Everybody loves a juicy bite of pop music. The ultimate pick-me-upper, your musical companion, and something you can always rely on when the world quite literally feels like it’s imploding in on you.
The boundaries surrounding pop itself have been pushed and replicated in recent years. While some have drawn inspiration from past eras and added their unique contemporary touch, a new wave of fresh talent incorporates a plethora of elements, whether it be electronic or rock, still keeping that deliciously sweet pop melody at its very core. Pop is the most exciting it has ever been, and here are the most exciting acts right now.
Ama is the London-based alternative singer who mixes eccentric production with pop hooks to create a sound so breezy it’ll give you frostbite. Signed to independent record label Dirty Hit (The 1975, Pale Waves), her eclectic sonics matched with her clean-cut visuals marks her as one to watch for 2021. Exploring themes of love and relationships from a Gen Z perspective, the two EP’s AMA already holds under her belt are an exceptional testament to her talent. Spanning combustive choruses, a pristine songwriting style, and explosive production credits from the likes of Jim-E Stack (HAIM, Caroline Polachek, Charli XCX), her latest single ‘Facts’ is no exception.
Ashwarya is a 21-year-old Indian-born Melbourne-based singer whose debut single has already garnered worldwide acclaim. With a clear goal of challenging the current pop landscape, she uses genre-hopping electronics with a blend of rap and Indian music to shift the pop-gear into a new direction. Her apt at offering forward-thinking pop gems is evident from just the three tracks in her catalogue, each of which plunges between different paces and sonics while seemingly remaining effortlessly cohesive. Her latest track ‘COMIN@ME’ merges bhangra-influenced drumming and dark pop vocals with a repetitive production style to emulate the journey and toxicity of going back to an individual who repeatedly hurts you. With ASHWARYA, it goes beyond music. All with a nod to her heritage, she uses music as a tool for visualisation and representation of relatable life-experiences through sound.
Australian pop-powerhouse Kota Banks uses crisp production and her infectious vocal ability to deliver an array of belters that are enough to make her a worldwide superstar. Self-empowerment (I’m It, Opus), varying musical styles (Let U Leave, Never Sleep) and tongue-in-cheek lyricism (Nice Girls Finish Last, Prize) are at the centre of Kota Banks’ catalogue and puts her at the forefront of the new pop revolution. She recently collaborated with Ninajirachi, a female producer who creates a sound that can only be described as what is played in some form of sparkling, naturist universe millions of miles away from earth. The ‘True North’ EP transports listeners to an opulent, freeing pop landscape on its seven jaw-dropping tracks.
Does she really need an introduction? Rina Sawayama radiates infinite confidence, self-expression, and stardom through her blend of pop, R&B, nu-metal, and early-2000s teen pop that marks her as one of the most groundbreaking artists around. Her debut album ‘SAWAYAMA’ released last year was a testament to her identity and roots, oozing with authenticity and chaos in the most articulate way possible. The album’s focal point ‘Who’s Gonna Save U Now?’ is a stadium-ready anthem that transports you to the legendary Sunday slot at Glastonbury with a key change that’ll blow your head off. As debut’s go, it’s a perfectly crafted introduction (or development on her previous ‘RINA’ EP) into the world of Rina Sawayama and the potential she exceeds as a pop artist.
There was something noticeably intriguing stumbling across ‘What Do I Tell My Friends?’ in 2017. “Who is this girl?” I remember thinking, amazed by not only her vocal ability but contemporary beat production and lyrical storytelling. Her rightful rise to stardom in the past year can be attributed to her diligent work ethic, tunnel vision for success, and being an industry versatile. Having already released a star-studded mixtape compromising of banger after banger, her collaboration with rap royalty Missy Elliott, in particular, proves that her flow and artistry are catching the eyes and ears of everyone. It’s Bree Runway’s show, and we’re all walking in it.
With four BRIT-nominations, a Mercury Prize nomination, and three top-ten albums under her belt; Jessie is no stranger to the pop game. Now eight years into her career, she’s still proving to be one of the most polished pop acts around. After the release of ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’, there was no doubt that Jessie released one of, if not the best, albums last year. Shimmering with ’80s sparkle, nostalgic in its lyrical content and translating sound into visuals; it was one of the few disco-inspired albums that actually succeeded in committing to its sonic theme. From start to end, its refinement in production and exploration of sounds that enveloped the ‘80s era were met with pristine thought, allowing Jessie to successfully translate and reproduce the atmosphere of an entire era into the modern-day music-sphere. Whether it be the tongue-in-cheek ‘Read My Lips’, the reminiscent ‘Remember Where You Are’ or the infusion of Berlin-techno and post-disco synths on ‘Save A Kiss’; each track tells a story of its own and collectively moves the listener through a journey of love, lust, and longing.
An album that began to roll out during the first national lockdown, it presented itself as a saving grace for club nostalgia and an invite into a world of animation which couldn’t have been further from reality. Set to release a deluxe edition imminently, it’s pretty safe to say Jessie Ware will be saving 2021 just like its predecessor.