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)
The genre-inventing rapper aiming to take Trapanese worldwide
From: Manchester, UK
Sounds like: Dancefloor-ready hip-hop that’s as warped as it is banging.
For fans of: Travis Scott, J Hus, AJ Tracey
USP: Trapanese – Banco’s own genre, which sees him take influence from Japanese aesthetics, the domineering sound of trap, and British hip-hop.
Why you’re going to love him: As you can tell from the above, Banco is an inventive musician who draws inspiration from all over the world, but he never loses sight of his Manchester roots. In fact, he’s a healthy reminder that the UK rap scene extends beyond the M25, rapping in Manc slang and in his broad accent throughout.
Key track: ‘Can’t Stay’ (RD)
Dog-barking hardcore primed to make you bounce
From: Kentucky, USA
Sounds like: A fired up bulldog on a bouncy castle
For fans of: Every Time I Die, Beartooth, Bring Me The Horizon
USP: Like precious few others of their ilk, Knocked Loose have managed to bring hardcore to the masses like never before. Rivalled only by Turnstile in their mainstream-breaking potential, their upcoming second full-length looks set to propel them onto even bigger stages.
Why you’re going to love them: It might be heavy as hell, but a Knocked Loose show is an absolute hoot, too. Their rubbery riffing is perfect mosh-fodder, the chug-happy likes of ‘Deadringer’ bounding along like the guitarists are on pogo-sticks. Oh, also – ‘Counting Worms’ features the vocalist barking like a dog. And it’s fucking fantastic.
Key track: ‘Deadringer’ (TC)
The rising reggae star putting her Jamaican heritage back in the spotlight.
From: Spanish Town, Jamaica
Sounds like: Classic reggae rhythms with a 2019 twist
For fans of: Chronixx, Rihanna, Major Lazer
USP: Her attitude – she might still be a teenage but Mikayla “Koffee” Simpson seems more level-headed than some people twice her age, something which seeps into her lyrics and music.
Why you’re going to love her: Koffee’s music is all about good vibes – she says she wants to be a positive force for change in the world and you can hear that in her songs. ‘Burning’ is an ode to not giving up when life disappoints you and ‘Toast’ finds the 18-year-old grateful for her friends, opportunities, and more. It’s not hard to get swept along with it all, especially when it’s backed by bright, loping reggae sounds that practically radiate sunshine.
Key track: ‘Burning’ (JB)
The Irish rapper with a social realist rhymes set to silky hip-hop
From: Dublin, Ireland
Sounds like: Irish hip-hop: dispatches from the fringes of society shared through smooth tunes.
For fans of: Hare Squead, Loyle Carner, Rejjie Snow
USP: With track titles such as ‘Eviction Notice’, Kevin Smith weaves social realist tales that pull no punches, yet his delivery is caramel smooth, more Loyle Carner than Slowthai’s rapid fire flow.
Why you’re going to love him: Ireland, not historically a hotbed for hip-hop, has gifted us with some real rap talent in recent years – the likes of Rejjie Snow and Hare Squead are redefining the country’s music scene. Kojaque had ridden this trend to positive effect, his palatable sound a Trojan horse he uses to express disaffection at the state of the nation; on the austere, delicately beautiful ‘White Noise’, he raps “give tax breaks to smarmy fucks in grey suits / Leave me starvin’ tryna find a source of income”.
Key track: ‘White Noise’ (JB)
From: East London, UK
Sounds like: Lukewarm tinnies in the park slap bang in the middle of a heatwave
For fans of: Yellow Days, Rex Orange County, Loyle Carner
USP: Dreamy and effortless, Leyma’s soft, half-spoken delivery creeps up on you
Why you’re going to love him: With a microscopic eye for observational details, Max Hanley’s lyrics paint bigger pictures with the small scraps of life that get overlooked: ‘Bumpintheroad’ is a smooth, jazz-flecked banger about getting your keys out your pocket and unhealthy dependency at the same time.
Key track: ‘Lavender’ (EH)
From: Glasgow, UK
Sounds like: The kind of band that have rock’n’roll coursing through their veins
For fans of: Black Honey, The Big Moon, Catholic Action
USP: Strutting rock’n’roll that makes you feel like the biggest badass on the street.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve got big songs and even bigger attitude. Whether it’s front woman Lucia Fairfull howling “Why do you hate me?” on ‘Melted Ice Cream’ – a song about a broken friendship – to the swaggering riffs of latest single ‘Cheap Talk’, they know how to get your attention and keep it in a vice-like grip.
Key track: ‘Melted Ice Cream’ (RD)
The teenager straddling hip-hop and pop but always ready to get the party started
From: Brisbane, Australia
Sounds like: Looking down at the earth from 40,000 but still being able to see all the details in crisp HD
For fans of: Charli XCX, Middle Kids, King Princess
USP: Her perspective, which veers from head-in-the-clouds to precise, often within a few lines of each other.
Why you’re going to love her: Mallrat takes seemingly mundane topics like getting groceries (‘Groceries’) or not wanting to go to the party (‘Uninvited’) and breaths life into them until they become fascinating, beautiful beings of their own. Couple that with her sometimes DIY, sometimes skyscraping production and you’ve got one special artist.
Key track: ‘Uninvited’ (RD)
From: South London, UK
Sounds like: A dexterous verbal gymnast dodging trip-lasers with ease
For fans of: Bakar, 67, Section Boyz
USP: A prolific collaborator, Master Peace has close links with the Cosmo Pyke-featuring collective Ammi Boyz, as well as his brother YSTekDinner. Collectively, they represent an exciting new wave of UK grime.
Why you’re going to love him: Playful and quick-witted, it’s never clear where a Master Peace track will swerve. A stand-out quip? “She wanna buck me, I’m not down for cuddling”.
Key track: ‘Buck Me’ (EH)
The rising rapper who wants “to be the Kate Bush of grime”
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Experimental grime that’s both wonky and wonderful.
For fans of: FKA Twigs, A$AP Rocky, Skepta
USP: His mission statement, as told directly to NME at our shoot, is “I want to be the Kate Bush of grime”. He might be well on his way if his upcoming album is anything to by.
Why you’re going to love him: He’s already been given a co-sign by JME and recently supported British hardcore band Chamber on tour, proving that his inspirations come from both the familiar and unexpected. His ‘Heaven Is Black’ EP, and standout moment ‘Afropunk, Atlanta’ is further proof of an artist placing no barriers on his influences to startling effect.
Key track: ‘Afropunk, Atlanta’ (TS)
The electro magpie who won our hearts in 2018, and now she’s coming for yours
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Pulsing club-ready pop bangers as dark and devious that the nights that inspired them.
For fans of: Robyn, Grimes, Maggie Rogers
USP: At just 18, she already landed a track in NME’s Tracks Of The Year list (‘The Shadow’). We suspect that this the first of many.
Why you’re going to love her: She’s a pop magpie, dropping jewels from the best electro-pop of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and now into her well-crafted songs. Stand back as she delivers a few timeless classics of her own.
Key track: ‘The Shadow’ (AT)
Dream-pop prodigy with a decidedly more soulful edge than most
From: Toronto, Canada
Sounds like: Trippy psych-pop with an almost MJ-like vocal
For fans of: Prince, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala
USP: Where most dreamy indie-poppers might retreat into their bellybuttons when it comes to vocals, MorMor’s not ashamed to belt It out. His huge, R&B-like voice lifts even the spaciest of numbers out of the clouds.
Why you’re going to love them: Tracks like ‘Whatever Comes To Mind’ feel primed for summery escapism, MorMor’s jazzy numbers feeling almost freeform as they slip and slide all over the place. Half classic, 80s-inspired R&B, half dreamy indie-pop, MorMor’s sound is one that’ll prove ideal soundtrack to days far sunnier than these.
Key track: ‘Whatever Comes To Mind’
The Night Cafe
Rabble-rousing indie that pulls zero punches
From: Liverpool, UK
Sounds like: A sloshing pint of snake-bite held aloft in a sea of spluttering lighters and boisterous arms
For fans of: Blossoms, Circa Waves, The Wombats
USP: Formed during music class at school, The Night Cafe have been playing together as long as they’ve been mates. It shows, too – they’ve got an old-school ‘us against the world’ mentality that’s always endearing.
Why you’re going to love them: Their music doesn’t mess about; there’s not hint of excess waffle. Whether they’re singing about hopeless crushes (‘Felicity’) or head-spinning confusion (‘Mixed Signals’) they bring a joyous slant to the whole thing; crisp indie-pop at its best.
Key Track: ‘Felicity’ (EH)
From: Manila, Philippines, now based in London, UK
Sounds like: Crispy, bouncy, floaty pop
For fans of: The 1975, Mitski, Drake
USP: Familiar to fans of The 1975 for his appearances in recent videos, co-write on ‘TooTimeTooTimeTooTime’ and collaborative single ‘Narcissist’, No Rome – aka Rome Gomez – is the Matty Healy protégé who’s quickly becoming the fifth member of The 1975.
Why you’re going to love him: No Rome’s is an ultra-modern type of pop drawing from house, R&B and hip hop alongside some unexpected influences – he cites UK shoegazers Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. And he dresses better than anyone we know, too.
Key track: ‘Seventeen’ (DS)
From: Vancouver, Canada
Sounds like: Listening to early Foals after a hefty pinger
For fans of: Foals, Talking Heads, Shame
USP: N0V3L’s guitar lines are a wonder to behold. More tangled than a pair of headphones left in your pocket overnight, their math-rock-esque dedication to complexity lends N0V3L an intelligent edge.
Why you’re going to love them: If you’re after your indie with a little more intellectualism, N0V3L are your best bet. The group bring an art-rock swagger back to guitar music, infusing their crispy garage-rock with a mathematical intelligence – but never veering too far from danceability.
Key track: ‘Suspicion’ (TC)
From: London, via Lille, France
Sounds like: Commanding, gritty and mood-driven melodic rap over a melting pot of sub-genres, from uplifting house to belligerent drill.
For fans of: Dave, Krept & Konan, Bryson Tiller
USP: Definitely not that he once won a scholarship to the prestigious Brit school, that’s for sure (“I don’t believe you can teach someone to be creative,” he recently said about his experience at the divisive institution). His music is shaped by a challenging upbringing which included periods of homelessness and a tumultuous relationship with his mother.
Why you’re going to love him: Octavian’s confessional style sees him rap from the soul – and it’s a hugely affecting listen every time he gets on the mic.
Key Track: ‘Party Here’ (SM)
Languid dream-pop from a pair of childhood pals
From: Brussels, Belgium
Sounds like: A spaced-out tour through
For fans of: Mac DeMarco, Grizzly Bear, Beach Fossils
USP: The two members of Oracle Sister, Lewis Lazar and Christopher Willatt, are a painter and a mathematician respectively. Though their day jobs might be from different sides of the creative spectrum, together they make effortlessly slick beach-pop, proving there’s creativity to be found in even the most academic of careers.
Why you’re going to love them: Whlie Oracle Sisters’ sound might be heavy-eyed and spaced-out, don’t let that fool you. There’s a pop core to the heart of tracks like ‘Always’, and a cheeky smile to its accompanying video, which follows the band on a ‘fake’ tour of Finland, tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Key Track: ‘Always’ (TC)
From: London, UK
Sounds like: If a ‘Tranquil Jazz Relaxation’ CD from the local garden centre wound up on the back seat of a deserted night bus
For fans of: King Krule, Bonobo, Loyle Carner
USP: Fabiano Lewis has a gift for ho EHpefulness, carving out a pocket of calm in the frantic capital.
Why you’re going to love him: Clashing more inventive textures than a blazed Anna Wintour, Osquello’s sonic palette mixes soul, jazz, hip-hop, and smooth, hardly-trying delivery. Keep an ear out for his debut EP ‘Good Morning Simulation’ in January.
Key track: ‘Tired Creature’ (EH)
Globetrotting DJ bringing bi-lingual house bangers
From: Seoul, South Korea, now based in Berlin, Germany
Sounds like: Feelgood house music for club and/or pool
For fans of: Disclosure, Parcels, Caribou
USP: Born and raised in Seoul but in thrall to the club culture of her latter-day home, Berlin, Peggy Gou is the DJ who does it all – plays, produces and sings lead vocals, often in her native tongue. FIFA ’19 fans will already be familiar with one of her tracks – she’s on the soundtrack.
Why you’re going to love her: Gou’s DJ sets are an utterly joyous experience. Attend and join the crowds chanting “Peggy, Peggy, Peggy fucking Gou!”
Key track: ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ (DS)
The lofi bedroom pop producers making slick ‘80s-style tunes
Sounds like: Sinking under the bath water while you listen to the Drive soundtrack.
For fans of: Ladyhawke, College, Washed Out
USP: This is lo-fi British bedroom pop that sounds like it was recorded on the West Coast of America in 1987. Throbbing synths, ethereal vocals, slow, melancholic percussion – it’s a real DeLorean ride.
Why you’re going to love him: Everyone loved ‘San Junipero’, the Black Mirror episode set largely in the ‘80s, and Pizza Girl – aka Liam Brown, not actually a girl – would have slotted in very nicely on theme tune. It’s at once upbeat and melancholy, the kind of music you listen to while you pensively watch rain lashing your bedroom window (and wonder what kind of pizza to order).
Key track: ‘Favourite Song’ (JB)
The gruff punks about to turn the country into a sweaty mess
From: Falkirk, UK
Sounds like: Ramshackle and rough punk that drags you on a rollercoaster ride by the scruff of your neck
For fans of: Iceage, IDLES, King Krule
USP: Singer Euan Purves’ thick rasp, which makes everything feel 10 times more urgent and raw.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re the kind of band that make you want to leave your inhibitions at the door and go flying around a dingy, sweaty venue, propelled only by your fellow gig-goers outstretched hands. It’s wild, potent, and full of stomping riffs spurring you on to a complete loss of restraint.
Key track: ‘Concrete Lips’ (RD)
A politically-charged soul for the new age
From: South East London, UK
Sounds like: Assured neo-jazz that’s thoughtful, intelligent and relatable. One for your revision playlist, then
For fans of: Nao, Kali Uchis, Amy Winehouse
USP: Last year’s ‘Femme’ EP takes a classic painting by French impressionist Henri Rousseau – The Dream – and reimagined the ways in which the original fetishised women of colour. Ajudha’s music dissects otherness with sharpened scalpel; making musical magic while the male gaze turns the other way. “You’ll take your time to see/ While we make history” she quips on ‘She is the Sum’.
Why you’re going to love her: Ajudha recently teamed up with Tom Misch on ‘Disco Yes’. A tangle of fidgety guitar, it’s like if the eternally catchy ‘Uptown Funk’ took a trip to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Proof that her she’s able to make lasting impression on her own tracks and her mate’s.
Key Track: ‘Love Falls Down’ (RD)
The Glasgow punks telling the story of the city’s grimy underbelly
From: Glasgow, Scotland
Sounds like: If The Clash were raised on Buckfast…
For fans of: The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Shame
USP: Their brand of old-school punk is laced with witty and sentient reflections on life in Glasgow, where the community spirit is lifting up them and a whole new scene. None are poised to breakout as explosively as this lot.
Why you’re going to love them: In a time of carefully-controlled press roll-outs and major label funding, Rascalton’s party-hard and fast-living anthems are breath of fresh air. Debut EP, ‘C S C’, and the bolshy ‘Told You So’ is full of that chaotic and electrifying spirit, while ‘Police’ offers potent reflections on the abuse of power from those in charge.
Key track: ‘Told You So’ (TS)
Hypnotic R&B with psychedelic licks
From: Chicago, USA
Sounds like: Chill R&B threaded through with the 19-year-old’s accomplished, unpredictable vocal
For fans of: Noname, SZA, Ray BLK
USP: The musician has been working with hotshot American producer and Internet member, Steve Lacy, a partnership that has already been compared to that of legends Timbaland and Aaliyah and Pharrell and Kelis.
Why you’re going to love her: Lenae’s vocal is truly remarkable, combination of SZA’s melding of notes and rising British artist Ray BLK’s sassy croon. This is poppy R&B with an enormous amount of soul, whether the singer is addressing the pain of long-distance relationships (‘Computer Luv’) or the excitement of getting ready for a night out (‘The Night Song’).
Key track: ‘The Night Song’ (RD)
The super-smooth lad making R&B with a social conscience
From: Portland, Maine
Sounds like: Super-smooth R&B so sexy and saucy it would make Prince blush in his satin sheets.
For fans of: Frank Ocean, James Blake, Rex Orange County
USP: Solo artist Tucker Pilsbury combines sexed-up slowjams with frank admissions on mental health.
Why you’re going to love him: These lush, often sparse R&B tracks are ideal for both the activity once known as ‘Netflix and chill’ and feeling reflective about your place in the universe. No mean feat – though Pilsbury’s work never feels overwrought or heavy; his lightness of touch means these shimmering guitar lines and live percussion also amount to great understated pop songs.
Key track: ‘Never Give Up’ (JB)
The Spanish star making flamenco cool
From: Barcelona, Spain
Sounds like: A visit to a traditional Spanish tablao being hijacked by electronic producers
For fans of: Bad Gyal, J Balvin, Jamie xx
USP: Mixing the analogue features of the past with the glitchy, future-facing techniques of now.
Why you’re going to love them: Rosalía’s music might be rooted in the old but, by mixing flamenco with modern production and beats, she makes it sound completely, vitally fresh. There’s everything you’d expect from flamenco – drama, sultriness, and insistent rhythms – taken to slick new heights.
Key track: ‘Malamente’ (RD)
The singer-songwriter lacing confessional indie with abrasive guitar
From: New South Wales, Australia
Sounds like: Rediscovering the childhood wonder that adulthood got in the way of; tender and unadorned by irony
For fans of: Kurt Vile, Snail Mail, Courtney Barnett
USP: In the age of fake news, a generation of young singer-songwriters has emerged determined to share searing, unvarnished truths, breathtakingly honest admissions set to minimalist guitar. Fields is one of them.
Why you’re going to love them: Where forerunners such as Nashville’s Soccer Mommy and Maryland’s Snail Mail draw the listener in with scratchy, hushed guitar melodies, 19-year-old Ruby Fields combines subtlety with unexpected blast on noise, the release cathartic and bracing – especially when combined with emotionally raw lyrics such as “I’ve been more to more funerals in my life than weddings”.
Key track: ‘Dinosaurs’ (JB)
The all-female crew taking over Iceland’s hip-hop scene
From: Reykajvík, Iceland
Sounds like: Bass-y, bouncy, and darkly powerful rap ready to shake misogynistic out of society
For fans of: M.I.A., Grimes, Cardi B
USP: Doing what rap’s men do (but with 10 times more attitude).
Why you’re going to love them: They’re delightfully filthy – one of their best tracks ‘Pussy Pics’ features the word “pussy” at least 30 times – and have no qualms about bragging about their many qualities. But they also use their music to highlight issues like sexual violence, making them both an empowering force and an important one.
Key track: ‘Pussy Pics’ (RD)
The perky vlogger turned gnarly thrash-punk rapper
From: Wolverhampton, UK
Sounds like: Abrasive, atonal, electro-clash gutter-punk, the kind of music you’d hear if you lived in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome.
For fans of: Vein, Eminem, Jaden Smith
USP: He’s an angry dude who used to be a perky YouTube vlogger! Proof that people are multifaceted, your adolescence is now encapsulated online forever and sometimes #ad leads to #rad.
Why you’re going to love him: Because Scarlxrd – real name Marius Lucas-Antonio Listhrop – is totally uncompromising, his sound that of an artist who, in keeping with his generation, has no regard for genre, drawing equally on Eminem and Slipknot to create something brand new.
Key track: ‘KING, SCAR’ (JB)
The indie heroes poised for festival greatness
From: Leicestershire/Kent, UK
Sounds like: Straight-up indie bangers that pull from the past, present and future
For fans of: The Strokes, Blossoms, The Killers
USP: They’re one of the few guitar bands with a fighting chance to catapult themselves up the festival line-up bills in no time. It’s going to be sweaty, chaotic and a whole lot of fun.
Why you’re going to love them: Sea Girls know their way around a bloody tune. ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ sounds like it could fit on ‘Is This It’ with ease, while ‘Heavenly War’ and ‘Too Much Fun’ are crowd-baiting, mosh-pit inducing hits to throw your own pint over your head.
Key track: ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ (TS)
One of British rap’s most charismatic new voices
From: North London, UK
Sounds like: Snatches of soul, rap and beyond blaring out of car windows racing through the night
For fans of: Cardi B, Ms Dynamite, Jorja Smith
USP: Karthage’s sharp and witty storytelling captures all the facets of her hometown, London; the gaudy colours, the occasionally ridiculous characters, and the musical eclecticism.
Why you’re going to love her: “I’m gunna be a ruler and that,” she grins in her debut video for ‘Ruler’. At the same time, she’s thoughtfully munching on a banana, and waving it to the beat. It’s a typical blend of playfulness and ambition – the self-described “human cartoon” wants to take her sense of humour all the way to the top.
Key Track: ‘Ruler’ (EH)
Idiosyncratic indie-rock to capture your imagination
From: Boston, USA
Sounds like: Unconventional, unpolished DIY that feels like a map of life’s anxieties.
For fans of: Girlpool, Diet Cig, Frankie Cosmos
USP: Self-deprecating and whip-smart lyrics that make Sidney both her own target and a beacon of relatability.
Why you’re going to love her: Sidney makes everything, even the things that might seem serious, a whole lot of fun. Whether its her serenading her rabbit on the new wave-y ‘Not But For You, Bunny’ or chiding herself for pronouncing a Greek goddess’ name wrong on ‘Persephone’, Sidney’s latest collection ‘No Dogs Allowed’ puts her tongue-in-cheek humour front and centre.
Key track: ‘Sin Triangle’ (RD)
The chaos-starting MC questioning the state of the nation
From: Northampton, UK
Sounds like: A big, heavy boot kicking down the door to show you the horrors of the outside world
For fans of: Dizzee Rascal, D Double E, Jamie T
USP: His punk attitude, which extends to everything from screaming “Fuck the Queen” on stage to his refusal to be pinned down by genre.
Why you’re going to love them: He’s a firebrand artist who says it like it is but also imbues his tunes with a sense of macabre drama, whether that’s in his dark beats or his sharp, evocative lyrics, which take direct inspiration from his life growing up on a council estate in Northamptonshire. It all adds up to something frenzied, anarchic, and very real.
Key track: ‘Drug Dealer’ (RD)
The eclectic producer combining jazz and garage rock
Sounds like: Miles Davis parping away in an underground rave while the lad from This Is England raps over the top
For fans of: Arab Strap, Baxter Dury, King Krule
USP: Witty, dour lyrics meet unusual and inventive sounds. This is experimental dance music from a producer who keeps his identity under wraps, so the music does all the talking. And – oh boy – do these tunes have a lot to say, combining louche jazz instrumentation with clattering live percussion and world-weary spoken-word (“I’m getting old / Better settle down”).
Why you’re going to love them: He’s riding the 2018 jazz wave and taking it in a more indie, beat-based direction.
Key track: ‘Tick, Tick Tick’ (JB)
The Nordic punk powerhouse with a no-bullshit approach to noise
From: Oslo, Norway
Sounds like: Punky post-hardcore hooks and anthemic angst delivered at breakneck speed
For fans of: Japandroids, Rise Against, Cloud Nothings
USP: Do you know any other bands whose name came from a shared love of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind? Didn’t think so.
Why you’re going to love them: We’ve heard their upcoming debut album ‘This Is Not The End’, out in February, and it’s really fucking ace. It’s a violent act of teenage abandon one that deals in hope, love, anxiety and beyond via pulsating and emotional rock anthems.
Key track: ‘We Are All Going To Die’ (AT)
Sarcastic, southern English indie with its eyes on arenas
From: Cambridge, UK
Sounds like: Necking ten pints in a Wetherspoons and then piggybacking your mates home
For fans of: Pulp, The Magic Gang, Pavement
USP: They booked London’s 800-cap venue Scala when they had about seven actual real-life fans and then went on to sell the whole-damn thing out. Now, Sports Team have set their sights on even grander prizes – they’ve actually got in contact with Wembley, to try and book the thing out for 2021. No, really.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s an oh-so-British wit to Sports Team’s every move – be it booking out venues far too large for them and then spending months talking about ‘gentlemen’s sellouts’, or the cheeky references to everything from seaside towns to flip-screen phones in their lyrics, they bring to mind the glory days of Britpop, ‘fake’ beefs with fellow indie bands and all.
Key track: ‘Stanton’ (TC)
Frenetic and thrilling post-punk that frequently spirals into freaky breakdowns
From: Brighton/London, UK
Sounds like: Vigorous post-punk that winds itself into tight coils before springing apart
For fans of: Foals, Yak, Shame
USP: Making songs that clock in at over five minutes long but, somehow, sound as fresh and exciting at 4:56 as in their very first second.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve got the whole urgent, propulsive post-punk thing nailed, and a barking frontman ready to harass your eardrums on top. They’re also very good at switching things up while still sounding like themselves – ‘The Dial’ is like a more guitar-focused LCD Soundsystem, while ‘I I’ is far calmer, imbued with the lethargic daze of The Velvet Underground.
Key track: ‘The Dial’ (RD)
The singer-songwriter making social commentary for a post-Weinstein world
From: Perth, Australia
Sounds like: Pillow-soft folk songs to soothe you through the big, bad world
For fans of: Laura Marling, Courtney Barnett, Kevin Morby
USP: Defiant songwriting, even when she’s singing about some of the most harrowing things around.
Why you’re going to love them: Stella might have made a name for herself by writing stunning but solemn songs that deal with serious subjects like rape, victim blaming, and sexual harassment, but there’s a lighter side to her as well. Go to her shows and you’ll be met with a performance that’s full of self-deprecating comedy, keeping you in a constant flux between laughing and crying.
Key track: ‘Boys Will Be Boys’
The Brooklyn punks who aren’t afraid to get wild
From: New York, USA
Sounds like: Furious punk rock to stir your social anger
For fans of: Black Lips, Dead Kennedys, Misfits
USP: Their no-holds-barred, unifying live shows that regularly feature will leave you wondering what on earth you just witnessed.
Why you’re going to love them: Surfbort are a band for the rejects and the weirdos in the way punk bands have always been, but rather than preach an “us vs them” ideology, they’re all about inclusion. Their debut album ‘Friendship Music’ might often rail against the darker sides of society but it also has moments of love and lightness, and makes you feel like, at the very least, we’re all in this together.
Key track: ‘White People’ (RD)
The south London jazz sensation
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Dramatic neo-jazz that would make any Bond film sound even more thrilling.
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, Jorja Smith
USP: Bringing a modern, urban edge to something typically elegant and classic.
Why you’re going to love her: Tara Lily’s voice is as powerful as they come – her rich, soulful voice will give you goosebumps whether she’s crooning or crying.
Key track: ‘Who Saw Who’ (RD)
Leeds troupe ready to make band uniforms a thing again
From: Leeds, UK
Sounds like: The huge closing anthem as the credits roll in an ’80s high school flick
For fans of: Warpaint, Throwing Muses, Lush
USP: Embedded in the Leeds DIY scene, Team Picture cite John Hughes’ cult teen movies and British film star Tilda Swinton as two big inspirations.
Why you’re going to love them: Producer Matt Peel – who has also manned the decks for fellow locals Eagulls and Pulled Apart By Horses – worked alongside the six-piece on their mini-album ‘Recital’. It’s a precise taster of the band’s fuzzed up potential, which’ll leave you longing for more.
Key Track: ‘(I Have a Little) Secret’ (EH)
The Murder Capital
Irish bruisers putting to-the-bone honesty front and centre
From: Dublin, Ireland
Sounds like: Ten pints and a shouting match down the local.
For fans of: Shame, Fat White Family, Protomartyr
USP: With only a single live session online, they’ve already begun selling out increasingly bigger venues in their Irish hometown. Old-school word of mouth is the name of the game here – with a decidedly shoutier edge than before.
Why you’re going to love them: If you’re into your post-punk brutal and bolshy, The Murder Capital have got you sorted. In that aforementioned session, frontman James McGovern comes off like a man you’ve give a wide berth on a dark night. Eyeballing the non-existent crowd like he’s searching for a soul to crush, it pits The Murder Capital as one of those most oddly entertaining prospects – a punk band that can truly instil can’t-look-away levels of captivation.
Key track: ‘More Is Less’ (TC)
The rapper bringing good vibes to drill sounds
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Drill that’s chart-friendly but, improbably, also retains the genre’s hard-boiled spirit
For fans of: Giggs, 67, Headie One
USP: His smash-hit single ‘Homerton B’ takes the genre’s typical – touchstones – stabs of minor-key piano, tinny percussion – but also features a catchy chorus about hooking up with someone, a welcome break from drill’s nihilism.
Why you’re going to love him: The extremely DIY video for ‘Homerton B’ has racked up more than 10 million views since last summer and he’s now signed to Universal, with all signs pointing to the possibility that Unknown T may just take drill mainstream this year.
Key track: ‘Homerton B’ (SM)
The fearsome Boston bunch fusing clattering drum n’ bass with heavy-as-hell hardcore
From: Boston, USA
Sounds like: Breakbeat- and breakdown-packed nu-hardcore.
For fans of: Converge, Slipknot, The Dillinger Escape Plan
USP: Their live shows are pure chaos – at their UK debut as part of last year’s Outbreak Fest, someone ended up taken away in an ambulance. Everything was fine in the end, though.
Why you’re going to love them: Vein’s debut album ‘Errorzone’ is a fearsome prospect. Capturing chaos in a way not managed since hardcore’s inventive early-00s breakthrough, they take the spasmodic energy and mental catharsis of bands like Converge and push it into a digitised, Matrix-esque new realm. The result is a group that takes the darkest thoughts of their collective psyche and shreds them, stitching them back together in a Frankenstein’s monster of sound and fury.
Key track: ‘Doomtech’ (TC)
Slinky electro-folk that fuses jazzy, freeform melody with huge chorus lines
From: London, UK
Sounds like: An acoustic troubadour sent to the year 3000 and has returned with these enlightening gifts
For fans of: Bon Iver, Arthur Russell, Rex Orange County
USP: Westerman’s exploratory sense of melody aligns him with the avant-garde greats. However, far from being a niche prospect, his background as a folk artist keeps the stories relatable.
Why you’re going to love him: From ‘Confirmation’s tale of twisting your own mind into knots, to ‘Easy Money’’s crippling self-doubt, Westerman takes millennial self-deprecation and twists it into brilliant, jazzy pop. With his co-producer Bullion behind the decks, the one-time folkster now sounds more like a future-pop prodigy, the twisted electronics that back his tales making him one of the country’s most intriguing and idiosyncratic new sounds.
Key track: ‘Confirmation’
Rousing indie from Irish group with a fan in Bono
From: Limerick, Ireland
Sounds like: Sparkling indie pop to shut out the world with.
For fans of: Peace, Wolf Alice, The Magic Gang
USP: Singer Aoife’s thick Limerick brogue, which adds even more charm to songs that already strain under the weight of it.
Why you’re going to love them: They ooze pop brilliance at every turn, whether they’re dealing in stripped-back acoustics (‘Sleeper’) or making anthems for the indie disco (‘Pretty Pure’). They’re especially good at the latter and are already a dab hand at writing choruses that get stuck in your head whether you invite them in or not.
Key track: ‘Pretty Pure’ (RD)
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal
The gothic rapper pushing the genre into gloomy new realms
From: Pennsylvania, USA
Sounds like: Drawling semi-rap performed atop an emo instrumental backdrop
For fans of: Lil Peep, Lil Uzi Vert, Kid Cudi
USP: Wicca Phase Springs Eternal is the de facto head of Gothboiclique – the collective that once homed Lil Peep. United more by their aesthetic similarities than a calling-card sound, their arcane imagery and muted aggression are quickly becoming the new sound of the underground.
Why you’re going to love him: Wicca Phase Springs Eternal’s name might be a slight tongue-twister, but his music couldn’t be more immediate. The brightest star of the gloomy new world of gothic rappers, his upcoming debut album proper showcases both his personal past as an emo-rock semi-star, and his future-facing dedication to fusing trap atmospherics with the open-hearted honesty of emo and indie-rock .
Key track: ‘Corinthiax’ (TC)
The emo rappers brining tenderness to drill
Sounds like: Emotional synth-rap that’s led some to peg them as the UK’s answer to Chicago’s rising emo rapper Juice WLRD; trap beats, chilly atmospherics and introspective rhymes
For fans of: Juice WRLD, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, 67
USP: Worstworldproblems, comprised of producer nomorewillroam and vocalists teenslasher91 and gargoyle, take the ice sounds of drill and weave in lopsided, skewed vocals that deal with disaffection and loneliness, swapping front and braggadocio for vulnerability.
Why you’re going to love them: Juice WRLD has managed to infiltrate a mainstream transformed by SoundCloud rap, and in 2019 worstworldproblems may do the same.
Key track: ‘NAME_PASSWORD’ (JB)
WWWater / Charlotte Adigery
The Soulwax collaborator with the voice of an angel
From: Ghent, Belgium
Sounds like: Adventures in electronica pinned down by a singer full of charm, elegance, and warmth
For fans of: Solange, serpentwithfeet, FKA Twigs
USP: Her heavenly voice, which can go from as smooth and pure as the water in her moniker (‘Pink Letters’) to full of pent-up frustration and rage (‘Screen’).
Why you’re going to love them: WWWater mastermind Charlotte Adigery is a real genre-hopper, darting between minimal electro, slick R&B, fuzzed up synth-rock and more. She keeps you on your toes and rewards you with treats both beautiful and electrifying. Find electro-punk on her work as WWWater and more conventional dancefloor rhythms on her work under her real name. Both a treat.
Key track: ‘Screen’ (RD)
The grime artist proving Lewisham’s still got it
Sounds like: Fellow Lewisham rapper Novelist and P Money, but with more frenetic rhythms and a consonant-heavy, rapid-fire flow that recalls Wiley’s muscular, knock-out delivery
For fans of: Novelist, P Money, Wiley
USP: The 18-year-old is a grime connoisseur, having audibly dug deep into the genre, evoking its first wave rather than the genre renaissance that took hold of the mainstream in 2016.
Why you’re going to love him: Last year, some suggested grime may have reached its commercial apex, but Yizzy, an 18-year-old who runs buoyant rhymes over old-school samples and bass-heavy beats as though it’s ever been done more; his enthusiasm’s catching.
Key track: ‘S.O.S’ (JB)
Young T & Bugsey
Effortlessly sleek and refreshingly unique rap duo from Nottingham
Sounds like: Invigorating, hook-laden and expansive – largely thanks to the musical influence the duo knowingly draw from their respective Nigerian and Jamaican heritages, which they mix with the very best attributes of UK rap.
For fans of: J Hus, Not3s, Young Thug
USP: The Nottingham rap scene in particular is now receiving nationwide recognition thanks to this pair, with Bugsey recently declaring that they’ve already blazed a trail for the city: “To be honest, I want it to be a thing where we take it as far as possible and the next yout smashes it.” Sleaford Mods they ain’t.
Why you’re going to love them: While London is still considered the epicentre of UK rap and grime, Young T & Bugsey’s fresh and exhilarating sound is actively demonstrating that other cities have a voice, too – and it’s all the more exciting a prospect as there seems to be no cap on the duo’s creative ambition.
They say: “We cover everything so we have a universal sound. When we’re trying to make a chorus it has to be one that everyone will understand.”
Key track: ‘En Route’ (SM)