After much deliberation and many hard decisions, I’ve finally come up with the final 10 for the inaugural Soundhall Stars of 2012 competition. A massive thank you must be given to all of the readers who offered up suggestions for the competition, I might have to reward you all for being so nice and helpful.
For those who missed the idea in the first place, Soundhall Stars of 2012 is a competition which sets out to discover the next big thing – who’s going to dominate the charts next year. It is a contest driven by YOU, the reader, in that the acts are suggested by you, and voted for by you… meaning that you are in control of who is the eventual winner. Okay, I lied a little bit there, in the fact that I decided to include 4 of my own suggestions in this shortlist. Hate me if you will, but I couldn’t bear to see those artists omitted.
Anyway, I think that the artists that I’ve chosen represent a good cross-section and variety of music – solo artists and producers from a wide-range of genres. This will probably be my longest post ever, so settle yourself in for the long shift.
I’ll write up a little profile for each artist, including some of their best tracks – and then set up a poll at the bottom of the post so you can cast your vote for who your Soundhall Star of 2012.
Ryan Keen, the 24 year-old English singer/songwriter and rhythmic-guitarist whose influences range from the likes of B.B. King right up to the modern pop-rock sound of Coldplay. Having recently supported Ed Sheeran on his hugely successful UK-wide tour, Keen’s fan-base is growing with each knock of his acoustic guitar.
With an action-packed 2012 planned including a collaborations album and various remix packages, it looks like the next 12 months could belong to Mr. Keen. “The projects are big, I can’t talk about them yet, but trust me when I say that it’s exciting.”
Sounds like: A wonderful lovechild between Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner that somehow didn’t turn out ginger.
There are a ridiculous amount of young producers around right now. One look at YouTube brings up thousands of 15/16 year-old musicians who, often, try to replicate the sound of their idols. But there are a few notable exceptions. Enter Madeon, the 17 year-old pop/house producer hailing from France and with a penchant for uptempo, catchy dance numbers. He’s remixed The Killers, Pendulum and Deadmau5 all to a great reception and is lined up to support Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris on their massive date at the Milton Keynes Bowl next year, it looks like he’s taking his sound to a larger audience, and deservedly so. With the right support, this guy could be absolutely huge.
Sounds like: A slightly more mainstream, but equally good version of Daft Punk.
The internet went into meltdown earlier this year when sultry American songstress Lana Del Rey uploaded the amazingly kooky ‘Video Games’ video onto YouTube earlier this year. Now, a few months later, the ‘gangster Nancy Sinatra’ has got a sellout London gig in the bag, a confirmed album release date and all the controversy she could have ever dreamt of. The accusations that reigned over the legitimacy of her ‘singer/songwriter’ status were swiftly forgotten about after her rather beautiful rendition of her lead single on Later… With Jools Holland (which went on to chart at number 9 in the UK charts). The interest in this girl is immense, so watch out for her album ‘Born To Die’ when it drops 0n 30th January.
Sounds like: As mentioned before, the ‘gangster Nancy Sinatra’. Can’t argue with that.
The term “YouTube sensation” is bandied about a lot these days. Millions of aspiring musicians upload their efforts to the video site in the hope of ensuing fame and fortune – but only a few really stand out from the crowd. And Bristol-born Gabrielle Aplin is one of those people. With a top 20 EP under her belt already (‘Never Fade’ EP) and her forthcoming effort titled ‘Home’ creating a great deal of interest throughout the industry, it seems as though she has successfully made the difficult transition from YouTube to the radio. Her BBC Introducing set was met with considerable aplomb and reinforced the success of this transition. All of this at the tender age of 19.
Sounds like: Things that are magical and haunting. Can’t really compare her to another artist right now…
Hailing from Harlem, NYC, Azealia Banks is the 19 year-old who is making definite headway in the industry right now. She’s got the support of Radio 1, NME and seemingly a growing section of the listening public. The innocent looking youngster has a fierce lyrical talent and a remarkably post-watershed manner… But boy does she make some good tunes. Her track ‘212’ has become something of an internet sensation – exemplifying her attitude and lyrical virtuosity perfectly. She’s currently working on her much-anticipated debut album, which is expected to drop sometime next year.
Sounds like: No, I will not compare her to Nicki Minaj. No, I won’t… Well, I guess she sounds a bit like her…
19 year-old producer and OWSLA signee Porter Robinson has already amassed quite a following. During his recent ‘College Invasion’ tour with Tiesto, he played to tens of thousands of freshmen and women, most of whom were chanting his name by the end of his set. His style of bass-heavy music, incorporating the likes of dubstep and moombahton has gone down a treat with the drop-hungry audience – and his debut EP ‘Spitfire’ was met with a great reaction, and included remixes from the likes of Kill The Noise and Knife Party. Hailed by his peers as one of the saviours of electronic music, this boy’s got a bright future.
Sounds like: Skrillex, Deadmau5, stuff that will send the crowds crazy.
The hype train can be a terrible thing. It can build up genuinely promising artists to such an extent that the public are ultimately left disappointed by anything that they produce. But New Orleans-born Frank Ocean seems to be the exception that proves the rule. The US singer/songwriter and member of rap collective OFWGKTA dropped his ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ mixtape in February of this year, and things have only gone up for Ocean… including writing a track on Beyonce’s album ‘4’. Winning universal acclaim for his incredible songwriting, rich voice and unique sound, Frank Ocean is definitely one to watch out for. Album due in 2012.
Sounds like: R. Kelly, but much better.
First brought to the attention of many through her stunning vocal on the Chase & Status smash ‘Time’, Delilah has capitalised on the platform this gave her, and shown us all what an incredible talent she is. Her debut solo release ‘Go’ received massive love from Radio 1 and subsequently charted at a very respectable #17 in the UK charts. But not one to be lazy, she swiftly followed this up with her forthcoming single ‘Love You So’ (due for release on 18th December) which is expected to be yet another hit for the London girl. With influences ranging from Basement Jaxx and Chaka Khan through to the Arctic Monkeys and Nirvana, many have heralded her cross-genre sound, which will serve her well in a scene over-saturated with upcoming female artists. With production duo Balistiq behind the desk, it doesn’t seem like anything can go wrong. Expect an album next year.
Sounds like: A futuristic Aaliyah.
Another artists brought to mainstream attention through a feature, this time on Professor Green’s ‘Jungle’, and also went on to have relative success in their solo venture. London-born, Irish-raised Maverick Sabre is the purveyor of a combination of acoustic and urban music, and this could be as a result of his close affiliation with the Irish hip-hop scene while he was growing up. Having been earmarked as a future star by Mistajam and described by Huw Stephens as “the male Amy Winehouse”, his soulful voice and poignant lyric-writing mean that Mav’s upcoming album entitled ‘Lonely Are The Brave’ is looking like it’ll be a hit when it drops on 4th February next year.
Sounds like: Erm… A male Amy Winehouse. Cheers Huw, couldn’t have put it better myself.
What happens when you take Rob and Gareth from Pendulum, give them free reign over creating music and then give those tunes to a bass-hungry audience? Knife Party. The side-project has had resounding success since formation, notably remixing Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Save The World’ and Nero’s ‘Crush On You’ to exacting standards of mentalness. Incorporating electro-house, dubstep and moombahton into their music, the duo’s unbelievably tight production has resulted in widespread acclaim. The guys are playing DJ sets all around the world just now, but their debut EP ‘100% No Modern Talking’ will be released for free download on 12th December this year. This won’t be the last we hear from these two guys. No way.
Sounds like: Skrillex, Pendulum (obviously).