelessly joyous summer pop that’s catchier than freshers flu. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, mind. Recent tracks ‘Feeling Lonely’ and ‘Sick Feeling’ find themselves laughing through the dire situations like being a broken-hearted teenager.
Key track: ‘Losing You’ (AT)
The R&B innovator with a Midas touch
From: New York, USA
Sounds like: Deep diving into and exploring the many corners of the human soul
For fans of: Frank Ocean, Khalid, Blood Orange
USP: Sleek, experimental but soulful R&B that will have you contemplating the big questions while on the dancefloor.
Why you’re going to love him: Clay’s voice, for starters, is the kind of caramel smooth treat it’s hard not to cram in your ears on the regs. That his production is equally as addictive elevates his songs to new planes, traversing stripped-back minimalism and glitchy, stuttering pop fun.
Key track: ‘Cold War’ (RD)
The Japanese punk band redefining the cutesy concept of kawaii
From: Nagoya, Japan
Sounds like: A sugar rush of colour and sunshine that causes unavoidable happiness
For fans of: CSS, Kero Kero Bonito, Grimes
USP: Writing love songs about dumplings and delivering a series of synchronised dance routines at their joy-filled live shows.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re righteous, encouraging fans to reject unrealistic, homogenous body standards and to be themselves, and they deliver their message in eclectic songs that make up fizzy debut album ‘Pink’. Plus, they’re experts in fun, whether it comes in the shape of punk, pop, electronic music, or more.
Key track: ’N.E.O.’ (RD)
The super-smooth producer poised to be LA’s next dance king
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: Assured soulful house that’ll make the prudes blush
For fans of: Yaeji, OutKast, Miguel
USP: Born and raised in the shadow of Hollywood, Tres utilises his hometown’s flashy nature as well as his personal love for folk, house and dancing into music that reflects his polymathic life to date.
Why you’re going to love him: His debut EP ‘Channel Tres’ is jam-packed with straight-up house bangers, but Tres’ most endearing qualities are when he’s serenading the listener with messages of body empowerment (‘Controller’) or feeling himself with the celebratory anthems (‘Topdown’).
Key track: ‘Controller’ (TS)
Vibrant R&B that’s not afraid to deconstruct our online personas
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Slinky R&B with grimy British edges
For fans of: Yxng Bane, Kojey Radical, Future
USP: Che Lingo started out performing shows at local youth clubs around his hometown of Clapham Junction, South London. Now, his ambitions are a little larger.
Why you’re going to love him: There’s both a vibrant, escapist edge and a gritty realism to Che Lingo’s work. Jumping from soulful R&B to hard-delivered bars with ease, the Londoner is adept at weaving his vocal around the complexities of modern life. “Emojis don’t replace emotions,” he spits on ‘Circles’, adding, “You only WhatsApp when you’re scared to phone ‘em” – an oh-so-millennial take on the age-old tale of a distant lover. It’s that fusion of classic soul and modernist vibe that makes Che Lingo so special.
Key Track: ‘Circles’ (TC)
The Cali native here to make disco-pop freaky again
From: Oxnard, USA
Sounds like: A disco ball melting or the after-effects of some particularly potent hallucinogenics
For fans of: Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin, MGMT
USP: His knack for making music that is truly weird but still possesses some stonking big hooks.
Why you’re going to love him: Boring isn’t a word that we’d imagine is in Cola Boyy’s (aka Matthew Urango) vocabulary. By the sounds of his impressive output so far the likes of warped, uninhibited, bizarre and, more simply, fun definitely are – you can hear all of them in the liquifying synths, confident strut, and pinched vocals of ‘Penny Girl’ and ‘Beige 70’, both instant hits.
Key track: ‘Penny Girl’ (RD)
The brutal, thrashy metallers carrying the UK’s long-held heavy metal torch into the future
From: Rugby, UK
Sounds like: A bear fight in a guitar shop
For fans of: Slayer, Gojira, Converge
USP: The only thing more impressive than the dual, duelling vocals of guitarists Brady Deeprose and Dan Nightingale (how metal are those names, btw?) is bassist Conor Marshall’s non-stop windmilling. His neck must be half Flubber.
Why you’re going to love them: You’ve not heard metal this perfectly executed in a long time. Taking the aggression of hardcore, but never succumbing to metalcore cliché, Conjurer’s trudge through gloom and grisliness puts them right at the top of the New Breed of British Heavy Metal. Through even the most brutal passages, though, there’s always a close-held dedication to melody – one that breaks through in moments of huge, ambient euphoria.
Key track: ‘Retch’ (TC)
Heart-rending ballads from one of California’s smoothest operator
From: Hawthorne, USA
Sounds like: Being handed a Martini after having your heart broken
For fans of: Ryan Beatty, Boy Pablo, Rex Orange County
USP: Blending classic golden oldie sensibility with dreamy, stoned production – piped direct from Cuco’s bedroom studio in South LA – it’s easy to understand why Kevin Abstract and The Internet’s Steve Lacy are both big fans.
Why you’re going to love him: Borrowing timeless melodies and rendering them in cosmic swirls of synth, Cuco takes a gentler approach where ballads of the past favoured bravado and bombast. “You know you are my sueño [dream]” he sings on the crush-harbouring ‘Lo Que Siento’, perfectly capturing the giddy moments before letting slip with a big word spelled L-O-V-E.
Key track: ‘Lo Que Siento’ (EH)
Dope Saint Jude
The South African making R&B with a social conscience
From: Cape Town, South Africa
Sounds like: South African hip-hop that combines rhymes about self-empowerment with bold experimental beats
For fans of: M.I.A, Serpentwithfeet, Slowthai
USP: Catherine Saint Jude Pretorious was formerly a drag king (apparently she did killer impression of Lil Wayne) and brings a similarly no-fucks-given approach to her hip-hop bangers.
Why you’re going to love her: Dope Saint Jude is a true product of the modern age, influenced equally by Tupac and riot grrrl, and finding time to name-check Michelle Obama. Autotuned backing vocals, staccato percussion, space-age synths – it’s all here, and when she spits, “I don’t give a fuck” on evocative calling card track ‘Grrrl Like’, you know she means it.
Key track: ‘Grrrl Like’ (JB)
The docu-soap rapper blending hip-hop with psychedelic funk
From: Redcar, UK
Sounds like: A Beastie Boys record being warped in a microwave powered by sheer positivity
For fans of: Jamie T, Kid Cudi, TV On The Radio
USP: His sunny demeanour made him the breakout star of BBC Three documentary The Mighty Redcar. The rapper, who draws inspiration from Kid Cudi’s frank rhymes, spins tales of optimism over vintage beats. No wonder Jamie T, with whom he collaborated on the track ‘Up & Upside Down’, was hooked.
Why you’re going to love him: Because we could all with a little positivity in 2019. And where better to look than to a smiley, talented young dude who was waiting tables at Wetherspoons when he was discovered?
Key track: ‘Wishing Well’ (JB)
The dewy-eyed songwriter creating better worlds to escape to
From: Brisbane, Australia
Sounds like: Galloping through candyfloss fields under a rainbow sky, or the kind of fever dreams you expect to have when you’re hopped up on too many painkillers
For fans of: The Lemon Twigs, Tobias Jesso Jr., Ariel Pink
USP: Classic pop songwriting contorted and bent through a technicoloured-filter.
Why you’re going to love him: There’s a purity to Emerson Snowe’s (aka The Creases’ Jarrod Mahon) solo project – a charming naivety that daubs everything he does in wide-eyed, childlike innocence. Coupled with his understated, timeless songwriting, the whole thing makes for something blissfully unblemished.
Key track: ‘If I Die, Then I Die’ (RD)
The versatile rabble putting their best foot forward
From: Coventry, UK
Sounds like: A garish pub carpet, splattered with beer slops and glitter-spillages
For fans of: Shame, Maccabees, King Krule
USP: Fidgety and all-over-the-shop in the best possible way, Feet are always, er, one step ahead of your expectations
Why you’re going to love them: Formidable frontman Jeep is a versatile chap, flipping from vicious snarls to delicate turns of wordplay. Not only is he blessed with deliciously gravelly pipes, he’s a bit of a creative all-rounder; he’s also the brains behind all the band’s visuals. Over just three singles, Feet have set a precedent for the unexpected; leaping from the skittish ‘Macho Macho’ (complete with a lovely falsetto) to the yowled refrains of ‘Back Seat Driver’.
Key track: ‘Petty Thieving’ (EH)
South London rap star with an eclectic CV
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Fired up takedowns from South London’s street corners
For fans of: Novelist, Stefflon Don, Ms Banks
USP: Any backing you send Flohio’s way, she’ll make it her own. More than just a grime artist, more than just a drill artist, she’s a rapper with a talent so freeform she’s already rapped on everything from techno to industrial noise – and that’s before we’ve even heard anything close to her first full record.
Why you’re going to love her: Flohio’s no-shit attitude is infectious. From her underground 2016 smash ‘SE16’, to the more recent likes of ‘Bands’, ’10 More Rounds’ and ‘Wild Yout’, she’s quickly established herself as the go-to for bolshy, oh-so-British brilliance. “I just bop through anywhere I want to,” she spits on ‘Bands’ – it’s a mine-for-the-taking sense of confidence that a new gen are embracing right now.
Key track: ‘Wild Yout’ (TC)
The French DJ making intergalactic jazz-house
From: Lyon, France
Sounds like: Hedonistic French-touch era house given modern overhaul
For fans of: Daft Punk, Ross From Friends, Mura Masa
USP: Not just content with throwing up infectious foor-to-the-floors, Folamour will throw a deep spoken-word sample or a jazzy interlude to pique your interest.
Why you’re going to love him: 2017 collection ‘Umami’ showcased a producer with unbridled creativity, but last year’s ‘Melopharia’ EP was certainly a step up. ‘Jazz Session for No Future People’, is fizzing with hand-claps and club vibes, but it’s the sax breakdown that makes Folamour’s beats intensely addictive.
Key track: ‘Jazz Session for No Future People’ (TS)
Essential Irish punks with a poetic bent
From: Dublin, Ireland
Sounds like: Hypnotic punk with an embittered Irishman sitting atop it
For fans of: Girl Band, The Fall, Joy Division
USP: Fontaines D.C.’s writing process begins, like all good things, down the pub. Where this lot might surprise you, though, is in their decidedly more classical approach. Each of them bring poetry, rather than peanuts, to the table, and they pick out the best to turn into thrashing punk numbers.
Why you’re going to love them: Fontaines D.C. are like few others around at the moment – a lyrical, intelligent group who channel their poetry through snarling, hypnotic post-punk. Comparisons have been made between frontman Grian Chatten and the dearly departed Mark E. Smith, but in reality, he’s on his way to becoming an icon all of his own, acerbic takedowns of modern mundanity like ‘Chequeless Reckless’ and ‘Liberty Belle’ standing tall alongside the anthemic, escapist likes of ‘Boys In The Better Land’.
Key Track: ‘Too Real’ (TC)
The disco dudes even your Aunt will love
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Hank Moody, the hard-living anti-hero played by David Duchovny in trashy comedy drama Californication. Just kidding – it’s disco dance music and it’s a right laugh
For fans of: Friendly Fires, Chic, Parcels
USP: They’re calling it space disco – liquid bassline, howling space-age guitar licks, string samples and propulsive beats – which goes some way to capture to the collective’s forward-thinking vintage vibe.
Why you’re going to love them: It’s the sound of a cool Tottenham warehouse party combined with the sound of your Aunt Sarah’s second wedding – and friends: this time she’s doing it right.
Key track: ‘Dance Moves’ (JB)
The chart-topping British rapper with an eye to go global
From: West London, UK
Sounds like: Vivid, emotive and gifted street storyteller with an ear for a chart banger
For fans of: AJ Tracey, Dave, Giggs
USP: The command he already has over the charts. Fredo had been accumulating plenty of hype over the past three years (he first perked up ears with his club-slaying ‘They Ain’t 100’ back in 2016), but he finally broke through to the mainstream late last year thanks to a link-up with the formidable Dave: their single ‘Funky Friday’ hit the UK Number One spot in October.
Why you’re going to love him: Fredo’s upcoming debut studio album ‘Third Avenue’ is sure to continue his fine streak of commercial success when it finally drops in February, further propelling him to the very top of the UK rap scene – you surely won’t be able to escape either his music or his presence in the coming months.
Key track: ‘BMT’ (SM)
The Scottish synth-loving duo dishing out Euro-centric odd-pop
From: Glasgow, UK
Sounds like: Incredibly ‘80s graphics of smooth slicks of metallics, icy, cool, and always gleaming bright
For fans of: LA Priest, Tame Impala, Metronomy
USP: Minimal ‘80s synth-pop that darts from English to French in an charming bid of bi-lingualism.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s something a little off-kilter about their songs. It’s not so obvious that it becomes the all-consuming thing, but noticeable enough to keep you listening in an effort to work out just what it is – the language-hopping? The needling synth ripples? – until it’s got you hooked.
Key track: ‘Playing As Punks’ (RD)
The Blossoms-endorsed indie-poppers from Stockport
From: Stockport, UK
Sounds like: Shimmering synth-pop bringing sunny West Coast sounds to Greater Manchester
For fans of: Daft Punk, Blossoms, The Human League
USP: There’s a psychedelic element to Fuzzy Sun’s music, their fizzing electro-pop often twisting and turning into unexpected directions – see: the trippy bridge on their track ‘Heavy’.
Why you’re going to love them: Blossoms, enjoying their blooming success, set up their own label, Very Clever Records. Its M-O is to recreate the independent nous of Creation, Factory Records and Rough Trade – and Fuzzy Sun were the first band that frontman Tom Ogden and co. released, an endorsement that speaks to their’s knack for a catchy chorus that’s more pop than indie.
Key track: ‘Want Love’ (JB)
The Icelandic pop whizz with an ear for immediate minimalism
From: Reykjavík, Iceland
Sounds like: A precise and jagged pop glacier rolling full pelt for your eardrums
For fans of: Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Julia Michaels
USP: Glowie (rhymes with ‘snowy’) wrote her huge body-positive hit ‘Body’ alongside Julia Michaels (worked with Justin Bieber), and the two writers share a gift for glimmering minimalism. “’Body’ is all about being yourself and dancing like nobody’s watching,” she says.
Why you’re going to love her: As a kid, Glowie used to gatecrash her dad’s band rehearsals, clambering up on a stool in order to reach the mic. She’s been hooked on music ever since, and though ‘Body’ is her best known hit, will-we-won’t-we infatuation banger ‘No Lie’ is a massive hit back in her native Iceland. Newly relocated to London and snapped up by major label Columbia, you can expect to hear a lot more this year.
Key Track: ‘Body’ (EH)
Grungy, snarling hardcore with its crosshairs on social ills
From: Fort Lauderdale, USA
Sounds like: A warped and anger-packed reimagining of all your ’90s faves
For fans of: Ceremony, Fucked Up, Sonic Youth
USP: Vocalist Christina Michelle’s acid-burnt screams are integral to the Gouge Away sound – drawn straight from the gut, she takes down personal demons and socio-political ills throughout their gripping latest release ‘Burnt Sugar’.
Why you’re going to love them: There are few punk bands producing anything as grisly and inventive as Gouge Away. Part Hammer-horror, part moshpit-churning mania, they eschew convention for a more twisted take on the genre. ‘Burnt Sugar’ was one of last year’s very best underground releases, the Floridian pummelling their way into view, while in Christina Michelle, they have a singer whose presence is as powerful as her performance.
Key track: ‘Dis s o c i a t i o n’ (TC)
Potent pop ballads to better your life to
From: Brighton, UK
Sounds like: A bank vault packed with solid-gold slabs of songwriting
For fans of: Amber Mark, Adele, Mabel
USP: Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey both snuck along to Grace Carter’s debut show in LA, and considering she’s since worked with production genius Mike Dean (Beyonce, Frank Ocean) expect more star connections in the future.
Why you’re going to love her: Carter grew up listening to Nina Simone, and her own voice possesses a similarly distinctive quality. In her case, it’s an emotive quaver; bringing an added dollop of yearning to early stand-out ‘Silhouette’
Key track: ‘Why Her Not Me’ (EH)
The Aussie art-rave rap trio, bringing a riot to a town near you
Sounds like: A shattered kaleidoscope of hip-hop, electronica, disco and pop. The soundtrack to James Murphy’s most MDMA-zing dreams
For fans of: Le Tigre, Confidence Man, Charli XCX
USP: Their confetti-caked live show has already been lovingly likened to a hybrid of The Beastie Boys and Charli XCX by NME already.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re a crew of creatives here to blur the lines between pop and performance art, without the hint of pretence. It’s wild, inclusive and hella fun.
Key track: ‘Not About You’ (AT)
The LA talent who makes suburban misery sound dreamily bittersweet
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: Having a cathartic and slightly snotty sob on the tube as it rolls into Canada Water. Except marginally more glamorous; she is from LA after all
For fans of: Frankie Cosmos, Deerhunter, Beach House
USP: An eclectic selection of artists are already fans of Hana Vu. She’s supported Soccer Mommy on tour, and Willow Smith recently featured on her single ‘Queen of High School’.
Why you’re going to love her: The 17-year old quietly became a whispered about sensation on Bandcamp, and has been quietly releasing her own self-produced music over the last few years. Tearing up diary scribbles and mangling them into a scrunch of daydreaming indie rock, it’s Hana Vu’s smokey and yearning vocal that steals the show.
Key Track: ‘Crying on the Subway’ (EH)
The pop queen blending playful songwriting with the millennial curse of unread texts
From: Norwich, UK
Sounds like: She’s covered herself in PVA glue and rolled around in a ball-pit of popping candy, sherbet dib-dabs and neon pink bubblegum
For fans of: Carly Rae Jepsen, SOPHIE, Kero Kero Bonito
USP: Closely affiliated with South London ‘pseudo-label’ PC Music, Hannah Diamond isn’t just a musician; she’s a multi-talented photographer, stylist and artistic director with a fixation on how celebrity works in the internet age. And so it follows that she’s meticulous about every aspect of what she puts out; like all the best pop stars, aesthetic is integral.
Why you’re going to love her: Early singles ‘Pink and Blue’ and ‘Attachment’ aren’t just ridiculously fun pop-bops drenched in irony – beneath the heavily produced vocals, there’s genuine sincerity. And teaming up with Charli XCX for her ‘Vroom Vroom’ EP cut ‘Paradise’ it’s clear that Hannah Diamond is as tuned into the zeitgeist as her collaborator; releasing bold music that gives a finger to old school conventions.
Key Track: ‘True’’ (EH)
The pop-loving indie kid making shoegaze-y gold
From: Brisbane, Australia
Sounds like: The quick, sharp fizz after you’ve chucked a handful of Mentos into a Coke bottle
For fans of: Wolf Alice, Mazzy Star, Alvvays
USP: Making shining dream-pop that sounds straight off a classic teen-movie soundtrack.
Why you’re going to love them: Her songs are like magical sugar rushes of pop, made her own with shoe gaze tinges, big atmospherics, and darker, more experimental undertones.
Key track: ‘Try’ (RD)
The drill rapper bringing American-influenced sheen to the genre
Sounds like: The chilly sounds of drill, but with denser lyrics and a penchant for wordplay
For fans of: 67, JaJa Soze, Loksi
USP: Headie One’s raucous lives show celebrate diversity and multiculturalism, a positive, life-affirming counterargument to those who would (ignorantly) claim that drill is a negative force.
Why you’re going to love them: Like Unknown T, Headie One is bringing a little glitz and glamour to a genre with reputation for being brooding and dour – his cult track ‘Tracksuit Love’, a collaboration with British DJ Kenny Allstar, is an American-influenced ode to the humble trackie. Now, he’s collaborated with Dave on new track ’18HUNNA’. Stardom beckons.
Key track: ‘18HUNNA’ (JB)
From: Bermondsey, London, UK
Sounds like: Pun-filled Christmas cracker jokes if they were actually funny
For fans of: AJ Tracey, Octavian, J Hus
USP: Keeping a mysterious profile online, Hermz4k lets his output speak for itself. Along with prolifically releasing new material – including mini-album ‘Memento Mori.’ – on Soundcloud, he’s also a talented animator and artist..
Why you’re going to love him: Creative and often surprising with his lines, Hermz4k is the only rapper in recent memory to successfully rhyme ‘oyster’ with… erm ‘oyster’.
Key track: ‘Grime N Grind’ (EH)
The rising singer-songwriter making elegantly sad pop to break your heart
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Music made to stare out to sea from the windy coasts of Britain to
For fans of: Lana Del Rey, Fleetwood Mac, Alexandra Savior
USP: A sigh that feels like it weighs a tonne, but only serves to make her songs more magical.
Why you’re going to love them: Honey Gentry knows how to craft a song for those days when you can barely lift your head off the pillow – lethargic but beautiful and poised in its misery. That all she needs is her emotive voice and barely more than a guitar to make you feel at one with her marks her out as someone very special.
Key track: ‘Bleed, Honey’
The Australian dudes bringing Berlin cool to psych-pop
From: Byron Bay, Australia
Sounds like: The psych revival given a future-pop makeover. Or: Blossoms playing footie on the beach in Australia
For fans of: Tame Impala, Daft Punk, Blossoms
USP: Byron Bay has become a hotspot for talent in recent years, having gifted us with disco dudes Parcels and garage rockers Skegss. Imbibe split the difference, offering shimmering pop with indie sensibilities.
Why you’re going to love them: Although they’re from sunnier shores, brothers Tennyson and Holden Nobel are now based in Berlin, and the change in locale has imbued their alt-pop with a somewhat cooler, more detached attitude, a neat take on the wide-eyed wonder of psychedelica.
Key track: ‘Mirage’ (JB)
The singer-songwriter who refuses to be defined by genre
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Emotive pop that could have been written on the dusty roads of middle America.
For fans of: Maggie Rogers, Ryan Adams, Phoebe Bridgers
USP: Making everything from Americana to punk fury sound like a Jade Bird invention.
Why you’re going to love her: She’s a pop chameleon who can change her sound at the drop of a guitar pick. Feeling rageful? Let Jade’s throaty rasp on ‘Uh Huh’ bleed out that anger. Want something soft and sad? There’s ‘Something American’, a finger-picked beauty that boasts a chorus that’ll reduce you to tears in seconds.
Key track: ‘Uh Huh’ (RD)
Jesse Jo Stark
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: A slow motion short film starring Pat Butcher let loose at a leopard-print blouse kilo sale
For fans of: Black Honey, Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen
USP: Best mates with Bella Hadid, Jesse Jo Stark’s godmother is ACTUAL REAL LIFE Cher. Iconic.
Why you’re going to love her: There’s more to Stark than A-list association, mind. A gritty spit-glob of punk-minded blues and country, she’s super talented.
Key track: ‘Mystery’
Grimy, gut-punching, doomy hardcore perfection
From: Philadelphia, USA
Sounds like: Getting punched in the belly by a heavyweight boxer
For fans of: Hatebreed, Integrity, Comeback Kid
USP: Frontman Aaron Heard is a captivating prospect – a man who, on-stage, seems to swell up to twice his everyday size, every muscle on his body blowing up like a balloon as he hurls himself into every word and, often, the front rows.
Why you’re going to love them: ‘Only Self’, Jesus Piece’s 2018 debut album, established them as one of the scene’s most explosive groups. Where before the Philly bunch dealt in a fusion of death metal and hardcore that was as visceral as they come, ‘Only Self’ was a game of two halves – the first, the heaviest hardcore you’re ever likely to hear. Side two, however, saw them changing act, and expanding their sonic horizons with a sludgy, doom-laden take on guttural catharsis.
Key track: ‘Curse of The Serpent’ (TC)
The UK über-producer with international solo ambition
From: Coventry, UK
Sounds like: The next big thing in British rap
For fans of: J Hus, Novelist, Avelino
USP: Jevon made his first major moves producing XL Recordings’ who’s-who ‘Next Gen’ mixtape of UK underground stars. For his debut album, though, he broke free of that home country, heading to Brazil to find international inspiration.
Why you’re going to love him: No longer content to be a background producer, Jevon’s bolshy ambition is infectious. His debut EP Judas proved that the production whizz could put his bars to pop bangers, slinky R&B and uplifting hip-hop in equal measure – for that upcoming album, expect “Brazilian sounds”. The man’s a musical polymath. (TC)
The viral rapper ready to take over the world, on and offline
From: London, UK
Sounds like: All the meme-filled corners of the internet rolled up into DIY pop
For fans of: Childish Gambino, Charli XCX, Rejjie Snow
USP: Absurdist rap that handles fashion, drugs, and romance in an incredibly accurate reflection of what’s actually going on in the bedrooms of young Britain.
Why you’re going to love him: Let’s be real, Jimothy may well prove to be the most divisive act on this list. Some might dismiss his tunes as hipster nonsense, the internet gone too far, but his existence is a lesson in not taking everything so seriously and appreciating things for what they are – in this case, witty, tongue-in-cheek songs that put the emphasis on fun.
Key track: ‘Fashion’ (RD)