Ones to Watch: The music acts to keep on your radar in 2023

The past 12 months have seen the return of live music after the pandemic, bringing a new wave of young acts to stages across the UK.

But 2022 was also a year in which artists who found a devoted fanbase on social media sites such as TikTok branched out and began dominating the charts.

The coming year will undoubtedly bring a new wave of talent. Here are the acts to keep on your radar in the coming months.

1. Flo

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After being named winners of the 2023 Brit Awards Rising Star prize, previously given to Adele, Florence + the Machine and Sam Smith, this London-formed R&B group are a shoo-in for success.

The three-piece vocal outfit formed when childhood friends Renee Downer and Stella Quaresma met Jorja Douglas at an audition.

They have said in interviews how their connection was almost instant.

Their debut single, Cardboard Box, produced by Little Mix and Dua Lipa-collaborator MNEK, was released in March.

The breakout anthem won praise for its sassy style and lyrics about empowerment, with scene-makers Missy Elliot and JoJo expressing support.

Flo have captured the zeitgeist with their retro-leaning R&B, which pays tribute to the Nineties and Noughties heyday of girl groups, and catchy choruses that seem tailor-made to go viral online.

– Listen: The soaring Losing You, for a taste of things to come

2. Fred again…

Fred Again (Atlantic Records/PA)
Fred Again (Atlantic Records/PA)

In-demand music producer Fred Gibson, 29, has worked with Ed Sheeran and Stormzy and played international festivals such as Primavera in Barcelona.

But 2023 may be the year he breaks through as a solo artist.

The house and techno DJ, known for being a sensitive soul who intersperses his banging sets with moments of emotional piano and vulnerable audience chat, is on the edge of mainstream success.

Trained in classical music and mentored by ambient pioneer Brian Eno from the age of 16, his range extends from Afrobeats to bashment, pop and drill.

He has also built a devoted social media following through constant fan interactions and giveaways, even crowdsourcing decisions on how to edit specific tracks on Instagram.

“The whole thing of, ‘what type of music do you like?’ is such a dated concept and I’m so thrilled that’s the case,” he recently told The Guardian.

– Listen to: Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing), a lockdown anthem that went viral

3. Debbie

Debbie (0207 Def Jam/PA)
Debbie (0207 Def Jam/PA)

The young south-east London soul singer looks destined for greatness.

Signed to the forward thinking label 0207 Def Jam with a recent writing credit on Stormzy’s latest record, a debut album could soon be on its way.

This year, she opened for acts including John Legend and Lucky Daye with more high-profile slots on the way.

“What I want to stand for is truth music and making music that comes from the soul,” she recently told Rolling Stone UK.

Debbie cites Lauryn Hill as one of her biggest inspirations and, while their sounds may differ, it is clear they share the same urge to create music without compromise.

– Listen to: Cherry Wine, for its sultry atmosphere and powerful yet understated vocals.

4. Cat Burns

Cat Burns (Adama Jalloh/PA)
Cat Burns (Adama Jalloh/PA)

The south London native, 21, may have lost out on the Brit Awards Rising Star prize to Flo, but 2022 was still a promising year for the young gospel-tinged pop vocalist.

The former student at the Brit School – the performing arts establishment with alumni including Adele and Amy Winehouse – started busking on London’s South Bank.

“I don’t know if I’m ever going to make it. I’m just singing covers on the street,” she has recalled thinking at the time, but in lockdown she broke through on TikTok with covers and original music.

Her song Go was released in July 2020 and initially failed to trouble the charts.

It was not until this year that it rose to number two, winning her new fans who will be ready when more music arrives in the new year.

With 1.4 million followers on TikTok and 5.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Burns is already on her way to stardom.

– Listen to: Go (featuring Sam Smith) for an alternative version of her hit track

5. The Beths

The Beths (Frances Carter/PA)
The Beths (Frances Carter/PA)

2022 was not only about TikTok-focused pop.

The year saw a number of guitar bands make it big and New Zealand indie outfit The Beths are poised to follow in their footsteps in the coming months.

Fronted by vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth Stokes, their debut album Future Me Hates Me was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and their subsequent records have been praised by indie scene-leader Phoebe Bridgers.

Combining upbeat melodies with cerebral, sometimes even “super depressing” lyrics, The Beths chime with many current trends in UK pop.

After spending 2020 and most of 2021 at home in Auckland – where they recorded a live album and concert film at the city’s town hall, made possible by the nation’s tight borders amid the pandemic – The Beths were ready to be unleashed on tour.

Their third album, Expert In A Dying Field, was released in September and upcoming UK live dates could be the catalyst for a commercial breakthrough.

– Listen to: Expert In A Dying Field, the title track from their latest and most accomplished album