The NME 100: What happened to the rising stars next?

Now in its fifth year, we look back at the names previously tipped in The NME 100 and see what what they went on to achieve

Every year we roll out The NME 100, a star-studded list of the most exciting breakthrough prospects around the globe set to dominate the next year and beyond. Discovering new music in the absence of live shows, record shop in-stores and festivals has been tricky, but not impossible; the global music community has pulled together to find new ways showcase their talent in recent months.

But there were simpler times when we could head out on the road and get in musicians’ ears to see what they’re loving at the moment – many of them feature below. Here we look back on the previous four years of the NME 100, revisiting key alumni and seeing what happened next in their journey – whether they went onto scoop five Grammys or just grow into names you’d put your house on to be the next Glastonbury headliner.

Alfie Templeman

Who: Bedfordshire based teen making eclectic and soaring pop anthems
Class Of: 2019
What NME said then: “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.”
What happened next: Mastering the art of a colourful pop banger so early on paid dividends for Templeman, who continued to grow rapidly as an artist. 2019’s ‘Don’t Go Wasting Time’ EP came with relatable laid-back anthems, while this year’s assured follow-up ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’ was his boldest work to date.
Key track: ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’ (2020)

Arlo Parks

Who: Poetic wordsmith encouraging vulnerability through comforting ballads
Class Of: 2020
What NME said then: “Arlo Parks is in the perfect position to get under the skin of Gen Z and share their anxieties and issues with the world. She does so with warmth and sensitivity, mining her formative experiences and reacting to the friends around her to paint a portrait of youth struggling with sadness and figuring out who they are.”
What happened next: She went on to dominate the musical landscape in 2020. The dizzying year saw Parks play a stunning acoustic set in an empty Pyramid Stage field for the BBC’s Glastonbury celebrations and grace her first ever NME cover. She even finished work on her forthcoming debut album, which is out later this month, saying “I do have scope to experiment and explore different styles, which feels exciting.”
Key release: ‘Black Dog’ (2020)

Beabadoobee

Who: Millennial grunge icon expertly channeling her own ‘90s alt-rock heroes
Class Of: 2019
What NME said then: “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 transcend age brackets.”
What happened next: Beabadoobee went on to build an adoring and obsessive following, becoming a bonafide alt-rock star in her own right. She picked up the NME Radar Award in 2020 and appeared on her second cover in the run up to the release of her five-star debut, ‘fake it flowers’, with NME saying that “the journey from bedroom-pop hero to bonafide rock star is completed in bruising fashion.”
Key release: ‘She Plays Bass’ (2019)

Billie Eilish 

Who: Alt-pop phenomenon who’s the most talked-about artist in recent times
Class Of: 2019
What NME said then: “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.”
What happened next: She appeared on the cover of our 2019 list and scarcely a year later, there’s a photo of her struggling to fit all five Grammy Awards into both arms earlier in the year. But if that doesn’t answer the question, the screams heard across global festival mainstages will have. Billie penned that Gen Z manifesto with her precise, dark and disturbed debut album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ and in 2020 she became the most-streamed female artist on Spotify. With a collection of songs in the bag for the second full-length, how can get any bigger for this once-in-a-generation star?
Key release: ‘bad guy’ (2019)

Dave

Who: Thought-provoking and socially conscious South London rapper
Class Of: 2018
What NME said then: “Of-the-moment hip-hop and rap from the nation’s most exciting new MC.The 19-year-old first snuck into the mainstream when Drake remixed his track ‘Wanna Know’ in 2016, but his latest EP ‘Game Over’ proved that the MC can do politics as well.”
What happened next: Dave was beamed into the stratosphere when his debut album ‘Psychodrama’ won 2019’s Mercury Prize. Inspired by the story of his older brother’s therapy sessions while in prison, the full-length sealed the rapper as the voice of his generation and saw him reach critical acclaim from all corners of the world.
Key release: ‘Location ft. Burna Boy’ (2019)

Declan McKenna

Who: The indie-pop prodigy making glam rock cool again
Class Of: 2017
What NME said then: “2016 has been a landmark year for the Hertfordshire upstart. He’s supported Blossoms on tour, performed solo on primetime US TV chat show Conan, and returned to Glastonbury Festival where he won the Emerging Talent Competition in 2015 for a majestic homecoming, of sorts.”
What happened next: Last summer, McKenna posted a snap on social media of himself sporting a ‘Who The Fuck Is Mick Jagger?’ t-shirt. Why? He was going head to head with The Rolling Stones in a chart battle for Number One here in the UK with his second full-length ‘Zeros’. Though was pipped by just 800 sales, it’s a testament to how far he’s come since skipping school to perform at the Glasto competition five years ago.
Key release: ‘The Key to Life on Earth’ (2020)

Dominic Fike

Who: Alt-pop songwriter and rapper writing infectious anthems for misfits
Class Of: 2019
What NME said then: “We’ll just let superfan Billie Eilish further his case. ‘That is the baddest kid I’ve ever met in my life,’ she told NME in 2019. ‘I think he’s slowly getting the recognition he deserves so I’m pumped about that, but I think it needs to be more. Even if the recognition gets to be the biggest – even if it gets fucking huge – it should get huger.’ Join the crowd of Fike-admirers now before you’re left behind.”
What happened next: You either got left behind or you didn’t. Fike wasn’t waiting around. In 2020 he went on to bag his first NME cover and dropped his magnificent debut album ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong’. The album served as a mantra for the open-minded mentality he adopted while making the record, seemingly a liberating learning curve for the 24-year-old, his viral fame continues to soar.
Key release: ‘Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake)’ (2020)

Dua Lipa

Who: Global pop powerhouse making disco bangers
Class Of: 2017
What NME said then: “Born in London but brought up in Kosovo, Dua Lipa returned to London as a teenager to go to act and model but found more success as a bonafide pop singer. ‘Be The One’ and ‘Hotter Than Hell’ followed, and her path to stardom is hers to take. Huge shows will no-doubt become a formality.”
What happened next: Huge shows became a formality including those as big as they come, with a 2018 Champions League Final performance of once-in-a-generation club anthem ‘One Kiss’ being watched in around 380 million homes worldwide. Fair. The track came to define Dua Lipa but she’s not one to rest on her laurels, with second album ‘Future Nostalgia’ tackling inequality and empowerment. As well as appearing on multiple NME covers since making the list, Dua Lipa also picked up Best New Artist at the NME Awards in 2017.
Key release: ‘Levitating’ (2020)

Fontaines DC

Who: The Dublin band making poetic and profound indie-rock
Class Of: 2019
What NME said then: “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.”
What happened next: In March of that year, they released their breakthrough debut ‘Dogrel’ and solidified the hype a few months later by bagging a last-minute John Peel set at Glastonbury courtesy of a late Sam Fender drop out. Their second album, 2020’s ‘A Hero’s Death’, stayed true to their values and though more reclined it was equally impacting. While he’d deny the sentiment, Grian Chatten did become an icon, too.
Key release: ‘Big’ (2019)

Girl In Red

Who: Norwegian indie-pop prodigy penning anthems on sexuality and mental health
Class Of: 2020
What NME said then: “Co-signed by Billie Eilish and The 1975’s Matty Healy, Marie Ulven has racked up millions of streams and a hardcore legion of fans across the globe with just a handful of EPs featuring tales of teenage depression, lust, sexuality and parties gone awry.”
What happened next: After making the cover of NME, Ulven spent lockdown working on her ‘more mature’ debut album, telling us, “the album is still cooking and I want to put the best stuff on there.” We’re still eagerly awaiting the full-length but she’s kept the viral success blossoming by way of singles like the disarming ballad ‘two queens in a king sized bed’.
Key release: ‘i wanna be your girlfriend’ (2018)

Headie One

Who: Prolific North London drill rapper acting as an impassioned figurehead of his scene
Class Of: 2019
What NME said then: “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. He’s bringing a little glitz and glamour to a genre with a reputation for being brooding and dour.”
What happened next: If the stardom wasn’t already evident it certainly is now. After making his first NME cover, 2020 saw Headie One drop his debut album ‘EDNA’, which shot straight to Number One in the UK charts. Not only was it a victory for him but also for the wider scene, with NME heralding the album as game-changing for both UK drill and his personal narrative. A truly monumental force who breaks new ground with every release.
Key release: ‘Ain’t It Different feat. AJ Tracey & Stormzy’ (2020)

Maggie Rogers

Who: Viral pop sensation with folk stylings trying to embrace normality
Class Of: 2017
What NME said then: “Pharrell Williams is a big fan. He first came across the young musician at a Masterclass session at NYU and his mindblown reaction to hearing ‘Alaska’ for the first time became a much-spread meme. It’s not just superstars that will have a similar response, either.”
What happened next: Going viral by way of a pop megastar can’t be the easiest terrain to navigate but in the years that followed Rogers has managed to elegantly build on the attention. Her debut album ‘Heard It In A Past Life’ was released to huge acclaim in 2019, with the NME saying that “Rogers sounds in love with art, nature and life itself.” More recently Rogers announced a special ‘Notes From The Archive’ rarities compilation in the build-up to album two.
Key release: ‘Love You For A Long Time’ (2019)

Mahalia

Who: The uncompromising R&B star making brutally intimate ballads
Class Of: 2018
What NME said then: “Mahalia was signed to Atlantic at just 13. A folk-tinged mixtape followed, but it’s her new R&B flavour that’s piqued everyone’s interest.”
What happened next: Mahalia’s early signs of stardom didn’t disappoint. She went on to release her empowering debut album ‘Love and Compromise’ in 2019, which dealt with themes of strained relations backed with fluid R&B textures. Having dropped a surprise lockdown EP ‘Isolation Tapes’, she announced the culmination of her journey so far, a sold-out show at Brixton’s O2 Academy.
Key release: ‘I Wish I Missed My Ex’ (2019)

Pale Waves

Who: Manchester misfits making towering indie-pop with a gothic edge
Class Of: 2018
What NME said then: “Initially produced by The 1975 frontman Matty Healy, the four-piece take influence from ’80s pop, grunge and beyond on their debut EP, which’ll no doubt be filling up indie nights across the nation pretty sharpish.”
What happened next: By the time 2018’s debut album ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ rolled around Pale Waves were one of the hottest names on the planet. They crafted that promising early sound into an arena-ready indie appealing to outsiders and misfits, and the band went onto appear on three NME covers which detailed their unmistakable trajectory. Having been poised to drop a follow-up EP, the band ended up holding fire for some soul-searching and channeled their efforts into a second full-length, out in February.
Key Release: ‘There’s a Honey’ (2018)

Shame

Who: London post-punks with raw and visceral delivery
Class Of: 2018
What NME said then: “Visceral post-punk with serious heart. The band’s stunning debut ‘Songs Of Praise’ was recorded in a mere 10 days in 2017. The frantic ‘Donk’ are proof of the album’s speedy completion.”
What happened next: After landmark debut album ‘Songs Of Praise’ (which received five stars here at NME Towers), Shame took on a victory lap of the UK delivering the message to the masses in turbulent sweaty shows. Rather than rush into a follow-up, they took a step back and have just recently begun bubbling again, with their second full-length expected in the coming weeks.
Key release: ‘One Rizla’ (2018)

Working Men’s Club

Who: Yorkshire group channeling a frustrated Northern youth into pulsating rave anthems
Class Of: 2020
What NME said then: “The energetic songs are immaculately put together, debut single ‘Bad Blood’ had elements of ‘80s pop and shimmering new wave, but the feral follow-up ‘Teeth’ is as punishing as a New Year’s Day comedown.”
What happened next: The band went on to have a monumental year, dropping a celebrated self-titled debut album which received full five-star treatment here at NME. The debut was a world away from their early work, pulling towards a chaotic and spirited rave sound, in turn sealing them as an innovative force to be reckoned with.
Key release: ‘Valleys’ (2020)

Yungblud

Who: Doncaster’s outspoken star of a generation poised for world domination
Class Of: 2018
What NME said then: “At his shows, you’ll usually see 19-year-old Dominic Harrison stomping around the stage with his hood up, wielding a luminous megaphone. The crowds, obviously, go completely bonkers.”
What happened next: The gobby star got more brash, more chaotic and well, more famous. With the release of 2018’s aptly titled debut album ‘21st Century Liability’, Yungblud sealed himself as one of the biggest characters in alt-rock, while hs well as his track ‘Original Me’ picking up an infamous NME Award for Best Music Video at 2020’s ceremony, Yungblud has gone on to appear on two NME covers, and his second full-length ‘Weird’ ended the year in explosive fashion.
Key release: ‘Cotton Candy’ (2020)

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