Fast-forward: the best music you've never heard (yet...)

Larry Ryan, a 'tastemaker' behind the BBC Sound of 2012 list, introduces the names joining past nominees such as 50 Cent and Adele

In the period before Christmas, when the flow of new music slows and our attentions seem to turn to compilations of songs by dead people, the industry and music press fills its time by furiously making lists. There is no shortage of reflection in the form of albums-of-the-year tables but the next big thing has become predicting who will be the next big thing – and then patting ourselves on the back when their LP shows up on the following year's albums-of-the-year list. It can get a little tiring.

Yesterday, the BBC revealed the 15 names vying for its "Sound of..." prize, now in its 10th year. It is voted on by music journalists, editors, bloggers and broadcasters, as well as DJs and producers, all labelled by the BBC as "tastemakers". Next month, the artist who receives the most votes will be named the Sound of 2012, as one of a top five.

If you haven't heard of these names, chances are you soon will – the longlist has produced a string of artist who have gone on to achieve fame and riches, including Adele and Keane – but a win is no guarantee. "In the first few years, the top five artists would go on to very big promotional success," says Paul Williams, an industry analyst for Music Week. "Three or four years ago, the top five would virtually all end up selling in the hundreds of thousands. But in the last two years, the winner does well but no one else."

As one of the 184 so-called tastemakers, I was asked to name up to three artists who have not had a UK Top 20 single or album by November, and are not well known in Britain.

I chose US indie pop group Friends and genre-bending singer-songwriter Frank Ocean, who made the list, and Grimes, who did not. Whether they'll have commercial success – which is the superficial assumption of the list – is far from assured.

Essentially a list such as this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: those who voted will also be those playing them on the radio or writing about them on their blogs next year; that is, until they find something new to chase.

"Something else comes through that hasn't been on the list at all," Paul Williams says. "Ed Sheeran wasn't on the last list and – aside from Jessie J – his album has done better than any other new British act this year."

Sounds of 2012: Four for the future

Frank Ocean

The 24-year-old is a member of the much-talked about LA rap collective Odd Future, though he is on his way to eclipsing the other young members of the group who have achieved notoriety in the music press and beyond this year. Ocean released an R&B-inclined solo mix tape online this year called Nostalgia, Ultra. Its standout single is the stunning "Novacane". He also featured on two tracks from the Jay Z and Kanye West collaborative album Watch the Throne, released in the summer

Niki & Dove

The Swedish dance duo Gustaf Karlöf and Malin Dahlström have been getting attention since 2010 with electronic tracks such as "DJ, Ease My Mind" and the brilliant "Mother Project". The pair have released two EPs, The Fox and The Drummer, this year on the the Seattle label Sub Pop, traditionally more known for its alternative rock releases.

Friends

The Brooklyn five-piece are the only artists on the longlist actually signed to an independent record label – on the London-based Lucky Number, which released the band's single "I'm His Girl". The track has picked up a lot of glowing praise across the music press and received airplay on Radio 1 and 6 Music.

"I'm His Girl" is probably about as close to a perfect pop song that you will hear this year: it's all driven by a delicious bassline, which will stick in your head all day – and followed up with a great vocal.

A measure of the band's potential appeal can be seen on YouTube where the video for "I'm His Girl", co-directed by lead singer Samantha Urbani, has been viewed some 250,000 times.

The indie pop group are playing in Manchester on 7 February, and in London the next day. The latter gig swiftly sold out and another has been scheduled.

Azealia Banks

Recently named by the NME as the "coolest person on the planet", Banks is full of potential. The young Harlem-based rapper's reputation, thus far, rests largely on the back of one track, "212": her vocals drip with attitude as she spits filthy lyrics over scattergun electro beats. Banks has signed with Polydor UK and is making an album with producer Paul Epworth – known for his work with Florence + the Machine, Friendly Fires and Plan B.

Plus the others: Dot Rotten (grime MC); A$AP Rocky (rapper); Dry the River (alt-folk); Flux Pavilion (dubstep DJ); Jamie N Commons (blues); Lianne La Havas (soul); Michael Kiwanuka (soul); Ren Harvieu (soul); Skrillex (dubstep pop); Spector (nouveau Britpop); Stooshe ( ferocious female trio).

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as Doctor Who and Clara behind the scenes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cheery but half-baked canine caper: 'Pudsey the dog: The movie'

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor