Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Ones To Watch 2018 - An Introduction
Ever since I started this new music blog in 2008 I have, around this time, published a tip list for the year ahead. I’ve always called it my Ones to Watch list.
This year is no different. Over the next 10 days, starting Wednesday 15th November, I’ll be publishing 10 artists who ,for a variety of different reasons, I believe will be worth watching in 2018.
Over the years, in choosing these selections, I’ve come up with a number of questions, challenges and difficulties. If you’re like me and interested in this geeky kind of stuff about how the lists are formed read on. If not it's probably just to come back here on Wednesday. If any of you have read my previous ponderings on how to form an album of the year list you'll know that I probably spend way too much time thinking about stuff like this.
Here are some of the questions that have gone through my mind when forming my Ones to Watch lists, and the answers I've made to resolve them. Feel free to criticise my thoughts / ideas, but remember, this is my list not yours, so I can do what I want. Go and start your own blog. OK?
1. The basis of choice.
Do I choose acts I love or acts I think will be successful (commercially or critically), irrespective of if I like them?
I have relatively commercial tastes, so this isn’t too much of a problem for me. You’re unlikely to find me tipping an underground screamo noise band that are currently playing to six people in a cellar bar in Lithuania. Generally (although not exclusively) acts I like make music that is reasonably accessible to most people. So I tend to choose acts I love at the time and hope the success will follow. In choosing acts I like it also means that the vast majority of them will have already appeared on the blog in the last year or so. In many ways my Ones to Watch list is a summary of some of the best acts I’ve introduced on the blog in the previous year.
2. How new is new?
This is a difficult one. Acts I may perceive as new may to others seem as old hat and vice versa. For example one year I tipped Clare Maguire as an artist to watch on the back of some demos on Myspace (remember that?). A year later she still hadn’t released anything. She was too new. Likewise I tipped Rag N Bone Man as One to Watch in 2014. Last year he cropped up on the BBC’s Sound of list. My criteria for newness is largely centred around if the artist has had any UK Top 40 chart hits and have they released an album. If the answer to either of those is yes, then I probably won’t consider them new. But most of the acts I’m tipping will have released a number of songs either through labels or independently.
3. Tip what everyone else is tipping or go off-piste?
These days every website and publication has its own tip list. Do I try and tip acts that are different from every other site, or follow the pack as there are always certain artists that everyone seems to be tipping? I try and negate this as much as possible by writing and publishing my list early – that way I’m not influenced by other lists.
4. Balance and diversity
If you look at the BBC Sound of list (to be published later this month) you will see that the producers make a real effort to engage a diverse voting panel. I can’t do that. This list is just compiled by me and therefore is ultimately based on my tastes and specialisms. So you’re unlikely to find any heavy rock on the list and very little grime – although last year I did include grime act Dave on the list as I really liked what he was doing (and still do). This also means there is likely to be a higher number of female vocalists on the list than male as that’s where my tastes tend to sit at the moment. The list is also likely to feature far more British acts than other countries – as that’s where I am based and even allowing for the internet, it’s easier to tap into acts from this country.
5. Tipping is perilous.
Look back at any so called ‘tastemakers’ list and you’ll find as many hits as misses. Nobody ever gets it ‘right’ all the time, whatever ‘right’ actually is. There's a few acts that I've tipped in the past that I look back now and think 'what was I thinking?' But by and large the majority of past choices I'm happy with - even if some of them never achieved long term careers as artists of merit.
Check back tomorrow and at around 8.30am and every day after that for the next 10 days to see Breaking More Waves Ones To Watch 2018.
Here’s a list of all my previous selections from the last 9 years on the blog.
Alabama Shakes, Alessi’s Ark, Alice Jemima, Aurora, Avec Sans, Banks, Beth Jeans Houghton, Billie Marten, Cabbage, Coasts, Charli XCX, Chasing Grace, Chloe Black, Chloe Howl, Chvrches, Clare Maguire, Clock Opera, Curxes, Dave, Declan McKenna, Dot Rotten, D/R/U/G/S, Delphic, Elderbrook, Ellie Goulding, Eva Stone, Foxes, Florence & The Machine, Flyte, Gabrielle Aplin, George Ezra, Haim, Hazel English, Holly Miranda, Hurts, Iyes, James Blake, Jerry Williams, Jospeh Salvat, Jungle, La Roux, Lane Del Rey, LANY, Lapsley, Laura Doggett, Laura Mvula, Let’s Buy Happiness, Lianne La Havas, Little Boots, Liv Dawson, Loyle Carner, Lucy Rose, Luke Sital-Singh, Maggie Rogers, Majik, Marina & The Diamonds, Matt Corby, Michael Kiwanuka, Mirrors, Misty Miller, Mononoke, Mumford & Sons, Mura Masa, Nao, Outfit, Passion Pit, Pumarosa, Queen of Hearts, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Ren Harvieu, Ryn Weaver, Seinabo Sey, Savages, Seramic, Skint & Demoralised, Skott, Sofi Tukker, Sons & Lovers, Sophie Jamieson, Spark, Spector, Starsmith, Stornoway, Rachel Sermanni, The Milk, The Night VI, The Shires, The Staves, The Vaccines, Tom Odell, Unicorn Kid, Valerie June, Visions Of Trees, White Lies, Willy Moon, Wolf Alice, Xylaroo, Yes Giantess, Zyra.