As I wrote last week, the 2017 ones to watch lists are sadly lacking in pop artists so far, but there is actually one who’s appearing on pretty much all of them. Raye has been tipped for the top in 2017 by i-D, Apple Music, Vevo, MTV and Google Play, as well as the BBC’s Sound of panel. After years of positioning, buzz singles and support slots, it looks like Raye is finally ready to reach for her pop star moment.
To turn Raye from a tastemaker fave to a mainstream chart topper in time for 2017, her team has her featuring on two new tracks for the Christmas and New Year’s party season. Firstly she appeared on the new single By Your Side by serial hitmaker Jonas Blue, and now she’s paired with fellow Polydor signee Jax Jones on You Don’t Know Me, which I’m sure the label is hoping will be a breakthrough hit for them both. On both songs she is basically a voice for hire, and neither really represents the style and persona she’s been pushing with her own music, which is edgy and innovative electro-R&B. I was quite surprised to see her making this sacrifice, but as her solo songs haven’t yet connected with the music-buying (or streaming) public, it’s necessary in order to gain name recognition and an edge over the many other cool-pop acts who are hoping for crossover success.
Raye’s strength is her distinctive, original sound. I hope that she’ll be able to find a way to retain this, while appealing to fans of the dance tracks she’ll soon be best known for. The key to Jess Glynne’s success, after launching through features, was that she made music that would appeal to fans of those songs, merging them with her own sound to create something uniquely her. It’s a tough challenge, but I look forward to seeing how Raye tackles it.
Click here to find out more about This Must Be Pop’s Stars of 2017 and come back on 19th Dec to vote for the artists you think, and hope, will be the biggest pop breakthrough of 2017. The results will be announced in the Future Pop mailer on 2nd Jan.