Future Stars: Ella Mai (Interscope/10 Summers)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

One of the things that keeps me interested in following the charts is the unexpected twists. An artist’s career can seem hopeless, but then one of their songs catches wind. It starts creeping up the top 100 on Spotify or iTunes, and within a few days they have a hit on their hands. That’s what happened to Ella Mai, whose single Boo’d Up has topped the US R&B chart and reached the top ten of the Hot 100, racking up 28.6 million streams in just one week. It has been called “the surprise hit of the summer” by The Fader and inspired Rolling Stone to hail “the return of female R&B singers.” Another interesting twist is that Ella is actually British. After entering The X Factor 2014 as part of a girlband called Arize that only made it past the first round, she was discovered via Instagram and signed to DJ Mustard’s Interscope imprint 10 Summers. Her US career seemed to have fizzled as of 2017, as she was working with minor league UK writers and producers, and her label cared little enough to let her feature on a Chip (aka Chipmunk) song. Boo’d Up’s success came a year after its initial release on her third EP, Ready, and it didn’t even have a video until April 2018. Now Ella’s preparing to capitalise on her hit with her debut album, currently being recorded, which will undoubtedly be boosted by a new influx of big name producers and features.

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