Who will become famous, top the charts, take over your earphones, dominate the airwaves and fill your head with their lyrics and melodies in 2014? A panel of experts reckon they know. Starting on January 6, the BBC Sound of 2014 list will countdown to the top 5. The winner will be announced on January 10.
There are fifteen acts already chosen, and, sorry if this looks a bit biased, 10 of them are British. Not that the UK music industry has anything to be apologetic for – far from it.
The list is put together by a team composed of 170 professionals. There are DJs, broadcasters, presenters, bloggers and critics involved, and they do seem to have a collective knack of picking winners. These musical arbiters of taste put together a long list that features unknown names, but they tend to end up becoming very well-known indeed. They each have to nominate three new acts who they think are destined for fame. They can choose from any country and from any musical genre.
It began back in 2003 and ever since has invariably highlighted performers who go on to hit the big time. In 2013, the winners were the LA band HAIM who had a number one with their debut album Days are Gone.
The Head of Music at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, George Ergatoudis, jokingly compared the list to a time travelling device.
“Unless you happen to have a handy Tardis,” he explained, “there’s no better way to get a glimpse into the future of music than the BBC’s Sound of 2014.” He is excited by this coming year’s list, believing that is showcases a “fascinating and diverse range of talented artists” who are all “definitely worth a listen.”
To give an idea of how accurate the predictions have been in the past, look at the evidence. Since the list began the top 5 have included:
2003 – Dizzee Rascal, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs
2004 – Franz Ferdinand
2005 – Bloc Party
2006 – Plan B
2007 – Klaxons
2008 – Duffy
2009 – Florence and the Machine, and La Roux
2011- James Blake, and The Vaccines
2012 – Azealia Banks, and Frank Ocean.
That’s not including the winners who were:
2003- 50 Cent
2005 – The Bravery
2006 – Corinne Bailey Rae
2007 – Mika
2008 – Adele
2009- Little Boots
2010- Ellie Goulding
2011- Jessie J
2012- Michael Kiwanuka
The key criteria for selection is that they must not already be famous. This rules out, say, a member of a hit band who has decided to go solo, or a star of an ongoing TV drama. Also, they are not allowed to have made it through to the final rounds of any of the reality shows such as X Factor or The Voice in the past three years. They are not allowed to have been a lead singer on a top single or album but they are allowed to have been a guest vocalist.
This year’s list is as diverse as ever, with quite a few of them having collaborated with other artists in their progression. Sam Smith, 21, has sung vocals on Disclosure’s Latch and then again with the Naughty Boys on La La La, which got to UK number one.
MNEK, or Uzoechi Osisioma Emenick,19, has amassed an amazing portfolio of writing and producing credits, despite his young age, with the likes of Rudimental, The Saturdays, Little Mix and Sub Focus.
Sampha, an electronic producer, has worked alongside Drake, SBTRKT and Jessie Ware. Ella Eyre, R&B singer, another 19-year-old, again hit number one, this time with Rudimental as vocalist on Waiting all Night. She’s also worked with Wiz Khalifa and Bastille.
Three of the American acts on the long list also have impressive pedigrees. BANKS, from LA, has been in London as support for The Weekend at the O2 arena, and Kelela, 30, is from Maryland. Her Cut 4 Me released in 2013, was widely praised. Chance the Rapper, a hip hop act from Chicago, already has a loyal following.
Here is the full list, it will be interesting to watch and see which of these acts make it through to the top 5, and eventually, if precedent is anything to go by, to international fame and acclaim.
Chance The Rapper
Say Lou Lou
All of the acts can be listened to on a dedicated website (see below) and twitterers can tweet about them if they like on #soundof2014.
By Kate Henderson