The amount of new talent this year was massive--the impact, even more so. Artists leading the music scene were often also just making their big breaks.
They skyrocketed through the ranks, amassed millions of streams, and made names for themselves seemingly out of nowhere. And many of them made up Last.fm's weekly Hype Chart.
To celebrate the new and noteworthy music 2019 gave us, we used our global data to round up artists who made the biggest breakouts on Last.fm this year. The definition of 'breakout' is often broad, so we spotlighted recent names that not only broke into our top 1000 in the last twelve months, but also grew from there.
Meet the artists Last.fm users discovered and dug in 2019, listed in alphabetical order.
When we caught Conan Gray in concert last year, his first EP hadn't even been released yet. It was also one of his first live performances ever. Now at the end of 2019, Gray has three North American tours, one European tour, Sunset Season the EP, and several singles under his belt.
His newer material ventures out of his bedroom pop roots, taking on fuller instrumentals and different paces—from the frenetic, “Checkmate," to the floating, “Comfort Crowd." His most recent single, “Maniac," bumped him up to the highest spot he's ever been on Last.fm's top 1000.
Initial top 1000 rank: 829
Highest global rank: 311
Girl In Red
Fronted by Norwegian singer-songwriter Maria Ulven, Girl In Red delivers dream pop with a subtle fire. Guitar-driven riffs and lyrics on the rush of youth give her music an exhilarating edge. Her first single, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend," took off after its release on SoundCloud in November 2016 and then on Apple Music in March 2018. Since then, Ulven has become a voice for LGBTQ youth—her songs often discussing sexuality, love, and late night thoughts.
Girl In Red first broke into Last.fm's top 1000 after releasing the single, “watch you sleep.," in late January. She went on to release chapter 2 in September, the follow-up EP to last year's chapter 1.
Initial top 1000 rank: 861
Highest global rank: 255
Lil Nas X
Combining the powers of TikTok, meme culture, and the interesting niche that is country rap, Lil Nas X became a major sensation with “Old Town Road." The song was originally released in 2018 on Soundcloud and YouTube, but was re released through Columbia Records in March 2019 after gaining popularity online.
Ever since, “Old Town Road" became the longest-running number one single in Billboard history. Lil Nas X released an “Old Town Road" remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, along with his debut EP, 7, which leaned more towards hip hop and alt-rock.
Initial top 1000 rank: 810
Highest global rank: 2
Lil Tecca went viral after releasing his sixth single, “Ransom," in May. He made the track's music video with Lyrical Lemonade founder Cole Bennett and ended up being a hit with the media company's large YouTube following. To a buoyant beat, the rapper envisions a life of living large and doing you with no regrets. His rookie charm and distinct AutoTune use seemed to especially stand out.
Later in the year, Lil Tecca dropped his debut mixtape, We Love You Tecca.
Initial top 1000 rank: 891
Highest global rank: 2
MEDUZA makes a spot-on case for unexpected, skyrocketing breakthroughs. The Italian house trio gained massive recognition in February after releasing their debut single, “Piece Of Your Heart"—a collaboration with Goodboys. They dropped a follow-up single “Lose Control," later this year. With lush synths, pulsing beats, and infectious hooks, the trio has been applauded for leading a surge in radio play for house music.
Initial top 1000 rank: 956
Highest global rank: 296
Megan Thee Stallion
“Hot Girl Summer" was the song that put Megan Thee Stallion on everyone's radar like never before, but it started quite a movement too. A frenetic mix of smooth beats and snappy verses, “Hot Girl Summer" became the summer motto of loving yourself and living your best life. And with the single recently going platinum, its relevance evidently goes beyond the season.
Megan Thee Stallion's breakthrough momentum didn't stop at “Hot Girl Summer." The Texas-based rapper also released her first full-length album, Fever, this year. On it, she came through with her headstrong rapping style—something she's established since her first drop, 2016 mixtape Rich Ratchet.
Initial top 1000 rank: 498
Highest global rank: 78
Tones And I
In 2018, Toni Watson of Tones And I busked full-time. In 2019, the Australian songstress broke Ed Sheeran's record for most weeks topping the ARIA Singles Chart.
Tones and I's debut single, “Johnny Run Away," and her follow-up, “Dance Monkey," were both massive—the latter especially paving the way to her global breakthrough. While Watson's vocals reminisce soul crooners, her melodies fuse elements of pop and EDM. Together, these textures add up to a standout, eclectic sound.
Tones and I also released her debut EP, The Kids Are Coming, this year.
Initial top 1000 rank: 940
Highest global rank: 85
YBN Cordae has been on the rise for a little while now. Though 2018 single “Kung Fu" got a lot of attention, his debut album from July really hit the mark. The Lost Boy features 15 songs that showcase the North Carolina rapper's versatility. He'll approach one song warmly and melodically, while the next will be heavy and hard-hitting. His lyrics are reflective and compelling, but are icy when necessary.
To further cement the success of his breakthrough album, YBN Cordae has been nominated for two Grammy awards: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for “Bad Idea," which features Chance The Rapper.
Initial top 1000 rank: 927
Highest global rank: 95
YUNGBLUD burst onto the scene with an undeniable energy. His 2018 debut album, 21st Century Liability, hooked listeners with his outspoken lyrics, piercing riffs, and overall fiery alternative rock.
In February 2019, YUNGBLUD broke into the Last.fm Top 1000 with standalone ballad, “11 Minutes," which features Halsey and Travis Barker. The year continued to be a testament to YUNGBLUD's sonic range, spawning an influx of collaborations from the English singer-songwriter, including “original me" with Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds and “I Think I'm OKAY" with Machine Gun Kelly. YUNGBLUD also released EP the underrated youth, which contained arguably his most thought-provoking material yet. Focusing on recent political events, the EP resonated profoundly with fans as it voiced the concerns of the next generation.
Initial top 1000 rank: 897
Highest global rank: 163
How do your scrobbles match up to the biggest listening trends?
Make sure to check your Last.year when it comes out!
Words by Chloe Catajan