The last two years have been, in short, unpredictable. For musicians, it has meant an avalanche of rescheduled, delayed, and cancelled shows, sessions, festivals, collaborations, label meetings — and just when things were starting to feel a little more normal, the Omicron variant swooped in, messing up artists’ plans once again.
There are so many incredible, impressive artists in this country — women, and gender diverse individuals in particular — who are globally acknowledged taste-makers, consistently working at the cutting edge of genre and performance.
The pandemic has hit musicians hard, in more ways than we can imagine, so 2022 looks like a pretty great year to add more Australian artists to your playlists. You won’t regret it.
Hatchie makes shoegaze at its very finest — and her latest singles, This Enchanted and Quicksand, are more incisive, more interrogative, than ever before. It’s pop, but more dazzling and hypnotic than anything else on the radio right now.
Feels like: Going to see Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet with your crush in the cinema, right when it came out.
For fans of: Cocteau Twins, Soccer Mommy, folklore/evermore-era Taylor Swift.
Jaguar Jonze (she/her)
A dedicated, tireless advocate for victims of sexual assault in the Australian music industry, and an impressively multi-talented musician, visual artist and photographer, Jaguar Jonze (aka Deena Lynch), creates rock-inspired pop that inspires and empowers the listener.
Feels like: A slow-motion, main-character walk — a pre-show pump up.
For fans of: Royal & The Serpent, Wolf Alice.
Vetta Borne (she/her)
Producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vetta Borne makes sparkling, uplifting RnB-influenced pop — but with lyrics that will pull at your heartstrings in the best kind of way. It’s the prettiest kind of yearning you can do.
Feels like: Cry-dancing through a breakup surrounded by your best friends; spilling champagne on the dancefloor.
For fans of: WAFIA, Solange.
KYE is the RnB pop princess the world has been waiting for — skilful, intricate vocal phrasing and flawless hooks seem to come naturally to this fully-formed artist. Golden, gentle and sweet, but deeply self-assured, KYE is just so effortlessly cool.
Feels like: Sitting in the sparkling synergy of a really good first date.
For fans of: Sampa The Great, SZA.
Morgues Celeste (she/her) and Cath (she/they)
Like the sweetest dream you never want to wake up from, Morgues make woozy, gleaming lo-fi indie pop — the perfect soundtrack to a coming of age film set somewhere in the suburbs. Nostalgic and comforting, intuitive and introspective — Morgues are definitely headed for big things in 2022.
Feels like: The mid-2000s — after-school ABC TV, soft carpet, posters from DOLLY plastered all over your bedroom walls.
For fans of: Carb on Carb, Phoebe Bridgers, Beach House.
Alex Lahey (she/her)
Australian indie legend Alex Lahey first broke through with the classic You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me in 2016, a powerhouse of a single that saw her catapulted to the global stage. Since then, she’s released pop-punk hit after hit, composed for Netflix film Mitchell and the Machines (which might even see her up for an Oscar nomination), and had her music featured in the cult-classic game Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
Feels like: The music your cool older brother would introduce you to, the kind you listen to religiously, on repeat.
For fans of: Paramore, Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Like the most idyllic summer’s day, Sycco marries clever, bright pop production with sharp, witty lyrics — it’s just joyous. Oozing with charisma and charm, standout single My Ways is the feel-good anthem the world needs right now.
Feels like: A perfect summer beach holiday with your besties — Aperol Spritzes on the balcony, diving deep into the waves.
For fans of: Alice Ivy, Benee.
June Jones (she/her)
Singer-songwriter June Jones makes evocative, thoughtful, detailed music, and her latest album Leafcutter is her most intimate offering yet. Grappling with vulnerability and memory, she sings with deep intention amidst a bed of synthesisers.
Feels like: Lying on your bed, staring at the ceiling, contemplating everything.
For fans of: Cate Le Bon, Björk.
Fans have been waiting for Mallrat’s debut album to drop — but according to this teaser on her Instagram, we won’t be waiting much longer. The most poignant Australian pop lyricist in recent history, Mallrat has a knack for marrying genres, ending up with the sweetest, strangest pop you’ve ever heard.
Feels like: The long plane ride from Australia to LA, finally landing; you can see the sun rising on the horizon.
For fans of: Allday, Clairo.
Raria is one of Australia’s most underrated pop artists. With impressive vocal chops and impeccably crafted singles, Raria perfectly captures the early-twenties dating experience — the heartbreak, the confusion, and the heady rush of falling in love.
Feels like: Catching someone’s eye across the bar — and your friends in your ear telling you to go for it.
For fans of: Julia Michaels, Ariana Grande.
Choral princess Aphir makes magical, genre-defying ambient-inspired music with strong pop roots. An accomplished sound engineer as well as a producer and songwriter, Aphir is leading the way for experimental pop artists in Australia.
Feels like: Sneaking into a chapel late at night, and speaking out loud just to hear the echo.
For fans of: FKA twigs, Grimes.
Eilish Gilligan is a writer, songwriter and producer based in Melbourne, and her EP ‘First One To Leave The Party’ is out now.