2015 introduced us to a bunch of exciting new pop stars, like R&B crooner The Weekend, power-pop sensation Rachel Platten, and "Here" hit-maker Alessia Cara (just to name a few). But, as December draws to a close, it's time to start looking toward the future: Who are the artists to watch in 2016? Who is music's "next big thing"? Who's going to take over the charts and the radio airwaves in the new year? Many up-and-coming performers are hoping to have their "big break" in the coming months, but after a little research, I've narrowed it down to the talented few who I think have the most "star potential." How did I make my selections?
For the most part, I just went with my gut! However, I also used Spotify's Spotlight on 2016 playlist as a guide. As BuzzFeed explains, Spotify predicts breakthrough artists each year by analyzing user listening data, employing the algorithm behind their Viral 50 charts, and asking their music curation team to make a few well-informed suggestions. Competition is stuff, no doubt about it, but I think there's a good chance you'll be getting to know the promising newcomers below very soon. Here are my top eight artists to watch in 2016:
I have a hunch Tory Lanez is about to blow up big. Why? Because the 23-year-old Canadian singer/rapper has a silky smooth voice, and his latest single, "Say It," just recently cracked the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Impressive! This summer, Lanez signed with Mad Love Records, a label founded by famed pop producer Benny Blanco (Kesha, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran, etc.). With his natural talent and Blanco's support and guidance, I think Lanez's future looks bright.
Keep an eye on Daya (pronounced "dey-uh"). "Hide Away," the lead single from the 17-year-old singer's self-titled debut EP, is already a big hit at pop radio, and it's steadily climbing the Billboard charts, as well. Be on the look out for her first full-length album in 2016.
When I learned that Joe Jonas had started a new band called DNCE in September, I was a little skeptical. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a talented guy, but he seems to lack "star power." But, as it turns out, I was wrong to doubt the middle JoeBro: DNCE's music is totally legit! It took a little while for the group's ultra-catchy debut single, "Cake By the Ocean," to take off, but it's now finally getting the attention it deserves. Make sure DNCE is on your radar in 2016.
You may not know her name, but you definitely know her work: Chloe Angelides is the in-demand songwriter behind big pop tracks like Selena Gomez's "Sober," Nicki Minaj's "Get On Your Knees," and JoJo's "Say Love." She's featured on R. City's new single, "Make Up," and she plans to launch her solo career in 2016. I suspect the 23-year-old artist's behind-the-scene experience will help her make a big splash.
Much like Tori Kelly (one of 2015's major breakout stars), Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan got his start on YouTube. Shortly after the premiere of his debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, on Dec. 4, the 20-year-old artist made headlines for creating a delightful mashup of Selena Gomez's "Hands to Myself" and Justin Bieber's "Sorry" for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. I fully expect Sivan's fame to continue to grow in 2016.
Australian rapper Tkay Maidza gained recognition in 2015 after supporting British pop act Charli XCX on tour. Idolator's Carl Williott recently compared her sound to Santigold's, and predicts that she could "break out beyond Australia" in 2016. I'll keep my fingers crossed! (Strangely enough, Maidza is featured on Troye Sivan's aforementioned debut LP.)
Singer Parson James' vocal performance on Norwegian DJ Kygo's 2015 hit "Stole the Show" is impressive, to be sure — but if you ask me, his solo songs (like the powerful and infectious "Sinner Like You," for instance) are far more compelling. The people at Spotify are projecting that the South Carolina native will have a big 2016 — and I think they're right.
Pop singer Fletcher turned heads this summer when her turbo-charged debut single, "War Paint," topped Spotify's Viral 50 chart for two weeks. But, in my opinion, it's her follow-up track, the triumphant "Live Young Die Free," that shows the most promise. Fletcher, who is currently a student at NYU's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, described her forthcoming album as both "anthemic and inspirational" and "introspective and romantic" in an August interview with The Huffington Post. Intrigued? That makes two of us! Hopefully she'll release more material soon.
Happy New Year, fellow music lovers! May your 2016 be filled with great tunes.
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