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2018 Preview

16 Musicians About to Break in 2018

Of the 16 artists featured on this ranking, which one will end up being the biggest star? The fun is in listening to their music and deciding for yourself...

1 / 16


Already something of a star in her home country of Finland, ALMA (which is her real name, by the way) is on her way to breaking in other territories, and with the right song and proper promotion, perhaps even the United States at some point in 2018. Everything about ALMA stands out, from her neon-hued hair to her signature brand of insanely catchy pop music, and she’s clearly ready for the big time...but will the American public accept her as she is? They better! –Hugh McIntyre

2 / 16


Already a superstar in her native Brazil, Anitta's star has been on the global rise as the singer has been collaborating with stars around the world. Everyone from Major Lazer and Alesso to  Maluma and Iggy Azalea worked with the 24-year-old in 2017 and her opportunities look just as plentiful in 2018. Look out for to kick off this year by appearing on J Balvin's "Machika" with Aruban singer Jeon for what looks poised to be another worldwide smash. –Jeff Benjamin

3 / 16

Bad Bunny

It’s time for the Latin rap scene to finally break through in America, and Bad Bunny should undoubtedly be at the forefront. The 23-year-old Puerto Rican rapper/singer is already becoming a household name in the Latin community, thanks to tunes like “Sensualidad,” “Mayores,” “Soy Peor” and the “Krippy Kush” banger with Farruko that recently got a remix boost from  Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott. His distinctively deep voice and the way he floats from reggaeton to trap with ease is what makes the artist stand out among his Latin counterparts. With trap music continuing to dominate the major charts, it will be interesting to see how much stake Bad Bunny will own in 2018. –Bianca Gracie

4 / 16

Billie Eilish

This teenager's delicate, haunting vocal style will soon become instantly recognizable if she continues at such an exciting rate. This summer, the 16-year-old began an ambitious plan of releasing a single a week until her Don't Smile at Me EP was released in August. The move felt like Eilish was adding a new song to a personal playlist each week and fans who were following along got treated to new music as if she was their trusted curator—a very forward-thinking move for her forward-thinking music. –Jeff Benjamin

5 / 16


After co-writing Justin Bieber’s smash hit “Boyfriend,” Blackbear launched his own career, and he didn’t even attempt to occupy the same lane as the Biebs, which was probably a solid decision. 2017 was big for Blackbear, and now that he’s signed a deal with Interscope Records (rumored to be worth millions), 2018 will likely see his profile rise even higher. His debut album Digital Druglord peaked at No. 14 last year, while lead single “do re mi” became his first Top 40 hit...though just barely. Now that Interscope needs to make its investment worthwhile, expect to hear his name, and his music, much more this year. –Hugh McIntyre

6 / 16

Ella Mai

One failed X Factor attempt, multiple Instagram uploads, and three EPs later, London native Ella Mai is finally preparing the release of her debut studio album. Signed to  DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers label, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter delivers soulful pop-R&B sprinkled with Mustard’s signature radio-friendly sound (think an up-tempo, turned-up version of H.E.R.). Through tracks like “A Thousand Times,” “Breakfast in Bed,” and “10,000 Hours,” Mai continues to resonate with fans drawn to her crisp, syrupy vocals and unabashed vulnerability in telling stories of heartbreak and, more importantly, bouncing back. Already blessed with co-signs from Ty Dolla $ign Chris Brown and Kehlani, Mai is an obvious frontrunner to become R&B’s next breakthrough act. –Tina Xu

7 / 16

Hayley Kiyoko

For several years now, Hayley Kiyoko has been better known for her acting than her music, but it looks like that might change in 2018. The multi-talented woman, who has been featured in movies like Jem and the Holograms and Insidious: Chapter 3 as well as TV shows like Wizards of Waverly Place, The Vampire Diaries, and two seasons of CSI: Cyber, is now focusing on her musical career, which has been slowly improving in stature for some time. Kiyoko has already released three EPs and several singles, and in March, she’s set to drop her debut full-length Expectations, which will continue her reign as one of the coolest artists in indie-pop today. –Hugh McIntyre

8 / 16

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith was already known as a rising star in her native England, but we have Drake to thank for bringing her soulful appeal to the American mainstream audience. Many of us first heard of the 20-year-old on More Life, where she appears on “Get Together” and “Jorja Interlude.”

Smith quickly proved she could stand on her own with smooth cuts like “On My Mind” with “Let Me Down.” Both tracks showcase the singer’s velvet-like vocals that are as warm as a glass of cognac, as well as her affinity for ‘90s-inspired production that still somehow sounds timeless. I can’t wait to see how she channels that effortlessness when she goes on her first North American tour beginning this spring. –Bianca Gracie

9 / 16


With just a handful of singles to their name, KARD garnered a legion of worldwide supporters thanks to their extensive touring schedule in Europe, North and South America, plus an accessible, trendy tropical sound. With performances at SXSW 2018 already on the books—a must for new acts looking to make it big—it doesn't look like their grind will slow down anytime soon either. –Jeff Benjamin

10 / 16

Kim Petras

Kim Petras is one of 2018's most promising stars to serve delicious bubblegum pop, best heard in her rising single "I Don't Want It at All" and her Charli XCX collaboration "Unlock It." Petras also looks to give an important spotlight to the LGBTQ community, specifically the T, as trans woman looking to hit the heights of the charts alongside other pop queens. –Jeff Benjamin

11 / 16


For those who have been paying attention to Spotify playlists and the streaming world, Lauv has been growing in popularity for some time now. The pop musician, known to his family as Ari Leff, saw his most-streamed tune “I Like Me Better” attract some international attention in late 2017, but it didn’t manage to cross over and rise the ranks in America. No worries though, as many critics and music industry bigwigs have a lot of faith in the laidback electronic pop producer and songwriter, and a quick look at some of his past compositions for other artists (such as Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato’s “No Promises”) proves he has what it takes to impress the masses. –Hugh McIntyre

12 / 16

Lunchmoney Lewis

His name may sound somewhat silly, but his talent and his potential are far from laughing matters. The musician straddles the line between pure-pop and hip-hop, which few have been able to do successfully for very long. Think Flo Rida, only a bit more lighthearted, and that’s what Lewis’ tunes sound like. He scored a global hit with “Bills” back in 2015, though it didn’t make much of an impact in the U.S. He’s already been featured on songs fronted by Pitbull Wyclef Jean Big Boi, and Nicki Minaj, but he hasn’t truly broken through and become a household name...yet. –Hugh McIntyre

13 / 16

Megan Thee Stallion

If there’s one word to describe Megan Thee Stallion, it’s BADASS! The 22-year-old carries the rugged aesthetic of her native Houston as she spits hard about topics that some of us women are too timid to speak up about…like stealing a basic girl’s man. The way Megan raps is so confident and competes with some A-list rappers who utilize booming beats but don’t necessarily know how to ride them properly. And her touch of syrupy southern flair is what makes her so addicting. –Bianca Gracie

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A viral sensation online—his five most popular music video have more than 2.75 billion views combined—Puerto Rico's next reggaeton star looks poised to break out into the mainstream this year. His latest single "La Modelo" (or "The Model") is a Cardi B collaboration that gave him his first chart hit in America with the Spanglish tune proving how seamless language is in today's music world. Listen up for more of his smooth croons throughout 2018. –Jeff Benjamin

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At the age of just 21, the Norwegian singer-songwriter won the BBC's Sound of 2018 poll making her one of the youngest recipients ever and joining the likes of  Adele Sam Smith Ellie GouldingYears & Years and more. And it's not hard to see why: Take a listen to her single "Strangers" that blends fizzy electro-pop with heartfelt honesty. –Jeff Benjamin

16 / 16

Stefflon Don

I don’t know what’s in the water over in England—specifically London—because they’ve been breeding raw talent for decades. The new generation taking over across the pond are female rappers, and Stefflon Don is the latest rising star who deserves to blow up internationally. What sets her apart is that she fuses a hardcore Lil Kim-esque personality and lyricism with a delicate glam look that is so charismatic. It doesn’t hurt that she’s Jamaican either, as she uses her background to influence her island-ready tunes. Along with spitting fiery bars, Stefflon Don can also out-sing some of these current pop stars on the scene. –Bianca Gracie

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Photo of the day

Apr 2: Basket-Bros

Currently on his 'The Man of the Woods' tourJustin Timberlake brought out a special guest for his Cleveland show. LeBron James surprised concertgoers by showing up alongside Timberlake and taking a shot on stage. On Friday, the singer was also seen cheering on LeBron during the Pelicans and Cavaliers game. James gave a shout out on Instagram, "My brother @justintimberlake showed up and showed out last night at the Q! One of the greatest to ever do it in my lifetime and still going strong."