It’s that time of year once more when we look to the future to see which lucky, plucky musicians stand to make a career out of their vocations. This year’s accumulative longlist numbers 102. I’ve excluded artists from other lists which I have myself featured in previous years, and anyone who has already released a proper official album - full-length mix-tapes and such are fine.
My short list (Top of the Props) is narrowed to a selection of just 11 - consisting of artists who get 3 or more mentions in those various lists. I am very happy to see Jack Garrat at the top of the tree, as he really embodies what future music-making is all about - a talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist / songwriter, he layers up and loops tracks building up with his own percussion, synth bassline, rhythm guitar and effects. He is superb live, as he creates his backing on the fly - doing improv drum fills and guitar and keyboard solos as he sings. I also already have a load of singles and EP’s by the highly prodigious Mura Masa, whom I rate almost as highly.
I find that the BBC is usually the best guide to finding the most likely pop successors. It’s just a shame really that so few actually make it through the mangle. You can check through previous years to see the handful who manage to sustain a meaningful and rewarding career in this industry. For too many, music ends up as a hobby or a way in reserve second job, as only those who gain a significant following can derive a sufficent living standard from music alone.
There’s plenty of variety as always - and as always I gravitate towards Electronic, R&B and Soul ...
By number of supporters then alphabetical:
Jack Garratt [Soulful Electro-Pop] (AM, BBC, Gw, MTV, Sp, +) x6
Nao [Sharp, Modern Neo-Soul] (AM, BBC, Gg, Gw, Sp, Id) x6
Blossoms [Contemporary Slickly-Produced Indie Rock] (AM, BBC, Gw, MTV, Sp) x5
Frances [Emotive Piano Pop] (AM, BBC, Gw, Id, Sp) x5
Mura Masa [Slick Modern Electronic-tinged Pop] (AM, AR, BBC, Gw, Sp) x5
Billie Marten [Elegant Acoustic Folk] (AM, AR, BBC, Gw) x4
Rat Boy [Punky Indie Rock] (AR, BBC, Gw, MTV) x4
Alessia Cara [Slick R&B Pop] (BBC, Gg, Gw) x3
Loyle Carner [Fluid Soulful UK Hip-Hop] (AR, BBC, Gw) x3
Mabel [Mini-Neneh, Soulful Pop] (BBC, Gw, Sp) x3
WSTRN [West London R&B Rap Collective] (BBC, Gw, MTV) x3
AM = Apple Music
AR = Amazing Radio (amazingradio.com/tipsfor2016)
Gg = Globalgrind (globalgrind.com/2015/12/23/whos-up-next-16-artists-to-watch-in-2016/)
Gw = Gigwise (www.gigwise.com/photos/102283/channel-4-announce-the-10-acts-for-their-future-sounds-list)
Id = Idolator (www.idolator.com/7618023/artists-to-watch-2016-verge)
SK = Personal selection
Sp = Spotify
+ = Brits Critics’ Choice prize for 2016