2016 has had its intoxicating highs and its devastating lows. After taking stock of the year’s finest songs and albums, it is that time to look forward to what bubbling-under artists could and should break out in a big way in the new year. Ranging from songwriters transitioning to full-time artists and youthful new harmony trio, One Country takes a look at 10 singers, songwriters and musicians who will be 2017’s superstar class.
Their self-titled debut EP is a polished, contemporary record with a hearty traditional tilt. Their debut single “Drinkin’ Problem” tips its hat to ’90s Mark Chestnut and George Strait but offers up a very distinctive sound and perspective. Mark Wystrach (lead vocals, guitar), Cameron Duddy (bass,vocals) and Jess Carson (lead guitar, vocals) also make sure to keep their harmonies sweet and tight. “Burn Out” and “This Old Heart” are must-listens, too. An all-male trio is particularly rare these days, and with Big Machine in their corner, their future is lookin’ good.
2. Carly Pearce
Ever since Pearce dropped “Every Little Thing” last month, her star has been growing brighter and brighter. The rather musically progressive piano track is built upon a haunting melody and smokey lead vocal and anchored with piano, lonesome guitar and even gritty dobro. The song leads her forthcoming, long-awaited, new EP, and by all accounts, 2017 will be her year.
3. Candi Carpenter
Carpenter is lighting up country music with her smoldering new track “Burn the Bed.” After she discovers a cheating lover, she resolves to get revenge in the best way possible. Instead of trashing his little ole four-wheel drive like Carrie Underwood, she sets on setting the bed on fire (and not just the sheets), much like Miranda Lambert did in her hit single “Kerosene.” But “Burn the Bed” is a bit more moody and less rock-influenced. Carpenter’s vocal, too, is soaked with bitterness and conjures with a distinct atmospheric quality. If this is any indication of what is it come, sign us up for a full-length album, STAT!
4. Runaway June
The trio recently netted their first-ever Top 30 hit. “Lipstick” marks an important time in country music–they become the first all-female trio in 10 years to shatter the Top 30 threshold since SheDaisy. The song is empowering (and not just for women) and samples their forthcoming debut project, which is shaping up to be one of 2017’s most anticipated releases.
5. Erik Dylan
With a bevy of major label cuts under his belt, including Kip Moore’s “Comeback Kid,” this gravelly voiced singer is poised to have a breakout moment of his very own. Off the heat of his acclaimed debut album, The Heart of a Flatland Boy, he has proved he can stand with the big dogs. Songs like “Fishing Alone,” “Map Dot Town” and “Pink Flamingoes” are among the year’s best cuts and indicate Dylan has even more up his sleeve. And we absolutely can not wait to see what he does next.
6. Dustin Hensley
Hensley is one of the few genre-benders of the bunch. He mixes pop and EDM with down-home country songwriting; on paper, it might not work, but execution is everything. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he will certainly turn some heads in the new year. His new single “Nobody but You” frames his forward-thinking around glossy R&B and neon lights.
7. Ryan Hurd
With a string of on-off singles this year, Hurd has proved his streaming power, as well as his musical range. “We Do Us” is a pop-leaning anthem, while “Love in a Bar” is more intimate. After co-writing the No. 1 hit “Lonely Tonight” (Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe), he has made the transition to full-blown artist rather effortlessly. He is expected to drop his debut album in the new year.
8. Temecula Road
The young up-and-coming trio have mastered the art of covers, including their most recent 2016 mash-up which features major hits from a wide range of mainstream artists. The video, not surprising, has netted well over three million views on Facebook. That benchmark alone is a testament to their talents; their is an audience ready and willing to support them.
9. Magnolia Wind
Kristen Brassel and Chris Butler’s debut EP, Take One, overflows with smooth melodies, gripping harmonies and gutsy songwriting. Standouts such as “Ghosts” and “Heal Our Souls” are the kind of impactful recordings which cement careers and will undoubtedly take them to the next level. 2017, you better get ready.
10. Caitlyn Smith
The songwriter behind such hits as Megan Trainor and John Legend’s “Like I’m Going to Lose You” and Cassadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears” is aiming to takeover 2017 with her long-awaited new album. Earlier this year, she sampled the project with an EP titled Starfire which includes soul-inspired numbers like “Before You Called Me Baby” and the powerful “This Town is Killing Me.”
11. Jillian Jacqueline
Coming off her self-titled debut EP is no easy task, but Jacqueline is more than up to the task. Armed with “Prime” and “Kids These Days,” she frames her diversity with confidence and is poised to take 2017 by storm.