Irish artists are braver, bolder and bigger-sounding than ever before, and in recent years a flurry of promising names have ventured into the pop realm in a bid to put their own stamp on the genre. The days of Westlife, Boyzone and Jedward's grim stranglehold on the genre are (thankfully) over; here are five of the best female rising stars on the Irish pop scene.
You've probably already heard of Cmat; Ciara Mary Alice Thompson, to give her her full name, has been one of the most buzzed-about artists to emerge on the Irish music scene in 2020. Although the Dublin musician is a veteran by nos, her three singles under the Cmat banner have all been knockouts: sharp, clever pop tunes with a country/classic pop twang, a wry air of self-deprecation, gorgeous vocals and an instinctive sense of melody and songcraft. Whether she's singing about drowning her heartbreak in a bucket of fried chicken, aspiring to be a cowboy between glimmers of dejection and insecurity, or shoehorning references to comedian Rodney Dangerfield into songs, she's the sort of songwriter and artist who keeps you hanging on her every word. She says she's not interested in making an album, but this self-professed 'global pop star' could explode if she released a strong collection. And if not? She'll probably be writing songs for the biggest pop stars on the planet in twenty years' time.
Don't believe everything you read about Eve Belle. The so-called 'chronicler of sorrows' may paint herself as a singer of gloomy downbeat bedroom anthems for the disenfranchised, but her recently-released debut album 'In Between Moments' might catch you by surprise. Aided and abetted by London producer Fred Cox, the Donegal native turned out a set of seriously impressive and groove-laden pop songs, from the glistening 'Bluff' to the airy, soulful 'Cut-Throat' – all delivered in a beautifully versatile voice that could go toe-to-toe with any of her contemporaries, Irish or otherwise.
If you've watched our recent 'Origins: The Story of Irish Hip-Hop' documentary, you'll be familiar with Biig Piig's music (and if not, why not? It's online here now.) The Cork-born, Marbella-raised and London-based also known as Jess Smyth has a fascinating backstory, working as a late-night poker dealer at a Leicester Square casino before becoming involved in DIY music collective Nine8 and finding her way in music. True, the 22-year-old's sound isn't strictly 'pop', as songs like the slick-as-hell 'Don't Turn Around' and the late-night neo-soul of 'Perdida' attest to, while there's a slack hip-hop vibe to much of her material (some of which also nods to her Spanish upbringing.) Even so, she's a seriously impressive prospect that you can expect to hear a lot more of in 2021.
In her own words, this 23-year-old from Galway “just has a lot of feelings”. Thankfully, she's channelling them into seriously impressive pop songs, and not in a private diary kept tucked under her pillow. Tracks like the skip-hop bounce of 'Healthy' are the little rays of aural sunshine required during this torrid car crash of a year. She claims that her songwriting draws from influences as diverse as Kate Bush, David Bowie and Taylor Swift – glimpses of whom can be heard from time to time on her 2019 EP 'Mad'. When it comes down to it, though, this is luminous electro-pop delivered with poise and self-assurance. We can't wait to hear what she does next.
2020 has been a big year for Fia Moon. The Dubliner took part in the Irish Women in Harmony collaborative project during the first lockdown, but by that point she had already begun to make her mark as a solo artist thanks to singles like the moody Rihanna-esque 'Better Days' and the slinky patter of post-breakup song 'XX'. Earlier singles like 'Lucid Dreams' hinted at Moon's promise, but her recent material is infinitely more sure-footed – and if she continues to grow in confidence and fine-tune her sound, she could go on to do great things.
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