Well, you know how this works by now. BBC release their Sound of 2015, some nice people make the shortlist, about two of these people actually make a dent in the industry, and everyone else is discarded and forgotten while we all scavenge for the next big thing and deride anyone who didn’t quite meet our expectations. Sweet.
With that rather bleak Christmas spirit in mind, of course we’re going to proffer our suggestions for who to watch next year. This isn’t some sort of crystal ball into who we think will do well, this is merely a summation of who we massively enjoyed listening to this year, and who we think really deserves some backing in 2015. There’s a handy Soundcloud playlist you’ll find at the bottom of this page but for now here we are and, in the words of Dermot O’Leary, in no particular order…
The obvious one, innit? For a start, when a support act outshines the main event, you know you’re on to something special. That’s exactly what Years & Years did when we saw them live earlier this year. By September, their place on this list had been solidified: effortless indie pop carried by Olly Alexander’s featherlight vocals, they’re this year’s peacemongers between commercial and critical success.
We love TĀLĀ. Absolute, unconditional love for half-Iranian self-proclaimed Duchess, which peaked this year when she dropped her incredible Alchemy EP. She brings a command of electronic pop that we’ve recognised once before in Grimes, blending her cultural heritage with contemporary sounds to form something that, by and large, transcends what you think you know about the genre. If there’s anything more exciting than that in a new artist, we’ll shit you a gold turd.
R&B is a saturated genre, we all know that. So what makes London’s Billie Black even more impressive is her ability to ride that renaissance and still make it sound ridiculously fresh. Spikier than Jessie Ware and classier than most of her peers, there’s something rather exciting about this girl’s future. Oh, and the fact that she’s only 19 means there’s a whole world of talent left to be explored.
Another instance of the BBC getting it right. Shura is an absolutely dazzling talent – her understated brand of electronic pop was a winner from day one, but every subsequent release revealed even more layers to Aleksandra Denton. Just Once is a particular highlight, as Denton plays disaffected hedonism in a way we’ve never heard before. All you can do is marvel.
When we spoke to brother-sister duo Paperwhite a few weeks ago, they told us that they just wanted to create music to make people happy. They’ve certainly succeeded on that front, given how stupendously feelgood their every release has been this year. They take the best of 80s power-pop and run with it and, along with Broods, prove to us that not every brother-sister duo needs to end up like Same Difference.
If boys are a bit under-represented in our list this year, Aquilo certainly make up for that. Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher from Lancashire (that’s right, the land of Bet Lynch) channel a deeply pastoral sound for their alt-folk. Harmonising without fault, theirs is a sound that is by turns moving and, quite frankly, beguiling in its depth. Let’s hope they prove as popular as Betty’s hot pot.
The northerners are out in full force, and far be it from us to abandon our own. Rae Morris is a singer-songwriter who should be on everyone’s radar next year – her husky vocals perfectly complement some rather profound meditations on love, whether that’s the pining of Unguarded or the bitterness of Cold (with the lovely Fryars). She hasn’t set a foot wrong yet, and we hope she never does.
We’re sticking our neck out for this lot, and only on the strength of a few demos. But the Edmondson sisters of London – who have taken the very Thundercat-esque name of Jagaara – stopped us in our tracks with Faultline. Taking the best of The Staves and Haim, they put forward harmonies so perfect that they could only be attuned by a familial bond. We don’t know what they have planned for next year, but we’re sure it’ll be worth hearing.
And here’s a handy little Soundcloud playlist for you to enjoy all of the above: