Up-and-coming artists were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.
New acts had only a few months to tour – an important step in building an audience. However, a raft of new talent has still managed to emerge.
Here are the artists to keep on your radar in the coming months.
– Lola Young
The 20-year-old singer-songwriter, from south London, was chosen to soundtrack this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert and delivered an emotive cover of Together In Electric Dreams, originally released by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder in 1984.
Young started writing songs aged 11 and by 13 had competed in and won a national open mic competition, and cites Joni Mitchell and Prince as early influences.
She enrolled at the arts-focused Brit School in Croydon, south London, which counts Adele, Amy Winehouse, Raye and Loyle Carner among its alumni.
After gigging around London, she secured a record deal with Island Records, owned by Universal Music Group and the home to Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj.
She has been in the studio writing with superproducer Paul Epworth, who has worked with artists include Adele, Florence + the Machine and Rihanna.
Young was also shortlisted for the 2022 Brits rising star award.
The Brighton rapper, real name Riley Davies, enjoyed his first taste of success in April when he featured on a remix of Russ Millions and Tion Wayne’s drill hit Body.
The song topped the charts after going viral on TikTok but it was his verse that garnered the most attention.
He wrote his Cheeky Bars freestyle, which has gone on to have some six million YouTube views, while working in an Amazon warehouse, before signing to Island Records.
ArrDee, who turned 19 in September, has won praise for his dextrous vocal delivery and ear for a catchy hook.
He told The Face magazine earlier this year: “In the UK we love an underdog.
“So everybody loved me when I was up-and-coming and now that I’ve blown, some (people) are like, ‘Ah he’s a meme rapper’.”
ArrDee made his festival debut at Bassfest in Sheffield in August.
– Maisie Peters
This was a breakout year for the 21-year-old singer-songwriter from West Sussex, but 2022 may be the year her career goes stratospheric.
Peters is one of only a handful of acts signed to Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records.
Her debut album, You Signed Up for This, went to number two in September, robbed of the top spot by the juggernaut release of Kanye West’s long-awaited Donda.
A deftly crafted collection of quirky, melodramatic pop, it was widely praised by critics and bolstered an already fanatic fanbase.
Next year, she could be in the running to claim her first number one.
– Finn Askew
Somerset-based Finn Askew could be the UK’s answer to American hip hop stars such as Juice Wrld and Lil Peep.
Although he is inspired by the new wave of rappers across the Atlantic, the 20-year-old also cites bands including Nirvana and The Smiths as major influences.
The result is music that takes in both rap and sung vocals, combining the production values of lush R&B with reflective, Gen Z lyrics.
Askew started out playing guitar in the back rooms of pubs but has quickly become a regular on the festival circuit, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Post Malone.
“I want people to hear a song, and they’ll know it’s Finn Askew – it’s the Finn Askew style,” he told NME.
“I don’t want to be in a certain genre, so people can say, ‘Oh, it’s rock, it’s indie.’ Finn Askew – that is the genre I want to be.”
– Bree Runway
Bree Runway – real name Brenda Mensah – kicked off 2021 by being shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2021 and ended it with a nomination for the Brits rising star award.
Recent years have also seen the 29-year-old from Hackney, east London, collaborate with international superstars including Missy Elliott and Cardi B – but she has yet to release an album.
As a child, Mensah excelled at music and impressed Michelle Obama with a song when she visited her school.
She told The Face: “She gave me a high five and was like, ‘You are fabulous, girl’.”
Of Ghanaian descent, Mensah has spoken about how her experience of bullying and colourism at school influenced her music, which takes in rap, soul, punk and pop.