Ones to Watch 2020
Who’s got that vibe?
From teenage MCs to Irish rockers, we rate the artists looking to make waves in 2020.
Not quite the new kid on the block – Grace was voted third in the BBC Sound of 2019 – but definitely one to watch in the new year. Her emotionally charged songs depict her inner most personal experiences. London born and Brighton raised, Grace sees her music as letters she never got to write and everything she wanted to say but never could until now. She’s recently supported Lewis Capaldi on his UK tour.
Singer-songwriter Philip Plested has already made a name for himself by penning songs for some of pop’s biggest names, including Lewis Capaldi, Zayn, Emeli Sande, Naughty Boy and Little Mix. Now he’s stepping into his own spotlight; both his solo output and hit collaborations reveal a gifted tunesmith with a distinctive approach all his own, combining top tier songcraft with an irrepressible knack for melody and highly personal insight.
Creative brothers Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny have arrived as one of the UK’s most intriguing bands, combining the socially conscious, observational lyricism of Pet Shop Boys with the alternative indie of Foals. Still a group in relative infancy, they may have started life as an outlet for escapism – the boys met at a West London chess club – but across four eclectic EPs, they seem to have found their voice. The duo have been touring the festival circuit and have opened for the likes of Sam Fender, LANY and Sea Girls as well as touring with Friendly Fires.
Formed at school in Dublin, Inhaler quickly set about writing tracks that pulled their influences – ranging from The Stone Roses, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Interpol and The Cure – together and twisted them into a sound of their own. Their progress has been rapid; it was just over a year ago that the band turned up to play at Ireland’s Electric Picnic festival in singer Elijah Hewson’s car with no crew and found a rammed tent waiting for them to perform. A big tour is already lined up for 2020.
Not to be confused with the fella from Steps, Aitch is a 19-year-old MC hailing from Moston, an area in North Manchester. The city has been endlessly churning out rap talents in recent years; Aitch’s artistry derives from the proximity to the UK’s epicentre and breeding ground for all forms of underground bass music – whether it’s rap, grime, dubstep or drum and bass. His debut EP, Aitch20, reached number three in the UK album charts, with breakthrough track ‘Taste (Make it Shake)’ hitting number in the singles chart.
There's a quiet softness to Celeste that makes you feel instantly relaxed by her presence. The track 'Both Sides Of The Moon' subtly introduced her voice last year; one oozing with sophisticated, undeniable soul. Her voice has that natural ease that seems to just escape her throat, but contains so much detail, so many stories, such complex personal histories. She has already seen praise from the likes of Annie Mac, Julie Adenuga and publications including FADER, Wonderland and Interview Magazine.
County Line Runner
Named after a character from a US nineties TV show who robbed banks across county lines, Tom Stafford’s moniker summarises his place at a handful of intersections – upbeat energy versus introverted vulnerability, folk sensibilities versus rock ambition, with a nod towards post-punk and nostalgia for days gone by versus hope for the future. County Line Runner graced numerous festival stages this year, including The Great Escape Festival, Reeperbahn Festival and Latitude.
Wuh Oh has crammed a great deal of experience into his short musical evolution with appearances on Annie Mac, Vic Galloway’s BBC Introducing Sessions, TRNSMT and Electric Fields. An enviable run of support shows – for the likes of DJ Shadow and Com Truise – have allowed him to develop his live shows. Appearing on stage in otherworldly custom-made outfits, Wuh Oh crafts a surreal and inventive live experience that merges DJing, dexterous keyboard playing, self-styled interpretive dance and his sugar-rush pop sound.
Declan J Donovan
Growing up in Harlow, Donovan could have never imagined becoming a singer-songwriter. But the first track he ever wrote – written especially for his brother’s wedding – propelled him to success after he uploaded it to Soundcloud. It garnered a million plays in six months. In 2018, he was one of the only unsigned acts to play BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend. Now signed to Polydor, a tour is already planned for March.
After racking up over six million streams with his independent debut EP, ‘Red’, Tom signed a major label deal with Polydor and set to work on his follow-up. He made the decision to scrap the first version of that, tentatively titled ‘Black’, after being in a car accident and suffering from depression. It proved to be a necessary process for Tom to be able to rise from the ashes with a brand new collection that he believes encompasses what he represents artistically.