BBC Sound Of 2011


This morning the BBC revealed the 15 names on their Sound Of 2011 longlist. Soon to be whittled down and then eventually a winner will be crowned in January. For all intents and purposes this list is supposed to be an industry look at who’s musical pioneering will surpass all others, or who has shown so much promise that 2011’s sound scape will be ultimately sculpted by the records they produce.  That is of course …. in theory. In reality the list often means nothing to the careers of some of the nominees and they flourish without winning the accolade or flounder, despite the industry nod they received.

Previous winners often seem to be the safe option on the list, the singer that will happily sit on the Radio 1 playlist, yet still be accepted on the both the Radio 2 list and 6 music list (with the exception of maybe 2003 winner 50 Cent or 2005 winners The Bravery). Corinne Bailey Rae, Ellie Goulding, Keane, Mika, Adele & Little Boots all seem to fall nicely into the “marketable to anyone, because they’re a bit safe” category. This isn’t meant to insult those artists and what they do, but it often seems to be that the winner is the safest option. Not the one who will change a genre or shape a sound; of course this is hindsight.

Looking back to 2008 when Little Boots topped the poll, she beat out Lady Gaga, Mumford & Sons & Florence & The Machine, all much bigger stars in 2010. But then this is me looking back, in late 2007 I was just as excited about Little Boots record as everyone else, I had been following her on Youtube, watching her grow and develop as an artist, she was exciting; ‘Stuck On Repeat’ was literally stuck on repeat (*cough*).  Lady GaGa, the biggest star today on that list, what was she doing at the back end of 2007?  …umm…this…

There are several nominees that have eclipsed the winners of their year with staggering results, Bloc Party became much bigger than The Bravery and MGMT & Vampire Weekend’s careers have seen longer and larger results than Adele’s. But yet again…hindsight. 2010 was the first year since 50 Cent’s win in 2003 that the winner has eclipsed the rest of the pack, Miss Goulding shows no signs of slowing down and has produced a number 1 album and no less than 4 top 40 singles.

So who’s in the 2011 list? Well…

James Blake // Anna Calvi // Daley // Esben & the Witch // Jessie J // Clare Maguire // Mona // The Naked & Famous // Nero // Jai Paul // The Vaccines // Warpaint // Jamie Woon // Wretch 32 // Yuck

Lost at the site of some of those names? Me too.  Rather than rant or gush about each act, ill give you two names…

The first is the artist who I have enjoyed the most and who I think will have the most critical and musical success over 2011 … James Blake. His bleak, minimal production is haunting and graceful and his two releases so far his CMYK ep and his cover of Feist & Chilly Gonzales’s ‘Limit To Your Love’ haven’t left my iPod rotation since I got hold of them.

The second is the artist who I think will achieve the most commercial success … Jessie J. She is essentially a stripped down GaGa who channel’s Nicki Minaj, everything she has put out so far has been a bit “meh” and seemingly crude for the sake of crude. But with writing credits on tracks for Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Miley Cyrus and Christina Aguilera and the backing of Island & Universal; not to mention collaborations with B.O.B and soundtrack features for the Step-Up films. It look’s like Jessie will be the British RnB/Pop princess for 2011.

Want to know more about each of this years Nominees? Below are tracks from each of the 15 hopefuls on the BBC Sound Of 2011.