Friday, 9 December 2011

BBC Sound of 2012: Is the hype justified?

Yesterday saw the announcement of the longlist for the BBC Sound of 2012 to the general disappointment and/or disinterest of everyone. Fifteen artists have been longlisted for the award which aims to highlight the best up and coming acts of the year ahead. Previous winners have included Adele, Ellie Goulding and Jessie J. So who made it onto the list and also what has been missed out?

The award appears to have abandoned its links to guitar music this year, embracing more wide ranging genres. The obvious artist at whom a lot of disgruntled grumblings has been aimed at is "the most hated man in dubstep", Skrillex. For the balance of fairness I listened to something by him and I can only describe it as the biggest heap of shit in the world. A mix of bastardised wobwobwobs and some screaming; why the BBC decided it was necessary to tip this colossal waste of listening time, who knows. Slightly more happily for dance and rap music in general is the inclusion of Frank Ocean, who is swiftly overtaking Tyler The Creator as the most popular (and maybe even, whisper it, more talented) member of Odd Future. He is certainly more marketable to the masses with singles like ‘Novocane’ already generating considerable chart interest. Azealia Banks stands out as front runner having topped the recent NME Cool List and her status as a female rapper would surely give the Beeb some edgy integrity.

Dry The River have felt like they’ve been tiptoeing around the fringes of success for ages now. The ridiculous popularity of fellow folkies Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes would suggest Dry the River are destined for a bigger audience and their brilliant recent EP ‘Weights and Measures’ more than confirms that they deserve it. Neatly coinciding the announcement of their debut album and their biggest headline show at the Electric Ballroom with this list, makes them stand out as a band who deserve it.

Jamie N Commons and Spector are achievements for the LuvLuvLuv label, as well as heading up the more classic side of the list. Jamie N Commons has shown some astounding songwriting ability with his early releases which have been rooted in American blues and rock n roll. Spector on the other hand seem to be attempting to rehash the generic "indie" format which lacks not only in originality but also talent.

Perhaps the most notable exclusions are more UK bands on indie labels. 2011 has seen the emergence of many promising British artists spanning a wide-range of genres. What about brilliantly original artists like dance music’s new hopes Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Stay+? More folky artists like Lucy Rose and Alt-J? Or the countless great bands coming out of Oxford’s blessing force scene? You can’t help but feel it’s a bit of a ploy to draw some more attention to the award. And with a record industry mogul announcing today that the award had practically become irrelevant and journalists nominating artists who they think they are going to talk about over the next year, instead of genuine up and coming talent, does it even matter? Try telling that to the artists on the list that may have just got their first foot on the ladder.

By Jessy Parker

The full longlist:
  • A$AP Rocky
  • Azealia Banks
  • Dot Rotten
  • Dry the River
  • Flux Pavilion
  • Frank Ocean
  • Friends
  • Jamie N Commons
  • Lianne La Havas
  • Michael Kiwanku
  • Niki and the Dove
  • Ren Havrieu
  • Skrillex
  • Spector
  • Stooshe

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