Tag Archives: BBC

Let’s Get Cynical About: The ‘BBC Sound Of 2010’ Longlist

The end of the year is traditionally time for two things in the music industry: End Of Year lists (yes, mine will be forthcoming), and ‘Tips For Next Year’ lists. Of these, one of the most discussed will inevitably be the BBC’s ‘Sound Of 2010’ list – and as they’ve just released this year’s longlist, guess what I’m going to do?

Daisy Dares You

The only pretentious thing about Daisy Dares You is the fact that she’s got a song named ‘Daisy Dares You’ – this is only a good idea if your band is named, say, Grinderman. The song in question sounds like an autotuned pop-punk Lily Allen, and I’m now at the age where I’m not entirely comfortable watching made-up, barely-legal girls prancing round trying to look older than they are. It’s quite clear who she’s aimed at, but as far as I’m concerned she’s utterly throwaway – she’ll either be a big pop hit or vanish into obscurity very quickly.

Delphic

Delphic have a pulsating electronic sound that builds and builds, as well as big, euphoric vocal hooks to draw you in straight away. Their  infectious dance-rock is likely to be a big indie success, but certainly has crossover potential too – and is surely a shoe-in for inclusion in 2010’s indie-disco soundtrack.

Devlin

Devlin is a white, London-based rapper who seems to me like a less polished version of Mike Skinner – but I’d imagine he’ll draw favourable comparisons too. If nothing else, the easy vibe and straightforward lyrics of ‘London City’ seem a surefire mainstream club hit.

The Drums

OBAMAAAA! I WANNA GO SURFIIIIING!

Ok, those may not be the actual lyrics – although the lines “Wake up, there’s a new kid in the town/Honey, he’s moving into the big house” do make me wonder…

Anyway, aside from the instantly brilliant surf-pop genius of ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, there’s… well, more instantly brilliant surf-pop genius along the lines of ‘I Felt Stupid’ and ‘Submarine’, as well as more thoughtful, swaying ballads such as ‘Down By The Water’. I would be stupefied if The Drums don’t go on to any sort of success, even if it’s just in indie circles.

Everything Everything

There’s something very ‘clever-clever’ about Everything Everything, but those who like their music to be arty, challenging and varied without sacrificing melody or a sense of catchiness can’t really go wrong with them. There’s something of Wild Beasts’ vocal histrionics in the singer’s voice, but it’s thankfully reined in enough to be less of an obstacle than Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto. In fact, I have to say that the more I listened to them, the more I liked them.

Giggs

While his slow, thoughtful delivery is a somewhat refreshing change from the rapid-fire pace of most MCs, I kinda struggle to see Giggs gaining much commercial success – especially when you contrast his style to the more gonzoid pop moments of Dizzee Rascal, for example. Still, that’s probably not what he’s after, and I wouldn’t bet against him making an impact in hip-hop circles this year.

Gold Panda

Gold Panda makes lo-fi, distorted, ambient electronic tracks that are actually rather pleasing to the ear. So while you’re not going to find something like ‘Quitter’s Raga’ in the top 40 any time soon, I can see him gaining a lot of critical acclaim in the coming year.

Ellie Goulding

If 2008’s big trend was female singer-songwriters, and 2009’s was female electro artists, Ellie Goulding is what you get if you smash the two together. There’s something almost unnatural about her quivering voice, but given the mainstream-friendly nature of her electro sound I wouldn’t be surprised if she manages to be a crossover success.

Hurts

Isn’t pretending you’re in the 80s ‘so last year’ already? Apparently not, as Hurts probably sound like any 80s synth-pop band you’d care to name – the BBC themselves cite Tears For Fears as a reference point, which seems like as good a shout (sorry) as any. But can this band really hope to succeed when their music already sounds a bit… dated, somehow? Guess this’ll really test whether the 80’s revival has any legs or not…

Joy Orbison

Well, I like the name, at least. It’s dance with a hint of dubstep about it, and to my ear at least it’s pretty decent. That’s about all I can say really – but why have the tastemakers picked Joy Orbison in particular? I guess I don’t know enough about the dance music scene (or dance music in general) to figure that one out.

Marina And The Diamonds

I saw Marina And The Diamonds on this Autumn’s NME Radar Tour, and to be honest I was less than impressed. The most interesting thing she did was cover Late Of The Pier’s ‘Space And The Woods’ – and of course, it was still nowhere near as good as the original. One of my friends at work said she basically sounded like bad Florence And The Machine, and I’d agree. On record, everything seems so glossy and overproduced as to be dull, and I’m still not convinced by her voice. She’s obviously got a big budget behind her though, so I’d imagine there are going to be some disappointed faces at Warner if she doesn’t take off next year…

Owl City

I’m sure this has already been said, but have The Postal Service heard this? Because this is basically someone ripping them off. Badly. Really badly. And that basically means that Owl City is turning something brilliant and emotional into something trite and formulaic. Unforgivable dross that will probably inspire at least a couple of ‘Get The Postal Service To Number One!’ Facebook groups if it comes anywhere near the UK charts.

Rox

Female soul singer Rox manages to fill two obligatory requirements of the list in one go – not only is she this year’s ‘next Amy Winehouse’, she’s also fits nicely into the ‘Brit School Alumni’ category as well. Regardless of this (or perhaps because of it), she’s neither particularly exciting or original – she’s even got a song called “My Baby Left Me”, for crying out loud. Next…

Stornoway

Well aren’t these guys oh so very twee –  there’s something very limp about the whole Stornoway experience, and even the brassy bits sound like The Rumble Strips with less balls. I mean it’s all very nice, but that’s just me damning them with faint praise. To be fair though, they’re better when they at least have a go something gutsy on ‘Unfaithful’ – even if the singer’s voice does neuter that slightly. Not bad by any means, I just don’t find them to be anything special.

Two Door Cinema Club

Now this, on the other hand, I like. Crisscrossing guitars and relentless beats are good match in my mind, and the band’s poppy vocal hooks mean that a measure of crossover success isn’t entirely out of the question. I can see Two Door Cinema Club being ones to keep an eye on regardless.

So, for the tl;dr crowd, I’ll pick my personal top 5 from the list – I’m not talking in terms of success here, just the 5 that I like the most.

5) Two Door Cinema Club
4) Delphic
3) Gold Panda
2) Everything Everything
1) The Drums

Overall, it’s quite a mixed longlist – there are definitely acts that have been earmarked primarily for commercial success as well as those that have really struck a chord musically. I’ll be interested to see how the BBC’s top 5 pans out, anyway. In fact, I’ll take a stab at predicting it:

5) Everything Everything
4) Delphic
3) Marina And The Diamonds
2) The Drums
1) Ellie Goulding

I’d round this up with some personal ‘picks for 2010’, but to be frank I don’t really have any. I guess that’s why I’m not one of the tastemakers, eh?

Edit: Actually, that’s not quite true. I’ve got 4 words for you: Pulled Apart By Horses.

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Let’s Get Cynical About Something Vaguely Serious For Once: The BNP

Yeah, I know this is supposed to be a music blog, but I thought I’d try my hand at a semi-serious comment piece for once. Consider it an experiment – and if no-one cares or likes it I guess I’ll just go back to being cynical about awards shows and slagging off Lady Gaga.

I must admit that, after the BNP gained a seat in Yorkshire in this year’s European Elections, I felt some guilt for not voting. Not because my one puny vote would have made all the difference, but because I hadn’t even bothered to go out and make my own personal stand against them. For the first time the danger of political apathy was illuminated in stark detail – perhaps, I realised, even if you don’t care about who wins, you should at least care about who shouldn’t be winning. And The BNP should definitely NOT be winning. (Yes, you could argue that I should have learned that in History lessons, but never mind…)

However, without the BNP’s perceived increase in credibility, we wouldn’t have had the entertaining spectacle of their leader, one Mr. Nick Griffin, appearing on this week’s Question Time. Even before the event it had divided opinion – Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was particularly up in arms about it, mewling weakly to an incredulous Jeremy Paxman that the BBC could face legal action for allowing them on the program despite the legality of their constitution having been called into question. (An aside, but it’s not quite accurate to say that no-one ever voted for Will Young – did you not quite grasp how the whole Pop Idol thing worked, Paxman?) And while the BBC itself waved the flag of impartiality around, and Mr. Griffin scoffed at his political peers’ stupidity for kicking up a fuss about it, I’m sure what most people were hoping is that he would make an absolute tit of himself.

So, did he? It’s not a question with a straightforward answer. In the aftermath, petty victories were claimed by Griffin’s fellow panalists (and others besides), while Griffin himself bawled about how he was essentially subject to a lynch mob – in particular, he felt aggrieved at the fact that the questioning was overly focused on him and his party. To which my reply would be “what did you expect, dipshit?” Granted, he almost has a point that he wasn’t really allowed to discuss the ‘issues of the day’ (citing the postal strike as an example) – except for the fact that, like it or not, he was the issue of the day.

However, he still managed to make himself look like a bigot even when the BNP wasn’t being directly discussed – ok, discussing Jan Moir‘s cretinous article about Stephen Gately was almost setting Griffin up to make a homophobic comment, but it’s testament to his sheer bloody-minded belief in his own intolerance that he walked right into it with only the most cursory attempt to come across as non-homophobic. And that’s to say nothing of some of his other choice quotes, from his concept of a ‘non-violent’ Ku Klux Klan, to his sickening attempt to align himself with Christianity – which former Archbishop Lord Carey has described as “chilling”. Also of note was his attempt to squirm out of a question on Holocaust denial by essentially asserting that France or Germany might arrest him for it – you’d have thought that both countries had police officers waiting outside the studio, waiting to drag him away as soon as the program had finished.

Mr Griffin also moaned that the program shouldn’t have taken place in London, displaying his usual profound racial sensitivity by claiming that levels of immigration now mean that it is “no longer a British city”. Clearly, he’s not got a leg to stand on here – he knew well in advance that the program was to take place in London, and could surely have requested to appear on a different edition of the show. But he was obviously so desperate for the publicity that he’d happily take whatever the BBC were offering – indeed, I half wonder if it was a calculated move, a prime opportunity to play the ‘victim’ and ‘underdog’ cards that the BNP seem so fond of.

Even after the event, Peter Hain hasn’t given up whining about it, claiming that recent Telegraph/YouGov poll results show that “The BBC has handed the BNP the gift of the century on a plate” –  a massively hyperbolic statement when you consider that we haven’t even got through ten percent of said century yet. That aside, the headline result does indeed seem quite shocking at first – nearly 1 in 4 say they’d vote for the BNP! OMG! But when you get down to the exact details, it’s not quite as drastic as it sounds – only 4% of people said they would ‘definitely’ vote for the the BNP, and a full two-thirds said they wouldn’t vote for them under any circumstances. However, while the poll indicates that a BNP majority is still a pipe-dream for the party, it also suggests that the mainstream parties need to start addressing voter concerns when it comes to immigration, as over half the respondents conceded that the BNP ‘had a point’ on these issues.

Personally, I think Nick Griffin proved himself to be a blithering idiot on Question Time, unable to properly defend himself when his foul views were exposed and called into question. There is, however, the argument that he got such a kicking that people might just start feeling sorry for him – indeed, The BNP claims that it gained 3000 members during the transmission of this week’s Question Time program. We only have their word for it, of course – but I would hope that the message that Nick Griffin gave to the majority of viewers sounded more like this:

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