Hot British & International Pop for 2007
Arctic Monkeys made music history, when their LP ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ became the fastest-selling debut album in the UK chart history. A spokesman for musical retailer HMV commented: “In terms of sheer impact we haven’t seen anything quite like this since the Beatles.”
The band found their popularity on the internet, after demo CDs they had handed out at concerts for free were put on the web by fans. The group attracted the attention of several respectable British music publications, as well as BBC Radio 1, and their first two singles ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ went straight to Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart. The band also won the 2006 Mercury Award for Best Album.
The unorthodox emergence of The Arctic Monkeys made music bosses recognize the real impact of popular online sites like MySpace and YouTube and they now believe the Sheffield band helped pave the way for many other new talents.
Gennaro Castaldo from HMV said: “One thing 2006 showed us is that the internet is now playing a significant role in throwing up new names and bringing them to the public's attention. In the past, it would have come down to the record labels. Now music fans are discovering new acts for themselves via the internet, and passing on this recommendation to their friends and like-minded fans.”
Several names like Mika, Enter Shikari and Klaxons have been bubbling under since last year and many others are yet to establish their names in the music arena. Here is a look at some of the hot talent tipped for success in 2007:
Cold War Kids. The Californian quartet has already gained popularity on the other side of the Atlantic. Their debut album, ‘Robbers And Cowards’ – inspired by a diversity of legends from Bob Dylan to Billie Holiday – has received rave reviews in both musical and mainstream press. The LA Times wrote: “A sound so original and timeless you wonder how it sprang from the Los Angeles suburbs and not the dark, rich loam of the bayou.”
CSS or Cansei De Ser Sexy, which is Portuguese for ‘I’m Tired of Being Sexy’, are a Brazilian Electro-Rock band. Formed in 2003 as an excuse for six friends to meet up for drinking sessions, the group likes to mix influences of Electro-Rock with other kinds of art like design, cinema and fashion, and create humorous lyrics in English and Portuguese. Their emphasis on style and coolness gives CSS an edge of individuality, as does their unusual name, which comes from a quote by R&B diva Beyoncé Knowles, who allegedly once declared she was “tired of being sexy”.
CSS, like The Arctic Monkeys, found popularity on the internet and in 2006 signed with SubPop records to release their first international album. Last year the band also performed at the first ever Indian Summer Festival in Glasgow and did a small UK tour with dance sensations Basement Jaxx. The group has earned the recognition of several British music publications, with the Observer Music Magazine predicting they, “could be the biggest band ever to come out of South America.”
Enter Shikari are one of UK’s fastest-selling bands, which do not yet have a record label. Last year they also became the second unsigned band in history to sell out the London Astoria concert hall, after The Darkness. The group – which was first formed in 2003 – combines elements of trance and post-hardcore beats in most of their songs. In 2006 Enter Shikari received the Best British Newcomer nomination by the Kerrang! magazine. Their yet untitled debut album is out in March.
Fields are an Anglo-Icelandic indie band from London. The group features two lead singers Nick Peill and Thorunn Antonia, whose father composed the Icelandic national anthem. Fields – who supported Snow Patrol in London’s Wembley Arena before Christmas – are on their way to record a debut album with legendary producer Michael Beinhorn, who has worked with international superstars like Korn, Soundgarden and Marilyn Manson.
Good Shoes are an emerging quartet from London, which has already been compared to the likes of The Futureheads and The Jam. Good Shoes – who were formed by lead singer Rhys Jones and guitarist Steve Leach – draws influences from upbeat, technical guitar pop in their music. 2006 was the band’s breakthrough year, with an EP called ‘We Are Not The Same’ and their first single ‘All In My Head’ released to critical acclaim. The band found media recognition after setting up a competition for 300 people to get their picture on their next single. ‘The Photos On My Wall’ became their first single to enter the UK Singles Chart at Number 48. The band’s debut album ‘Think Before You Speak’ will hit the stores in April.
U.S. band The Gossip came to nationwide attention when lead singer Beth Ditto was declared “the coolest person in rock” by the NME’s 2006 Cool List, published in November. The three piece band’s controversial song ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ was written by Beth as a protest to the U.S. government’s decision to deny gays the right to marriage. Beth, who is openly gay, said: “Nobody in the States was surprised or shocked by what Bush did, but it made everyone I know feel helpless and cheated. I wrote the song to try and encourage people not to give up. It’s a scary time for civil rights but I really believe the only way to survive is to stick together and keep fighting.” The Gossip’s 2006 album is entitled ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’.
Jamie T has been described by NME as “an all-singing, all-swaggering West London rude boy, specializing in tales of booze, birds and being broke”. The 20-year-old Londoner – whose debut album ‘Panic Prevention’ is out at the end of January - has already received airplay from popular Radio 1 DJs Zane Lowe and Jo Whiley. The youngster – who has been compared to Bob Dylan and The Streets frontman Mike Skinner – also remixed Gozillaz’ B-side single ‘Kids With Guns’. Recently one of Jamie T’s singles, ‘Sheila’, was playlisted by Radio 1 and made it to Number 22 in the UK Singles Chart. In October 2006 he released ‘If You Got The Money’, which reached Number 13, making it his highest placing single to date.
“New rave” sensation Klaxons have already gathered a faithful following since their limited debut single ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ was released in April 2006. The band’s second single ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ led to wide coverage in NME and was played by Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley, who mistakenly called the song ‘Atlantis To Interscope’. In August 2006, Klaxons played at the Reading and Leeds festivals and have had promising early success in Europe, Japan and Australia. The band’s first album ‘Myths Of The Near Future’ is out in April 2006.
Pop virtuoso Mika has already been noticed by the British Music Press. The 22-year-old – who is originally from Lebanon - has been compared to the Scissor Sisters, despite listing Flamenco as his main influence. Mika’s past musical work has been rather diverse – some of his jobs included writing in-flight music for the British Airways and creating a theme tune for the Orbit Chewing Gum advertisement. The singer – whose first single ‘Grace Kelly’ is expected to be a big hit in the early 2007 – takes great pride in his talent and musical value. He told Britain’s Observer newspaper: “Does the world need another pop star? No. There are hundreds of Paris Hiltons to go round. Does the world need another artist? Sure.”
Scottish quartet The View have already started carving their place among British rock royalty by supporting renowned acts like Primal Scream, The Undertones and Babyshambles on stage. In February the band hit headlines, when drummer Steven Morrison was arrested with Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty for driving the wrong down a one-way street in Birmingham. No charges were brought, but the incident raised The View’s profile and in August their debut single ‘Wasted Little DJs’ reached Number 15 in the UK Singles Charts. The group’s debut album ‘Hats Off To The Buskers’ is produced by Owen Morris - who has previously worked with the likes of The Verve and Oasis - and hits the stores at the end of January.
So these are the ones to listen out for this year. Representing a variety of musical styles and genres, the up-and-coming talents of 2007 are sure to bring innovation and diversity to the British and international music scene. And if 2006 was anything to go by, this year looks like it will be another 12 months of great listening.
By Baiba Upmale
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