While most headlines around the BRITs were about Adele winning the Artist of the Year award, we’re all about discovery at Musiio so we’re focusing on new music. We’ve analysed tracks by nominees and winners in the Best New Artist and Rising Star categories for this year’s awards to see what trends we can see.
What can we learn from these categories in the last five years? And what can this tell us about possible future trends?
Starting in 2021, BRIT nominations in the Best New Artist and Rising Star categories have leaned towards artists with more positive-sounding tracks. Not only can we see this in the average mood valence scores (below), but also in the more detailed mood classifiers.
The Rising Star category is open to British artists who had (by October 31, 2021) not achieved a Top 20 album or more than one Top 20 single.
Unlike the rest of the awards, this category (formerly called Critics’ Choice) is judged by media, label and management tastemakers.
In 2022, the three artists the judges chose exhibited fewer sad (purple) and quirky (green) moods than nominees from 2020 and earlier. We may be able to attribute this shift to pandemic fatigue.
We also saw an increase in energetic moods (red) in 2022 compared to 2021’s nominations in the same category, suggesting that the public are being primed up for a more enthusiastic return as pandemic restrictions ease in the UK.
We must also take into account the influence of TikTok. This could be the root cause of the increase we see in energetic moods (red).
But did the winner of the Rising Star award follow this more energetic trend? Interestingly, not. The stand-out track of 2021 by category winner Holly Humberstone (“The Walls Are Way Too Thin”), is tagged as Relaxed and Romantic. It strikes the same musical tone as last year’s winner, Griff.
When we look at the genre makeup in the Best New Artist category, trends get turned on their heads. For the last three years, nominations have had fairly static proportions of pop and hip hop/UK grime, making up a combined 75% of tags among nominees.
The trend that we’re seeing in 2022 is for rock/indie music (orange) to be squeezed out, replaced by soul (grass green).
The most dramatic genre shift we can see is among winners of the Best New Artist award, below.
For 2022’s winner, Little Simz, the AI detects hip hop, soul, alternative hip hop and neo soul genres in her track “Woman feat. Cleo Sol”.
We can see this is part of a wider trend for artists with soul and neo soul influences to succeed in these categories (such as 2021’s winner Arlo Parks), in spite of the nominations still being heavily influenced by pop.
This year’s awards for new talent demonstrate a growing shift away from guitar-focused music (rock/indie) and an increased recognition of soul and hip hop. The more general trend for positive mood valence among tracks by new artists can also help A&R teams with decisions about which artists to put forward for awards.
There will, of course, always be limitations with these types of investigations, but they can help us assess what direction regional tastemakers are moving the sound of new music.
Don’t miss our AI insights into the Grammys coming later this year.