When it comes to the sheer volume of artists, the USA is a machine – a tireless, all-powerful machine – churning out pop star, after artist, after musician, after group. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of digging between the bland Disney tweenagers and formulaic divas to find the real talent. Credit to the Americans, though, when they hit, they hit BIG. Their superstars conquer the world, eventually being appointed kings and queens. However, the music industry has become something of a conventional, commercialised money machine, specifically from those acts coming off the US conveyor belt. But all is not lost – enter the British music scene. Stripping music back down to its roots, there’s been an influx of raw talent that is setting the standard for new artists looking for success. These Brits have spent the last couple of years firmly proving that it is quality – not quantity – that matters, and quality is something the following artists have in bucket loads.
The Fulham based rapper burst onto the scene when the infectious Kickstarts became the song of Summer 2010. Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as both talented musician and genuinely funny guy (see his interview clip about resident moron Ke$ha, and the awesome improvised Nando’s song with Ed Sheeran).
Starter Song: Kickstarts, of course, but for the initiated, check out Anything from his new album.
Folksy, stripped down, honest guitar music does not come better than this. The supremely talented Laura Marling is as much songwriter as she is musician. Her lyrics are hugely honest: bare and broken melodies of love and loss, interspersed with upbeat folk songs. New-age nostalgia at its best, she’s the modern-day Joni Mitchell.
Starter Song: New Romantic or Ghosts.
There was a time when ginger was the brunt of all jokes. It became so ingrained in society that people began questioning whether they did, indeed, have souls. Step forward two people who transformed this view and Brought Ginger Back. The first was Ron Weasley, by way of Rupert Grint, and the second, Ed Sheeran. Armed with a guitar, a hugely likeable demeanour, some great lyrics and a fiery crop of hair, Ed Sheeran took the British music scene by storm. Blurring the line between genres, he is sometimes mainstream guitar boy, sometimes freestyle rapper, and always a pleasure to listen to.
Starter Song: Lego House, which comes complete with the best video ever. Small Bump takes my top spot, however. Listen closely during the 20 seconds which are nothing short of heart-breaking.
Nobody should be this talented at 14 years old. Jasmine van den Boegarde adopted a stage name as winsome as her schoolgirl persona, released an album of indie covers – most of which were better than the originals – and subsequently made it big. Well, relatively big. Considering she should still be at home doing her GCSEs, any form of success at this stage is admirable, and now that she’s released an album of original music, the future seems bright for her. Watch this space.
Starter Song: Her cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love. Just plain beautiful.
Jessie J has been around for a while, but mainly in the background, writing for Chris Brown and penning hits like Miley Cyrus’s Party in the USA. Then Jessie decided to showcase that she too has a voice, and what a voice it is. She brought freshness to the charts by being new and adventurous with her music, and much deserved success followed.
Starter Song: Who You Are is a great showcase for both her brilliant voice and song writing ability.
James Vincent McMorrow
Strictly speaking, James Vincent McMorrow is Irish, not British, but it would have been a disservice to not include his name here. So from here on forth, this is the BritishandIrish music industry we’re talking about, and James Vincent McMorrow is a shining example of why it’s so much better than our friends across the other pond. Some may recognise this vastly underrated singer-songwriter from his hauntingly perfect cover of Higher Love, featured on a LOVEFiLM advert. Between him and Laura Marling, folk music has never sounded so good.
Starter Song: We Don’t Eat, as featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Mumford & Sons
West London lads crossed with country boys, Mumford & Sons are typical of the kind of band that Britain is so good at producing: underrated band, overplayed signature song, etc. Only they are actually very good once you go and listen to some of their other stuff. As an ensemble, they work together very well and make for an interesting quartet. Folksy guitar backings and a relaxed vibe evokes something very summery in all its British rainy greatness.
Starter Song: The Cave was overplayed, but for good reason. If you’re sick of that one though, Winter Winds is a close second.
The queen of British success stories herself, Adele is as raw as talent gets. I could sit here and wax lyrical about her, but what’s the point? You know what I’m going to say, because you’re probably all thinking it yourselves. Her lyrical odes to love set over perfect, simple melodies make for music that will melt even the coldest of hearts. Never has heartbreak sounded so beautiful.
Starter Song: Overplayed it may be, but Someone Like You is easily her definitive song. Set Fire to the Rain and her cover of Make You Feel My Love from her album 21 are also both modern day masterpieces.
Images from: http://www.conormcdonnell.co.uk/gallery/portfolio/ , http://andeveryonesadj.com/2009/12/example-wont-go-quietly-men-in-masks-remix-competition/ , http://www.bitterwallet.com/your-sunday-newspaper-offers-24/51886/laura-marling-01 , http://www.last.fm/music/Ed+Sheeran/+images/69173342 , http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/thesound/a348760/ones-to-watch-birdy.html , http://thatgrapejuice.net/2012/01/watch-jessie-soars-new-years-eve-carson-daly/ , http://www.directcurrentmusic.com/music-news-new-music/2011/12/17/redux-11-james-vincent-mcmorrow.html , http://www.meli-mello.com/?p=1897 , http://encartes.blogspot.com/2011/12/dvdadele-live-at-royal-albert-hall.html
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