Ones To Watch 2018
Our favorite new artists
Atlanta is – once again – home to the hottest hip-hop scene in the world, and a large part of that heat is thanks to Playboi Carti. 21-year-old Jordan Terrell Carter might not have an album to his name yet, but his track “Magnolia” was one of 2017’s biggest songs, going platinum in North America with its deliciously choppy, drawling flow and that dreamy, hazy production. His eponymous mixtape is full of that gorgeous cloud rap sound, and while his lyrics aren’t especially potent the glimmering sound and delivery have set him up to go stratospheric.
Chloe x Halle
Signed to Queen Bey’s label, this teen sibling duo from Atlanta have been making waves with their dreamy, melismatic vocals and sweet acapellas. With haunting melodies their music can recall the defiant harmonies of Ibeyi, but with a little more R&B polish and staccato sass. They’ve so far released a handful of EPs, featured on Michelle Obama’s 2016 charity single, appeared in Bey’s iconic Lemonade. In 2017 they released the highly acclaimed The Two of Us mixtape, which has very much whetted our appetite for more from this pair.
This Norwegian singer-songwriter has been billed as “the next Lorde” by certain corners of the music press and, coincidentally, her authority-baiting debut single, “Don’t Kill My Vibe” was recently cited by the Melodrama-creator as one of her favourite songs of 2017. Undoubtedly Scandi-pop’s current “It girl”, 21-year-old Sigrid Solbakk Raabe pairs sweet, lilting vocals with propulsive beats to make some of the most infectious, attitude-packed pop music about. Check out latest single “Strangers” now, because things are set to blow up for her in 2018.
- From Justin Bieber’s uber-smash “Sorry” to Hailee Steinfeld’s body-positive banger “Love Myself”, via Selena Gomez’s Talking Heads-sampling anthem “Bad Liar”, Julia Michaels is responsible for some of the most compelling pop singles of the past few years. Now the Californian hit-maker has decided to do a Sia and save some material for her own solo career. Michaels got off to a flying start with the multiple platinum-selling whisper-pop of January’s “Issues” and the mini-album Nervous System, and now she’s starring on Clean Bandit singles. Something tells us this is just the beginning.
- Brooklyn producer Kathy Yaeji Lee was catapulted from relative obscurity in 2017 with her superb second EP. Created with GODMODE’s Nick Sylvester the aptly-titled ep2 serves up hypnotic, dancefloor jams (“Drink I’m Sippin On” and the incredible “Raingurl”) and dreamy, after-hours cuts (“Feelings Change”) – plus a gorgeous take on Drake’s More Life hit “Passionfruit” – with Lee frequently switching her vocal-style from singing to rapping, and from English to Korean. The sheer amount of versatility and imagination Lee displays in a mere five-song set has us very excited for what the future holds for her.
- Though there’s been buzz around her since 2016, Jorja Smith got the golden ticket of a Drake co-sign in 2017, featuring on More Life and playing guest slots with the hip-hop behemoth. With a strikingly beautiful voice and thoughtful lyrics, she’s got some emotive ballads, but has also shown an exciting artistry, pushing beyond being another easy-listening type (2017 saw her embracing local heritage on a delicious slice of UK Garage with Preditah on "On My Mind"). Needless to say, 2018 looks like the year where Jorja Smith’s star starts soaring.
- To Orem, Utah, where American-Honduran siblings Cristal and Alisa Ramirez have been jamming since the tender ages of 10 and 8. Now 21 and 19 respectively, they make up half of the US’ most hyped young pop-rock bands, alongside their childhood pals Katie Henderson and McKenna Petty. Centered around tight vocal harmonies and funk guitar lines, their sunny melodies bring to mind a hybrid of Haim, The 1975 and MUNA, which is also another way of flagging their huge crossover potential. There’s a debut album due at the start of 2018, but in the meantime check out their slick debut EP for Red Bull Records.
- This Compton rapper/singer was still in high school when he was discovered by Pharrell a few years back. Though his trajectory in the years since has been low-key, he’s already worked with Kendrick and Kaytranada, and in 2017 he released an EP featuring Wiz Khalifa. That EP was Magnolia, a breezy record that evokes Californian heat, blissfully merging his slick, laidback bars and smooth singing while confronting potent issues like gang crime in his neighbourhood. He’s in no rush, but Buddy looks on course to coolly make his mark in the rap game.
- Less a band, more a creative community, Superorganism is an eight-strong operation, founded by Kiwis Emily and Harry, and fronted by Maine-based Japanese teen Orono. They met chatting online on music forums and, after a period swapping ideas over email and self-releasing songs, they’re now signed to Domino and co-habiting in London with a debut album due in 2018. Musically, try to imagine what The Avalanches, Of Montreal and Odelay-era Beck might sound like composing Nickelodeon themes together, and you’re in the right ball park. Bright, psychedelic pop par excellence.
- In an exhausting time where trans identity is constantly being fought for - especially for trans people of colour - a rapper like Quay Dash is incredibly important. The Bronx artist confronts what it means to be black and transgender on her EP (tellingly called Transphobia), but just as importantly she makes strong music that bangs. With industrially slick and shiny 90s-infused hip-hop production (helped by PC Music favourite SOPHIE on the whirring "Bossed Up") and nonchalant, braggadocio delivery, it’s no wonder she’s a self-styled Queen of New York.
- If it feels like Amber Bain’s nom de plume has been everyone’s lips for the last few years, it’s probably because it has been. Tipped as far back as 2015, the Buckinghamshire-born singer-songwriter has received vocal support from Dirty Hit label mates The 1975, and even made the BBC’s Sound of 2017 longlist. But after four exquisitely-layered EPs of dreamy alt-pop, 2018 is poised to be Bain’s breakthrough year. Having spent the tail-end of 2017 in the wilds of Wisconsin, recording her debut album at Bon Iver’s studio, she’s hoping to unveil the results this coming summer. We can’t wait.