The BBC Sound of 2012 poll asks 184 ‘tastemakers’ i.e. experts in the field of modern music, who they think is up and coming for the next year. The criteria is that the artists cannot have been in the Top Twenty in the UK Charts before, but that the tastemaker thinks they will be the next year. For 2012, the Top Five went thus:
- Michael Kiwanuka
- Frank Ocean
- Azealia Banks
- Niki & The Dove
Michael Kiwanuka is rightfully in the top place in this poll and I imagine that in 2012 he’ll become like a male version of Adele, (although that may perhaps be a little presumptuous), with his mellow soulful voice and acoustic guitar. It creates something that’s both simple, and emotionally deep. There is so much passion in his voice that’s unfortunately rare in new music these days, and I believe people are really going to love him.
Frank Ocean is popular with the music a-list; Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyoncé. He has a slightly morbid and profound sense to his lyrics and tone of voice. His style of music is somewhere between Hip-Hop and R&B, although I’m sure he would rather class it as Hip-Hop. It definitely sounds similar to popular trends and it’s very likely that he’ll be big this year.
Azealia Banks has been highly championed by ‘NME Magazine’ and has a sassy no-nonsense attitude that seems to be a more street and non-commercial version of Nicki Minaj. She raps like Missy Elliot, but more feminine and stripped back. She’s already been a big success in the indie culture of recent months, so it’s not hard to imagine her breaking through into the mainstream in the coming year.
Skrillex has been really popular recently, and although it’s not my sort of music I can definitely appreciate where he’s coming from. He’s been really prominent in places championing new music i.e. Radio 1’s evening shows and ‘NME’. I can see this sort of Electronic music being really popular next year along with the more acoustic stuff, hopefully creating a really diverse range of things that we can hear on the radio rather than only Pop and R&B.
I saw Niki & The Dove when they were supporting Hurts at the O2 academy in Brixton, and I have to say their style was a little less than original in my opinion. Niki’s wailing Kate Bush like vocals kind of gave me a headache, although the two guys accompanying her in the band had a laid back performing style and slightly indie look. I agree that the band taps the alternative market, but to be honest they just seem to be an impersonation of other bands and I can’t see them lasting long.
I’d say that the Top Five are quite well judged this year, and despite my comments about Niki and The Dove, I’m aware that that’s probably just a matter of personal taste. I can see them Being the next Marina & The Diamonds, which is in ways unfortunate for the industry. It looks like there’s going to be a lot of diversity in 2012 and surprising new acts. But trust me, the soul of Michael Kiwanuka brings hope for us all.