“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
The highly anticipated BBC Sound of 2016 shortlist is set to be announced on Monday Jan 4th. Now in its 14th year, the BBC Sound of poll showcases rising stars for the year ahead. The longlist is compiled by over 140 influential UK-based music critics, editors, broadcasters, bloggers, festival organisers and music streaming services. The panel of tastemakers submit their top 3 acts, before being whittled down to the top 15 longlist, and later followed by the top 5 shortlist. Last year’s top 5 included Years & Years, James Bay, Stormzy, Raury, George The Poet, and judging by the success they’ve had in 2015, the ‘BBC Sound Of’ proves to be a catalyst for great success!
Previous winners over the years include Sam Smith, Adele, Ellie Goulding, Michael Kiwanuka, HAIM, 50 Cent and last year’s overall winner, Years & Years. The synth-pop trio (Olly, Mikey & Emre) had an extremely successful 2015 with the release of their debut album Communion in July, followed by singles King, Shine and Eyes Shut. With their trademark futuristic synths and hard-hitting pop hooks, Years and Years continue to push boundaries and will no doubt have another successful year ahead.
So, who are the artists set to make a big impression for 2016? Let’s have a look at all the nominated artists on the longlist and check out the full Spotify Playlist here.
1) 19-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter Alessia Cara, made quite the impact with her debut single Here. The anti-partying anthem, taken from her five-track EP Four Pink Walls, highlights Alessia’s edgy and soulful R&B style vocals. Having started her career singing acoustic covers on YouTube, Alessia’s talents were quickly noticed and was later signed to Def Jam Records where she released her debut album Know-It-All. Be sure to check out her unique cover of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood below, for Radio 1 Piano Sessions with Huw Stephens.
2) Meet Blossoms; a five-piece band hailing from Stockport, made up of Josh, Tom, Joe, Myles and Charlie. Blossom’s first gained attention through BBC Introducing in Manchester, where they were later invited to perform at legendary Maida Vale Studios for a session with Steve Lamacq on 6 Music as well as the BBC introducing stage at SXSW Festival. Having released 2 EP’s this year, Blown Rose and Charlemagne, Blossoms continue to gain momentum with their infectious hooks and retro psych-pop vibes. Upcoming dates for the band include Manchester Arena with The Libertines (Jan 23), The Academy in Dublin (Feb 5) and the NME Awards show in London’s Scala (Feb 25th).
3) The youngest nominee on the longlist is 16-year-old singer/songwriter Billie Marten from North Yorkshire, who first came onto the scene with her popular YouTube and Souncloud uploads, showcasing her delicate, folk-style vocals. Having since released two EP’s, As Long and Ribbon, Marten delivers captivating vocals on singles such as ‘Ribbon’, ‘Weathered’, and ‘Bird‘. Having already toured with fellow folk singer Lucy Rose and performed on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading & Leeds, upcoming dates for Billie Marten include Annie Mac Presents Collected at ICA London (Feb 4, Mar 10).
4) 19-year-old singer Dua Lipa first caught the attention of Lana Del Rey’s manager, who quickly signed the rising star. Dua has since unveiled her debut single Be The One, serving up up a fresh slice of effortless pop, with plenty of colour and life. Upcoming dates for the London singer include her first UK tour, kicking off Jan 16th. Expect a debut album later in 2016.
5) Berkshire-born Frances, burst onto the scene in July with single ‘Grow’ followed by singles ‘Let It Out’ and ‘Borrowed Time’. With the release of her two EP’s (Grow and Let It Out) Frances confidently showcases her tender vocals and melodic ability. The 21 year old singer/songwriter who shares management with Disclosure and Sam Smith, was shortlisted for the Brits Critics Choice Award, firmly positioning herself as a rising star with plenty of promise. Check out her recent performance during Radio 1 ‘s September Live Lounge, where she performed her unique cover of Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean? Upcoming dates include Union Chapel (Feb 18)
6) Izzy Bizu, another Brits Critics Choice nominee, has been constantly gaining momentum over the years, having played on the BBC introducing Stage at Glastonbury, followed by supporting tours with Sam Smith, Rudimental and Foxes. With the release of previous singles ‘Diamond’, ‘Adam & Eve’, ‘Give Me Love’ and latest single ‘White Tiger‘, the South London singer delivers a unique fusion of soul, funk, pop and jazz, playing up to her musical influences from Amy Winehouse to Adele and Ella Fitzgerald. Currently signed to Epic Records, Izzy Bizu is to release her debut album, A Moment Of Madness, in May 2016. In the meantime, you can catch her perform at Scala, London (Jan 27) followed by Night and Day in Manchester (Jan 28)
7) 2015 has already been a big year for Jack Garratt, having won the coveted Brits Critics Choice Award, following in the footsteps of James Bay, Sam Smith and Emeli Sande. Prior to this, Garratt came through BBC Introducing Uploader in 2009 and has since come full circle winning the BBC Introducing Artist of the Year at the 2015 BBC Music Awards. The London based producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist delivers intricately crafted singles, mixed with fuzzing synths, chilled R&B vibes, and infectious hooks as heard in ‘The Love You’re Given’, ‘Worry’, ‘Weathered’ and ‘Breath Life‘. Upcoming dates for Garratt include a North American tour, followed by The Academy in Dublin (Mar 30) and O2 ABC in Glasgow (Apr 1).
Check out Part 2 here, featuring acts 8-15: J Hus, Loyle Carner, Mabel, Mura Masa, NAO, Rat Boy, Section Boyz and WSTRN.
Shortlist Update: 8/01/16
5th Place: (Tie) WSTRN & Mura Masa
4th Place: Blossoms
3rd Place: NAO
2nd Place: Alessia Cara
**1st Place: Jack Garratt**