The pop culture forecast for 2022 is looking mighty fine, and we’re previewing everything we’re excited about this year with a series of lists. Just so you have it all in one place, we’ve also published our Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums, Most Anticipated Films, Most Anticipated TV Shows and Rising Artists to Watch roundups.
2021 brought so many new artists to the forefront of the music landscape — it’s hard to believe that Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” was only released this time last year — and, heading into 2022, our eyes are on the next up-and-coming acts worth watching.
TikTok has continued to prove that one video can change a career, while festival lineups are propelling some of the most exciting new acts to different levels of audiences. Below, we’ve rounded up 15 rising artists to keep an eye on this year. We expect you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the coming months.
The four members of aespa are only heading into their second year of activity since debuting in late 2020 with “Black Mamba,” yet they’ve already captured the eyes (and ears) of the global K-pop community. aespa’s whole vibe is a bit bonkers, and they’re committed to it; intertwined storylines, metaverse avatars, and villains are fun concepts to build around the music, but the songs hold up. The success of 2021 single “Savage” promises a big year ahead for aespa. — Mary Siroky
New York-based singer-songwriter-producer Amber Mark has been able to hop genres seemingly on a whim, whether she’s experimenting with the fabric of R&B on her 2017 debut EP 3:33AM or supplying the indie underground with a host of certified dance-pop gems and creative remixes. On her debut album, Three Dimensions Deep, out January 28th, she focuses her sonic wizardry into a three-act, 17-track epic followed by an extensive European and North American tour this spring. — Bryan Kress
Barrie’s 2019 debut, Happy to Be Here, was as polished as anything; early on, it appeared that Barrie had mastered the brand of indie and dream pop that you can’t help but bop along to in an Urban Outfitters. But upon listening to her first three singles from her upcoming LP, Barbara, it’s clear that Barrie is actively reinventing her sound to encompass larger, more nuanced ideas.
The euphoric love of “Quarry” and nostalgic glow of “Frankie” both suggest a supreme confidence from the NY-based artist, and her emphasis on synths points to a more experimental vibe. Many headline dates are sure to follow, in addition to a short run supporting fellow indie rockers Sunflower Bean in March. But in the meantime, Barbara is shaping up to be a true artist statement from Barrie, and it’s definitely one to look forward to. — Paolo Ragusa
If 2019’s Junk EP and 2020’s DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy EP introduced 21-year old Carlie Hanson as walking the line between pop and punk, her debut album, Tough Boy, out February 18th via Warner Records, plants her feet firmly on each side. Though she’s tossed out labels on her latest single (below), Hanson is embodying the best of both worlds: head tattoos, trap beats, and all. — B. Kress
Fresh off her excellent mixtape One Foot in Front of the Other and winning the “Rising Star” award at last year’s BRITs, Griff has proven that she can write. Her songs are honest, gripping, expertly sung and creatively produced. Her recent single “One Night” is a perfect example of just how well she can capture a moment and a feeling in a song, and each new track is better than the last.
In addition to some winter US dates, Griff is set to open for Dua Lipa on her European tour in 2022, and beyond the collab she unleashed with Sigrid on January 19th, she’s working on more new music. If we’re betting on future icons, Griff is the standout choice. — P.R.
Since her 2019 debut, Next to the Sun, Chicago singer-songwriter KAINA has since built a fruitful claim on the R&B landscape. She’s tapping directly into the genre’s lineage while pushing it forward on her second album, It Was A Home, out March 4th, which includes a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Come Back as a Flower,” as well as the singer’s most ambitious and intimately personal records yet. — B. Kress
Low-fi bedroom artist keshi can perhaps be described as what happens in the best case scenario of Soundcloud artists. As a singer, songwriter, and producer, keshi has refined his dreamy sound into something cohesive and a bit addicting, building an organic following without yet releasing a full-length studio album. This year, that will finally change: He’s expected to drop his first LP, gabriel, in the coming months. — M. Siroky
Swiss-born, London-based singer-songwriter Kings Elliot’s Chaos in My Court EP arrived at the tail-end of 2021 after a royal procession of hits led by her debut smash “I’m Getting Tired of Me.” The project’s sole unreleased track “The Outsider” has already heralded a promising year for Elliot as she recorded her first televised performance in January. — B. Kress
The Atlanta rapper formerly named Mulatto took a major step toward mainstream acceptance last year by changing her controversial stage name. Having proven her abilities as an MC with Queen of da South in 2020, Latto has hinted at the future direction of her music with attempts at crossover success like the pop-leaning “Big Energy,” which flips the 1981 disco hit “Genius of Love,” and the still-lyrical on “Soufside.” Look out for her second studio effort to balance both sides of the equation. — Eddie Fu
English singer PinkPantheress broke out in 2021 after successfully using TikTok as a testing ground for new music. After signing a record deal, she gave fans a taste of what to expect with to hell with it, a 19-minute mixtape sampling a pastiche of influences ranging from turn-of-the-century UK garage to Linkin Park. With the resources of a major label now at her disposal, the sky’s the limit for the promising young musician. — E.F.
On Massachusetts duo Tall Heights’ fourth album, Juniors, released on January 14th, Paul Wright and Tim Harrington are leveling up by relearning their fundamentals. The one-time Boston buskers repurpose their homespun melodies and distinguishing harmonies for a rich, spacious sound under the guidance of indie-folk hero-producer Mike Mogis that demands larger live settings. — B. Kress
There’s hard-working, and then there’s Tony Shhnow. The Los Angeles-born, Atlanta-raised rapper put out a staggering seven (!) projects in 2021, averaging a new tape every seven weeks. With an output like that, he barely has time to sleep, let alone promote his music. But his following is growing anyway, expanding line by line, bar by bar, and hook by sticky hook. There’s no telling what 2022 may bring, but if you’re holding your breath for the next Shhnow drop, you probably won’t be holding it long. — Wren Graves
Fresh on the heels of her 2021 debut album, Lady Jesus, UPSAHL’s 2022 is already on the upswing thanks to the alt-pop singer’s first-ever run of headlining dates. Next, UPSAHL will hit the road with both K. Flay and Yungblud on their respective tours, before linking up with Fletcher as tour support for the “Cherry” singer’s trek on the other side of the Atlantic. That is, in between numerous European festivals, playing her first NBA halftime show, and, as always, the possibility of new music. — Glenn Rowley