Well, 2021 was certainly a year. We laughed, we smiled, we cried, we freed Britney. At times it felt like it would never end and yet here we are absolutely shocked that it’s the end of the year already. But through everything, music always prevails and while 2021 bought with it some real doozies, it also introduced us to a new wave of excellent up-and-coming musicians.
With the world in the current state that it is (and the ever-evolving lifeform that is social media), the gap from becoming a regular Joe to an overnight star is closing more and more every day and it’s becoming easier for young aspiring stars to conquer the world. Here are some of our favourite stars to keep an eye on in 2022.
Hailing from Auckland, the ethereal Kiki Rockwell has been busy creating a world of her own with her enchanting indie folk. Dipping in and out of cosplay fantasies and cinematic realms, the star built up a loyal fanbase on TikTok before releasing her debut EP Bleeding Out In A Forest on November 5. Featuring hit singles ‘Left for Dead’, a dark and eerie track that proves distance between her and an ex-lover and the feminist punch ‘Same Old Energy’, which saw the accompanying music video go viral with almost 300,000 views on YouTube, the EP is one of the freshest things to come out of our local music scene this year.
In between dancing for mega celebs (Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Janet Jackson … casually) and becoming a fan favourite on Celebrity Treasure Island, Auckland’s Lance Savali is now an emerging EDM artist. With experience DJing festivals (including an upcoming spot at Bay Dreams) and plenty of connections in the music world, Savali is by far one of our country’s coolest stars. He got his big break dancing with Paris Goebel’s The Royal Family before moving to Los Angeles to work on epic feats such as Beyonce’s Beychella and Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Super Bowl Half-time Show. Now, he’s back in NZ and his debut single, the thumping ‘Floor Is Lava’, dropped December 2 to an anticipating audience. We suspect this song will undeniably be the sound of summer and we can’t wait to see what moves Savali makes next.
There’s A Tuesday
Since winning 2019’s Smokefree Rockquest, Christchurch foursome There’s A Tuesday have been making delectable indie dream-pop to get lost in. Their debut single ‘Pinãta Head’ saw them work with Chris Mac of Six60 at Neil Finn’s Round Head Studios and their lineup of festival gigs caught the eye of BENEE, who signed them to her own Olive Records. With the success of their 2020 debut EP Dance With Me Before We Cry, which spawned the euphoric hits ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘FOMO’, and a new single ‘Bus Stop’, TAT are on a fast trajectory to the top. Look out for them all throughout summer as they play across the country, as well as joining BENEE for the NZ part of her 2022 World Tour.
Sydney’s own Blake Turnell aka ChillinIt is a force in Australia’s grime scene, combining clever wordplay and charismatic humour to blaze his way through the charts. Since the release of his 2018 debut album Women Weed & Wordplay, which spawned ‘One Hit One Take’ and ‘Wish You Well Pt. 2 (It’s A Vibe)’, the rising star has grown his loyal fanbase to a cool 800,000 monthly Spotify listeners and earned the biggest Australian headline tour of 2021. His third album FAMILY TIES dropped November 26, featuring the recent hit ‘Dreaming Of This Day’ and the endearing ode to his mum ‘Susan’s Son,’ and he’s set to head to NZ for a few gigs in Feb.
Join ChillinIt’s “420 Fam” on Instagram.
Across the pond in England, indie pop princess Holly Humberstone went from making songs in her bedroom during lockdown to performing on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and joining Olivia Rodrigo on her upcoming tour. Her debut EP Falling Asleep at the Wheel produced the viral TikTok hit ‘Overkill’ and catapulted the rising star into more than 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify. On November 12 she dropped her sophomore EP The Walls Are Way Too Thin, with hits ‘Scarlett’ and the Matty Healy collab ‘Please Don’t Leave Just Yet’ and she was even nominated for a Rising Star BRIT Award!
Since the drop of his debut album Hypersonic Missiles in 2019 (which charted at number 1), UK’s Sam Fender has won the hearts of locals as well as making waves overseas. Starting out as an actor before jumping into the music biz, Fender is known for his political indie rock reminiscent of the likes of Bruce Springsteen and The Killers and has already achieved phenomenal feats (he supported Bob Dylan and Neil Young and even has a fan in Elton John). His sophomore album Seventeen Going Under dropped in October (also debuting at number 1), producing the TikTok viral hit of the same name and the love letter to his dad ‘Spit of You.’ With already so many achievements under his belt, we suspect 2022 is going to be an even better year for the star.
Yungblud has been through a whirlwind since his debut album 21st Century Liability in 2019, a project that introduced the world to hits like ‘Medicine’, ‘Psychotic Kids’ and ‘California.’ Like a Gen Z messiah, the UK star loves to preach individuality, equality and the power of the adolescent, and he’s teamed up with some of the biggest stars to produce some of the biggest tracks (Travis Barker joined him on ’11 Minutes’ with Halsey and ‘I Think I’m OKAY’ with Machine Gun Kelly). His sophomore album Weird! dropped in 2020, with the hit of the same name and ‘Strawberry Lipstick’, and his latest single ‘fleabag’ has us anticipating what he has up his sleeve. Catch him at his Auckland show in July!
The daughter of famous director J. J. Abrams, Californian Gracie Abrams isn’t new to the world of film and maybe that’s why all her tracks play like a movie. Her soft indie piano-soaken hits have earned her over 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify and she’s even made fans out of Halsey, Troye Sivan and Lorde. Her 2020 debut EP minor dropped in 2020 with singles ‘I miss you, I’m sorry’ and ‘21’ and her debut album This Is What It Feels Like arrived just a few weeks ago on November 12, featuring production from fellow Taylor Swift collaborators Joel Little and Aaron Dessner. Joining Olivia Rodrigo on her upcoming tour and soaking in the success of her latest single ‘The Bottom’, we have a feeling Abrams is only getting started.