Riding on the back of Alex Petridis‘s excellent article for The Guardian, the very best we can hope for musically in 2016 is that something unexpected happens. Although Petridis cites Stormzy and the unexpected rise of grime into the UK charts, we were thrilled that in 2015 Ludovico Einaudi entered the top 40 and reached number 12 with his new album ‘Elements’ – the first classical pianist to do so in history.
This doesn’t come as an enormous surprise when viewing the wider musical context; 2015 was a year when people’s attention was much directed towards ivory tinklers in general. Dustin O’Halloran (the man who scored ‘Transparent’ – one of 2015’s most widely acclaimed series) and Adam Wiltzie’s contemporary classical project A Winged Victory For The Sullen played at The BBC Proms at the behest of 6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbes alongside similarly piano-minded composer/performer, Nils Frahm.
Yann Tiersen released an album solely in sheet music form, only teasing one track from ‘EUSA’ on French television and on YouTube. A bold move – which we obviously whole-heartedly support.
So, what can we expect from 2016? Let’s have a rummage around and see what we can come up with.
Enormously successful artists such as Taylor Swift or Adele have wised up to the notion that they don’t actually need streaming services to make a living (surprise, surprise). This potentially means that with every juggernaut of an album coming out, a swift (heh heh) removal of catalogue from notable streaming music services will be immediately in effect. with £0.008 a stream it’s hardly a big earner, and some would argue it’s providing a bit of an unnecessary hurdle for new artists to get over in order to make a living.
That being said – it’s an amazing promotion tool with millions of active users. Whether this will be the future in 2016 is up for debate – will a better model come along? For the new acts’ sake, we hope so.
2) SOMEONE Needs To Fill The Vacant Cowboy Boots Left By Mumford & Sons
Little did Marcus Mumford know of the devastation his band would leave behind when they decided to become something-which-isn’t-folk-but-definitely-isn’t-rock-either. Like a sort of Hillbilly Stereophonics. But my lord, people are panicking over it. Lord Huron have sort of taken up their mantle with their latest album, but it’s not quite got that authenticity, you know – because Marcus Mumford definitely has his roots in the deep south (of Wiltshire).
So who’s turn is it? The big money at the moment is on a certain Jack Garratt. His single ‘Weathered’ (above) has garnered well over a million hits on YouTube and sort of tiptoes a little bit around a James Blake-esque electronica for good measure. But is he big enough to fit in Marcus Mumford’s boots?
3) The Next Wave Of Piano Artists Will Come Through – Whilst The First Wave Thrive
So, as mentioned previously the efforts of Ludovico Einaudi, AWVFTS, Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran, etc have been rewarded by significant air time, great reviews, great press and broader audiences.
So, what’s next? Their continued success due to their involvement through film soundtracks, television, sold-out tours etc seems a dead cert.
In the wings await a fleet of talented, critically appraised musicians, groups and composers who are ready to get their teeth into those big, juicy new audiences that have already been wooed by Nils. Composers like Hauschka are doing something totally unique in that he customises his own pianos to become new instruments in their own right. Bing & Ruth wowed critics with their album ‘Tomorrow Was The Golden Age’ and frankly, deserve the limelight due to the delicate touch of the composer David Moore. There’s also Bryce Dessner who recently featured on the critically acclaimed OST for future box-office smash ‘The Revenant’ – which btw will work wonders for this movement of composers as it’s comprised of a whole bunch of them including Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto who are also incredible.
4) We Possibly Won’t Hear From Kanye West For A While
The follow up to Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ (now titled ‘SWISH’) was meant to be released in 2014. It then wasn’t.
Maybe he’s working on his presidential campaign?
5) Enya May Tour For The First Time EVER
Due to restrictions in technology, Enya was unable to perform her incredibly complex vocal arrangements live before despite being Ireland’s best selling artist of all time. 80 Million records she’s sold. 80 million! And no tour!
But, when her new album Dark Sky Island was recently released she hinted that there might be an ever so tiny chance of her performing it live. We await with baited breath. Whether we go or not is another matter.
6) Guns & Roses Will Release New Album
This is a bit of a cheat as they’ve already announced playing live again (hooray?) with some of their original line up.
But, surely the money making machinations of Axl Rose’s mind won’t let him do this without some sort of recorded release? Even a live album..?
7) Recent Buyers Of Record Players Will Realise Just How Expensive Vinyl Is
They almost certainly had no idea before now, surely.
And then people will stop buying them. It’s a fashion trend, not a musical movement.
8) Lip Syncing Battle Will Go Even More Global
*falls to knees*
*lip syncs ‘Cry Me A River’ by Justin Timberlake*