As we ring in a new year, we are so excited to embrace what the year brings us, in particular, what music we’ll be blessed with. While we’re always out here supporting our faves, we at The Honey POP also love smaller artists and there’s a whole bunch of undiscovered and underrated gems who often mix and mingle into our playlists. We’ve been keeping an eye on the smaller artists and have come up with a list like we do every year to show you who we think are destined to be the next big thing. Last year we predicted that ENHYPEN, girl in red, Bree Runway, and more would make an impact on the music scene, and (unsurprisingly) we were right. So without further ado, here are 22 artists on our ones to watch list for 2022.
2021 was a major year for the career of Maisie Peters. Signing with Ed Sheeran‘s label Gingerbread Man Records, the 21-year-old dropped her debut album You Signed Up For This which gained her so much attention and even debuted one spot shy from the top of the UK Albums Chart, and also became the top-selling album in the UK independent record stores of the release week. After a number of projects in previous years, Maisie is finally on the verge of winning the world over with her music and we truly believe that this is the year that will catapult her even further into the spotlight, so it’s no surprise she’s on our ones to watch list!
We recommend listening to: ‘You Signed Up For This,’ ‘John Hughes Movie,’ and ‘Brooklyn’
Years & Years
There’s a high chance you’ve heard of Years & Years long before 2022, but as of last year, the synth-pop trio became a solo project of lead singer, Olly Alexander. Over the course of 2021, Olly stepped out alone dropping hot new tracks and reintroducing Years & Years to the world in a brand new light after sharing that he and his former bandmates just drifted apart musically, though still being on good terms personally. Though choosing to keep the name, Olly has been building a great reputation for himself once more between starring in the internationally successful queer British drama It’s A Sin and even collaborating with none other than Sir Elton John. With the world still in a place of uncertainty, We have full trust that Years & Years will continue to brighten up the days with upbeat, euphoric dance tunes that you can party to safely in your room or with others when safe to do so. We’re excited to see what the year brings for him and are excited for the upcoming album Night Call, dropping end of this month. Years & Years is for sure one to watch and we are wishing nothing but international success for 2022!
We recommend listening to: ‘Starstruck,’ ‘Crave,’ and ‘Sweet Talker’
Xdinary Heroes are the latest band to emerge from JYP Entertainment via their sub label STUDIO J, and have already made such an impression on us and the K-POP community. Consisting of members Gnuil (leader, vocalist, drummer), Jun Han (vocalist, electric guitarist), Jungsu (main vocalist, lead rapper, keyboardist), Gaon (lead rapper, vocalist, electric guitarist) Jooyeon (lead vocalist, rapper, bassist, maknae) and O.De (main rapper, vocalist, synthesizer, keyboarist). The sextet debuted only a month ago with their song ‘Happy Death Day,’ a pop-rock banger that has been performing pretty well on TikTok and even more proof that K-POP is more than what those unfamiliar with the industry believe it to be. Right now is the perfect time to begin stanning Xdinary Heroes at the beginning of their journey together, and we have faith that they are going to flourish as ones to watch this year.
We recommend listening to: right now the band has only released ‘Happy Death Day’ which is a total banger. If you’re unsure on K-POP this may be a great song to start with to show you the diversity it offers. We’re sure Xdinary Heroes will drop more amazing bops very soon!
If you use TikTok then there’s a very high chance you’ve heard PinkPantheress‘s music, even if you didn’t know it was her. Having joined the app Christmas 2020, PinkPantheress was inspired by the likes of Lil Nas X and wanted to get her music recognized, just like many aspiring musicians. It’s no easy game, but it seems as though things have been going to plan for the mostly-anonymous musician (we don’t even know her real name and it was only in September we first saw her face.) She sold out debut live shows – despite announcing them a week prior to the first gig at the end of October – as well as a Top 20 mixtape and is starting to really rise on the ever-growing viral music scene, so it’s only a matter of time until this UK producer makes it mainstream if you ask us.
We recommend listening to: ‘Just For Me,’ ‘Pain,’ and ‘Attracted To You’
Now we know what you’re saying: “THP, you guys featured him in last year’s ones to watch!” Listen, we know. But we put him back on our list this year because we’ve seen his platform quadruple and he’s still rising, and more people need to know about him! Jagwar Twin had an amazing 2021 and continued to make a name for himself as an independent artist, with ‘Happy Face’ reaching number 89 on the Top 100 Songs in the United States on YouTube Music, charting on Japan iTunes Top 100 Alt for a whopping 45 consecutive weeks, and peaked at number 59 on YouTube South Korea. The single even gained over 16 million streams with no marketing budget, which led to its incredible digital experience becoming one of Music Ally’s top music marketing campaigns of 2021. He’s even found fans in NCT’s Yuta and Pentagon’s Yuto! See? We told you to trust us – we know what’s good and who to stan! With Roy’s continued international recognition and success, we’re super stoked to see how he takes on the year ahead.
We recommend listening to: ‘Happy Face,’ ‘I Like To Party,’ and ‘Down To You’
If you’re in need of a new indie band to add to your heavy rotation this year, look no further than Wet leg. Hailing from the Isle of White, Wet Leg is made up of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers who first met back in college. A decade into their friendship the pair became a musical duo in 2019, signing with Domino Recording Company and in 2021 they kicked off their career, with their debut single ‘Chaise Longue’ gaining major popularity. In less than six months, Wet Leg continued to gain traction and fans internationally, with a US tour taking place in December. They’ve since announced their self-titled debut album slated to release April this year, and their fast-paced success is an obvious indicator that they are about to embark on a hell of a journey in 2022.
We recommend listening to: ‘Chaise Longue,’ ‘Wet Dream,’ and ‘Too Late Now’
Less than two years into her debut, Seori has truly been making a name for herself. Many K-POP fans may be familiar with her from featuring on Tomorrow X Together‘s ‘0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)‘ or Moonbyul‘s ‘Shutdown,’ but trust us when we tell you that she is 100% worth stanning for her own music too. In 2021, Seori signed with American multinational music company 88rising, and also landed a song on the soundtrack for Marvel‘s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. It was also announced that she will be one of the artists featured in VEVO’s DSCVR this year. Whatsmore, she’s also gained famous fans in the likes of Day6‘s Jae and BTS‘s Jungkook, so you just know they are reliable sources to further confirm how amazing her music is! Seori has come so far since her pre-debut YouTube uploads in such a short amount of time, and we know she will prove herself as one of our ones to watch in 2022.
We recommend listening to: ‘Lovers In The Night,’ ‘Dive With You (ft. Eaj),’ and ‘Fairy Tale’
Sam Fender has been winning hearts all 2021. He released his second album Seventeen Going Under, which he refers to as “a coming of age story, celebrating life after hardship.” The record debuted atop of the UK Album Charts, and became the fifth-biggest opening week of 2021. The title track also gained him his first Top 40 single in the UK when it re-entered the chart around the time of the album release. Though Sam has been active for a few years now, he has really been making waves lately and we feel like he is ready to break out from the UK and win over the world. He’s embarking on a UK-headline arena tour this year while also supporting The Killers on four of the UK and Irish dates in 2022. With his UK success continuing to rise, Sam is on our ones to watch to break through internationally this year.
We recommend listening to: ‘Seventeen Going Under,’ ‘Friday Fighting,’ and ‘Spit On You’
KEP1ER is the result of the major Mnet 2021 K-POP girl group survival show Girls Planet 999. The nine-piece consists of Yujin, Mashiro, Xiaoting, Chaehyun, Dayeon, Hikaru, Huening Bahiyyih, Youngeun, and Yeseo and were originally slated to debut at the end of last year, but an unfortunate run-in with COVID and their team, the girls were forced to push their debut date to this month, blessing our New Year the right way. Each member proved their strengths throughout the show, proving they’ve got what it takes to become one of the hottest rookie groups of 2022. We are so excited about their mini-album FIRST IMPACT which has just dropped! They’re already making an impact on us, which is why they’ve made it onto our ones to watch list!
We recommend listening to: ‘WA DA DA,’ ‘See The Light,’ and ‘MVSK’
Nessa Barrett is another TikTok success story, having kicked off her career via the app mid-2020, releasing her debut single ‘Pain.’ Last year she gained more mainstream success while releasing her debut EP Pretty Poison and her song ‘I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead’ debuting the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 88. Quickly finding her way onto our heavy rotation and becoming a major girl crush of ours, Nessa refuses to be confined into categories and is quite the genre-bending queen. With her continued rise on both social media and more traditional media coverage, we know that she hasn’t come to play in 2022 and has cemented herself as one of our ones to watch this year.
We recommend listening to: ‘I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead,’ ‘Counting Crimes,’ and ‘Grave’
Debuting in October 2020, P1Harmony have been rising in popularity over the course of the past year, and we are proud to be P1ece. They were named by Time as 6 Rookie K-POP Groups To Watch in 2021 and Billboard Korea’s Best Rookies, and we can wholeheartedly agree. In addition to incredible music, the six-piece have been taking to TikTok taking advantage of posting relatable and viral videos where fans can get to know them. They’ve just blessed our new year as they have released their latest mini-album Disharmony: Find Out and we have a strong feeling they’re going to continue rising throughout 2022!
We recommend listening to: ‘Siren,’ ‘Butterfly,’ and ‘If You Call Me’
Hailing from London, ENNY is a triple threat in the form of a rapper, singer, and songwriter. First finding popularity from uploading freestyle videos to YouTube, she self-released her debut single in 2020 titled ‘He’s Not Into You,’ where she was recognized and introduced to the studio program Root 73 before being scouted by fellow English singer-songwriter Jorja Smith who signed her to her own label FAMM. Last year, ENNY found success with her releases such as ‘Peng Black Girls’ garnering over a million views. Jorja later hopped on a remix for the fan-favorite, accumulating a further 5 million views and catapulting ENNY into the golden age of UK rappers. With her continuing to rise, we are super excited for what the year ahead holds for her and we really think she leads the way for rappers as ones to watch in 2022.
We recommend listening to: ‘Black Peng Girls,’ ‘I Want,’ and ‘Bernie Mac’ featuring Odeal
Jake $ing proved he was worth following when shortly into his music career he signed with Sony Music. Born in Shanghai and raised in California, Jake has affectionally been duped the “Asian Post Malone” by his fans and has been winning over ears and hearts of many. Back last month he released his debut EP Ups & Downs which has quickly found its way to our new year playlist. He cites the likes of Post Malone, BTS, Stray Kids, and MAMAMOO as inspiration while creating a unique blend of genres that are quintessentially Jake $ing. With his recent release being an earworm we won’t even attempt to rid, we think 2022 is going to be quite a year for Jake!
We recommend listening to: ‘Let It Down,’ ‘Loser,’ and ‘Til It Hurts’
2021 wasn’t a bad old year for Holly Humberstone. She signed with Interscope and Polydor Records, and released her EP The Walls Are Way Too Thin, and also saw her performing for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. She’s even landed herself a spot opening for none other than Olivia Rodrigo on the Sour Tour later this year. But Holly’s career spans back a few years, wherein 2019 she performed on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival, and was one of VEVO DSCVR’s Artists To Watch in 2021. The icing on the cake comes in the form of Humberstone being awarded the Brit Award For Rising Star, a prestigious newcomer award that the. Likes of Adele, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, and Griff have won over the past almost 15 years. With that track record, Holly has a promising future ahead of her, and now is the perfect time to start stanning.
We recommend listening to: ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel,’ ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin,’ and ‘Deep End’
Atlanta-based rapper Latto is a rising star that you need to stan. Having been making a name for herself since the tender age of 10 as The Rap Game Season One winner, she has been making music since 2016 and signed with RCA Records back in 2020. The 22-year-old has been grinding to compete in the male-dominated industry and has recruited the likes of Saweetie and Trina for remixes. 2021 saw her release her latest hit ‘Big Energy,’ with a huge hype accumulating around her name. Following the high of last year, we truly believe Latto will take it one step further in 2022, and can even see her collecting several viral hits.
We recommend listening to: ‘Big Energy,’ ‘Young N Richest,’ and ‘In N Out’ featuring City Girls
GAYLE is most well known for her 2021 viral hit ‘ABCDEFU’ which was pretty difficult to miss, so odds are you know exactly the song we are talking about. GAYLE is just 17 years old and hails from Dallas, Texas, where she released a handful of self-produced singles before being discovered by American Idol jury member and Arthouse music publisher Kara DioGuardi. Her viral success led to the song sitting pretty on the Top 10 in several European countries including the UK, Australia, and New Zealand as well as the Top 20 in the US, Norway, and the Netherlands. With her first single as a signed singer performing so well, it’s holding high expectations for GAYLE but we truly believe this year she will break through past the “one-hit wonder” phase and become someone our playlists become familiar to.
We recommend listening to: ‘ABCDEFU,’ ‘Z,’ and ‘Dumbass’
Phem closed out her 2021 by touring with our boys WATERPARKS on their U.S tour. She may be familiar to some readers having collabed with Tom Morello and Machine Gun Kelly, but we cannot urge you enough to give this alt-pop star a chance with her solo material. Phem embraces their sexuality through her music and her songs will feel at home on many playlists as the empowering queer musician that they are. You’ll often find her referring to her own coming out story and being a force of hope for fans who are coming to terms with their identity and accepting themselves more and more. Phem can be expected to be releasing more epic music throughout 2022 and even embarking on a UK headline tour. We can hardly wait!
We recommend listening to: ‘Sorry Mama,’ ‘Flowers,’ and ‘Silly Putty’
In 2021 we became more acquainted with Remi Wolf when she dropped her debut album Juno which dropped in October and was followed by her third EP We Love Dogs!, which dropped back in May. The funky soul-pop songstress shares how she wants to “constantly try to innovate the sound of pop music” and “erase the rules of pop” and credits inspiration to the likes of Still Woozy, SZA, and John Mayer. She is set to join Lorde on the road for the US leg of The Solar Power Tour this spring and we feel like she will continue to bloom throughout 2022.
We recommend listening to: ‘Photo ID,’ ‘Sexy Villain,’ and ‘Cheesin”
‘I GUESS I’M IN LOVE’ with Clinton Kane’s tender songwriting and emotional vocals because we can’t get enough of anything he’s put out so far! He manages to capture every phase of love, from falling in love to the massive letdown upon a breakup, so effortlessly in every romantic ode and angsty goodbye he writes. This is an artist who looks at the bigger picture of everything he’s been through, vulnerably sharing all the milestone moments of an experience to make an immersive journey you need to join in on.
We recommend listening to: ‘i don’t want to watch the world end with someone else,’ ‘forget about us,’ and ‘GO TO HELL’
With soulful vocals and thoughtful lyrics you’ll have to sit with for a while to fully understand, Lola Young is a rising pop starlet who manages to stand out from her pop peers and the sounds currently dominating the charts. She’s an old soul drawing from the brooding sounds of Amy Winehouse and early Lana Del Rey at some moments, and the funky piano-pop vibes of Alessia Cara and Alicia Keys at others. Yet all the while, her music can be described as nothing else but “Lola,” standing in a velvety league all her own.
We recommend listening to: ‘FAKE,’ ‘3rd of Jan,’ and ‘Pick Me Up’
If you spent any time on TikTok in 2020, you’ll probably already know 18-year-old Claire Rosinkranz from her viral hit ‘Backyard Boy,’ but that’s far from where her star qualities end. Since appearing in over three million TikToks with the smash, Claire has curated the ultimate quirky pop sound with bouncy basslines that will give you all the “main character” vibes. Young girls look up to her, Gen Z relates to every word she writes, and older generations will wonder how they ever listened to music in a world without Claire Rosinkranz.
We recommend listening to: ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Hotel’, and ‘BeVerly Hills BoYfRiEnd’
We were lucky enough to talk to Grace Davies last summer after she dropped her synth-pop breakup anthem single ‘toothbrush,’ and it’s been incredible to watch her grow since then! Perfect for fans of Maisie Peters and Julia Michaels, who she cites as inspirations, Grace has a unique way of creating an entire wonderland in every song she releases. Whether it’s a ballad like ‘roots’ or upbeat tracks like ‘Just a Girl,’ there’s something in her catalog for everyone and you need to invite her into your playlists this year.
We recommend listening to: ‘Just a Girl,’ ‘somebody,’ and ‘i met a boy online’
Finding a happy medium between feel-good pop, thought-provoking R&B, and warm indie-rock, Mimi Webb delivers everything we want in a future superstar. The British singer-songwriter pours her heart into every lyric she crafts to make sure each song paints a unique picture of an experience she’s going through. And of course, her ‘Heavenly’ vocals don’t hurt! We’re happy to be sucked into Mimi’s web and be entranced by her upcoming releases.
We recommend listening to: ‘24/25,’ ‘Halfway,’ and ‘Heavenly’
Are you a fan of any of these artists? Which artists would you recommend on your ones to watch list? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
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Creative Director of The Honey POP. Disney and pop culture enthusiast.