Do you ever hear a song that you think is really, really good and say to yourself, “This must be such a hit,” and then go online to find out that nobody is talking about this song or, often times, the artist, and you’re just sitting there in front of your computer screen yelling out loud, “Why is nobody appreciating [insert artist’s name here]?! They SOOO deserve it!” This happens to me all the time. All. The. Time. I’ll be playing some music for someone and then they’ll say, “Wow this is really good. Who sings this?” And I’ll be shouting their name and yelling, “THEY’RE SO GOOD! GO DOWNLOAD THEIR MUSIC! AHHH!”
But, even then, those artists seldom receive the appreciation and attention they deserve (fine, more for me). If you happen to be in the market for new music, or just something nice to listen to, might I recommend these 10 underrated artists whose music deserve more respect and appreciation, and you should go support them right this minute.
1. Alessia Cara
(Photo Credit: Orcasound)
Usually people know the name, because she has had a few singles that have been heavy in radio play (“Here”, “Scars to Your Beautiful”, and “Stay”) but Alessia Cara is one of those artists whose songs you may know, but you don’t take the time to download her album and listen to the rest of her music. That is a MISTAKE. I admit that I only got into Ms. Cara a few months ago, but that’s only because I tend to procrastinate when it comes to downloading new artists and in this case I have been kicking myself that I didn’t get into her when her debut album came out in 2015. In any event, Alessia Cara is definitely worth listening to all of her music and I’m willing to bet you haven’t, so get to it. I’ll wait. And I’m also willing to bet that, within a short time from now, Cara will be much bigger. Just a prediction of mine. Also, be sure to check out her interview with the Kelly Alexander Show here.
2. Carly Rae Jepsen
(Photo Credit: LyricsHot)
One might not describe her as exactly underrated, as I’m sure “Call Me Maybe” (AKA one of the most overplayed songs of all-time) comes to mind just at the mention of her name, but I will go to my grave informing people that Carly Rae Jepsen existed LONG BEFORE that song. Something people never seem to know is that, 10 years ago, Jepsen was on this Canadian reality competition series known as Canadian Idol and released a debut album called Tug of War in 2008. Its title single was on the radio all the time and I remember it being the only song of hers in my iTunes until 2011 rolled around and “Call Me Maybe” was everything anyone could talk about. I remember thinking, “Huh, she has new music now.” But everyone else had never heard of her before and were floored by her. People thought (and still think) that Justin Bieber discovered her. Um, no. I’m here to tell you that Jepsen did exist before “Call Me Maybe” and she has always been talented. Mind you, I just found recently that Tug of War was originally only released in Canada (and even then, it was still an independent release) which could *technically* explain why the rest of the world had never heard of her but that’s STILL no excuse, because her beautiful, folk-pop debut album has been on the American iTunes since 2013 so you’ve had all that time to discover for yourselves that she existed before she released what would become the best-selling single of 2012 that reached number one in 18 countries. Anyway, I still think that Carly Rae Jepsen is unfortunately underrated because even as “Call Me Maybe” achieved immense popularity and was sky high in sales, the song typecast her as a solely mainstream, bubblegum pop artist when that is very untrue. Sure, her second studio album, Kiss (2012), is pretty sunshine-and-roses pop music (and still good TBH), but her third studio album, Emotion (2015), is hands down her best. It’s heavily influenced by 80s music sounds and I’m a sucker for 80s music so I might be biased here but even then, it’s a more matured sound compared to Kiss and it sounds more uniquely and authentically Jepsen. I feel like all of her music post-“Call Me Maybe” doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves because no one believed she had more to offer than bubblegum-sunshine pop. So, I’m here to remind you that a) she DID exist before “Call Me Maybe” and you now have no excuse to believe otherwise and b) her more recent music is amazing and you need to go download it.
3. Christina Perri
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Christina Perri is just so damn flawless and I can’t deal. You may remember her from 2010 when her debut single “Jar of Hearts” was significantly popular (as it should have been), but she’s also had two albums since then and they are both great. Find me another artist who manages to blend pop rock and folk together as flawlessly as Christina Perri. I’m not even gonna wait for an answer there because there are no other artists. She’s the kind of singer who will make you miss a significant other that never even existed. You may also remember her as the singer and songwriter of “A Thousand Years”, the heart-wrenchingly beautiful love theme for the final Twilight film. UGH. SO GREAT. Her albums, Lovestrong (2011) and Head or Heart (2014), are available on iTunes and elsewhere. I’ve also been waiting for her third album for 3 YEARS now and I really hope it happens soon.
4. Hailee Steinfeld
(Photo Credit: Billboard)
Hailee Steinfeld is one of the most criminally underrated artists of all-time and I’m waiting for the day that the world will just LET. HER. HAPPEN. Before she broke into the music industry, she was primarily an actress, scoring an Oscar nomination for her performance in True Grit (2010), with other notable appearances in Begin Again (2013) and Ender’s Game (2013) before debuting her hidden musical talent as Emily Junk in Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), in which she performed the song “Flashlight.” After releasing a cover version of the song, Steinfeld scored a record deal with Republic Records and her debut single, “Love Myself”, followed soon after. Her debut EP, Haiz, came out later that year and included 4 new songs, all of which display her obvious talent and flawless look. Her second single was an artistically beautiful collaboration with DNCE called “Rock Bottom”, which was also criminally underrated and you should go listen to it now. But if that wasn’t enough to convince you (and clearly it wasn’t, seeing as how “Rock Bottom” did NOT get the respect it deserved), Steinfeld released a standalone single with Zedd and Grey last summer called “Starving”, which became her biggest success yet and was also the best song of 2016 in case you weren’t already aware (where was their Grammy nomination for that?) Her most recent single dropped this spring, “Most Girls”, which is an upbeat, feminist bop that is so underrated it actually physically hurts me a bit so do yourselves a favor and go listen to that too. Her music videos are also top notch: add the videos for “Starving” and “Most Girls” to your to-watch list on YouTube. You also must listen to a virtually unknown and unappreciated collaboration she did with a DJ known as Prince Fox called “Fragile”; your ears will never be the same. I’ve read that “Most Girls” is supposedly the lead single from her forthcoming debut album which is apparently due out LATER THIS YEAR and I really hope that’s true because it is about time Queen Steinfeld got the appreciation and respect she deserves.
5. La Roux
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
La Roux’s entire discography is probably the definition of underrated, honestly. You probably remember the synthpop duo from their breakout hit, “Bulletproof”, which was quite popular in North America around 2010 and was even featured in several mashups in the musical comedy film Pitch Perfect (2012). Their self-titled debut album is pretty much composed of the same unique, synthpop kind of bops that you hear in “Bulletproof”, but I will admit their style in that album was a little *out there* so I won’t blame anyone too harshly for that album’s descent into the unknown. However, their second studio album, Trouble in Paradise (2014), combines their trademark synthpop sound with a disco-like version of mainstream pop and I will never understand why we stopped talking about it. It’s so unique and great, even though it’s only 9 songs. I definitely recommend both of their albums but if I were to give an edge to one of them, it would be Trouble in Paradise, which deserves more appreciation.
6. Victoria Duffield
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
It is a true crime against nature that Victoria Duffield flopped and I think they should revive that Unsolved Mysteries show again just to investigate this huge question mark. You may recall the young Canadian star from her days as a contestant on the YTV teen reality series The Next Star, where she was a finalist in 2010. Her debut single came the following year, “Shut Up and Dance”, was pretty successful on the Canadian Hot 100 chart, as was her debut album of the same name (which followed in 2012), but she never really caught on anywhere outside of Canada. This is quite a shame, considering that if you watch any of her music videos, she dances like Britney Spears and looks like redheaded Lindsay Lohan meets Bella Thorne, so I’m really, really surprised no record executive stumbled upon her and made her happen the way she could have. And if you look in the comments section of any of her music videos on YouTube, the top comment is usually something like, “It bothers me that she never blew up the way she should have.” I AGREE. She’s super talented and 99% of her music is mainstream catchy, especially “More Than Friends”, the lead single from her second studio album from 3 years ago that I only discovered a few weeks ago. It’s SO GOOD and I actually don’t understand how she literally flopped… I’m not even exaggerating: her second album from 2014, Accelerate, failed to chart in any countries. That’s a true flop if I’ve ever seen one. I mean, there’s nothing truly *special* or unique about her two albums, but it’s still good, catchy pop music that totally sounds like it could be largely successful…but it just wasn’t. Possibly one of the greatest mysteries of our time.
7. Tegan and Sara
(Photo Credit: GQ Magazine)
This duo falls under the same category of Alessia Cara and Carly Rae Jepsen: you may know them, but you don’t know or haven’t heard 95% of their music. Tegan and Sara first started off as indie rockers in the late 90s and early 2000s and it is understandable how their first few albums didn’t yield any mainstream success, because indie music is indie music for a reason and some of it is just a little…weird. There’s no exception here. A lot of Tegan and Sara’s early music is very out there, but that’s kind of the whole point. They’re unique and spend time finding a sound that’s all their own. Their seventh studio album, Heartthrob (2013), is their first with a more mainstream, alternative pop sound and it’s definitely among their best (if not their best album), but their indie rock from earlier on is good too and anyone who have heard a few of their hits and liked them, such as “Closer” or “Boyfriend”, you might like their earlier stuff too. Some of it is really funky, unique rock. So Jealous (2004) and Sainthood (2009) are required listens. So underrated, *sigh*. Tegan and Sara are also strong allies for the LGBTQ community and are both openly gay which has led many to theorize that they are not more popular because society is threatened by two badass queer rockers, but that’s probably a discussion for another day.
8. Ashley Tisdale
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
My dying words will probably be, “Why was Ashley Tisdale’s second album so underrated and why did she let her music career wither and die…” Tisdale, a former Disney child star who turned out to be quite musically inclined after starring as Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical film series, had two studio albums, the second of which, Guilty Pleasure, was just…so unappreciated. The pop rock record was just so well put together but no one ever seemed too blown away by it. That was 2009, and we haven’t heard anything from the singer music-wise since then. She said in 2013 that she was working on her third album, but that was already 4 years ago. C’mon, girl. Guilty Pleasure was also from an era when it seemed like the music industry was pushing female young adult stars in the pop rock direction; something that is completely foreign in 2017. They did the same thing with Emily Osment from Hannah Montana; a good singer who went in the pop rock direction around the same time and nothing has been heard from her music-wise since. WHY DID YOU LET THESE GIRLS FLOP, DEAR WORLD?!
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
It’s somewhat of a nightmare that Tinashe hasn’t happened yet. She’s had two albums so far, Aquarius (2014) and Nightride (2016), and her third, Joyride, is due out later this year. If you haven’t heard her latest single yet, “Flame”, then you can’t possibly understand what I mean when I say it’s a nightmare she hasn’t happened yet. Also, check out Tinashe’s interview with the Kelly Alexander Show here.
10. Ellie Goulding
(Photo Credit: Interscope)
It would be inaccurate to say that Ellie Goulding is necessarily without respect or appreciation, because she’s had several hits and is fairly well known, but she’s definitely so underrated. I wasn’t huge fan of her earlier albums, except for songs like “Burn” or her best-selling collaboration with Calvin Harris, “I Need Your Love”, but Goulding’s third studio album, Delirium (2015), is pure pop gold and I’m really surprised there wasn’t more buzz about it. Tracks like “Something in the Way You Move” and “Don’t Panic” are A+ and definitely deserve more appreciation. I highly recommend downloading Delirium if you’re looking for new music because it is very much top notch.
What are some of your favorite artists, albums and songs that are underrated and deserve more respect and appreciation? Sound off in the comments!