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Teen Takeover Week

Top 19 Biggest Teen Musicians of 2016

From the most promising singer-songwriters to the new teen kings and queens, these are the young musicians shaking up the industry and growing into dazzling artists

19 / 19

Jacob Whitesides, 18

Birthday: November 11, 1997

Why He's Great: Jacob's story mirrors girlfriend Bea Miller's: He gained national attention after performing on The X Factor. He didn't win either, but managed to make everyone else fall for him with sensitive songwriting (heard in his three EPs and a collaboration with Kelly Rowland), and a jawline that could cut diamonds. It's kind of impossible not to love the guy. Maria Sherman

All this week, tune into Teen Takeover Week music-video blocks featuring Fifth Harmony, One Direction and many more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.

18 / 19

Chloe x Halle

Birthdays: Chloe Bailey, July 1, 1998 (age 17), Halle Bailey, March 27, 2000 (16)

Why They’re Great: When you’re chosen to co-star in Beyoncé’s Lemonade, the sky’s the limit! The multi-talented duo got its start acting and then lit up YouTube, showcasing multi-instrumental skills by covering chart-topping songs such as Adele’s “Skyfall” and Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Their cover of Beyoncé's “Pretty Hurts” has over 11 million views, and their new, hauntingly beautiful single “Drop” was released earlier this month. —Lacroix Scott

17 / 19

Desiigner, 19

Birthday: March 25, 1997

Why He's Great: Like many young MCs, Desiigner tried to break through to the mainstream with a highly meme-able debut single; unlike many young MCs, he actually pulled it off. "Panda," sampled on Kanye West's The Life of Pablo album, is now the No. 1 song in the country, scoring a big win for G.O.O.D. Music and especially for the 18-year-old Brooklyn native. We'll see if he can follow up his hot start with a viable career, but few have seen success so instantaneous, and undeniable. —Jason Lipshutz

16 / 19

Lee Hi, 19

Birthday: September 23, 1996

Why She's Great: Despite a three-year hiatus between albums, the smoky-voiced star reminded everyone why they fell in love with her on the debut season of K-Pop Star in 2012. Lee Hi's latest, Seoulite, is a more matured venture into the throwback feel she's embraced since her debut, and successfully establishes the star in her own league of powerhouses that recall a different era of music. Whether that's a big brassy affair like "My Star" (above), or a delicate ballad (watch the stunning "Breathe" here), Lee Hi's voice has something that trescends language and age. Jeff Benjamin

15 / 19

Bea Miller, 17

Birthday: February 7, 1999

Why She's Great: Bea Miller first landed on our radar when she finished ninth on the U.S. version of The X Factor. That number might not seem so glamorous on the surface, but what she did with the platform was admirable and envy-worthy. She's since come into her own voice and personality, writing songs about youth and positivity like "Young Blood" and "Fire N Gold." She's really excellent at using her edge as an empowering ideal, performing for kids her own age while listening to their stories. —Maria Sherman

14 / 19

Trevor Jackson, 19

Birthday: August 30, 1996

Why He's Great: First off, at age freakin' eight, the Indianapolis native spent three years playing Young Simba on the national tour for Broadway's The Lion King. He went on to make memorable onscreen moves with Disney's TV movie Let It Shine and Syfy's Eureka before getting his musical career going with a 2013 EP and a 2015 mixtape. His debut album, Mrs. Jackson, is supposed to arrive on Atlantic this year, and in the continually evolving and rejuvenating R&B genre, he's bound to become a power player. Maybe he even picked up some innovative tips from André 3000 on the set of ABC's American Crime, too—Three Stacks played his dad in eight of the second season’s 10 episodes. Zach Dionne

13 / 19

Daya, 17

Birthday: October 24, 1998

Why She's Great: One the biggest pop songs of the past six months is "Hide Away," as penned and performed by 17-year-old Daya. It was one of those weird blips of pop culture, a tune that historically would've made her a one-hit wonder but has instead skyrocketed her to inevitable superstardom. At its most basic level, Daya's skill is being able to freakin' sing. —Maria Sherman

12 / 19

Jaden Smith, 17

Birthday: July 8, 1998

Why He's Great: Jaden Smith may confuse the masses with his chemtrails comments on Twitter, but that’s not stopping him from spilling his truth. Besides being one of Time’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015, he’s also crushing barriers in 2016. The 17-year-old became the face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear collection, donning a skirt for this new campaign in January. He’s already become one of the ~artsiest~ teens out there (along with sister Willow), honing a special individuality when it comes to style and his music. Emilee Lindner

11 / 19

Hailee Steinfeld, 19

Birthday: December 11, 1996

Why She's Great: Is there anything Hailee Steinfeld can't do? At just 19 she's already an Oscar-nominated actress and the voice behind a Top 40 hit—"Love Myself" is a classic pop banger about positivity and self-esteem, two tenants inherent in everything the young talent does. We're ready for your world takeover, girl! —Maria Sherman

10 / 19

Zara Larsson, 18

Birthday: December 16, 1997

Why She's Great: With her Aguiler-ian vocals on full display, Zara Larsson is slowly chipping away at pop success with "Never Forget You" featuring MNEK. The Swedish songbird brings pristine pop to the table (the international hit "Lush Life" is another must-listen), but she also touts an extremely aware social conscience that isn't afraid to call out misogynyracism, and even other artists. If there was a young pop star we need in 2016, Larsson is it. —Jeff Benjamin

9 / 19

Becky G, 19

Birthday: March 2, 1997

Don’t forget it: the Inglewood, Calif. native is Becky from the Block. At 19, she has years of experience in show biz, while starting out small on YouTube. Without an album out, the singer/rapper/model has a co-sign from Jennifer Lopez and a deal as one of the youngest Covergirls ever. She’s an actress too, currently filming her role in the upcoming Power Rangers movie. Becky G also has a political voice, releasing her heritage-fueled “Turn the Music Up” in 2012 and “We Are Mexico,” a direct homage to the hard work of fellow Latin Americans, in 2015 as a response to Donald Trump’s terrible comments about Mexican immigration. —Emilee Lindner

8 / 19

Martin Garrix, 19

Birthday: May 14, 1996

Why He's Great: Martin Garrix may have broken out in 2013 thanks to his big-room hit "Animals," but the young DJ continues making waves. Ahead of the release of his debut full-length album +x, due this year, the Dutch DJ/producer has continued honing his craft with increasingly impressive collaborations with the likes of Tiësto, Dillon Francis and Usher. With his own record label STMPD RCRDS born this year, and Justin Bieber/Ariana Grande manager Scooter Braun in his corner, the EDM prince is on his way to be a king. —Jeff Benjamin 

7 / 19

Alessia Cara, 19

Birthday: July 11, 1996

Why She's Great: Alessia Cara broke out just last year, but the 19-year-old has been everywhere from Late Night, TEDxTeen and, most recently, Coachella. Starting out by writing songs in her bedroom, she now has a major-label deal, an EP, album and smash single ("Here") to go along with it. Know-It-All perfectly represents the other side of pop music—the side that would rather sit at home or loiter around the neighborhood than seek out a trendy club or wear uncomfortable shoes. Cara is not only a powerful teen; she’s all of us. —Emilee Lindner

6 / 19

Willow Smith, 15

Birthday: October 31, 2000

Why She's Great: Since emerging with "Whip My Hair" as a 9-year-old, Willow Smith has been one of the most impressive, energetic young talents in America. She quickly moved from pop bangers to experimental, esoteric work, and her Soundcloud—under the moniker dhatu—is a long timeline of her under-the-radar artistry, often self-produced. Her 2015 surprise debut album, Ardipithecus, is ambitious and deep enough to power us through to her next release, but make no mistake, we can't wait to see what the youngest Smith does with the rest of her teen years. —Zach Dionne

Watch Willow's interview with DJ SKEE on SKEE TV below:

5 / 19

Zendaya, 19

Birthday: September 1, 1996

Why She's Great: Brought up as one of the bubbly faces of Disney Channel with Shake It UpZendaya’s got the energy and professionalism as a singer, model and dancer (remember when she hit Dancing with the Stars?). Match that up with a natural ability to filter out societal bullshit, and you’ve got one of the most wise-beyond-her-years social justice warriors of our time. She’s landed a spot on Time’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015 and has become a red-carpet queen, dressing the way she wants to and notoriously speaking out about racist comments about her locs. Most recently she’s landed a cameo in Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade, and together, they’re promoting feminism and sisterhood. —Emilee Lindner

4 / 19


Birthdays: Su-metal, December 20, 1997 (age 18); Yuimetal, June 20, 1999 (age 16); Moametal, July 4, 1999 (age 16).

Why They're Great: The concept of Japanese pop stars singing over metal production shouldn't work, but the Babymetal phenomenon is proof in and of itself of how a polished concept and hard work can pay off. After extensively touring their high-energy performances, the young trio got thumbs up from the metal community (Judas Priest, Slipknot and Anthrax are just a few acts to give their co-sign, they won the Breakthrough Award at the 2015 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards) and pop world (Lady Gaga brought them on tour, Harry Styles is a fan)—translating to fans from both those worlds. Their sophomore album Metal Resistance hit the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 thanks to that viciously loyal fanbase, and with loads of tour and festival dates this year, world domination continues to become closer and closer in grasp. —Jeff Benjamin

3 / 19

Lorde, 19

Birthday: November 7, 1996

Why She's Great: It's been almost three years since a 16-year-old New Zealand kid born Ella Yelich O'Connor took on the world with the incisive "Royals." The album that followed, Pure Heroine, was so powerful, true and visionary that it still casts an imposing shadow over the dark, auteurist pop trickling out in 2016. Lorde doesn't need her god-name to prove she's queen of the teens. —Zach Dionne

2 / 19

Shawn Mendes, 17

Birthday: August 8, 1998

Why He’s Great: After establishing himself on Vine, Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes has proven he’s far more than just a six-second wonder. In 2015 alone, Mendes opened for Taylor Swift on her 1989 stadium tour; scored a No. 1 album with his debut LP, Handwritten; and took over radio with his pensive pop-rock track “Stitches” (current YouTube views: over 400 million). Recently, Shawn has teamed up with Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello for the duet “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and headlined his own tour in the spring of 2016. Mendes is ubiquitous at 17 years old, and judging by his songwriting chops, it’s very clear that he’s just getting started. —Jason Lipshutz

1 / 19

Fifth Harmony

Birthdays: Dinah Jane Hansen, June 22, 1997 (age 18); Camila Cabello, March 3, 1997 (age 19); Lauren Jauregui, June 27, 1996 (age 19); Normani Kordei, May 31, 1996 (age 19); Ally Brooke Hernandez, July 7, 1993 (age 22).

Why They're Great: When One Direction and (to a lesser extent) The Wanted broke out in the U.S. in 2012, the boy band revival officially began…and girl group fans wondered when their representation was going to arrive in America. It’s been a long time coming, but Fifth Harmony is finally there, with a Top 10 smash in “Work From Home” following radio staples like last year’s “Worth It” and “Sledgehammer.” Aside from the Top 40 success, 5H has developed a deeply devoted fan base that has led to bigger shows, brighter TV opportunities and higher profiles for Camila, Ally, Dinah, Normani and Lauren. With four of the five girls still under 20, Fifth Harmony are teen queens exuding positivity and empowerment; give them your devotion, because they are very much worth it. —Jason Lipshutz

All this week, tune into Teen Takeover Week music-video blocks featuring Fifth Harmony, One Direction and many more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.

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Photo of the day

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 30: NSYNC is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 30, 2018 in Hollywood, Californ

Apr 30: *NSYNC 4EVER

It’s been a while since the guys of *NSYNC reunited. Since their epic onstage reunion at the 2013 MTV VMAs and JC’s 40th birthday, the guys have been doing their own thing, until today! Justin, JC, Joey, Lance and Chris got together to celebrate their new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and as if the day couldn’t get any better, JC reminds us that tomorrow it’s gonna be MAY.