It’s almost December. Which means it’s time for a look back as well as a look forward. Over the next month we’ll be blogging our way through our favourite ten albums of the year as well as listing ten artists that we believe could be ones to watch in 2010.
In a change from 2008 we’re going to start with a look forward. The reason being that last year just as we began publishing our list of Ones To Watch the BBC went and published their Sound of 2009 list earlier than normal. To our surprise six of the artists we had chosen were in the BBC’s long list of fifteen. So this year to avoid any criticism of just copying the BBC list we’re making sure our list appears early. Mind you this year we actually had a tiny influence over the BBC list as we were asked by the BBC to be one of the participating voters in their Sound of 2010 poll. We're not sure how many bloggers get asked to participate, we know of at least one other (a list of those who voted will appear on the BBC website soon) but we guess it's a bit of an honour, effectively being recognised as having some degree of expertise in new music. The three artists we voted for in the BBC poll feature in our own list of ten, but we'll leave you to see if you can guess which three we voted for.
Not that we expect all of our list to be the same as the BBC list, particularly as some artists such as Marina and the Diamonds, who we fully expect to be on the BBC list, don't qualify for our list (read next Mondays blog for our explanation of why).
But before the gate opens, let’s have a quick recap of our Ones To Watch 2009 list and see how they fared.
#1 La Roux
We said “What sets her apart from a multitude of dance floor kids is a pop sensibility that knows how to deliver a half decent tune.”
In For The Kill became a genuine pop phenomenon, slowly climbing from number 11 to number 2 in the singles chart, whilst Bulletproof went one better. The eponymous debut album went to number 2 in the UK, 7 in Ireland and 8 in Canada.
#2 Little Boots
We said “Little Boots is exactly what we want our pop stars to be.”
Little Boots topped the BBC Sound of List but failed to capitalise on its exposure, finally releasing the very average New in Town in May which went top 20. The album Hands entered the charts at number 5 but quickly fell away, only re-entering the lower reaches of the Top 40 when the far superior Remedy was released as a single. The initial quirky charm that we heard on Stuck On Repeat and saw on her bedroom You Tube cover versions seemed somewhat diluted by the end of the year, but if her record company keep going with her we still think there is possible unfulfilled potential.
#3 Passion Pit
We said “They will bring a lot of smiles, and if there is any justice Sleepyhead will be one of the songs of next year in the UK.”
Sleepyhead was never released as a major label single in its own right in the UK, (there is no justice) and although the band didn‘t achieve commercial highs, their debut album Manners received much critical acclaim and charted at number 55. The band grew as a live act during the course of the year, playing bigger shows as the year progressed, plus there were several festival appearances including the main stage at Bestival.
We said “It’s very early days for this band but Breaking More Waves reckons their Myspace friend count will soon be on the way up.”
The band renamed themselves Yes Giantess, put out a white vinyl 7" single, supported Little Boots in the U.S and were picked to play on the NME Radar Tour in the UK in October. They’ve recently been recording with a number of big name producers including Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Dido, Little Boots, Kylie) in France and have had some major label interest. In November one of their number (Karl) announced he was to leave the band, his parting gift a superb downloadable mix tape. Yes Giantess continue into 2010. Their Myspace friend count has indeed risen significantly since we first wrote about the band and they have a bag of big tunes ready to go including that hooky as hell No Reason.
#5 White Lies
We said “Have potential to be a commercial success.”
The bands debut album went to number 1 in the UK and White Lies have played many big gigs and festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park and Reading and Leeds. Personally for Breaking More Waves our opinion is that the album was too contrived and weakened by schoolboy lyrics.
#6 Skint and Demoralised
We said “No doubt many young lasses will fall for him.”
If they young ladies did fall for Skint and Demoralised they forgot to buy his records. The single Red Lipstick picked up some Radio 1 play but come October the record company had ditched plans to release a further single or the album that was ready to go. Matt Skint got his hair cut and started presenting football reviews on You Tube. In February our review of his poorly attended live show at Brighton Audio commented that it was only when he dropped the music and delivered an anti BNP poem without a microphone that he came into his own and that “Maybe this is where his future lies.”
#7 Alessi’s Ark
We said “Unlikely to find huge commercial pop success, but is certainly an act to be championed.”
As predicted Alessi didn’t find huge commercial pop success, but her album Notes From The Treehouse was an endearing and sweet record. At the time we described the record as having “A sense of music wonder and magic.”
#8 Florence And The Machine
We said “An exciting proposition.”
Florence exceeded our expectations, her album Lungs being a triumph musically and it attained significant commercial success, remaining at number 2 in the album charts for five weeks, held off the top spot only by Michael Jackson. Her live shows became more focussed and as a result got better and better, with her performances at Camp Bestival and Brighton Concorde being two of our favourite gigs of the year.
#9 Mumford and Sons
We said “Will warm you deep inside.”
Mumford and Sons profile grew slowly over the course of the year. They proved that the old fashioned virtues of playing great gigs and having good songs will deliver you a loyal fan base. The band signed to Island Records and the subsequent release of their debut album, Sigh No More, at the start of October, saw the band hit number 11 in the UK charts. Not bad for a folk / bluegrass act. Bellies were warmed.
#10 Marina and the Diamonds
We said “This maverick cat has already ruffled a few feathers with her blogs on Myspace, which she has now removed declaring that she will never open her mouth again.”
Marina has released two critically acclaimed singles on the Neon Gold label and has now signed a major record deal with 679/Warners, releasing Mowgli's Road in November. An album is due for the early part of 2010. She back tracked on her promise of keeping her mouth shut and has a fully functioning, active, entertaining blog.
Now let's move on up.
It's almost time for this years Ones To Watch list. On the 30th November we shall explain our criteria for selection and rules of engagement. Then on the 1st December enjoy our musical advent calender as we reveal who our Ones To Watch are, each act hiding behind a different musical door on the countdown to Christmas. This will the be swiftly followed by our Top Ten albums of the year list and then, well, that's pretty much it till next year except for a few random articles that we have floating around that we haven't yet posted following our 'one blog a day' rule. Go !