The BBC Sound of... poll can be a star-maker. Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding are among the previous winners, and as such, the announcement of who’s been picked out as the up-and-comer with a big year ahead of them is always worth looking out for.
This year, it’s PinkPantheress. The TikTok sensation saw off some pretty stern competition on the shortlist — buzz band Wet Leg, fellow social media breakout star Mimi Webb, south London vocalist Lola Young and UK rap riser Central Cee — but came out on top after being chosen by panel of more than 130 industry experts including Elton John, Billie Eilish and Jorja Smith.
Here’s everything you need to know about PinkPantheress.
So... who is she?
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok over the past year or so, then you’ve probably heard her music. But if internet fame seems to usually go hand in hand with tell-all online personas, then PinkPantheress has gone the other way.
We don’t officially know her real name — a quick google will give you one, but it hasn’t been confirmed by the artist or her PR reps — and only in the last few months have we found out what she looks like. But none of that has stopped PinkPantheress from signing a record deal with a major label, racking up hundreds of millions of streams, entering the UK charts and, now, topping the BBC Sound of.. poll.
Thanks to the few interviews she’s given, we do know a few things about the viral star: she was born in Bath in 2001 to a Kenyan mother and English father, and moved to Kent as a child. In her teens, she covered Noughties heroes My Chemical Romance and Paramore in a band, before experimenting with production on GarageBand.
While at university in London, she started putting her music on Soundcloud, but received little attention, and so turned her attention to TikTok. The all-consuming app picks up and chucks out viral songs with ferocity — Doja Cat and Olivia Rodrigo, two of the biggest musicians on the planet right now, have both seen their tracks dominate the app.
And like those two, PinkPantheress’s success has proved more sustainable than a flash in the TikTok pan. Her borderless production style — a moreish, sample-heavy blend of bedroom pop, drum’n’bass, emo, 2-step, garage, hyperpop, disco and beyond, all packaged up in songs that rarely venture far past the two-minute mark — has won her admirers in both the music press and the industry, with Parlophone and Elektra signing her last summer.
Her debut mixtape, To Hell with It, arrived in October with 10 tracks clocking in at just shy of 19 minutes.
What are her biggest songs so far?
Just a waste
The track that kick-started it all, and her first TikTok hit, reimagining Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall.
Another TikTok smash, and her most-streamed track to date — an emo-tinged spin on a UK garage classic, the Sunship edit of Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers.
Break it off
The lead single off that debut mixtape, this time it’s an alt-pop, heart-ache redo of Adam F’s drum’n’bass favourite Circles.
What did the judges say about her?
Jack Saunders, host of Radio 1’s Future Artists, said she was a “pop prodigy” and that “everybody wants to be a PinkPantheress fan at the moment”. He added: “It was a fierce year for talent on Radio 1’s Sound of list this year and that shows you the quality of the winner, PinkPantheress.”
Can I see her live?
Not for a while, it seems. She played her first ever live shows in October and November last year, with three London dates at the Pickle Factory, Bermondsey Social Club and The Cause.
And as it stands, the next time she’ll take to that stage will be at Reading and Leeds festivals in August. But we wouldn’t be surprised if some other gigs get announced (and then swiftly sell out) in the meantime. Keep your eyes peeled.
And finally… how did she get that name?
No-one expected Bradley Walsh to have played an indirect role in naming the hottest new viral musician, but he did: PinkPantheress’s stage name was jointly inspired by a question asked on The Chase (“What is a female panther called?”) and the title of one of her favourite films, Steve Martin’s Pink Panther remake.