Music is one of the few industries that enables people to build a career at a very young age. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of young artists who are making a mark on the world of pop music. Here are 20 artists under 20, from Toronto and beyond, that we’re listening to and you should know too.
20. ilishx, 16
This Perth-native has already released 2 EPs within the last 2 years. Drawing inspiration from folk and alternative music, her songs are compelling, intriguing and soothing. She accompanies herself on electric or acoustic guitar in all of her tracks, and she’s not afraid of stepping outside of her comfort zone. Her track, “I Adore” is soothing and beautifully written.
19. Max Parker, 19
Toronto-based singer-songwriter, Max Parker, is the next Shawn Mendes. From his smooth voice to his catchy melodies, his songs sound like something that would be played repeatedly on the radio. The guitar plays a large role in all three of his released singles, “Out of the Blue”, “All Yours” and “Time Machine.” Even at such a young age, Max defines his sound and clearly knows what he wants to convey in his music.
18. Mikaela Astel, 15
Best known for her jaw-dropping cover of BØRNS’s “Electric Love” on season 16 of The Voice, this New York City singer-songwriter has captured the hearts of many The Voice fans. In October, she released her first single, “Wannabe.” In the indie acoustic/folk tune, she talks about struggling with envy and seeing beyond the surface of a person.
17. Jayde, 20
After appearing on season 2 of CTV’s The Launch, Jayde has gained much attention from Toronto and beyond. Her iconic and mesmerizing voice is featured in her recent singles, “Ultra Violence” and “Perfect Strangers.” Inspired by artists such as Dua Lipa and Lorde, Jayde is an incredibly talented songwriter, creating hypnotic melodies in her songs.
16. Emily Bear, 18
From piano virtuoso to film scorer to jazz vocalist, Emily Bear does it all. Her most recent EP, Emotions, combines funky rhythms and modern sounds from 90s dance hits. Throughout the EP, she flaunts her skills as a pianist while still keeping the attention on her smooth voice. One of our favourites is “Dancin”, a groovy track that makes you want to simply get up and dance.
15. Azalyne, 11
Azalyne might be young but she is a veteran of the music scene. Her voice is powerful and emotional while her songs are deeply meaningful. In her single, “I Am Mighty”, she writes about topics such as standing up to bullying with a maturity way beyond her years. She clearly has a very bright future ahead of her.
14. Soler, 17
The first time I heard Soler’s music was at 4 AM while lying on a beach in Valencia. His music is soft like a lullaby but also deeply profound. What struck me at first was the time signature of his debut single, “Morning Vals.” It’s in 6/8 which works well to create both a sense of relaxation and drive. The guitar solo at the bridge is beautiful and ties the whole song together.
13. mxmtoom, 19
“Prom Dress” is one of those songs that every high school senior should listen to. In the song, she talks about how she feels that her last four years of high school weren’t as good as she had thought it would be. In a Genuis Verified video, she explains how she felt lost in her last year of high school and she thought a lot about the future.
12. RUFUS, 17
Malaysia-based singer, songwriter and producer, RUFUS just released his new single, “Atlantis” this week and it is spectacular. His music is spontaneous like a breath of fresh air and stretches the boundaries of pop music. In “Atlantis”, he takes a beautiful guitar riff and builds layers of hazy strings and vocals on top of it. Although his songs sound very stripped, his attention to detail is phenomenal and it really shows in the music.
11. Petit Biscuit, 20
Petit Biscuit is known as one of the best electronic artist-songwriters of this generation. He wrote his hit song, “Sunset Lover” when he was only 15 and has since gained much traction in the world of electronic music. He even collaborated with Lido for his song, “Problems” which was a masterpiece of two worlds colliding.
10. Bulow, 19
2019 Juno winner of the “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” award, Bülow is anything but an ordinary teen. Her bouncy, synth-filled tracks about life as a teenager and her past relationships are honest and blunt. One of our favourites is “You & Jennifer.” She uses transformative vocoder synths and sings, “Fuck you and Jennifer, I know that you’re out with her.” Way too relatable.
9. Tiffany Day, 19
Tiffany Day’s career began as a YouTuber where her “Sing-Off with Myself” cover of Demi Levato’s “Sorry Not Sorry” went viral. This LA teen is a very talented songwriter inspired by hip hop and R&B while making many references to pop culture such as in her song, “Clout Chaser” where she sings about being used by a boy for ‘clout’. Her melodies are memorable and catchy, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind in her lyrics.
8. Ruel, 18
Ruel is ‘Australia’s newest music prodigy’ with his captivating voice and soulful songs. His hit single, “Dazed & Confused” is steamy and rooted in hip hop and R&B. It bears resemblance to The Weeknd’s “Earned It.” His recent EP, “Free Time” experiments with different sounds and styles while still keeping with the same intensity and sedated groove.
7. Olivia O’ Brien, 19
After her collaboration with gnash on their hit single, “i hate u i love u,” Oliva O’Brien has been continuing to deliver candid, hard-hitting songs to her fans. In her song, “I Don’t Exist,” she talks about struggling to find herself after moving to LA and how her experiences weren’t what she imagined them to be. She sings, “All of these people and all of their friends look so good together but I don’t fit in.” Although not every teenager is a breakout artist at 15, her honest lyrics find meaning in many teens.
6. Ren, 17
Named Soundcloud’s “Artist to Watch” and recently signed to Geffen Records, Ren is one of our favourite new artists. She just released her new single, “idc” where she plays the bass and sings. The song follows her hit single, “mind games” which we wrote a review on earlier this year. Her sound is a blend of dark pop and electronic music.
5. Dave Hjin, 19
Dave Hjin always seems to be busy with some project or another. He recently released his Dave Hjin Trio EP where he and his trio did their take on a couple of jazz standards. But they were anything from basic, with refreshing and innovative arrangements. Dave’s music is like a more sophisticated version of Conan Grey, transforming ‘bedroom pop’ into something of a musical masterpiece. You can distinctly hear all of his diverse musical backgrounds mashed into each of his songs to create an intricate yet elegant composition. Not to mention, he is an eccentric and talented producer.
4. Maisie Peters, 19
Maisie Peters is a West Sussex Native who writes beautifully sad ballads that are all too relatable. Her voice has a charm that sounds like the English singer, Birdy. Her acoustic folk-pop sound is youthful and tugs at your heartstrings. Some of our favourites including “Birthday” and “Worst Of You” are about getting over your ex.
3. King Princess, 20
King Princess is one of those rare songwriters who are just doing their own thing completely. Her songs have a touch of nostalgia, using thick layers of vocals and excessive reverb to create atmospheric hits. Her combination of acoustic instruments such as strings and flutes (ie. in her song “Ain’t Together”) and electronic instruments and vocoders really captures the essence of ‘old meets new.’
2. Noah Cyrus, 19
Also known as the youngest of the Cyrus siblings, Noah is a strong advocate for mental health and crying, which she sings about in her 2018 EP, Good Cry. Her vocals are powerful but can also be sombre and personal. She has collaborated with numerous artists such as Labrinth, Alan Walker, Gallant, Leon Bridges and MAX.
1. Billie Eilish, 17
Within the past three years, Billie Eilish has become a household name. Earlier this year, she celebrated her first no. 1 album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which is up for several Grammys this year including “Album of the Year”. She was also the first person born in this century to have a song hit no. 1 on the Billboards. Her music taps into the new trip-hop, alternative rock and electropop while still keeping the ‘bedroom’ aesthetic, recording and producing most of her songs in her brother, FINNEAS’s bedroom.
Listen to our favourite songs from these artists here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7mMW8BsPKnWyFJltaUegYT?si=VaB5R3y1QWiSnket-SWQmA