BBC SOUND OF 2018 LIVE, Maida Vale Studios – Evening Standard, 31 Jan 2018

The BBC’s annual Sound of… poll is a valuable indicator of which musicians are on their way to ubiquity. Some of the 2018 batch were brought together last night for Radio 1, in a studio adorned with a plaque dedicated to a hot young thing of yesteryear, Bing Crosby.

The winner this year, Norwegian singer Sigrid, is already rewarding the critics and industry types who voted for her by zooming towards the top 10 with her current single, Strangers. Although tiny and invisible to all but the front row in this room with no stage, the size of her voice and the song’s blazing chorus showed why she deserves the fuss.

The rest of the bill suggested that the year is unlikely to be dominated by any one trend. Both Yxng Bane and Not3s did the half-singing, half-rapping thing. The former ensured that he would stay in the memory this evening by reappropriating other people’s hits – Shape of You and Bestie – and even titling his original song Rihanna. Not3s was joined by Mabel, the new winner of the rival MTV Brand New poll, to help his already strong case.

Pale Waves and Rex Orange County offered what just about counts as indie music these days. Pale Waves had guitars and were led by a female Edward Scissorhands in Heather Baron-Gracie, but the tunes were pure pop. Rex Orange County, also known as Alex O’Connor from Haslemere, was a stylish smoothie with a warm, smoky voice and a horn section.

To close, Years & Years returned. The trio who were named BBC Sound of 2015 and went on to have a number one album and single. To show the others what the big time looks like, they brought along four backing singers. Others here will be enjoying such riches sooner rather than later.

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