Tag Archives: Ellie Goulding

Let’s Get Cynical About: The Brit Awards 2014

Brit Awards 2014 logo

You know you’ve been taking the piss out of the Brit Awards too long when you look at the current year’s shortlist and think “…well, at least it’s not as bad as last year’s.” You might disagree, and I’d very much understand that – perhaps I’ve just reluctantly come to terms with the fact that the Brit Awards are primarily designed to reward (chart) success first and musical credibility second. You’re never going to see Jon Hopkins or These New Puritans or Daughter or Savages or (insert other deserving British artist here) on these shortlists, and if you prefer your music to be prominently feature guitars then you’re largely out of luck – in much the same way as most ‘guitar bands’ are in the charts these days. This year’s selection of awards looks pretty lean at first glance, with no ‘Best Live Act’ and only three international categories, though what the Brits website doesn’t tell you is that the ‘Brits Global Success Award’ is returning after its introduction last year. ‘Best British Video’ will also be making a comeback after being absent for over a decade – apparently the nominations will be announced on the night and voted for via social media. While the sprawling mess of the Grammies is perhaps a little overkill, it does feel like the Brits could do with spreading its wings a bit and introducing some more genre-specific categories – we might see a few more interesting acts getting nominated that way…

Anyhow, let’s have a quick look at who might win, eh?

British Breakthrough Act
Bastille
Disclosure
Laura Mvula
London Grammar
Tom Odell

I briefly thought that the Brits had finally dispensed with public voting, but no, the British Breakthrough category continues its long tradition of being thrown open to the public. Sadly, my trusty method of judging who’s the most popular fell flat last year after Ben Howard won despite not having anywhere near the most fans on Facebook. However, that’s not going to stop me from using the very same method this year and declaring that Bastille will win this one – though it’s also because I reckon they’re the most likely to have the sort of obsessive fanbase who’d vote en masse for this sort of thing. London Grammar are probably the only other band who’d come close.

British Female Solo Artist
Birdy
Ellie Goulding
Jessie J
Laura Marling
Laura Mvula

Only one of these women has had a number one single (and, eventually, a number one album as well). That woman is Ellie Goulding, and I would be very surprised if anyone else wins this award. Any other result would seem a bit half-hearted on the Brits committee’s part, no?

British Group
Arctic Monkeys
Bastille
Disclosure
One Direction
Rudimental

What statement do the Brits want to make this year? You may as well rename the ‘Brits Global Success Award’ the ‘One Direction award for being One Direction’ again this year, and you’d think that would allow the judges to avoid making a potentially controversial choice here. But could they do the unthinkable and pull off a rare victory for pure pop music in this category? Or will the organisers pick the only ‘traditional’ choice and go with Arctic Monkeys, bucking the year’s predominant trends in the process? Or they plant their flag firmly in the ashes of ‘guitar music’ and proclaim Disclosure or Rudimental the winner?

I predict they’ll do none of these things and pick Bastille, which as far as statements go is roughly equivalent to a non-committal shrug.

British Male Solo Artist
David Bowie
Jake Bugg
James Blake
John Newman
Tom Odell

Well, we can safely say that David Bowie won’t win because the ‘token legend’ never ever wins. James Blake is mainly here because he won the Mercury Prize, but will that translate to Brits success? Probably not, though we can live in hope. Honestly, out of all of these I reckon John Newman might take it, if only because he’s got the most obvious hit single to play over the PA as he goes to collect the award.

British Single

Bastille – ‘Pompeii’
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding – ‘I Need Your Love’
Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge – ‘White Noise’
Ellie Goulding – ‘Burn’
John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’
Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith – ‘La La La’
Olly Murs – ‘Dear Darlin”
One Direction – ‘One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)’
Passenger – ‘Let Her Go’
Rudimental feat. Ella Eyre- ‘Waiting All Night’

I do love the way the Brits website can’t even be arsed to list the names of the songs. You’d think that would be quite important for a ‘Best Single’ award, no? Anyway, whilst looking them up on Wikipedia, I discovered an interesting fact – these 10 songs were literally the 10 best-selling singles by British artists in 2013. Look here if you don’t believe me – you’ll find these ten songs at numbers 4, 5, 11, 12, 14, 15, 20, 24, 29, and 32. It’s also worth noting that Lily Allen‘s godawful cover of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ was number 11, so thank your lucky stars that this list wasn’t even worse. (Looking at last year’s list, exactly the same process seems to have been used, except there were 15 nominations rather than 10.)

Anyway, as for the award itself, I’ve genuinely no idea how they’re going to decide this one. If we go purely on sales figures it’s a straight fight between Passenger and Naughty Boy (4 and 5 in the year-end sales figures respectively). However, Ellie Goulding might also be in with a shout because she spent the longest time at number one (three weeks, compared to one or zero for everyone else). Fuck it, I’ll go with that logic and say she’ll win.

International Female Solo Artist
Janelle Monáe
Katy Perry
Lady Gaga
Lorde
P!nk

Ok, process of elimination time – Janelle Monáe is too niche, Lady Gaga‘s last album felt like a relative flop despite going straight to number one, P!nk… well, P!nk somehow had the 20th best selling album of last year despite the fact it came out in 2012. What is life? Anyway, that’s not zeitgeisty enough for the Brits panel, so we’re left with Katy Perry or Lorde – established star vs. up-and-comer. I reckon they might actually go with the New Zealand up-and-comer, particularly after last year’s demonstration that the judges are willing to use the International categories to make themselves look a bit cooler.

International Group
Arcade Fire
Daft Punk
Haim
Kings Of Leon
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Surely Daft Punk are a shoo-in here, given that their chart success totally eclipses everyone else on the list? I mean, it’d be cute if Haim won and all but I just don’t think they’ve sold enough records.

International Male Solo Artist
Bruno Mars
Drake
Eminem
John Grant
Justin Timberlake

Well, they always find room for one total curveball eh? John Grant is easily this year’s most unlikely nominee in any category, but of course that means he’s probably not going to win. The field’s pretty open for any of the others to take the award though, so let’s go with the lowest common denominator and say Bruno Mars will win.

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Bastille – Bad Blood
David Bowie – The Next Day
Disclosure – Settle
Rudimental – Home

Honestly, I was willing to give Bastille the benefit of the doubt – but then I actually listened to Bad Blood, and let’s just say I am now no longer willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m pretty convinced that anyone else on this list would be a better winner, but realistically, given their combination of sales and critical success, it has to be Arctic Monkeys, right?

…right?

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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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