Top 89 of 2017: New Artists


Top 89 of 2017
Top new artists of 2017 (MPR Graphic)
Alex Lahey - Every Day's the Weekend (Live on The Current)
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| 00:03:10
  • Alex Lahey - Every Day's the Weekend (Live on The Current) 03:10
  • Jain - 'Makeba' 02:50
  • Phoebe Bridgers - Motion Sickness 03:50

We asked, you voted! All December long, you -- the music lover -- voted for your favorite new artists of 2017, and the results are in.

Be sure to tune in to The Current's listener-curated Top 89 of 2017 countdown on Dec. 31, starting at 5 p.m. CT with a rebroadcast on New Year's Day starting at 10 a.m. CT.

5. Alice Merton

Berlin-based artist Alice Merton has released only one song in the U.S., and it's so good that she ended up at number five. "No Roots" is a gutsy, bass-driven jam about her nomadic past, which she's spent living in Germany, Canada, England and America.

She's done little U.S. press and zero Minnesota concerts so far, so Merton is still a bit of a mystery to Upper Midwest fans. But hopefully that'll change as we hear more in 2018.

4. Phoebe Bridgers

People rally around Phoebe Bridgers. That means well-known musicians — Conor Oberst, Ryan Adams, and Grimes, who've all boosted her career in one way or another. But also, it means any of her fans who've been hurt, conflicted, or down. So pretty much everyone.

Bridgers is from Los Angeles, and living in an entertainment capital, she got a lot of advice. She told the Fader, "There were tons of people who wanted me to be something else. 'We want you to be a pop singer!' Even people my own age who kind of inserted themselves into my scene and were like 'We're a band! And I write all the songs!' Like, no. No."

Now 23, Bridgers released her album Strangers in the Alps this year, and its calm, acoustic guitar-based sound (along with single "Motion Sickness") are winning her plenty of attention. She plays the Turf Club on April 20, 2018.

3. Jain

Jain's first album Zanaka came out in France in Nov. 2015, and it took a while to truly hop the Atlantic. But word is still spreading about her impressive talent. In February, she flew to the Twin Cities to perform an in-studio session at The Current, and later, she returned to perform at the 7th St Entry. Here's what I wrote about her show last April:

What happens when you take a gifted toulousaine and send her to Dubai, then the Republic of the Congo, then Parisian art school? She might grow up admiring South African artist/activist Miriam Makeba. She might take to percussion, as if beats twirled in her core. She could build songs out of nothing — a rhythm she hears from construction workers next door or a high-pitched, "Oowee!" — and a few of her creations might even top global charts. At least, that's how it's turned out for Jain, a French genre-weaver who's currently touring her debut album, Zanaka.

2. SZA

SZA has been releasing EPs for five years, but 2017 saw this New Jersey native drop her sensitive, explicit debut album Ctrl. She draws influence from music by Bjork, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Wu-Tang Clan, yet she doesn't sound like any of them. Ctrl and its standout songs "Supermodel" and "Drew Barrymore" simmer in a bated, sexy drift as SZA's career continues to heat up.

1. Alex Lahey

Australian rocker Alex Lahey is so much fun. Maybe that's why she and her debut album I Love You Like A Brother took off this year — or maybe because of her incredible hooks ("Wes Anderson," "Backpack"). Or maybe her wry humor ("Is it blood on my hands/ Or just red wine?"). Or maybe her fiery live shows.

Lahey is the real deal, as she proved when she visited us in November. Hear for yourself:

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