As 2017 comes to a close, we’re looking ahead to the artists we think will do 2018 big. From indie to R&B, hip-hop to dance, pop to Latin, we’ve got it all covered. These talented artists made our Artists to Watch, Latin Artists to Watch and Country Artists to Watch lists based on music industry trends, our curators’ intuition and data from Pandora and Next Big Sound.
Baka Not Nice blew up this year with his first single, “Live Up to My Name.” A former member of Drake’s security detail, Baka’s career started when he hit the studio to lay down background vocals on Drizzy heaters like “Gyalchaser,” “Free Smoke” and “From Time.” Look out for his 4 Milli mixtape, coming early next year.
Garnering critical acclaim since 2014, Daniel Caesar is R&B’s next retro-soul superstar. A young, independent and talented voice, Caesar continues to prove that self-sufficient, DIY artists can still succeed. He’s been honing his performance chops on tour, while his album Freudian reveals a softer, soothing rawness. His voice is real and beautiful, and his songwriting will be breaking hearts well into 2018.
Cigarettes After Sex is one of those bands that’s impossible to pigeonhole. They mix equal parts lo-fi indie rock and ethereal dream pop, topped off with singer Greg Gonzalez’s velvety vocals. The result sounds like a new strain of indie noir. Get this band on your radar and keep them there.
At 19 years old, Cuco has already appeared in countless publications, sold out a Southwest tour, co-headlined festivals and built an ever-growing following. He’s the personification of the DIY ethos, playing every instrument on his recordings while crafting a sound that blends dream pop, lowrider oldies and ’70s ballads with a gentle kiss of LA attitude.
Best known as a ghostwriter for G.O.O.D. Music who’s appeared on four Kanye West albums, Cyhi the Prynce has eclipsed his previous mixtapes with a gospel-flavored trap album., No Dope on Sundays. Features from West, BJ the Chicago Kid, Travis Scott, Schoolboy Q and Pusha T add flavor without upstaging the Prynce.
After signing to DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers label, Londoner Ella Mai made her mark collaborating with Ty Dolla $ign on “She Don’t.” She subsequently dropped a trilogy of EPs with Mustard and toured with Kehlani. Mai’s debut album drops in 2018. We’re hoping to hear more of Mustard’s funky production underneath her British soul sound.
French multi-instrumentalist and wiz-kid producer French Kiwi Juice is on the leading edge of what may be the new French house sound. He spent 2017 opening at Coachella and quickly amassing an online fanbase, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018.
Young people are keeping rock ‘n’ roll lit. Sure, we could tell you that Greta Van Fleet’s first single “Highway Tune” topped both Billboard rock stations in September, and we could even throw some impressive streaming numbers at you. But that wouldn’t be very rock ‘n’ roll. So let’s just say that all those comparisons to Led Zeppelin are totally justified, in the best possible way.
A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis halted Harry Hudson’s upward trajectory four years ago. The singer-songwriter turned to social media to share his battle with the hope of inspiring others. Since beating cancer, Hudson has released “Cry for Love” off his forthcoming debut album, set to arrive next year.
After dropping two volumes of mysterious indie R&B, H.E.R. is finally revealing all. This Bay Area artist delivers soulful, sexy sounds tinged with sadness, placing her on the cutting edge of R&B. We’re looking forward to Vol. 3 vibes from H.E.R. in 2018.
DJ and producer Illenium broke into the mainstream this year with his second album, Awake. In the tradition of ODESZA and Porter Robinson, Illenium makes anthemic, passionate and melodic bass music. After opening for acts like Big Gigantic and the Chainsmokers, he’s sure to make a big impact following his first headlining tour in 2018.
Jaden Smith has been proving his talents since he was eight, starring alongside his father in The Pursuit of Happyness. He’s since released his debut album, SYRE, and it’s already attracting buzz. Fall Out Boy frontman Pete Wentz claims Jaden “could be the next Nirvana.” We’re excited to see just how right Wentz could be.
Canadian powerhouse Jessie Reyez can evoke a childlike innocence, a super soul diva, an angry ex-girlfriend or something sultry. Her songwriting sounds just as good paired with solo guitar as it does over more involved R&B and trap production.
Kelela’s songs fuse forward-thinking electronic music and modern R&B for a signature style. A fearless collaborator, she’s worked with rising electronic acts like Teengirl Fantasy, Nguzunguzu and Bok Bok as well as heavyweights like Solange and Gorillaz. Following her 2017 debut, Take Me Apart, Kelela is sure to make an even bigger splash in the new year.
The Bay Area’s own Lauv achieved success in 2017 writing intimate hits about his relationships and experiences. He’s already penned singles like “No Promises” for Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato, along with his own chart-topping hit, “I Like Me Better.” Lauv launched his music career in 2015, but he’s off to an amazing start.
Lil Baby is the next ATL street superstar from the Quality Control camp. His single “My Dawg” achieved strip club success before hitting the charts this year. Too Hard, his latest mixtape, includes features from Moneybagg Yo, Rylo and QC alumni Lil Yachty. Representing Atlanta’s next generation, Lil Baby is sure to hit 2018 hard.
Lil Xan is breaking all the rules, causing “Xanarchy” from SoCal to Ohio. He’s already blown up on the internet, garnering an impressive cult following for an unsigned artist. Xan’s moves to the majors in 2018 will be interesting to watch. Can the sound of tranquilizers make it to the mainstream?
Only a year after signing to Epic Records, self-proclaimed “moody pop” singer Morgan Saint is making a name for herself. She’s opened for Banks and Goldfrapp, headlined a slew of national tour dates and released an EP that fans are loving. Saint is breaking down barriers: she’s ignoring any notion of pop should sound, instead reeling in fans with personal lyrics.
18-year-old DJ and producer Petit Biscuit has been active for a while now, but 2017 saw the release of his debut album, Presence. It expertly combines ambient, techno and house, all the while showcasing a fresh new take on dance production. Biscuit has accomplished so much at a young age, a sure sign of great things to come in 2018.
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers combines sweet country-folk with melodic pop. Her hauntingly beautiful voice and intensely personal lyrics make for emotional and catchy songs that are sure to get stuck in both your head and your heart.
PRETTYMUCH, a five-piece boy band out of Ottawa, were all making music individually before American Idol and The X Factor mastermind Simon Cowell made them into a soon-to-be supergroup. Trust us: the band’s chart-breaking hit “Would You Mind” is only the beginning.
There must be something good in South Florida’s water. After joining XXXTentacion’s collective Members Only, collabos with both XXX & Lil Pump gave the Gunshine State’s Ski Mask the Slump God a major label bump. “Catch Me Outside” and “BabyWipe” are trending this year, and the Slump God garnered even more press after an onstage scuffle with Rob $tone. Who knows what 2018 holds?
Despite SYML translating to “simple” in Welsh, this band is anything but. They’re the highly emotional brainchild of Brian Fennell of indie outfit Barcelona. With SYML, Fennell has found a way to make his music both minimal and complex at the same time. Do yourself a favor and dive into this indie folk daydream.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Sabrina Claudio recently released her debut album About Time, and nearly broke the Internet in the process. She’s currently on a sold-out national tour opening for fellow R&B artist 6lack. Having already reached number two on Billboard’s Twitter Emerging Artists chart with her hit single “Belong to You,” she’s undoubtedly a talent to watch.
Wifisfuneral is a South Floridian rapper growing a dedicated fanbase while racking up streams. On the strength of his mixtapes Black Heart Revenge and When Hell Falls, he signed to the majors this year and dropped Boy Who Cried Wolf which features other emerging MCs like CHXPO, Danny Towers and Ugly God. Get ready: Wifisfuneral is about to be one of Florida’s biggest exports.
To hear music from this year’s selections, check out the curated Artist to Watch and Latin Artists to Watch mixtapes on Pandora!