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One to watch: Baby Queen

At 18, South African singer-songwriter Arabella Latham moved to London from Durban to become a pop/rock star. She couldn’t instantly emulate her heroines Taylor Swift and Courtney Love: for years, Latham didn’t release anything, ambition waylaid by drugs, time-sucking social media and heartbreak. But by 2020, as Baby Queen, she’d found how to pour her angst into song, which snaffled her a dedicated fanbase – her Baby Kingdom – and a record deal.

Latham, now 26, is gifted with words. Baby Queen articulates adulting pains with piercing immediacy over bright, shiny pop. Even as her songs spill dark tea at rap velocity, it seems as if each thought is a revelation to her. Writing this good, though, is the product of vision and endless revision. The feel of unmediated honesty is what cleaves the Queen to her Kingdom, and has propelled her into support slots such as Olivia Rodrigo’s 2022 Sour tour.

Latham’s debut album begins mid-crisisher favourite place – with the couplet “I was crying at a party/ which is not unusual of me” and careens through 12 songs in this vein. Netflix has fallen for her hard, making her queer-tinged tracks central to teen romcom Heartstopper, an ideal stage for her agreeable solipsism. “What if all my best years are behind me?” she quails on title track Quarter Life Crisis. It seems increasingly unlikely.