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We Ranked the BBC 'Sound of 2016' List from Worst to Best so the BBC Don't Have To

Which of these British acts will be the future of music?

by Noisey Staff
Dec 1 2015, 2:31pm

This article orginally appeared on Noisey UK.

It's happened. The BBC have finally released their 'Sound of 2016' longlist for this year's award, as polled by over 140 music writers, industry fatcats, radio presenters, Twitter personalities, East London pub owners, me, you, your dad, and assorted interested parties, to determine which acts will become the music success stories of 2016.

Keane, Mika, Adele, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding, and Sam Smith have all won previous years, so you can kinda guess from their longlist who actually has a chance and who has been named out of courtesy only. So, instead of waiting for the inevitable, we decided to rank the longlist ourselves, from worst to best. Starting with the worst...

15. JACK GARRATT

Who is he?
Bearded guy who probably wore a checked neckerchief ten years ago but now looks like a gin enthusiast you accidently swiped right on on Tinder. He’s a micro-brewery advertising executive's wet dream: an asymmetrical human sample product for their audience who makes music that sounds like Mumford & Sons if Mumford & Sons were trendy and cool.

Is he shit?
It depends how you look at it. There’s no denying Garratt has a voice that could melt butter simply by singing harmonic tones at a fridge. Last year’s release “The Love You’re Given” is a haunting track that pulls on your heartstrings in the very best way. Since then though he’s shifted his sound to appeal more to the crowd whose prime basis of music discovery is Shazaming ASOS ads. When he plays live he does that thing where you press loads of buttons on a sample pad which means he’s shit or very good. It depends what side of Ed Sheeran’s bed you lay on. Something about him also screams MENINIST, but that’s probably just us.

Will he be bigger than Michael Kiwanuka?
Who is Michael Kiwanuka?


14. BLOSSOMS

Who are they?
A bunch of dudes from Stockport with great hair and vintage winter coats.

Are they shit?
With a bunch of influences that have been getting mined and fracked on an industrial scale ever since William Burroughs first decided to give LSD a whirl, Blossoms aren’t exactly going to send us bravely hurtling towards the uncertain future with their inoffensive brand of psychedelic rock, or as they quite seriously call it on their Facebook page: “ethereal nostalgic sonance.” They are going to support The Libertines, The Courteeners and The Coral in the next few months, and yep that all sounds about right.

Could they soundtrack the advert for an emotional Channel 4 documentary about a secret society of middle aged extreme hoarder maths genius virgins?
No, but you know who would be perfect for that…?


13. BILLIE MARTEN

Who is she?
An actual 15-year-old kid, who makes acoustic folk songs.

Is she shit?
She’s very, very young, man. Too young to be tossed into a BBC Sound Of list, a list that puts an incredible amount of pressure on someone that is already wrestling with the inevitable amount of pressure of being a goddamn teenager. She’s promising for sure, but with a Soundcloud and YouTube channel mostly full of covers, she is not one of the 15 most eye-popping music makers in Britain right now. Maybe in 2020.

Would you get a few more followers on Twitter if you posted about liking her new single?
Probably, but they'll be Burberry fans who discovered her through the Burberry Sessions and will all unfollow you anyway when you inevitably make the faux pas of uploading a profile photo of you wearing an outfit that clearly cost less than £900.


12. FRANCES

Who is she?
Past Adele come to the future to kill present Adele.

Is she shit?
VICE #blogger Joel Golby recently described her single “Let It Out” as “the kind of song you wake up early on a cold day and make a complicated soup to,” which is open to interpretation, depending on how you feel about soup.

Will she perform live on an episode of Made in Chelsea and have her music quietened as much as possible so we can hear Spencer admit to having an orgy with Jamie in a sauna in Kent to his then girlfriend on the front row?
Yes, and it will be classed as the greatest TV moment of 2016. By Alex Zane. On E4. At 2 AM on a Monday.


11. DUA LIPA

Who is she?
19-year-old Londoner who’s been snapped up by Lana Del Rey’s manager.

Is she shit?
Nah not really, but with these huge pop prospects it’s hard to tell what direction they’re going to go—at the moment her tracks kind of sound like Banks if she’s taken three Xanax and bumped into Cathy Dennis at a branch of Funky Pigeon, but who knows what it’ll be like after they’ve A&Red her within an inch of her life.

Will she ever have a dramatic video featuring a fairly prominent Hollywood actor?
More likely to be performing on Strictly while John Virgo pasodobles round her.


10. WSTRN

Who are they?
West London’s answer to The Weekend, Drake, Future, and The-Dream, apparently.

Are they shit?
Can water be a solid? It’s hard to tell. The group’s debut track “In2” is undeniably huge. Science says that lightning doesn’t strike twice, though. As a pop thing, there’s certainly a lane for them to dominate in the changing rooms of JD Sports, Kiss FM’s airwaves, and the student-night pre-drinks session. More than that though? Even if WSTRN come up with a track that’s better than “In2” it’s difficult to see them come with the heat that keeps the career-oven burning for more than a few months.

Have they been co-signed by someone so outrageously famous that there is probably now no way they won’t become massive?
Yes, Drake likes them and dropped their track on his OVO radio show.


9. ALESSIA CARA

Who is she?
A 19 year-old singer from Toronto who recently signed to Def Jam and broke through with a bluesy koan about feeling miserable at parties.

Is she shit?
Alessia Cara’s voice sounds like a chorus of angels of the highest rank descended on earth and channeled all their spiritual benevolence into one human teenager for the purpose of belting out elegant, antisocial pop anthems. Well "Here" does, the rest of the tracks are a bit meh.

Would Taylor Swift welcome her to the stage?
Yes. That happened. Obviously, that happened. But it wasn’t like one of those times where Taylor Swift brought out someone obscure or irrelevant like the entire US women’s national soccer team or Mick Jagger, everyone knew who Alessia Cara was and they were excited about it.


8. RAT BOY

Via Instagram

Who is he?
Nineteen year-old ragamuffin from Chelmsford whose music career blossomed after he was fired from Wetherspoons and went on the dole. If you’re looking for the person on the list who has an army of sportswear clad and skateboarding teenage mercenaries then Rat Boy’s Jordan Cardy is your man.

Is he shit?
Rat Boy directs all his music videos, produces the music, and creates the artwork, so on that basis no. He’s a one man creative agency. It’s perhaps easy for anyone over the age of 21 to cast a side-eye on Rat Boy’s output so far though, given that it takes some (all?) of its cues from Jamie T. That doesn’t necessarily mean Rat Boy is bad; it just means he’s going to have some difficulty breaking through the brick wall of a generation who have already drunk their cheap cans through his ramshackle one-man band. For the kids though—those who can’t afford higher education, are doomed to live at their parent’s house, and communicate solely through Snapchat and Emoji—he’s a bleach-blonde messiah.

Will he ever do an advert for Cortana?
Only if it meant he could buy a decade’s worth of McDonalds.


7. IZZY BIZU

Who is she?
A solo artist who sounds a bit like if Amy Winehouse had spent a year out traveling South America and walking the Inca Trail instead of, you know, heroin.

Is she shit?
No. With just the right amount of modernity to appeal to the BBC 1Xtra crowd but plenty of traditional overtones to appease your parents, her brand of feel-good soul-pop is the saving grace of a late afternoon festival slump and has the potential to reach Janelle Monae heights.

Would Lauren Laverne describe her as “ethereal”?
Probably. Give it time. Meanwhile catch the blogosphere milking the phrase “vocal acrobatics” for all its worth.


6. LOYLE CARNER

Who is he?
A young guy who makes confessional rap songs that feel a lot more comforting and blissful than their rather dark lyrical content often wants them to be.

Is he shit?
He's had the balls to turn the most bleak and personal moments in his life into sweet and soulful rap jams. If you think that’s shit then be careful not to go into the sun too much because, darling, it is clear you are made exclusively of ice.

Is he the result of a soy latte-fuelled major label brainstorm meeting?
No, but when his debut album is inevitably critically acclaimed but nowhere near the charts, a meeting like this will probably take place to breed a more mainstream palatable version of him who is willing to do sessions with Naughty Boy and be interviewed by Chris Evans on TFI Friday.


5. MABEL

Who is she?
Neneh Cherry’s daughter making rich R&B like Sade on a comedown or Jessie Ware with her hair scraped back.

Is she shit?
Far from it, there’s a richness to the production and craft of Mabel’s tracks that’s missing from a lot of the other artists on this list. “Know Me Better” sounds like it was produced in Brooklyn in 1994 and “My Boy My Town” is so lush you can imagine it on every sex playlist of 2016, even though it’s quietly underscored by the inching apart of a relationship.

Would Lauren Laverne describe her as “majestic”?
Nah mate. Bun Lauren Laverne. Mabel’s not one of them; she’s one of us.


4. SECTION BOYZ

Who are they?
A six-person group based in South London. They’ve been doing the ting for a minute, having practiced their craft on the estates of Croydon for the last few years.

Are they shit?
They’ve already won the MOBO Award for Best Newcomer and clocked up millions of plays on some of their YouTube videos. Their sound is distinct: sitting somewhere between the headphones of London’s teenagers who shot indica on their BMX bikes and the sort of lavish trap that’ll have the club on “Lock Arrf.”

Are they the next NME cover?
Unless they feature as the stars of the next Danny Boyle-directed film, which seems unlikely, then probably not.


3. MURA MASA

Who is he?
Another 19-year-old musical savant who will undoubtedly make your self-esteem drop with his insurmountable talent. Born in Guernsey (one of those islands in the sea between England and France), his name comes from a 16th-century Japanese swordsmith “possessed of a violent and ill-balanced mind verging on madness.”

Is he shit?
He’s the shit, actually. He’s already released an EP that brought the flute back in a big way and appeared in our tracks of the year (so far) back in summer. Once he gets his live show on point, it’s not difficult to imagine Mura Masa being one of our country’s next great artists.

Is he doing the next Bond single?
Even if Mura Masa ended up providing the theme song, all us here at Noisey sincerely hope that there will never be another James Bond film again. Unless Idris Elba is gonna act—then go right ahead!


2. NAO

Who is she?
A super talented singer-songwriter who crafts all sorts of piercing poetry from love and sex, and all the things that lurk between those two on that particular decisions diagram. She’s worked with AK Paul, Glades, Mura Masa, and various other very cool internet beatmaker types.

Is she shit?
She’s had a Radio 1 'Hottest Record in the World' and a number one spot on Hype Machine, which are basically the bread and butter of the proverbial buzz sandwich, and it’s all deserved. Across her two EPs she’s glided through her own abstract brand of soul, pop, and R&B with the unnerving confidence of a Nao who knows exactly what Nao is going to be all about. And now she’s dropped a brand new single called “Bad Blood,” which is bold as brass balls when you consider how much one T Swift has been owning those Google search results all year.

Will she do a collab track with Rita Ora, though?
If she did, it would be the greatest thing Rita Ora’s ever done.


1. J Hus

Who is he?
A teenage MC from South London who’s combining afrobeats, hip-hop, grime and UK funky vibes to make something that doesn’t really sound like any of that.

Is he shit?
His debut mixtape The 15th Day feels the most assured British urban debut in ages, combining super smart verses with an unparalleled knack for a chorus. If you don’t believe us just look at this footage of a house party where they’re playing his hit “Dem Boy Paigon” getting so lit that the police are trying to shut it down.

Will you see him being interviewed by Bill Turnbull on BBC Breakfast?
To be honest, after he was hospitaliszd for being stabbed in the leg and then went viral for throwing up gang signs from his hospital bed, if you do see him on BBC Breakfast you better hope it’s about the music.