Who: Glaswegian trio making addictive synth-pop.
The first time my ears met the sound of the track ‘The Mother We Share’ I took an immediate interest in the curiously named Chvrches (with a V for extra quirkiness) and by the look of things I wasn’t alone. The band’s energetic mix between crashing electro synths and sweetly angelic vocals made waves in the blogosphere last year and earned them a spot in the BBC’s annual poll recognising upcoming talent. Their gothic pop has been described as “undeniably sad but also euphoric”, or as I would say, a blend of the very sugary Carly Rae Jepson and the very haunting Crystal Castles. Sound weird – but it works, as you may agree. Whilst I anticipate the release of their album later this year, releasing tracks such as the compulsively addictive ‘Lies’ means I’m holding out for great things. Take a listen below.
Who: Brothers who are pushing ‘post-garage’ into the public conscience.
Disclosure consists of 17 and 20 year old brothers Guy & Howard Lawrence who already have a top 20 hit under their belts, with the infectious single ‘Latch’. Their remixes of the likes of Jessie Ware have also garnered them a large following and got their name around as hotly tipped producers. Ahead of a debut album expected this spring, the duo’s EP release ‘The Face’ gives a taster of what’s to come (listen below). Their sound builds on what seems like a short history of dance music – through a 90’s garage bop, a pulsating dubstep bassline, a smooth RnB vibe, soulful vocals and an hint of house. It looks as if they could do big things on the UK dance scene.
Who: Alanis Morrisette lookalikes that are the industry critics’ new favourites.
I actually saw Haim live at the O2 when they supported Florence & The Machine’s UK tour in December, not realising at the time that I would later be writing about how the BBC have tipped them as the #1 Sound Of 2013. I must admit that I didn’t take much interest in them at the time as I was probably too busy chatting/drinking/getting excited about Florence to take any notice of the Californian three-piece. Yet after hearing their EP ‘Forever’, I am eager to hear more. The Haim sisters have often been compared to Fleetwood Mac with their Indie-Folk meets RnB fusion, while there grungy girls-on-bikes image and family pact mean they’ve been thought of as the female Hanson. As hungry critics and a growing fanbase await Haim’s full length debut, listen below to my favourite track ‘Don’t Save Me’ and be sure to YouTube search their videos to see some Destiny’s Child inspired dance routines.
Who: He plays ballads on piano and may be unheard of but has already won a Brit Award.
22 year-old Tom Odell now follows in the rather large footsteps of Emeli Sande, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding and Adele in receiving the Brit Award for Critics Choice – and is the first male to do so. The classically trained songwriter first appeared in the public eye when performing on Jools Holland and has seen a growing number of supporters since including the likes of Burberry (who featured his song in their S/S 2013 show) and also Lily Allen – who claims his on stage energy reminded her of David Bowie and was so impressed she signed him to her label. Odell conveys a lot of emotion through his songs – he has been described by The Guardian as James Blake without the dubstep and he cites piano legend Elton John as a main influence. Already being called a ‘young Jeff Buckley’ and making a name for himself with ‘Another Love’ (listen below) – he is surely in for a big year ahead.
Who: A band with a tendency to indulge in 90’s pop culture.
With Dan Smith’s grip on the vocals and instrumentals you may be fooled into thinking Bastille was a one-man act, and it was, until Smith decided to form a band to make it a four piece. Bastille’s tracks ‘Flaws’ and ‘Pompeii’ have led to a large online following as of late, just as the band are about to set off on tour with Two Door Cinema Club. I have been listening to the EP release ‘Other People’s Heartbreak’, which mixes reworked versions of 90’s classics with movie soundtrack samples to produce something that sounds nostalgic but refreshing. My favourite offering from the EP is a completely original and mellowed down ‘Rythm Of The Night’ cover (listen below). See ‘Other People’s Heartbreak Part 2’, free on Bastille’s website, for more rehashed adaptations that mix TLC with The XX, blend Donnie Darko with Frank Ocean and mash American Beauty with Florence Welch.
Hot Natured & Ali Love
Who: A collaborative project creating house music to be played in the sun rays.
I once caught Hot Natured & Ali Love’s mesmerising track ‘Benediction’ on Radio 1 and it had been hailed as last summer’s anthem across dancefloors in Ibiza. It is a slow burning dance track with uplifting vibes, deep house beats and soul-filled vocals that flow with the soothing bass line (listen below). Owners of the Hot Creations label and producers Jamie Jones & Lee Foss have teamed with Ali Love to work on an upcoming album together, expected in Spring this year. The release will have house lovers holding their breathe and will no doubt spawn several summer anthems to come.
Who: The guy behind the Apple iPod ad that may be more than just a 1 hit wonder.
21 year old William ‘Moon’ is best known for his feel good smash ‘Yeah Yeah’ that you’ve most likely heard on every single soundtrack as of recent, from Apple to the BBC. The track in inescapable for a reason – it’s catchy retro rhythm, clanging drums, chanting vocals and heavy hip-hop influence make it a blast from the past but for the modern day (listen below). The New Zealand born musician channels a slick 1950’s image that matches his retro tinged sound yet he adds something fresh and contemporary to the mix, making him slightly comparable to Bruno Mars. He is currently supporting Jack White’s tour and adding the finishing touches his debut album, expected early this year.
Who: Bedroom producer & songstress become experimental pop duo with interesting results.
Aluna Francis (vocals) and George Reid (production) are the two halves that make up AlunaGeorge. The pair’s breakout record ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ is a dreamy state of hip hop beats, computerised echoes and Aluna’s sweet child-like harping – it oozes the magical mixture that will keep audiences and critics tuned in for more when their album drops this year. In ‘You Know You Like It’ (below) the swelling and swirling RnB melody womps beneath the high pitched chimes and gentle whispers – amplifying a sound similar to synth-pop innovators Purity Ring. The stuff they are producing strikes a firm balance between mainstream appeal and alternative taste, which I would much rather see in the charts than any Flo Rida drivel. Whether they hit the big time is yet to be seen, but with heaps of media attention and a crazy collaboration with Disclosure ready to blow up dancefloors, this dynamic duo are going to make their mark somehow.
Today BBC chiefs warned their staff not to damage the organisation’s reputation by striking – but what dilemma do they face if they did?
As the BBC prepares for its biggest summer of live events ever seen, perhaps the organisation should really be looking after staff a little more carefully. Earlier this month broadcasting unions asked BBC staff to ballot for strike action following a “hostile” pay rise offer of just 1%. The strikes plan to directly target the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in early June, pulling the plug on a series of high-profile events across the bank holiday weekend that celebrate the monarchy’s 60 year reign.
Unions and the staff themselves are clearly protecting their rights to a wage increase as their salaries have apparently fallen 8% behind inflation since 2007, but the BBC say their offer will not change regardless of strike action. Though it may seem fair to take a stance against the pay offer, can those behind event coverage operations justify boycotting a national event of such historic importance?
Sure, other channel providers will be covering the Diamond Jubilee extensively, but should the British Broadcasting Corporation miss out on this rare Royal celebration in what is an undoubtedly patriotic year for Britain, it would severely damage their reputation. It would be like Sky Sports not reporting on Euro 2012 football. It’s surely their responsibility to saturate our tv screens with her majesty and thousands of flag waving Britons .
The director of news at the BBC, Helen Boaden, certainly recognised that strike action would fail licence fee payers “at a national major moment”, as she urged staff not to strike during the Jubilee event. It was reported today that in an email Boaden claimed that viewers would not tolerate disruption and they would lose faith in the organisation for not serving its responsibilities to audiences.
With the Murdoch empire controlling a large part of the national press and advertisements every 10 minutes on some commercial stations, perhaps we really should support the BBC staff and recognise how valuable they are – particularly if their chief overheads are taking them for granted.
The results of the ballot are yet to be seen, as an announcement over the strike action is expected by May 21st. Though striking action at the BBC is far from anything new, these threats jeopardise the television, radio and online at the core of the UK media at a time when the entire world is watching. If the strikes disrupted coverage of the Wimbledon championships, the British Grand Prix, the British Open Golf tournament and, of course, the London Olympic Games – then it’s not just the BBC under threat but the reputation of this country. BBC bosses, please, stop being so stubborn.
How much do you trust professional journalists to tell the truth? 2011’s PBS Trust Report revealed that just 1 in 4 people (24%) thought UK media organisations were accurate in their reporting.
With the recent phone hacking scandal and the damage to News Corp‘s reputation still in the public mindset, audiences are doubting the ethical standards of journalists while the likely demise of the offline newspaper industry inches closer. The majority of the public (58%) agreed that they further lost trust in the news following the allegations of underhanded practices and the unfolding Levison enquiry, according to the PBS Report.
But the most surprising statistic of all from the findings last autumn were that 3 in 4 people (74%) agree that media outlets in the UK lie to their audiences frequently. Of course, it’s no revelation that news organisations are often driven by sensationalist reports, political bias and corporate interests. Perhaps audiences are becoming more sceptical – or depending on which way you look at it, just more aware – of ‘bad journalism’.
Sensationalism in the Daily Express: March 27th’s paper tells us of strike chaos ahead, where March 30th’s tells us to calm down.
Tabloid Watch is an excellent website highlighting the lies, mistakes, exaggerations, ethical issues and general blunders in the UK press by “blogging about bad journalism” as it says itself. Several themes on Tabloid Watch came to my attention and I was shocked at just how appalling some editorial standards appeared to be in national titles, particularly those belonging to the Daily Mail.
The Mail’s online counterpart, MailOnline, became the single most visited news website in the world in January 2012. With an average of 45.3 million unique visitors per month, the site overtook The New York Times. Spearheaded by celebrity gossip, large visuals and headlines with shock value, the organisation has progressively become more tabloid entertainment orientated but seen enormous online audiences – perhaps by leading with what could be described as ‘share-able stories’ (such as the recent viral sensation Samantha Brick).
It may come as no surprise that as little as 1 in 10 (10%) said they trusted tabloid newspapers in YouGov‘s 2010 poll. Yet evidently, their diminishing influence as a trustworthy source does not seem to be impacting what audiences read.
As Tabloid Watch investigates, on regular notable occasions the Daily Mail misrepresents facts and does not research thoroughly enough, if at all. Just last month it ran an article claiming over two-thirds of young Muslims in Britain believe honour violence is acceptable. In fact, the study referred to shows that this amount was just 6% and the survey was on young Asians, not just Muslims. (See below for the original headline on the right & the corrected headline on the left after it was changed).
It is also common for tabloids to use a single celebrity tweet to create an entire news story, many of which are found to be fabricated and taken out of context. It seems in the online environment of accessible information, some ‘professional’ journalists are cutting corners with the fact checking and sensationalising at every opportunity they have to entice volumes of audiences for profitable gain. The 55% of audiences surveyed in the PSB Report that claimed UK media content had dumbed down in recent years would certainly agree.
On February 6th 2012 the Daily Mail Editor in Chief Paul Dacre told the Levison enquiry:
“I’m very proud of the Mail Online…it’s evolving and clearly everything can improve, but I think to come from a cold start to being the world’s number newspaper internet site is an achievement that British journalism should be proud of.”
The very idea that the Daily Mail is flying the flag for quality British journalism is enough to make every award-winning writer or investigatory journalist shudder. While I do not doubt that the organisation harbours some talented writers, it is astonishing how slack their editorial standards have become.
As nearly 1 in 5 (17%) UK adults say they will be less likely to use newspapers by the end of 2012, it seems an industry with dwindling future prospects needs to work harder to uphold public trust if it is to survive.
(For full details of the PSB Trust Report visit http://labs.yougov.co.uk/news/2011/11/14/trust-media/)