I’m a big music fan so I decided to compile a list of some talented upcoming artists this year.
I often see music as more than its face value, in fact, it’s the only way I manage to distinguish years from one another. Without a rough knowledge of chart releases every year, my life would be one big blurry chunk. So, for me, it’s really important to keep up-to-date with new artists and bands that are on the rise.
Destiny Frasqueri is a Nuyorican artist and songwriter who performs under the stage name ‘Princess Nokia’. Her music comes under the genres of hip hop and R&B and she covers a lot of themes in her music. In Brown Girl Blues, she highlights the struggles that Black Americans and Afro-Latinx are faced with. In the opening verse, she explicitly depicts the no-win situation created by white supremacists, stating ‘we are shot when we are defiant and we are shot when we are compliant’. However, Princess Nokia tries to reach out to many different, often-ignored audiences. In an article with Bullet Media, she says ‘I’m making worldly music— music that will talk to all kinds of people. Banjee girls in Harlem, teen brides in the Middle East, gay boys in East Asia. Labels no longer matter.’ She explains that her music is ‘cosmic and three-dimensional’.
Khalid is a 19-year-old American singer from El Paso, Texas who is rising very quickly in the music scene with all the finesse of a musician with years of experience. His debut single Location is currently at 38 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and is capturing international attention. With its dim romantic tones, he echoes the likes of Frank Ocean and Bryson Tiller across the entire album. Writing about young love in the modern age, heartbreak and the excitement of growing up, Khalid accurately and effectively captures what it’s like to be a young person today, without undermining our emotions or difficulties along the way. In my opinion, Khalid’s debut album American Teen is perfect for those of you looking for summer playlist songs.
A little closer to home, Bridie Monds-Watson a.k.a SOAK is a singer-songwriter born in Derry, Northern Ireland. In 2015, she released her debut album Before We Forgot How To Dream, which is a tribute to any young person with a habit of getting lost in their own thoughts. In this coming-of-age tracklist, she discusses many topics from anxiety and introversion to dealing with her parents’ divorce. In an NPR transcript, SOAK is described as having a ‘very unassuming presence, but really powerful words’. With lines like ‘I pray for you, and you know I don’t like Jesus’, you can understand exactly where NPR’s Bob Boilen is coming from. Such a clear contradiction phrased so simply, and layered on top of a really innocent melody, I think this lyric will always stick in my mind when I think of SOAK.
Declan McKenna is a political English singer-songwriter and musician. At only 18 years old, Declan has written songs that are so socially conscious about LGBT rights, religion, police brutality, and much more. He is incredibly talented at articulating his message within his lyrics with a great deal of respect. However, he also makes an impact and has an effect on his audience’s interpretation of the issues he addresses. Isombard highlights the problem with the American justice system and institutionalised racism, whilst Paracetamol tackles the issues that most LGBT+ people deal with, even if the only demons they face are themselves. If you’re looking for music to make you think about something bigger than yourself, Declan McKenna is the person to listen to.
Cancer are a Danish duo and despite the dark nature of their name, their music often looks deeper into the positivity within relationships. Similar to the likes of Bon Iver, there are some really poignant melodies that seem to be constructed carefully, with a lot of thought put into how a certain phrase of notes will compliment the lyrics. It’s not your typical uplifting, summer-y pop music but it’s something to listen to before you go to sleep at night. It’s music to empty your mind to. It’s cathartic.
Next time you’re in the mood to listen to something new, I urge you to pick one of these that takes your fancy and, if you like them, spread the word! It doesn’t matter if it’s politically-driven or just fun to listen to, someone else out there will love it. If you’re passionate about music, always share it.