Friday, 9 January 2015

Years & Years Win The BBC Sound of 2015 - Our Thoughts

A few minutes ago Years and Years were announced as the winners of this year’s BBC Sound of 2015 list by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. It was probably no surprise to most people who follow new music and the music industry, especially as the results got leaked on Twitter two days ago.

If you’re a regular reader of Breaking More Waves you’ll know that we’re fascinated with these ‘tip’ lists and chart rankings / order. There must be something in certain peoples’ psyche (like us) that likes to make music a little bit like sport, with charts, positions, statistics and the like to discuss and analyse. It’s one of the reasons why we enjoy compiling The Blog Sound of poll, the bloggers version of the BBC list and even now always take a peek at the top 75 singles and albums charts every week.

This year’s BBC poll-topper announcement will no doubt provide the usual round of discussion. We’re expecting to see a lot of articles covering the following points today:

1. It’s the first all male Top 5 since 2005 (The Bravery won that year with Bloc Party, Kano, The Game and Kaiser Chiefs) taking 2nd to 5th.

2. Years and Years are only the 4th group to win the Sound of Poll, previous ones being Haim, The Bravery and Keane, since the polls small scale inception in 2003.

3. Possibly something about the fact that in a year when male vocalists have dominated the albums big sellers in 2014 in the UK, this list suggests this trend may continue. (In fact the BBC Sound of list has always been more favourable to male vocalists, with just less than 30% of previous nominees being female vocalists - it will be interesting to see if any of the articles mention that.)

4. Something about silly hats being big in pop in 2015.

But what we’re interested in (and we’re probably going over old ground with this as we wrote something similar a few years ago) is public perception of the poll and the likely reality. After the BBC list has been published ever year we hear people say, “yeah Years & Years (or whatever act has won)  are the band the BBC say are going to be big this year.”

This isn't actually correct.

So just in case you're one of those people, here are the key points:

1. The BBC runs the poll. But many of the people who vote (the vast majority) do not work for the BBC. The pundits are chosen from a mix that includes journalists and other people involved in music media. Sadly no bloggers this year, but we have already discussed that in a previous post.

2. The voters aren’t asked ‘who will be big’. They’re asked to choose their favourite new act. Subtle difference. Although BBC presenters do a terrible job in explaining this, often saying themselves that the poll is about 'who will be massive in 2015' which leads to the public misconception. 

3. Based on our experience of the Blog Sound poll that we run, the chances are that although Years and Years have ended up winners, not everyone asked to vote will have nominated them. If the spread of votes is anything similar to the Blog Sound poll Years & Years will have picked up votes from between 10 and 20% of the voters, which is in the region of 20 of the 139 voting panel. A relatively small amount.

So if when reading about the BBC Sound of  you’re thinking ‘that’s who the BBC think will be big in 2015’ maybe you should be thinking ‘that’s who a small handful of people who work in the music industry like.’ Because that is what the poll is. 

Here’s Years and Years. We're not fans, but neither do we dislike them, but new song King's reasonable(ish) isn't it? We can hear / see / feel why people would like it, even if it's not likely to be our Sound of 2015.

Years & Years - King

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