‘With the sound of mainstream music changing, and listeners expecting more from it, 2020 could well be the breakthrough year for these artists.’
During 2019, Listen to Discover has supported – through either reviews, interviews, photography or playlisting – more than 350 artists from across the globe. Therefore, deciding who to choose as the ‘Ones to Watch in 2020’ has been far from easy. However, taking everything into account and sticking to the UK, I have narrowed it down to these 20. Yes that’s right, 20 for 2020. Made up of a lucky 13 who have been reviewed this year, and 7 who have either not been reviewed or not been featured at all yet, each artist is one that when I hear their music, I get truly excited about seeing how they progress next year. Artists listed in order of when they were first featured.
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: Whole
Releases in 2019: The Bully, I Don’t Know You Anymore, Nothing Ever Changes, What We Had, Reason to Stay and Love’s A Waste.
Why should you get to know her? Coming to my attention right at the start of the year – and being one of the first #FridayFindsFeaturedArtists – it’s surprising that there has only been the one review. During 2019, her sound has truly developed into a wonderfully blossoming mix of connectivity, life-lesson-led lyrics and up to the moment production. Ending the year with monthly listeners of more than 1,000,000 (yes that’s one million), many people are tuning into her sound and while there have been releases from 2016, this year has brought it all together wonderfully. Could a chart position be on the cards next year? There is certainly the fan following and the level of musicality to achieve it.
Find and follow Sody on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: Cola Bottle Fizz and Track Review: Super Superior
Releases in 2019: Cola Bottle Fizz, Kiss Chasing Stars, Year on String Along, Big Trouble, Super Superior and Think You Got Me
Why should you get to know them? While frontman Joe Fin is far from new to Listen to Discover, with him being a favourite right from 2017, this year he has been on fire. Releasing their debut in January, Cola Bottle Fizz ensured that Superbird’s incredibly polished and incredibly funky sound would take full flight. I’m sure they knew how good it was, but there is every chance they had no idea how the rest of 2019 would pan out. With TV appearances, a TV theme tune, festival performances and no fewer than 6 releases busy doesn’t begin to cover it. However, there is every chance this is only the beginning of what 2020 will sound like. Expect to see them across festivals and soaring into your ears throughout next year.
Find and follow Superbird on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Coverage in 2019: Gig Review: Hope & Anchor, Behind the Music: Interview with Chasing Deer, slot on The Dis-cover-ies Playlist for ‘Rocket Man’ and Gig Review: O2 Academy Islington
Releases in 2019: Unstoppable, remixes of Another World and Miracle and cover of Rocket Man.
Why should you get to know them? Discovering them via another artist’s gig, Chasing Deer was a band I instantly found a connection with – right from the moment frontman Rob said ‘we did a show last year where our ‘Hands On’ album featured British Sign Language.’ Seeing them at the Hope & Anchor, where I first experienced their 80’s infused sound along with more than just a handful of fans, it was clear the momentum behind these full time musicians was building. Add to this a performance at Pride London, an ‘Unstoppable’ release featuring numerous LGBTQ+ artists and winning Soundwaves 2019 and it has been one hell of a year for them. If you get a chance to see them on their Bad Decisions Tour in February, make the right decision and go!
Find and follow Chasing Deer on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
The Ashton Jones Project
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: Good Thing Guaranteed, Track Review: I Need Love and Gig Review: Cambridge Junction
Releases in 2019: The Ashton Jones Project EP and Toast.
Why should you get to know them? When you regularly get sent requests for features, it’s always great, I mean I never really know when I’ll hear something amazing. However, sometimes I discover it by chance. Standing out as one of the biggest and best finds of the year, The Ashton Jones Project have brought soul, jazz and funk right up to the moment. Taking true pride in their musicality, the long-awaited, much-anticipated album ‘Toast’ more than delivered and with elements of their stylistic inspiration re-emerging in the mainstream, people you really wouldn’t expect to discover The Ashton Jones Project could be about to. Performing at Cheltenham and Cambridge Jazz Festivals in 2019, could a performance at London Jazz Festival 2020 be next? I’d like to think so.
Find and follow The Ashton Jones Project on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Sophie and the Giants
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: The Light and #FridayFinds playlisting for Break the Silence and Runaway
Releases in 2019: The Light, Break the Silence and Runaway
Why should you get to know them? Opening 2019 with The Light, Sophie and the Giants set a high standard for what we could expect from the remainder of the year and with two further releases building on it, their tracks have been incredibly strong. Likewise, gaining pace from 2018, countless performances at independent venues across the UK as well as Glastonbury and Big Weekend have truly put them on the musical map. With no album released yet, could 2020 be the year we get one from Sophie and the Giants? Or, with an ever-growing following, could they make the transition to frequent mainstream radio plays? Keep your ears open as both could very well happen.
Find and follow Sophie and the Giants on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: Saint Cecilia and #FridayFinds playlisting for Love & Emotion
Releases in 2019: Love & Emotion EP, Heaven and cover version of Cuz I Love You
Why should you get to know them? For a band which only started releasing tracks this year, MarthaGunn, much like their music, have certainly made an impact. Musically they are powerful, yet stylishly controlled and when you listen to them, you get a real sense that they are achieving exactly what they have set out to do. Given the amount of time they have been together, this should be no surprise. What is a surprise though is that even with individually standout tracks and a 17-date tour, they remain under the radar. Why this is the case I have no idea but you should most definitely make 2020 the year that you discover them.
Find and follow MarthaGunn on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: The Cracks and #FridayFinds playlisting for Capable of Love
Releases in 2019: Life Was Coming In Through The Blinds EP and Capable of Love
Why should you get to know them? Releasing tracks throughout both 2018 and 2019, Another Sky are most definitely not a band that shies away from the work involved in being an artist. Incredibly active this year, releases in 2019 have amassed more than the magic 1 million listens and seen them captivate audiences in the UK, Europe and America with their intriguing, yet completely accessible sound. Equally, with them doing a live set at Maida Vale for Huw Stephens in 2018, a recording session at the same place in 2019, and a sold-out show at Union Chapel, it’s clear they are very much on the radar of those in the know. Already on the cusp of breaking through, 2020 has to be when they do.
Find and follow Another Sky on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: Keep on Loving, Behind the Music: Interview with Luke Burr and slot on The Dis-cover-ies Playlist for ‘What You Won’t Do For Love.’
Releases in 2019: Heaven, Keep On Loving and cover, as well as numerous remixes of What You Won’t Do For Love
Why should you get to know him? Being somewhat propelled into the spotlight due to his version of ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ being used on Love Island, Luke Burr was very much a mid-year find. And what a great find he was. Blending soulful vocals with relatable lyrics and sophisticated production, there are many genres where his tracks fit. With TV appearances and interviews following the use of the track, and more people discovering him, unique collaborations have occurred and blended art forms just as wonderfully as his musical inspirations. Filled with more than just hints of mainstream musicality, yet proving to be wonderfully refreshing, expect radio plays and frequent live performances from him in 2020.
Find and follow Luke Burr on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Coverage in 2019: Track Review: Do You Hear The Rain? and Behind the Music: Interview with Ben Simmons
Releases in 2019: Do You Hear The Rain?
Why should you get to know him? While 2018 saw Ben’s 4 track EP ‘Light & Shade’ be released, only one track has been this year. But what a track it was. Combining creative production and thoughtful story-telling, it was a truly beautiful find. Gaining support from BBC Introducing Linconshire and performing at 2Q Festival, his following has increased but still remains massively under where you would imagine given his quality. Be sure to check out his future releases in 2020 – and his current ones while you are waiting – as well as see him when he plays at a venue near you.
Find and follow Ben Simmons on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Bright Orange Spectacle
Coverage in 2019: Gig Photography: Camden Assembly
Releases in 2019: She Could Get Better and I Struggle to Communicate
Why should you get to know them? While not reviewed this year, Bright Orange Spectacle are a band that while incredibly new, could make an equally incredible impact in 2020. When I saw them perform as part of CloseUp PR’s night at Camden Assembly in August, there was a real sense of occasion. Real excitement around them. For a band so new – one that at the time had only one track out – their set was impassioned, creative, fresh and completely memorable. In fact, as I write this I’m seeing it as clear as day. Harnessing influences from the likes of Bowie, something which is evident in both sound and stagecraft, with gentle resurgences of similar sounds happening in the mainstream, they could become more relevant than they imagine right now.
Find and follow Bright Orange Spectacle on: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Discover the other chosen artists at: Listen to Discover’s Ones to Watch in 2020: Part 2