One or two of the ‘nominees’ might be around long-term — assuming they can survive the hype and the record business. Here are some artists likely to be on our collective radar this year.
Pronounced ‘moo’, this is the stage-name of Danish electro-pop singer, Karen Marie Ørsted. Signed to Sony Records, her debut album was recorded months ago. It was held back to capitalise on the new-year hype. She has won the hearts of Irish audiences, having stormed the Longitude Festival, and then returned as support to AlunaGeorge. On record, she has a great deal in common with the avant-garde dance music of Grimes. In concert, though, Mo brings a rock-star intensity — a hangover of playing in teen punk bands in Denmark.
“When you go up on stage, you have to let go. That’s how I perform — I go for it all the way. When I go to a show, I want to see someone who is serious about what they do. If I didn’t see anything ‘true’, I would leave. I figure that my audience expects no less of me.”
So buzzy she doesn’t require a first name, this Los Angeles singer offers a harder edge on the sultry, confessional pop championed by Lorde, Lykke Li and others. Wispy and mysterious, she has the chops (last year’s London EP was a stunning glimpse of her capability). Plus, she has an endearing quirkiness, recently sharing her phone number with fans on the internet. Perhaps she would rather you call than reach out via the faceless medium of Twitter.
“My voice has always been kind of distinct — even when I was four years old, my mom told me that people would be like, ‘Why does your daughter always sound like a chain smoker?’,” she told Interview magazine. “I’ve always had this deep, raspy voice. I haven’t even had to learn, but it’s just this natural thing to be able to express any emotion I have through the tone of my voice.”
Having closed 2013 with sell-out gigs in Cork and Dublin, Wicklow’s Andrew Hozier Byrne seems to have a bright year ahead. Offering a more mainstream take on the crestfallen folk of Bon Iver, his sound has lots of commercial potential. Just relocated to London, he is targeting an international audience, no matter that, to date, most of his press has been Irish.
A bluesy brother/sister duo from Belfast, Southern have been compared to the White Stripes, though they cite more vintage influences, such as Rory Gallagher and Led Zeppelin. Support tours with Jake Bugg and Bastille have done much to widen their fanbase, and the UK media is paying attention. It could be a big year for the siblings and their clattering, raucous sound.
Bristol folkie Ezra is just 19 and seems baffled about all the attention, including a spot on the BBC ‘Sound Of’ long list and MTV’s Brand New countdown.
“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t really aware of all of those polls,” he said. “My manager rang up and said ‘we’re on this and this’. I had to investigate further, before I understood what a big deal it is. It’s quite shocking, if you consider the calibre of people they have previously considered. I appreciate it massively.”
Irish audiences will have a chance to see if he lives up to the media buzz, as he plays Dublin’s Sugar Club in February.
Of Swedish and Australian heritage, sisters Miranda and Elektra Kilbey fulfil many of Nordic pop’s shaggiest stereotypes.
They’ve got to-die-for cheekbones and a facility for Abba-esque melodies. Plus, their music is in the dreamy/nightmarish tradition of Robin and The Knife. “Some people say it’s a happy, dancey thing,” said Elektra of their sound. “Some people feel it’s dark and ethereal.”
Tipped for imminent hugeness for the past 18 months, in 2014 Howl may at last live up to her potential. Recording her debut album with Eg White (Florence and the Machine, Adele), Howl, from just outside London, has been hailed the new Lily Allen and her busy electro-rock certainly doesn’t hold back.
“It’s a little bit weird, having to bare your soul to someone,” she said. “When I first met Eg, we had a little chat and he basically said: ‘So what’s pissing you off?’ And it went from there. All my songs are about being a bored teenager, ’cos I am one.”
You may recognise the Hertfordshire singer from Disclosure’s 2012 hit ‘Latch’, and Naughty Boy’s chart-topping ‘La La La’ from last summer. With a debut album due in May, he is, it appears, about to become a star in his own right.
Just 21, Smith was recently named the Brits’ Critic’s Choice Winner, an accolade previously bestowed upon Emeli Sande and Jessie J. “My concept,” he said in a recent interview, “is to live my life as hard as I can and then write songs about it. Suck every moment for what it’s worth.”