From the Puerto Rican crossover of Luis Fonsi to the Instagram-fueled come-up of Cardi B, 2017 cast the net wide for a new wave of breakout stars. And while the dust has yet to settle around most of those acts, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it whirlwind better known as the internet has already primed many standout musicians, actors and social-media personalities to follow suit in 2018.

For the inaugural installment of PopCrush’s New A-list, we've combed through a deep trove of potential talent to find the 24 most promising next-gen celebs, spanning everyone from millennial icons like Troye Sivan to influencers turned triple threats like comedian/actress Awkwafina.

These are the names you’ll definitely want to know in 2018.

  • Courtesy of Hedi Slimane
    Courtesy of Hedi Slimane

    Troye Sivan

    PopCrush's leading A-lister discusses his joy-driven new album and his thoughts on 2018's biggest pop culture controversies so far.

    Not too long ago, Troye Sivan was just another teen striking out on dating apps. Once, right in front of him, his date pulled up Grindr and started browsing for new guys — apparently his boyish charm wasn’t enough to hold the interest of his restless suitor. “It was a while ago, back in a time when it was a little bit less accepted and a little bit more scary,” Sivan says now. “I was like, ‘Okay. I think I'm just gonna go home.’”


  • Kevin Winter/Getty Images
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Bad Bunny

    Latin music has found its new king in Bad Bunny, the latest reggaeton rebel to rise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. After honing his sound and talents as an indie SoundCloud act, the performer eventually gained entry into Latin music's more top-level music market after attracting the attention of Puerto Rico’s local celebrity, DJ Luían, to whose label the 23-year-old performer is signed.

    After years of rise and grind, Bad Bunny’s efforts are paying off more than ever: the crooner has been churning out chart-friendly songs like 2017’s bangers “Soy Peor” and “Tú No Metes Cabra,” two crowd-favorite anthems that have made him a celebrity in his hometown and on the U.S. Latin charts.

    — Paris Close

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    Hayley Kiyoko

    After releasing her well-received EPs This Side of Paradise and Citrine in 2015 and 2016, respectively, Hayley Kiyoko is primed for a big year in 2018, which will see the 26-year-old rising pop star release her debut full length album, Expectations.

    Dubbed the "Lesbian Jesus" by her legions of impassioned fans, the singer-songwriter is known for being refreshingly authentic and honest with her brand of synth-laden emotional pop, especially on songs like "Girls Like Girls" and "Curious," the latter of which leads the new record. (Kiyoko also released a self-directed video for the track.)

    When she's not crafting shimmery electro-pop, Kiyoko is flexing her acting chops on television shows like The Fosters.


    — Erica Russell

  • Press Here
    Press Here

    Kim Petras

    Don't let her obsession with Paris Hilton or penchant for dropping dough on Rodeo Drive (at least in her music video fantasies...) fool you: the 25-year-old German pop act is more than just ephemera.

    Petras, who made headlines as a teenager for being the youngest person to undergo gender confirmation surgery, has transcended human interest headlines: she is first and foremost an artist who makes damn good music, and it's no mistake that the bubblegum sheen of "I Don't Want It At All" catapulted the single to No. 1 on Spotify's Global Viral charts.

    With a debut album just around the corner, Petras has hinted that you can expect the type of glitzy energy from her LP that could manifest into a glitter ball. (Hope you've made space for dancing.)


    — Matt Donnelly

  • Ray Mickshaw / FOX
    Ray Mickshaw / FOX


    Zhavia may not have snagged The Four’s inaugural win, but it seems unlikely her brief TV stint will be the last fans see of her. Her smokey, low-down croon hearkens back to old school greats like Billie Holiday and Etta James, while her inventive takes on tracks like Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” and Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” show she has the creative chops to cut through an oversaturated industry.

    It’s unclear what the 16-year-old has planned post-show, but she said in a backstage interview with TalentRecap that she wants to release original music, so don’t count her out any time soon.

    — Dana Getz

    Baby Ariel

    A web star with big pop aspirations, Baby Ariel is poised for a mainstream breakthrough in 2018. The social media personality, who boasts 2.8 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 880K followers on Twitter, first broke out on lip-syncing social network in 2015. Since then, the 17-year-old vlogger and singer has launched a successful anti-bullying campaign, signed with an agency, won two Teen Choice Awards ("Choice Muser" in 2016 and 2017) and was named one of the most influential people on the web by Time magazine.

    Leaving lip-syncing behind her, Baby Ariel dropped her debut single, "Aww," in December 2017, ushering in her burgeoning career as a pop artist with an infectious blast of bright, easy breezy pop. She followed the song up with "Perf" in January.

    Check out Baby Ariel playing a game of "Aww or Ugh" in the video above.

    — Erica Russell

  • Trent Barboza, Getty Images
    Trent Barboza, Getty Images

    Danielle "Bhad Bhabie" Bregoli

    The 14-year-old viral sensation bore into the zeitgeist with a simple challenge: "Cash me outside, how bout dah?" But Bhad Bhabie (Danielle Bregoli) has taken her fifteen minutes of Dr. Phil meme-infamy and run with them, transforming what may have otherwise been a flash in the pan into a sustainable record contract with Atlantic.

    Having already released songs like "These Heaux" and "Hi Bich" (both already charted on Billboard's Hot 100), Bhad Bhabie is proof positive that a social media standout with a short fuse might just have a longer shelf life than many would predict she would.

    Unconvinced? She's not worried about it. As she observes on "I Got It": "They took me out of the streets / But I'm still stuck in my ways / Why would I care what you thots would say?"


    — Matt Donnelly

  • Erika Goldring/FilmMagic
    Erika Goldring/FilmMagic


    Last Halloween, a name unknown to most hopped to the top of the Billboard Albums chart. Sandwiched between Shania Twain and Pink’s No. 1 album was someone called NF, short for Nathan Feuerstein—a searing 26-year-old emcee from Michigan who cut his teeth in the Christian hip-hop game for the last four years and is now primed for a huge 2018 on the mainstream circuit.

    Within a year, NF went from an up-and-comer on the fringe of the mainstream to a front-and-center chart star. The melodic rapper broke big last October with third studio album Perception, a 16-track blast of high-octane hip-hop that landed him his first No.1 record. Since then, his hit single “Let You Down” has been certified platinum and streamed nearly 300 million times on Spotify. While he’s yet to announce a follow-up, NF’s shown no signs of slowing down: In January, he returned with “No Name,” a ferocious, forceful reflection on his newfound fame. “Fame called me, I’m like, ‘how you doin’?’ / Hung up on him, I ain’t ready for it / I’ll get back to that when I make album four,” he raps, hinting at the sea change that’s yet to come.

    NF is a deft lyricist and propulsive performer—Eminem is the most common comparison— with radio appeal and has built a large fan base who love his mix of vulnerability and brutal honesty. (Check out his exceedingly raw tracks “Outcast” and “10 Feet Down.")

    — Bobby Olivier

  • Erika Goldring/Getty Images
    Erika Goldring/Getty Images


    After years spent as a Chicago staple, Towkio will step onto the national stage with WWW, his debut album due February 23. The Windy City emcee hails from the SaveMoney crew that bred Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, but has been steadily carving his own path, releasing a string of mixtapes that includes 2015’s widely lauded .Wav Theory.

    Now armed with a smattering of star power—he’s the first rapper to be signed by Rick Rubin in over 20 years—he’ll pay homage to a city well known for grade-A hip-hop while elevating his own reach. WWW includes features from Chicago mainstays like Knox Fortune, Nate Fox, and Nico Segal, but was executive-produced by Norwegian breakout Lido and recorded at Rubin’s legendary Shangri La studio. The four singles released thus far promise a record that pairs playful lyricism with eclectic production, from the radio-primed pop of “Hot S---” to the funk-house pulse of “Symphony.”

    “It felt like I made it to the league and was able to find myself there,” Towkio teases of the project.

    — Dana Getz

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    A K-pop, concept girl group of epic proportions, LOONA launched with an attention-demanding gimmick in October 2016: Over the course of 18 months, a new member (or sub-unit) would be introduced each month, with the core LOONA group set to make its official debut in 2018.

    The ambitious concept allowed listeners to get to know each member on a more personal basis. All eleven members of LOONA—HeeJin, HyunJin, HaSeul, YeoJin, ViVi, Kim Lip, JinSoul, Choerry, Yves, Chuu and Go Won—delivered her own introductory track and music video.

    Standout songs like JinSoul's future bass-powered "Singing in the Rain" and Kim Lip's hypnotic "Eclipse" offer promising glimpses at the girls' ability to churn out quality K-pop tunes, while sub-unit releases like Odd Eye Circle's frenetic "LOONATIC" display their dynamic chemistry.

    Now, finally on the precipice of their group debut, LOONA has already established itself as one of South Korea's most exciting, highly anticipated acts.

    — Erica Russell

  • Pale Waves
    Pale Waves

    Pale Waves

    When classmates Heather Baron-Gracie and Ciara Doran first joined forces at the University of Manchester in 2014, they probably didn't expect that their project would take off with such a rollicking response—the band's off-kilter aesthetic doesn't exactly fit into the cookie-cutter pop mold. But don’t let the goth garb fool you: Pale Waves might look the part, but they’re a far cry from the heavy rockers you may have imagined. "Synth pop sensations" is a more fitting title for these talented misfit avengers.

    Ever since the Manchester quartet—band mates Hugo Silvani and Charlie Wood joined Baron-Gracie and Doran in 2016—released their first single “There’s a Honey” in February of last year, and followed it up with the soaring “Television Romance," we simply can’t get enough of these alt-pop stars in the making. Good thing they've released a 15-minute collection of their best music, thus far, on the EP All The Things I Never Said.

    — Paris Close

  • Kevin Mazur/WireImage
    Kevin Mazur/WireImage


    Assembled by pop savant Simon Cowell, PRETTYMUCH are primed to seize the boy band throne left vacant by One Direction since their 2016 hiatus. But while 1D made big, romantic singalongs, this five-member group veers sexy and streamlined, melding the ‘90s touchstones of their predecessors (“Would You Mind”) with the hip-hop punch of their modern peers (“No More”). (Think more Timberlake than Bieber.) They’ve yet to announce a full-length record, but with four singles released within six months, an album seems imminent.

    "Right now, we’re just working on making new music and sharing what we love with our fans," member Edwin Honoret tells PopCrush." We’re definitely getting to a place where we’re starting to think about an album, but for now we’re mainly focused on sharing music that we love with our fans and building our sound."

    — Dana Getz

  • Mike Coppola/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
    Mike Coppola/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

    Why Don't We

    The boys of Why Don’t We — Zach Herron, Jack Avery, Daniel Seavey, Corbyn Besson and Jonah Marais — may be the new kids on the block, but they are fast approaching teen pop stardom. Since their formation in September 2016, the group has amassed an insane fan base—3+ million Instagram followers, 322K+ on Twitter—and three of their EPs dominated the Top 10 on Billboard’s Heatseeker chart.

    With a catchy collection of hip-hop-infused party hits and a nearly sold-out Invitation Tour across North America planned for this year, and Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran as superstar fans, it’s safe to say we could be looking at One Direction’s reincarnate.

    — Paris Close

  • MTV


    A true 21st century Renaissance woman, rapper Nora Lum — who adopted the name Awkwafina while studying music at New York's famed LaGuardia High School — is just as likely to make you laugh your ass off with an astute dating observation on MTV's Girl Code as she is to dazzle you with her training in classical and jazz music.

    Her resume, which includes a solo rap album, a Webby Award-honored talk show and a feature in a TriBeCa Film Festival documentary feature, will focus pronouncedly on the box office in 2018, when she'll star alongside the likes of Sandra Bullock, Rihanna and other Hollywood A-listers in Ocean's 8. And in the unlikely event you miss the 29-year-old there, she's been swooped up by John M. Chu to star in Crazy Rich Asians alongside Constance Wu, too. Three cheers for arts education.

    — Matt Donnelly

  • Mathieu Young/SHOWTIME
    Mathieu Young/SHOWTIME

    Jacob Latimore

    For a 21-year-old, Jacob Latimore has an impressive résumé. The singer slash actor launched his career at only 13 with a year that marked his first record deal and first major film role, appearing alongside Thandie Newton and Hayden Christensen in 2010 thriller Vanishing on 7th Street. He’s since nabbed standout parts in everything from Sundance darling Sleight to Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed Detroit, but 2018 may mark his biggest year yet.

    He’s currently tackling his first TV lead in Showtime breakout The Chi, an evocative, important glimpse into Chicago’s South Side. His character, a ladies’ man named Emmett suddenly saddled with the responsibility of teen parenthood, has quickly become a fan favorite, solidifying Latimore’s leading man status and pushing the bounds of his already diverse portfolio. “I never want to feel like the black kid on set. I want to feel like a black kid who can play any role,” Latimore tells PopCrush.


    — Dana Getz

  • Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
    Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

    Justice Smith

    After breaking out as the lead on Netflix's musical drama, The Get Down, in 2016, Justice Smith seems poised for onscreen stardom. This year, the 22-year-old actor's star will rise even higher thanks to an upcoming role in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the follow-up to the wildly successful Jurassic World. He'll star alongside Hollywood heavyweights Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, and early trailers offer a promising glimpse at the young player's charismatic comedic chops.

    Smith will follow up his big 2018 break with another major film role: He'll star in 2019's Detective Pikachu, featuring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the iconic Pokemon.

    — Erica Russell

  • Rachael Thompson/Hulu
    Rachael Thompson/Hulu

    Liza Koshy

    Liza Koshy is an MTV TRL co-host, star of Hulu’s Freakish and has appeared in films like Boo! A Madea Halloween, but she’s most well known as being one of YouTube's biggest personalities. This year, the actress will premiere her new YouTube Red series, Liza on Demand. Cut into 30-minute-long episodes, the eight-episode season will follow Liza’s misadventures as she takes on a variety of gigs and odd jobs in a quest to become an “elite tasker.”

    Boasting over 13 million subscribers and 1 billion views (and counting), Liza’s personal YouTube channel is the 71st most subscribed-to channel on the entire platform.

    — Katrina Nattress

  • Freeform/Eric McCandless
    Freeform/Eric McCandless

    The Cast of grown-ish

    grown-ish may be a spinoff of the ABC sitcom black-ish, but it has a voice all its own.

    The Freeform show follows the Johnsons’ eldest daughter Zoey (portrayed by the refreshing Yara Shahidi) as she embarks on a new adventure: college. With the spotlight fully on her, Shahidi shines as Zoey navigates the world of adulthood. Another fan favorite from black-ish, Zoey’s close friend Aaron Jackson, played by actor Trevor Jackson, follows her along in the new series, giving the audience more time to fall in love with Jackson and his witty, politically aware character.

    RELATED: 18 Life Lessons We've Learned From grown-ish

    Shahidi is also supported by sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey, a.k.a. Chloe x Halle. On the show, the R&B duo—known for their YouTube renditions of popular songs like Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts,” which landed them a record deal and opening slot on Queen Bey’s Formation Tour—flex their acting chops as track recruits Sky and Jazz Forster. In addition to performing the series' original theme song, “Grown," the duo recently announced the title and release date of their debut album.

    — Katrina Nattress

  • Larry Busacca/Getty Images
    Larry Busacca/Getty Images

    Tye Sheridan

    Tye Sheridan is perhaps best known for playing Cyclops in the most recent X-Men movies, but that’s going to change in 2018. The 21-year-old actor will star in Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, a sci-fi film that’s just as much about nostalgia as it is about the future. It also just so happens to be one of the most anticipated movies of the year.

    A film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, the story takes place in a semi-dystopia where everyone is obsessed with an escapist virtual reality world called Oasis. When Oasis' tech creator dies, he releases a video announcing an Easter Egg in the game, and whoever finds it will be the heir to his fortune. Cue Wade Watts (Sheridan), who is one of many on the hunt for the prize.

    With a starring role under his belt, we wouldn't be surprised to see Sheridan’s name pop up in many more cast lists in the not-so-distant future.

    — Katrina Nattress

  • Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for CBS Radio
    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for CBS Radio

    Bishop Briggs

    For Bishop Briggs, the titanic, rock-edged voice behind alt-pop hit “River,” 2017 must have felt like a dream: she released a terrific self-titled EP; she performed at the immense Panorama and Coachella festivals in New York and California; and, in what was perhaps the coolest moment for her, pop superstar Pink loved “River” so much that she covered the song on her own tour.

    The 25-year-old U.K. singer hits the road this spring for a promising U.S. headlining run and is already gearing up for another festival season—see her in June at the massive Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati or Electric Forest event in Michigan. No album has been announced just yet for 2018, but the artist born Sarah McLaughlin (no relation to Sarah McLachlan) is always writing and recording, so we can bet on new music soon enough.

    — Bobby Olivier

  • Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
    Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

    Grace VanderWaal

    Before confetti rained down on the 14-year-old upon her Season 11 America's Got Talent victory, judge Simon Cowell said he could see the potential of Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift in the ukulele player. And so far, she's making good on Cowell's bet—Grace VanderWaal, who released her debut album Just the Beginning and launched her first concert tour in 2017, is already bathing in praise (the Chicago Sun-Times observed of her debut: her "raspy-sweet-peculiar vocals recall Elle King, Regina Spektor and Katy Perry ... [and she] proves herself a modern-day Mozart"). Not bad for someone who's still years away from driving herself to the studio.

    — Matt Donnelly

  • Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

    Jacob Sartorius

    An internet phenom turned bona fide singer, Jacob Sartorius initially made a name for himself on the web. He caught his first taste of fame when a Vine clip he posted about bullying went viral, and continued building his now millions-strong following on music video app

    He’s since been hailed as “the next Justin Bieber” and, at only 15, has a promising climb ahead of him. He’s already snagged a chart single with 2016’s “Sweatshirt,” and has two EPs under his belt: 2017’s The Last Text and Left Me Hangin, both stocked with the sort of teen-oriented pop that made One Direction a certified sensation.

    And to further cement his pop crush status, he's dating Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown.

    — Dana Getz

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    Kelela earned her stripes long before her name began appearing on the year-end lists of music pubs like Complex and Rolling Stone upon her debut 2013 mixtape, Cut 4 Me, an experimental tribute to electronica and R&B that became the harbinger of more melodies to come.

    After astounding the likes of Björk and Solange, the Ethiopian chanteuse doubled down on her success with the aptly-titled Hallucinogen EP, an intoxicating mix filled with playlist must-haves like “Rewind” and “All the Way Down.” With a newly seasoned sound and an attentive following of anxious listeners, in 2017 the D.C. native (finally) unveiled her first full-length studio album, Take Me Apart, providing further evidence of Kelela’s cathartic knockout appeal.

    — Paris Close

  • Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Vivienne Tam
    Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Vivienne Tam


    At just 20 years old, Sigrid single-handedly delivered 2017's most majestic clapback track, “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” a certified banger with an irresistible hook that kicks haters to the curb. After leaving her imprint with a multi-country charting, debut single and blessing audiences with two slow-burning follow-ups, "Plot Twist" and “Strangers," the Island signee hit a milestone when she was given a BBC Music’s Sound of 2018 award earlier this year. Keep an eye on Sigrid in 2018.

    — Paris Close

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