With the breakthrough success of Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat and Saweetie, as well as the ongoing global domination of Taylor Swift and Adele, it has to be said that female artists have been leading the charge in terms of pop innovation as well as commercial success. As the year winds to a close, it’s time to look toward the class of 2022: From alt-pop singer/songwriters with a knack for heart-bludgeoning lyrics to post-genre experimentalists, there is no shortage of newcomers ready to leave their mark.
(Pictured above, L-R: Pink Pantheress, Holly Humberstone, Faouzia — sorry, we couldn’t fit five!)
Here are five buzzworthy female artists to keep an eye on in 2022.
Born in Morocco and raised in Canada, Faouzia is an international artist in the truest sense: The 21-year-old, who has already amassed more than 500 million Spotify streams, combines elements of both cultures in her finely calibrated pop music. On her latest single, “Puppet,” she begins the track with a call for “freedom” in Arabic, before vaulting into a very Western-sounding banger. Faouzia, who has collaborated with David Guetta, Galantis, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend, is navigating the music industry on her own terms: Staying true to her Muslim faith while flexing vocal muscles on soaring ballads and dance floor anthems. Her debut EP, “Stripped,” arrived in 2020, and she is now working on her debut album.
With a razor-sharp pen and a knack for conjuring dreamy melodies, Variety favorite Humberstone stands out as one of Gen Z’s most promising singer/songwriters. At 21, the Brit has already released two critically lauded Eps, toured the U.S. and the U.K. and was selected as part of the BBC’s prestigious Sounds of 2021. Her upward trajectory continues with her sophomore EP, “The Walls Are Way Too Thin.” Humberstone reunites with frequent collaborator Rob Milton on the 6-song set, which documents the emotional fallout from a breakup. She also hit the studio with the 1975’s Matty Healy, who co-wrote and co-produced the recent single “Please Don’t Leave Just Yet.”
The daughter of a Bangladeshi mother and an Irish father, Joy Crookes’ prodigious vocal talent has been her calling card since 2013, when she first went viral with a cover of Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” Instead of rushing out an album, the breakout artist, now 23, worked on her craft, developing into a songwriter of rare insight over the span of three EPs. Crookes was nominated for the Rising Star Award at the 2020 Brit Awards, and is now ready to go global with “Skin.” She invites us into her nook of South London on her debut LP, with soulful songs about identity, belonging, racial injustice and matters of the heart.
Equal parts whimsy and emotional devastation, Maude Latour’s captivating brand of alt-pop centers on diary-like confessions. The 21-year-old’s unfiltered approach and ability to pen knockout choruses propelled her independently-released debut EP, “Starsick,” to 20 million streams. Labels soon came running and she is now preparing to release her major-label debut EP, “Strangers Forever,” via Warner Records. All signs point to it being one of the year’s tightest, filler-free pop offerings. The viral hit “Clean” finds the New Yorker juggling life’s minutiae, while the title track continues Latour’s run of brutal breakup anthems that began with breakout hit “One More Weekend.”
Brevity and samples are the cornerstones of Pink Pantheress’ genre-defying debut album, “To Hell With It.” With track runtimes rarely exceeding two minutes, the Brit somehow manages to weave together a patchwork quilt of sounds from snippets of ‘90s bangers, classic R&B and alt-rock anthems. Her songs, self-described as “new nostalgic,” are simultaneously tributes to the original creators and windows into her very modern world. It’s the unexpected coherence and vitality of tunes like “Break It Off” and “Pain,” both of which cracked the top 40 of Billboard’s US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, that set the 20-year-old apart.