This year’s BBC Sound of 2023 shortlist – which tips the brightest new musical talents – suggests that dance music will dominate the next 12 months.
Among the 10 nominees are Piri and Tommy, a young Manchester couple who make drum’n’bass in their bedrooms, and who went viral on TikTok with the single Soft Spot; Bradford-born jungle producer Nia Archives, who is also nominated for the Rising Star award at next year’s Brits; and the ubiquitous London producer Fred Again, AKA Fred Gibson, who has worked with acts such as Stormzy and Charli XCX and struck out as a solo act in 2021.
Beyond the UK, Nigerian singer Asake’s street-pop combines Afrobeats, Nigerian fuji and the South African club genre amapiano; he released his debut album, Mr Money With the Vibe, this year.
Their nominations echo last year’s winner, PinkPantheress, who broke out on TikTok with her distinctively sweet-voiced take on drum’n’bass and two-step.
Pop songwriters also have a strong presence on the list. The Irish-born, Spain-raised Biig Piig, AKA Jessica Smyth, mingles neo-soul, slow jams and disco; London busker Cat Burns (also nominated for Brits Rising Star) went viral on TikTok for her anguished kiss-off Go; London’s Rachel Chinouriri makes intimate guitar-pop.
The list also boasts a few potential pop iconoclasts. Suffolk-born Dylan shares management with Ed Sheeran and makes pop-punk influenced pop; London girl band Flo (also nominated for Brits Rising Star) released their debut single, Cardboard Box, earlier this year, and have been favourably compared to the Sugababes and TLC.
The only US act on the list is Gabriels, whose singer Jacob Lusk is a former American Idol contestant turned choirmaster, whose soulful debut album Angels and Queens Part One, released in September, earned praise for “a sound that feels entirely of the moment”, wrote Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis, “and not merely because there’s a constant, nagging sense of tumult and foreboding lurking behind even its prettiest songs”.
The BBC Sound of … list was open to new artists who had yet to achieve a Top 5 album or more than two Top 10 singles by 31 October 2022; artists who have appeared on TV talent shows within the last three years are ineligible.
The winner will be announced on 5 January 2023. Previous winners include Adele, Stormzy, Sam Smith and Haim.