Tuesday, 2 December 2014
The UK Blog Sound of 2015 Results
Yesterday the BBC announced its Sound of 2015 poll results. Today it’s the turn of the music bloggers. This post contains some blurb on the UK Blog Sound of 2015 results followed by our own personal thoughts and a possible criticism / question around the voting process - which we take a lot of responsibility for. (See Our Own Personal Thoughts On This Years List And A Big Question That Needs Further Consideration below)
The aim of the Blog Sound of 2015 is identical to the BBC Sound Of list; it attempts to showcase some of the best new and emerging artists. However, the artists nominated are voted for by 62 UK-based music bloggers rather than just people working in the music business. A small number of these bloggers may work in the industry, but the majority are simply hardcore fans who write their blogs because of their genuine passion for music, normally with no financial incentive to do so.
This poll is not about picking acts who bloggers think will be famous. The bloggers involved are asked to vote for their favourite artists, irrespective of chances of commercial success. This is an essential part of the criteria for voting.
And what is an 'emerging artist?' That was left for each individual blog to decide!
How The Voting Worked
This year the Blog Sound Of 2015 poll asked each blog to pick its 3 favourite emerging artists and rank them in order of preference. In total 148 artists received at least 1 vote, showing that bloggers certainly aren't all listening to the same thing. The acts scored 3, 2 and 1 points respectively.
The bloggers could choose any artist they wanted, providing the artist had not had a top 40 hit (including as a collaborator on a song) by the time voting started. Whilst choosing 3 artists in order is the same method as the BBC list, the BBC rules require voters to choose artists that have not had a solo top 20 hit but exclude collaborations. This means for example that Years & Years were excluded from the Blog Sound voting by virtue of having collaborated on the The Magician’s top 10 hit Sunlight, whereas they qualified for the BBC list. Voters were also asked to not vote for any artist that they were related to or has any financial interest in. Once the scores were calculated where 2 artists tied on the same number of points the artist with the most first place votes was ranked higher.
The 15 most popular acts that form the long list include artists that are on major labels as well as indie and unsigned ones, such as Brighton based indie band Fickle Friends, fuzzy sounding Glasgow punks Halfrican, goth ‘n’ soul singer Chløë Black, recent XL signing Låpsley and singer songwriter Sophie Jamieson, an artist who appears on the list for the second time running having also appeared the previous year. There is some minor correlation with the BBC list but many differences.
The act who gained the most amount of points in the poll will be announced on January 2nd 2015.
The Full Blog Sound of 2015 Longlist
And the nominees are....
All We Are - Liverpool 3 piece who describe their music as 'psychedelic boogie'.
Black Honey - Brighton based indie band formerley known as Kill Moon
Chløë Black - Tags her music as 'goth 'n' soul'
Coasts - Indie rock band from Bristol who have comparisons with Foals
Deers - A band from Spain who first created a stir with some lo-fi demos earlier this year.
Fickle Friends - Danceable indie music from another Brighton based band.
Flyte - Classic old fashioned songwriting with an indie pop twist.
Halfrican - Glasgow based punk rock
Honne - R&B influenced electronics and soul pop.
Låpsley - Solo artist from Liverpool making downtempo electronica with a range of influences.
Prides - Synth pop group from Scotland, who performed at the Commonwealth Games
Shura - Singer songwriter and producer using synths to create a mellow pop sound.
Soak - Singer songwriter from Derry whose real name is Bridie Monds-Watson.
Sophie Jamieson - Singer songwriter who has been compared to Daughter. Was alos on last year's list.
Tei Shi - Describes her music as 'mermaid music'. Make of that what you will!
Our Own Personal Thoughts On This Years List And A Big Question That Needs Further Consideration
We’re pleased to see 2 of our own choices making this year’s list (we’ll reveal who they are in January when the winner is announced) and 3 of our own 10 Ones to Watch 2015 list (here) making the cut, namely Chloe Black, Coasts and Låpsley. Also 2 of the acts on this year’s list (Flyte and Sophie Jamieson) featured in our own Ones to Watch for 2014 a year ago. 3 of the artists selected also appear on the BBC Sound Of List (namely Låpsley, Shura and Soak ) and 8 of them have featured on Breaking More Waves in the past.
It’s also worth noting that 8 of the artists on the BBC list didn’t receive one single vote by UK music bloggers in the Blog Sound list, although 1 of them (Years & Years) was excluded from the blog list due to their top 10 hit with The Magician earlier this year (the Blog Sound rules being different from the BBC rules). Of the 7 that qualified for the Blog Sound poll that didn't receive any votes, 6 of them were black males - in fact every single black male on the BBC list. This sits uncomfortably with us, and we'd be really interested to know what others think about this.
There is also a complete absence of hip-hop / grime / dance music acts on the Blog Sound list, whereas the BBC list embraces much more diversity - something that one of the Blog Sound voting blogs Music Like Dirt has written about eloquently in previous years (see here and here).
As one of the organisers of the poll, in putting together the voting list we’ve tried to encourage a diverse range of bloggers with different tastes to vote, but it's something we struggle with every year. One of the big problems is that the blogs that are more likely to vote for a hip-hop or electronic dance act largely ignore our email requests to vote and the few who do engage are therefore in a minority so the artists they vote for are less likely to make the list.
The question is, is the lack of diversity a problem? In the 4 years the Blog Sound poll has been running there hasn’t been one single hip-hop / rap artist nominated and very few dance acts. Black and ethnic artists hardly get a look in. Indie music (as a broad generalisation in terms of style) has largely dominated the Blog Sound list. If it continues to do so in the future is the title ‘Blog Sound of 2015’ really a correct one? Does this list really represent the UK blog scene as a whole? A long list can never represent everyone’s views – the fact that 148 acts received nominations shows that. Some bloggers who voted will be disappointed because the music doesn't suit their tastes. But should this poll be reflecting the most popular favourite acts within the blog community, and does this list really reflect that? And as Neil from Music Like Dirt said last year: "I’d like to think that UK music bloggers are as diverse, culturally rich and musically varied as Great Britain itself, is that really not the case??" It’s one we’ll be discussing and considering with fellow bloggers this year assuming the poll runs again in 2015.
Whilst we discuss these important issues, one thing the Blog Sound poll has nearly achieved, for better or worse, is one of its original aims which was to provide a complimentary but alternative list of artists to the BBC Sound of list. In this respect the poll has had an 80% success rate.
You can hear all the artists on this year’s Blog Sound of longlist in the playlist below. We urge you to listen and if you find anything you like to go out and buy / download the song by the artist. Every little bit of support you give can help these fledgling bands keep doing what they do. We'd also urge you to listen to the artists on the BBC poll, particularly if the blog poll results aren't your cup of tea.
If you have any thoughts on the issues we've raised here about the lack of diversity within the blog poll we'd be interested to hear from you either via Twitter or in the comments section below. Please note that we can't guarantee a reply, but any comments will be read.
The Blogs That Participated In This Year's Poll:
17 Seconds, A New Band A Day, A Pocket Full Of Seeds, A World Of Music And Madness, Across The Kitchen Table, Alphabet Bands, Beat Surrender, Beat2aChord, Both Bars On, Brapscallions, Bratfaced LDN, Breaking More Waves, Brighton Music Blog, Daisy Digital, Dots And Dashes, Drunken Werewolf, Echoes and Dust, Electronic Rumors, Even The Stars, Everything Flows, Getintothis, God Is In The TV, Hearty Vibes, Hitsville UK, I Love Pie, Just Music That I Like, Kemptation, Like 1999, Lipstick Disco, Little Indie Blogs, Love Music : Love Life, Music Broke My Bones, Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt, My Day By Day Music, Never Enough Notes, Not Many Experts, Notes For A Road Sign, One Album A Week, Popped Music, Queen Beetch, Rave Child, Scientists Of Sound, Some Of It Is True, Song By Toad, Sounds Good To Me Too, Sound Of Now Music, Spectral Nights, Sweeping The Nation, The Blue Walrus, The Devil Has The Best Tuna, The Electricity Club, The Evening's Empire, The Mad Mackerel, The Metaphorical Boat, The Paper Penguins, This Must Be Pop, Thoughts On Music, Three Beams, Too Many Blogs, The VPME, What If I Had A Music Blog.
The Blog Sound of 2015 Playlist