Tips for 2009: Don’t Believe the Hype

The yearly tips for Your New Favourite Band 2009 have begun…

I recently professed my love of end of year lists. Well, at the beginning of a new year, a new type of list comes out, fuelled by the NME and Radio 1 style quest for ‘your new favourite band’: The Tips for 2009. This year La Roux, White Lies, Lady GaGa and Florence and the Machine are hotly tipped by the Guardian among others.

Adele was rightly tipped for success in 2008
Adele was rightly tipped for success in 2008

Well, I hate these lists. Predictions inevitably tend to come from industry insiders, so what do we get except a bunch of hopefuls for one-album money makers pathetically compared to last year’s big names – big precisely because they weren’t really comparable to anything else. In fact, it’s hard to see La Roux’s name mentioned without Adele and Duffy appearing alongside it.

Did anyone predict the enormous success of Arctic Monkeys in 2007? Did anyone see Bon Iver sneaking onto everyone’s lips in 2008 (I don’t think even those who bought his album when it was self-released in 2007 really saw it coming)?

These lists are ways to fill space and wind up the publicity for the music industry’s next money-spinner. And we are all too willing to fall into their trap at this time of year.

Perhaps it’s a human desire to predict and manage the future, but it all seems so futile when very few predictions come to fruition. Let’s look at what was tipped for 2008: Rightly, Duffy and Adele were causing a bit of a stir, but so were One Night Only, of whom the only thing I saw was an appearance at a summer ball I went to – not exactly headlining Glastonbury.

Sam Sparro also was tipped, though he only actually managed one hit which now plagues me every time I play Pro Evolution Soccer. Black Kids failed to really excite anyone on a great scale, not to mention Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong and Does It Offend You, Yeah?, who were both the pick of the editor of the NME. His best prediction was Late of the Pier, of whom he said “I don’t actually like the music that much”.

Where predictions came good, it was generally stuff that was already fairly big on the internet, or already gaining some hype in the previous year. Take MGMT and Vampire Weekend, for example, or even Foals who had been tipped for quite some time before not quite wowing anyone last year. It all seems a fairly contrived way to state the obvious and crank up the hype machine.

My only advice is to beware: don’t believe the hype, it’ll probably never happen. And judging on last year’s picks, let’s hope it doesn’t.

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