2018 has firmly been stamped as the year of the female artist.
And despite Primavera Sound being the only festival so far to announce an equal 50/50 split in their 2019 line-up, next year is looking even better. There have been so many standout performances, important messages and era-defining tracks this year, but I've managed (just about) to narrow the list down to give you my top eight.
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1. Empress Of
Empress Of, the solo project of Lorely Rodriguez, has been one of the most notable breakout stars of 2018. The Latin American singer’s Us album is a collection of 10 songs all worthy of being singles in themselves, though ‘I Don’t Even Smoke Weed’ and ‘Everything to Me’ are particularly stand-outs.
Her current discography, featuring twice on Khalid’s album as well as building on her consistently strong track record since her 2012 debut, has accumulated in a stellar year for Rodriquez.
2. Nina Nesbitt
Nina Nesbitt has been on the pop scene for years. 2012’s The Apple Tree EP and 2013’s Stay Out brought her a level of fame, but after the success of ‘The Best You Had’ last year, Nesbitt has spent 2018 releasing hit after hit. She has toured the US with Jake Bugg and played a multitude of festivals in the UK.
Balancing endlessly catchy songs like ‘Loyal to Me’ with the likes of the emotive self-help song ‘The Sun Will Come up, The Seasons Will Change’ has secured the Scottish singer-songwriter a place in the limelight, with her second album expected on 1st February 2019.
3. Kali Uchis
Kicking off the year with her breakout single ‘After The Storm’ featuring Bootsy Collins and Tyler, The Creator, Kali Uchis released one of the best albums of 2018: Isolation. The Columbian-American singer has created a distinct musical personality for herself, reminiscent of an early Lana Del Rey in her unapologetic sensuality.
Even with an impressive line-up on Isolation, including Jorja Smith and Steve Lacy alongside Tyler and BIA, Kali Uchis still manages to steal the show on her debut album.
4. Jorja Smith
With her stunning vocals and soulful lyrics, Jorja Smith has rightfully been compared to the likes of Adele and Alicia Keys. Smith’s debut Lost & Found, the accumulation of five years’ work, came out in June 2018.
Her collaborations with the likes of Drake, Kali Uchis, Stormzy, and producer Preditah show the versatility of her songwriting and vocals and just how quickly she’s risen to fame. After seeing her live in November, her voice is just as strong during a gig than it is through your headphones.
After winning BBC Music Sound of 2018 award, the 22-year-old from Norway has claimed the year as her own. ‘High Five’ and ‘Sucker Punch’ alongside her Raw EP have confirmed her talent as a singer-songwriter.
2019 is looking to be an even bigger year for Sigrid, joining Maroon 5 and George Ezra on their tours as well as releasing her debut album in March.
6. King Princess
Mikaela Straus, better known by her stage name King Princess, is nothing short of a musical genius. Her song ‘1950’ is a stunning representation of her vocal talent, emotion and master song-writing skills. Being praised by the likes of Harry Styles and Charli XCX, King Princess is a rising household name. ‘Pussy is God’ represents her unapologetic expression of sexuality, while ‘Talia’ is a heartbreak-ridden anthem, where Straus sings "if I drink enough, I can see you dancing, I can lay down next to you".
Turning down her first record deal at just 11, Straus’s success has been a long time coming. Despite being one of the fastest-rising stars of the year, she has definitely not peaked yet. Aged just 19, I can’t wait to see what she brings in 2019.
7. First Aid Kit
The Söderberg sisters by no means earned their stripes in 2018, but it was doubtless a fantastic year for the Swedish duo. Dropping their album Ruins at the start of the year, First Aid Kit have enjoyed months of success. From performing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! as well as The Graham Norton Show, the duo has found fame both sides of the pond.
Since the incredible The Lion’s Roar and Stay Gold albums that defined First Aid Kit’s distinct musical style, they have gone from strength to strength. Eight years on from their debut, they have finally got the recognition they deserved.
8. Ariana Grande
No 2018 list would be complete without Ariana Grande. Though her fame began long before 2018 did, Grande has found her stride this year. In spite of a traumatic and turbulent couple of years, she has risen from the ashes both as a person and a musician.
With her fourth album Sweetener reaching number one on the spot and ‘thank u, next’ firmly solidified as everyone's self-love anthem of the year, she has established herself one as a mouthpiece of our generation and confirmed that God is, indeed, a woman.