From Petite Meller to Halsey, the best rising musicians proving pop that deserves respect
Alexandra Pollard
16:00 15th October 2015

Pop music has always been an easy target for music snobs. Its accessibility and popularity, combined with the fact that its fans tend to be young and eager, leaves it open to easy derision. Whether you like it or not though, it's a genre that has produced some of the greatest musicians.

And rarely has there been a better time for pop than 2015. Musicians are making brilliant, emotive, meaningful music that is unadulterated pop - because pop and musicianship are not, and never have been, mutually exclusive.

From Halsey to Petite Meller, these are the 10 artists (though the list is far from exhaustive) making pop worthwhile in 2015. 

  • Petite Meller: Blending eccentricity, avant-garde and pure pop in ways Lady Gaga could only dream of, Petite Meller's infectious, buoyant electro-pop is as striking as her aesthetic - which is saying something. Every frame of her videos looks like something from a high-fashion magazine spread - but with an edge that borders on disturbing. Essential track: 'Baby Love'

  • Halsey: The new era of socially conscious, progressive and outspoken popstars has found its spokesperson in the shape of Halsey, who's going to be a household name in about six months' time. Her music is like a more electro-pop, more euphoric Paramore, and you're going to be hearing a lot of it. Essential track: 'Ghost'

  • Tove Lo: Forget sex, drugs and rock 'n roll - Tove Lo is ushering in a new era of sex, drugs and electro-pop. Known for her grunge-influence take on pop music, and deeply candid lyrics, Tove Lo's music is unflinching, irresistable pop. Essential track: 'Habits (Stay High)'

  • The Magnettes: There must be something in the Swedish water - the country seems to produce brilliant electro-pop artists at a rate of knots. Blending new wave, disco and electro-pop with defiant, creepy, funny and romantic lyrics: "No one in this world will understand / but who the fuck needs them?", they ask in 'Bones', before bursting back into the chorus, "I won't stop till I break your bones off." Essential track: 'Bones'

  • Years & Years: You don't need us to tell you how good Years & Years are at this point, but seeing as we've been championing them since their CD arrived on our desk back in 2013, and the fact that they're one of the best contemporary pop bands of recent years, we'd be remiss not to include them. Essential track: 'Real'

  • MO: She's probably still best known for her brilliant Major Lazer collaboration 'Lean On', but if you haven't broadened your scope to include Mo's solo output, you're missing out. It's slinky drum samples, instrumental loops and yelps underneath a killer melody sung in Karen Orsted's instantly recognisable vocals. Essential track: 'Don't Wanna Dance'

  • Aurora: We're a little baffled as to why 'Runaway', one of the most hauntingly powerful electro-pop songs of this (or any) year wasn't immediately thrown onto the A List of every radio station in the country. Still, with just one stunning EP under her belt and a debut album on the way next year, there's still plenty of time for the world to catch up with the brilliance of the 19-year-old Norwegian. Essential track: 'Runaway'

  • Tove Styrke: There aren't too many pop singers whose biggest single is about "smashing the patriarchy", but Tove Styrke is no ordinary popstar. Blending indie, pop and electronica with syncopated shades of ska and dub, her music is unbearably catchy, big-hearted and just the right amount of gritty. She came in third on Swedish Idol back in 2009 - we wonder what the two acts who beat her are doing now. Essential track: 'Borderline'

  • Lion Babe: A cacophany of layered electronic drum beats underneath sultry neo-soul vocals, that occasionally evolve into something akin to rap, Lion Babe's music is at once retro and futuristic. Having worked with Disclosure and Childish Gambino, the New York duo are set to release their debut album this year. Essential track: 'Impossible'

  • Alessia Cara: You could say, given the brilliantly anti-social sentiment of Cara's breakout single 'Here', that she's a sort of anti-hero in the world of pop. An internal monologue of an introvert at a house party, Cara sings, "Holla at me I'll be in the car when you're done / I'm standoffish, don't want what you're offering / And I'm done talking." Thankfully, she's nowhere near done singing. Expect big things from her. Essential track: 'Here'

  • Say Lou Lou: We will stop going on about Say Lou Lou when the world gives them the recognition they deserve. With perfectly crafted pop songs, which lace melancholy and euphoria with a skill that only Robyn can rival, Say Lou Lou are a sublime pop duo. Essential track: 'Everything We Touch'


Photo: WENN