With music festival season fast approaching—SXSW kicks off next week!—it’s time to acquaint yourself with some of this year’s most promising acts. And luckily for you, we’ve put together the ultimate cheat sheet. From the coolest new girl group out of Madrid to a country singer-songwriter on the verge, these are the artists you need to know now. You can thank us later for your amazing new playlist!
Keep scrolling to acquaint yourself with 2016's fresh faces in music.
With her striking platinum-blond bob, clear voice, and catchy tunes, we’re anxiously awaiting the March 11 release of Norway native Aurora’s debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend. With a lengthy international tour kicking off later this month and a place on the most recent HBO’s Girls soundtrack (a hauntingly beautiful cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”), she’s one to start telling your friends about.
Watch Aurora's "Conqueror" below.
Grimes fans, listen up! We found your newest obsession: Brooklynite Lorely Rodriguez (aka Empress Of). The singer-songwriter of Spanish-Honduran descent embarked on a journey through central Mexico to record her first full-length album, Me, which features a bevy of synthpop hits, like “How Do You Do It” and “Standard,” that are guaranteed to freshen up your Spotify playlist.
Watch Empress Of's "How Do You Do It" below.
Of all the things the French do impeccably well, fashion and food included, music is certainly one of them. Case in point: Christine and the Queens. This singer-songwriter—with great style, might we add—has amassed a major following in Europe with hits like "Saint Claude" and "Christine," so we suspect it’s only a matter of time before she finally breaks into the U.S. Check out her namesake debut album to see for yourself.
Watch Christine and the Queens' "No Harm Is Done" below.
This 22-year-old beauty out of Stockholm was named “Sweden’s next great export” by Nylon magazine and has already won the admiration of Katy Perry and Chloë Grace Moretz for her infectious pop hits like “Tired of Talking” and “Nobody Cares”—that’s enough to make our ears perk up! Her debut EP, Treasure, is out now (note: It’s perfect for a warm-weather road trip), and she’s currently touring the U.S. Stay tuned for her full-length release this summer!
Listen to Léon's "Tired of Talking" below.
Maren Morris, country music’s newest ingénue, got her start as a songwriter for huge stars such as Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson, which lead to opening-act gigs, which lead to a Sony Music Nashville record deal. She was recently named one of Rolling Stone Country's "Artists You Need to Know" and entered Billboard Heatseeker’s chart at No. 1. Morris is about to receive loads of exposure as she sets out on tour with Keith Urban this month through the remainder of the year. Give her self-titled EP a listen for a taste, and watch for the upcoming release of her debut album.
Watch Maren Morris's "My Church" below.
We’re calling it: Kelela is this year’s FKA Twigs—striking looks, euphoric beats, and powerful lyrics in all. The L.A.-based singer-songwriter earned a cult following (and the praise of Solange Knowles) when she released her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, in 2013, but it’s her sophomore release, Hallucinogen, that has everyone buzzing. The emotional EP chronicles a relationship from start to finish. Keep an eye out for her debut LP, which is expected to drop sometime this year.
Watch Kelela's "Rewind" below.
Katy Morly is a rare triple threat in the music industry. Not only does she write and produce her songs, she now sings them, too. The Minnesota native’s upcoming EP (due out in April) is her first attempt at more lyrical music, but if her soulful and slightly haunting first single, “The Choir,” is any indication, we’re in for a real treat. Up next for the rising star? A showcase at this month’s SXSW festival.
Watch Morly's "The Choir" below.
If you’re a Santigold fan, you’ll love Tkay Maidza. The Zimbabwe-born Aussie rap-pop artist is currently hard at work on her debut album, which we’re anxiously awaiting. She’s been featured in Vogue Australia and has played a slew of festivals, with more to come this summer. Get a feel for her cool sound via her new EP, Switch Tape.
Watch Tkay Maidza's "Ghost" below.
Luca Khouri for W
Though Alessia Cara shot to stardom in late 2015 with the sleeper hit “Here,” the first single off her debut album, Know It All, we can assure you the 19-year-old is just getting started. In a matter of months, the Canadian singer-songwriter, known for her sultry R&B vocals, went from performing acoustic covers on YouTube to landing a record deal and a coveted spot on this year’s Coachella lineup.
Watch Alessia Cara's "Here" below.
It’s easy to see where this Brooklyn duo, made up of Jillian Hervey—the daughter of Vanessa Williams—and producer Lucas Goodman got their name. Hervey’s voluminous curly golden locks are every bit as attention grabbing as their neo-soul sound, not to mention they entered the music scene like a lion with their debut album, Begin, featuring collaborations with Pharrell Williams and Childish Gambino? Now that’s a strong outing. We’re currently loving tracks “Jump Hi” and “Impossible.”
Watch Lion Babe's "Jump" featuring Childish Gambino below.
Not since Haim’s debut in 2013 have we been this excited about a girl band. Formerly known as Deers, Hinds comes to us from Madrid and is made up of Carlotta Cosials, Ana Perrote, Ade Martin, and Amber Grimbergen. If you like the sounds of The Runaways, you’ll love the modern garage-pop tracks on their latest album, Leave Me Alone. Want to catch the quartet live? The group is hitting the road in the U.S. this month, with stops in New York, Austin (for SXSW), and Los Angeles.
Watch Hind's "San Diego" below.
Seventeen-year-old Grace Tandon, who goes by the moniker Daya (pronounced dey-uh), is a pop star in the making, as evidenced by her infectious breakout hit, “Hide Away.” The teen impressively writes her own music and plays multiple instruments, and 2016 is guaranteed to be a big year for Tandon, with a new forthcoming single from her self-titled debut EP, a recently launched tour, and her debut album set for release.
Watch Daya's "Hide Away" below.
You may have heard Rozes’ voice before on her hit track “Roses” (clever!), a collaboration with DJ duo The Chainsmokers. The track has held the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart for weeks, and it’s just the beginning for the electro-pop songstress. With the last month's release of her debut EP Burn Wild and a few tour dates this month with more to come, the star on the rise if definitely worth checking out.
Watch Rozes and The Chainsmokers' "Roses" below.
Ruth B is a new breed of pop star, getting her start as a social media sensation. After accruing a huge following on Vine (similar to pop sensation Shawn Mendes), which only escalated when she put her self-produced track “Lost Boy” on iTunes, the Canadian signed with Columbia Records and released her debut EP, The Intro, late last year. Take a listen to her soulful sound and you’ll see what all of the fuss is about.
Watch Ruth B's "Lost Boy" below.
If you’re heading to Coachella this year, look out for smoky-voiced Aussie singer Cloves. Given that the singer-songwriter, whose real name is Kaity Dunstan, sites Amy Winehouse as her biggest influence, rocks a distinctive androgynous style, and has a raw hauntingly emotional sound, she’s not an artist the world will soon forget. Give her debut EP, XIII, a listen if you want proof.
Watch Cloves's "Don't You Wait" below.
With the legendary (and selective) Capitol Records behind this U.K. powerhouse, Frances’ star is on the rise. Her year is off to a decidedly busy start, as she’s in the midst of a European tour, is on next month’s Coachella roster, and has a handful of festivals in Europe on the horizon. Check out her new EP, Grow, to hear her perfect tone for yourself.
Watch Frances's "Let It Out" below.
Los Angeles native August Eve is the new melancholy songstress you’ve been looking for. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose mature sound and lyrics belie her 18 years, Eve is drawing comparisons to Lana Del Rey since she entered the scene. Her eerily heartbreaking video for debut single “Ghost” is a must-watch. (She directed it herself!) Keep an eye out for the release of her forthcoming EP.
Watch August Eve's "Ghost" below.
Peter Pedonomou for Evening Standard
Already well known in the U.K., Jess Glynne’s star is rising in the U.S. as of late as well. The Atlantic Records artist already has a Grammy and a debut album, I Cry When I Laugh, under her belt and is set to make an appearance in the high profile Glastonbury Festival this summer. Take a listen and her powerful voice will instantly have you hooked.
Watch Jess Glynne's "Take Me Home" below.
De la Torre, who hails from Spain’s Canary Islands, has a cool-girl air about her, and critical acclaim to boot. While not a commercial success just yet, she has a newly released EP, Mess, that has garnered support from Spotify and music-centric publications i-D and Wonderland. She could be the rare Spanish pop star that the world has been waiting for.
Watch Sofi de la Torre's "Mess" below.
Which of these new artists are on your radar? Tell us in the comments below!