The Future Class Of 2017 is 14 acts that we believe are poised for greatness this year. Last year we tipped Sampa The Great, Kiiara, Dua Lipa and more to do big things and now here's our full 2017 list, made in collaboration with our mates Cool Accidents.
Illustrations by Bianca Bosso.
RAY BLK is already having a fantastic 2017. The British singer took out the BBC Sound Of 2017 prize beating out tough competition from the likes of Maggie Rogers, Anderson .Paak, RAYE and Jorja Smith. She may have seemed like an underdog in the competition based on the fact she’s got no backing from a major label but one listen to her excellent debut EP Durt and you’ll understand exactly why she’s poised for greatness.
Growing up on a diet of Missy Elliot, Lil Kim and Biggie, RAY BLK makes honest, unfiltered R&B music with a retro heart. She’s drawing plenty of comparisons to Lauryn Hill but that’s because she’s so autobiographical with her lyrics. On My Hood she sings vividly about finding a way out of the hood and on Baby Girlz she’s telling a tale of a girl that fell pregnant as a teen. The whole EP paints an effortless picture of where she’s from and where she’s going.
Mallrat is a teenage rapper/popstar inspired by everyone from Kanye West to Hannah Montana and while that may sound like a very large cross-section, it all makes sense when you hear her woozy, youthful tunes.
She knocked it out of the park with her debut EP Uninvited last year, mixing the mundane (“I fucking hate Westfield,” she sings on Inside Voices) with the reassuring (“Think it’s gonna be alright,” she assures on Tokyo Drift). She’s not trying to be anything other than herself and as it turns out the life of an 18 year-old from Brissy sounds really, really great over forward-thinking immediate production.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Dave is a bloke you met down at the local pub but he’s actually the next big MC to come out of the UK.
The 18 year-old who is still at college came to the attention of Drake who has launched the career of many a newbie. Drake jumped on his track Wanna Know, making worldwide headlines but it’s Dave’s original that really proves his talent.
With grime garnering more acclaim internationally than ever before it would be very easy to slap that label on Dave because he’s out of the UK but he’s presenting something completely different. He’s a classically trained pianist and weaves those classical undertones into his debut EP Six Paths.
If you’re watching the Australian iTunes charts at the moment you’ll notice an upcoming popstar creeping up the charts as a feature on Jax Jones’ You Don’t Know Me. That popstar is RAYE, a British singer who is working with all your faves.
Along with featuring on Jones’ single, she’s the vocalist on Jonas Blue’s By Your Side and also crafted an excellent EP last year with a banging roster.
She worked with Charli XCX and Noonie Bao and looks set to join them in the upper-echelons of pop.
When you’ve got the guts to sing your heart out on a debut like Jessie Reyez does on Figures then you’ve got the goods to go the distance. She’s surely got your favourite break-up song you haven’t heard inside of her.
Toronto singer Reyez is one of the rawest new discoveries around right now. A songwriter that gets straight to the point and sings it like her life depends on it. If you were captivated by Rihanna’s howling ANTI cut Higher then you’re likely to get the kind of emotion that Reyez is trying to translate.
Listening to Jack River‘s Highway Song No.2 you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s on her fourth album. Her debut EP is as wise and mature as they come, presenting us with an Aussie muso that’s the full package. Before the record was even out, she performed like a pro, coming out head and shoulders above many of the other artists at last year’s new artist showcase BIGSOUND.
Her voice is smokey and her tunes are aptly slinky, bringing a worldliness to her soundscape that sets her apart from the rest of the Alternative scene in Australia. There’s a certain sense of escapism in each of her songs whether it be the whimsical verses of Dream Girl or the wooziness of Talk Like That‘s synth line. It’s as if we’re always driving somewhere unknown with River in the passenger seat.
We could’ve called Jorja Smith a superstar a year ago. Last year she dropped her debut Blue Lights, one of the best debuts we’ve heard in a long while and one that easily cruised into our best songs of 2016. She immediately positioned herself as a vivid, socially conscious songwriter with the chops to line her up next to the greats like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.
A true, timeless artist is one that ignores trends and runs in their own lane. Smith’s releases following Blue Lights show that she’s got the goods to go the distance, choosing powerful, passionate soul music that sounds anything but forced. Her debut EP Project 11 was mature and finessed from the grooving break-up anthem Something In The Way to soaring ballad Carry Me Home.
There’s never really been a better time to be a young rapper. We’ve got more future superstars coming through right now than ever before with Chance The Rapper taking home three Grammys yesterday, Migos topping the singles and album charts in the US and Young Thug becoming the most buzz-worthy name in the world. The free music revolution on the internet was kind to rappers, making it easier to distribute music and now with Chance leading the way, they’re also deservedly cashing in on that music.
Joey Purp comes from Chance and Vic Mensa’s Save Money and he looks set to be the next rapper from the crew to pop. Purp has been releasing mixtapes since 2012, but he hit the jackpot last year with iiidrops and it’s biggest jam Girls @. Girls @ made headlines thanks to a Chance-feature but it was Purp’s groove-infused bars that made people stick around and saw it make it onto radio even here in Oz.
There’s a wave of popstars right now that are committed to making weird pop. It’s a move that’s set to push the genre forward and see it break boundaries again, something that stopped when the internet put up a clear division between Soundcloud-bound alt-pop and commercial, wide-reaching pop. At the centre of that movement is Charli XCX who is working with PC Music and SOPHIE to create mainstream music like you’ve never heard before but there’s also a wave of newbies who share her vision.
One of those is SIBA who has worked with Charli in the past. The Danish artist is fresh from releasing his second EP My Life With Jessie, My Friends And The Rest Of The World and 2017 is looking to be a big year from him. It’s an EP that combines bubbly, innovative production with melodies bound for the masses. Friends is a euphoric ode to his friends while I.D.C.B.U. is a distorted, beefy electronic no-fucks-given anthem. They’re all relatable jams but the production reaches to introduce audiences to something more, extend the capabilities of a pop song.
Fortunes. are a Melbourne based-duo making minimal, effortlessly groovy R&B. It’s not something that Australia usually excels at but thanks to rich harmonies and wobbly, malleable beats, Fortunes. are giving this country the injection of rhythm that we desperately need.
The pair met at school in New Zealand before linking up again at a house party in Melbourne and the music beams with that sort of organic chemistry. It’s nostalgic music that follows intuition, never forcing the direction or feeling.
Last year, they were signed to Future Classic becoming the label’s first signing in over a year. It’s a good home for them as they match that clean, refined aesthetic and it should also help their music reach far corners. Off the back of the signing, they dropped 501’s, a breezy jam that makes white t-shirts and denim jeans sound like the sexiest thing ever. With remixes by Dai Burger and Salute, the song just keeps getting better and while their previous Jacket EP was great, the melody of 501’s sticks.
Usually when music goes viral it's because there's a dance to it or a music videos that makes the visual far more important than the song itself. Maggie Rogers' Alaska is a viral song but there's no wacky dance or even a challenge attached to it. For perhaps the first time ever, the song went viral because it's really, bloody good. Megastar producer Pharrell dropped into Rogers' university NYU and during a masterclass she played the song. Pharrell was pretty moved by it and the video went viral, as people around the world fell in love with it too.
Rogers was making straight-out folk music before she went to Europe and fell in love with dance music. It's that fusing of styles that has made her music so alluring with Alaska one of the most melodically rich songs of last year.
MUNA are making exactly the kind of pop music we need in 2017. Inclusive, powerful and escapist. It's for all those that feel like their leaders don't represent their communities and also for those who don't feel like they have a community.
The '80s-tinged trio made up Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson, three queer women from LA, just released their debut album About U. It's in the same lane as HAIM but it carries a real power to it that's like to catch a lot of people's attention.
Lead-single I Know A Place encapsulates everything that makes this band so great. It's a heartening, safe space anthem for anybody who feels unsafe being who they are. It feels like a big warm hug and reminds everyone to look after each other.
Off Bloom are about to be the trio that everybody wants to be in. Apart from it looking like a heap of fun, this Danish group is working with some of the best collaborators around from AlunaGeorge to superstar producer Two Inch Punch.
The result is some of the most exciting pop music around right now. It’s sexy, attitude-heavy and energetic without sounding like it’s been done before. Love To Hate It is a lofty, dizzying jam and recent single Falcon Eye makes the drop sound exciting again.
It’s like they’ve taken the pop music formula and altered it to suit themselves. There’s a familiarity to it but it also explores new territories that would make your ears prick up if you heard it on the radio. They’re set to be the coolest band around very soon.
Turquoise Prince is about to be one of the most exciting artists not only in Australian hip-hop but also in electronica. He’s making music that goes the extra mile thanks to expert, experimental production that compliments his rhythmic, autobiographical bars.
The Canberra rapper is already racking up hundreds of thousands of plays on his latest single Worlds Apart, a Bollywood-flavoured cut that bounds along with a pounding beat and glitchy vocal samples. That track is proof of how good he is at blending together genres, already playing into the melodic sides of pop music.
Last year, he also collaborated with young producers Enschway and Kuren, showing that he’s versatile when put to the test. Expect to hear all kinds of sounds from the Prince this year.