TBC Score: 61
This Southampton-born singer-songwriter found his way into songwriting through the vocal pop legends he grew up listening to as a kid, like Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Adele. It shows in his moody yet virtuosic music, which draws on R&B, jazz, and classic pop to transmute pain and introspection into powerful, uplifting songs. He originally went viral in 2020 on TikTok with a cover of Jasmine Sullivan’s “Pick Up Your Feelings,” but he’s on the rise again thanks to the success of his single “ego talkin,” which he recently performed on the tastemaking YouTube channel COLORSxSTUDIOS in a video that's at 1.4M views as of this writing. The track is also popular on TikTok, where it has been used in over 2,000 videos since its mid-May release. His tracks also appear on popular editorial playlists like Chilled R&B, Channel-X, and idk, which have helped power him to over 777K monthly listeners on Spotify.
sign crushes motorist
TBC Score: 84
Liam McCay has released music under many different names, but the heavy-hearted lyricism of the music of his sign crushes motorists project is his most popular. Moody in the vein of Salvia Plath and Duster, McCay’s drowsy lo-fi tracks have garnered millions of streams. Only one song from 2022’s i’ll be okay hasn't passed 1M streams, while the best-performing track, “Better,” currently has over 9M. With little press coverage, the young Irish songwriter is finding success on apps like Spotify and TikTok. His monthly listeners have increased by over a million since the start of 2023, and his music can be found on many prominent playlists (like All New Indie, Spooky, and undercurrents), while #signcrushesmotorist has 20.5M views on TikTok.
TBC Score: 64
The high-energy Dominican genre known as dembow has been having a global moment over the last few years, and Jey One, a 22-year-old rapper from Santo Domingo, is the scene’s latest rising star. Powered by cosigns from some of the genre’s most popular acts—like Yomel El Meloso, Bulova, and Chimbala—Jey’s ascent has been dramatic, with tracks like “Socorro” and “Gemelo” garnering millions of streams on Spotify. “Onana” is proving to be his big breakout, thanks in part to its wide reach on TikTok, where it’s been used in over 335K videos since its release in May. This viral success has led to his placement on popular playlists for the genre like Dembow Pegao. Time will tell if he’s able to attain the international success of the scene’s biggest stars, such as El Alfa, but he seems well on his way.
TBC Score: 71
Lijay’s style is reminiscent of the 2010s SoundCloud rap era of heavily computerized and animated beats. The recent high school grad has capitalized on an ingenious marketing formula: riffing on famous imagery and using the word “freak” liberally, as in “live laugh love freaks” and “i love freaks.” The “I love NY” logo designed by Milton Glaser inspired the artwork for the latter, which has been used in over 121K TikToks and has 5.4M views on YouTube. With additional placements on playlists like Internet People and Most Necessary, Lijay is establishing a carefree community of fans that make up his 2.6M monthly Spotify listeners, while still only having released seven singles.