The longlist for BBC Music Sound of 2020 has been unveiled, tipping ten new artists for success next year.
Last year Octavian became the first UK rapper to claim the top spot ahead of a strong longlist featuring the likes of Mahalia, King Princess and slowthai. Previous artists named on the list over the years include Stormzy, Adele, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Foals, Dizzee Rascal and Lewis Capaldi.
This year’s longlist has been chosen by a panel of industry experts and alumni artists including Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Chvrches. The Sound of 2020 winner will be announced on Thursday 9th January 2020.
The BBC Music Sound of 2020 longlist (in alphabetical order) is:
19 year-old musician and poet Arlo Parks released her debut single little over a year ago, swiftly followed by a record label signing and gigs at Glastonbury and Latitude festivals. With Nigerian, Chadian and French heritage, Arlo grew up in London where she began writing at a young age, counting King Krule, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Sufjan Stevens among her inspirations.
Born in the Philippines and raised in London, Bea Kristi began recording music as Beabadoobee in 2017 aged just 16. Her brand of bedroom pop and DIY aesthetic has earned her a dedicated fan base already. Her latest single Space Cadet was Annie Mac’s Hottest Record, and she’s set to support The 1975 on their UK arena tour in 2020.
Brighton-raised British-Jamaican singer Celeste started her journey with BBC Music in 2014 when she uploaded her track North Circular to the BBC Music Introducing website. She was recently named as BBC Music Introducing Artist of the Year 2019 and is set for an even bigger 2020 as she embarks on a headline tour across the UK.
Leicester five-piece Easy Life are preparing to set out on a global tour off the back of a strong 2019 which saw their single Nice Guys named as one of Annie Mac’s Hottest Records. With their lyrics tackling subjects from the future of the planet to male mental health, they self-describe their style as ‘charismatic but confessional’.
After a 2019 which saw Georgia perform at Glastonbury and win AIM’s One To Watch Award in partnership with BBC Music Introducing, North-west Londoner Georgia is gearing up to release her second album in 2020. With a love of dance culture and a fascination with global sounds, she cites Fever Ray, James Blake and Depeche Mode as influences.
Dublin quartet Inhaler formed after four schoolmates bonded over a love of similar bands, including The Stone Roses, The Strokes and Interpol. With their handful of singles amassing a combined total of over 7 million streams, they are looking ahead to a string of UK and Europe headline shows in 2020.
Scottish singer, songwriter and producer Joesef writes songs of heartbreak and redemption from his bedroom in the East End of Glasgow. His first headline show sold out before he had even released any music, such was the dedication of his online fan base garnered from teasing short clips of his tracks on social media.
South Londoner Joy Crookes grew up listening to an eclectic mix of genres thanks to the musical influence of her parents. She began writing her own songs aged just 12 and released her second EP in 2019, describing it as ‘personal celebration of history, London and my dual heritage’.
Formed in Brighton, five-piece Squid describe their music as “the Coronation Street theme tune played on flutes by angry children” (NME) and have received support from BBC Radio 6 Music. The band will take their high energy live show on the road in 2020 with a string of UK tour dates lined up for spring.
22 year-old singer-songwriter YUNGBLUD released his debut album in 2018 and has already amassed a die-hard legion of young fans. Born in Yorkshire, he first picked up a guitar aged two and began writing his own songs at age 10, counting the likes of N.W.A and The Clash among his influences.
The countdown of the Top 5 will kick off across BBC Radio and the BBC Music website on Sunday 5 January 2020. The winner will be announced on Thursday 9 January on BBC Radio 1 and BBC News.
A range of music, videos, interviews and biographies from each of the Top 10 acts can be seen on the BBC Music Sound of 2020 website and a playlist will be made available on BBC Sounds.
James Stirling, Head of BBC Music & BBC Music Introducing, says: “2020 is shaping up to be such an exciting year for British music. BBC Music is proud to play a role in so many of the incredible musical journeys, from YUNGBLUD’s first session for BBC Music Introducing in West Yorkshire back in 2017, to debut Glastonbury performances from Arlo Parks, Celeste and Easy Life on the BBC Music Introducing Stage earlier this year. Congratulations to all the longlisted artists and I am really looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2020.”
The list was compiled using recommendations from 170 influential music experts, including artists, DJs, radio and TV producers, journalists, streaming experts and festival bookers.
All participants were asked to name their favourite three new acts, who could be performers from any country and any musical genre, whether or not they are signed. They cannot have been the lead artist on a UK top ten album or more than one UK top ten single before 21st October 2019.
They must not already be widely known by the UK general public (for example, a member of a hit band going solo, a soap star or a winner of a national talent search show such as X Factor or The Voice in the last three years).
Further details of the panel and how the list was compiled are available on the BBC Music Sound Of 2020 website.