January has always been a month of hope and expectation in the music world; the ravages of the Christmas chart silliness, coupled with the fact that everyone in the country pretty much turns off for a week or so, means we emerge into the new year bleary eyed and eager for news of what’s ahead. Those amongst us on the web who consider ourselves “tastemakers” are always quick to respond to demand (more often than not in the blogosphere’s favourite format: a list!) but since 2003 the discussion has invariable been led by the dear old beeb and their Sound Of… poll. Past winners have always gone on to reasonable commercial success, and inclusion in the short list is often enough to kick start a career or two, so the expectations are always high and the results are watched with great interest by all and sundry.
However, despite my automatic approval of anything the BBC does, I can’t help but shake my head in bafflement at their new list. To cut to the chase, this year’s selection is utter tripe. Past winners have included Adele, Little Boots and Ellie Goulding, with notable also-rans Florence & the Machine, La Roux and Marina & the Diamonds also featuring highly, so I’m sure the more astute amongst you have already detected the theme (name-in-the-title female singers, perhaps?) and will have recognised that stylistically-speaking this list has never actually been aimed at my particular demographic. I’m happy to accept that, but even more eager to point out that, as a discerning listener of taste, I can happily admire the qualities of music that I dislike aesthetically; Adele and Little Boots both had a couple of songs that I could stand to listen to (unlike most of the Radio 1 playlist) and Ellie Goulding’s album, Lights, actually made it onto my Top 10 Albums of 2010 list. So the winner is often not my cup of tea, but still worth a listen anyway? Not so this year…
As expected, the winner was yet another name-in-the-title female singer, but sadly Jessie J is a travesty no matter what standards you judge her against. I’ve spent a little while mulling over how best to word my thoughts on her and her music, but quite frankly I can’t even gather the energy for even that much. For those of you not prepared to take my word on the matter, you can see exhibit A. for the prosecution here: where she gurns her way through the yankophile cliché-fest that is her lead single, Do It Like a Dude.
The short list for this award makes for interesting reading, as does the list of pundits who came up with the results, so if you want the full lowdown I recommend you visit this post by The Recommender, where the process, pundits and shortlist are examined in more detail than I can muster the strength of character to repeat here. There was one entry in the poll’s top five that did manage to pique my interest, and that act will be the subject for the first in a short series of post outlining my “ones to watch” for 2011 (don’t you just love a little artificial suspense!). Given that the BBC has let me down so badly I’ll just have to rely on the old addage, “if you want something done right, do it yourself”…
Jessie J – Do It Like a Dude (live on BBC Radio 1)
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Posted on January 13, 2011 by Tom