16 of the best breakthrough artists of 2016

2016 has seen a lot of artists break into the music industry.  We have selected sixteen of the best breakthrough artists for our countdown.

1. Maren Morris

Maren has had a busy year, touring with Keith Urban as well as releasing her debut single. “My Church” reached number one on the Country Digital Songs chart, and her album Hero reached number one on the US Country Chart. As well as this, she won the award for New Artist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards. Maren is also up for four Grammys in 2017. Watch “My Church” below:


2. Shawn Mendes

Shawn first of all embarked on a world tour this year which visited the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. He also released his second album Illuminate which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Chart. Additionally, the album reached number one in America and Canada among other countries. Watch his single “Mercy” below:

3. Louisa Johnson

Louisa rose to fame after winning the X Factor in 2015. She featured on Clean Bandit’s song “Tears” which reached number 5 in the UK. She also appeared at Summertime Ball to sing with Nathan Sykes on his hit “Over and Over Again”. Watch “Tears” below:

4. Ward Thomas

Twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy released their second album Cartwheels in September. The album reached number one in the albums chart, making them the first UK country act to top the chart. As well as this, the girls embarked on a UK tour this year. Due to its success they will again tour the UK in April and May next year. Watch their single “Guilty Flowers” below:

5. Zayn

Zayn has managed to breakaway from his boyband days with his solo career. His album Mind of Mine was released in March and reached number one in the UK.  It also took the top spot in Australia, Canada and the United States. His debut single “Pillowtalk” also reached number one around the world. Zayn became the first British male artist to debut at number one in both the UK and US with both his debut single and album. Watch “Pillowtalk” below:


The band started the year by appearing in Grease: Live. Their debut single “Cake By The Ocean” released in 2015 reached number four in the UK chart. The song is also certified platinum in the UK and 3X platinum in the US. Their self-titled debut album was released in November. As well as this, the band joined Selena Gomez on her tour, and won various awards including Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards. Watch “Cake by the Ocean” below:

7. Brett Young

Brett released a self-titled EP in February. The first single from the EP “Sleep Without You” reached number two on the Country Airplay Chart as well as number one on Mediabase after its release in April. His debut album with Big Machine Label Group will be released next year. He also joined Brad Paisley on his college tour. Watch “Sleep Without You” below:

8. Rag’n’Bone Man

Rory released the first single “Human” from his debut album in July 2016. The song reached number two in the UK, where it just missed out on becoming the Christmas Number one.  However, the song did reach number one in a number of countries including Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria. Watch “Human” below:

9. Jack Garratt

Since supporting Mumford and Sons on tour in 2015 Jack has released his first studio album. The album titled Phase was released in February this year, and reached number three in the UK charts. Jack also won the Critics’ Choice award at the 2016 Brit Awards. Watch his single “Surprise Yourself” below:

10. Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie featured on Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye” which claimed the 2016 Christmas number one in the UK after spending six weeks at the top of the charts. The song also reached number one in Australia and various European Countries. As well as this, she performed at Fusion Festival in Liverpool in September. Watch “Rockabye” below:

11. Jonas Blue

DJ and Producer Guy James Robin (better known as Jonas Blue) released a cover of “Fast Car” featuring Dakota at the end of last year which reached number two in the UK. The single was certified platinum in the UK. Two further singles “Perfect Strangers” featuring JP Cooper and “By Your Side” featuring Raye were released. Watch “Fast Car” below:

12. The Chainsmokers

The duo released “Closer” featuring Halsey in July, which reached the number one spot in the UK and US. The song was a track from their second EP Collage which also hit number one in the US Dance chart. As well as this, the duo won the award for Favourite Electronic/ Dance Music Artist at the American Music Awards. Watch “Closer” below:

13. Calum Scott

Calum rose to fame after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2015. He independently released his debut single “Dancing On My Own” which reached number two in the UK. The song was also certified platinum and in September it was revealed that the song was the most downloaded of the summer. He has since signed a record deal with Capitol Records to release his debut album.  Watch “Dancing On My Own” below:

14. Dua Lipa

Dua released her fourth single “Hotter than Hell” in May which peaked at number 15. In August, her fifth single “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” entered the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also featured on Sean Paul’s single “No Lie” which was released in November. Her self-titled debut album will be released next year. Watch “Hotter than Hell” below:

15. Nia Sioux

The fifteen-year-old is a dancer and singer best known for appearing in Dance Moms. Nia recently won Best New Artist at our CelebMix Awards 2016. She uploaded her latest song “Winner” to her YouTube channel in November. The song is about believing in yourself and inspiring others. Watch “Winner” below:


16. Moxie Raia

Singer-songwriter Raia signed to Capital Records after covering Big Sean’s “Beware”.  Her first mixtape 931 was released in March and featured artists including Wyclef Jean and Pusha T. She also supported Justin Bieber on the North American leg of his “Purpose World Tour” this year. Watch “On My Mind” below:


Did your favourite make the list? Let us know by tweeting us @CelebMix.

Written by Lynn Macgillivray

I'm Lynn - a writer, accountant and lover of all things music (especially a good boyband). Twitter: @xxitslynn
Email: lmacgillivray92@gmail.com