Their music is edgy and powerful. They are adored globally. These youth icons boldly speak their minds through music. Meet the best pop singers of 2020 and beyond.
Granted we’re battling a pandemic. Granted we’re moody, tensed and anxious in myriad ways. But we also seek ways to unwind, stay hopeful, channelise our worries into something that’s useful. And we listen to music. Yes, Covid-19 has hit the music industry like never before. But musicians across the globe try their best to keep us animated, angry for good and hopeful. And we’re loving it because we all know music is the best way to raise your spirits. Number13 has hence decided to compile a list of 13 young pop artists you should check out who made 2020 a bearable year amid the pandemic. Tune in.
Disclaimer: This is not a ranking of the best singers. And the list isn’t actually meant for ardent fans.
The most obvious choice. 2020 is definitely the year of BTS. With two songs Dynamite and Life Goes On ruling the music charts for weeks and ultimately getting Grammy nominations, the K-Pop sensation whose real name is Bangtan Sonyeondan is grabbing the attention of music aficionados across the globe. It all started with their debut 2013 single ‘No More Dream’. With this song, the band criticised social pressures, opened up about their own challenges with mental health and spoke publicly about their support for LGBTQ+. This year, BTS became a symbol of youth activism, worldwide after donating $1 million to the Black Lives Matter movement. Relatability, visual aesthetics and a powerful fandom called ARMY, made them one of the top artists of this generation. Recently, they became the only music group to hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 with five consecutive albums after The Beatles.
This former 1Direction member has emerged the most successful and critically adored singer of this year. This Brit-pop star’s latest album ‘Fine Line’ has earned him his first Grammy nomination. The songs ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and ‘Adore You’, which are blissful and melancholic, show how he is paving his own path in music. This 26-year-old pop-star recently made history as Vogue’s first ever-solo male cover star, donning a Gucci, breaking the usual references for masculinity.
Billie Eilish is not your typical 18-year-old pop star. Her music is brooding, unapologetically satirical and touches upon common problems and anxieties of her generation. Her song like ‘Bad guy’, ‘Wish you were gay’ defy musical form and narrative perspective. Above all, the most striking feature is her voice that challenges certain assumptions of what a female pop star can sound like.
Eilish is now a household name with her homemade songs streaming more than a billion times on digital platforms. The story goes like this. In 2016, 14-year old Eilish uploaded her first song ‘Ocean Eyes’ to SoundCloud one night, intended for her dance teacher to listen to it. The next day, to her shock, the song went viral. Now she is a generational icon, who also swept five Grammy Awards in 2020.
If you are not aware of singer/ songwriter Alec Benjamin, then listen to one of his most heartfelt songs ‘Let Me Down Slowly’. The song will definitely hook you to this 26-year old singer. With his passionate lyrics and soulful vocals, Benjamin appears to follow the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson and Michael Buble.
If you miss the Spice Girls and think that there is a lack of a super girl-pop group, check out the K-pop band Blackpink. They have it all-great songs, energy, visuals, powerful vocals and attractive dance numbers.
Halsey is currently one of pop music’s rising stars and most insightful lyricists. Her songs ‘Is There Somewhere‘, ‘Ghosts‘ and ‘Nightmare‘ clearly show Halsey is not afraid to break the rules of pop music. Her songs are a celebration of womanhood, growth, overcoming trauma and hope.
Who didn’t have ‘Baby’ stuck in their head even in 2020? This 26-year old Canadian-singer/songwriter is one of the established and influential young pop artists in the contemporary music scene. This Grammy-award winner’s music and songwriting have evolved well over the years since after the record-breaking song ‘Baby’. From his ‘Believe’ to the iconic ‘Purpose’, Justin Bieber has evolved a lot. The accurate testimony of Bieber’s evolution is seen in his latest album ‘Changes’. The maddening songs like ‘Yummy’ and ‘Intentions’ have kept the listeners hooked.
Yes, we know they are primarily a rock band; yet, Imagine Dragons broke the sonic barriers between pop, rock and hip-hop. Who can ever forget their 2012’s breakout single ‘Radioactive’ which is a powerhouse song that still gives goosebumps? Of course, the epic songs ‘Thunder’ and ‘Believer’ are sharp and heavy. The dramatic atmosphere, powerful vocals and big choruses are the factors that make their songs exciting.
His ‘Treat You Better’, a song that talks about domestic violence, has reached two billion views on YouTube. Hardly 50 music videos have reached the milestone. The Canadian artist, who is known for his charms and politeness, now has several songs under his belt that topped the charts; the latest being ‘Wonder’. His heavy vocal technique and mature music are in the likes of John Mayer and Ed Sheeran.
She is one of pop’s most exciting major players of this era. With a refreshing voice, Dua Lip has managed to put a fresh spin on the oversaturated and repetitive sound of pop music. Rolling Stone dubs her as a cross between Amy Winehouse and Nelly Furtado. With six Grammy nominations and hit album ‘Future Nostalgia’ in 2020, this London- born- Kosovar-Albanian singer’s songs are worth listening to.
The most followed celebrity on Instagram, Gomez has been a recording artist since 2009. Her songs ‘Fetish’, ‘Bad Liar’, ‘Lose You To Love Me’ evidently tell that Gomez is a force to reckon with. Clearly, she deserves to be among the best singers.
It is better to take a minute to appreciate the incredible voice of Ariana Grande. Known for the impressive ranges of vocals, she is considered one of the best singers in the world in her generation. Surprisingly, this pop star, who yielded multiple hits throughout her career, started out without any vocal training. Sample her ‘POV’, the final track on her album ‘Positions’, you’re instantly hooked.
Ananya Birla is among the popular young pop musicians and the first Indian artist who made a hit with an English song in the United States. She did collaborations with music heavyweights like Sean Kingston and Wiz Khalifa. Her first five songs hit the 150-million mark on streaming platforms. Her singles ‘Meant To Be’, ‘Livin The Life’, ‘Hold On’, ‘Circles’ and ‘Better’ achieved platinum status.