2017 was a helluva year.
Political and economic chaos, coupled with the widespread uncovering of abuse through #MeToo, added a dark, sombre tone to the past 12 months.
Throughout it all, though, music acted both as guide and solace, with the rapid progression of genres and technology affording artists new spaces to claim as their own.
We're not naive enough to suggest that the clock striking 12 on New Year's Eve means that the troubles of 2017 have been washed away, but we do know that music - both in this country and internationally - has rarely been stronger, more progressive.
Here are 18 artists we feel will shape the coming year...
- - -
Following a sold-out UK tour, and set of brilliant releases in 2017, right from There’s A Honey to ‘Television Romance’, and latest melter ’New Year’s Eve’ Pale Waves set the standards for sad-yet- danceable pop songs. The band have gone from strength to strength and seem to be setting themselves up for a remarkable career.
The emo punk-rock band, from Manchester have plenty to look forward to in 2018 as they prepare to unveil their first full-length release also titled New Year’s Eve in early 2018 with help from their friend and label mate, Matty Healy of The 1975. – Malvika Padin
- - -
Consisting of eight members all hailing from different parts of the world, pop group Superorganism, are quite the mystery. Releasing a pop banger, ‘Something for Your M.I.N.D’, the band caught the attention of the likes of Frank Ocean and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.
The band, however, with its almost non-existent social media presence remained shrouded in mystery, giving rise to several rumours. It later came to light that the so-called secrecy the band maintained was due to the sprawling geographical distances between them.
Formed after the members met on a music forum, the boundary-blurring band is set to make the world a brighter place with its music. - Malvika Padin
- - -
Poppy Ajudha enters 2018 with listeners in enthusiastic suspense as they eagerly await her debut EP. This interest has been generated by the release of a trio of captivating singles over the past year that has earned praise from influential voices within the music scene, while her impassioned commentary on subjects such as gender and race - discussed in her recent interview with Clash – coupled with her jazz-influenced sound act as some of the most defining features of her music. – Nathan Fisher
- - -
IAMDDB’s ascension to her current status as one of the most enthusing artists in the UK has been devastatingly proficient. She released her debut EP ‘Waeveybby, Vol. 1’ in December 2016, trailed by her ‘Vibe, Vol. 2’ in May and ‘Hoodrich, Vol. 3’ EP’s by September of last year, which included the incredibly popular tracks ‘Pause’ and ‘Shade’ that were at the forefront of her self-proclaimed “urban jazz” sound.
The flamboyant, Manchester-bred musician has managed to develop a palpable excitement surrounding her career, with many eyes and ears looking forward to what she has to come next. – Nathan Fisher
- - -
South London artist Oscar Jerome's new EP ‘Subdued’ drops on January 26th. The video for the title track & lead single- ‘Subdued’ has already been released. The track is a mesmerizing blend of jazz, hip-hop and electronica combined with an up-tempo beat, the accompanying video - shot solely using infrared - is almost otherworldly.
This new four-track collection follows Oscar’s 2016 self-titled debut EP, which drew praise from the likes of Radio 1, Boiler Room, 1Xtra and 6Music. In support of the forthcoming EP, Oscar will also be performing a headline show at London’s Montague Arms on January 31st. - Malvika Padin
- - -
Naira Marley is one of UK’s emerging young rap stars. Born in the Nigerian town of Lagos and raised in South London he is a pioneer of AfroBashment. An artist like no other, with his ability to make any style of music – no matter the tempo or genre – completely and uniquely his own.
Beginning right from his debut track 'Marry Juana' to drill bangers like 'Back 2 Work' to UK rap melodies like 'Money On The Road', and afrobeats club smashes like 'Final Freestyle', he has given his own charismatic South London swagger combined with flavours of his Jamaican slang and accent. Still only three years in the game, Naira caught the world’s attention and continues to make his way to the top. - Malvika Padin
- - -
This year’s pop trailblazer comes in the form of 16 year-old Billie Eilish from Los Angeles. But while some new artists push a new wave of bubblegum pop, Billie pioneers a darker hip-hop edge, with cut-throat basslines, plenty of lush minor key and a youthful-yet-confident vocal displaying a maturity to the testing times of teenage life.
Sometimes eloquent electronica, sometimes sensual R&B, Billie Eilish is bossing both ballads and bangers, mixing traditional singer/songwriter instrumentation and impeccable vocal harmonies with fresh hip-hop production. 2017 already saw a collaboration with fellow West Coaster Vince Staples on a debut EP far beyond her years. Next gen pop, incoming. - Alice Mortimer
- - -
2017 saw North London four-piece Sorry go from strength to strength. Mixtape 'Home Demo/ns' showcased a band who have casually and confidently carved out their own niche. Like a Cool S, their demos have a sketchy, immediate quality and hark back to another era – 90s grunge is a key point of reference – but are rooted in the present. They take cues from hip-hop, particularly Capital Steez and Pro Era, and spiky electronic squalls punctuate sludgy riffs.
Association with the South London scene has doubtless helped, but this year the band will strike out on their own, with more shows following their Corsica Studios triumph and hopefully a few more releases. - Wilf Skinner
- - -
Bronx-based rapper MIKE spent his formative years in Hackney, being inspired to rap by Channel U grime videos before returning to the States and eventually settling in New York City, expanding his rap palate direct from the Mecca.
The teenager first began releasing recorded music in 2014, but really established himself last year with his ‘May God Bless Your Hustle’ mixtape, which was followed shortly after by his ‘By The Water’ EP, demonstrating beyond-his-years insight over collaged soul and jazz samples. His journey from the New York scene to global acclaim is well underway: after peaking through the door in 2017, he’s ready to kick it down in 2018. - Grant Brydon
- - -
Ski Mask The Slump God
While there were plenty of ears on Miami’s SoundCloud rap scene last year, rising above the noise became the mission for those trying to take their career beyond Internet fanboys. Ski Mask The Slump God spent last year proving that there was more to him than his peers, rising head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd with a deal on Island Records and sold-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
The elastic flowing spitter has already began making his mark on the mainstream, impressing legends like Missy Elliott and Timbaland (when he took on the ‘She’s A Bitch’ instrumental for his track ‘Catch Me Outside’) and collaborating with contemporaries A$AP Ferg, Lil Yachty, Keith Ape and Offset; if this trajectory continues we won’t be surprised if he’s a household name by December. - Grant Brydon
- - -
One of the best thing about Col3trane’s music is that we have no idea where to place it. Still remarkably young, debut mixtape ‘Tsarina’ veered from breaks to outright pop to R&B and wonky left-field hip-hop, all delivered through the lens of a broke, love-struck British teenager.
Part of the emphatically creative underground scene emerging from London right now – the bulk of whom could fill out this list, if we’re honest – Col3trane stands out through the sheer pop suss of his delivery. Addictive, lucid, and wonderfully creative, the coming 12 months are Col3trane’s to shape as he sees fit. - Robin Murray
- - -
There’s a school of thought which holds that guitar music has had its day, and that grime is the new template for British youth culture. It’s a nice idea, but some of the brightest, boldest voices in the country are flipping this on its head.
Take Hak Baker. Initially a producer with grime crew B.O.M.B. Squad, a run in with the law led him to swap beats for something a little more melodic, a little more contemplative. Falling for the sounds of the acoustic guitar, he’s able to add a gritty, street level edge to folk balladeering, with tracks such as ‘Conundrum’ and ‘7AM’ blazing a trail others fear to follow. The real deal.
- - -
London stable Coyote Records tend to throw up individual talents, with its roster dedicated by sublimely idiosyncratic voices who don’t quite fit into the mould. It’s this tendency, then, that affords Jamaican-bred, Miami-based producer Marks such a potent platform.
Debut EP ‘Drain’ - released on limited cassette, no less – matched UK bass culture to warped dancehall and hazy, trapped out hip-hop. Able to move between dark, dank atmospherics and sublimely focussed club fare, Marks looks set to surge ahead in 2018. - Robin Murray
- - -
Lewisham grime prodigy Yizzy is still in his teens, yet with tracks such as 'Grime Kid' and 'This Is Life' scorching through streaming records he's one of the hottest MCs in the country.
Part of a wave of talent from South London, Yizzy's natural independence shines through on each track, while support from Glastonbury Rising and the PRS Foundation have afforded him space to work on his music as and when he sees fit. Bringing his concise vision into focus in 2018, Yizzy represents a new breed of London MC, one that is aware of the scene's roots while acknowledging vast ambition running through the sound. - Robin Murray
- - -
“I am a sick DJ and my biryani bangs too,” reads Manara's Twitter bio. We can’t vouch for the second part, but we sure can the first; the south London DJ is quickly being noted as one of the capital’s most exciting selectors.
One third of collective BBC AZN Network, and Fade To Mind/Night Slugs affiliate, her sets are everything that the club experience should be - as euphoric as they are boundary-pushing. One part deconstructed dance sounds, Desi songs and especially Bollywood film music, it’s another part nostalgic R&B and Flex Dance Music, alongside her own coveted edits.
A recent Boiler Room set showcased her natural talent for making the club go off (wait for the drop of her Wiley - ‘Igloo’ and ‘Dola Re Dola’ splice…) and we’ve little doubt 2018 will see some more of the same. - Felicity Martin
- - -
Just as 2017 was the year that everyone’s Instagram feeds were dominated by pool pics with those enormous inflatable swans, it was also the year we were treated to more music from elusive Bristolian duo Robin Stewart and Harry Wright.
With a sound that encompasses raw, pummelling techno, drone noise and dark room-destined loudness, the pair dropped ‘Celebrate The Last 30 Years Of Human Ego/IFTLOYL’ last year — cementing their ability to blindside us all with their blissful, oscillating club manoeuvres. Here’s to more of those in 2018. - Felicity Martin
- - -
Spanish rapper Bad Gyal first went viral when she hijacked Rihanna’s ‘Work’, adding a filthy dancehall element airbrushed out of the original. Ratcheting millions of plays, her outspoken, explicit approach fuses an awareness of Jamaican music with a clear love for Central American reggaeton, and the spicier elements of Stateside hip-hop.
Undaunted in her ambition and uncensored in her approach, is able to fuse viral, instantly addictive melodies with some stellar production from a raft of co-conspirators. Bad Gyal touches down in the UK for The Great Escape this May, and aims to make the nation her own. Just watch her go.
- - -
One of the strengths of British music right now is just how nationwide it feels. Creative voices are emerging from almost every angle, with Birmingham's underground scene boasting a rare degree of potency.
Viral smash 'Lotto Boyz' provided this Brum group with both a name and a calling card, while tracks such as 'FaceTime Me' and anthem-in-waiting 'Birmingham' align whipsmart rhymes and clinical production to shape something new, exciting, and downright addictive. More of this in 2018, please. - Robin Murray
- - -
Clash profiles the best in breaking music in our Next Wave section - get involved!
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.