While 2020 might seem like it’s getting worse, the music scene is just getting started. In writing this piece, I found so many newer artists that I wasn’t sure who to pick. I finally narrowed them down to six different picks in “artists to look out for” in 2020. From pop, to rock, to funk, there is definitely something for everyone to check out on this list. These artists truly represent a younger generation of music, and thankfully their sound differs from a lot of what we’ve heard in pop culture recently.
Starting off in the pop/electropop category, Ashnikko is someone we need to be ready for. Her claim to fame is her song, “Stupid,” that was a favorite sound among TikTok users earlier this year. While some songs die off after being featured on TikTok for a few weeks, Ashnikko’s “Stupid,” along with her other single, “Working Bitch”, gained her a fast growing following. This fanbase furthered her music career with two EPs and an album set to come out October 2020. Her style is a mix between early 2000s Lady Gaga and Melanie Martinez. The artist goes for vibrant colors and shock factor. While her first song was released in 2016, it took TikTok to help this girl take off. Regardless of her beginnings, Ashnikko will be a pop artist to look out for.
Jumping into the rap category, Bree Runway is a fresh look with a Missy Elliot vibe. While Runway is carving her own path, a lot of critics attribute her earlier sounds as inspired from Missy Elliot and other female rappers from the 90s. The rapper gained a following after her single “What Do I Tell My Friends” dropped in 2018. After her single, Runway dropped an EP that established her fanbase. Critics say Runway blends “zeitgeist-y lyricism” and humor as she brings audiences back to the 1990s. If you like rap, try giving Bree Runway a listen, especially if you are nostalgic for some retro throwback vibes.
I don’t know about you, but just about everyone has heard of Roddy Ricch. However, he’s still pretty up-and-coming for a rapper. The 21-year-old artist from Compton, CA. initially took the music industry by storm with his single “The Box.” With 230 million views on YouTube, and 4.6 million subscribers, Roddy Ricch is hard to ignore. His music career started in 2017 with two mixtapes, and while he’s still pretty young, his fanbase is undeniable. His popularity has grown so much in the last year that he won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance and two BET awards for Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year. We are all looking to see what this rapper does next in his music career, and if you haven’t listened to him yet, you should check his songs out.
Stepping away from solo artists for a second, Bananagun is a band you will probably never forget, and probably never listen to again. Just kidding—but their music is very eccentric. This Australian indie group is definitely a throwback from the past, and if you miss the retro-esque feels from the 80s, then you don’t want to pass this band up. Bell Bottom jeans and all, critics call their energy psychedelic and “kinks-like” (whatever that may mean). You won’t be too stuck in the past with Bananagun, and their 2020 album The True Story of Bananagun is worth a listen if you want to check them out.
Let me introduce you to Celeste. She’s a soulful combo of Alicia Keys meets Aretha Franklin and fans are here for it. The 26 year old English singer won both a BRIT and BBC award in 2019 for her melancholy-type sound, and she hasn’t stopped there. She has a variety of albums and EPs to choose from, but her most popular songs are “Stop this Flame” and “Strange.” If you are looking for some new music to add to your “chill” playlist, give Celeste a listen—I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Joe James Lewis
Last, but no least, we land on Joe James Lewis. His music also dabbles in the genre of soul, with the added R&B vibes. This English musician is very new to the industry. His music makes me think of Lauv and Dean Lewis (and no, Joe and Dean are not related…I checked). Joe Lewis has one EP, and can be found on all the mainstream streaming platforms. While not much is known about this artist’s direction, his sound can be appreciated for its emotional flare and acoustic elements.
Emilie Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @emilieemeree.