Sounds of 2013?

The BBC announce their ‘most promising new music acts’ of 2013. We ask: is it simply a look at the new wave of new beige?

So here we are again, picking out the coming year’s ones to watch, and as usual the BBC have published their Sound of… list. Past tips for the top have included Michael Kiwanuka, Jessie J and Adele.

Seemingly a barometer for mainstream success rather than a showcase for interesting and progressive artists (though the annual list has still managed to see its fair share of duds in the sales department, Mika a notable and deserving casualty), it is often a great way of spotting the next wave of new-beige.

Yet, it’s wholly unfair to write off the list without giving it a good listen, right? So let’s take a look at the class of 2013, as per the BBC. Starting with the long list of 15 artists, it’s interesting to note – on the face of things – a decent cross-section of genres represented here. From the hotly-tipped radio friendly pop of Haim to the quasi-credibiltiy of 18 year old King Krule, there is at least some variation on show.

Sure, a Brit Schooler is nothing new (their alumni includes Adele, Jessie J and Amy Winehouse) but delve deeper and, if not knocked sideways, there is a concession here to acts bucking the trend of those literally schooled for success. In Savages and Palma Violets there are even bands one could almost consider ‘edgy’. Those two specifically are interesting inclusions simply because they can be described as independent.

Indeed, Savages are sans a record deal and – at time of writing – remain unsigned, while Palma Violets are with Rough Trade; hardly what you’d call a small label, but still. That said, they are hardly straight out of what you’d describe as left field, each of them picking up major industry buzz in 2012. Coincidentally, the pair were tour-mates last year, and played Leaf in July.

But when we get down to it and listen to the acts grouped together, one wonders would anyone unfamiliar with the industry over the last few years be able to differentiate this list from say, 2008’s (or any other post millennial round-up)? The fact is, of the 15, there are bands and artists bearing more than a passing resemblance to Foals, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Ghost Poet, Joy Division and Vampire Weekend, to name a few.

We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to who we thought sounded like whom, more often than not, mere shadows of their soundalikes. BUT, there is good news and good music here. Laura Mvula (not without the odd easy comparison herself, Billie Holiday with The Beach Boys included) transcends such trivial concerns. At once emotionally affecting and uplifting, the Birmingham born soulstress was a comfortable favourite when this playlist was compiled in The Double Negative office.

The BBC judges obviously agreed, including Mvula in the narrowed-down top five (joined by Haim, Aluna George, Angel Haze and CHVRCHES), and it would be great to see her brushing aside the likes of Jessie Ware and Emeli Sande in the battle for the air-waves in 2013.

The question is, are you excited by these artists, or do they serve as reflections of the twin evils of homogenised, sales-chasing industry/jaded and lazy music journalism? For our money, the answer isn’t black and white, and we’re just happy Adele can’t win it twice.

Main image: Laura Mvula

What are YOUR Sounds of 2013? Tell us your suggestions in the comments box below and the best will make a Playlist!

Posted on 14/01/2013 by thedoublenegative