5 Breakout UK Music Artists

Britain's up-and-coming music talent

Photo Credit: Riot Photo

Ed Sheeran, Adele and Sam Smith are just a few of the great British music artists who traveled across the pond and made a name for themselves not too long ago. But now there are more up-and-coming young British artists who are beginning to make a splash of their own. Stay tuned for these rising stars as they begin to take over the airwaves and top music charts across the world. 

Jake Bugg

This fresh-faced British singer and songwriter may only be 22 years old, but Jake Bugg’s relatable lyrics about love suggest wisdom beyond his years. Bugg’s self-titled debut album reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and his second album, “Shangri La,” also received positive reviews, earning him the nomination for the 2013 Brit Award for “British Breakthrough Act.”

One of his main influences is country music icon Johnny Cash, and after hearing Bugg sing, “Me and You” and “A Song About Love,” it’s clear that the two not only share a calm and distinct voice, but a somber and twangy tone as well. Not to mention, Cash was nicknamed the “Man in Black” for rarely smiling and always wearing dark colors. Similarly, Bugg is known for his quintessential dead-serious facial expression and is rarely seen wearing any color other than, you guessed it, black. Try listening to the high-res version of Bugg’s album, “Shangri La,” the next time you take a road trip for the perfect soundtrack to accompany you on your next adventure. 

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice is an alternative four-member rock band from North London. Named after an eerie short story by Angela Carter, Wolf Alice’s music can best be described as grunge rock with electronic undertones. The indie band first garnered mainstream attention when they released their song, “Leaving You” as a free online download. The song quickly spread and gained airplay from BBC Radio 1 and was also featured on NME’s “Radar” section. From there, the band began touring and recording more singles. 

In 2013, Wolf Alice was named the single most blogged-about artist in the UK by BBC Radio, and a year later, they were named the “Best Breakthrough Artist” by the UK Festival Awards. The band’s hit single, “Moaning Lisa Smile” reached No. 9 on Billboard Alternative Songs in 2015, and was recently nominated at this year’s Grammy Awards for “Best Rock Performance.” Known for being able to perfectly capture emotions and sensations in their lyrics, Wolf Alice is clearly not slowing down anytime soon. Check out this British indie rock band’s debut studio album, “My Love Is Cool” to get a feel for the band’s “us-against-the-world” mantra.

George Ezra

George Ezra released two EPs, “Did You Hear the Rain?” and “Cassy O’” in 2013 and 2014 respectively, but it wasn’t until the release of his hit single, “Budapest,” that Ezra truly broke into the music scene. The well-received song reached the Top 10 in several countries and became certified as platinum in Italy. Ezra then released his debut album, “Wanted on Voyage,” which quickly rose to No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and became the third best-selling album in 2014 in the UK, after Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.  

Ezra was influenced by American folk and blues artists at an early age, and particularly appreciated Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. This would explain why Ezra has been called a voice beyond his years, and why his voice sounds both soulful and wizened. Try listening to Ezra’s soothing music in high-res quality the next time you need to focus on a project. You’ll be surprised how quickly the time flies by when you’ve got Ezra’s folksy voice and the plucking of his acoustic guitar for company. 

James Bay

James Bay has quickly risen to prominence in the UK music scene. His 2014 soulful, rock single release, “Hold Back the River,” quickly went platinum, and his fan base grew in numbers and anticipation before the release of his debut album. When the “Chaos and the Calm” was released in 2015, the album went straight to No. 1 in the UK and No. 15 in the U.S. Bay earned himself the “Critics’ Choice” Award and “Best British Male Solo Artist” at the Brit Awards, as well as three nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

Although he’s only recently broken into the music scene, he’s already toured with other major industry disruptors such as Taylor Swift and Hozier. He’s currently on a world tour to promote his album, so look to catch him at a venue near you! In the meantime, check out his debut album “Chaos and the Calm” so you’ll be ready to sing along with the rest of the crowd at his next concert. 

Ella Henderson

UK music artist Ella Henderson first gained recognition on the televised music competition, “The X Factor,” when she was only 16 years old. She didn’t win the contest, but she landed a record deal and a loyal following from celebrities like Adele and Simon Cowell. Her first single, “Ghost,” reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and remained within the Top 5 for eight weeks before going platinum in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand. Her debut album, “Chapter One,” shows off her sultry and powerful vocals and earned her a spot at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart and went platinum as well. 

Known for her love of vintage fashion, Ella also infuses her personal style into her music. She describes her music as soulful, real and raw. She wants both her image and music to be honest and come from the heart, which is why she’s creatively involved in everything — from writing song lyrics to producing music videos. Perfect for a rainy day or when you’re feeling nostalgic, try listening to Ella’s album, “Chapter One,” in high-res quality the next time you feel like belting out a heartfelt power ballad. Her amazing pipes are sure to give you chills! 

Stay Tuned!

Now that you’re all caught up with the latest and greatest artists from Britain, be on the lookout for their songs on the radio and concerts near you. With so many young British music artists already making waves early-on in their careers, you can bet there will be plenty more great music to look forward to in the future!

Jake Bugg is currently touring in the UK and the U.S., and crooner James Bay is also kicking off his international tour this month in Barcelona. Both George Ezra and Wolf Alice recently released their debut albums, so look out for Ezra’s “Wanted on Voyage” and Wolf Alice’s, “My Love Is Cool.” Ella Henderson is back in the studio working and recording new music, so stay tuned for more hit singles!

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