What To Listen: “Play The Game Boy”
The Sierra Leonean-born singer-songwriter discovered and signed by Take That frontman Gary Barlow. Her dancetastic collab with Duke Dumont “Need U (100%)” earned her first #1 UK single and was pretty much the sound of the summer. You can definitely hear her K-Pop influence on her technicolor-pop single “Play The Game Boy”.
2. Amanda Mair
Genre: Indie Pop
What To Listen: “Sense”
Probaby one of Sweden’s best kept secrets, Amanda Mair released her self-titled debut last year, a lovely collection of melodic piano-pop songs with an ’80s flair. It’s a pity the album seemed to fly under radar. Is it just me or does she look a bit like a young Anna Paquin?
3. Amelia Lily
What To Listen: “Party Over”
She was the dark horse of X Factor UK 2011, finishing third place. With 3 Top 40 hits under her belt, given the right songs, she could well become the next Kelly Clarkson. She’s currently working with legendary producer collective Xenomania (Girls Aloud).
4. Ariana Grande
What To Listen: “Baby I”
“The Way” might be her breakaway hit, but it was “Baby I” that convinced me the Nick teen star truly has serious potential. Her Nikki & Sara sketch is also full of win.
What To Listen: “You’re Not Alone”
The R&B/soul songstress first attracted media attention on her collaboration with Nas, “Hard To Love Somebody”. Last year, she made the longlist for BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2013 poll. Most recently, her spine-tingling cover of Olive’s “You’re Not Alone” was featured on new BBC drama What Remains. Check out the Lana-Del-Rey-esque video below.
What To Listen: “Wings”
There’s no need for introduction. Her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” was pretty much everywhere since its release, and even sprang a life of its own as a reliable talent show standard. After a stellar covers album and soundtrack work for The Hunger Games and Brave, Birdy (real name Jasmine van den Bogaerde) is readying her sophomore effort featuring all original songs. Lead single “Wings” is a throwback to the heyday of Snow Patrol and Keane. The music video, directed by Sophie Muller, is also one of my favorites this year.
7. Bridgit Mendler
What To Listen: “Hurricane”
The Disney Channel starlet is actually one of the more interesting actress/pop stars to emerge lately. Her best single “Hurricane” mixes rap, gospel and pop, and it actually works!
8. Cher Lloyd
What To Listen: “I Wish” feat T.I.
Okay so I only included the X Factor alumni as an excuse to post her new single with “I Wish” featuring T.I. It’s sugar earworm pop done right. Plus “a butt in Iraq” is an absolutely hilarious misheard lyric.
9. Chlöe Howl
Listen: “No Strings”
Self-proclaimed ‘bored teenager’ Chlöe Howl has already drawn comparisons to Lily Allen, and for good reasons too. Remember how Lily was very good at writing MySpace blog entries? Well Howl is amazing at Twitter. Apparently she has also mastered the art of the arched eyebrow.
Earlier this year she released a free 3-song EP, a fantastic introduction to her sound - polished, catchy electro-pop that complements her soulful voice. She’s been working with the likes of Eg White (Adele) and Justin Parker (Lana Del Rey), so expect very big things coming this way soon.
10. Dionne Bromfield
What To Listen: “Yeah Right”
If you listen to her robust, soulful vocals, you wouldn’t know she’s been singing since she was 14! She’s Amy Winehouse’s goddaughter, and was also the first act signed to the late singer’s label Lioness Records. Her third album is expected later this year.
11. Ella Eyre
What To Listen: “Waiting All Night (Acoustic)”
The up-and-coming vocalist got her first #1 single this year thanks to her powerhouse vocals on Rudimental’s “Waiting All Night”. Her acoustic version of the song gave her a chance to show off her pipes more. One to watch, for sure.
12. Ella Henderson
What To Listen: “Believe” (Cher Cover)
Last year, the X Factor finalist wowed the audience and reduced judge Nicole Scherzinger to tears with her heartfelt rendition of Cher’s “Believe”, and was lauded as the new Adele by the show. Despite only finishing 7th on the show, she had signed to Sony Music and is currently working on her album.
13. First Aid Kit
Age: 20 (Klara), 23 (Johanna)
What To Listen: “The Lion’s Roar”
Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, but this Swedish indie-folk duo is simply too fantastic to ignore. Their brand of ’70s folk is soul-baring, their harmonies are tight, and they put on a breathtaking show. And to think it all started with a Fleet Foxes cover uploaded on Myspace…
14. Gabrielle Aplin
What To Listen: “Home”
Gabrielle Aplin has already achieved massive success in the UK with #1 single “The Power of Love” and #2 “English Rain”. The folk-pop singer-songwriter has come a long way from posting bedroom covers on Youtube to being one of Britain’s brightest young stars. “Home” is her most recent single and also my favorite.
15. Georgi Kay
What To Listen: “Joga (Bjork Cover)”
She already had an EDM hit in her native Australia with her feature on Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl’s “In My Mind”. She even had a cameo in Jane Campion’s Sundance/BBC miniseries “Top of the Lake”, in which she sang a beautiful cover of Bjork’s “Joga”.
Genre: Indie Pop
What To Listen: “Royals”
You know, she sings that obscure song about gold teeth and grey goose?
I was pleasant surprised by US’ radio embrace of “Royals”, which has become a bonafide Top 10 hit. Not too shabby for a 16-year-old Kiwi girl! I love that her quirky, hip-hop-inspired songs have somehow resonated with the American mainstream, and I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more from her in the near future.
17. Rainy Milo
Genre: R&B/Indie Pop
What To Listen: “Deal Me Briefly”
A BRIT School graduate, this promising Londoner is sending bloggers into a frenzy with her unique blend of R&B/hip-hop, electronic and pop. And Rainy Milo makes a a very good pop star name, don’t you thinK?
18. Neon Jungle
What To Listen: “Trouble”
The latest girl group to come out the UK, Neon Jungle are buzzing with their new single “Trouble”, a fresh, edgy take on the Icona Pop’s I Love It template.
19. Nina Nesbitt
What To Listen: “Stay Out”
The Scottish songbird is good pals with Ed Sheeran, having supported him on tour. Her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” was recently used in a commercial for department store John Lewis. Expect an album later this year.
20. Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless
What To Listen: “Just Tonight”
Hate her or love her, when you put aside all her rebel antics, you can’t deny that she can sing! Little Jenny is all grown up, and ready to release a second album with her band The Pretty Reckless entitled “Going To Hell”.