Every spring, we see the release of new pop music as the genre awakens from its winter lull. Upcoming and already established artists vie for a coveted spot on Top 40 radio’s regular rotation, hoping to earn themselves a hit that gets airplay well into the summer and potentially leads to a lasting career. Of course, one single on the Hot 100 won’t thrust someone into superstardom, but it’s definitely the first step. Pop is a hostile genre; there are plenty of one-hit-wonders and artists whose careers fizzle out after a couple of singles. While there is no set formula or instruction manual for becoming a pop star, there are certain characteristics all of them share. Each are effortlessly unique and individualistic while simultaneously being marketable to a huge demographic. This dichotomy is a difficult balancing act, but it’s not impossible. We’ve made a list of five artists who we think could pull it off in the very near future.
1) Noah Cyrus
Noah makes following in the footsteps of an older sibling who just happens to be an ex-Disney superstar look exceptionally easy. After the release of her debut single – the vocally impressive Labrinth collab “Make Me (Cry)” – late last year, she’s proving she has what it takes to carve her own path. She’s also lent her voice to an EDM track produced by Marshmello and Ookay, giving us a taste of her own personal style. With her debut album NC-17 set to release sometime this year, we’re excited to see what the youngest Cyrus has in store.
Kehlani is the ultimate comeback kid. After some personal issues took the spotlight at the beginning of last year, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter has since reinvented herself, reemerging onto the scene with an air of unstoppable fierceness. Fresh off of the release of her debut album SweetSexySavage, Kehlani has both the momentum and the image to make it in the pop scene. Her single “Distraction” has been on heavy rotation on hip-hop and R&B stations, and it’s only a matter of time before Top 40 takes notice.
While her discography includes a long list of high-profile collaborations with artists like Rihanna, Chance the Rapper and Jill Scott, it’s SZA’s unique vocal and personal style that make her a good candidate for solo mainstream success. Her debut album CTRL, which will be released sometime this year, is one of the most anticipated of 2017. If the rest of the album is as promising as its first single, Top 40 could be welcoming her soon.
Multitalented R&B songstress Tinashe has been patiently waiting her turn to take over the Top 40 since 2011. A rare gem of the pop world, she’s been writing and producing her own songs, as well as creating high-energy visuals for her performances, for six years. It seems as if she’s been flirting with megastardom for the duration of her career. Her recent collab with Britney Spears was certainly memorable, but it wasn’t enough to push her over the threshold. We believe that Joyride – the 2017 release that will serve as part two of her 2016 release Nightride – will be the album that brings Tinashe mainstream success.
5) Marian Hill
This funky electronic duo is a force to be reckoned with. Comprised of producer Jeremy Lloyd and vocalist Samantha Gongol, Marian Hill writes music from the perspective a woman who is in control of her sexuality, a theme that couldn’t be more relevant to the zeitgeist. Thanks to the single’s placement in an Apple AirPods commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, they’re current single “Down” is gaining traction on mainstream pop radio. The duo’s collab with Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui was another smart move, drawing in a new demographic of fans outside of their already established fanbase. “Down” shouldn’t be last we see of Marian Hill on the pop charts.