If you’ve been following parts 1 through 4 of our Ones To Watch guide to new artists set to shape new music in 2012, and were expecting a fifth segment highlighting a final tranche of soon-to-be-stellar names, you’re in for a swerve sideways hereabouts as we indulge in a detour, the better to peer at established and returning artists who are also looking to make their mark this year. They might not be entirely sparkly and new, granted; but does this mean they’re any less Ones To Watch? We think not.
And yes, established means you, Lana Del Rey – no longer a ‘one to watch’, as she’s the artist you’ll have heard the most if you’ve been anywhere near a radio station of late. Anticipation for the debut album from the sultry chanteuse has reached fever pitch already. So will Born To Die deliver? Reaction to the singles Video Games and the album title track suggest it will.
If it does deliver then that will only heap more pressure on Madonna‘s return, her first solo material since she had four minutes to save the world on the relatively underwhelming Hard Candy. Since then her crown as queen of pop has been swiped from her head by Lady Gaga, reductively or not. So will M.D.N.A, continuing her penchant for abbreviations, get her back on top? And will Gaga herself be back with another album this year? It’s been promised – and we all know how focussed she is on delivering promises to her little monsters.
If it seems like there are far too many solo artists around at the moment, and not enough new bands coming through, maybe that’s the cult of The X-Factor at work – though having bucked the show’s trend for solo winners, Little Mix will be looking to translate their success into record sales, presumably towards the end of the year. Pop-wise, Scissor Sisters will look to a fourth album to reassert their grip on the nation’s airwaves, bolstered by the Azealia Banks-fronted Shady Love, while The Ting Tings will be looking to give them fierce competition in the form of second album release Sounds From Nowheresville in late February.
But it’s definitely time for a rock group to fill a gaping hole in UK music. Is that why Black Sabbath reformed? They’re in their early 60s but still more than ready to show the young pups a thing or two. With the original line-up of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward all together again, and touring, hopes are high if perhaps a little optimistic.
They may be a lot softer but maybe The Maccabees could be the answer. Given To The Wild, which is out already, ticks all the boxes for a band ready to step up in to a bigger league with more individual music. The strident Pelican is already making a bid to be one of the year’s standout singles, and the record buying public appear to agree early on, sending it towards the top of the album charts.
While the relatively new pups jostle for position, a host of artists for whom the term ‘veteran’ is a compliment are making yet further musical strides in 2012. Having changed labels, to Domino, The Magnetic Fields will release Love At The Bottom of the Sea at the end of February, their tenth full album featuring the rather natty Andrew In Drag. John Foxx is back too, having released a mere three albums last year. This one is the second of his fruitful collaborations with The Maths – and The Shape Of Things will be out in March. Paul Weller is another artist who seemingly can’t stop writing, and Sonik Kicks – featuring both Noel Gallagher and Graham Coxon – will arrive in March too. Speaking of Coxon, and leaving his old band Blur to one side, his eighth solo album (count ’em) A+E is primed for release in early April.
Were the BRITs more independently minded, one could hope that Tindersticks would receive a lifetime achievement award. They’re still going strong, as the imminent release of The Something Rain indicates. Another band on their way to cult status are Field Music, who will hope to move mountains with new album Plumb.
It looks like being another year of strong consolidation for electronic and dance acts. The wonderful Lindstrøm is on his way back with Six Cups Of Rebel, ready to overflow at the beginning of February, while it’s good to report a comeback album for the longtime absent DJ Food, The Search Engine out towards the end of January. Gonjasufi will give us another taste of his unusual, post-Gil Scott Heron world in MU.ZZ.LE., out the same day, while eyes will be keenly focussed on the return of Speech Debelle to the label she criticised in the wake of her Mercury Prize win in 2009. It’s appropriately titled Freedom Of Speech. Also back are X-Press 2, forging ahead as a duo now Ashley Beedle has left.
It’s a fair assumption that Karl Hyde, having been chosen to provide music for the London Olympics opening ceremony, will use that as a platform for the next record from Underworld, while The Chemical Brothers are also branching out, this time in to film – with Don’t Think set to capture the heady experience of one of the duo’s concerts on screen for the first time.
Is that enough for now? For it feels like we’ve only dipped toes in the water; 2012 looks set to provide us with some wonderful music.