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Despite featuring on fun.’s hit ‘We Are Young’ back in 2010, Janelle Monáe has never fully ‘made it’ in the UK. Since then, she has branched out in many directions, releasing a series of concept albums and even starring in Oscar winning movie ‘Moonlight’. Her latest album ‘Dirty Computer’ received widespread critical acclaim: the album was nominated for countless honours including Grammy’s Best Album and the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Music Artist.
2019, however, could be Janelle’s time to come back into the UK fold, as she performs at Coachella and Glastonbury this summer! That a pansexual artist may reach such heights, even in Trump’s America, is evidence that things are shifting nowadays to respect quality and achievement, regardless of orientation – and isn’t that the world we all want to live in?
Check out: ‘Screwed’, ‘PYNK’ (feat. Grimes), ‘Make Me Feel’
For fans of: Solange, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande
Brockhampton had a massive 2018 – becoming one of the biggest groups in the world. Part of their charm has been that they insist upon operating under the guise of a boyband, where so many other rap groups refer to themselves in other ways, because they want to reclaim the term.
It is clear then that Brockhampton stand for something bigger than their music, this is reinforced by the fact that frontman Kevin Abstract is one of the only out, gay rappers in an industry which has often centred around misogyny and homophobia.
This does not define the group, however, they are boundary pushers in every sense: they have an edgy lyrical style and flow that always seems to scratch and claw at the modern beat beneath it. Brockhampton are a well-oiled machine of slick, gritty, urban music.
Check out: ‘1997 Diana’, ‘1999 Wildfire’, ‘J’Ouvert’
For fans of: Kanye West, Drake, Kendrick Lamar
After supporting Troye Sivan on the North American leg of his Bloom Tour and being featured on Charli XCX’s critically acclaimed mixtape ‘POP2’, Kim Petras has an exciting career ahead of her.
After transitioning at the age of 16, Kim later moved from her native Cologne, Germany to Los Angeles and began working towards her dream of becoming a popstar. Her music has an 80s aesthetic, it’s very synth-heavy and features some killer choruses. Her persona is bratty but stylish, inspired by the likes of Madonna and Britney Spears.
She’s truly a star for a new age of pop and a role model for trans people, with her very existence proving that it’s okay to be confused about your gender identity.
Check out: ‘Heart to Break’, ‘Hillside Boys’, ‘I Don’t Want It At All’
For fans of: Carly Rae Jepsen, Troye Sivan, Madonna
SOPHIE is a visionary electronic music producer who has completely changed the alternative pop landscape in recent years. Hailing from Glasgow, SOPHIE’s music first garnered attention through SoundCloud and later via the labels Numbers and PC Music, with early singles such as ‘Bipp’ sounding completely new.
Her music sounds industrial, inspired by basement raves, but it’s also somewhat dystopian, with her lyrics reflecting the banality of consumer culture and the artifice of celebrities. The release of her mixtape ‘Product’ made her one of the most in-demand producers in the music industry and since then she has gone on to work with Rihanna and Charli XCX, producing some tracks on Charli’s ‘Vroom Vroom’ EP and ‘Number 1 Angel’ mixtape.
Last year, she released her acclaimed debut album ‘Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides’ and there are rumours of another two albums on the way in 2019. She was recently featured on a collaboration with fellow trans trailblazer Kim Petras: ‘1, 2, 3 Dayz Up‘.
Check out: ‘Immaterial’, ‘Faceshopping’, ‘Lemonade’
For fans of: Aphex Twin, Flume, Hudson Mohawke, Kero Kero Bonito
Perfume Genius is the moniker of Mike Hadreas, an alternative pop artist based in Seattle. Despite releasing his debut album ‘Learning’ in 2010, it wasn’t until 2014’s ‘Too Bright’ that Hadreas began to reach a wider audience – a record that was produced by Portishead’s Adrian Utley. You may have also heard his voice on ‘Jonathan’ from Christine and the Queens’ debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’. Tracks such as ‘Queen’ are unapologetically queer and he is a truly captivating live performer: his energy is vulnerable yet strong, freaky yet sexy.
His voice is very unique and he’s unafraid to tackle difficult topics such as anxiety, alcoholism and drug abuse in his music, whilst also referring to his lovers with the correct pronouns, which is an extremely important step to take in order to promote the normalisation of homosexual relationships in the media. His most recent album ‘No Shape’ was his boldest yet, with the lead single ‘Slip Away’ becoming a new queer anthem for anyone who has ever felt like a misfit.
Check out: ‘Slip Away’, ‘Queen’, ‘Just Like Love’, ‘Grid’
For fans of: David Bowie, PJ Harvey, John Grant, St Vincent
King Princess (a.k.a Mikaela Strauss) is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Brooklyn who was just named as the runner-up in the BBC Sound of 2019 poll. She recently signed to Mark Ronson’s new record label, Zelig, and instantly captured the attention of a huge audience following the release of her debut EP ‘Make My Bed’.
The EP is full of alternative pop hits and classic songwriting, with tracks such as ‘1950’ comparing the queer experience of being ghosted and ignored in public to the way in which being gay was less socially expectable, and therefore more hidden, in the 1950s. She exudes immense confidence and artistic integrity, especially considering she is only at the beginning of her career, and her androgynous style and beautiful vocals are sure to earn her an army of fans. 2019 will see the release of her debut album and it will most likely be on many publications’ End of Year lists.
Check out: ‘Pussy Is God’, ‘1950’, ‘Talia’
For fans of: Maggie Rogers, Troye Sivan, dodie
Cub Sport are very much on trend in the indie-pop world at the moment: effervescent vocals draped around a minimalist chill-step track. Their music provides an easy and relaxing listen.
This doesn’t mean that their music is not meaningful or not complex, the band try and push love, acceptance and empowerment as much as they can through their music and their general demeanour. It seems to be working, the Australian outfit are now a massive, global group – reaching over 1 million monthly listens on Spotify and they’ve grown better, bolder and slicker through each of their three independently produced studio albums to date, ‘This Is Our Vice’, ‘Bats’ and most recently ‘Cub Sport’.
Catch them performing at Kendal Library on 22nd Feb, tickets available at getitloudinlibraries.com/gigs
Check out: ‘Party Pill’, ‘Hawaiian Party’, ‘Sometimes’
For fans of: LANY, Troye Sivan, Lauv