2022 was a year of extremes: by the end, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to grieve anymore. Submerged in daily tragedies, the moment you’re able to break the surface for air, another wave is already crashing over your hopeful head. It is at this precise moment that your next move could mean life or death. Fight the undertow and lose, or breathe and remember to swim parallel to the shore.
It takes being brought to your knees to realize there are forces in this world far more powerful than us. And so, in times of crisis, we must surrender to what moves us. As tempting as it is to look back on all we survived, there is more purpose to be found in forging ahead, searching the future for more of whatever it was that carried us through the past year.
Where there was fire and brimstone, there was also art made: movies filmed, books written, songs sung. Just like the band of the Titanic—playing and sinking at the same time—the pre-apocalyptic era ushered in by 2022 is going to have a pretty great soundtrack. As inspired by a year of plight and perseverance – and our Artists to Watch in 2022, these are the rising queer artists INTO has their eyes on for 2023.
Hate Being in Love – Jame Minogue
If you ask Dominican indie artist Jame Minogue what they think about love, their track “Hate Being in Love” seems to give a pretty straightforward answer. But, with a whimsically wonderful instrumental, the song itself may just beg to differ. Contrary to the sentiment of its lyrics, “Hate Being In Love” combines the upbeat tick of a bongo beat with trickling piano and a warm fuzzy bassline, making for a dreamily romantic atmosphere on a song that is supposedly “anti-love.” Drawing inspiration from Pop, Latin, Caribbean, Alternative, and Hip-hop influences, Minogue’s eclectic style grants him the space to both curse love and be just as equally obsessed with embodying it in sound.
Pedestrians – Jean-Marvell
With just two songs in his discography, Jean-Marvell can certainly be considered new to the industry. Even so, “Pedestrians” and “Hopelessly Addicted” make it known that the London artist is far from new to the art of songwriting. “Pedestrians” plays out like poetry, using lyrical storytelling to convey the metaphor of stumbling through life as we do the street, with our heads down like a pedestrian. “In this mirage, we all keep love at our feet / Walk on emotions, we’re too blinded to see / We’re nothing but pedestrians.”
Tooth Fairy – Mae Krell
Self-ascribed “Sad Girl indie” artist Mae Krell performs in soliloquy, singing her private thoughts aloud as though she were alone; except, she’s not. When Krell shares her secrets in lyrics, she is often before a crowd of complete strangers. As an emerging LGBTQ+ artist selected by the Music Forward Foundation and Citibank, Mae Krell is a rising figure in sapphic folk-pop. The peppy pop chorus of “Tooth Fairy” arrives wrapped in an intimate, acoustic-based arrangement; Krell’s honest delivery rebuilds a memory, granting the listener an honest analysis of the world through her eyes.
Photobooth – Mothé
2022 was a year of metamorphosis for Mothé (she/they); a multi-instrumentalist songwriter and singer who left behind her Texas punk band to show off her synth-pop side with her debut album, I Don’t Want You To Worry Anymore. With each day since Mothé has unfurled further from their chrysalis, growing into their artistry as one does into their body. “photobooth” recounts the tale of a stolen kiss, hidden in plain sight and kept secret. Playing into the hysteria of it all, Mothé cries out “Oh God, he wants to kiss me in the photo booth,” and the band responds to the drama in kind with a wailing guitar and crashing cymbals.
Foolish – Elah Hale
If you were on Tumblr in 2015, then the name Elah Hale will definitely ring a bell. At just 17, the New York native broke onto the scene with a viral, self-released song; soon after, Hale was signed by the label giant Interscope Records. Hale dropped her latest single – “Foolish,” in 2021 and has left fans wanting more ever since. Her radio silence in 2022 means but one thing: Hale is gearing up to release her debut full-length feature with Interscope. 2023 isn’t ready for the profound lyrical introspection of Elah Hale. While we wait, the groovy guitar licks of “Foolish” will most certainly suffice.
Summer Really Hurt Us – ALMA
Fans of Charli XCX and Tove Lo will love their frequent collaborator and young pop genius ALMA. Wielding a punk mentality and luminescent hair-dye, the Finnish singer is on a mission with her popstar peers to dial up the artistic capabilities of mainstream music. ALMA’S most recent release “Summer Really Hurt Us,” proves that she can abide by—and excel beyond—the strategic algorithms of pop. Above a symphony of strings, the heartbroken ALMA pushes her pride aside and mulls over a summer of wrongdoings with a definitive “goddamn.”
FINER THINGS – J.Scott
Brooklyn-based musician J.Scott walks, talks, and sings, like the next big thing; probably, because he is and he knows it. The classically-trained singer’s confidence can be attributed to his lifelong preparation. From singing in church choirs to garnering critical acclaim for his 2020 hit single “Edibles,” J.Scott spent his early life perfecting the very practice of star-power that he preaches about on “Finer Things.” Twisting up old-school melodies with a modern take, J.Scott shamelessly admits his well-earned affinity for stardom, “addicted to the finer things / I’m addicted to the diamond rings / I want the money / and I crave all the fame.”
skater girls- ILON
Everyone has heard Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8ter Boi” – but what about the skater girls? Finnish singer ILON (she/they) pays proper homage to the rough and tough girls in her neighborhood with her single “skater girls.” While her neighbors skin and bruise their knees outside, ILON watches from the windowsill above and sighs, “I wanna be like the skater girls / in my neighborhood / with their bruised up knees / oh I wish I could.” Citing idols like Frida Kahlo, Rihanna, and the skater girls, ILON wishes with all their might to be something they know they are not; even as she wishes to be anyone else, ILON expertly showcases the big emotions and observational eye that make her so perfectly unique.
Cognitive Dissonance – Sophie Holohan
We all overthink and overshare; singer-songwriter Sophie Holohan just happened to make a career out of it. Before even turning 21, Holohan upgraded her diary entries into mastered recordings of original songs. “Cognitive Dissonance” is a masterful showing of Sophie Holohan’s poignant pen and personal touch. Urged forward by the incessant strum of a rugged riff, the California native longs to grasp the intersection of belief and action. Wise beyond her years, Holohan brings life’s unspoken truths out into the light of day.
Sad Girl – Vetta Borne
Before Vetta Borne racked up millions of streams with her breakout hit “Girls,” she was a writer, producer, and feature artist for the hits of other powerhouse artists. Now with her own spotlight, the Australian-Filipino star formulates a signature brand of feel-good funk. With big bounces of bass and a kick-snare alternation that shakes the soul, “Sad Girl” sees Vetta Borne effortlessly switch up from a sexy, carefree flow to full-blown singing when the chorus rings out, “I’m done being a sad girl.” For her collection of classics that only grows, the Australian radio station triple j rightfully hails Vetta Borne as a “certified hitmaker.”♦