Plenty of raw musical talent is set to be unearthed this year, from a new breed of powerful female artists and anthemic rock bands to more globally dominating K-pop groups. Here are nine artists you need to keep an eye on in 2019.
K-pop fans in this country can see Momoland, the latest group poised for global domination, perform at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Friday night. If the group's nine members seem perfectly balanced visually and vocally, it is because they were chosen carefully, as part of a television talent show. With their single Bboom Bboom ticking over 300 million YouTube views and the K-pop wave nowhere near its peak, Momoland could be the female version of their boy band counterpart BTS. Will a joint tour be next?
After ruling Latin America's music scene, Dominican reggaeton singer Ozuna, 26, is now on track to take the world by storm. In 2018, YouTube announced he was one of the most-watched artists on its platform. Since his debut in 2012, with hit single Imaginado, he has charmed the public with his mix of sweet, crooning vocals and hooky tunes – and he has made an impact in South America with the hit Dile Que Tu Me Quieres. Riding on the reggaeton bandwagon of late – thanks to Luis Fonsi's global 2017 hit Despacito – Ozuna has made inroads into the US market, too. Last year, his second album, Aura, featuring Cardi B and Akon, earned the biggest sales week of the year for a Latin album.
If you want to know what's bubbling in the music scene, you consult streaming numbers as opposed to sales charts. That's where you'll see the name Juice Wrld appearing regularly. Emerging from the SoundCloud Rap scene (a 3-year-old hip-hop subgenre with tracks originating from the online music distribution service), the 20-year-old Chicago rapper paired downbeat emo stylings with sharp pop hooks. Hence the success of his 2018 debut single Lucid Dreams. Sampling Sting's Shape of My Heart, the track has amassed more than half a billion views on Spotify alone. With Nicki Minaj inviting him to appear on her next world tour, which runs throughout the first half of the year, Juice Wrld could be hip-hop's next big thing.Sea Girls
Named after a lyric from a Nick Cave song, the young British group met in school as musicians playing in rival bands. Once together, their energy was channelled into producing an intoxicating brand of synth-driven, anthemic rock. A mix of giddiness and melancholy is all over their two sterling EPs from last year – Adored and Heavenly War – and the UK and European music festivals are becoming captivated by their charm. With Sea Girls slated to record their debut album very soon, this could be the year that the tide turns their way.
She's got the look, but more importantly Astrid S has the talent. It has been a case of steady progress for the 22-year-old Norwegian singer and former model. She made her music debut as a teenager, having appeared in a television talent quest in her homeland. While she didn't win, Astrid S used the experience and profile to sharpen up her craft and forge a successful career in Norway. Her quest for international stardom then began with a guest slot on Shawn Mendes's 2015 single Air, a move that resulted in the release of 2017's self-titled EP, which was an assured collection that showed off her expansive vocal range. In November 2018, she released her latest single, Emotion, a brilliant piece of evocative dance-pop that had the industry buzzing. Carl Young, a senior talent scout at video streaming service Vevo, described her as "leading the next wave with her raw, powerful vocal talent."
The American alternative pop singer could be the next Lorde. To gauge King Princess's talent we just need to look at the team backing her. She is one of the first artists signed to Mark Ronson's fledgling label Zelig Records. He chose well; not only does King Princess, 21, possess beautiful hushed vocals, she is also a solid wordsmith. Her writing prowess was responsible for her biggest moment of last year, when One Directioner-turned-solo star Harry Styles tweeted a lyric from her single 1950, a ballad adored by celebrities from Charli XCX to Kourtney Kardashian. The song is part of her self-produced five-track EP Make My Bed, which is a fine showcase of her penetrating melodies. With more new material out this year, and Ronson to open the right industry doors, King Princess is about to hit the big-time.
Despite the retro aesthetics of her music videos, Bird's approach to roots rock is modern. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter has powerful and crystalline vocals that are as at home on pretty pop tunes as they are on riff-heavy songs. Bird had an impressive 2018, with the track Uh-Huh topping the United States alternative charts. We eagerly await her debut album, set to be released later this year.
Her moniker may invoke a life away from the limelight, but 27-year-old Noname (whose real name is Fatimah Nyeema Warner) is all set for a successful 2019. A lot of it will be down to the public and critics still discovering her magnificent second album, Room 25, released last year. Known for being an electric young talent in Chicago's poetry scene, Noname has the regal and soulful vibe of Erykah Badu with the lyrical hunger of rapper Lupe Fiasco. Pared with a chilled jazz back-drop, her gentle spoken-word flow is a foil for her penetrating and extravagant verbiage. Her cutting and witty descriptions are best displayed in Without You: "I'm almost just as empty as you think I am / A penny for your thoughts / A witty pear of happiness / A pretty Ricky Ross." With a boatload of critical acclaim and hip-hop stars including Chance The Rapper supporting her publicly, Noname's is on her way to stardom.
The three-piece British rock band is one or two songs away from breaking out of the United Kingdom's scene. Their debut EP, Social Potions, which was released last year, has the fun and frenzied spirit of early albums by the Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. But Lady Bird's secret weapon is their flamboyant lyricism. The rollicking Boot Fillers is a cutting vignette of the lost dreams of the UK's working-class, with the scene set in a household run by a struggling single mother. "Sell this house and go on a spontaneous conquest," singer Sam Cox says in spoken-word verse that recalls The Streets' Mike Skinner. "And live the life that's been waiting for you since you fell pregnant." The band is bound to catch on.