As we welcome in the new year and wait to see what the next 12 months hold for us, one thing we can’t stop thinking about is all the new music we’ll get to discover. Last year we listed 20 artists for 2020 who we believed would become the next big thing, and we saw the likes of BENEE blow up on TikTok, and Koffee won Best Album for Rapture at the GRAMMY Awards! So with it being a new year, we’re sharing with you 21 artists that are our ones to watch in 2021. Be sure to check them out, and who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a new fave to stan.
Singer-songwriter turned solo star Sasha Sloan has been around for a little while now, having penned songs for the lyrics of Louis Tomlinson, Camila Cabello, Juice WRLD, and Katy Perry, as well as collaborating with Kygo, but now, she’s ready to make it with her own music. She dropped her debut album Only Child back in October, which is full of sad girl vibes and honest lyrics that play on your heartstrings, and recently enlisted Charlie Puth on her latest single ‘Is It Just Me?’ ending her 2020 on a high and setting her up to excel this year. This indie-pop princess is a name you need to remember, and after falling in love with her last year, it’s no surprise she’s on our list of ones to watch in 2021!
We recommend listening to: ‘Older,’ ‘Dancing With Your Ghost,’ and ‘Is It Just Me?’ ft Charlie Puth
ENHYPEN is the first group created by BELIFT LAB, a joint venture between Big Hit Entertainment and CJ ENM, and was formed on the global music competition show i-Land, which aired back last year. The seven-piece consists of Heesung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, Jungwon, and Ni-ki. They debuted in November with their mini-album Border: Day One and have already been making a name for themselves, with pre-orders for their mini-album surpassing 150,000 copies in just two days and debuted on Oricon’s Weekly Album Chart at No. 2. Just six days after debuting, they performed at MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards)- arguably the biggest Korean annual music awards show and have a loyal following of fans known as ENGENE. Even though they’ve only been active for around two months, they were one of the hottest K-Pop debuts in 2020, and we feel like they’re the ones to watch this year – the only way is up!
We recommend listening to: ‘Let Me In (20 CUBE),’ ’10 Months,’ and ‘Given-Taken’
We’ve been sharing our love of Mali-Koa for some time here at The Honey POP, and after quite the successful 2020, we see big things in her future. Having released several singles throughout the year, Mali tied the bow on her 2020 with the release of her empowering debut album, Hunger, which both fed us and left us wanting more! Her soulful vocals are truly captivating and have us hanging on to every word she spiels in her chilled pop songs. When the world came to a halt back in March, Mali’s creativity shone through while finishing her record (most of which she thankfully completed back in 2019, when the world was safer to work in). She shot DIY music videos during quarantine and did a top job of keeping her fans engaged, all of which worked in her favor of proving just how amazing of an artist she is. We can’t wait to see what 2021 holds for our girl.
We recommend listening to: ‘Revolution,’ ‘Dancer,’ and ‘Honest’
Handpicked by the members of Little Mix, Since September wowed the UK as they competed on Little Mix: The Search, before going on to win the competition and bagging themselves a spot on the girls’ Confetti Tour, which will be taking place later this year. Consisting of Harry Holes, Patrick Ralphson, Jacob Fowler, and Matthew Nolan, the band cite their influences as 5SOS, Jonas Brothers, and McFly. Their performances on the show gave very pop-rock vibes, so we think this is the kind of sound we can expect from them on the sweet day they release music! We’re real suckers for bands here at THP, and we think this Little Mix creation is going to be something to get behind as ones to watch this year.
We recommend listening to: err… they’ve yet to release music after only leaving the show back in November but you can check their performances out on the BBC’s YouTube channel while we wait for their debut single
Odds are, you’ve heard of 24kGoldn last year following his hits ‘Mood’ featuring iann dior and ‘Coco’ featuring DaBaby. The rapper’s songs went viral on TikTok – a place where you can spot the next big hit before they make their global impact – and has set him up for further success this year. This success has earned him a place on VEVO’s DSCVR list, where he and several other artists will work with the platform to create engaging, high-quality live performance content to expose them to new global artists. Having achieved much success so early on in his career, we think that 2021 is going to be a promising year for 24kGoldn, which will catapult him high up on the list of rap royalty – and we’re super stoked about it.
We recommend listening to: ‘Valentino,’ ‘Mood’ ft iann dior, and ‘Coco’ ft Dababy
aespa has been generating interest since the announcement they would be debuting under SM Entertainment because they’re not your average K-Pop group. aespa consists of Karina, Giselle, Winter, and NingNing and their AI avatar companions of the same names that “co-exist supporting and assisting one another and they can promote together with a revolutionary identity.” While AI artists aren’t necessarily a new thing, it’s a growing trend we are seeing, and we are honestly fascinated by it.
aespa debuted with their single ‘Black Mamba‘ back in November, in which the music video amassed 22.7 million views during the first week of tracking, positioning it at No. 10 on the Global YouTube Music Videos Chart. They charted in a massive 95 countries – iTunes charts in 48 and Apple Music charts in 93, proving that they’re monster rookies. Though they have just one song out, they are accumulating quite the following and are captivating us, hooked on seeing how the first year of their debut will unfold. ‘Black Mamba’ is a fierce and addictive banger that has made quite the statement following their arrival to the music scene. We can’t help but root for them as our ones to watch!
We recommend listening to: Only ‘Black Mamba’ is out right now but you definitely need it on your heavy rotation!
Another familiar face here at THP is none other than Jagwar Twin. Singer-songwriter Roy English is the man behind the pseudonym and has been a driving force in finding positivity during a dark time in the world. After recruiting fans with the power of the internet, Roy released a special music video for his 2018 single ‘Shine’ dubbed as ‘Shine (Together)’ featuring clips of people in quarantine as they sang along to the hope-filled track. Having kept a close connection during the difficult year, Jagwar Twin’s 2020 ended with the release of ‘Happy Face‘ in December, which features drumming from the one and only Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots. It’s an upbeat and unforgettable bop that mirrors the kind of person that Roy is, and it feels much like a glimpse of what we can expect from him this year.
We recommend listening to: ‘Long Time Coming,’ Happy Face,’ and ‘Shine’
Emma Blackery blessed us in 2020 with her EP My Arms Are Open, which saw the singer-songwriter delve into personal topics and offer quite a new sound that longtime followers of hers have yet to see. Previously, Emma has had her head down as she has been on the grind creating new music. Although she’s not exactly new to the industry, we think her hard work of progressing as an artist has come into play of her finding her feet in the kind of sound that she’s looking to create going forward, and is ready to release this side of her artistry to the world. She closed out last year with her single ‘Blossom,’ with influence from Alanis Morisette, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Cranberries, and is the perfect preview of her sophomore album that’s due to release this year. We’re excited to see where this year takes Emma with her music and can’t wait to watch her blossom (pun may or may not be intended) with her next release.
We recommend listening to: ‘Blossom,’ ‘Villains Pt 2,’ and ‘Wolves’
Based in Florida, Magnolia Park is a five-piece pop-punk band that consists of Joshua Roberts (vocals), Tristian Torres (guitar), Freddie Criales (guitar), Jared Kay (bass/vocals), and Joe Horsham (drums/vocals) who have already achieved their dream collab with none other than Kellin Quinn. They’re still new to the scene but have already dropped a handful of songs in their two years together, and their smart tactics of utilizing social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have helped grow these hidden gems’ fanbase. We feel like they’re definitely one to watch in 2021.
We recommend listening to: ‘Sick of it All,’ ‘Outside,’ and ‘Love Me’ ft Kellin Quinn
Girl in Red
Do you listen to Girl in Red? Hailing from Horten, Norway, Marie Ringheim is better known as Girl in Red and has been gaining attention this past year. The indie-pop star provided the single ‘Kate’s Not Here’ for the original soundtrack of the 2020 supernatural horror film The Turning and ‘Something New’ for the soundtrack of Moominvalley 2. Her single ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ amassed 150 million streams, and around the summer of last year, she rose to become a popular symbol of queer identity on TikTok. Creating infectious songs reflecting on boredom, depression, and understanding her sexuality, it’s no wonder that this singer-songwriter is someone that many from her generation can relate to. She’s preparing for the release of her debut album World in Red, and judging from the record’s first two singles, we think it’s going to be big, so of course, she’s one of our ones to watch!
We recommend you listen to: ‘Two Queens in a King Sized Bed,’ ‘Midnight Love’ and ‘We Fell in Love in October’
Hailing from Houston, Keshi is a singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who has been making a name for himself in 2020. Having released three EPs and collabing with DAY6‘s Jae, his distinct style of lo-fi hip hop and R&B has earned him quite the following, including several K-Pop idols, such as BTS and Wonho to name a few. It’s been noted that an album is also in the works, which we are super stoked for, and after the likes of ‘Drunk’ and ‘B.Y.S’ put him into the spotlight last year, we think that this full-length project is going to get his name out to the GP, so now is the perfect time to start stanning.
We recommend listening to: ‘B.Y.S,’ ‘2 Soon,’ and ‘Blue’
The Boyz have had a pretty great 2020. Back in February, they released their first studio album Reveal, which topped the Gaon Music Chart. Then, in April, they began competing on Mnet’s reality survival show Road to Kingdom, which saw them winning the season and secured them a spot on the upcoming program Kingdom that’s set to air this year. They also dropped their mini-album Chase in September before closing out the year with a Christmas song, ‘Christmassy!’ to celebrate their third anniversary since debut. We’ve been fans of The Boyz for some time, and seeing them shine throughout this past year has filled our hearts. We believe that having been underrated for some time, they are going to be ones to watch in 2021, so now is the time to start stanning before they become one of this year’s hottest groups.
We recommend listening to: ‘Bloom Bloom,’ ‘DDD,’ and ‘Stealer’
Hailing from Hawaii and residing in Los Angeles, Crimson Apple is a pop-alt band consisting of four sisters – Colby, Shelby, Carthi, and Faith – who cite their inspiration for their cinematic dark-pop sound from the likes of Halsey, Twenty One Pilots, Japanese rock, and K-Pop. Having dropped their two singles ‘Break Your Heart Worse’ and ‘War With My Mind’ in 2020, the quartet exploded onto the TikTok scene acquiring over one million fans, thus, in turn, setting them up for a pretty bright 2021 and definitely our ones to watch this year.
We recommend listening to: ‘War With My Mind,’ ‘Break Your Heart Worse,’ and ‘Mr Stealer’
Dallas, Texas native Cole Pendery is the artist behind the pseudonym RYDYR, who you may remember as a member of IM5 back in the day. Now, out on his own, RYDYR dropped his debut EP These Things Always Change last year, which saw him finding his own sound as a soloist, transitioning from an old pop groove to a more vivid, alternative sound. It’s the ideal introduction to him as the artist he is now and is an inkling of what we can expect this year as he continues to work on his material.
We recommend listening to: ‘The Way That You Move,’ ‘Dream Alone,’ and ‘See You Around’
Making it to the final of Little Mix: The Search, Melladaze showed us they have the full potential to fill the gap in the girl group market. This Gen Z girl group crafted by Little Mix themselves consists of Ailsí, Ellie, Lauren, Liv, and Megan and proved during the show that they have the full package that is the formula to set them up for success. While they just missed out on the chance to join the Confetti tour, it looks like something special was made here as the quintet get on like a house on fire, with their individual talents blending to perfection. We need a good, new girl group and think that we can find the next big thing in Melladaze.
We recommend listening to: these girls have yet to release anything, but you can check their performances out on the BBC’s YouTube channel while we wait for their debut single
You’ll know her vocals from the hit movie Frozen II as she provides the singing voice of Northuldra, but AURORA is an on the rise Norwegian electropop queen that’s ready to take her place as one of your faves this year. She kick-started her 2020 by performing ‘Into The Unknown’ at the Oscars before she later released her ballad ‘Exist For Love,’ which was her first love song, and was accompanied by her self-directed music video amid the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. It was a glimpse into her new era ahead of her upcoming album tipped to drop this year. We’ve been loving her music all year and can’t wait to see her thrive in 2021.
We recommend listening to: ‘Running With The Wolves,’ ‘Queendom,’ and ‘The Secret Garden’
Debuting in June of last year, Weeekly has been on top of their game since day one. These rookies proved with We Are and We Can that they are a force to be reckoned with and even scored big the MAMA for Best New Female Artist, The Next Leader Award at The Fact Music Awards, and New Artist of the Year at the Melon Music Awards. Their debut mini-album We Are earned them 20,000 cumulative sales, making them the highest-selling rookie girl group of 2020. Having won the hearts of the K-Pop community, and ours here at THP HQ, we can’t wait to see what they do in 2021.
We recommend listening to: ‘Tag Me,’ ‘My Earth,’ and ‘ZigZag’
One to watch this year on the rap scene is Gambian-British rapper Pa Salieu. While 2020 has proven difficult for new artists to break through to mainstream success, Pa Salieu has managed to make it work. His debut single ‘Frontline’ was the most played track of 2020 on BBC 1Xtra, Reprentz Radio, and Rinse FM, which also accumulated over two million views on YouTube and over three million streams. He also dropped his debut mixtape Send Them to Coventry back in November, which blended elements of afro-swing, dancehall, grime, and rap; and earned him an 86 on Metacritic. Having built up such success over the complicated rollercoaster of last year, we’re stoked to see how 2021 plays out for him as he continues to grow as an artist.
We recommend listening to: ‘Frontline,’ ‘Energy,’ and ‘Block Boy’
Bedroom pop princess Gracie Abrams has made her room her stage amidst the pandemic, replacing it for shows she would have had in London, New York, and Toronto, which had sold out in an instant. She blessed us with the release of the painfully relatable ‘I miss you, I’m sorry,’ which quickly racked up a whopping 2.1 million views, and the vulnerable ’21,’ and ‘Stay,’ before dropping her debut EP minor, which effortlessly showcased Arbams’s intricate vocals. She also gained the attention of BigHit Entertainment, who signed her as the first western artist to join the fan-meets-artist platform Weverse, alongside big K-Pop names, including BTS, TXT, and SEVENTEEN. Having made a name for herself in 2020, we think this year is going to be a big one for Gracie, and can’t wait to see how she will flourish.
We recommend listening to: ‘Brush Fire,’ ‘Under/Over,’ and ‘Long Sleeves’
We’re suckers for British and Irish boys in bands, so is it any surprise we’ve fallen in love with New Rules this year? Consisting of Nathan Lambert, Ryan Meaney, and Alec McGarry, New Rules have been rising throughout 2020 and capturing the hearts of new fans around the world. While releasing music last year, the dedication of their small but loyal fanbase met with the power of TikTok- New Rules have quickly become a hot up-and-coming trio that we think has the potential to become one of the hottest boybands of this decade. They’ve been signed to Modest Management (One Direction, 5SOS, Little Mix), which is a pretty big deal, and we can’t wait to see how they take on this year.
We recommend listening to: ‘Emily,’ ‘Pasta,’ and ‘Fix Somebody’
Hackney rapper Bree Runway made the best out of 2020. After dropping her hit single ‘APESHIT,’ she was also featured on the FIFA 21 VOLTA Football soundtrack. She also collaborated with Yung Baby Tate on the single ‘Damn Daniel’ and hopped on the remix of Rina Sawayama‘s single ‘XS.’ We were also blessed with her genre-bending debut mixtape 2000and4Eva featuring sounds of pop, trap, dance, R&B, rock, hyper-pop, and country. We fell in love with Bree’s music last year and think 2021 is going to be one where she will excel.
We recommend listening to: ‘All Night,’ ‘APESHIT,’ and ‘GUCCI‘
We have a lot of faith that these 21 artists are going to own this year, and we can’t wait to see where they are in twelve-months time. We hope you love our ones to watch and end up stanning them with us!
Which of these artists are you planning to stan this year? Who are your ones to watch in 2021? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
Need more artists to stan? Look here!
Featured Image Source: Jazmin Williams
Words by Jazmin Williams and Jodie Rose-Loren
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Creative Director of The Honey POP. Disney and pop culture enthusiast.