Wednesday 22 November 2023

What Happened to The Ones to Watch 2023?


Every year since it started in 2008 Breaking More Waves has posted an annual Ones to Watch list. This has generally been 10 and occasionally 15 new artists that come recommended as ones to keep an eye and ear out for in the following year. This was the very first list:

Marina and the Diamonds

Mumford and Sons 

Florence And The Machine 

Alessi's Ark

Skint and Demoralised 

White Lies


Passion Pit 

Little Boots 

La Roux 

It's fair to say the list was a mix of commercial hits and misses, but some of those commercial misses still produced some great songs. That pattern has pretty much followed every year since.

The Ones to Watch list is usually published in the next week or so, ahead of most other websites and the likes of the BBC Sound of List.  This year, whilst this blog has been stupidly quiet (does less than 16 posts even make it an active blog?) the annual Ones to Watch list will still be posted, but due to other commitments it won’t be until mid-December. Fingers crossed all the other websites aren’t thinking of exactly the same artists I’m thinking of.

Before we get to that point though, let’s look backwards and recap last year’s tips. I think I can safely say The Last Dinner Party (or The Dinner Party as they were then known when I tipped them) was a good shot. Priestgate less so.

1. Caity Baser

In summer of 2022 Caity Baser was listed as third on the bill at a BBC South Introducing night in my home city of Portsmouth at The Edge of The Wedge – a venue that holds around 100 people. Next year she’s playing Hammersmith Apollo. That’s some progress. A good year for Caity and maybe even a better one in 2024?

2. Priestgate

Oh dear.

At the start of 2023 Priestgate was undoubtedly one of the most visceral and exciting new bands out there treading the boards. A new EP One Shade Darker arrived in early March and things looked to be going in one direction – upwards. But then there was silence, until August 2023 when it was announced that Priestgate had come to an end following the departure of one of their number.

This was probably the shortest period between tipping a band as One to Watch to them splitting in the history of the blog. You can't win them all.

Footnote: A month later, from the ashes of Priestgate new band Velkro arose. They go again. 

3. FLO

R n B pop trio FLO featured on a lot of last year’s end of year lists, topping the BBC Sound of 2023 poll and winning the 2023 Brit Award for Rising Star.

Since that time they’ve had a minor hit with Fly Girl (featuring Missy Elliott) which charted at number 38 in the UK singles chart, released some further EPs and played a number of festivals including Glastonbury and Wireless.

There has been no new music since July and now the question is are FLO readying themselves for an album in 2024 and do they have the momentum to keep stepping up? Time will tell.

4. The Last Dinner Party (Previously The Dinner Party)

I included The Dinner Party on last year’s list on the basis of seeing them play live a couple of times. At the time they hadn’t released any music.

Cut forward a few months, they renamed themselves The Last Dinner Party, released debut single Nothing Matters and suddenly found themselves under a weight of hype and excitement. They soon got tagged by some naysayers as ‘industry plants’ but thankfully the band had the songs, talent and attitude to rise above that. They’ve now released 4 brilliant songs, played sell out shows and their debut album Prelude To Ecstasy, released 2nd February next year is one of a handful of records that actually deserves the description of ‘eagerly awaited’.

5. Ellie Dixon

“Whatever problems you have might be big, but Ellie Dixon's music will make you feel bigger - as big as Godzilla,” I wrote back in 2022. Ellie proved that in 2023 releasing a song called Big Lizard Energy. It formed part of her EP In Case of Emergency and with that EP Ellie toured the UK and parts of Europe in September and October playing shows in Glasgow, London, Berlin, Paris and more.

6. Lovejoy

“If they keep going at the rate they are Lovejoy is going to get a lot bigger yet,” I wrote at the end of 2022.

Now with 2.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, sold out shows, 2 top 40 singles and an EP that charted at number 5 in the UK album chart as well as going top 20 in Ireland and Lithuania (!).

I think you can say it wasn't a bad year for Lovejoy and their fans. A band that have demonstrated that old school indie sounds can still find fresh new young audiences if done right. 

7. Scene Queen

Scene Queen is another artist that might not have achieved main stream success but has had a very good year within the rock / metal scene. Following the success of the Bimbocore and Bimbocore Vol 2 Eps in 2022 Scene Queen released tracks such as 18+, Pink Push Up Bra and the country-metal hybrid MILF whilst playing plenty of shows. Scene Queen seems to have been particularly embraced by the UK; many of her tour dates here had to be upgraded as they sold out so quickly. 

“What remains to be learnt is if Hannah sees Scene Queen as a short-term project or something more long-term. If it’s the later and more releases / tours follow in 2023 she’ll be one to watch,” I wrote in 2022. She’s achieved exactly that.

8. Flowerovlove

It felt almost too early to be featuring Flowerovlove aka Joyce Cisse as One to Watch 2023 as she was only 17 years old, but she’s done a pretty good job of justifying that selection. She ends 2023 with half a million monthly listeners on Spotify, latest single A Girl Like Me building up a head of steam and a show at Liverpool’s Sound City festival already announced for 2024. One to watch for next year as well then?

9. Prima Queen

It feels like Prima Queen spent the whole of 2023 on the road. Not only did they play their own headline tour they also played a huge number of festivals including multiple slots at Glastonbury, SXSW Texas, Tramlines, Truck Y Not, Are You Listening, 2000 Trees, Kendal Calling, Mutations and Manchester Psych Festival to name just a few. They also managed time to release some new songs which can all be found on the Not The Baby EP released in May. 

So it's safe to say 2023 was a solid year for Prima Queen. If 2024 is going to continue the upward trajectory, new songs will now need to be the order of the day.

10. Nell Mescal

The final artist on the list last year was Irish singer Nell Mescal. At the time of being featured she had released just 2 songs. She’s trebled that now culminating with the gorgeously hooky Teeth this September. She also has her own upcoming headline tour starting in Ireland before moving to England, finishing at an already sold out Omeara next January. shows. 

And that was the class of 2023. I'm still gutted about Priestgate, but very pleased that The Last Dinner Party are going from strength to strength.

Keep an eye out for a post on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2024, alongside the usual album of the year round up in December.

The Last Dinner Party - On Your Side

Scene Queen - MILF

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