Over the past two weeks I’ve featured 10 artists I believe could be the breakthrough pop stars of 2017. I don’t think pop acts get enough attention in the ones to watch lists from the BBC, Brits, MTV etc, especially considering that they have a tendency to become the biggest selling artists. To redress the balance, it’s time we pop fans had our say about who we think and hope will be the next big thing. There are no restrictions on what the artists in this poll have done before. If they’re a new act by any definition, they are eligible. The only rule is that they must be pop. Click here to read about the nominees and sample their music so far.
Cast your votes below, and look out for the results in the first Future Pop of the new year on 2nd January.
Kehlani’s music isn’t as poptastic as most of the artists I’ve chosen for this list, but she’s here because she has more star quality than most new artists, from any genre, could dream of. So many up-and-coming female singers are compared to Rihanna, but with Kehlani I think it’s justified. She has the same combination of edgy coolness and mainstream star potential. She can pull off any look, and each video and photoshoot shows a different side to her personality and style. And when she’s ready for her crossover moment, with the right writers and producers involved, it could be a game-changer.
Kehlani had a troubled, and troubling, 2016 as she publicly dealt with serious mental health issues, but she says herself that she refuses to be a victim. We should therefore refuse to treat her like one. She deserves the full opportunity to make a grab for superstardom. After releasing two mixtapes, and collaborating with artists including Zayn (she was the only featured artist on his album) and Justin Bieber, she’s now gearing up to finally release her debut album, SweetSexySavage, on 27th January. The promotional campaign is in full swing, with new tracks and videos popping up throughout the past few weeks, including the long-awaited video for sassy single Distraction.
She also just premiered a new video featuring effortlessly cool British rapper Little Simz, filmed during her recent London visit, and a sweet ballad which I hope is a sign of poppier sounds on the album. Sometimes we have to look in unexpected places for future pop stars, and Kehlani is definitely one to look out for.
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.
Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
Much like R. City, Californian singer Kehlani proves that UK-specific promo is no longer necessary to create a strong fanbase here. Without releasing an official single or album, the 20-year-old R&B artist has sold out two shows at London venue Heaven. The internet has globalised young people’s media consumption, providing a direct route for youth-oriented acts like Kehlani, and other recent examples such as Pia Mia and Halsey, to reach a UK audience. However, national radio, TV and print media are still necessary to turn a hit into a phenomenon. Without their support, these stars struggle to become more than the latest internet fad. Kehlani has worked hard to build her reputation in the music scene. She was first seen as part of a group called Poplyfe, who reached the finals of America’s Got Talent 2011. Thanks to some help from host Nick Cannon, she began working on solo material after the show. Her 2014 mixtape Cloud 19 was critically acclaimed, and led to a deal with Atlantic and a popular 2015 follow-up, You Should Be Here. She has been compared to Jhené Aiko and Tinashe, and since neither of them has quite crossed over to mainstream stardom (though Tinashe is close), the race is still open for Kehlani to surge ahead. Her sweet vocals, edgy look, fun personality and dance background all combine to make her a very interesting pop star prospect.