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You can’t listen to singer-songwriter Hugo Valentine without being reminded of the classics like Elton John and Coldplay – when melodies and lyrics ruled, not topline and beats. Only a few artists on the planet can modernize a classic sound while creating a colorful character and I think the British singer did a decent job. He’s released 4 songs and my favorites are All I Want and Memories (near 200k streams).  He picked up tastemakers support from the likes EarMilk and Essentially Pop. Give it a stream.

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I haven’t heard of a artist project that mashes Smash Smith and Hozier until now, and that’s FARR. Repped by Red Light Management, the duo is comprised of vocalist Roméo and producer Linden Jay. They go under the moniker of FARR. The song you need to listen is Heal Me. The’ve landed on playlists including Spotify’s Chill and R&B UK – #2 on Indie Invaders. The duo has clocked over 2 million Spotify streams and has 145k monthly listeners. Give it a stream.

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There was plenty impactful music discussion at the Pollstar Live Conference which had Irving Azoff and Nicki Minaj as Keynote speakers. Ironically, Nicki Minaj had some things to say about her song catalog. Minaj named Starships, Anaconda, and Your Love as songs she wishes weren’t recorded. Speaking about Anaconda, Nicki says, “I like the video but…,” she said. “My first ever solo song on Billboard was ‘Your Love.’ To this day I like the video but I hate the song. I could go on and on. I hate ‘Starships.’ I was like, ‘Why did I do that?’ I really think that every time I hear it.”

 

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Watch out for the Amsterdam-based electronic pop band A.ROSE – fronted by Anna-Rose Clayton. I like the big hooks especially in the song Dancing Alone. Think Tove-Lo meets MØ. The band will support Carly Rae Jepsen in Paradiso Grote Zaal on 2/12. The debut track Hush Hush landed on Spotify’s New Music Friday NL, Spotify’s Rising, and Fresh Finds.

 

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Look out for the indie-folk duo Firewoodisland. The UK act just released the catchy Sprinter and have rallied up support from tastemakers like Ear Milk and BBC Radio​. Citing ​Bon Iver​ and Of Monsters and Men​ as influences, they have racked up over 5 million Spotify plays with support from playlists. The indie band market is oversaturated with too many bands trying to do the same thing but something is different with this duo. I don’t know, maybe it’s the songs or visuals, but it’s something.

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