As 2016 comes to a close, we are looking to next year and the artists we think will own 2017. These artists range in musical style – there is a mix of indie, hip hop, alt rock, electronic, country, pop and more. They were selected based on a combination of music industry expertise, insights from our curation team, and data from Pandora and Next Big Sound.
Listen here for a handpicked mixtape of all our Artists to Watch in 2017 and learn more about our favorite emerging acts below (listed in alphabetical order).
Atlanta hip-hop kings Metro Boomin and 21 Savage joined forces this year for Savage Mode, reaching platinum with”X”, a collaboration with the A’s current superstar, Future. 21 Savage is known for collabos with hit makers Sonny Digital, Zaytoven and DJ Plugg on mixtapes like Slaughter King and Free Guwop– 21’s tribute to Gucci Mane. These two had an amazing 2016 together, and each are poised to have their own superstar moments next year.
The 20-year-old rapper from the Bronx, whose real name is Artist Dubose, was born to create. He has rap stars like Meek Mill and DJ Khaled raving about him on social media, and DJs like Funkmaster Flex spinning his records on radio. In the Summer of 2015, A Boogie recorded his first hit and started his own record company, Highbridge the Label, with the help of his childhood friends Quincy “QP” Acheampong and Sambou “Bubba” Camara. He dropped his first debut mixtape Artist earlier this year.
Portland rapper Aminé debuted on the underground scene with indie mixtapes Odyssey to Me and En Vogue back in 2013 and 2014. A summer in New York interning at Complex Magazine must have taught him the secrets of success. By 2015, you could hear him on a remix of Kaytranada’s “At All,” and he came out swinging with his token quick rap style on “La Danse,” an original with Kaytranada on the beat. Taking the internet by storm with his viral video “Caroline,” 2016 was Aminé’s breakout year. Look out for more action from this unique artist with roots everywhere from Ethiopia to Oregon.
Angel Olsen stepped out on the music scene in 2010, and has since collaborated with everyone from Will Oldham, the “prince” of punky lo-fi Americana to avant-emo pioneer, Tim Kinsella. These collaborations are indicative of her range and unpredictability, and it’s that element of her work that leads us to anticipate her finding an even larger audience in 2017. She was initially pegged as an especially bright light within the indie-folk scene, and her 2014 album Burn Your Fire For No Witness was critically acclaimed by fans and critics across the spectrum. But rather than build off of that album (which many considered to be perfect) she’s evolved on 2016’s My Woman, and in doing so, she’s proven herself to be far too multidimensional to fit into a convenient “forlorn-folk” box. And that is why we are so excited to see what she does in 2017.
Born to Scottish parents, raised in Japan and Hong Kong, and immersed in American pop culture, Bishop foregoes restraint and defies categorization, forging a path all her own. Her voice has grit and heft – it is lived-in and unafraid. Breakout singles “Wild Horses” and “River” present a rising artist who has spent years developing her craft.
Denzel Curry first caught our attention in 2011 on his mixtape King Remembered via fellow Carol City rapper, SpaceGhostPurrp. Denzel joined the controversial underground crew RVIDXR KLVN and released a series of mixtapes and collaborations until moving on with other members to focus on solo work. The combination of ‘90s throwback vibes and bass music from Miami created a unique sound that cut through with collaborations featuring young, new artists (spawning the sound of A$AP Mob). Denzell’s 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms EP made some noise beyond Florida, but it was his tour with Pro Era and solo album Imperial (featuring guest appearances from Joey Badass and Rick Ross) that took him to the next level. Curry was featured as one of the freshmen in XXL’s “2016 Freshmen Class” and has continued to dominate on Pandora.
Dua Lipa’s deep, smoky voice and rhythmic flow that pulls from contemporary hip-hop, classic soul and pop has taken her into studios in London, LA, Stockholm, New York and Toronto, and into sessions with Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, FKA Twigs) and Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow, Charli XCX). The honey-voiced songstress is set to release her debut album in early 2017, featuring an arsenal of songs rooted in pop but gilded by hip-hop and soul affectations; these are urbane musings on being young and mad; sharp and soulful pop parables about hustling for what you believe in.
Cleveland native Earl St. Clair is an icon in the making. The singer, songwriter, and producer with a deep and raspy voice, he weaves the sound of old soul, blues, and rock, transporting traditional music into an eclectic sound that challenges musical boundaries. His first single, “Man On Fire” is available now.
This classically-trained pianist has been touted by every tastemaker mag and blog from the UK to the USA. Building heavenly electro-pop songs awash in synths, Los Angele- based Elohim creates earworm hook after hook to go along with her celestial vocals . She has been mastering an elaborate visual live show this past fall in support of Eden and Louis the Child.
This one man music machine first came to our attention in 2014 when he blew us away at Pandora’s Discovery Den at SXSW. He’s graduated to headlining auditoriums and arenas in support of his latest album, Good Will Prevail, released on his own label, All Good Records. This DJ, producer and saxophonist is leading the way in future-funk.
Los Angeles’ Hey Violet has been going strong for quite some time (you might remember them from a previous life as Cherri Bomb). Thanks to their breakout single “Guys My Age,” this band is finally ready for the spotlight. The group gained a ton of new fans in 2016 while opening for 5 Seconds of Summer on tour. We look forward to hearing much more from Hey Violet – this time, as headliners – in 2017.
James TW first grabbed our attention with soulful covers of familiar hits, but it’s his original song, “When You Love Someone,” that makes us believe he’s here to stay. Shawn Mendes discovered the British heartthrob on YouTube, and the comparisons to his protégé are undeniable; we loved James’s First Impressions EP and can’t wait to hear what he brings to his forthcoming full-length debut.
Johnathan Ramos (aka Jhoni “The Voice”) moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic at age six, and that bicultural identity is part of what makes his music so exciting. An accomplished singer, songwriter and performer, as well as having a degree in recording engineering, Ramos’ brand of music draws as much from Latin urban music and trap, as contemporary R&B. In addition to singing in both Spanish and English, Jhoni “The Voice” is a natural in front of any production style, making him a very strong candidate for broader crossover appeal- on his own terms.
Joyce Manor is by no means a new band, or even an undiscovered one. They’ve been around in various forms for nearly a decade, and their 2014 album Never Hungover Again was critically beloved. The most fascinating thing about this band, and the reason that we think that they are ones to watch in 2017, is how drastically and organically they’ve evolved over the years. Most kids that start thrashy, DIY, garage punk projects go through several bands and breakups before they find their breakthrough. There have been other acts over the years that came close to perfecting that loud/soft sloppy/hooky formula; bands like Smoking Popes, Archers of Loaf and Pavement. But Joyce Manor seems to have found a previously undiscovered power-up on 2016’s Cody that could introduce this aesthetic to a much larger audience in 2017.
In the mid ‘80s, there was sophisti-pop. It was an understated, elegant musical response to the filth of punk rock and the garishness of new wave. Think artists like Bryan Ferry, The Style Council, and Scritti Politti; the musical equivalent of a Patrick Nagel painting. As the overindulgence of the ‘80s became unfashionable, so did sophisti-pop. LANY (an acronym for Los Angeles/New York) is bringing this sound back in a contemporary setting. We think that after the year that was 2016, music fans will be ready for music that lies somewhere between today’s manic neon indie-pop and saccharine, sterile twee-electro. And that’s why we think that LANY will resonate in a big way in 2017.
Bold and brassy one minute, and devastatingly sincere the next, Lizzo is an artist that defies easy definition. She’s a gifted rapper, a hair-raising gospel singer, a razor-sharp wordsmith, a classically trained flautist, and a passionate advocate for feminism and black empowerment. Following two critically acclaimed independent releases — 2014’s Lizzobangers and 2015’s Big GRRRL Small World — she is now embarking on her major label debut with Atlantic Records with the infectious Good As Hell.
Delivering a homegrown combination of country pop and Southern rock, Luke Combs busted through the gates in 2016 with his catchy track, “Hurricane.” With several appearances on Pandora’s Trendsetters Chart and a recent label deal with Sony Nashville, Combs is set to conquer 2017.
Maggie Rogers exploded onto the scene earlier this year after a video surfaced of her straight up blowing Pharrell Williams’ mind at a NYU masters class listening event. With her beautifully smooth vocals, uber catchy lyrics and beats, there is no doubt she will is well on her way to becoming a household name.
The momentum around Colombian singer/songwriter Manuel Medrano has been slowly building since his 2015 eponymous release on Warner Music Mexico. Everything has since been accelerated due to a Latin Grammy win for Best New Artist this year. There is a universal appeal within his music, transcending many of the traditional barriers that would keep a Spanish-speaking artist from finding success in mainstream markets. It would not be at all surprising to hear his warm, rich vocals and revealing compositions emanating from coffeehouse PAs anywhere in the world.
While Marshmello’s identity remains unknown (“I just want to make good music that doesn’t require you knowing who I am”), this white helmeted, blacked-out eyed DJ is becoming one the biggest masked faces in electronic music. Even with the anonymity, his career received international recognition in 2015 when he began releasing tracks online, including remixes of Zedd’s “Beautiful Now”and Jack Ü’s “Where are Ü Now.” His brand of feel-good melodies and trapped-out rhythms will keep crowds on the dance floor all night.
Los Angeles’ MUNA has been variously described as “queer-pop” and “dark-pop.” However, it may be more accurate to describe them as highly-infectious, fully-inclusive pop. They’ve spent most of 2016 laying down the foundation that we think will launch them into a much larger spotlight in 2017 with their insane pop hooks and obvious charisma. MUNA has proven by word and by deed that they believe in the responsible stewardship of their burgeoning celebrity. In other words, listen to the lyrics. Chances are that MUNA is speaking for you, or to you.
With a fresh start at a new record label, RaeLynn has found her voice in the tracks leading up to the release of her upcoming album, WildHorse. And “Love Triangle,” her current single about growing up with divorce, is giving us all the feels. She hit our radar as a part of Team Blake on The Voice, and is about to take 2017 by storm.
The underground MC hailing from San Diego, California became a viral sensation when he released his first track, “Chill Bill,” in 2014 and debut mixtape, Straight Bummin’, the following year. His second mixtape, I’m Almost Ready, was released this fall, featuring a variety of both emotionally-charged, deep tracks, as well as feel good beats that epitomize his West Coast vibes.
The Atlanta native has created an uncategorizable style—one almost as brilliantly alien as history’s finest ATLiens. No exact analogues exist. Russ doesn’t slip back and forth from hyper-melodic inspirational guitar anthems to raw East Coast hip-hop—they’re all effortlessly combined in the same song. There are hints of hammock-rocking reggae, whiskey-soaked Southern rock, and soul-scarred R&B.
This female emcee from Brooklyn quickly climbed Pandora’s Trendsetters chart to #1 over the summer with her hit, “OOOUUU,” which recently got a remix featuring 50 Cent, her favorite rapper when she was growing up. Young M.A is taking the buzz from the East Coast scene to the entire country. She’s currently in the studio working on the follow up to her Sleepwalkin’ Mixtape.