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The up-and-coming artists to watch

Here’s a comprehensive list of rising artists music lovers need to watch out for in the new year

<p>Usher in the new year with some new and exciting artists.&nbsp;</p>

Usher in the new year with some new and exciting artists. 

It seems artists and fans alike have desperately clung to music as a creative escape from the horrendous turnout of what was supposed to be another promising year. Whether they were broadcasting from their bedrooms or releasing surprise albums, some of our favorite artists still managed to elevate our otherwise ever changing moods — Taylor Swift, for example, has released two albums over the past several months. Even though it is easy to stick with the artists we do know during these “challenging times,” those we don’t know are still on the fast track to receiving widespread critical acclaim. Here’s a rundown of some of those soon-to-be household names that dug their heels in this year and dropped shockingly loveable tracks.

Serena Isioma

Lush, reverberating, synth-filled instrumentation meets sharp-tongued lyrics in Serena Isioma’s 2020 release “The Leo Sun Sets.” After highly frequented Spotify playlists, like “Pollen,” began to showcase their track titled “Sensitive,” Isioma’s rise to recognition became imminent. A single that preceded the album — “Stop Calling The Police On Me” — seems to hold a deeper meaning of personal anguish and speaks out against a general lack of understanding for others. Isioma brings a fresh sense of warranted exasperation and bold self love to their lyrics, becoming a magnetic force of expression for all listeners to commiserate alongside.

Sofía Valdés

With only three official releases to her name, Sofïa Valdés has an alluring, 70s throwback vibe that sounds like an artistic trend just waiting to happen. Her two original ballads, as well as her compelling cover of “The Sweet Escape,” are achingly beautiful, exuding the contrasting feelings of innocence and the maturity of longing. Her sound seems to be expertly captured in “Little Did I Know,” which is accompanied by a simple and artistically distorted music video. Her airy vocals and entrancing vibrato are easy aspects of her vocals to get swept away in. It would be a surprise if 2021 didn’t bring at least a handful of new tracks for Sofïa Valdés fans and newcomers alike to swoon over.


“Eldorado” is the true definition of a breakout EP — enticing, well produced and leaving you wanting so much more. Khamari’s laid-back vocals welcome you like the embrace of an album you already know, while the production and protruding bass signal something fresh and exciting. His clear passion for songwriting shines with the delivery of each seemingly effortless line. “Eldorado” is undoubtedly the first official step in Khamari’s solidification as an R&B artist to keep on repeat.

Ant Clemons

“4 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS!” is an Instagram caption well deserved for up-and-coming artist Ant Clemons. This year, many noted the receding merit of Grammy nominations due to their snubbing of several extremely talented fan favorites. However, in the case of Ant Clemons, these nominations being well-deserved would be an understatement. Clemons has been releasing critically acclaimed solo music since 2019, and he continued his rise to fame with renewed fervor in 2020 with the drop of “HAPPY 2 BE HERE.” Both the title of the album and its first track, “Mama I Made It,” showcase the positivity of newfound success. Even though Clemons remains humble in the face of musical recognition, his album contains a swath of songs dripping in confidence and finesse.

Coco & Clair Clair

As this irresistibly fun duo would say, “Coco & Clair Clair stans, come get y’all juice.” This is the intro to their bubbly track “Smash Hit,” and it’s one of the many catchy singles they released this year. After dropping three singles and an EP in 2020, this pair of musicians show no signs of slowing down as they continue to advance their self-proclaimed genre of “demon glam rock.” Before the widespread shutdown of music venues across the globe, Coco & Clair Clair bestowed their unique flow upon numerous cities and even joined bedroom pop icon Clairo to perform Deaton Chris Anthony’s hit “RACECAR.” As their infectious pop journey continues, there’s no telling just how many artists will glean inspiration from their glam-infused version of hip hop.