15 for 2015: new songwriting talent
We grab our crystal ball and list the artists that we expect to be here, there and somewhere in 2015
t’s the first month of 2015 and that means it’s time for our annual list of music’s contenders, trenders and big sellers for the year ahead. First though, as fits convention, we return to those we tipped last year and review just how
wrong right we were.
Of the 14 artists we tipped for success during 2014, Banks’ album Goddess made the Top 20 in both the UK and US, Nick Mulvey saw his debut album First Mind make the UK Top 10, George Ezra claimed both a UK No 1 album – for his debut LP Wanted on Voyage – and a Top 10 UK single for Blame It On Me, while MNEK had a writer’s credit on the UK No 1 single Gecko (Overdrive). Then of course there was FKA Twigs. Not only did she grab a UK Top 20 and US Top 30 album, but her fittingly named debut album LP1 was nominated for the Mercury Prize. She’s also been nominated for two Brit Awards (British Breakthrough Act and Best New Artist) and two Grammys’ (Best Recording Package and British Female Solo Artist). All in all, we feel we didn’t fare too badly!
2015 of course is another year and another opportunity to cast our picks for success, stardom and respect in the months ahead, as well as another chance to look
stupid clever in 12 months time. So folks, who will the stars of 2015 be?
Years & Years
2014 saw the London-based electro trio release several brilliant EPs as well as tour with Sam Smith. For most acts it would be seen as a career-defining 12 months, but having just won the BBC’s Sound of 2015, Years & Years’ pulsating pop music is quite rightly destined for even greater things.
Having previously written for acts such as The Saturdays and Girls Aloud, Tove Lo is slowly stepping out of the shadows to light up the music world with her artfully crafted pop music. Her debut album reached No 6 in the Swedish charts last year and now it’s time for a larger audience to hear her. Robyn might finally have some competition.
The latest brooding singer ready to take the listener further into the darker reaches of pop, Freddie Dickson’s career is gathering momentum. Emotive and bare, this is a genuine talent perfect for the current landscape of heartbroken balladeers.
Having studied at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, James Bay’s country-tinged songwriting is surprisingly timeless. As the winner of the Brit Awards Critics Choice 2015, he’s an obvious tip for a breakthrough this year: as previous recipients Adele, Jessie J and Sam Smith will testify, this is no poisoned chalice.
This Nashville singer-songwriter isn’t just any old Nashville singer-songwriter. Previously a backing singer for Jenny Lewis, Natalie Prass is now going it alone and with a debut album full of soulful grooves dropping early this year it won’t be long before a line of hopefuls are queuing up to be part of her band.
Menace Beach’s debut album Ratworld has set the bar for what a guitar album should be in 2015. With the assistance of their indie scene cohorts, Ryan Needham and Liza Violet have created a sound to appeal to fans of both shoegaze and garage rock and can hit the road safe in the knowledge that they’ve got a killer set of songs ready to go.
These French-Cuban twin sisters have channelled their sibling rivalry and synchronicity into their spiritual and rhythmic music and created something quite unique in the process. With an eponymous debut in the safe production hands of XL Records’ Richard Russell, expect Ibeyi to be the discerning critics’ act of choice come end-of year-list time.
Blackpool songwriter Rae Morris has been on the radar since releasing her shattering piano ballad Don’t Go aged only 18. In the three years since then the precocious Morris has evolved into synth-addled tones that owe much to Kate Bush, and been featured in the long list for BBC Sound of 2015. Her debut album Unguarded is out now.
Soak is a writer who draws on the timeless muse of isolation and frailty. Like most songwriters to take those twin traits as their weapons there’s an innate toughness about her indie-folk, the sort that lets fans see a flagbearer for their pain and critics see a voice for the voiceless.
In recent years alt-rock revivalists have turned crunching guitar pop into a crowded field. With an appearance on the Made In Chelsea soundtrack, a collection of superb EPs and the title of the UK’s most blogged act, London four-piece Wolf Alice have both the mainstream appeal and indie chic to be their genre’s standout act in 2015.
Last October we heard Låpsley’s single Falling Short and boy was it mistitled! Buying into a range of alternative styles and backed by a vocal of soul and resolve, we were smitten; as was the Queen-of-Cool Annie, who promptly included it one her feted compilation albums, and the BBC, who included Låpsley on their long list for Sound of 2015.
Evans The Death
The self-titled 2012 debut of post-punk fired indie-rockers Evans The Death marked them as a band of immense promise, and ones to watch carefully. Their follow-up Expect Delays is due out this March and it’s already shaping up to be one of the contenders for album of the year. Expect to hear more from this four-piece.
George The Poet
Another BBC-bothering sound meister, George (Mpanga) The Poet is already hot news among his fellow musicians, with guest spots with Emeli Sandé, Paolo Nutini and a support slot with Nas under his belt already. A writer whose supreme lyrical prowess and cutting themes are backed by timeless production values, we could be hearing the voice of 2015.
This London neo-soul singer cut his teeth as the lead singer of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and studying jazz at the Royal Academy of Music. Last year he put this practice to the test, resulting in his single Walk reaching number one on the iTunes Music charts. With his debut album being worked on, greater success is expected in 2015.
Jimmy Napes is already one of the most successful songwriters of recent months, having co-written Sam Smith’s Grammy-bothering Stay With Me and taking credits on tracks by Disclosure, Clean Bandit, Mary J Blige and more. His debut song Give It Up has just been released and could be the beginning of him suckering the fame of his illustrious partners.
Words: Damien Girling and Duncan Haskell