ten sensual new musicians from around the world

Navigate the global pop stratosphere with our pick of the cream of the crop.

Tsar B – Belgium

Tsar B is the moniker of 22-year-old Justine Bourgeus, a classically trained violinist who started out skipping between bands in her native Belgium. Bored of waiting for someone to help her bring her own musical vision to life, she decided to do it all herself and suddenly Tsar B was born. Bourgeus has synaesthesia, which basically means the stimulation of one sense can trigger a reaction in another, in this case, she sees songs as colours. Her self-titled debut EP collects together four examples of her idiosyncratic approach to pop, with lead single Escalate (a shade of dark blue) a deliciously odd fusion of thunderclap beats, percolating drama and middle eastern flavours, while Swim (a poisonous kind of yellow) creeps along like FKA twigs on a sugar high. As one critic succinctly put it, "Tsar B is like ecstasy for the senses!".

 Bibi Bourelly – Germany 

Berlin-born, LA-based singer/songwriter Bibi Bourelly has already achieved quite a lot in her 22 years on earth. So far she's written for Rihanna (three songs on Anti, plus Bitch Better Have My Money) and Selena Gomez, as well as guesting on songs by Lil Wayne and Usher. With a sixth sense when it comes to songwriting (she claims to have written her first song at the age of one), and keen to step into the spotlight herself, she released her debut EP, Free The Real, earlier this year. As you can probably tell from that title, Bourelly's songs are all about raw honesty and genuine emotion, showcased exquisitely on the bluesy Ego and the stripped back acoustic ballad, Riot.

Noga Erez –Israel

As I'm sure you did too, Israel's Noga Erez went through a fairly long jazz period before seeing sense and fully embracing pop. Based in Tel Aviv, her brand of experimental agit-pop is infused by politics, but, like one of her inspirations M.I.A, it's also focused on making people dance. The undulating electronic throb of recent single Pity, for example, details the injustice of a recent gang rape case, while the pulsating Off The Radar is a song about the erasure of identities encased in an aggressive rumble of synth-lead pop.

Sofi de la Torre – Spain

There's no one formula to pop - that's what makes it so beautiful – but a good one to remember is this; synths + melancholia x icy female vocals = dreamy. Someone who sticks resolutely to this template is Spain's Sofi de la Torre whose glistening 2014 single Vermillion should be hung in the Louvre such is its majesty. Proving it was no fluke, 2015's debut EP Mess continued the trend for above average pop tuneage, while earlier this year she chucked out the more aggressive Sit Down (“...ain't nobody got time for this shit”) just to prove she's no pushover.

Tkay Maidza – Australia 

Do you like hip-hop? Great. Do you like pop music? Okay amazing. Do you like it when hip-hop fuses with pop to make something that makes you smile? Sort of like what Missy Elliott was doing in the early naughties? Brilliant, because Zimbabwe-born, Australia-raised pint-sized rapper Tkay Maidza makes the sort of day-glo hip-hop that makes your senses tingle. Having seduced the blogs in 2014 with the electro-tinged U-huh, she's since released a critically-acclaimed EP, Switch Tape, while her debut album, TKAY, features a collaboration with Run The Jewels' Killer Mike

Nadia Nair – Sweden

Gothenburg's Nadia Nair – whose parents hailed from India and Malaysia – is part of a wave of exciting second generation female pop stars to emerge from Sweden, alongside the likes of Mapei, Seinabo Sey and Zhala. Like those three, Nair fuses the dynamics of pop learned from growing up in its heartland of Sweden, with elements of her family's musical heritage. Her debut album, Beautiful Poetry, is a richly rewarding collection of emotional pop songs that combine heart and energy, all topped off with a voice that can flit between vulnerable and empowered in a heartbeat.

Ericka Jane – Denmark

Denmark's Ericka Jane made a name for herself in her home country via the two routes most budding pop stars use these days; TV talent shows and YouTube covers. At the age of 15 she entered Denmark's X-Factor, while a year later her cover of JoJo's version of Drake's Marvin's Room (still with me?), which was inexplicably filmed in a car park, went viral. Since then she's released an EP, Favorite Lie, and a handful of R&B-tinged bangers. As a taste of what's to come, Jane recently released Bad Like You, a sleek, Rihanna-esque shimmy about doing unspeakable things.

ALMA – Finland

Finland's ALMA is 20-years-old and has bright green hair, and she's amazing. Her debut single Karma is a fistful of vengeance in musical form, her surprisingly soulful voice calmly delivering a killer kiss-off over a strange approximation of Chicago house and R&B. Everything else you need to know about her is in the accompanying video, which features beer swigging in scuzzy venue backrooms, visits to seedy bars and, fingers crossed, her working on some more amazing pop songs.  

Lao Ra – Colombia

When she was growing up, Lao Ra's hometown of Bogota was considered one of the most violent cities in the world. To escape whatever was going on outside her window she and her brother used to sit in front of MTV, steadily absorbing global pop music. Later that love merged with a similar love of punk, with Ra starting to write her own attitude-filled songs from the age of 12. After finishing music college – and following a brief stint working for a fire alarm company – Ra re-focused her energies on her own blend of off-kilter pop, releasing her debut EP, Jesus Made Me Bad late last year. Ra's songs are a bright and bold amalgamation of tropical-tinged beats, MØ's experimentation and the day-glo wonder of PC Music, i.e. properly, brilliantly, batshit.

Era Istrefi – Albania

There's something intriguing about Albania's Era Istrefi. The cheap and cheerful video for her debut single, Bonbon, features her prowling around a snow-covered roadside wearing a gargantuan pink fur-lined parka while dancing like Rihanna. If that's not incongruous enough, the song itself is a weird mix of glacial R&B, dancehall and trap, sung in both Albanian and English, the sort of summer-infused jam that should soundtrack a BBQ and not a lady lost on a roadside in the winter. Still, it's already had over 150m views and gazillions of streams so whatever black magic it's emitting seems to be working.


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