As the “End Of Year List” season begins in earnest, so the longlist of the 15 acts that make up the 2nd annual “Blog Sound Of…” poll are announced.
The Blog Sound Poll is in no way meant as a criticism of the well established (and in my eyes well loved) BBC Sound Of list but rather as an alternative and complimentary selection. It is after all, all about shining a spotlight on exciting new music.
Over 170 acts were nominated, from major labels, indies, and the completely unsigned – with a huge number picking up just 1 or 2 votes – perhaps proving that music blogs are nothing if not independent.
Of my selections only MØ (live review) made the final 15 but sour grapes aside it offers a fascinating musical snapshot, with many acts I’d never heard before, some I love, some I’m totally indifferent to, and some (AlunaGeorge & Daughter) that I “tipped” last year so slightly daftly didn’t consider for this. For the record my five were Fabiana Palladino, Benin City, SOAK, James Mathe, and MØ.
Any poll purporting to choose “the best” or the “tips for the top” is open for ridicule and accusations of bias, but that’s half the fun isn’t it? It’ll be interesting to see how the blog list compares to the BBC’s Sound Of 2013.
The BBC poll is regularly dismissed as overly commercial, bland, and of using the same “experts” year in year out – some of whom seem too close to the artists they select. Sadly pop snobbery is rampant in blog land, although perversely last years Blog Sound Of picked the now Mercury Prize Winning Alt-J who weren’t even mentioned in the BBC long list.
The two lists are almost identical when it comes to gender balance with if anything the bloggers picking marginally more female or female fronted acts over its two year existence than the Beeb. The comparison is much more stark when it comes to ethnicity with the bloggers selecting only 1 ‘non-white’ act in 2012 and 2 this year (although you can add one more in each year for bands with a mixed line up). By comparison almost half the acts chosen by the BBC panel in 2012 weren’t white.
What are we to make of this? Are bloggers a bunch of craven racists? Is the BBC so painfully duty bound to reflect the nation that pays for its service that it overdoses on political correctness?
The answer is of course no to both. The BBC no doubt carefully selects its panel of judges in order to try and reflect as wide a range as possible, just as its radio stations include the very different 1Xtra, Asian Network and 6music. It’s not PC for the BBC to be diverse, its specifically part of its license fee remit.
How to defend ‘us’ bloggers from my slightly tongue in cheek accusation? My guess or perhaps generalisation would be that bloggers in this country at least are more likely to be white middle class males with a predilection for guitar based music. Feel free to shoot me down on that one, its just a punt at an explanation.
Similarly when it comes to a very roughly drawn analysis of musical genres the BBC divides HipHop/Rap 2, Rnb/Soul 5, Dance 2, Pop/Rock/Indie 6. By comparison the bloggers break down of 2012(2013) are HipHop/Rap 0 (0), Rnb/Soul 1 (2), Dance 0 (0), Rock/Indie 8 (8), pop 3 (4) and country/folk 3 (2). Now this is about as far from a scientific categorisation as writing it down on the back of a fag packet but nevertheless its quite surprising that out of 30 acts selected over the last 2 years there have been zero representatives from HipHop – one of the key musical genres of the last 25 years, and 3 soul or RnB artists. The bloggers list is far more rock or indie focused, although it does spotlight more folk which seems to have largely fallen off the BBC Polls radar.
Anyway, apologies for that bout of po-faced analysis. The bloggers list is compiled by a bunch of absolute music lovers, who gain nothing financially from the exercise and take part with the sole purpose of promoting the artists they love.
As is my nature I’m already cursing my own selections, or rather regretting those I left out in the final frantic bout of indecision leading up to picking just 5.
“Choose 5 artists that you believe represent the best in emerging music” – it seems like such a simple question and one I perhaps didn’t pay enough attention to. The problem is “success” or “being the sound of” any year is not something I deal in, I pick tracks I like, and I hope as a consequence others like them too. I tied myself in comical knots deciding between picking 5 acts I loved AND thought could be a commercial success or just picking 5 acts I liked. In the end out of 15-20 possible choices I veered towards the commercial slightly more than I’d have liked to in retrospect but it was a joy to be asked to take part.
Listen to the full list below, with the caveat that this is the first time in almost eight years of doing this blog that I’ve posted tracks that I perhaps don’t actually love. That’s not to say I hate any of them, but as is the way with a democratic list, some inclusions baffle me while others make me bang my head on the table thinking “how the hell have I failed to even hear this incredible music until now“! It’s why we love lists, they’re always so totally unfair, so annoying, infuriating, how did X not make the grade…hopefully the Blog Sound 2013 will provoke much debate.
The Blog Sound of 2013 Long list
The Neighbourhood – Atmospheric Californian 5 piece rock / pop band
Randolph’s Leap – Glasgow based indie folk pop with a twist of brass
Laura Mvula – Jazz / soul singer hailing from Birmingham
PINS – Edgily cool and raucous all female indie band from Manchester
Haim – Classic rock from LA with pop sensibilities
Daughter – Minimal / ambient sounding folk
Aluna George – Infectious R&B influenced pop from London
Chvrches – Scottish electro pop trio formed from a variety of other bands
MØ – Hip soulful female vocal electronic pop from Denmark
Palma Violets – Raw and energetic indie rock band
Rhye – Smooth and blissful pop duo
Curxes – Dark industrial-pop electronic duo from Brighton and Portsmouth
Seasfire – Modern rock band from Bristol who mix electronic beats with guitars
Savages – Intense post-punk with female vocals
Tom Odell – Piano based singer songwriter originally from Chichester
And for completeness sake here are my four selections that outraegeously didn’t make the final 15
Here’s the full list of the 49 strong panel of blog(ger)s who contributed a taste of their musical palettes. Visit them to sample more of their selections:
A New Band A Day, A Pocket Full Of Seeds, All Noise, Alphabet Bands,Both Bars On, Brapscallions, Breaking More Waves, Brighton Music Blog, Details Of My Life So Far, Don’t Watch Me Dancing, Dots And Dashes, Drunken Werewolf, Eaten By Monsters, Electronic Rumors,Faded Glamour, Folly Of Youth, Flying With Anna, God Is In The TV,Harder Blogger Faster, Howl, In Love Not Limbo, Just Music That I Like, Killing Moon, Kowalskiy, Love Music : Love Life, Mudkiss, Music Broke My Bones, Music Fans Mic, Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt, My Bands Better Than Your Band, Not Many Experts, Peenko, Real Horrorshow, Scottish Fiction, Skeletory, Song By Toad, Sounds Good To Me Too, Storm’s Brewing, Sweeping The Nation, The Blue Walrus,The Electricity Club, The Mad Mackerel, The Metaphorical Boat, The Music Hoarder, The Recommender, This Must Be Pop, Von Pip Musical Express, 17 Seconds