Last week’s New Music issue of NME magazine featured an article where we asked the great and good of the music industry – from bands to label bosses to promoters – which direction they’re predicting music’s gonna go in 2012.
Will girls continue to rule the chart roost? Who’s pushing things forward right now? Can indie make a comeback? And are things in the next 12 months gonna be shite, or great?
Loads of pundits took part, with many writing way more for us than we could print (and some missing the deadline – it was Christmas). So we’ve gathered some of the best responses here in full. Effectively it’s us scratching the collective head of the music industry, avoiding the dandruff and posing the question: Where the hell are we headed in 2012?
Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers
I’d love to say to you that there’s gonna be a new Nirvana that slays the world and makes music really exciting again and destroys all the other stuff, but I just can’t see it happening.
I’d love to think there’s a guitar band out there like The Pistols, a Clash or a Nirvana, but there hasn’t been one for a long, long time and you’ve got to worry that there’s a generation out there – the masses – who don’t want that kind of music.
When we started, we had the rhetoric and the look, but we also had a major record company behind us, who supported us while we weren’t making any money. We didn’t make any money until our fourth album, ‘Everything Must Go’, and I don’t think record companies have that patience any more. It’s a really difficult position for new bands to be in; it feels like if you fail on your first album, it’s all over. For a lot of bands of our generation, it wasn’t always instant – even Blur took a while to find their feet.
Saying that, I do love Y NIWL, who are a Welsh language surf band who’ve been backing Gryff Rhys. I’m obsessed with them, it’s really Joe Meek. And I think Tribes are brilliant, I absolutely love the two singles this year. If they’d been released in 1992 you’d like to think they’d have been massive hits. But I’m just not sure if the public wants it anymore really.
There’s a suggestion that guitar bands are going to die out, but I actually think that’s the opposite of what’s going to happen. I think a breed of guitar band with angrier lyrics and probably a harsher sound is going to have resurgence. I think in a downtime of economics, people will get angrier about things and the songs will reflect that, and I think the guitar band is probably the best vessel for that type of music.
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There’s no denying there’s been a squeeze on the major labels this past year, and without a doubt that’ll persist in 2012 – probably quite dramatically. With record sales continuing to nose dive I predict labels will be getting more involved with managing artists too, a road already taken with indies successfully (Wichita and Lucky Number spring to mind), with the majors getting in on the act too, including us here at 679.
Trend wise, British rap will pick up its pace into the mainstream, with Plan B going back to his roots, Dot Rotten proving his place and new London talents P Money and Benny Banks looking poised to blow. It’s gonna get a lot tougher and nastier lyrically, and might shock a few of the passing listeners.
Personally, I’m mostly excited about the resurgence of excellently fun pop-acts; as Girls Aloud reunite for a 10 year reunion (and rake in the $), I reckon a wealth of quality sharp-lyrical girl bands will stand alongside them, including Oh My! and undoubtedly Little Mix.
Jon Hillcock, presenter, New Noise podcast
For me personally one of the most exciting developments of the past 12 months has been the emergence of a new generation of producers who seem to have shifted and redefined the boundaries of electronic music.
The likes of Holy Other, Lapalux, Slime, Royalty, xxxy, Damu, Patten, Blawan, Disclosure, Vondelpark, Dauwd, Halls and Clams Casino have advanced the art of production immeasurably. I can’t wait to hear what surfaces in 2012 and whether it might somehow bubble up into the mainstream.
Speaking of which, I’d also hope the likes of Azealia Banks, NZCA/LINES and Charli XCX will shake up an increasingly dull pop landscape.
I think we need something to come along and shake things up. It’d be nice for a wave of bands to come along again – it feels like it’s been enough time now and we need some new people with some fresh ideas. It’ll come from nowhere as it always does, and it’ll just be mates starting a band in school with a few guitars. And it’ll sound like the future again, like it always does. It always seems to start that way. I think everyone’s just waiting for it to happen.
Rodaidh McDonald, producer/XL Recordings studio manager
There’s so many exciting things happening this year it’s hard to know where to start. I’m hyped about the release of the How To Dress Well album (which I co-produced). I also expect more surprises from Archy Marshall – aka King Krule – who I’ve enjoyed working with so much.
Another brilliant new artist called Willis Earl Beal’s debut album ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ on XL’s new imprint Hot Charity will be one of the most talked about and enjoyed releases of the year. Some more tips on very very new things: Duane The Teenage Weirdo, Palmistry, Paradise and Childhood. Oh, also expect to be blown apart completely by the Jai Paul album!
If you think about music, it’s so cyclical. You had Nirvana in 1991, who really broke through because people were really fed up with the corporate pop and bloated hard rock climates. Then you look at 2001, everyone got really enthused by bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes who were low-fi. It was really exciting when there was low-fi on the radio! It’s definitely due again.
There’s got to be some kind of reaction to not just to how bloated corporate pop has got – because it has – and not just in how disposable it is, but also a lot of the attitude of it.
2011 saw so many amazing female artists, so I think it would be great to see an influx of male artists who can really play their instruments well in 2012. I’d love to see a few indie bands back in the charts too.
There’s a few new artists I’m excited for in 2012, including Jagwar Ma – guitars with a dancey-vibe thrown in, very catchy. And Kindness – his album is very, very special. You go on a real feelgood journey when you listen to it, lots of lush guitars and swooning vocals.
I’m sure grime will continue to dominate the charts in 2012, and two big names from the north to listen out for are Madhat McGore, and Profisee, who’s a man with a devastating flow and a debut album ready to explode. Both will be hard to ignore if things stay grimey in 2012.
Hopefully this year there’ll be a move away from the male/female lamo acoustic troubadours with clever melodies that seem to be all over the place.
And possibly, dare I say it, American college rock will make a comeback. There’s been a certain kind of early 80s obsession over the last couple of years and there might be a move away from that now. We might even have a 90s revival, God forbid…
Matt Bates, booking agent, Primary Talent
Everybody thought 2011 would be the return of the Great British Guitar band. It didn’t happen, but the pressure is somewhat off for indie boys in 2012 so maybe we will see a surprise. There are many great new guitar bands to look out for and, personally, I’m very excited about the likes of All The Young, Gross Magic, The Cast of Cheers and Alt J.
However, I feel the stranglehold of women on the charts will remain, but like we have seen recently with Lana, they are going to be cooler and more indie-friendly. Therefore the big tip with obvious bias (seeing we’re working with her): The year will belong to Azealia Banks.
The end of every year is always the same. The slipper and cardigan brigade start spouting off: :It’s the death of indie! The death of the guitar! The death of the pointy boot and the death of music as we know and love – how are we going to cope???”
2011 was worse than most, and I’d like to say: SHUT UP THE LOT OF YOU. Get it into your heads that indie music died in the 1980’s. There is only good music and bad music nowadays, and that’s where the fun starts – deciding who is right and who is wrong.
Lets look for some good music and not worry if it’s indie, cool, guitar-led or not. Let’s champion brilliant acts like Eugene McGuinness, Breton and Filthy Boy. And who gives a monkeys if The 2 Bears play a guitar or not? Their debut album is set to light up the year. Guitars will not go away in the way that voices will not disappear. Look at the Alabama Shakes, one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the US in the last 10 years. And guess what? They play guitars…
I don’t know about America, but I think music in Europe in 2012 is going to continue to be really fresh and autobiographical. I was looking at your cool list, and I saw Azaelia Banks there. If artists are going to keep being supported for being themselves, then it’s just going to get better and better. But do I think guitar bands are on the way out? Hell no! Never!
Dan McEvoy, promoter
It seems like every new band these days have been in another band in some shape or form, and while people are always gonna say it’s all been done before that still doesn’t stop me from getting goosebumps upon hearing something great.
This is the case with Australian band Jagwar Ma, featuring Stella from Warpaint on percussion duties. It’s 60’s bubblegum pop with a hypnotic beat. Yoofs, an ever prolific young three-piece from Bournemouth never fail to amaze me either, recording tracks in their caravan faster than a drunk Bob Pollard. They make checking my inbox every morning a pleasure!
British indie rock is at its lowest point for years. The Horrors aside, it’s either folksy tweeness, blustery pretension or indie boyband crap. Too many students and poseurs and not enough danger or mavericks.
I’m actually leaving the country. I think most of the exciting new music is coming from places like Harlem (A$AP Rocky), Toronto (The Weeknd) or the American South (Rick Ross, Wacka etc). Cass McCombs is the best white American artist by far.