As the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, the search for a “song of the summer” begins. Radio waves become tides as stations engulf listeners with infectious beats and simple lyrics that are easy to enjoy but soon become repetitive. Pop music is universal in amassing and uniting diversity, emblematic of our current society.
Sometimes a step away from the mainstream scene seems necessary. With artists reshaping and redefining music, a refreshing interpretation allows listeners to gain a sense of independence and individuality. Here are the top 7 up and coming artists you need to listen to now –
Alina Baraz: The Ohio native, born to Russian parents, garnered attention in 2015 with the release of the EP Urban Flora. The EP was a collaboration with electronic producer Galimatias. Upon its release the EP peaked at number 111 on the US Billboard 200 and number 2 on the US Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. In January 2017, Baraz released the single “Electric” ft. Khalid which has been streamed 130M times and has amassed 16.7M views on YouTube. In her recent project, The Color of You, Baraz establishes her artistry with a mixture between electronica and R&B with a sultry voice that captivates anyone, regardless of music preference. Baraz will be embarking on a US tour during the fall, Alina Baraz: The Tour.
Sinéad Harnett: A trip across the pond will introduce you to this English-Thai singer/songwriter from London. In 2012, she was featured on the Disclosure track “Boiling” from their EP The Face. By 2013, Harnett was attracting the attention of Billboard which described her as comparable to Adele through her rich, soulful voice and range, “but her recordings are more experimental and contemporary”. Her debut EP, N.O.W., was released in August 2014 through 333 Records, gathering the attention of The Guardian and The Huffington Post. With the release of her self-titled EP in 2016 and a following mix tape in 2017, Harnett is a trans-Atlantic artist whose brilliance continues to shine. She recently performed her brand new single “Body” on COLORS, receiving over 2M views.
Jorja Smith: Another British artist that is establishing her mark on the music industry through vocal style and strong lyricism. Smith discovered inspiration in her hometown of Walsall through political and economic issues. By 2016, Smith released her self-released single “Blue Lights,” which led to her first body of work, Project 11, a 4-track EP. Smith attracted the attention of rapper Drake, eventually supporting him on his UK tour and in 2017 she appeared on two tracks on Drake’s album More Life. This year has been a remarkable one for Smith, winning the Brits critics’ choice award and releasing her much-anticipated debut album, Lost and Found. The album provides social commentary and adolescent romance with a backdrop of countless genres, from R&B to dance.
Janine: This ever soaring artist does not settle down either musically or personally. This Auckland raised singer/songwriter/producer first broke through the scene under the name Janine and the Mixtape with the EPs Dark Mind EP and XXEP. During the release of both EPs she was living in New York before deciding to relocate to Los Angeles. This bold move influenced her recently released debut album 99. With love as a muse and a perfect blend of honest lyricism and strong vocals, this artist is combining vulnerability and strength. What 99 does is re-imagine love as being both happy with company while also being content with being independent.
NIKI: From New Zealand we take a trip North to Indonesia to meet our next artist. Nicole Zefanya, professionally known as NIKI, first gained attention by performing covers and original songs to her 40,000 YouTube subscribers. She independently released her songs “Polaroid Boy” in 2016 and at only 19 years of age, NIKI is a singer/songwriter and producer. By 2017, NIKI joined 88rising as an artist under the label. In May she finally released her debut EP titled Zephyr. With a mixture of piano ballads and sultry beats, Zephyr allows NIKI to mix different genres to find her own sound.
Rosalía: Moving back to Europe, we meet the 24-year-old Barcelona-born flamenco singer that is putting her own spin on the centuries old genre. She is revolutionizing flamenco through her latest album Los Ángeles. She maintains traditional elements of the genre through technicality while introducing modernity, such as implementing the trap scene. The music video for “De Plata” provides a visual representation of said combination. She performs flamenco dance moves with an Instagram worthy backdrop. Recently she collaborated in J. Balvin’s latest album Vibras in the song “Brillo.” With a collaboration like that under her belt, it is only a matter of time before she skyrockets.
Clairo: Claire Cottrill, better known by her stage name Clairo, is a Massachusetts electropop artist. In 2017, Clairo drew attention when the video to her song “Pretty Girl” went viral on YouTube. Just a month ago she released her debut EP, diary 001, under the FADER label. She is currently the opening act for Dua Lipa’s US tour. Her current single “4ever” is gathering attention, even landing her a spot on Genius, obtaining over 307,000 views.
Don’t settle for listening to music when you can experience it at Vujaday Music Festival.