Discovering new talent and the journey of bright artists is a true passion of ours, which is why we collaborate annually with BBC Music Introducing festivals, to get to know a broad selection of the very best, up and coming musicians. However, as the challenges of 2020 took hold, we saw many artists release amazing albums and singles, without being able to perform their material during live events. Not so amazing.
This strange era won’t dampen our spirits or cravings for raw and evolving talent, so we’ve curated a list, featuring the artists that we think you need to keep an eye on. Piqued your interest?
All of the artists selected are in different stages of their career, highlighting those that we think deserve your attention. Some are working towards their debut album, others are steadily reaching that glorious tipping point of success, and then there are the ones with a few singles under their belts already. In short, there’s always room for fresh sounds, so let’s dive in.
Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new artist you’re really into. If so, don’t hesitate to hit us up your favourites.
1. ARLO PARKS
Arlo Parks left quite the impression on all of us when we captured her Glastonbury performance on the BBC stage. At only 18 years old, Arlo creates music that definitely touches the heart and makes you want to play her songs over and over again.
2. LIZ LAWRENCE
Liz Lawrence is an English singer-songwriter, who is known for her solo work. She’s also toured with indie rock band, Bombay Bicycle Club, and is featured on their latest single, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong. It’s easy to relate to many of the songs on her last album, Pity Party.
Another young band who are definitely worth mentioning are London’s newest afrobeat innovators, KOKOROKO. This band of eight brings a special type of jazz that undoubtedly requires a listen. They’ve also been inspired by artists including, Fela Kuti, Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor, dancing to the music when they were younger, played by their parents.
Beabadobee is well known for her song, Coffee, which was also sampled by the rapper, Powfu, on his single, Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head). It went viral on TikTok and made Beabadobee quickly realise that people are eager to hear more of her music. She’s now working with bands including the 1975, and we think this is only the start for Beabadobee. Watch this space.
We know her for winning a BRIT Award, a BBC Music Award, and now she has won BBC Music’s Sound of 2020. Go, girl. This award is given to artists who are tipped for success in the coming year, so no wonder Celeste has made it onto our list. We love her beautiful voice, which fits perfectly with jazzy and soulful instrumentals.
6. EASY LIFE
Placed second on BBC’s annual music poll, Sound of 2020, Easy Life have made their mark in the UK’s music industry. They’d probably describe their own music as your favourite old jazz record, mixed with the dirty wonders of modern production techniques. Just how we like it.
Georgia began her music career as a drummer for artists such as Kwes and Kate Tempest. She started her career as a solo singer, with the release of her eponymous album, Georgia, and this year, she released the album, Seeking Thrills. We personally love her song, Started Out, since it gives you a ‘vibey’ dance feeling. We’re all looking forward to hearing new material soon.
8. JOY CROOKES
Joy Crookes, 21, is a singer-songwriter from London, who in our opinion, is one of the most exciting artists to enter this year’s music scene. Her voice is gentle and her music fits perfectly into the neo-soul genre. If you haven’t heard her latest single, Anyone But Me, then make it a priority.
9. STELLA TALPO
Stella Talpo is an Italian songstress based in London, who brings a unique twist to the UK soul and R&B scene. Besides this, she’s a spiritual and positive soul, whose tone always leaves us wanting to hear more. Give her new album, First Burn, a listen if you haven’t yet.
10. LIZA LO
Originally from Amsterdam, Liza Lo is a singer-songwriter, currently living in London, where she writes songs that sound like a mix between ambient electronic sounds and pop music.
Every single performance is amazing to listen to, as her raw vocals are combined with fantasy-like production, creating an unreal sound. Be sure to put her newest release, Empty Room, on your playlist.
11. TATE MCRAE
Tate McRae, 17, became famous at only 16 years old, when she was a finalist on the American reality TV show, So You Think You Can Dance. From here, her career took a turn when she learned to play piano and embraced singing. We in awe of her song, You Broke Me First, and expect to hear much more from her in the future.
Mahalia is a Jamaican-British singer, songwriter and actress. She wrote her first song at age eight and signed a deal with a major record label at only 13. She’s an alt-R&B and soul artist, who’s been working hard to get to where she is now. Becoming bigger and bigger every year, we believe Mahalia is still to achieve her full career potential and this might happen real soon.
Production and writer duo, FADES, have amassed over a million plays on Spotify, with syncs on Love Island, Eastenders, Sky Sports, The Winter Olympics and Netflix. They’re currently writing a series of new singles, set to be released later this year, and we can’t wait to see where this takes them next.
14. JORJA SMITH
Rising star, Jorja Smith, is already well known in the music industry. She’s the British soul singer everyone is talking about and has already won a BRIT Award. Plus, she was the opening act for Bruno Mars, in 2017. As her status grows, we know Jorja Smith has a lot more in store for us and we’re very much here for it.
15. DEB NEVER
Singer-songwriter, Deb Never, lives and makes music with her friends in L.A. From humble beginnings and teaching herself how to play the guitar on a stolen church instrument, she found a way to express herself in her bedroom. Always effortlessly cool, her songs sound positively dreamy. Although she’s only recently released her songs into the world, we’re very curious to hear how her next album will evolve.
16. ELENI DRAKE
Eleni Drake is a singer-songwriter from London, whose songs are a mixture of blues and indie rock. Her self-produced and written songs bring a unique, jazzy and vintage sound to truly connect with the heart. At a past Paradise London Live event, we had the honour to hear her in person and now we cannot wait to hear more from this young and talented artist.