Sound Of Shockers: The Next-Hypes Who Haven't

The BBC list's less-impressive inclusions...

Every year, the BBC’s Sound of (whatever year it is) list sets industry brains buzzing – from festival bookers and new band editors to publishing departments and PR masterminds, the annual compiling of could-be-massive collectives and should-be-sensational solo artists never fails to stir opinions right across the spectrum of music professionals. Most of which end up on Twitter, naturally.

The deadline for recommendations for the 2014 crop is approaching – you can find out which pundits from across the music business contributed to the Sound of 2013 here. So with the longlist for 2014 to follow soon after – expect to see it published in early December – Clash is taking a quick look back at some of the acts that really didn’t deliver on the promise that got them into previous Sound of… equations. 

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Arlissa, 2013
In this young German-born, London-based singer’s defence, it’s probably too soon to say whether or not she’s flopped. Her album, ‘Battles’, was scheduled for a 2013 release, capitalising on her Sound of… inclusion, but has now slipped to 2014. A single, ‘Sticks & Stones’, earned positive reviews but fell short of the top 40. The girl’s got potential, that much is evident – or else it’s unlikely Nas would have worked with her, as he did on 2012’s ‘Hard To Love Somebody’. But will the anticipation ever be fulfilled? Tick, tock, goes the pop clock…

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Mona, 2011
Oh dear. If Arlissa still has it all to prove, this Nashville-based rock outfit showed its hand with 2011’s eponymous debut album – and many a music critic responded with a curt, “no thanks”. (Clash somehow gave it a respectable 7/10 – but it should be noted that one of the writer in question’s favourite bands of modern times is Kings Of Leon, and the parallels between the bands are there to hear.) The album did just about make the UK top 40, but a follow-up, ‘Torches & Pitchforks’, fell right on its arse. Search for reviews and you’ll find not a great deal of support beyond a damning “more of the same” summary. See ya, Mona. It’s been entirely unmemorable.

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Rox, 2010
While Mona’s ‘success’ at peaking at 39 with their first LP is an achievement worth popping on a future one-sheet, London’s Rox should maybe leave her own debut album where it belongs: languishing in the past at a lowly 97. Despite a plethora of tips beyond the Sound of…’s seal of approval, the singer – real name Roxanne Tataei – never clicked with either the mainstream or more discerning critical ears, with ‘Memoirs’ too inconsistent of stylistic tone to really connect. I should know – it’s my review that Rox’s Wikipedia page quotes, even if it’s attributed to some dork called “Mike Driver”. Rox could have been the next Winehouse – albeit without the descent into booze hell, one hopes – but instead she’s merely a footnote in the story of 2010 Sound of… winner Ellie Goulding’s on-going success.

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Dan Black, 2009
Wonky pop, anyone? Thought not. Despite some decent singles, including a minor stateside hit with the ‘Umbrella’-riding ‘Symphonies’, Dan Black just couldn’t convert evident talent into a coherent end product. As a result, debut album ‘UN’ was a terrifically inconsistent affair that curtailed its maker’s solo career before it’d properly begun. A handful of positive reviews for its maverick spirit didn’t help its commercial cause, and today Black’s second LP, tentatively titled ‘Do Not Revenge’ (what you saying, mate?), exists in a state of limbo, a release date far from confirmed.

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Sadie Ama, 2007
The younger sister of Shola, who’d released top-ten singles in the 1990s, had some impressive names around her when she began to tickle the Sound of 2007 list, eventually coming in fourth. Amongst those associated with the London singer: Terror Danjah and Kano. But first single ‘Fallin’’ peaked at only 67, and no solo album has seen daylight. In 2010 Sadie began working with Wiley in A-List, but the status of that supergroup of sorts, also featuring Roll Deep members and Mz Bratt, is rather up in the air. Much like everything Wiley touches, really.

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Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong, 2008
Ha! You thought we’d let this one slip through without a mention? Where to begin… Maybe it’s best to start, and end, with the story of their debut album. You probably already know it, but if not: scheduled for an August 2008 release, and already serviced to the press, the eponymous LP was pulled at the last minute, the band claiming that it didn’t represent their current sound. NME still ran an 8/10 review. I’ve still got a promo copy of the album at home, actually. (I don’t think it’s much of a collector’s item, though.) To Joe Lean and company’s great credit, their split in 2009 was followed by serious affirmative action – three members formed TOY, a band about to release its second album (news here) and laden with considerable critical acclaim. You might also have noticed their frontman in TV shows Peep Show and Fresh Meat.

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