The Weekender countdown of the month’s best tracks and ones to watch for 2018.

Lauv – “Paris In The Rain”

23-year-old Ari Staprans Leff, known as Lauv, is our top tip for 2018. The US singer wrote “Paris In The Rain” after watching the movie Midnight In Paris. He said “I love sappy ass movies. The second time I watched the movie, I picked up the guitar and wrote this song.” Lauv sounds a bit like Sam Smith sharing a duet with John Legend. Fresh from supporting Ed Sheeran on tour, the singer will land in Japan this March, playing at Daikanyama UNIT on the 6th.

Rina Sawayama – “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome”

This Japanese-English singer and model is setting London ablaze with her neo-pop vibes. Rina Sawayama was born in Niigata but her family relocated to London when she was just five years old. Her music is inspired by racing video game soundtracks, 90s retro-cyberpunk, Anglo-Japanese culture clash and the unique sensation of “offline anxiety.” This unique blend has gained her cult status in London, and it’s only a matter of time before she brings her charms back over to Japan.

Keala Settle – “This Is Me”

The Greatest Showman was December’s movie blockbuster across Europe and North America, but unsurprisingly, isn’t released in Japan until February. The film stars Hugh Jackman and girl of the moment, Zendaya. This is the lead song from the soundtrack, which has been nominated for Best Original Song at The Golden Globes. “This Is Me” is performed by Keala Settle, who sings and acts in the film. This tune has a big chorus and is full of pride.

Miguel – “City Of Angels”

US singer Miguel recently released a superb fourth album War And Leisure, and we think “City Of Angels” is the stand out track. The bassline is heavy and electric, with Miguel’s husky auto-tuned vocals gliding over it. This piece of futuristic rock/R&B is stylish and sexy, and destined for hipster underground bars nationwide.

Big Bang – “Loser”

2017 may have been the year of BTS, but we #TBT to the boys who paved the way for K-Pop boy bands of recent years, Big Bang. In case you didn’t know, Big Bang are members G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri, and are said to have shaped K-pop. They have sold over 140 million records, making them one of the best selling boy bands of all time not only in Asia, but around the world. “Loser” is one of their classic hits – a rock-pop ballad. Can 2018 be another big year for K-Pop boy bands?

Taao Kross featuring Christina Novelli – “Untouchable”

Hands up party people! Clubbers will recognize this tropical anthem from DJ Taao Kross, which did the Ibiza island rounds at the end of summer 2017. Japanese fans may also have heard his sounds from last month’s Tokyo Pacha show at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Club. Taao Kross is one of Spain’s emerging star talents and he is set to become one of the world clubbing scene’s heavyweight names of 2018.

(full track is available on Spotify)

The xx – “I Dare You”

We can’t wait for The xx to perform at Makuhari Messe on February 11. The English indie pop trio will be performing their unique minimalistic sound from three smash hit albums to Japanese fans. “I Dare You” is a dreamy score with light electronic beats and an echoey synth background.

Betty Who – “Human Touch”

Betty Who (real name Jessica Anne Newham) is a 26-year-old Aussie dance-pop artist who first came to our attention when her song “Somebody Loves You” was part of a viral proposal video. Since then she has released two underground pop albums, including last year’s The Valley which includes this gem, “Human Touch.” The singer will be touring the US the first part of 2018, and we’re hoping that by the end of her tour there will be new material. Anxiously follow her on Instagram for that announcement – @BettyWho.