With TikTok rapidly becoming a vital promotional tool for up-and-coming musicians, it’s never been harder to keep track of all the new artists fighting for our attention. Whether you’re into acts that put a fresh spin on 90s R&B, or yearn for an indie-rock group to electrify the charts, countless newcomers are waiting in the wings to set flight. Here, then, are the musicians to watch in 2023…
10: Xowie Jones
Crowned by Vogue magazine as “TikTok’s resident goth girl”, and with over seven million followers to her name, Xowie Jones is stepping out of the shadows and embarking on a musical career in 2023. “I want to combine pop, hyper pop, glitch-core type stuff with weird indie, with a little bit of rock,” she told Vogue interviewer Christian Allaire. Proving that Jones’ future is anything but gloomy, her haunting mixture of slasher-pop hooks and haunting Billie Eilish-esque lyricism on Horror Scene could well lead to a bloodbath on the pop charts.
Must hear: Horror Scene
9: Eem Triplin
Built around a dreamy Tyler, The Creator sample, Eem Triplin’s breakout track, Awkward Freestyle, went viral on TikTok in 2022, dragging the Pennsylvania-born rapper up from the underground and making him one of hip-hop’s most notable musicians to watch in 2023. With a smooth flow and a unique ear for ethereal trap beats, Triplin still hasn’t gotten over the fact that his inspiration has given him a seal of approval. “It was crazy,” he said, acknowledging how Tyler had commented on one of his Instagram posts. “It was like a full circle moment.”
Must hear: Awkward Freestyle
8: Nick Mono
Inspired by the bedroom pop of Steve Lacy and the genre-blending hip-hop production of Brockhampton founder Kevin Abstract, London-based songwriter Nick Mono dabbles in an array of genres with a lo-fi, homespun approach. “When I make music, all kinds of influences come out,” he told Clash magazine. “I’m completely cool with people calling my music whatever they want, whether that be indie-pop, alternative R&B or pop.” If his song All The Money is anything to go by, fans of pop-punk upstart GAYLE and alt-pop dynamo Dominic Fike are in for a treat as Mono steps forward as one of the artists to watch in 2023.
Must hear: All The Money
Having released her debut EP in April 2022, alternative R&B star LAYA sizzles with the same eccentric flair of Missy Elliott and the steamy sultriness of Brandy. Taking us into the LAYAVERSE by way of a virtual-reality headset, the music video for On Sight nods to the golden era of 90s R&B but modernises her sound with trap-inspired hi-hats and a fresh lyrical focus that earns her a place among the musicians to watch in 2023. “There are a lot of motivational messages in my music,” LAYA told Rated R&B. “It’s R&B, but it’s not all about the bedroom or being in a club.”
Must hear: On Sight
Songs such as Good 4 U, by Olivia Rodrigo, and abdefu, by GAYLE, laid the groundwork for an emo revival, and social-media influencer Lozeak has stepped in to take advantage with Hate Me Too, a self-pitying blast of pop-punk (“At the end of the day/I would hate me too if I was my friend”). “I wrote Hate Me Too about a friend throwing away a friendship because of a stupid reason,” Lozeak later explained, “where you have been made out to be a shitty person when you’re not.” With over 600,000 TikTok followers, Lozeak has won acclaim from BBC Radio 1 DJ Jack Saunders for writing lyrics as raw and candid as teen diary extracts.
Must hear: Hate Me Too
Racking up over 700,000 monthly listeners on Spotify – no doubt thanks to her song FMRN becoming a viral soundbite – Canadian pop singer Lilyisthatyou earns her place on our list of musicians to watch in 2023 with the exuberant and confident style she displays on dance-pop bangers such as Bad Energy. “Bad Energy is my bad bitch reminder,” Lily told Prelude Press, “but at the same time, it’s a song about being grateful for what you already have.” Effortlessly channelling the girlboss swagger of Dua Lipa, but making it completely her own, Lilyisthatyou is one rising singer you certainly need to know.
Must hear: Bad Energy
4: The Blssm
Led by non-binary artist Lily Lizotte, The Blssm is a vehicle for their boundary-pushing breed of alt-pop, taking in influences as disparate as N.E.R.D. and The Cure. “I chewed up and spat out all my influences into one project that sounds like what ‘pop music’ is to me,” Lizotte told FLOOD Magazine. The sound of early-00s pop-punk looms large on I HATE SUNDAY, a breezy Paramore-esque dip into the “fish bowl of anxiety” with lyrical musings on mental-health struggles. Signed to Fall Out Boy’s label, Fueled By Ramen, The Blssm have their finger on the pulse.
Must hear: I Hate Sunday
Fresh from doing their A levels and signing to Chess Club Records, the Leeds-based band L’Objectif have described themselves as “indie-ish with a bit of a twist”, with joyously punk-inspired howls such as The Dance You Sell placing them among the most exciting musicians to watch in 2023. That said, L’Objectif delve deeper than most bands of their ilk. “Artists such as Talking Heads, The Velvet Underground and Pixies are definitely some examples of our inspirations,” frontman Saul Kane explained in an interview with The Line Of Best Fit. By touting the “use of jazz language in indie music” by the likes of King Krule and Connan Mockasin, it’s clear that L’Objectif may have a few surprises up their sleeves before they release their debut album.
Must hear: The Dance You Sell
Ever since performing their debut single, Cardboard Box, on The Jimmy Kimmel Show in October 2022, London-based R&B trio FLO have made no secret of their big ambitions. “We want to sell out arenas and just completely take over!” singer Renée told NME, acknowledging how “girl groups are basically non-existent right now”. Since Cardboard Box was produced by dance-pop mastermind MNEK, it’s clear FLO mean business, effortlessly reigniting the girl-power gumption of Spice Girls and the sweet-toothed camaraderie of Sugababes. Tapping into their love of teen pop and 90s R&B, it’s only a matter of time before FLO spearhead a revival.
Must hear: Cardboard Box
1: Madeline The Person
Winning herself a record deal during lockdown via a Zoom call, alt-pop songwriter Madeline The Person initially caught the world’s attention thanks to her TikTok videos. Since then, her plucky melodicism and deeply personal lyrics on MEAN! have clocked up over 47 million Spotify streams, aided by a music video, directed by Tess Lafia, in which the singer struggles to fit in while dressed as a clown. “I wrote the song MEAN! to help deal with my absolute shock when I was pulled aside at a party and insulted,” Madeline told COLOURVISION magazine. “I have social anxiety, so parties are hard and I often feel like I’m not welcome.” Needless to say, she’s a welcome arrival on the pop scene, and that’s why she tops our list of musicians to watch in 2023.
Must hear: MEAN!
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