Music

Sam Smith tops BBC Sound of 2014 poll

…but this doesn’t mean you should ignore the other nominees! This year’s top five is made up entirely of solo artists, and they all rock. Here’s my argument for why each of them could have won.

5. George Ezra
Bluesy, folky, old before his time, this 20 year old dropped out of university and started gigging. Citing Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan among his influences, he says that growing up in England in the 21st century has had an equal impact on his music. His debut EP, Did You Hear the Rain?, is out now. And he’s also on tour this February and March! See his BBC Introducing performance of Break Away (and be completely mesmerised) here:

4. Sampha
This soul singer from south London has raised his profile significantly in recent months thanks to a sample of his single, Too Much, on Drake’s single of the same name. His absolutely beautiful and distinctive voice takes pride of place on his new EP, Dual. Here’s the pre-Drake version of Too Much:

3. BANKS
Fusing melancholy lyrics and piano melodies with RnB and electronic beats, the heart-on-sleeve-wearing Los Angeles native is self-taught on the piano and started making music to help her get through a tough time in her teens. Her music is original and hauntingly beautiful (and, in my opinion, not without parallels to James Blake). Good news: she’s touring the UK this March. While you’re waiting for that, why not watch this video over and over again:

2. Ella Eyre
What can I say? Her voice speaks for itself. The 19 year old BRIT School graduate has already achieved a No.1 single (on Rudimental’s Waiting All Night), but speaking to the BBC she said: “I came into this game as a solo artist and I intend to try and have a number one on my own.” Here’s a rather marvellous Live Lounge performance with Rudimental:

1. Sam Smith
Well, he won, so there’s no argument needed here. If you’ve been living under a rock (or just aren’t good at remembering names) you’ll know his voice from Disclosure’s 2012 single, Latch. His debut single, Money on my Mind, will be released on 16 February, swiftly followed by a UK tour. Joining a pretty hefty list of previous winners (Adele, Keane, 50 Cent, HAIM), there’s high hopes for Sam Smith this year. Here’s his new video, for your listening – and viewing – pleasure:

 

And here’s the complete longlist (in case you’ve got some time on your hands):
BANKS
Chance The Rapper
Chlöe Howl
Ella Eyre
FKA twigs
George Ezra
Jungle
Kelela
Luke Sital-Singh
MNEK
Nick Mulvey
Royal Blood
Sam Smith
Sampha
Say Lou Lou

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