October was This Must Be Pop’s Unsigned Month, ending in a poll to find out who, out of the 20 featured acts, you think is the best unsigned pop act in the UK. The votes have been flooding in but the poll is now closed and it’s time to announce the winner!
In fifth place, with 6.7% of the votes was glam electro-pop star Queen of Hearts.
Coming in fourth, with 7.2% of the votes was the cute, cool and talented Cinnamon Girl.
Voted in third place, with 10.9% of the votes was the girlband on a comeback mission, Parade.
In second place, with 19.2% of the votes was stylish singer-songwriter Chelcee Grimes.
And the winner, with an impressive 41.5% of the votes, was BLUEBELL!!!
The indie-pop duo have fought off some very tough competition to be named the best UK unsigned pop act, according to This Must Be Pop readers. I’m a big fan so I’m pleased with the result. If I could afford it, I’d send them a trophy, but for now they’ll just have to make do with gloating! Congratulations Annabel and Charlie!
If you’re not familiar with Bluebell yet, check out their Cinderella video below and find out more about them here.
And if you’re sad that Unsigned Month is over, don’t worry – my weekly new music mailer Future Pop will be back next Monday with a selection of new artists and songs that you need to know about! Click here to sign up.
I’ve introduced you to my top 20 British unsigned pop acts, and now it’s your turn to tell me (and the music industry) which one you think most deserves to be snapped up by a major label and turned into a megastar ASAP! First, have a look through all 20 acts so you’re sure you’ve made the right choice, then register your vote in the form below. You can only vote once, but if you feel really strongly that your fave should win, why not tweet to let all your friends know about the poll too? Come back on October 31st to find out who wins!
Mercedes was one of my favourite performers at This Must Be Pop Live this year, so I had to include her in Unsigned Month, and she gets the fiercely contested final spot! Mercedes Seecoomar is a female rapper and singer who has a cool, distinct look and a very current sound. Neneh Cherry is a reference for many pop girls these days but Mercedes really is her 2012 equivalent, and Neneh fans will love her songs such as Shock Absorber.
She posted a new video for a song called A Little Too Much online this summer, which has strangely now been taken down, but hopefully this means something is afoot and there’ll be new music for us to hear soon. She’s been busy working with producers including MNEK, Tim Powell and Rodney Jerkins (on a song originally meant for Lady Gaga, no less!), and also co-wrote a Korean top 20 hit a few months ago! Check out a video she did in conjunction with Boots’ 17 Make Up below, and my interview with Mercedes from earlier in the year here.
If you love Mercedes, come back in the last week of October to vote for her as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
Twigs‘ music may not appeal to the pop purists among you, but believe me, there is a fantastic pop star under this artsy cool facade. Twigs, aka Tahliah Barnett, has been on the music scene for a few years, appearing as a model/dancer in videos for Jessie J, Dionne Bromfield and others, and performing at showcase nights around London. It seemed strange to me that she hadn’t broken through, but I was certain that she eventually would.
Now things finally seem to be falling into place for this stunning young girl, who exudes star quality. She has at long last launched her Youtube channel and has so far posted two videos, both very weird and anti-mainstream, with no images of Twigs herself. The fact that they have been so well received even by people who have no idea what Twigs looks like is pretty exciting, as when they do see her they’ll undoubtedly be even more obsessed. She’s rumoured to have interest from XL and I’m sure the majors will be sniffing around too. Once she puts out a video with herself as the focus, she’ll have her pick of them all.
If you love Twigs, come back in the last week of October to vote for her as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
One of my favourite unsigned indie-pop acts in the UK is Bluebell. They are a duo, made up of producer Charlie Westhropp and singer Annabel Jones, and their singles have an electro-pop sound. However, when I saw them live the set was much rockier than I expected, which I actually enjoyed – the energy and vocals were great, and it gives them something to set them apart from all the other girl/boy electro duos on the edges of Planet Pop.
Bluebell have become known for their Tumblr-esque DIY videos, with no video footage of the band themselves online (except the odd appearance in Normal Heights). They’ve had lots of support from the indie blogging world, but pop fans should give them a chance too as their songs are sweet and catchy. I also really like Annabel herself and think she would make an interesting pop star. Watch her here talking about the importance of her image as a singer, and managing to question the pressure to conform without getting too “it’s all about the music, man!”
If you love Bluebell, come back in the last week of October to vote for them as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
Like Chelcee who I featured last week, Tich is an artist who has already had one major label deal, but never got to release anything. She was signed to Mercury as Rachel Furner from a very young age, and over several years recorded some great songs that were only heard live (including at the first This Must Be Pop Live). What really impressed me was what she did when it didn’t work out – she changed her name, found a new manager and threw herself into building her fanbase online through sites such as YouTube.
Her efforts were worthwhile, and (with the help of a few pop star tweets) she’s just passed 2 million YouTube views, with her original songs almost as popular as her boyband covers. She’s a very confident performer with a strong voice, and a talent for songwriting. Although I don’t think she’s quite found her international megahit yet, I’ve enjoyed every original song I’ve heard from her so far. The one in the video below was actually co-written with Nick Jonas, and I like it better than any Jonas Brothers songs so that’s a good start!
If you love Tich, come back in the last week of October to vote for her as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
It’s the last week of Unsigned Month! Here’s a new group I only discovered a few weeks ago, but will be following closely: teen boy trio The Vamps. They’re signed to Prestige Management, along with Relics who I featured last week, and the first thing you will notice is that the lead singer Bradley looks like a mini Harry Styles. Always a good recipe for success, as George from Union J can attest.
Each of the band members has their own successful YouTube channel (Brad alone has had over 500,000 views) and now they’ve joined together their fanbases have combined, resulting in very strong numbers on all their social networks, including nearly 2 million YouTube views. They haven’t posted any original material yet, but already have thousands of dedicated fans, proving (as if we didn’t know) that youth, cuteness and good online marketing is much more important than the music. If you do want to hear an original song, here’s an acoustic performance that just happened to take place outside Sony, in front of a group of girls waiting for One Direction. It’s very good.
If you love The Vamps, come back in the last week of October to vote for them as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
I’ve written about Chelcee Grimes before, when she was signed to RCA. Unfortunately she never released any music with the label, but that wasn’t for lack of quality songs. In fact, her planned first single Mannequin was a work of pop genius and her old MySpace is full of cute R&B-pop gems. During her RCA days Chelcee used to perform with dancers, but now she’s going for more of a singer-songwriter vibe.
Although I’m personally more into the upbeat cheesy stuff I think this new persona makes more sense for Chelcee. Unlike most girls who’ve decided to pick up a guitar as a fashion statement, she actually has the talent in singing and songwriting to carry off the singer-songwriter tag. I Love You is the first track showcasing her new sound, and it feels like a natural development, retaining the strong melodies and pop vocals but adding a bit of swagger and maturity not seen before.
If you love Chelcee, come back in the last week of October to vote for her as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
When it comes to indie-pop, my main criteria (apart from good songs, of course) is that the artist should make a statement, to stand out from the endless parade of pleasant but forgettable Hype Machine chart-toppers. Nimmo and the Gauntletts caught my eye because they are truly unique, and make no attempt to hide it. The group, who resemble a bunch of nerdy students, have not one but two androgynous female lead singers, Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett.
Their songwriting needs to catch up with the visuals and the performance, but when it does they’ll be a very interesting proposition. Although they don’t have any obvious hits (this is my favourite), their songs and videos exhibit a professionalism and clear idea of who they want to be, which I think will get them a long way. It’s been fascinating to watch them develop and polish their act over the past few months, realising the potential I saw in their early YouTube videos. They might need a little more incubation yet, but I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about Nimmo and the Gauntletts.
If you love Nimmo and the Gauntletts, come back in the last week of October to vote for them as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
When it comes to female rappers it seems the key to commercial success can pretty much be boiled down to “be American.” However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t loads of talented British rap girls vying for a chance, and one who I recently discovered is Phreeda Sharp. Phreeda is 24 and clearly not a bandwagon-jumper – she’s a genuine tough London girl you wouldn’t want to mess with and talks about a “raw rap movement” in her YouTube video descriptions.
Phreeda’s recent videos and songs have been much more polished than her early “rap spills”, and Bad Jane especially shows real hit potential. I love her attitude, the energy and the production. The indie blog scene will probably never give her the time of day, and she’d have no time for their geeky white boy readers either, but those who love Azealia Banks should be all over her. I can’t claim to be an expert on rap but I can spot a crossover hit and this could definitely be one with support from the right people. She’s headlining Hoxton Square Bar in November so things are looking good, but she may need the whole industry on her side to do better than Lady Sovereign and Shystie.
If you love Phreeda, come back in the last week of October to vote for her as the best UK unsigned pop act. You can also sign up to my Future Pop mailing list to receive all the Unsigned Month featured artists by email!
My name is Jessica and I work in the music industry in London discovering, developing and promoting new talent. I'm currently consulting for Cooper Casting and A&Ring new music for several up-and-coming artists. Find out about hiring me as a scout or A&R consultant here.
If you'd like to contact me for any reason, please email jessica at thismustbepop dot com or tweet me @poptastic. I'm always interested to hear from people who want to talk pop!
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