Artists You Should Be Listening To In 2020

Discovering new music is satisfying to the soul not only because it matches the mood of the moment, but somehow brings a new meaning to life. Finding the perfect song or artist on the internet can be overwhelming at first, since there are so many outlets that have a discovery page filled to the brim of up and coming artists. Luckily, here is a list of fifteen musical acts that can help narrow the search for new, gratifying music. 

  1. 1. La Doña

    Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea, also known as La Doña, combines Latin rhythms with Caribbean tones and hip-hop. Raised in San Francisco, she was exposed to a variety of musical styles while performing in her family’s mariachi band at the age of seven. In an interview with NPR, she said, “It’s not just super Chicano-based and all about Mexico...I think that overwhelming mezcla or such a richness of influences shaped me and definitely shaped my musical practice.” La Doña’s latest release is her debut album Algo Nuevo (2020), which tackles on the female perspective on themes commonly dominated by male artists in reggaeton such as sex, love and pain.    

  2. 2. Rina Sawayama

    Rina Sawayama is a Japanese-born British singer who has released dance-worthy bops on her EP RINA (2017). She is no stranger to standing up for her beliefs on identity and how social media influences it. In an interview with Vogue, Sawayama discussed her collaboration with John Yuyi on a series of critiquing beauty standards set in Japanese culture. “For a lot of women in Japan, these are the expectations people put on them, from anime culture, kawaii culture...that can really put women at a disadvantage, objectifying and infantilizing them.” Sawayama is set to release her debut album SAWAYAMA on April 17, 2020.

  3. 3. K. Flay

    Born Kristine Meredith Flaherty, K. Flay realized her musical potential after recording a parody of rap music while studying at Stanford University in California. What K. Flay does best is  blend indie rock with hip-hop and electronic music. Her latest release, Solutions (2019), showcases how she’s able to mashup different genres together, creating unique pieces that bring out different moods. K. Flay doesn’t shy away from expressing her thoughts on life, highlighting how she is content with her lifestyle and doesn’t succumb to societal pressures. In, “I Like Myself (Most Of The Time)” she sings, “Everybody wants to count their calories and money and their likes / Baby, my job is just to rhyme / And I’m fine with that.” 

  4. 4. The Klittens

    The Klittens are a five-piece band from Amsterdam and consists of Yaël Dekker (vocals), Michelle Geraerts (bass), Winnie Conradi (guitar), Katja Kahana (guitar), and Laurie Zantinge (drums). Their musical style is a mix of indie-fuzz with DIY and post-punk elements. Their sound is loud and gritty, but also melodic and poetic. On their Facebook page, they describe themselves as, “five foul-mouthed good-natured musicians on a mission… A band for those who have a knack for happy songs and sad sentiments.” Although they only released two songs, which detail self-destructive thoughts and independence, The Klittens are ready to take on the world.

  5. 5. Maya Hawke

    Many know Maya Hawke as Robin from the third season of Stranger Things. She also happens to have three songs released, all of which are soothing to the soul. Hawke has a folk-like sound, which is best accompanied by the sound of an electric guitar. She is expected to release her debut album Blush on June 19th, 2020. Pitchfork detailed Hawke’s perception of her album. She said, “From my point of view, Blush is a collection of secret messages, hidden communications with the people in my life.” So far, Hawke has released songs about love, and “projecting ideas about yourself to other people.” On her Instagram page, Hawke said a portion of her proceeds from her new single “By Myself” will go toward the Food Bank for New York City.

  6. 6. Angèle

    Angèle Van Laeken is a Belgian singer-songwriter and a breakout star in Belgian and French pop. At an early age, she learned to play the piano and began to improve her musical skills while at high school. In 2019, Angèle proclaimed her feminist ideas in the song “Balance ton quoi,” which is a reference to France’s #MeToo movement called, “Balance ton porc.” Inspired by electronic music, rap and pop, she released the deluxe edition of her first album Brol in 2019.

  7. 7. Madison Cunningham

    Madison Cunningham has one of the most soulful voices in the world. Playing the guitar since the age of seven, her musical inspirations include the likes of Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan. One can definitely hear her inspirations through her song lyrics and the overall vibe of her music. Cunningham combines folk with jazz and pop into perfect harmony and her vocals are clear and calming to the soul. In 2019, she released her second album Who Are You Now, which is a must-listen when alone at home on a rainy day.   

  8. 8. Pale Waves 

    Pale Waves are a four-piece band from Manchester. The band consists of Heather Baron-Gracie (vocals and rhythm guitar), Ciara Doran (drums), Hugo Silvani (guitar), and Charlie Wood (bass). They create alternative, indie rock music that is reminiscent of The Cure, but a bit more modern. In 2018, they released their debut album My Mind Makes Noise, which feels very nostalgic of 1980s New Wave music in which songs sound very happy and pop-like, but contain darker lyrics. In an interview with the BBC, Baron-Gracie explained that the songs were, “very influenced by romance. The album is me talking about a lot of my darker issues. I talk about a lot of things that go on in my mind rather than in my heart.” 

  9. 9. Serena Isioma

    Serena Isioma is a rising star in her own right. Utilizing her Nigerian-American heritage, Isioma crafts an alternative R&B sound that other artists like Willow and Kali Uchis emulate. She creates melodic songs that are accompanied by youth culture themes such as independence and confidence. Her latest release Sensitive (2020) is a perfect collection of how versatile her music can be.

  10. 10. Cyn 

    Born Cynthia Nabozny, Cyn used music as solace when times got tough. In an interview with Billboard, she said, “It became something so special when it provided me with a means of understanding and relief. Our world is spinning, always -- and to me, it makes so much more sense through a rhythm and a melody.” Signed by Katy Perry, Cyn released her EP Mood Swing in 2019. The EP is a dream-pop fantasy that deals with heartbreak complications that arise from toxic relationships.

  11. 11. Skating Polly

    Skating Polly is a rock band from Oklahoma and consists of step-sisters Kelli Mayo (bass) and Peyton Bighorse (guitar), and brother Kurtis Mayo (drums). Their music is evocative of 90’s alternative rock, especially bands of the riot grrrl movements such as Bikini Kill and Babes in Toyland. Their latest release is The Make It All Show, which was released back in 2018.

  12. 12. Arlo Parks 

    Arlo Parks is a poet and singer from South London. Inspired by Portishead and Earl Sweatshirt, her music is best described as bedroom, indie pop. In 2019, Parks released an EP called Sophie, which she described to DIY as “[the EP] oozes with the hang-ups of heartbreak and mortality; a topic that seems to overshadow many gen-Z musicians.” On her Spotify biography, Arlo Parks described herself as “feeling like that black kid who couldn’t dance for shit, listening to too much emo music and crushing on some girl in her Spanish class.”

  13. 13. Koffee

    Mikayla “Koffee” Simpson is a Jamaican reggae artist, singing and rapping on her tracks. She got started in music by singing in the church choir and teaching herself how to play the guitar at age 12. In 2019, Koffee released her debut EP Rapture which won her a Grammy, making her the youngest and only woman to win Best Reggae Album. On her Spotify page, Simpson said she wants to bring positive changes to the world. “I want to...make a positive movement...I want to impact the world.”

  14. 14. The Aces

    The Aces are an alternative pop band from Utah. The band consists of sisters Alisa Ramirez (drums) and Cristal Ramirez (lead vocals, guitar), and Katie Henderson (guitar), and McKenna Petty (bass). They released their debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic in 2018, which talked about love and heartbreak with a synth and indie-pop background. On their Spotify page, they describe their music as “universally relatable and yet deeply personal, showcasing a confidence only time and true friendship can bring…[They] explore growing up and falling in love in the 21st century with candid honesty and endearing relatability.”

  15. 15. Squirrel Flower 

    Born Ella Williams, Squirrel Flower came from a family with deep roots in music. On her biography page, Williams said her grandparents were classical musicians and her father was a jazz and blues performer. She adopted her alias when she was a young child writing poetry and songs. After discovering the D.I.Y. and folk music scene in her hometown of Boston, she began to record and perform her songs. Squirrel Flower described her music as “ethereal and warm, gushing with emotional depth that the listener can step into like a warm bath.” She recently released her debut album I Was Born Swimming in 2020, which truly feels delicate and calming.

The search for new artists or songs is never-ending, but that’s what makes discovering new music exciting. It’s an incessant cycle that is painless and non-dreadful to bear. So go on, the fun doesn’t stop here. Continue on in your quest for fresh tunes and be sure to share them on social media platforms, especially if they’re unknown or independent. Support the artists so that they can continue their artistry and release new music for all to experience.