As you know, each year the BBC publishes a list of 15 artists who their panel of experts have decided are going to be haemorrhaging gold bullion by this time next year. Unsurprisingly, these longlists are always incredibly, even suspiciously, accurate. Take, for example, last year’s list; all of the artists who were named have gone on to have incredibly successful years. Of course, the exception to this rule is Master Shortie, who has gone on to make himself the target of unfair, but very enjoyable, jokes. Poor bloke. And why is this? Well, to a certain extent, these lists are a self prophecy; of course, if the UK’s music press and music labels think you are going to be successful, then they’re very likely to spread their money covered tentacles and make sure that you don’t prove them wrong! Unfortunately, what this all points to is the predictability of the music industry . If label bosses and press can get together at the end of any given year, and accurately (with the exception of Master Shortie again, sorry bud) predict what’s going to sell well over the next year, then it seems to demonstrate that it is the music industry itself that is deciding what music millions of people are going to be listening to.
Of course, if you are reading this, then, as someone who actively seeks out new music that isn’t being peddled to you by one of our Saab driving executives via their connections with radio or media, then you are already a step closer to circumventing the whole thing. That said, many of last year’s top 15 were artists who had been introduced to you by blogs a long time ago… But you are not in the same category as the class of music consumers who do just that… they don’t listen to music, they consume it. They consume anything that’s presented to them; the thing that a record company A&R has told Radio 1 is going to be huge, that Radio 1 has played to death, that all of their friends are talking about. In many cases, there’s little discrimination involved; they’re presented with bland, inoffensive, but vaguely likeable music, and they go for it. No effort, no risk involved.
I’ve already said that music blogs are by no means exempt from this condemnation in that the hype often outweighs the material. Sure, listening trends in the virtual world are from from perfect, and far from the influence of hype, but at least people who read blogs are being critical and considering the music that they are listening to. Where’s this all going? Well, a couple of places, really. Firstly, it’s just to urge you not to be one of those puppets and not to assume that 1000 hearts next to a track on hypem.com is undeniable proof that you are in the presence of 2009’s answer to “Stairway To Heaven”. More likely, Simon from Kent illegally downloaded Ableton Live, munched on some Class C drugs and had a hell of a time messing up MGMT’s hair. Secondly, I felt very much like it was necessary for my own ego to establish why I feel superior to people who, in my opinion, listen to awful music. Mission accomplished. And it feels good.
Thirdly… Thirdly and most importantly, though, was to try to see how predictable this whole predictable process is! I’ve been carefully concocting an immaculately organised Excel spreadsheet for a while now, attempting to predict the artists that the BBC are going to predict are going to be big. Crazy, right? Sort of, but if this list turns out to contain some of the BBC’s choices, then it will go some way to pointing out the insane pre-determined nature of the music industry. If it doesn’t, well, then I’ll be genuinely glad that the whole thing isn’t so predictable. In this effort, I also sought the enlightened opinions of Pretty Much Amazing, Sheena Beaston, The Stu Reid Experiment , Breaking More Waves and Too Many Sebastians who have made some additions to the list. I can’t ignore Neon Gold either, since this entire list is based on their seemingly endless wisdom. In a way, I guess, this is like a musical experiment, that could quite possibly go wrong. And if the names below are completely off target, then all you will be left with is one unfathomably brilliant “ones to watch for 2010” list. Everyone wins? Yeah, everyone wins unless I come out looking like a massive cock… (In this eventuality, I blame all of the other blogs, useless idiots!)
The criteria for the BBC’s list is simple: the artist must not have had a top 20 hit in the UK, have released an album yet or be well known from a reality TV show. I’ve divided the candidates into three categories: Outside Chance for artists who have created some hype that has not yet really been consolidated into much success yet, Good Possibility for the talented and hyped artists who have started to deliver great songs, and (Almost) Dead Certainty for those artists who the BBC are very likely to include.