PrettyGreen review the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist

In the olden days, you’d become a successful musician when you had sold records and played gigs. Nowadays that success is pretty much guaranteed with one thing to your name – no, not talent – but inclusion on the BBC’s Sound of [insert year here] list. What is now a list of unfamiliar names will soon be etched into the iPhones of #millennials nationwide.


The yearly list is voted for by 170 industry figures from around the world and selects who is going to be big in 2017. These judges include journalists, DJs and critics which makes the list one big self-fulfilling prophecy as no one wants to ignore the person they hyped as ‘The Next Big Thing!’


Hip-hop and grime dominate the 2017 list with AJ Tracey, Nadia Rose, Stefflon Don and the magnificently named Dave taking advantage of the mainstream trail blazed by Skepta, JME and Stormzy. The number of bands is down with only Cabbage and The Amazons representing the dying embers of indie rock with The Japanese House and Declan McKenna picking up the solo artist mantle from 2016 winner Jack Garratt.


It’s quite astounding and depressing when you see how many ‘predictions’ end up all over mainstream radio, playlists and YouTube suggested videos. Previous winners include Adele, Sam Smith and Years & Years – arguably, the only dud pick was Little Boots in 2009 (although Florence and the Machine came 3rd ahead of a little known Lady Gaga in 6th).


Boringly, the risk of failure has been stripped away from those on the list because of massive record label backing for these artists. We decided to have some fun with the next big things and ask the PrettyGreen office on their thoughts on the longlist.


Rag’n’Bone Man – ‘Human’

Cliff: “It’s got a funk/soul thread running through it which is interesting. The singer kinda reminds me of Hodor from Game of Thrones for some strange reason…but that’s a good thing as he’s got a great voice.”


The Japanese House – ‘Face Like Thunder

Rob: “I was very surprised that The Japanese House didn’t feature in last year’s poll. She writes some really clever songs. Fans of The 1975 through to Imogen Heap will find elements of her sound that they enjoy, but I’d be surprised if she won the poll this year.”


Nadia Rose – ‘Skwod

Emma: “The opening reminds me of being in a club steaming drunk at 2am, which gives me a fuzzy sense of nostalgia but that all ends when the sound effect of someone getting murdered kicks in at 0.18. I feel like there’s nothing new here – the dance moves are stolen from Clean Bandit’s early video for A&E and the Adidas product placement burns my eyes. In summary, the only takeaway from this Azealia Banks wannabe’s track is a new basic spelling for squad #SkwodGoals.”


The Amazons – ‘In My Mind

Dan: “They’re alright, I can see the appeal – they are fairly radio-safe so I can see them getting some attention but they aren’t doing anything new. To me they are a bit middle of the road – catchy though…”


Cabbage  ‘Kevin’

Rhea: “I have no thoughts; my mind was left empty after listening to this. I couldn’t quite make out the lyrics but by the title I assume the song is about Cabbage… Interesting use of sound effects too (and by interesting I mean horrific). I genuinely have nothing more to say, other than not my cup of tea.”


A mixed bag of opinions means it might be time for some PrettyGreen-ers to invest in some headphones. Place your bets now on who will hit number one on the shortlist; our money is on Jorja Smith.