Column: Five Asian artists that you need to know


Photo credit: Graphic Illustration by Daisy Marmur

Depicted in this drawing is an image of a girl listening to music. For many, music is a way to express oneself and often times escape from reality. Representation for Asians in media is so important, and through music is one of many ways we can continue to support Asian people as artists and creators.

By Sydney Frank , Columnist

Representation in music for Asian people beyond the worlds of K-pop and J-pop is so important. Asians should not be generalized into one stereotypical category. There are thousands of Asian artists today that do not get nearly enough credit for their work, as opposed to other artists. The recent rise of K-pop in North America has made history, with the popular K-pop group BTS being the first all-South Korean group to land in the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 charts with their single “Dynamite.” Although this is an extraordinary achievement, what does this moment mean for other Asian musicians looking to break this mold?

If you think about it, genres like jazz, rock and R&B were developed by Black artists. Yet, white people make up a majority of today’s musical scene, and consequently, there aren’t many Asian roots in North American music. I truly believe that many Asian artists, because of this, don’t know where they belong and feel ostracized as a result.

But we all love listening to music, whether it’s on the bus, in school or while we do our homework. So, if you’re looking to expand your music taste and support Asian artists that you may not have heard of, here are five artists you have to listen to.

1. Joji

George Kusunoki Miller, better known as “Joji,” is a Japanese singer and songwriter with over 14 million monthly Spotify listeners. You’ve probably heard of him from his most popular songs, “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK” or “YEAH RIGHT” (explicit). Through a mixture of alternative R&B, lofi and hip-hop sounds, his often melancholy songs are perfect for rainy days. I love his entire “NECTAR” album, which was released back in 2020; it will quite literally transport you to another universe, trust me.

2. Beadadoobee

Beatrice Laus, known under the stage name “Beabadoobee,” is a Filipino-British singer-songwriter. At just 21 years old, she has managed to gain almost 10 million monthly Spotify listeners. Laus was discovered when she released the song “Coffee” and quickly went viral on the app TikTok in early 2020, amassing millions of followers online. I personally love her song “Cologne.” This song, in particular, really emanates her indie alternative rock sound, with many complex tones that accompany her airy voice. For fans of Clairo, Girl in Red and TV Girl, this artist is for you.

3. Japanese Breakfast

The pop band is headed by Korean American musician, director and author Michelle Zauner; a pioneer of indie music. Her sound is often referred to as “experimental pop,” and there really is no better way to describe it. Her most recent album, “Jubilee,” features some amazing tracks. My favorites were “paprika” and “Be Sweet.” Funky beats and all, Japanese Breakfast is a must-listen.

4. Mxmtoon

Mxmtoon or Maia is a Chinese American singer-songwriter. Originally self-releasing songs on YouTube that she recorded on her laptop in her parents’ guest bedroom, Maia now has over 100 million streams on her debut EP, “Plum Blossom.She is most known for her ukulele skills and indie-pop songs “prom dress” and “Falling for U.” Not only is Maia’s music incredibly good, but it’s also so relatable. Her diaristic lyrics really encapsulate the life of a teenage girl, and her music feels surprisingly nostalgic.

5. Khai Dreams

Khai Dreams is a Vietnamese American singer and songwriter. His most popular song, “Sunkissed,” drove him to fame as it quickly became a favorite on TikTok. Khai’s mellow vocals blend seamlessly with lofi beats and melodic instrumental progressions (his ukulele being a reoccurring favorite). He creates an upbeat summertime vibe that is perfect for when you’re in a good mood. Be prepared, sometimes his songs are so catchy you’ll never get them out of your head. Definitely check out his album “nice colors” which was released back in 2018; it’s one of my favorites.

So, there you have it. Although this is not even close to half of the Asian artists you should listen to, even if you check one out, that’s still amazing. Remember, it is incredibly important that you continue to support artists of color that come from diverse backgrounds. Spotify has a great playlist that highlights so many other Asian artists that you should also check out.

I implore you, whenever you’re looking for a new song or artist to listen to, check out some phenomenal Asian artists.