Lorde broke onto the scene at the age of sixteen with her unconventional EP The Love Club. ‘Royals’ became an instant hit, and before the year was out, so was her album Pure Heroine. Regardless of her age, the LP was full of clever songwriting and forward-thinking pop production that found their niche in the ears of many listeners. She soon began touring the world and wrote a song that was featured in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Because her music connected with millennial teens around the world, she was quickly heralded as “the voice of a generation”, though she’s not particularly fond of that description. Her sophomore album, Melodrama, which we named the best pop album of the 2010s, moves on to slightly more mature topics, while also embracing a more cinematic and emotional (melodramatic, if you will) sound. In a newsletter from May, Lorde revealed that work is well underway on her third record, telling fans that she’s “truly jazzed for you to hear it.”
Stella Rose Bennett (stage name BENEE) was born in Auckland in 2000. Though she began releasing music commercially in 2017, it was her dance craze-spawning 2019 single ‘Supalonely’ that launched her into the international spotlight, becoming a quarantine pop anthem thanks to its catchy, relatable hook and easy-going vibe. She’s won four New Zealand Music Awards and ‘Supalonely’ has gone Platinum in several countries, including the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Her debut album Hey u x experiments with a variety of genres and lyrical styles, but retains BENEE’s trademark indie grooviness.
Lontalius is a Wellington-based singer-songwriter known for his sad indie style. The simple, accessible lyrics paint palpable pictures of heartbreak and longing over sparse but effective instrumentals; his work is comforting, immersive, relatable yet artful. Lontalius released his debut album I’ll Forget 17 in 2016, and his second, 2019’s All I Have, was produced by Grammy-winning producer Om’Mas Keith (Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, Sa-Ra).
The Naked and Famous
An 80s-influenced band, The Naked and Famous hail from Auckland, where they formed in 2007 and have spent the last thirteen years curating their indie-electronic style. The genres that best describe their style are post-punk and synth-pop, though the overall feel of their work is soaring and anthemic. Led by vocalist Alisa Xayalith and instrumentalist/vocalist Thom Powers, the group broke through with their 2010 debut album Passive Me Aggressive You and have since released four more records, most recently this year’s Recover.
Yumi Zouma found their origins as an alternative pop band in Christchurch in 2014. Consisting of Christie Simpson, Josh Burgess, Charlie Ryder, and Olivia Campion, the group first started writing music together by collaborating over email after the Christchurch earthquake. Their clean, modern aesthetic pairs well with the funky, atmospheric production, which anchored their debut album, Truth or Consequences, released earlier this year. An alternate version of the album arrived in October, breathing freshness into its ten polished tracks.