Every year since Breaking More Waves started way back in 2008, around this time, I’ve posted a Ones to Watch list, which has always been 10 (or for a couple of years 15) new artists that I think are worth looking out for. The reasons for their selection may vary; some may be commercial big hitters in waiting, some may be potential future critically acclaimed artists and others might be new acts that I think are worth seeing live.
In 2008 my list included La Roux, Little Boots, Passion Pit, Giantess, White Lies, Skint & Demoralised, Alessi’s Ark, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons and Marina & The Diamonds. Ironically at the time I suggested that Florence & The Machine was too quirky to have commercial appeal but included her because I really liked what she was doing. 4 UK number 1 albums and a Glastonbury headline slot proved me very wrong. Others on that list are probably now on the ‘where are they now?’ list, but even Skint & Demoralised became one many of us in the UK watched, albeit unknowingly, as he fronted a Building Society advert on the TV.
This year I will once again be publishing such a list. I normally try to do this before most of the big national lists such as the BBC Sound etc go live, but due to other commitments this year it will be a little later, currently scheduled for the
13th December. (Edit: Now expected 5th December) Do expect to see a selection of artists I’ve already posted about on the blog in recent months, together with some making their first appearance.
Before all that though, I thought it might be fun to look back at last year’s selections and see how their musical year went. Crystal balls are never normally 100% clear and so it proved this year. Who would have thought that one of my selections would have ended up being the UK’s most successful Eurovision entry for ages? I didn't see that coming. Although my mention of Sam Ryder’s song Spaceman when I tipped him, said that it could shoot him to the stars. I guess I still have some fortune telling skills in my possession!
These were the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2022. Let’s see how they did.
If you still haven’t heard of Wet Leg now, where have you been in 2022? A number 1 album in the UK, Ireland and Australia, a Mercury prize nomination, four Grammy nominations, sell out tours and a huge crowd at the Park Stage at Glastonbury this summer showed that all the best things come from the Isle of Wight. Without question.
Gabriels debut record Angels and Queens Part One received widespread critical acclaim. “Could this be the album of the year?” asked Alexis Petridis of the Guardian in his five star review. For me the answer was no, but it was still a very fine record. However, where Gabriels truly excelled was with their live show. “Gabriels stun Koko – stardom seems inevitable,” said one review. “Endearing and uplifting,” said another. There were reports of audience members being moved to tears.
In October 2022, after a series of excellent singles, Pip Millett released her debut album When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know, which received very favourable reviews including an 8/10 mark from Line of Best Fit and 4/5 from Dork. She also played a UK tour which included a date at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
When I picked Sam Ryder as One to Watch I highlighted him as possibly my most commercial choice, mainly because of his personality and a song I’d heard him play live called Spaceman. That song ended up being the UK’s entry for Eurovision and finished in 2nd place, a remarkable achievement considering how badly the country has fared in previous years. It ensured Ryder has a little part in the UK’s music history, whatever happens going forward, The difficulty for him now will be finding more songs as strong as Spaceman that connect with people, but for the time being at least, that song will ensure that he sells out shows across the UK.
“Right now, with the sh*tshow of Covid-19, it feels like the right time for colour, glamour and ultimately fun to be back on our stereos and in our venues. Lynks provides all of that.” Those words proved to be very accurate this year. If you didn’t go to a Lynks show in 2022 and dance your arse off, trust me, you missed out.
Earlier this year CMAT released one of the best singer / songwriter country pop albums of the year. Expect to see it somewhere on my end of year album list, published appropriately at the end of the year. It went to number 1 in Ireland. So at least Ireland was watching and listening. The UK still needs to be fully conquered though. Maybe album 2 will do that?
2022 was a quieter year than I expected for Hope Tala with just 4 single releases, including most recently Stayed at the Party in October. As yet there has been no album, but she did feature on Barack Obama’s Summer 2022 playlist (!)
For a while it looked like LVRA’s inclusion on this list was a mistake, with no new material except for some remixes of 2021 track In Your Blood coming from this electronic artist. Thankfully she did make it out to play All Points East festival this summer and has just dropped new track Look last week, confirming on her social media that she has been writing lots. Maybe 2022 was just a bit too early to put LVRA on this list and 2023 will be her big year instead?
Vlure were another artist I chose for this list because of their phenomenal live shows and they have continued those this year with a UK tour supporting White Lies which will no doubt have helped gain them some new fans. They put out their debut EP Euphoria at the start of the year and new material is promised soon.
Yet another artist who seemed to have gone a bit quiet on us in terms of new releases. Following the excellent Devil’s Gonna Get You in March it took until November for Rianne Downey to release another wonderful song called Home. Rather like LVRA it feels like our One to Watch 2022 tip might have been a bit early – hopefully we’ll see lots more from Rianne in 2023.
Here's a track from Gabriels - the title seems right for an article about choosing tips for the future. Be sure to check back in December for the Ones to Watch for 2023
Gabriels - If Only You Knew
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