Beware The ‘Next Big Thing’ Curse – Just Ask Mona

Are you going to say it? Go on, I’m too embarrassed. No? Oh, all right then. But this hurts me every bit as much as it does you.


There, that wasn’t so bad. I’m not sure about you, but I certainly feel better. Cleared the air, you know?

When the industry story gets out – the ‘Next Big Thing’ hype, the MTV Brand New win, the reported megabucks deal, the radio silence (man, the radio silence), the ‘Princes Of Leon’ death writ – it will make one heck of a movie.

You wouldn’t need to cast a bad guy, of course. The UK music trade’s frenzied pre-occupation with New Year ‘one to watch’ lists would fit that role nicely.

And so here we go again. The BBC’s getting it in the neck for siding with major labels, HMV and MTV are holding launches on the same night, and every blog in the land is doing their version of the real acts you need to check out next year.

But cast your mind back over the last 12 months, and there are a few lessons to heed when it comes to our slight obsession with these casting calls.

Fair enough, they can give a real boost to talent like Jessie J – who surely wouldn’t have enjoyed half the year she has without the BBC and MTV support she received around Christmas 2010.

But remember this: Ed Sheeran, surely the UK music business’s standout emerging artist of 2011 – in that he seemed to come from absolute nowhere to charm the chin-stroking Jools audience whilst simultaneously taming the E number-driven maelstrom of the singles chart – was hardly given a drop of ink on last year’s lists.

Perhaps more than anything, we should remember that maybe it wasn’t actually Mona’s music that burst the hoopla balloon – NME hatchet job aside, they wrote stadium rock that could have flown at another time, and still pass muster live.

Surely the fact that the material took its sweet time is the biggest culprit; that at the very height of Mona pandemonium, we didn’t have a finished LP to spin the hype into multi-million sales.

Interest waned, industry support was twisted into uncool journalistic rhetoric and, by the time the album arrived in May, Radio 1 could no longer be convinced. After all, some young ginger kid was starting to turn heads by then.

Those who stand to benefit most from this year’s lists will already have something tangible to back it up (like Delilah’s irresistible new single, for instance).

As for the artists that will truly come to dominate 2012? The cleverest managers and labels are probably biding their time; waiting for the hype to settle and the industry tastemakers to get bored.

Mona’s second album, anyone?

Tim Ingham is Editor of weekly UK business music bible Music Week. You can visit their website and subscribe here.