The sound of 2018

examines BBC Music’s top five choices of the sound of 2018


Having achieved 30 million plays on Spotify and YouTube combined, 21 year old pop sensation Sigrid is beginning to burst onto the international music scene. Following her Glastonbury performance last summer, the Norwegian singer has gone from strength to strength, playing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert at the end of last year and more recently impressing the BBC Sound of 2018 judges. With a Peter Pan-styled ability to seem not to age at all and a modest Scandinavian fashion sense consisting of a simple primary coloured jumper and some jeans, Sigrid’s music too seems to reflect a youthful, simplistic joy. Sigrid has been prized for her straight to the point attitude. Her song ‘Don’t Kill my Vibe’ was written in response to a group of middle aged male producers laughing at her while she was trying to record in the studio (in my head this resembles some kind of Hunger Games apple-arrow scenario). This led the Guardian to coin her as the “next
Lorde” of pop music and she has now worked with Stan Smith. If you are a fan of female pop artists, she’s the one to watch.


Rex Orange County

Happy go lucky teenager Alex O’Connor was fast-tracked to the peak of the music industry last year after receiving a friendly email from Tyler the Creator. Alex was invited along to Los Angeles at just 18 to perform on Tyler’s highly anticipated album Flower Boy and his vocal on tracks ‘Boredom’ and ‘Foreword’ helped to make the album more unique. Now 19 and still constantly seeming to need to shave what little beard he tries to grow, Alex’s music career seems to be blooming. He performs under the name of Rex Orange County as a result of a nickname given to him by a school teacher. The tracks ‘Loving is Easy’ and ‘Sunshine’ both reflect a feel good, relaxed vibe. ‘Rex’ was brought up in Surrey before attending Brit School for two years where he was pursuing a career to become a drummer. Now releasing his own music independently and performing with Frank Ocean and Skepta, it seems that Rex Orange County’s future will be bright.




IAMDBB’s inclusion in BBC Sound of 2018 came as a complete surprise not only to her but also to the British public. Unsigned and practically unheard of outside of her home in Manchester, IAMDBB’s no nonsense attitude has caught the eye of the Annie Mac. In her homemade music video for ‘Leaned out’ IAMDBB is witnessed dancing around with a juice carton and a cigarette in the comfort of her own home. This sums up the ambitions of IAMDBB: to remain fully in control of her own music and to remain thoroughly independent. In an interview with the BBC she described how “music is the only thing I have 100 per cent control of.” Her music certainly is reminiscent of her idols Nate King Cole, John Legend and Future. It is a huge success story to see an unsigned artist who predominately operates on Soundcloud reach such heights so quickly and reveals how the music industry is now fighting back. It seems that a record deal is no longer essential
for new musicians. A new generation are now growing up making their music in their bedrooms and they are being increasingly heard.


Khalid was the most obvious choice for the sound of 2018 after an already successful year in 2017. Last year Khalid won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist 2017 at the age of just 19. When he was just starting up Khalid’s main concern was simply uploading his music onto Soundcloud in time for his high school prom. However, now his concerns are spending his time chilling out on tour with Lorde or hanging out with his friend Kylie Jenner. Rolling Stone magazine described Khalid as the voice of a new generation. Constant references to new technology can be seen throughout Khalid’s debut album American Teen. Talk of cellphones, photo albums, ride-share apps and GPS pins are heard on almost every song with one of Khalid’s singles ‘Location’ focusing around the idea of using a feature on iPhones maps. This modern twist on classic pop music topics has made his lyrics more engaging for the millennial generation. Corny, cringey topics of pop music such as relationships and having fun seem to be slightly less embarrassing in Khalid’s album than in other more generic pop albums. Khalid has more recently featured on tracks with Kendrick Lamar and Future and is a big fan of Fleetwood Mac, Adele and Bill Withers. Maybe his name will be as well respected in the pop world as some of them. He’s already gained a huge American following.

Pale Waves

Pale Waves were certainly a disappointing inclusion. The indie pop from Manchester’s upbeat indie trash contrasts massively with the band’s aesthetic. Black lipstick and heavy eyeliner reigns supreme and a smile seems to be very painful for their frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie to achieve. Never have a band looked so miserable when singing an upbeat song. The most unique trait of the band is that they have a female drummer – something that is not the stereotype for guitarheavy bands. The four piece band have been compared to the 1975 and there are certainly parallels between them. They have been named as Matty Healy’s favourite band and they were on the cover of NME with him last month. However, this seems to be because Healy has signed them. Sadly, it seems that he is therefore propping the band up rather than them achieving a reputation on their own. For fans of indie pop Pale Waves may be your thing, however a bolder move from the BBC
Judges would have been to provide the fifth spot to a more original band. Both  Superorganisms and Alma are more unique in their appearance and would have
helped to demonstrate the extent of diversity there is among young music artists.

One comment

  1. Quite why you would say that a female fronted band is a disappointing addition to the list is in itself disappointing misnomer. “Indie trash”… just no, “Never have a band looked so miserable when singing an upbeat song.” ever heard of The Cure, “The most unique trait of the band is that they have a female drummer” way to sell a new band short, should it matter what sex the drummer is, “Both Superorganisms and Alma are more unique in their appearance and would have helped to demonstrate the extent of diversity there is among young music artists.” unique in appearance, yet you slated Pale Waves on theirs, and I would strongly suggest if the list isn’t diverse enough for you then you’ve missed the point, it should be on artistic integrity alone and not your quota of how many minorities or how you look should effecting your place on the list. You contradict your criticism several times here and fall upon your own sword of “diversity” among young artists when commenting about the bands looks or the fact they have a female drummer. What does that matter when they make solid pop/indie music and have achieved so much in a male dominated rock band field, you should try to be more objective instead of trying to “trash” their work