The Chainsmokers, Twenty One Pilots, Lady Gaga, and Drake might be driving the mainstream music conversation, but the following singles are poised to make waves under the radar. Have a listen, below, to new tracks from eight emerging artists who’ve yet to make it big in the U.S.
Tkay Maidza, “Carry On” (feat. Killer Mike)
Born in Zimbabwe, Maidza honed her sonic bravado across various cities in Australia from the age of five, when her family relocated to the continent. “Carry On,” featuring Killer Mike, sees the performer spitting quick-fire verses over a drum-heavy beat that builds to a sing-songy chorus backed by tribal chants. “Carry On” is loud, infectious, and begs for you to groove along.
All-female girl groups are everywhere in South Korea, but the bass-heavy sounds of the four-piece supergroup BLACKPINK stand out in a big way. With opening lyrics like “Hey boy. Make ya whistle like a missile,” the quartet’s latest single promises an unabashedly playful ride from the start. The song quickly turns up the heat, layering irresistible finger snaps, a saccharine bridge, electric guitar riffs, mammoth bass, and, of course, cow bell-accompanied whistles. The track, taken from the ladies’ debut EP, Square One, peaked at No. 1 in South Korea, and it wouldn’t sound entirely out of place occupying a similarly lofty position on American charts, either.
Sia has wigs, Leikeli47 has masks — many of them, as a matter of fact, as the rapper typically performs with her face covered so she can train the world’s focus on her music, not her looks. It’s not difficult to concentrate on the bold sounds emanating from the New York-based firecracker, though, especially when she’s pumping out skyscraper-sized beats on cuts like her new single “Money.” Her flow is chill, powerful, and ferocious all at the same time, just like it was throughout her featured verses on AlunaGeorge’s consent anthem “Mean What I Mean.” She sounds confident and soulful over “Money”‘s minimal production, which blends chants, hand claps, and light finger snapping for intoxicating results.
Nick Grant, “Get Up” (feat. WatchTheDuck)
If you thought saxophone-tinged pop couldn’t be salvaged after clogging mainstream airwaves post-“Uptown Funk,” think again. With classic instruments and a swag-filled feature from WatchTheDuck (Iggy Azalea’s “100”), Nick Grant’s funky “Get Up” sounds like a fresh, contemporary hit mixed with a shot of pure nostalgia.
Smoky guitars and guttural vocals from former American Idol contestant Stevie Scott flesh out machineheart’s gorgeously glum “Stonecold,” the indie rock band’s first new single since releasing their debut EP In Your Dreams in 2015. Scott’s voice serves devastating shades of Tennis’ Alaina Moore with hints of Dum Dum Girls’ Kristin Kontrol, while former He Is We bandmembers Carman Kubanda and Harrison Webster Allen provide the track’s haunting string and percussion arrangement.
Cappa, “Next Ex”
No one can master the breathy coo quite like Carly Rae Jepsen did on the 2015 pop bible E·MO·TION, but up-and-coming electropop star Cappa is well on her way. “Next Ex,” lifted from the Nashville native’s debut EP Queen of Hearts, fizzes with bubbly, whirring synths and one of the catchiest choruses since Jepsen’s own “I Really Like You,” one that serves as a forceful send-off to every disposable, boring, wide-eyed flavor-of-the-moment “standing on your front porch step again, holding roses like a good old American,” as Cappa says.
Youngr, “Out Of My System”
Summer might be over, but Youngr’s “Out Of My System” pulses with the sun-tinged spirit of a rooftop party. Dario Darnell’s silky-smooth voice hovers over an energetic electronic beat, crooning “Give me the girls, give me the girls / Give me the beach and the sunshine / Yeah, I’m on a mission / Trying to get it all out of my system” on this earworm of an anthem about letting loose and overcoming personal demons.
If Sade were debuting as a solo artist in 2016, her music might sound a lot like Adiam’s. The Eritrean-Swedish singer recently released her freshman studio effort, Black Wedding, produced by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek. The album features a number of soulful cuts that showcase the singer’s dynamic voice, but the bobbing “Fearless” glistens as the LP’s standout track. “Oh, the battle’s just begun / I am the one who’s fearless / Bring the candles, bring the guns / I am the one who’s fearless / Looking out for number one / I am the one who’s fearless / Don’t bring sympathy, don’t bring none” she belts on the inspiring track, which deserves a spot on your next empowerment-themed playlist.