Every so often a freshman artist will surprise everyone by topping the charts with an unexpected hit. For instance, prior to 2016, virtually no one had even heard of Desiigner, but less than a year later you could not turn on a radio without hearing some version of “Panda.” And who could’ve predicted the hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd would build such a following that their song, “Black Beatles,” would even get the attention of Paul McCartney.
In the past year we have also been introduced to an abundance of new talent, including: Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Young Bleu, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Japanese Breakfast, Charly Bliss, Mura Masa, Alfred Banks, IDK, Jorja Smith, and Big Shaq and Joyner Lucas to name just a few.
But looking back at the past 365 days, as exciting as that may seem, can also feel like a waste of time, because the moment will pass before you even know it. As the late-comedian George Carlin used to say, “there’s no present. There is only the immediate future and the recent past.”
Since this is the last column of 2017, this week #SoundingOFF will take a look at some of the artists we look forward to hearing in the year ahead.
It’s no secret that trap has gone international at this point. Well, it’s about to go metal. ScarLxrd, a.k.a. Marius “Maz” Listhrop, got his start by recording his performances on YouTube. Not long after, he joined British rap-rock group Myth City and soon enough decided to branch off on his own.
In a similar vein to new school rappers like Lil Pump and Lil Xan, his performance is emotionally driven… and it’s intense. But, unlike others in this genre, only he posses the type of rock scream you might expect to hear from the late-Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.
#2) Audrey Horne
I honestly didn’t know that Twin Peaks was so popular in Europe. Inspired by actress Sherilyn Fenn’s character from the ’90s television cult-classic, Audrey Horne, is actually a five-member hard rock group from Norway.
The band is not exactly anything new, having existed since 2002, and is predominantly comprised of former black metal musicians from groups like Enslaved, Gorgoroth, and Sahg. But, much like the show itself, not all is what it seems on the surface. Dedicated to crafting original compositions with a more melodic, riff-soaked sound, Audrey Horne aims to become a contemporary hard-rock entity all their own with the upcoming release of their anthemic new album, Blackout, available from Napalm Records in January 2018.
#3) Billie Eilish
The 16-year-old Interscope electropop songwriter will certainly be looking to make a name for herself in 2018, following the recent success of her don’t smile at me EP, which she soon followed-up with her first collaboration, “&Burn,” featuring rapper Vince Staples. Given her recent success, we can’t wait to see what Eilish has prepared for the year to come.
#4) Kiki Rowe
Canadian R&B songwriter Kiki Rowe first became known as the girl with “the golden pen,” after setting up a makeshift studio in her home and in 2014 she released her self-released debut, which featured special guest appearances from DJ Mustard, ASTR, and Ivan Barias.
Her breakout performance most recently landed her a deal with Sony Music Entertainment Canada, and in May, she released her first single on a major label, “Come My Way” featuring Khalil. If it is any precursor of things to come, we expect to hear more from the burgeoning musician.
Harlem electronic producer VHVL, a.k.a. Veronica Lauren, has said that the practice of making music helped her heal when she was confined to her bed following a botched spinal surgery. In a previous interview with The Fader, she explained that she was actually too sick to work on an EP.
“It was supposed to come out last year, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the ability to do what it would’ve taken to support the release with shows, or anything really, so I asked for it to not happen. I have all of the material still,” she said.
In 2016, she released EVN, the first-half of a two-part project with Leaving Records, an L.A.-based label created by musician Matthew David McQueen. She also plans to release the second-half of the project, ODD, in 2018. Looking to the year ahead, VHVL appears to be in high spirits, having recently performed a 25-minute live set for Boiler Room.
Remember earlier, we said trap has gone international… well, it has. Neelo hails from Alicante, Spain, and is one a few multi-lingual young rap artists, including Kidd Keo and Blunted Vato, who have worked towards producing more trap remixes in Spanish.
#7) HEY VIOLET
The California pop-punk group got its start in 2008, as an all-female hard rock band called Cherri Bomb, but when lead singer Julia Pierce left the group and was replaced with Casey Moreta, they decided to change their name to Hey Violet in order to reflect a new, more pop-heavy sound.
From The Outside, the group’s major label debut, was in May and launched them to no. 2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. However, the success turned bittersweet when keyboard player Miranda Miller announced her departure from the band on Twitter in August.
Despite the many complications they have faced, Hey Violet is on the verge of breaking into the mainstream and we look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for them.
#8) GOOD TIGER
Do not feed the animals. Alternative rock band Good Tiger is back with the follow-up to their 2015 debut, A Head Full of Moonlight. The band’s upcoming follow-up, We Will All Be Gone, will be released in February from Metal Blade Records, and was tracked at the Middle Farm Studios in southwest England, where they worked with producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus), and engineer/mixer Adam “Nolly” Getgood (Periphery, Animals As Leaders).
“Having the time to experiment with sounds, structure, and various parts was something none of us had really done before, and it definitely helped in developing the album into what it is now,” guitarist Derya “Dez” Nagle said. We look forward to hearing what they have cooked up when We Will All Be Gone drops in February.
Thank you all so much for reading this, and all of our other featured columns, this past year. We look forward to bringing you the latest in music, sports, film, TV, fashion, and culture in 2018 and for years to come.