As fast-rising stars such as Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Post Malone have proved over the past 12 months, modern pop music – in its many guises – is in particularly rude health right now. That’s a reason to celebrate in itself, but the really exciting news is that there’s already an array of fresh talent waiting to burst onto the international stage as we enter a brand-new decade. Here, then, are ten musical artists to watch in 2020.
Listen to the best of this year’s newcomers on Apple Music, and scroll down for our 10 essential artists to watch.
Musical Artists To Watch In 2020: 10 Newcomers You Need To Know
Polo & Pan
Seductive electro-popsters with cinematic leanings, Polo & Pan cite artists such as Air, Giorgio Moroder and the legendary Serge Gainsbourg (“a presence who is always there”) among their influences, yet their own music is equally lush and exotic. The duo initially joined forces after spinning the decks at famous Parisian club Le Baron and they turned heads with 2017’s Latin American-flavoured Caravelle album (issued by Caroline International), which went gold in France. More recently, they explored psychedelia and tribal rhythms on 2019’s hypnotic ‘Gengis’. Whatever these electronic wizards next pull from their hats, it’s sure to be heady, club-friendly and highly memorable.
Must hear: ‘Canopée’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Ryland James has already been praised by Shawn Mendes and toured extensively with Alessia Cara, but his reputation-building singles from 2019 – ‘Say Goodbye’ and the yearning ‘In My Head’ – prove that he’s more than capable of holding his own in such esteemed company. The young Canadian singer-songwriter’s mission statement is to write songs which “deeply impact on people” and his seamless fusion of gospel, roots, gritty soul and anthemic pop suggests he’ll make good on his promise in the very near future.
Must hear: ‘In My Head’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Maddie & Tae
Classy country singer-songwriters Maddie & Tae made an initial breakthrough with 2014’s platinum-selling single ‘Girl In A Country Song’, which was followed by a well-received debut album, Start Here. A whole new chapter began when the US duo signed to Mercury Nashville for 2019’s One Heart To Another EP, which features the acclaimed ‘Die From A Broken Heart’. In its wake, Maddie & Tae opened for Carrie Underwood on her high-profile Cry Pretty 360 tour, while new music and a recently-announced US tour with Lady Antebellum are already in the pipeline for 2020.
Must hear: ‘Die From A Broken Heart’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Oxford-born, London-based singer-songwriter Rhys Lewis first came to prominence with 2016’s widely-acclaimed ‘Waking Up Without You’, but he gained a firmer foothold with 2019’s Decca-released In Between Minds EP, featuring the reflective ‘Hold On To Happiness’ and ‘Better Than Today’, which rapidly surpassed a million streams on Spotify. Renowned for his vocal style – which drips with melancholy and quivers with emotion – Rhys Lewis is a dark horse. You certainly wouldn’t bet against him staying the course in 2020.
Must hear: ‘Be Your Man’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Dermot Kennedy initially rose through the ranks the old-fashioned way, learning his craft through busking on the streets and performing at innumerable open mic nights. Spotify, however, has also played a big part in his success, with his self-published material attracting over 300 million streams and leading to a deal with Island Records in Europe and Interscope in the US. The Dublin native’s craggy, lived-in vocal delivery has a universal appeal (GQ: “think Ed Sheeran, but darker with more melancholy”) and his recent debut album, Without Fear, topped the charts in Ireland and the UK. With his signature singles ‘Power Over Me’ and ‘Outnumbered’ bearing the hallmarks of future standards, it seems great things are very much within Dermot Kennedy’s grasp.
Must hear: ‘All My Friends’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Georgian-born rapper, vocalist, drummer and producer Terrell Hines confesses that his influences run the gamut from André 3000 to Tom Waits and Four Tet, and he’s pioneering his chameleonic sonic signature, which spans hip-hop, alt.rock, pop and soul. Hines scored a high-profile collaboration with Beck on the dreamy title track from the latter’s 2019 album, Hyperspace, while Atwood Magazine’s review of his solo debut, the St Mark Rd EP (released through Capitol in October 2019), declared it to be “a singular body of work that undoubtedly asserts Hines as one of the most exciting rising artists around right now”.
Must hear: ‘Get Up’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Canadian Jessie Reyez is a stylish singer and songwriter whose infectious pop is accented with R&B and hip-hop influences. Her breakthrough came through her association with Toronto’s Remix Project, which first introduced her to Chicago-based hip-hop star King Louie. Their 2014 collaboration, ‘Living In The Sky’, received widespread critical acclaim and led to Reyez co-writing songs for Calvin Harris and Normani as well as penning Dua Lipa’s 2018 UK smash, ‘One Kiss’. Her own Being Human In Public EP was recently nominated for a Grammy and, with her debut album imminent, it’s hard to believe that 2020 won’t belong to Jessie Reyez.
Must hear: ‘Far Away’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Charismatic singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence first displayed his talent as a semi-finalist in the 2014 The Voice Of Holland. In 2019, however, he shot to prominence when he became the first Dutch artist to win the Eurovision Song Contest since Teach-In emerged victorious with ‘Ding-A-Ding’ in 1975. Laurence’s Eurovision winner, the sweeping ballad ‘Arcade’, subsequently went quadruple-platinum in his homeland, while its dashing follow-up single, ‘Love It Don’t Hate It’, led to him signing a major deal with Capitol Records during the autumn of 2019.
Must hear: ‘Love Don’t Hate It’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Soulful Latin pop vocalist KAROL G is renowned for her euphoric mix of pop, reggaeton and dance-oriented R&B. Originally a competitor on Colombia’s El Factor X in 2010, her first solo single, 2013’s ‘Amor De Dos’, featuring Nicky Jam, was followed by several successful singles, including the Bad Bunny collaboration ‘Ahora Me Llama’, which was also included on KAROL G’s debut full-length album, Unstoppable, in October 2017. Both that and its 2019 follow-up, Ocean, peaked at No.2 on Billboard’s Top Latin albums chart, while the video for KAROL G’s recent J Balvin and Daddy Yankee collaboration, ‘China’, will likely be her first to hit one billion views on YouTube.
Must hear: ‘Ocean (Remix)’ (Listen on Apple Music)
Reinventing himself as a genre-bending hip-hop-influenced rock artist, the Yorkshire-born Dominic Harrison first grabbed headlines when his 2017 single ‘King Charles’ drew comparisons with Jamie T and early Arctic Monkeys. An ensuing deal with Geffen led to his debut album, 2018’s 21st Century Liability, while his striking Halsey and Travis Barker collaboration, ‘11 Minutes’, earned a platinum certification in Australia. YUNGBLUD’s 2019 EP, the confident The Underrated Youth, peaked at No.6 in the UK, while his upcoming seven-night stand at London’s O2 Forum suggests that Dominic Harrison’s star is on the rise as he faces 2020.
Must hear: ‘original me’ (Listen on Apple Music)