Nobody can predict the future. Not least the future of music, dictated as it often is by factors beyond just talent. But there are some artists so fizzing with potential that their success seems predestined.
In 2017, we flew the flag for London rapper Dave, who won the Mercury Prize two years later; in 2018, we tipped Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi, whose debut album was the fastest selling of this year, and at the beginning of 2019, we championed King Princess, Nilufer Yanya and Slowthai, all of whom have gone from strength to strength in the past 12 months.
As we head into a new decade, it’s time to sing the praises of the next crop of future stars. Here’s our list of 10 artists to watch in 2020.
“I’ve been told by a bunch of dudes that I sing for guys,” says 18-year-old Dallas musician Kaash Paige. In fact, her music is for everyone – though it explores the push and pull of queer relationships with a wonderful, laid-back specificity. Her breakout hit, “Love Songs”, is a hazy, R&B gem. (Alexandra Pollard)
Born and bred in Camden, Bakar has already received nods of approval from Skepta and Elton John. There’s a touch of Ian Dury in his hoarse, London drawl, but the Motown influences and nonchalant whistles that open “Hell N Back” seem directly inspired by Otis Redding. His songs are colourful vignettes of everyday life – each one given a signature dose of street smarts. (Roisin O’Connor)
Brighton musician Maisie Peters describes her sound as “emo organic girl pop” – and there’s something of Noughties staple Kate Nash in her music’s playful acerbity. It’s a little more shimmering and delicate than that, but the lyrics have the same bite. “Who was your biggest fan and oldest friend?... Well that was all me/ But this is on you,” she sings on “This Is On You”. “It’s your bed babe, it’s your funeral.” (AP)
This north London artist isn’t exactly an industry newcomer – he’s produced tracks for artists such as Wretch 32 and Avelino – but it’s his solo work that’s the most intriguing prospect. His debut track, the hypnotic “Deep End”, went viral at the tail-end of 2018. He’s since released follow-ups including the Latin-influenced “Somebody” and “Can’t Lose”, a sad banger with supple guitar licks, muted piano tones and vibrant percussion beneath his brooding vocals. (RO)
The 21-year-old singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist is already responsible for two of the best songs of the past couple of years: 2018’s pulsing “Started Out”, which has a stop-you-in-your-tracks drop at the halfway mark, and this year’s house-inflected pop banger “About Work the Dancefloor”. In her own words, the British musician makes “post-punky hip-hop soul” – but even that doesn’t quite do her justice. (AP)
They’ve only released two songs, but Odd Morris are one of the latest and most exciting acts to come out of Dublin’s already thriving music scene. Though they’re friends with their peers Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital, Odd Morris’s sound is more grunge inspired. Listen to single “Lilac Leaves” and you’ll get a sense of frontman Daragh Griffin’s lyrical dexterity – nature’s unpredictability and strange potency, as seen in his back garden, becomes a metaphor for a turbulent relationship. (RO)
True, it’s not necessarily a mark of greatness to be championed by James Corden – but when he tweeted his love for Celeste’s “Strange”, he was right on the money. With her plaintive melodies and rich, raspy voice, the 25-year-old British-Jamaican singer has drawn comparisons to Amy Winehouse. (AP)
Mysie has the potential to become the UK’s answer to Solange. Her sound is a timeless blend of Eighties electronic music, R&B and hip-hop woven into sprawling song structures that seem directly inspired by Thundercat; her otherworldy vocals dip and soar with a balletic grace. From her grandfather, a respected Ugandan jazz musician, she seems to have inherited an impeccable sense of rhythm, while her unhurried style makes for an immersive experience. (RO)
A recent headline calls Yebba “the singer behind Ed Sheeran’s new song”, which frankly does her a disservice. Not only has the Arkansas singer contributed to one of the best songs of the year, Mark Ronson’s “Don’t Leave Me Lonely”, but she’s proven she can shine on her own with the excellent, existential “Where Do You Go?” produced by Lizzo collaborator BJ Burton. Yebba, by the way, is her real name, Abbey, backwards. (AP)
Nineteen-year-old rapper Tia Carys made an immediate and proud statement of her mixed heritage on debut single “English x Ghana”, which flits between her personable rapping style and airy singing voice. We’ve heard a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2020 – expect tracks that will tackle themes of sexuality, lust and identity. On future single “Figure Me Out”, she raps over heady beats and shrill bursts of the atenteben flute. She’s got plenty to say – and she’s not afraid to say it. (RO)