BBC’s annual ‘Sound Of…’ list returns with its most impressive list to date. Known as the premiere source of new musical talent for the upcoming year, BBC’s list has accurately predicted stardom for the likes of Adele, Corinne Bailey Rae, and 50 Cent among many others. Different from the 2013 list is the influx of British artists in comparison to American ones, possibly because of the current EDM frenzy. The full ‘Sound of 2014’ longlist was revealed in late December, with the final five artists just recently announced. Check out the top five for 2014 along with a sample of their claims to fame below.
5. George Ezra
George Ezra’s probably the hardest “sell” out of the BBC music recommendations, but for me that just means paying closer attention. In its best form, Ezra’s voice is slightly reminiscent to his British counterpart King Krule but with a bit more smoothness. His first single “Did You Hear The Rain” is a refreshing take on a love ballad that’s just beginning to make waves on the music scene. The EP of the same name also features soft ballads paired with Ezra’s powerful, deep voice. It works strangely well and I can’t wait to see where his music goes in 2014.
Singles To Look Out For: “Did You Hear The Rain”, “Budapest”
South London singer-songwriter Sampha has gained a large amount of notoriety recently thanks to Drake revamping and featuring his hit song “Too Much” on his fourth album. But even with lesser known collaborations from Solange’ and Jessie Ware, his influence on the electronica meets R&B forefront can’t be ignored. Sampha’s writing and vocal collaboration on Beyonce’s “Mine” may be minimal, but it’s garnering him even more needed recognition and respect as a sought after singer-songwriter. This year, I’d actually like to see him write an entire Solange’ or MNEK record, but I’ll settle for one of his soon as well.
Singles To Look Out For: “Hold On”, “The Motion”
Previously coined as the female version of the Weeknd, Banks is such a breath of fresh air amongst the Beyonce’s and Rihanna’s in today’s female music industry. As she uses the #lessismore approach to her downtempo, R&B-esque songs, Banks paves a narrow category of indie/alt soul music that works very well. Her first two singles “Before I Ever Met You” and “Warm Water” became groundbreaking hits on the indie circuit, leading to her Good Years debut EP ‘London’. The songs “This Is What It Feels Like” and “Waiting Game” were ranked amongst 2013’s best, and it seems like Banks is only getting started. While trekking the festival circuit this summer, she’ll also be promoting her highly anticipated debut album – one I’m sure will be met with the same success as her debut EP.
Singles To Look Out For: “Waiting Game”, “Bedroom Wall”
2. Ella Eyre
British singer-songwriter Ella Eyre would be easy to write off as a Rita Ora comparison if she hadn’t featured on Rudimental’s smash #1 single “Waiting All Night”. The stirring, moody “Night” became a #darkhorse of a success, leaving the world wondering about the mysterious female voice behind the quartet’s first album. Ella’s first release after the Rudimental smash was the ‘Deeper’ EP in mid-2013 and she’s been on my radar ever since. The EP’s first single “Deeper” is pure soul and one of the best exported female vocals in a really long time. Ella’s American push may not seem as important right now, but her overseas releases paired with her generous feature appearances will surely gather international interest over the next few months.
Singles To Look Out For: “All About You”, “Going On”
1. Sam Smith
Sam Smith’s influence on the epic Disclosure record alone in enough to make him a force to be reckoned with. But to top off his songwriting and production skills, the Londoner behind the hit “Latch” is actually one of the best vocalists out right now. In fact, the Disclosure record wouldn’t be internationally referred to as the “Disclosure record” if it weren’t for Smith’s collaboration. Since the global success of “Latch”, Sam spawned an EP which included an above-standard cover of Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man”, proving that his mainstream side is just as prolific as his indie background. While “Latch” is being added to United States mainstream radio this week, it’s his new single “Money On My Mind” that will surely make Sam Smith become a guaranteed household name by the end of 2014.
Singles To Look Out For: “Money On My Mind”, “Make It To Me”