SXSW 2018: And the festival’s next breakout pop star will be …

You want songs to sing in shower? High school dance jams? Dreamy electronic escapes? We have the radio dominating stars you know and the ones you’re about to know, right here.

Khalid. Just two years ago he was a “Young, Dumb and Broke” high school kid in El Paso. Then his summery, youth-in-a-bottle vibes and his knack for an instant sing-along hook propelled him from teen sensation into a chart-dominating global superstar. Show up early, because the crowd for this one will be tight. (Midnight March 15, Trinity Warehouse)

Sylvan Esso. With Amelia Meath’s wistful vocals and Nick Sanborn’s evocative electronics, the duo creates pop compositions that are both insanely catchy and rich with meaning. They’re also down-to-earth people who cry over “Queer Eye” and passionately live tweet an Olympic curling match. In case you haven’t figured it out: They are thoroughly charming live. (11 p.m. March 16, Lustre Pearl)

Billie Eilish. Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America certified the 16-year-old singer’s debut single “Ocean Eyes” gold after it logged a staggering 363,524,897 million streams worldwide. Her 2017 debut album, “Don’t Smile at Me,” is a fully realized emotional pop platter. She comes into the festival off five sold out California dates and heads out to 10 more sold out shows on the East Coast. She’s already well on her way to becoming this year’s break out star. (11:20 p.m. March 14, Central Presbyterian Church; 12:05 a.m. March 15, Palm Door; 10 p.m. March 16, Lustre Pearl)


Noah Cyrus. “They say ‘It all gets better’/ They say ‘It won’t last forever’/ Then someone pulls the trigger/ We are (expletive),” Noah Cyrus (yes, Miley’s sister) sings over a bubble gum club beat on “We Are…”, her new collaboration with Danish singer Mo. The 18-year-old released the pop anthem in early February, but in the wave of youth activism that rose in the wake of the Parkland shootings, her buoyant wake-up call feels like a potent rallying cry. (12:30 a.m. March 14, Empire Garage; 1 a.m. March 16 Trinity Warehouse)

Cuco. With glasses, an unkempt mop of curls and quiet, self-deprecating charm, the 19-year-old Chicano crooner from L.A. seems like an unlikely heartthrob, but the artist also known as Omar Banos has won legions of fans with his dreamy, swirling melodies. Vaguely psychedelic and drenched in sincerity, he makes solid electropop for the uncynical lover in all of us. (10 p.m. March 15, Banger’s; midnight March 16, Mohawk outdoor)

Cloves. For the past two years, the Aussie singer-songwriter has been kicking around the early slots at top-tier fests such as Coachella and Lollapalooza. With a new album due out this summer, she’s about to move up the ranks fast. She got her start belting original, Amy Winehouse-inspired tunes with her sister in Melbourne’s dive bars when she was 13, and she learned how to capture the poignant waver between fragile and powerful in her voice. The Adele comparison is obvious — and accurate. (11:30 p.m. March 14, Empire; 9:10 p.m. March 15, Palm Door on Sixth; 11 p.m. March 16 St. David’s Historic Sanctuary)

Mallrat. We’re not sure exactly what’s going on with the abundance of unusually astute pop coming from young women down under, but 19-year-old Australian Gracie Shaw layers witty lyricism into upbeat electro grooves. Listen to “Uninvited” and tell us she’s not the slacker girl you want to skip out of the cool kid party with. (11:20 p.m. March 15, Sidewinder outside; Midnight March 16, Lucille)

Bad Gyal. The Spanish sensation who hit viral gold with a cover of Rihanna’s “Work” is having a moment. Less than an hour after we left a meeting where SXSW staffers raved about her charisma and easy swag, the Washington Post crowned her the “future-present of club music” in a review of her D.C. debut. Her crowd in D.C. was relatively small, but by the time she leaves SXSW, we predict her rooms will be packed. (6:15 p.m. March 13, the Main; 11 p.m. March 14, Bungalow)

Porches. On his new album “The House,” Aaron Maine’s synth-intensive project runs the gamut from mournful minimalism to bubbly melancholy. It’s a lovely set of gloomy tunes with just enough bounce to make you sad dance. (12:05 a.m. March 14, Barracuda Backyard)

Amara La Negra. VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop” is becoming a consistent launchpad for America’s hottest female urban music stars. The Dominican American artist starred in the Miami edition and she’s about to make a huge pop crossover with her jubilant Spanglish club bangers. She has used the platform created by the show to call out colorism in the Latin music industry and in the process, she’s become an Afro-Latina style icon. (1 a.m. March 12, Empire Garage; March 14: 1 p.m. Radio Day Stage, 1 a.m. Half Step) 

Mobley. The Austin singer and multi-instrumentalist creates irresistible earworms, well-crafted pop songs that instantly stick. But scratch beneath the catchy choruses and you’ll find a complex examination of race and class, the stratified social structures that define life in America. He’s not worried if you don’t get the deep stuff, though. He exudes star quality, his live shows are an immersive experience, and he’s happy to have you along for the ride. (11 p.m. March 14, Saxon Pub)

Milk & Bone. With airy voices adrift among gorgeous electronic textures, Montreal’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin make the dreamiest dream pop, music that ebbs and flows as it envelopes the listener in the haze. (8 p.m. March 12, Bungalow; 1:10 a.m. March 15, Sidewinder outside; 9 p.m. March 16, Swan Dive Patio)

Deluxe. The French six-piece has an affinity for ridiculous moustaches, copious sequins and brassy, sassy glitz. With a vintage cabaret aesthetic and ample modern electronics, they play a new school version of gypsy jazz. (11 p.m. March 14, Sheraton Backyard; 1 a.m. March 15, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop; 1:30 a.m. March 17, Mohawk indoor)


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