It’s that time of year when music journalists, DJs and assorted other broadcast media types discover if any of their three submissions to the BBC’s Sound Of… poll have made it into the longlist – and a perennial debate fires up over whether any of this is in any way relevant to life, the cosmos, or anything.
The longlist of 15 – and the shortlist of five, to be published on New Year’s Eve – will go on to be written about copiously, appear in press releases, be asked to do sessions for this or that broadcaster/website/blog and generally find life from gestation to market is just that little bit easier. For some, the path from brief notoriety to utter obscurity will later be just as swift. Still others might be photographed with Skrillex. They can but hope.
It’s a list that always causes controversy – over the caucus, relevancy, accuracy and assorted other nebulosa.
Having been a judge for a few years now, I chose, this time as always, to vote for artists I felt would be worth listening to in 2013, rather than those whom a major label said would be big, or who I thought would appeal to this or that demographic, or who I considered that most nebulous body The Great British Public would most take to their vast, heaving, collective bosum.
For the record, just one of my choices made it to this year’s longlist, which is reproduced below, together with a Soundcloud sampler and some handy links.
As has always been the case, certain acts were crushingly/obviously going to be included by the hivemind which votes in this ever-expanding poll. Over 200 (200!) judges took part this year, including Radio 1, Radio 2 and 6music DJs.
But music critics were involved too, from the (actually identical) print and online worlds. The former of whom, largely, receive things to consider and write about in good time. The latter, largely, do not. How the ‘electoral college’, in terms of vote weighting, works is to my mind still a little murky; I’m assuming we all have the same vote weight until I’m told otherwise. But whichever way you slice it, that’s a lot of judging.
Having acts nominated by DJs, critics, schedulers &C., and with journalists ordered in first and second class carriages by those atop those major label towers of ivory, inevitably means some judges have been exposed to breaking acts more/sooner than others. Online music editors (HAI!) and journalists can often seem to be very far down the food chain when it comes to some major labels so much as communicating the releases they’re working on.
So not all the judges, I’d wager, will even have heard of all of the eventual 15 artists who’ve made the BBC Sound Of 2013 poll.
We onliners must rely not on the vague, byzantine and often bemusing systems of marketing employed by major record labels who target radio, TV and print and who, in some cases, seem still bemused about the concept of “the internet”. Instead we must look to word of mouth, going to gigs, gut instinct and waving our antennae in the hope of receiving signals from the cosmos in perhaps a more outlandish fashion than, say, our esteemed colleagues at Radio 1.
But ultimately we’re all in it for the same reason. We want to champion new music we love. Some of it may make the Longlist. Some of it may even make the Shortlist. It’s not perfect, but it’s there. What else is?
The BBC Sound Of 2013 Longlist
- Angel Haze
- King Krule
- Laura Mvula
- Little Green Cars
- Palma Violets
- The Weeknd
- Tom Odell
(Image: BBC News)