2018 is over as is list season. Just kidding! We’ve got one more for you. There were so many incredible female artists last year, we’re just going to leave this one here in case any go slipping under the radar in 2019. Unlikely, though.
Here are our five favourite female artists of 2018, featuring unexpected success stories, future superstars and indie troubadours.
In 2018, former Drake collaborator Jorja Smith became a star in her own right. The year started well for the Walsall born R&B singer. In January, she received the Brit Critics’ Choice Award and collaborated with Stormzy on the single ‘Let Me Down’, while in February she contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack.
In June, her debut album Lost & Found entered at number three on the UK albums chart. It was met with critical acclaim and later earned Smith a Mercury Prize nomination.
In the last 12 months, Smith has followed a hectic touring schedule, playing to packed out rooms across the country and performing at major festivals like Coachella, Primavera Sound and Bestival as well as making an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.
Colombian singer Kali Uchis has been one of this year’s breakout stars. She kicked off the year opening for Lana Del Rey during her North American tour, and found herself nominated for a Grammy for her appearance on Daniel Caesar’s single ‘Get You’.
In March, she appeared on The Tonight Show where she announced the release of her debut album. The incredible Isolation came out in April and featured an all-star cast of collaborators including Damon Albarn, Kevin Parker and (another one of our favourites) Jorja Smith. It received universal praise from critics and is currently popping up on almost every end of year list going.
Earlier this year Uchis began selling clothes on Depop to raise money for the people of her hometown Pereira. Through her fundraising and charitable work, the 24-year-old has been able to provide medical supplies, groceries, housing, school supplies and clothing to the community.
Virginia singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is behind not just one, but two of 2018’s most acclaimed releases. In March, Dacus’ second album Historian was critically lauded and is currently proving to be a staple of year-end lists. Historian sees Dacus develop as a songwriter and tackle some of life’s big issues yet remains an intimate listen.
However, Dacus was not content with just one great record and formed the supergroup boygenius later on in the year with Matador labelmate Julien Baker and fellow alternative songstress Phoebe Bridgers. They released the boygenius EP last month and shot to fame when Kendall Jenner declared herself a fan.
The 22-year-old has spent most of the year on the road in support of Historian, touring with boygenius and opening for Father John Misty. She’s appeared at SXSW, performed on CBS This Morning and recorded a Tiny Desk Concert with the rest of boygenius.
Five years after we first heard her on Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape, in 2018 Noname finally came through with her debut album Room 25 – and it was worth the wait. Fatimah Warner, more commonly known as Noname, is fiercely independent and plays by her own rules. Despite being widely praised for her guest appearances and 2016 mixtape Telefone, Warner remains unsigned to a label and opted to write, co-produce and finance her debut record herself. She self-released her deeply personal jazz-rap epic Room 25 in September to widespread acclaim, leading Rolling Stone to declare her “one of the best rappers alive”.
Noname has toured the world in support of Room 25 including a homecoming appearance at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago and her TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Watch her tear through a medley of songs with a seriously tight backing band.
Spanish pop sensation Rosalia is one of the most unexpected success stories of 2018. Rosalia only came through with her sophomore album El Mal Querer a month ago, but it has already become one of the most talked about records of the year. El Mal Querer hit number one in the Spanish albums and US Latin Pop charts and has been critically praised for its modern take on the traditional flamenco style.
A few weeks ago, Rosalia bagged two awards at the Latin Grammys from a massive five nominations for her breakout single ‘Malamaente’– which is now certified double platinum.
She has also recently been announced to play big slots next year at Lollapalooza across South America, Ceremonia in Mexico and even a headline set at Primavera Sound in her native Catalonia. Watch her triumphant performance at the MTV EMAs, just two days after the release of El Mal Querer.