Who's the Next Sam Smith? 3 Brit Up-and-Comers in the Running

Ryan Muir/FilterlessCo
Sam Smith performs at the Fader Fort at SXSW in Austin, TX on March 13, 2014

It's easy to forget that Sam Smith was relatively unknown in this country before last year: After a pair of top 10 hits on the Hot 100 in 2014 and a platinum-certified album, Smith is now a ubiquitous presence on the U.S. music scene. After the Grammy-dominating Brit's stateside takeover, three more soulful singer-songwriters from across the pond are looking to follow in his footsteps.

15 British Artists About to Break Big

GEORGE EZRA
The Bluesy Sam Smith
Age:
21
Hit-to-be: "Budapest" (No. 9 on Hot Rock Songs)
Why he's next: After topping the charts in Britain with his debut, Wanted on Voyage, which Columbia released stateside in January, Ezra is showing off his polished Americana and gravelly vocals on U.S. tours with Smith and, later this year, Hozier.

The Bellowing, British Blues of 'Budapest' Singer George Ezra

JAMES BAY
The Folky Sam Smith
Age:
24
Hit-to-be: "Hold Back the River" (No. 5 peak on Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists on Feb. 21)
Why he's next: The Johnny Depp lookalike's folk-pop is racking up praise, including a BRIT Award and countless "what a Bayb!" puns online. Chaos and the Calm (Republic), his debut LP, makes its U.S. bow March 24.

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JESS GLYNNE
The Female Sam Smith
Age:
25
Hit-to-be: "Hold My Hand" (No. 4 peak on Trending 140 on Jan. 25)
Why she's next: Like Smith, Glynne found fame toplining such EDM hits as Clean Bandit's 2013 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 "Rather Be." Now she's working on her debut album, which reportedly will have a more R&B-heavy sound.

This story originally appeared in the March 14 issue of Billboard.


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