If your memories of 2012 are marked by a few too many drunken nights gesticulating wildly to ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘Gangam Style’, BBC Sound of… is supposedly here to provide the musical renaissance you never realised you needed. But will it really?
The list is assembled by over 200 critics, DJs, bloggers and producers, who were given free range to pick their favourite new artists from any country or genre. Theoretically, this independence and variety should yield an exciting assortment of aural delight, a pick and mix for your D&B-deadened ears. Yet the prize’s name undermines its concept. ‘Sound of…’ implies not the hand-picked gems of musos, but the generic smash hits that will come to dominate our airwaves, Spotify streams and club dance-floors. Get 200 critics together, and arguably the only recommendations that will survive the cull to a top five will be those with enough publicity and potential for mass appeal. But before you shake your hipster head in disgust it’s worth looking back at previous winners. Whatever your music taste, ‘BBC Sound of…’ is of interest for its remarkably accurate picture of the musical year ahead, with the accolade’s previous awardees include such big names as Adele, 50 Cent and Mika.
Here, we look back at the hits and misses of the last few years:
2012: Michael Kiwanuka – the soul musician went on to be nominated for the Mercury Prize, but following a top five album, his subsequent singles failed to chart and he’s since dropped off the radar, playing only sporadic international gigs.
2011: Jessie J – as the first British female artist to have six top ten singles on one album, Jessie J’s success is undeniable. But it has also been riddled by setbacks. A broken foot left her confined to a gilded throne for the 2011 festival season, whilst her sold-out 2013 arena tour has been oddly postponed for almost nine months so that she can focus on recording a new album. But she’s still enlivening the Twittersphere with her enlightening Tweets. Witticisms include: ‘I smell like a candle’, ‘Time zones are very serious’ and ‘I think I’m obsessed with Big Ben’.
2010: Ellie Goulding – Goulding’s career took a leap with her cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, which earned her a slot at William and Kate’s wedding reception. Her second album was less successful, but she’s currently on a near sell-out US tour.
2009: Little Boots – the electro-pop singer-songwriter had one hit single before she and her Tenori-on faded back into musical obscurity. New album in the pipeline for 2013.