The Next Big Thing: an A-Z of 2011 – Part 3

James Blake
The new… Gotye
His music could certainly do with a bit of poptasticising but what I do love about James Blake is that he’s clearly a total music geek and, unlike most people who are geeky about music, he actually has pretty good taste. He’s covered my favourite Feist song and remixed a hidden gem of the mid-00s, Wine Red by The Hush Sound. If his own music could be as ace as that I’d be thrilled, but from what I’ve heard so far it seems he has a long way to go. His popularity seems to me a sign that the days of celebrating the unique individuals who make the best popstars are over. No more Lady GaGas. It’s ‘all about the music’ with artists like James, but the irony is that his music is nowhere near as good as GaGa and it never will be. That’s not to say he’s less talented than her, but he’s not even in the same league of talent as RedOne. So if his music’s not as good and he brings no extra spectacle to our lives, what exactly is the point?
Poptasticness: 39% Hit potential: 77%

Jessie J
The new… Natasha Bedingfield
Finally we get to Jessie J! She’s already won the Brits Critics Choice award and I’ll be shocked if she’s not crowned BBC Sound of 2011. With one hit already under her belt and her next single featuring two of 2010’s biggest breakthrough stars, B.o.B for the US version and Devlin on the UK release, we can guess that she might just be a success. However, it will be interesting to see just how far that success expands. Will Price Tag be a no.1 hit? Will she make it in the US as well as the UK? Will that US success be affected by her lesbianosity? Whatever happens, it’s going to be a massively exciting year for Jessie and I’m very proud to have been supporting her along her path to stardom. The trend for feisty urban chicks will come and go, but Jessie will stick around simply because she has the talent and charisma that makes her stand out from all the rest.
Poptasticness: 87% Hit potential: 99%

Katy B
The new… Ms Dynamite
It took me a long time but I’m finally pretty much confident in my ability to spot a dubstep record. Dubstep was one of the biggest trends of 2010, but it took me months to remember which Katy B song was which. I still couldn’t sing a line of Katy On A Mission if you asked me to. Despite her music clearly being pretty forgettable to my poptastic ears, I feel I should acknowledge Katy B in my A-Z as she played a massive part in bringing dubstep to mainstream audiences last year and is now poised to release her debut album after 2 solo top 5 hits. Personally I’m interested to see what she’s all about out of the context of dubstep. Live performances suggest she’s a pretty good singer but is she just a new Joss Stone who happened to get involved in a cool music scene? She certainly looks a lot like Joss.
Poptasticness: 52% Hit potential: 86%

Maxine Ashley
The new… Lisa Roxanne
US-born, UK-based Maxine Ashley has been on my radar for a while, first through her involvement with Xenomania (she was in a group they were developing) and then thanks to her appearance on Alex Gaudino’s fantastic I’m In Love. When I spotted her at a gig a couple of months ago she told me that the next step for her music career would be a mixtape, but since then no more has been heard of this. All was explained when she announced on Twitter that she had been signed by Pharrell Williams as his new protegée! It’s very exciting news for Maxine as it means she’s likely to get a big international launch, but it does make me a little concerned. I’m sure many of you will disagree, but personally I’ve never been very impressed with Pharrell’s work and it’s been a long time since his last big hit. It’s very easy to be wooed by a big name and presume Maxine is on the surefire path to success now, but even with her talent and super-ace personality I’ll still need to hear the music before I’m convinced.
Poptasticness: 80% Hit potential: 53%

The new… Kings of Leon
I feel I shouldn’t complain about Mona too much as their music isn’t actually unlistenable, it just does nothing for me. It’s that kind of indie music which is fairly inoffensive but has just enough gristle to make sure everyone knows this is music for blokes. Listen To Your Love has a good pace to it and is a little more Manic Street Preachers than Kings of Leon, which I can cope with. Occasionally they even sound a bit like Delays, which almost persuaded me to like them, but then I remembered that I could just as easily put on the real Delays, and that seemed like a much better idea. Nonetheless, if Mona have to be a success, then please British public, I beg of you, make Listen To Your Love the big hit. It’ll make turning on Radio 1 in the mornings just a little bit easier when whichever is the chosen Mona monster hit gets played every day for months on end.
Poptasticness: 35% Hit potential: 80%


  1. i really like Jessie J! I think Price Tag could be massive. I love how she gets annoyed by the slightest thing on twitter! I'm glad someone else is not entirely convinced by James Blake either… he's a bit meh for me…

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