Emeli Sande: The New Role Model.


Every so often you get to hear a new album which you’ll be completely absorbed in. You won’t be able to leave it alone. But last Monday, we had Maverick Sabre’s ‘Lonely Are The Brave’ come out, so surely we’d have to wait a fair bit for another album of that quality, right? Well, a week is a long time in music, I guess.

As this Monday, just one week after Mav’s debut, we’re treated to the incredible Emeli Sande’s – ‘Our Version Of Events’.

With her number 2 single, ‘Heaven’, and the incredible feature on Professor Green’s ‘Read All About It’, Emeli began to attract a lot of attention, which peaked when she was announced as the BRITS Critics Choice Award Winner, following in the footsteps of Ellie Goulding, Florence & The Machine, Jessie J, oh, and Adele!

But if you were more aware, you’ll know that Emeli has been showing her talents for a bit now. Writing for and with, what seems, every fairly successful X-Factor candidate, but also with Wiley, Tinie Tempah, Tinchy Stryder and Wretch 32, plus featuring on great tracks with the likes of Chipmunk (Diamond Rings) and Wiley (Never Be Your Woman) and Tinie Tempah (Let Go). She’s also be described as, the Dark Lord himself, Simon Cowell’s ‘favourite songwriter’! Oh, 1 more then, she’s recently finished touring with none other than Coldplay… Things going well then?

You could possibly be forgiven for thinking the hype may have outdone the talents she has. But, well, you’d be wrong. Because, ‘Our Version Of Events’ showcases, arguably, the best UK talent out there right now. And, well Adele’s still out there isn’t she. I mean, I know that’s a big thing to say, but well, I certainly stand by it.

Kicking off her debut LP, is her number 2 single, that I mentioned earlier – ‘Heaven’. Sublime production which brings out the strong, majestic vocals of Sande. Pitched by Emeli as a confession that she’s changed so much since she was younger – but that it’s because “of everything that comes with living.” Just one of the many examples of how down to earth she is.

Originally, this post was planned as a track-by-track review of ‘Our Version Of Events’, but then I just thought, who’s really going to go out and buy it purely because of a review of mine? you’re going to buy it anyway. So I thought I’d try and show anyone reading, why Emeli Sande is the perfect role-model to aspire for – not even just for becoming a musician, but an all-round person too.

There are a lot of talented musicians. No doubt. But how many would you describe as intelligent? How many would you describe as humble? How many would you actually describe as a ‘nice person’? I certainly can’t think of that many. But after watching a mini documentary on Emeli, entitled, ‘Her Version Of Events’, you realise you can firmly include Emeli Sande in those previous categories.

She’s always shown the musical promise – learning the piano at the age of 10, and writing at 11, but she was once on course to becoming a neurologist – brain surgery for those who don’t recognise! Her link to this can be seen in her second single, ‘Daddy’. “Everyone is essentially addicted to something.” She says, adding, “I think that’s why I loved studying neurology… We’re all flawed in some way.” She also, when speaking to Q Magazine, said, “I’m really fascinated by mental breakdown.”

Despite being just 16, Emeli won Trevor Nelson’s BBC Urban Music Competition – which, fairly obviously, brought in label interest. In the same Q Magazine article, she said, “I’d sit and play to a line of men behind a glass shield talking about where the music should go… I could feel my control slipping.” This is when she chose to follow the science road for a while, but still maintaining the musical side – in playing as a background jazz pianist in Glasgow – for £40 a night! I think it takes a lot of commitment and loyalty to your talents to turn down record label interest. But if, and when, it pays off, it pays off big – as seen with that guy Ed Sheeran!

You could really pin down why Emeli is doing as well as she is now, by her mum’s actions. Obviously Emeli could have reached this stage at some point, but it was her mum who sent off a sample CD over to BBC Radio 1xtra, which eventually found its way through to Naughty Boy – which formed a very strong musical relationship between the two of them – creating ‘Daddy’ on their first session just over 3 years ago. She seemed blown away by his love of music. “I loved how passionate he was… purely about the music!” And it was in 2010, when she finally got a deal with EMI and Virgin.

What I find most incredible about Emeli is her humbleness. She’s speaks so highly of so many highly deserving artists that she’s worked with, especially the already mentioned Naughty Boy and Tinie Tempah… “He was so on point.” It’s something you don’t often see too much nowadays, artists giving other artists proper heartfelt credit and applause.

Despite this not being a track-by-track review, I thought I had to write a bit about my favourite track on the album. ‘Hope’. Obviouslty every track offers so much, in terms of raw emotion expressed through Sande’s brilliantly worked lyrics, which can sum up the most complicated of feelings into one sentence. ‘My Kind Of Love’, ‘Maybe’, ‘River’, and especially ‘Read All About It (Part III) – [below] all showcase this.

But ‘Hope’ really stood out to me – due it’s message.

So many artists can write perfect songs based on various, let’s face it, depressing emotions. Even some of my favourite artists can’t really get the effect Emeli has managed to achieve with this track. ‘Hope’ is the most inspiring, uplifting track I’ve heard in a very long time. You can see the opportunity the London riots have offered musicians, alongside youth unemployment rates, and just the general decline in views of young people, it’s a topic which can create some great music. But Sande has captured that whole picture, but also included other moments of desperation from far away from the UK – “I have a link to Zambia and places with standards of living that are just horrible.” Written with Alicia Keys, on a rainy day in New York just after the aforementioned riots, they came up with the first line: “I hope that the world stops raining, stops turning its back on the young” – she described it as a “prayer”. It’s 3 minutes of beautiful crafted music, inspiring lyrics, soulfully sung vocals with the brilliant production that is a constant throughout the album.

Emeli Sande is intelligent, talented, and just perfectly humble. A proper winning combination in life – not just music. If you don’t get lost in this album, I feel sorry for you.

Enjoy this cover of Blur’s classic, ‘Country House’, from her recent trip to Radio 1’s Live Lounge below. Really is something!

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Professor Green ft. Fink – Read All About It (Part II)


(At one point, I’m pretty sure, this was an exclusive between Q Magazine and my page, which I’m quite liking – and it’s still not available through searches on YouTube yet either!)

This took me completely unaware, and seemingly the majority of people. But I’m doing my little bit to make sure people hear this track. As it is just beautiful, emotional, and just deep. Continuing the same theme as the massive number 1 single, which featured Emeli Sande, this Part II track is a lot more simplistic in its nature – stripped back in essence. Similarly, in production terms, to Pro and Fink’s recent collaboration in the recent album, ‘Spinning Out’.

But this is just something else. As soon as the opening sounds hit you, you know you’re going to be captivated for the next 3 minutes or so, not listening to anything else going on – just focusing on Pro’s thoughtful, considerate, hauntingly deep lyrics, which are supported, almost protected, by Fink’s brilliant laidback chorus – perfectly the opposite of Sande’s version of chorus. Both brilliant, but in very different ways.

(if anyone makes a Eminem ft. Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie [Part 2] comparison, you’re dead to me)

Even if you don’t like rap, or even Professor Green himself, if you’re not moved by this, you’re not human.

Who Will Be The Biggest Breakthrough Artist In 2012?


As good as 2011 was in music, 2012 hints it might even top it. Slightly ignoring the BBC Sound of 2011 longlist – not because I’m a stuck-up, know it all music blogger, but because I’m a big fan of three artists in particular, and I’m sure will all have massive upcoming years.

Hackney born, Maverick Sabre, is a real contender for best newcomer. I say newcomer, but Maverick’s already had a big couple of years, with features on big tracks with Professor Green, Chase & Status and True Tiger, his ‘The Travelling Man’ mixtape – including ‘Sometimes’ ft. Wretch 32, a live performance on the Jools Hollans show, debut single ‘Look What I’ve Done’ from the ‘Lost Words’ EP, which reached number 2 on iTunes, after the first of two appearances on the Chris Moyles Show, where he performed a cover of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ and on his second, more recent appearance, a cover of ‘Fairytale Of New York’ – both of which were absolutely stunning.

If those highlights weren’t enough, he’s also released two further singles, both of which show the broad range of his talent. ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘I Need’ peaked at number 16 and 18 respectively. These two, and the upcoming single ‘No One’ are in the lead up to the hotly anticipated album, ‘Lonely Are The Brave’, due for release around early February. It’s an album which promises a lot, and I can’t see it disappointing at all.

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Another artist with a big 2012 ahead of them is the supremely talented, Emeli Sande. She first came to most people’s attention with her feature on Chipmunk’s, ‘Diamond Rings’, in 2009. Then again, in 2010, with her feature on Wiley’s, ‘Never Be Your Woman’ – both achieved the top 10! She also featured on Professor Green’s ‘Alive Till I’m Dead’ album opener, ‘Kids That Love To Dance’. But it was her second track with Pro that caught her the most attention, arguably, so far. ‘Read All About It’ was one of the biggest number 1 singles of the year, and it was a track where Professor Green went deep and personal, so the featured artist had to be a careful choice. Emeli was the perfect choice, her voice is just incredibly hair-raising – which added to the whole personal feel to the single.

Obviously, it’s not just her featured work that’s got her the rightful attention. Her 2011 singles, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Daddy’ peaked in the charts at 2 and 21 – to be fair, I thought ‘Daddy’ deserved a position like ‘Heaven’ got, but wasn’t to be I guess. These were both in the build up to her debut album, ‘Our Version Of Events’, expected to be released in early February.

But I think what shows her talent the best is her recent BRITS Critics Choice Award (Maverick came runner-up notably). This award has gone, in previous years, to Adele, Florence and the Machine, Jessie J – all of which, have had amazing recent years. What more could hint at her talents?

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Finally, in my big 3 to watch next year, Delilah. Singed to Atlantic Records since the age of 17, Delilah has most notably featured on the Chase & Status single, ‘Time’ – which she co-wrote with Chase & Status, as well as Plan B. Following the success of ‘Time’, Delilah joined Maverick Sabre on the Chase & Status tour.

But much like Maverick and Emeli, Delilah has also released a couple of amazing singles in the lead up to her debut album. ‘Go’ produced by London duo, Ballistiq being the first. It incorporated lyrics from Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ – with added material from Delilah. Chaka actually described ‘Go’ as ‘genius’! Then the next single, the simply brilliant, ‘Love You So’, which proved her consistency to come out with stunning tracks.

She’s also been included in the short-list for MTV’s ‘Brand New For 2012’ – which before, has featured the likes of Tinie Tempah, Lady Gaga, and Wretch 32!

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Maverick Sabre, Emeli Sande and Delilah all promise to have unreal success in 2012. Obviously there will be other artists that will have similar standards of achievement. But these 3 are my suggestions for you to really get to know – to be fair, most of you probably do, because I’m definitely not the first person to say this, but I won’t be the last!

Who Does 2011 Belong To?


2011 has been one of the best years for music in a very long time. With so many artists finally ‘making it’, how can you say who has had the better year? Do you base it purely on chart positions? If so, it counts out some artists. Do you base it purely on breaking through? Again, that counts some artists out. So you have to try find that middle ground. This post is effectively like a ‘BBC Sound Of’ post, but for the year just gone. So often we’re caught just looking forward, rightly so on occasions, to the new, fairly unknown, exciting artists. However, we need to hand out some credit to the people responsible for the music that shaped 2011. Shaped it in the good way, by the way. (Don’t expect to see a section on LMFAO.)

In terms of charts, it’s hard to look past Adele. ‘Someone Like You’, off of her ’21’ album took the worldwide charts by storm – number 1 in 24 separate countries! ’21’ also overtook Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’, as the highest selling album of the, funnily enough, 21st century. I mean, that’s quite a good year, I guess.

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But so many artists have had a really good 2011. Calvin Harris, with the massive summer anthems, ‘Bounce’ and ‘Feel So Close’, not forgetting his Rihanna earworm collaboration, ‘We Found Love’. Also, Chase & Status, with the massive singles, like, ‘Let You Go’ and ‘Blind Faith’, off one of the biggest albums of the year, ‘No More Idols’. This list is endless! (Obviously it isn’t endless, but yeah, you get the idea.) There’s just been so much great music in 2011! Image It did seem to be some of my favourite music was finally getting recognised, Professor Green finally getting a massive number 1, with ‘Read All About’, Example smashing the summers festivals, with 2 number 1s, ‘Stay Awake’, and possibly many peoples’ favourite single of the year, ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’ – not to mention the number 1 album spot, with ‘Playing In The Shadows’. Image Rizzle Kicks have really grown in the past 6 months. Their rise to success was fairly sudden. I met them outside the Barfly in Camden ahead of their gig. This was in July – just 5/6 months ago. This was around the time ‘Down With The Trumpets’ took off, not long after this, ‘When I Was A Youngster’ was released, and also their feature on Olly Murs’ number 1 single, ‘Heart Skips A Beat’. Their newest single, ‘Mama Do The Hump’, off the back of their brilliant album, ‘Stereo Typical’, features James Corden in the video. Just another example of their progression. They’re now one of the hottest duos out there. Image An album which went fairly, and annoyingly, unrecognised, in terms of acclaim, was ‘Black And White’, from the supremely talented Wretch 32. For me, it’s one of the albums of the year. It flows together better than any other album I’ve heard in a long time, let alone 2011. ‘Traktor’ hit number 5, bringing in a wide range of new fans, as well as touring with Example in early 2011 – it set out where Wretch was going. The second single release followed – ‘Unorthodox’ feat. Example. In my eyes, this is one of the best tracks of the year. (Oh, and Adele agrees with me.) Unfortunately though, it only charted at number 2. I remember the first set I saw at V Festival, was Wretch 32’s. It was also the weekend that the beautiful ‘Don’t Go’ feat. Josh Kumra, charted at number 1, and you could tell from the performance he gave that he was enjoying all this success so very much. Soon after the album followed, but for some reason, it didn’t have the success that other artists were rightly getting around that time, and even more strangely, Wretch didn’t receive any MOBO Awards. But even so, he’s definitely had one of the best years imaginable. Image As I’ve mentioned, many artists have broken through in 2011. But Nero have been influential in the break through of a whole genre. A year ago now, Nero were included in the BBC’s Sound Of 2011 longlist. But no-one could really have imagined how they’d progress. They brought Dubstep to number 1. Single charts with, ‘Promises’, and album charts, with ‘Welcome To Reality’. Even Lupe Fiasco featured a couple of Nero’s tracks on his latest mixtape! Image There’s almost too much choice! Jessie J was the eventual winner of the ‘Sound Of 2011’, giving her much deserved acclaim. ‘Do It Like A Dude’ was released in 2010, but Price Tag’ was one of the biggest singles of the 2011! In fact, it was the biggest collaboration single of 2011, with B.o.B. As well as that, her album, ‘Who You Are’ is the biggest selling debut album of the year! Image Obviously, you’ve got the likes of The Vaccines, Katy B, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Jay Z + Kanye, who have all had good years as well – and I’ve probably left a few out, but there really has been so much success this year in music! Image

Tell you what though, 2012, will be even bigger! Maverick Sabre, Emeli Sande and Delilah are definitely three to watch out for. But you should probably know that by now.

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But there’s one artist I’ve significantly left out of this review so far. Ed Sheeran…

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