Yes, I’m well aware that we are now a sixth of the way into 2018…
…but, unlike other writers in the industry, I prefer to give it a couple of months to offer up my retrospective looks at the year gone by, rather than jumping the gun halfway through December in a half-hearted attempt to dominate the search results.
Although it might seem rather arrogant to claim one particular year as more eventful or iconic than any other – it’s important to remember that every now and again lightning strikes several times, causing a cacophony of thunder storms that amounts to a serious force for change in the music industry.
This kind of change can be brought about by any number of social or cultural factors, whether it be a certain President coming into power or social-justice issue coming to the forefront after decades of denial. All of these factors combine to create a shift in consumption patterns that, when looked at in restrospect, reveal the rising genres and power players that are set to be the soundtrack to future generations.
British Invasion Mk 2
There was a time somewhere in the 90s when the ‘breaking America’ was a legitimate challenge. Not only did A&R guys struggle forcing records in the hands of their US counterparts, but they then had to force a disparate America to actually buy the damn things. You could say that the distribution of new music has got somewhat easier in the 21st Century and this has directly benefited our British stars – catapulting them into the American mainstream and onto worldwide fame. Considering the successes that have greeted Ed Sheerhan (the No. 1 artist on the US Billboard chart in 2017), Adele (No. 1 for 2016) and One Direction (No. 1 in 2015) it looks like America are more eager than ever for British imports.
The Domination of Black Music
Despite our plucky Brits shaking things up last year, the genre that received the biggest boost in popularity can more easily be defined by the race of the musicians behind the songs. For lack of a better word, thanks to landmark releases from artists such as Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Solange, ‘Black music’ became a major force for political and cultural change last year. It’s been over two decades since music created solely by African American artists has been so in vogue and rarely has this work been so well acclaimed. Social awareness has raised interest in R&B, Hip-Hop and Soul music making these artists more in demand than ever.
Rising Stars of American Hipster Indie
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the white-pasty flip-side to the rise in contemporary R&B music, namely the slow-burn ascendance of a number of Alternative bands that are finally starting to reap the benefits of years of touring and recording. Baltimore born synth-pop stalwarts Future Islands made waves with their fifth studio album The Far Field climbing higher on both the US Billboard and UK Charts than ever before, whilst Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs broke in at No. 10 with their new record A Deeper Understanding in addition to winning the Grammy for Best Rock Album. Despite critics claiming that Rock was dead some time ago, it would appear that these committed groups are proving them otherwise…