2016 was the year of the big name artist but the newcomers were a pack of dark horses.

It seems as though every major label favourite dropped an album this year. Beyoncé, Drake, Radiohead, Rihanna, Kanye West and Sia all delivered full-length projects that have been played to death on public radio and online playlists all year and predictably garnered a number of Grammy nominations earlier this month. But it's the new artists that came out of the sonic woodwork this year who truly left us inspired. Our eyes and ears were locked on the next batch of superstars.

From new soulful voices to genre-fusing innovators to incredibly fresh songwriters, this year's group of new talented MVPs have us certain that the mood music heading into 2017 will only be elevated. And they're a list of names that we're sure will take their brands from rising stars to the centre of a global takeover. So we compiled a list of the artists you should get acquainted with before you're forced to join the bandwagon.

Jorja Smith

No one has had a year like Jorja Smith. It's hard to imagine the 19-year-old R&B talent as just a newcomer, but it was only January that the Walsall native and South London-residing artist emerged on the scene with her exhilarating debut single 'Blue Lights' - as not only an urgent reflection of the social and political times but as a stunning introduction to one of the year's most astounding breakout stars.

By merging nostalgic R&B soundscapes with potent songwriting, she gained more attention throughout the year with slinky deliveries like the slow-burning 'Where Did I Go?' in May, followed by vocals on Cadenza's 'People' this past summer. To wrap up her unprecedented year, Jorja has delivered her four-track EP, Project 11, as an ode to unrequited love and she just wrapped up her first headlining UK tour. With a freshman year like the one she's had, Jorja Smith and her voice really could be the biggest thing in music if she keeps it up. And we're rooting for her.

Liana Banks

With green hair and raw urban grit, Liana Bank$ first grabbed our attention with her money-making anthem 'M.O.N' this past march. "People will hurt you. Commas won't. Date commas," she said of her viral debut single. And it became a good mantra for the year. The Queens native later lived up to her hype with massive bass and rolling hi-hats on her 12-track debut project Insubordinate, which followed last month. And with writing credits for Rihanna and Nicki Minaj under her belt already, Liana Bank$ has options. And we're looking forward to seeing where she takes her talents.


Ray BLK's voice is like butter. The South London rising star has generously offered up those soothing vocals on a platter throughout the year, with releases like the Stormzy collaborated 'My Hood' and the recent unveil of her latest project Durt. The 22-year-old MOBO nominated artist has finally and fittingly started to shake the mainstream up and demanded their attention, while still honoring her hometown in the process. It's a humble medium.

"A lot of growing up happened in the year it took me to make this mini album," she said in a statement. "These songs are about me becoming an adult and being frank about the experiences that have brought me here." The reason why she's been so beloved is her songs are easy to relate to and we're looking forward to hearing how she's there for us yet again in the coming year.

Tommy Genesis

She's been called the internet's most rebellious underground rap queen but the title is a little redundant. We don't think the Vancouver-born Awful Records signee is trying to rebel against anything as much as she's trying to empower and normalize her own blend of raspy sex-inspired fetish rap. And we're here for it. On the year's highlight 'They Cum They Go,' Tommy calls it how she sees it, with casual energy and confident attitude. We just wish we'd hear more from her soon.

Dream Wife

Dream Wife met at art school and the rest is history. The fast-rising Icelandic-Brightonian three-piece band, comprised of Rakel Mjöll on lead vocals, Alice Go on guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass, emerged earlier this year as one of the most exciting young groups to come out of the 2016, with their punk noise-pop numbers from their debut project, EP01. The Lucky Number signees also have a reputation for one hell of a live show so make sure to catch them during a most likely completely booked 2017.

Ama Lou

Ama Lou has two songs out. Two debut singles. But that hasn't stopped the 18-year-old North London singer-songwriter from demanding a spot alongside some of the most promising artists of the next coming year. Because the songs are that good. 'TBC', her first introduction, is a stunning delivery penned in response to the BLM movement and the mass murder of Black and Brown bodies at the hands of police this past year. Ama is wise beyond her years, with a stirring and even eclectic voice that sets her apart from her R&B peers. She's got a unique style, a unique look and a unique perspective and that's what makes her one to watch.


We first fell in love with North London duo Ider once they emerged in April with their subtle R&B-tinged debut 'Sorry,' Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville had this innovative knack for merging sporadic pop sounds with Eastern-influenced melodies and we're glad we caught on early. The pair later delivered three more tracks this year ('Million', 'Pulse' and 'King Ruby'), along with various notable live performances. They supported Conner Youngblood at The Waiting Room, Tegan and Sara at KOKO and Samaris at Bussey Building and next year, we're sure they'll wind up headlining their own set of shows. We can almost guarantee it.


London-based enigmatic lo-fi R&B duo S4U claim they're in the booty business. The business of making booties bounce, that's clear. Rosita Bonita and Prinz George may just be the most exciting pair to burst onto the modern pop scene and they've brought their rap-inspired attitude, '90s-inspired style and soul-flavoured sounds to the forefront of tracks like 'Twice,' 'One Key' and 'Sket' from their Brazil EP, which was released this past September.

So far, S4U have earned support from the likes of 1Xtra's Jamz Supernova and Pharrell and of course us, as we plan to champion the duo as they prep for an even bigger takeover next year. Keep your ears to the gritty streets they frequent on the late night.

J Hus

J Hus may not be brand new to the music scene or even our radar, but he was certainly the most underrated MVP of the UK music scene this year, with bashment-ready singles and standout verses for the likes of Mostack, Zara Larsson and the Brotherhood soundtrack. He may call himself Mr. Ugly but to us, he's Mr. Congeniality and most likely, on his way to global stardom.

Hus' effortless blend of afropop, dancehall and grime energy have set him apart of an over-saturated music scene and he continues to prove that quality over quantity is the creative cliché that will always remain relevant. This year's 'Friendly,' 'Free Up' and his Playing Sports EP were genre blending wins that rivaled last year's 'Dem Boy Paigon' and 'No Lie.' And we can't wait to hear what kind of sounds he'll be mashing in the new year.

Daniel Caesar

Toronto-based singer-songwriter, Daniel Caesar earned the title of Canada's most promising soulful voice with the release of his 2015 EP, Pilgrim’s Paradise. In 2016, his name held more weight across the global R&B scene with deliveries like the Kali Uchis-featuring 'Get You'. But in 2017, we're certain that Danny will emerge as one of the most renowned artists out, especially with the forthcoming release of his debut full-length, which is definitely one of our most anticipated projects coming in the new year. At 21-years-old, we're looking at the next superstar to come out of Canada.


Rotterdam's Sevdaliza has us stunned. We were intrigued in 2015, the moment we heard her make a striking introduction with The Suspended Kid EP. But now, she's back and ready for pure global domination in 2017 with her anticipated debut album. To end off an atrocious year, we were gifted with other-worldly visuals for her returning single 'Human,' followed by a surprisingly fitting collaboration with A$AP Ferg on 'That Damaged Girl' earlier this week. We're in her corner and not shy to shout it.


When we came across French-Algerian singer Ta-Ha, it was later in the year. And it was with the release of not one but two EPs. Just last month, the talented artist dropped SunrayZ and X-RayZ as two juxtaposed moods but in all their differences, managed to assemble a dreamlike essence attributed to Ta. With a perspective like that, we’re keeping an eye on her.


It only took one track from 22-year-old Brighton native Celeste for us to realize her potential. As the first artist signed to Lily Allen's Bank Holiday Records, Celeste is in a lane of her own and proved that by teaming up with SBTRKT collaborator Tev'n to deliver her nostalgic ode to summer on 'Day Dreaming.' And as we wait for the weather to warm up again, we can also anticipate what’s next from the talented songwriter, who penned her introductory single while working in a pub.