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.
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.
Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
Rachel Keen, aka Raye, is a cool pop artist making cool pop music. Some of her tracks are even quite enjoyable to us uncool pop fans. I’m not convinced she’s the future pop star that the music industry seems to be anticipating (let’s chat again when she has at least one Twitter fan account and a song they might play on Capital), but I am intrigued to see what her campaign is building up to. Is there a chart-friendly tune at the end of all this careful positioning, or in other words, does she have a King? The 18-year-old Londoner studied at the BRIT School, and first made an impact in 2014 with the Hype Machine hit Hotbox. Rather than jumping into a record deal, she kept releasing new songs on Soundcloud, and fortunately the hype didn’t die down – she signed a deal with Polydor a few months later. Her music is electro-R&B, with 90s references, yet still somehow futuristic. Recent single I, U, Us was co-written with talented Swede Noonie Bao and Charli XCX, who also directed the video. It’s featured on her EP, Second (yes, it’s her second EP), along with another track that’s worth a listen, Shhh.