Notes on News: Discovering Rising Stars with Yearly ‘Sound Of’ Lists


Back in December of 2018, the BBC released their longlist for ‘Sound of 2019’. The yearly ‘Sound of’, which has previously featured artists such as Adele and Sam Smith, is a highly anticipated list that has proved very beneficial when it comes to propelling artist’s careers. To prove this point: Sigrid was the 2018 winner and has since had three songs reach the UK top 100, one of which made the top 10, ahead of her debut album being released this year. The BBC reports that she said:

 “(The list) helped me so much with reaching a new audience and giving my music some extra exposure on the radio.”

After the votes of 136 critics, broadcasters and DJs were collected it was announced that London-based rapper Octavian had taken the top spot on the 2019 list and that King Princess (who has been called a “pop icon for the next generation of queer youth”) had gained second place. Octavian has been praised for his disavowal of genre; he instead produces a style that the BBC describes as sitting ‘at the intersection of grime, house, afro-swing and indie.’ It seems that the sign of an innovative artist nowadays is rejection rather than simply hybridisation of genre. Genres are becoming less and less applicable to music – our recent article What Is Indie Anyway? discusses whether this is a good or a bad thing. It surely cannot be all bad, however, when what we get in return is music like Octavian’s ‘Lightning’.

It is also noticeable that the BBC’s list only features one band this year (Sea Girls, whose gig we reviewed last October), instead giving the limelight to solo artists. With the current resurgence of band music, especially by bands featuring female lead-vocalists, this might have been an oversight on the BBC’s part. It would have been nice to have seen bands like Sunflower Bean and Chappaqua Wrestling mentioned. Still, our own ‘List of 2019’ has yet to be released – so perhaps we will see more groups mentioned there.

We here at The Edge have been publishing our own yearly list of top upcoming artists for six years now. In our ‘List of 2018‘ our picks included Pale Waves (who were also number 5 on the BBC’s list) and Lewis Capaldi. In the same year Pale Waves went on to receive the Under The Radar NME and tour across the world; they are currently touring with The 1975 and will play at Reading and Leeds fest this year. Lewis Capaldi also had a very successful 2018 with his singles ‘Grace’ and ‘Someone You Loved’ making it to the UK top 40, whilst securing a nomination for the 2019 BRITS Critics’ Choice Award.

January isn’t even over but this year has already been bountiful with good music. There are so many upcoming releases that we are beyond excited for, who knows how we will narrow down our list! All we know is that 2019 already has its own unique sound – and that you should definitely keep an eye out for some great new artists entering the scene.

Check out the BBC’s chart below outlining their longlist for this year and keep an eye out for our very own ‘List of 2019’ coming soon!

Artist Bio Essential Single
Grace Carter Searingly personal, piano-led pop Silence
Flohio Raw, punchy, poetic rap Wild Yout
Dermot Kennedy Folk roots with a hip-hop influence Power Over Me
King Princess Queer pop queen-in-waiting 1950
Mahalia Casual, effortless soul anthems Wish I Missed My Ex
Ella Mai Platinum-certified retro R&B Boo’d Up
Octavian Genre-defying London MC Party Here
Rosalía Catalan star who’s revitalising flamenco Malamente
Sea Girls Fired-up indie anthems Too Much Fun
Slowthai Truth-telling outsider rap Ladies

BBC Sound of 2019 winner Octavian’s latest album SPACEMAN is available now via Black Butter Limited.


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