After tipping the likes of Billie Eilish (at the start of 2017), Dua Lipa (at the start of 2016) and Tove Lo (at the start of 2014) as promising artists in the past, it is time to have a look at the biggest potential pop stars of the year 2020. This list of ten artists includes massive talent in indie pop, rock, R&B and some serious soul!
Scroll down for a playlist including all ten artists.
Lily Somerville and Megan Markwick formed their own band named IDER when they were still at University. The duo has toured with artists like Tegan and Sara and Sigrid and finally dropped their debut LP last summer, titled Emotional Education. With relatable lyrics, rich synth pop productions and impeccable melodies, their album impresses from start to finish, but ‘Mirror’, ‘Saddest Generation’ and especially ‘Wu Baby’ are clear standouts. Let 2020 be the year that this album reaches millions more listeners.
22-year-old Simon de Wit, better known as Blanks, became a star on YouTube with videos in which he turns contemporary hits into 80s tunes and challenges himself to give songs new arrangements in just an hour. More recently he started to write his own songs with suggestions of his followers. With ‘Wave’ he proved this could actually turn into a hit worthy song. His most recent single ‘Sweaters’, about wanting to stay inside the house in a sweater, might be his best yet. He delivers infectious, guitar- and synth pop with uplifting melodies and hooks for days.
Dutch-Icelandic indie pop singer-songwriter Áslaug just started to release music last year and has only two songs to her name so far, but those are impressive enough for her to earn her place on this list. Dutch radio stations started to pick up on her, she signed a record deal and she is performing around the country more and more. Her debut single ‘Take From Me’ is a flawless pop anthem that would have fitted right in on a HAIM or The Japanese House album. I for one can’t wait to hear it on an Áslaug album soon though!
07. Joy Crookes
21-year-old neo soul singer and songwriter Joy Crookes grew up in London, raised by Bangladeshi-Irish parents. She has released three EPs so far, of which two came out last year. The heartfelt demo of the track ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ gained her loads of buzz online, the jazzy vibe of ‘Mother May I Sleep With Danger’ is her most streamed so far and the warm and light arrangement of ‘Hurts’ is a favourite in this house. The soul in her voice is way beyond her years and has been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill, whom she looks up to for their painfully honest lyrics. Bring on the album, Joy!
This Irish band Inhaler has been steadily building a following through excellent singles and loads of festival appearances. Sure, the fact the singer of the band, Elijah Hewson, is the son of U2’s Bono might have given them more exposure, but their music absolutely deserves it. Their biggest single yet, ‘My Honest Face’, has all the makings of a hit; the hook is poppy enough to take over radio, the instrumentation explosive and Hewson’s vocal performance fully draws you in. The stadium appeal of the chorus of ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ teaches us that ‘My Honest Face’ was not just a lucky shot.
05. Lola Scott
Sydney based Australian indie pop singer and songwriter Lola Scott has not been picked up on by loads of big media outlets yet, but it is only a matter of time, because her 2019 single ‘Heaven Knows’ is an absolute jam. A synth and drum driven tune with a larger than life chorus with an instant hook that sounds like an absolute hit if you ask me. Tracks like new single ‘Loveless’ and ‘Warzone of the Suburbs’ show that she is definitely not a one-trick pony.
The name Yebba might already ring a bell as she has done some high profile collaborations. The 25-year-old singer appeared on the most recent records by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Stormzy and recorded the fabulous disco pop belter ‘Don’t Leave Me Lonely’ for Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings. She even already won a Grammy (best traditional R&B performance) for her duet ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ with PJ Morton. So far she only recorded two (both quite stunning) solo singles, titled ‘Evergreen’ (2017) and ‘Where Do You Go’ (2019). Here’s hoping in 2020 she will shine on her own with her long awaited debut album!
03. Lolo Zouaï
French born, but San Francisco raised Lolo Zouaï already had a pretty big 2019 as she released her debut record High highs to Low Lows. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter makes exciting tri-lingual R&B tunes that draw influences from pop as well as traditional French chansons, hiphop beats and some Arabic elements. Zouaï has the potential to be for (partially) French music, what Rosalía has proven to be for Spanish music, mixing the traditional with the new and fresh with huge success. Tunes like ‘Moi’ and ‘High Highs to Low Lows’ still deserve to become international hits. Zouaï is joining Dua Lipa as a supporting act for her Future Nostalgia international tour, which hopefully will bring her heaps of new fans.
The 25-year-old American born British singer Celeste has been around for a while, releasing her first single back in 2016. With a few EPs to her name, she started to make more and more waves online with the captivating, stripped back song ‘Strange’. She is already being compared to greats like Amy Winehouse and Nina Simone. The latter is even credited for a piano melody on her latest single ‘Stop This Flame’, a massive piano driven, thunderous soul anthem, that needs and deserves to smash worldwide! Being named Sound of 2020 by BBC and the Brit Awards’ Rising Star, this should only be matter of time.
01. Conan Gray
21-year-old Conan Gray kicked off his career as a vlogger and started university to become a filmmaker, but dropped out to pursue a career in music. A very smart move! The American born singer with Irish and Japanese parents released his debut EP Sunset Season in 2018, but showed his full potential with the irresistible pop banger ‘Maniac’ (think Troye Sivan and Dua Lipa), released in 2019. If anyone was still in doubt of his obvious talent, he started 2020 with the gorgeous guitar driven ballad ‘The Story’, which he wrote completely on his own. He will drop his debut album Kid Krow on the 20th of March and undoubtedly continue his road to world domination.