16 for 2016: new songwriting talent

16 for 2016: new songwriting talent
16 for 2016: new songwriting talent

16 reasons to be optimistic about new songwriters in 2016

We’re back again to make our annual prediction for the stars who are set to light up the year ahead

January is upon us and that means a new year, with renewed opportunity to break yet another resolution and, more importantly, another opportunity for Songwriting to look either very silly or very clever in a year’s time. Before we go any further, though, we’ll keep to tradition and see just how our predictions from last year panned out.

15 artists made our list last time round and here’s how some of them did in 2015. There were UK No 1 debut albums for Years & Years and James Bay – who also made it to No 15 in the Billboard 200 – while Jimmy Napes co-wrote Sam Smith’s No 1 Bond theme single Writing’s On The Wall. Our summer cover stars Wolf Alice reached No 2 in the UK Albums Chart, with Rae Morris’ making it to No 9. Of course, it’s not just about the charts. Tove Lo was honoured in the VEVO Certified Awards, after her song Habits (Stay High) received over 100 million views, and Natalie Prass’ self-titled debut album featured in numerous Album Of The Year lists. Nobody picks a full list of winners but we feel that our tips for 2015 fared pretty well.

That, though, was last year’s news and we at Songwriting live in the here and now. So here they are folks, the artists that we predict will be the stars of 2016…

Brooklyn-based Eskimeaux began in 2007 as the project of songwriter and producer Gabrielle Smith. With earlier records owing more to drone and experimental noise, last year’s O.K. saw Smith’s writing evolving into crushing, synth-addled bedroom pop and winning her numerous album of the year awards in the process.

Loyle Carner
It could all have been so different for youthful Londoner Benjamin Coyle-Larner. After featuring in the 2008 film 10,000 BC he secured a drama scholarship at the BRIT School. But, dropping out of Drama Centre to focus on music, he adopted the moniker Loyle Carner and became one of the UK’s hottest hip-hop artists.

Newbury songwriter Frances is one of the many talented musicians to have studied at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Clearly it was time well spent, because last year she was shortlisted for the 2016 BRIT Awards: Critics’ Choice Award and nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016. Who are we to argue with that?

How many 19-year-olds do you know with 32 million plays on Spotify and a place on the soundtrack of FIFA’s ubiquitous football sim? No, us neither. Norwegian songwriter AURORA has done both and more – remember the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert? Her debut album is out this May – expect it to be played as much as FIFA 16.

If you’re a fan of indie-rock then chances are you’ll have heard the name of Spanish quartet Hinds at some point in the last two years. And with a UK Top 50 album released earlier this month, we think everyone else with even a casual interest in music will know them soon.

Lawrence Taylor
He’s already been one of Radio X’s Great X-Pectations for 2016 and with George Ezra’s success 18 months ago showing the affection for a gravel and honey voiced blues-folk songwriter, it would be a surprise if the London-based Taylor failed to make that expectation a reality this year.

Sunflower Bean
If The Smiths had kept the melodies but dropped the seriousness in favour of a love for all things psychedelic, they still wouldn’t have sounded as perfect a mix of the 60s and 80s as Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean do. Debut album Human Ceremony is out 5 Feb and we suggest you lie to your friends and say you heard it already, if you wanna stay hip.

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Jodie Abacus
London’s Jodie Abacus is the sort of soulful pop artist that will probably never be as big as Bruno Mars, but who may be in the Hawaiian songwriter’s headphones as you read. Smooth, silky and effortlessly catchy, listen to Good Feeling and we think you’ll imagine Jodie giving Bruno a run for his money.

Cousin Marnie
Cousin Marnie’s brilliant EP Is Sleeping was one of the coolest releases of 2013. Replete with throbbing melodies and a nascent pop charm, it hinted that UK might have an answer to Lana Del Rey. Turin Brakes told us last December that you’ll have heard about her within six months, and we can see why.


George Cosby
He’s the indi -Rick Astley with a voice to die for that we’ll be introducing you to in the latest edition of our app. If you just can’t wait that long to find out more about George Cosby we don’t blame you, so listen to his superb Human Touch EP now.

ESTRONS means strangers in Welsh, but if you’re a fan of indie-punk with a pop kick then we’ll hazard a guess that you’ll already be familiar with this quartet’s brilliant single Make A Man. One of the best punk bands we heard towards last year’s close – and one of the most promising for the whole of this year.

They say that if you’re not winning, you’re nowhere. Well, Stockport’s Blossoms finished fourth in BBC’s Sound Of… new music list for 2016 but they’re certainly somewhere. Purveyors of baggy indie-pop, they feature alongside Radiohead at this year’s Summer Sonic, by which time their much-anticipated debut album should be out and their career in bloom.

Max Pope
Last year London/Brighton-based songwriter Max Pope released a pair of superb singles that announced a new addition to the indie crowd. Like a gentler, dreamier cousin of Arctic Monkeys, Pope’s upcoming gigs have already sold out and you can expect more of the same for any other gigs he plays in 2016.

Jack Garratt
Yes like you we had no idea who this chap was and were surprised to note quite how well he’s doing, what with winning the Critics’ Choice category at the 2016 BRIT Awards and BBC Sound of 2016. His debut album Phase is out 19 February and expect it to see Jack finally become the most popular baby name for boys.

Billie Marten
Not yet 17, but with two EPs, three singles and a nomination for the BBC Sound of 2016 already to her name, Yorkshire songwriter Billie Marten has already achieved more in her music career than most dream of. Listen to her excellent song Bird and you’ll understand why we think she’s destined for even greater achievements.

Izzy Bizu
This year there was one name that stood out over all others. Tipped by the vast majority of the Songwriting team for greatness was London songwriter Izzy Bizu. Stylistically, the slick Bizu recalls both the critics’ choice neo-jazz pop of Amy Winehouse and the radio-friendly bombast of Adele. This has seen her receive the high praise of support from BBC Radio 1 DJs Annie Mac and Phil Taggart, as well as BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Trevor Nelson. In addition to this she’s supported Sam Smith and featured on the shortlist for 2016 BRIT Awards Critics’ Choice and longlist for the BBC Sound of 2016. Her debut album A Moment Of Madness is released this May and already we sense that it’s going to be one of the records of 2016, and make Izzy Bizu the year’s biggest breakout star.

Words: Damien Girling

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