As the top 5 of the sound of 2014 has been announced this week I thought it would be nice to make this week’s tracks of the week a little round up of the top 5 and my opinions on them. So here is BBC’s Sound of Top 5 for 2014.
Number 5: George Ezra
Hailing from London but based in Bristol where he went to university to study music, George Ezra soon found himself emerged in creatvity, writing songs and playing shows. He inevitably dropped out of university and he hasn’t looked back since. Something that has paid off for the 20 year old after being announced as the 5th place recipient in 2014’s Sound of Poll this week.
As soon as it was announced on Monday that George Ezra had come 5th I did a ‘that name sounds very familiar’ thing and made a note to YouTube his stuff. As soon as the track started I knew why I’d heard his name before because this track, ‘Budapest’, I’ve heard quite a few times on Radio 1 recently, mainly played by Huw Stephens, and I absolutely adore it. His soulful vocals laced with his own unique tone makes him instantly recognisable, particularly good in a jam-packed music industry. There is intricate guitar melodies and a brilliant rhythm created by the percussion and prominent, deep bassline. The vocals harmonise perfectly with the music and with storytelling lyrics it is clear to see why this singer/songwriter has made it into the top 5. He’s brilliant and I’m just going to back up everyone else’s sentiments that George Ezra is one to watch in 2014.
Number 4: Sampha
Track: Too Much
I’m not going to write a lot about Sampha on here as I have already written a new music post lined up for next week about him. What I do have to say it that Sampha is wonderful and someone who’s voice I have loved for a while now so I definitely agree that his is deserving of a place on this poll, albeit I would have placed him higher. It’s nice that he is finally getting the recognition he deserves though and when this solo track was released at the end of last year it’s obvious to see why more and more people have started to sit up and take notice. A gentle and mellow R’n’B influnced sound runs throughout the entiriety of this track and though it sounds great and adds a huge amount of atmosphere it still plays second fiddle to the absolutely stunning vocals from Sampha. With such wonderful tone and clarity, they are laced with emotion and though they completely stand out, becoming the main focus of the track, they also merge well with the ebb and flow of the music underneath. A great addition to the Sound of 2014 poll and an act I’m particularly excited about this year.
Number 3: Banks
Track: Fall Over
Not unfamiliar to many this LA singer/songwriter has been making music since she was a teenager and has collaborated with the likes of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Jamie Woon. Last year she released two EP’s ‘Fall Over’ and ‘London EP’, both relatively under the radar before touring with The Weeknd. For 2014, it will see her releasing her debut album, expect to hear Tracy Chapman and Lauryn Hill vibes as well as dark and intimate lyrics.
With clear R’n’B influences from the outset, she’s adding a darker, richer and much more soulful take on pop with her songs. There is smooth, electronic rhythms, sometimes mellow, sometimes in your face vocals that are always completely slick and songs chock full of personal lyrics. Having not heard any of her stuff before I was pleasantly surprised with the songs on offer and how good they are, she’s definitely one who I will be listening to a lot more of over the coming months that is for sure.
Number 2: Ella Eyre
19 year old Ella Eyre is this year’s runner up in the BBC Sound of Poll. After collaborations with Rudimental on their number 1 single ‘Waiting All Night’ and Wiz Khalifa and Naughty Boy on their single ‘Think About It’ she has built up a reputation built on her vocal skill before dropping her debut EP ‘Deeper’ in December. The singer/songwriter is a Brit school graduate who’s debut EP and year long tour supporting Rudimental has set her up for what is surely going to be a very good 2014 and this is just the icing on the cake for pushing her into household name status.
Her husky vocals has given her a instantly recognisable voice that worked so well on the collaborations as well as her own tracks on the EP. Her soul and motown influences are clear to see in her music and are placed so brilliantly against much more danceable and almost R’n’B sounds creating a near perfect blend for a modern pop song. I’d never really heard her stuff before and I wasn’t sure if her music would be something I would like but I do really like what I’ve heard. Her vocals especially are wonderful and it will be interesting to see what the rest of the year holds for her.
Number 1: Sam Smith
Track: Money On My Mind
This year’s winner was probably an extremely obvious choice after featuring on some of the biggest singles of 2013, Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’ and Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ [initially released in 2012], he clearly had to be mentioned in this year’s poll somewhere. Those huge collaborations were what can only be described as a brilliant start to his musical career, but now it is time for Smith to release some of his own solo material.
This was a process that started in February last year when he released the single ‘Lay Me Down’, the lead single from his debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’ due to be released in May this year. The single went to number 1 and served as the perfect springboard for the release of his debut EP ‘Nirvana’, released last summer, which contains a brilliant solo rendition of ‘Latch’.
Above is the second single to be taken from his debut album and it will be officially released on 16th February. It is a wonderfully catchy, well crafted pop song featuring Smith’s excellent falsetto and very honest lyrics about record contracts, record companies insistence to make as much money as possible and that he is in this game because he just loves to make music. This guy is sure to become one of the defining voices of not only last year but this year and beyond and winning this Sound of Poll as well as the Brits Critics Choice Award is definitely recognition of the fact that Sam Smith is really bloody good.
So that is this year’s top 5 acts to watch out for according to the BBC and their Sound Of Poll. What do you think about the top 5? Any glaring omissions and who is your personal favourite?