Azealia is a sure thing, and she might be the real thing
The industry's list of breakthrough acts is no revelation. Yet this galaxy of polished-up stars will dazzle fans and the bean-counters alike
Sunday 01 January 2012
As the pop landscape of 2012 lies before us, it is a matter of temperament – optimist or pessimist, naïve or cynical – as to whether one chooses to view it as an enticingly blank canvas or, to borrow Eliot's phrase, a patient etherised upon a table.
Is it a space in which the spontaneous and the unexpected can happen, or is the dread, dead hand of the music industry inviting us to take a scalpel to its already-cold corpse? This writer sees foregone conclusions and fait accomplis wherever he looks.
The BBC's Sound of 2012 Poll – nominees chosen by industry insiders are A$AP Rocky, Azealia Banks, Dot Rotten, Dry The River, Flux Pavilion, Frank Ocean, Friends, Jamie N Commons, Lianne La Havas, Michael Kiwanuka, Niki & The Dove, Ren Harvieu, Skrillex, Spector and StooShe – is due to be announced this Friday, and the winner of the Critics' Choice Award at the Brits next month will almost certainly be drawn from that longlist. On previous evidence, it's a ready reckoner of acts lined up to be foisted on us in the coming months. There's a reason for that: in order to look prescient, voters go for the acts they believe will be big, not the ones they think should be.
It's a strange selection. Florida dubstep dude Skrillex is already big enough to sell out the Academy venue circuit, and singer-rapper Frank Ocean of Los Angeles' Odd Future/OFWGKTA collective only qualifies on the premise that his acclaimed album Nostalgia, ULTRA is technically a mixtape, therefore his debut has yet to happen.
The most exciting name on that list, Azealia Banks, is no newcomer either: her first single arrived as long ago as 2009. However, it was this year's potty-mouthed, electro-rap romp "212" that grabbed the attention of hipsters (and the fact that she covered Interpol's "Slow Hands").
The biggest and most obvious Sure Thing of 2012 is, at least, worthy of the hype. With her bruised Dusty Springfield/Karen Carpenter voice, Hollywood sadcore heroine Lana Del Rey will surely be an enormous star this year. Her only challenge will be matching the quality of "Video Games", one of the singles of the century so far.
Beyond the festival circuit, which in 2012 excludes Glastonbury, the biggest outdoor events currently on the radar involve Bruce Springsteen, who's playing a stadium tour in June, and Stockholm dance trio Swedish House Mafia, making an audacious grab for megastar status by announcing a one-off spectacular at Milton Keynes Bowl on 14 July. The following month Underworld, in collaboration with Danny Boyle, will be providing the music for the Olympic Games opening ceremony, of the although one can't help thinking that simply blasting "Born Slippy" would be an unimprovable overture to an event taking place on the edge of Essex.
The financial power of nostalgia is as strong as ever. Bafflingly venerated Mancunian jangle merchants The Stone Roses broke records for ticket sales when they announced three shows in Manchester for July. Anyone who saw their notoriously shambolic final show, at the Reading Festival in 1996, will hope that they put in enough rehearsal this time.
It's hard not to have mixed feelings about the news that Brian Wilson, reinvigorated in recent years, will be rejoining The Beach Boys, now little more than a cheesy cabaret turn. However, anyone fearing that this marks a backward step for the gentle giant will be partly reassured by the news that members of his backing band are involved.
A less heralded but, for lovers of the new wave/post-punk period, far more thrilling bit of news is that Bow Wow Wow will make a very rare UK tour. However, for connoisseurs of quality Nineties rock, the greatest news of all was that Greg Dulli will be reactivating his Sub Pop grunge-soul heroes The Afghan Whigs to headline the final night of the All Tomorrow's Parties shows at London's Alexandra Palace in May.
Lastly, if there's any truth in the Mayan prophecy about the world ending in 2012, then the reformed Black Sabbath, headlining Download in July, will provide the perfect soundtrack. An asteroid colliding with Earth as "Sweet Leaf" thunders out across the Donington fields? What a way to go.
Watch out for...
With a look that makes heads turn (a tall quiff of ginger curls) and a soul voice which has earned him guest spots on Gorillaz' "Doncamatic" single and the Wretch 32 album, Daley, above, is a 23-year-old Mancunian whose mixtape "Those Who Wait" (available free at http://daley.tv) suggests he's more than just the hipster's Hucknall.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 Fifa corruption arrests: Nike reported to be 'multinational sportswear company' at centre of bribery claims over Brazil shirt deal
- 3 Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
- 4 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's just gravity — not a Mexican demon being summoned
Grace of Monaco film panned: Screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman as movie gets US debut
Royal Academy of Arts' Tim Marlow: Bronze statue of lovers embracing at St Pancras station is a lesson in 'how not to do' public art
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
ASAP Rocky gives nauseating response to explicit Rita Ora rap: 'I'm not saying she's a terrible person'
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote