By Alex Suskind and Sarah Rodman
January 04, 2019 at 10:44 AM EST
Steve Jennings/Wireimage; Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images; Rich Fury/Getty Images

An emerging teen idol, a country singer-songwriter, a former Fifth Harmony member. With 2018 in the bag, we reveal a few acts who will be making noise in the new year.

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is the most popular artist you’ve probably never heard of (if you have, you’re under the age of 20 or know someone who is). The just-turned 17-year-old singer has already secured 2.5 billion streams thanks to her evocative lyrics, hushed tones, and patented I-don’t-give-a-f—attitude (see: Eilish’s acclaimed 2017 EP, Don’t Smile at Me). She’s also put in appearances on Ellen and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. With a flair for the outrageous, a preternatural instinct for introspective songwriting, and a debut album dropping sometime in 2019, expect her to be popping up everywhere over the next 12 months. —Alex Suskind

Standout track: “When the Party’s Over”

Rachel Wammack

The Alabama native comes by her ear for details naturally, having logged time working behind a bar, the setting for her moving piano ballad “Damage.” That song and the others on her four-track self-titled 2018 EP offer a glimpse of a singer-songwriter with a strong pop sensibility and a skill for melding it with contemporary country in ways that should prove amenable to radio (if they ever take a chance on a female artist). Wammack was recently chosen as one of CMT’s “Next Women of Country” and plans to release her debut album — produced, like her EP, by heavy hitter Dann Huff — in 2019. Tour details are yet to come, but she will appear at the mammoth Stagecoach festival in April. —Sarah Rodman

Standout track: “Damage”

The Shindellas

This trio of talented ladies — Stacy Johnson, Tamara Chauniece, and Kasi Jones — are a delightful cocktail of retro-’60s girl-group fizz with a tart, modern lyrical twist. Songs like “Reconsider” and “Ain’t That the Truth” may evoke the Ronettes and the Supremes, but the women have contemporary sass to spare. The Shindellas plan to hit the road in early 2019 on the Love Takeover tour with their producers Louis York, the Grammy-nominated songwriting-production duo of Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars, Janet Jackson). —SR

Standout track: “Ain’t That the Truth”

Sasha Sloan

The 22-year-old artist may have named her 2018 EP Loser, but she’s already racked up plenty of music-industry wins, including scoring a minor hit with the fluttering attempt-at-redemption single “Ready Yet,” co-writing for major pop stars (Camila Cabello’s “Never Be the Same” and “OMG,” Charli XCX’s “Track 10”), and dropping two excellent EPs in one year (Sad Girl and the aforementioned Loser). Next up: a full-length debut and (possibly) another EP. —AS

Standout track: “Runaway”

Normani

Normani already experienced a star-making turn with her work in the X Factor-created Fifth Harmony. Now, like her former fellow Harmonizer Camila Cabello, the Atlanta native is ready to fully step out on her own. In 2018 she scored a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 with “Love Lies,” a duet with Khalid from the film Love, Simon. She also released the track “Waves” with 6lack, dropped an EP with superproducer/DJ Calvin Harris, and had Nicki Minaj come to her defense after a playful jab by Tiffany Haddish at the VMAs. There will be more spotlight moments in 2019, with a rumored solo album and an opening slot on Ariana Grande’s Sweetener world tour. —AS

Standout track: “Waves”

Rosalía

In 2018, the 25-year-old Spanish singer-songwriter collaborated with reggaeton superstar J Balvin (on “Brillo”) and produced one of the year’s best sleeper albums in El Mal Querer. Inspired by the 13th century Occitan romance novel Flamenca, the arresting, 11-track effort combined classic flamenco with elements of pop and R&B. With a rumored feature on James Blake’s upcoming album, not to mention a prime spot on the 2019 Coachella lineup, expect Rosalía to turn more heads in the coming months.—AS

Standout track: “Malamente”

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