Artists To Watch in 2019
By Nicole Mastrogiannnis
December 19, 2018
Looking back on 2018, there were so many amazing rising stars that came out of the year. Everyone from pop stars like Dua Lipa, to rappers like Cardi B, to country singer/songwriters like Luke Combs, and so many others. It's been a great year of incredible music.
As the year come to a close and we look ahead to 2019, there is a whole new class of amazing artists to keep your ear out for. A few of them may already be on your radar, but this group of singers, rappers, and bands are set to make a lot of noise in the new year in more ways than one. Take a look and learn about them below.
You may have been introduced to Normani Kordei through Fifth Harmony, but the 22-year-old has become a rapidly rising star as she takes on her solo career. Kicking things off with her double platinum single "Love Lies" with Khalid, Kordei has also teamed up with Calvin Harris on not one, but TWO songs ("Checklist" and "Slow Down"), as well as a new song featuring 6LACK called "Waves." Currently, the singer is working on her debut solo album and in 2019 will be heading out on Ariana Grande's "sweetener" Tour.
Following the success of her hit 2017 single "Never Forget You," Zara Larsson released her album So Good and toured the world. Now, the Swedish singer/songwriter has returned with a brand new anthem called "Ruin My Life," and she's preparing to drop another full-length album. Larsson recently explained to Billboard of what fans can expect from her forthcoming LP, "It's funny, because so many writers and producers I work with are like, 'So you’re doing an R&B album?' I’m like, 'Who said that?!' That's just a rumor. But it is a bit more mature, maybe it's a little more vibe-y. My true essence is when I'm on stage, so I always think: Will this be a good song for my live show? Will this be good for choreography? I will say that I definitely have some fun, upbeat pop songs that are maybe leaning a bit toward EDM [on the new album]."
In 2015, Fletcher's debut single "War Paint" went viral. Since then, she's released an EP and several singles (like the empowering "I Believe You"), and has performed at some very notable festivals. Now, the singer/songwriter is poised for a big 2019. On Twitter, Fletcher has already dropped hints about what's to come for fans sharing, "promise you there's so much music coming in 2019, you're gonna be sick of me" and "may have just had the longest weekend of my life, but you're not ready for what's coming." Are you ready for Fletcher in 2019? Because she's ready for you.
Diverse mega group BROCKHAMPTON — formed several years ago in San Marcos, Texas — may define themselves as a boy band, but they are unlike any boy band you've ever seen. In fact, they are here to redefine what it means to be a boy band. The guys recently released their latest album iridescence, which follows their 2017 Saturation trilogy, and now, the guys are ready for an exciting new year ahead.
In the last year, Jatavia Johnson (JT) and Caresha Brownlee's (Yung Miami) lives have changed tremendously. The ladies, better known as City Girls, dropped their debut mixtape Period, followed by their newest body of work Girl Code, not to mention they were featured on a remix to one of the biggest songs of the year from Drake, "In My Feelings" (who, by the way, is a fan). Although JT recently began a prison sentence, it's only a minor setback as far as the girls are concerned as they prepare new music for 2019. Brownlee recently told Rolling Stone, "It's a minor setback for a major comeback because it's a movement. Everybody know JT now. When she come back, everyone will be paying attention. When she get out, she gon' be big. God brought us this far."
You may have "Noticed" Lil Mosey when his single "Noticed" became a hit, but the young rapper is ready to take on the new year in a big way. Already having dropped his debut mixtape, Northsbest, in October, Lil Mosey has also hit the road on tour with Juice WRLD and YBN Cordae, and he's showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Did we mention he's only 16 years old? The Seattle native explained to Billboard earlier this year, "I've known I wanted to do this my whole life."
Joyner Lucas is poised for a great 2019. Not only is he dropping his new album, ADHD, he is also up for two Grammys (his first nominations); Best Rap Song for his feature on Eminem's "Lucky You" and Best Music Video for "I'm Not Racist." ADHD will follow the Worcester, Massachusetts rapper's 2017 mixtape 508-507-2209 and is his first major label full-length studio album. On Twitter, Lucas said of the forthcoming LP, "This project is my big F*** YOU to any and everybody who never thought I wouldn't make it this far. BIG F*** YOU to anybody who stood in my way & s***ed on me on my way up. The kid with 'ADHD' did it."
Part of the YBN collective, YBN Cordae helped drop YBN: The Mixtape back in September, and is currently working on a solo project. The rapper first gained notoriety with his response to J. Cole's "1985" called "Old N*****" and then went viral with his remix of Eminem's "My Name Is." Now, Cordae is working with Dr. Dre on his solo project. He explained to Billboard, "I love working with him because it's like going through basketball drills. I felt myself getting better by the hour. [Dr. Dre's] working with me on this solo project. That's a mentor of mine. He had all his Grammy plaques and I've never seen one in person before which was motivational."
After an amazing 2018, country singer/songwriter Mitchell Tenpenny is ready for more. Tenpenny recently released his debut album, Telling All My Secrets, which includes his hit single "Drunk Me." He recently explained to iHeartRadio of his debut album, "Collecting so many songs and to finally put together 12 songs of what I want to say to the world is just an amazing experience. I know it's extremely unique and I'm very grateful for it, but this is just something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I'm ready for the world to hear it. I put a lot of heart and soul into this, and my producer and all our co-writers. This is something that we figure people could relate to, and that's what the goal of this record was."
Fans will be able to catch Tenpenny on tour through early February 2019, as well as select dates on Old Dominion's headlining arena tour.
Jimmie Allen gave it his "Best Shot" in 2018 with the rising country star has not only releasing his debut album, Mercury Lane, which features his chart-topping, record-breaking hit single "Best Shot." The country star is now taking his fast-growing stardom into 2019 as he joins Kane Brown on select dates of his headlining arena tour, as well as the remaining dates of Scotty McCreery's "Seasons Change" Tour.
There are so many amazing women in country music and Runaway June showcases three of them. The trio, comprised of Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne, recently released their self-titled debut EP, which includes their empowering lead single "Buy My Own Drinks." The group explained to iHeartRadio of the song, "We're so proud of it. We hope that it kind of empowers everybody to just have fun on their own. And, it's just a fun song about [how] you don't need anybody else. You don't need your friends, you don't need a partner, you can do it all on your own."
This year saw the release of Morgan Wallen's debut album, If You Know Me, which includes his hit song "Up Down" featuring country stars Florida Georgia Line and his newest single "Whiskey Glasses." And in 2019, Wallen is kicking off the new year with a 26-city headlining tour as he makes his way to fans across the country.
Newly signed to Columbia Nashville, Tenille Townes has already set the stage for a tremendous 2019. This year, she joined Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town as the opening act on their joint "The Bandwagon Tour," and released her Living Room Worktapes EP which features her single "Somebody's Daughter." Tenille is originally from Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada, and in 2011 (when she was just 17 years old), she was nominated for a Canadian Country Music Award for Female Artist of the Year.
In the years after his appearance on CMT reality show Redneck Island, country singer/songwriter Riley Green went on to kickstart his music career by releasing several EPs. This year, he was signed to Big Machine Records and dropped his four-track EP In A Truck Right Now which includes his breakout hit single "There Was A Girl." In 2019, Green will be performing at select dates on Justin Moore's tour.
Cody Johnson has been at the forefront of the Texas music scene for years as an independent artist, but now, the country star has finally signed with a major label, Warner Music Nashville. Johnson is set to release his brand new full-length album, Ain't Nothin' To It, at the top of 2019, which features hit lead single "On My Way To You." The country singer/songwriter recently told Billboard of what's to come in 2019, "I've never been more excited about a set of music. It's different from any other record I've ever recorded. Ironically enough, you would think that the record that had the most songs that I wrote on would be the one I'm excited the most about, but it's not. This is the most excited I've ever been about any music. I feel like it's gonna change some things for me. I think it's going to change some things for the music industry. It's always been a goal of mine, is to be able to make a mark, and to change the industry in a positive way. So, I guess we are about to find out, aren't we?"
A lot has happened for Billie Eilish over the last two years. After her debut single "Ocean Eyes" became a streaming success, she released two EPs, had two songs of hers featured on the 13 Reasons Why and 13 Reasons Why 2 soundtracks, has gone out on headlining tours, and most recently opened for Florence + the Machine on their "High As Hope" tour. Did we mention she's only 17?
If you saw Mumford & Sons on tour this year, then you definitely also saw Maggie Rogers, as the 24-year-old opened for the band. The new year will bring Rogers' first major label full-length studio album, Heard It in a Past Life, which was introduced to fans via previously released songs like "Alaska," "On and Off," "Fallingwater," "Give a Little," and "Light On." Fans can look out for the LP in January 2019.
Six years ago, Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall met online in the hopes of working on music together ... and they did! They also got married. The husband and wife duo, better known as Flora Cash, went on to release several EPs together as well as a full-length album, followed by their hit single "You're Somebody Else" (which they performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden). This year, Flora Cash signed with RCA Records and is working on more new music for fans for 2019. They recently told Billboard of their plans to release an EP, and then another full-length album sometime in the spring. They said, "We're always looking forward to the next step, but always remembering to enjoy what is happening right now."
Following the success of their single "Ghost," Badflower is taking the exciting momentum with them from 2018 right into the new year. The band, who performed earlier in the year at the Daytime Stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, also became the first rock band to sign to fashion designer John Varvatos' new imprint with the Big Machine Label Group. Badflower is set to release their debut full-length studio album OK, I'm Sick in February 2019 and will be heading out on the road with Nothing More on tour.
Photos: Katherine Tyler, Rachel Kaplan, Connor Scott, Getty Images