Flamenco singer Rosalía, R&B star Ella Mai and pop artist King Princess are among the rising stars who have made it onto the BBC’s Sound of 2019 longlist.
Now in its 17th year, the list showcases 2019’s hottest new artists. Past winners includes Adele, Sam Smith, Years & Years and Sigrid.
This year’s selection focuses on solo acts, with only one band in the top 10.
It was voted for by 136 critics, broadcasters and DJs, including former nominees Ellie Goulding and Stormzy.
For the first time, the list includes an artist who performs in Spanish.
Catalan singer Rosalía has struck gold by fusing flamenco rhythms with the aesthetics of trap and hip-hop, and recently won two Latin Grammys for her breakout hit Malamente.
Signed to Sony, she is being promoted as a mainstream act in the UK, rather than being relegated to the ghetto of “world music” – a sure sign of Latin pop’s increasing significance.
|BBC SOUND OF 2019|
|Grace Carter||Searingly personal, piano-led pop||Silence|
|Flohio||Raw, punchy, poetic rap||Wild Yout|
|Dermot Kennedy||Folk roots with a hip-hop influence||Power Over Me|
|King Princess||Queer pop queen-in-waiting||1950|
|Mahalia||Casual, effortless soul anthems||Wish I Missed My Ex|
|Ella Mai||Platinum-certified retro R&B||Boo’d Up|
|Octavian||Genre-defying London MC||Party Here|
|Rosalía||Catalan star who’s revitalising flamenco||Malamente|
|Sea Girls||Fired-up indie anthems||Too Much Fun|
|Slowthai||Truth-telling outsider rap||Ladies|
Also among the nominees is France-born, London-based rapper Octavian, whose minimal, spacious mixtapes have marked him out as one of the UK’s most intriguing talents.
His breakout song Party Here even earned a co-sign from Drake – although the 22-year-old was quick to assert his independence. “It proves that it’s all possible, but I don’t want anything more from him,” he told Pitchfork earlier this year.
The current resurgence in soul music is reflected by Mahalia and Ella Mai. The latter already a breakout star in the US, where her sumptuous single Boo’d Up topped the R&B charts over the summer.
It also and earned her two Grammy nominations on Friday, including one in the prestigious song of the year category.
The list also includes Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy, whose expressive voice and heart-wrenching ballads have earned comparisons to Damien Rice and Rag N’ Bone Man; and the absurdly catchy indie band Sea Girls.
US singer King Princess has been branded “an icon for the next generation of queer youth” for her refreshingly honest, lyrically-led pop songs, while soulful singer-songwriter Grace Carter has just finished her first UK headline tour.
Two UK rappers complete the 10-strong list – Flohio from south London and Slowthai from Northampton.
BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac said the list was “filled with incredibly talented people and is a real reflection of where music is heading in 2019”.
She added: “So many of the artists are truly innovating in their fields. It’s exciting to champion new music across the BBC and share these artists with the audience.”
Last year’s winner Sigrid said topping the list “helped me so much with reaching a new audience and giving my music some extra exposure on the radio”.
This year’s top five will be revealed in January on Radio 1 and BBC News, with one artist announced each day from Monday, 7 January. The winner will be revealed on Friday 11 January.