Next Up: 10 incredible artists you need to watch out for in 2021

21 January 2021, 12:05 | Updated: 22 January 2021, 16:15

Next Up: PopBuzz One's To Watch 2021
Next Up: PopBuzz One's To Watch 2021. Picture: PopBuzz
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

Meet the class of 2021.

Last year was a struggle for most people, and it was especially hard on musicians. Many had to postpone releases, and most artists were unable to tour and put on shows, depriving them of their main source of income. But despite these challenges, there was still so much incredible music being made and, honestly, we don't know where we would have been without it.

As we look forward to 2021, with the world on the cusp of opening up again, we're hoping things might be different for the new crop of up and coming artists who are waiting to make their mark on the world.

With that in mind, we wanted to shine a spotlight on 10 exciting young artists who we think you should be keeping an eye on in 2021. Read all our about 'Next Up' list below and get a taste of their music on our Spotify playlist.

READ MORE: The 20 best albums of 2020

1) BREE RUNWAY

Who? Boundry-pushing artist with the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of a superstar.

Standout track? 'Little Nokia'

Sounds like? '00s inspired pop maximalism from the future.

For fans of? Missy Elliott, Lady Gaga, Lil’ Kim.

In their own words: On what her name means with Interview, Bree said: "The meaning has evolved as I’ve grown. It means that I’m constantly taking off. I always outdo myself. I’m always on a different level, always just stepping up"

Bree Runway
Bree Runway. Picture: Virgin EMI Records

2) GIRL IN RED

Who? 21-year-old Norwegian Marie Ulven who's gearing up for world domination.

Standout track? 'Rue'

Sounds like? Indie-pop bangers, but make it gay.

For fans of? King Princess, Beabadoobee, Yungblud.

In their own words: “I have a bunch of queer kids following me because they see themselves in me and the lyrics, because they need that direct ability to relate to something.” (NME)

Girl In Red
Girl In Red. Picture: Girl In Red Instagram

3) THOMAS HEADON

Who? 20-year-old Australian, aka Disco Tony, who's coming for the indie-pop crown.

Standout track? ‘UrbanAngel1999

Sounds like? The guitar emoji, the pink flower emoji, and the sunset emoji.

For fans of? Harry Styles, Rex Orange County, Wallows.

In their own words: "I think my opinion on what success is with my music has changed. I wanna make music that means something to me, is something that I’m proud of and I can say 'I did my absolute best on that'". (Notion)

Thomas Headon
Thomas Headon. Picture: Platoon

4) Meet Me @ The Alter

Who? Rising pop-punk trio signed to the legendary Fueled By Ramen label.

Standout track? 'Garden'

Sounds like? Getting the fuck out of this town.

For fans of? Paramore, All Time Low, Twenty One Pilots.

In their own words: Speaking about ‘Garden’ to the Fader, the band said: “"We wanted to write a super energetic song that was really positive, because a lot of pop-punk isn’t positive. It’s about white dudes, crying over their girlfriends.”

Meet Me @ The Alter
Meet Me @ The Alter. Picture: Fueled By Ramen

5) ASHNIKKO

Who? 24-year-old pop alien who writes incredible hooks.

Standout track? 'Daisy'

Sounds like? Your wildest fantasies brought to life.

For fans of? Charli XCX, Grimes, Rico Nasty.

In their own words: Discussing what her sound isn’t with Alt Press, Ashnikko said: "It’s not quiet. It’s not soft. It’s not very sweet. Those are the adjectives that I would not put on my music, for sure. I have a very hard time being vulnerable in my music, which I’m working on. I’m working on that aspect of my songwriting."

Ashnikko
Ashnikko. Picture: Parlophone

6) BIIG PIIG

Who? Jess Smyth, a 22-year-old bilingual, genre-blending genius from Ireland and Malaga.

Standout track? Feels Right

Sounds like? Being a little tipsy and giddy on the night bus home after an amazing night out.

For fans of? Billie Eilish, Clairo, Phoebe Bridgers.

In their own words: "'Feels Right' is a track about the energy of a night out. I miss going out so much. The feeling of letting go and being surrounded by sweaty people; meeting strangers and one-night romances; the tunes and ecstasy. Feel like pure shit just want her back.“

Biig Piig
Biig Piig by Melanie Lehman. Picture: RCA Records

7) ENNY

Who? A 21-year-old wordsmith who says it like it is.

Standout track? 'Peng Black Girls'

Sounds like? A warm hug and a side-eye.

For fans of? Lauryn Hill, Chika, Che Lingo.

In their own words: Opening up about ‘Peng Black Girls’ with i-D, ENNY said: “There’s no story behind the track and I like that. I just remember having a moment of inspiration while walking to the train station one night. I knew right away that Amia was perfect for the hook."

ENNY
ENNY. Picture: FAMM

8) Michael Medrano

Who? Disco dad with a porno 'stache and a bag full of disco-pop hits.

Standout track? Fluids’ (‘Sugar’ is cute too)

Sounds like? Getting horny on main.

For fans of? Tove Lo, Ssion, Carly Rae Jepsen.

In their own words: “I was making a lot of sad bangers before. But after a while, I just didn't want to do that anymore. I want people to party to my music, in the way that they did to Kesha or Usher and stuff like that. I just wanted people to have fun. And so I just started making music like that and it's changed everything." (MTV)

Michael Medrano
Michael Medrano. Picture: Camila Noriega

9) ASHWARYA

Who? 21-year-old rule-breaker with an unforgettable voice.

Standout track? 'PSYCHO HOLE'

Sounds like? The artist your cooler, younger sibling is listening to.

For fans of? Billie Eilish, Tyler the Creator, Rosalia.

In their own words: Speaking about the inspiration behind 'Psycho Hole’ with Paper, Ashwarya said: "For 'Psycho Hole,' there's this Indian song that I have been obsessed with. It was like from 1962, but my grandma showed me when I was younger. The lyrics basically translate to, 'If someone calls me crazy, then I don't really care.' So I did end up replicating that in the song."

ASHWARYA
ASHWARYA. Picture: GADIR RAJAB

10) CMAT

Who? A self-styled "Global Celebrity Teen Pop Sensation From Ireland" with razor sharp lyrics, beautiful melodies and a hilarious Twitter account.

Standout track? I Wanna be a Cowboy, Baby!

Sounds like? 2021's hoedown throwdown.

For fans of? Kacey Musgraves, HAIM, Orville Peck.

In their own words: Speaking about the meaning behind ‘I Wanna be a Cowboy, Baby!’, CMAT said: "It’s mainly about urban isolation - about having all of the freedom and resources to do whatever you want but still choosing to do nothing out of deeply-embedded social anxiety and detachment from your own emotions. Sometimes you just turn around and ask yourself, “Why is my life crap? I don’t do anything, Why not?”. I never really have an answer to that, but I wish it was different. I want to be a cowboy instead."

CMAT
CMAT. Picture: Sarah Doyle