By Geoffrey Rowlands
Seldom do BBC Sound of... poll winners quickly translate winning the award into significant chart success. It is usually several months before the triumphant artist makes their debut in the upper reaches of the singles or albums charts.
Sigrid has become the exception. Just weeks after being named winner of the Sound of 2018 poll, the Norwegian singer, songwriter and musician finds herself in the UK top ten with her single, Strangers.
Co-written by Sigrid and producer / songwriter Martin Sjolie, she has recently gained massive publicity by performing Strangers on a number of British television and radio shows.
“I’ve been very lucky to have so many opportunities to promote my work after winning the Sound of 2018,” smiled 21-year-old Sigrid, full name Sigrid Solbakk Raabe. “All any artist can ask for is the chance to have people hear their work and then hope they will buy your song if they like it.”
The video for Strangers was uploaded to YouTube on November 30. After a relatively slow start, viewing numbers increased rapidly following the announcement of Sigrid winning the Sound of 2018 poll. The total is now approaching nine million views.
“I’m obviously really happy with the reaction to Strangers. But I’m also conscious of not wanting to just have one big hit song on the back of winning the poll. I’m working on the songs for my debut album and I know they have to be top quality.”
Music has been a big part of Sigrid’s life since childhood. Although they were not professionals, her parents were both musical. Her father taught her to play guitar while Sigrid’s mother used to sing her to sleep. They even played a major role in pushing her towards a career in music.
“I’d always loved music but I’d done well at school and was interested in teaching or even becoming a lawyer. I was actually set to study for a law degree at university when my parents had a talk with me.
“They said they thought I should try for a music career. They told me I would regret it all my life if I didn’t at least give it a shot.”
Her older brother, Tellef, also played his part in setting Sigrid on the road to stardom.
“He saw things in me that I hadn’t seen in myself. I was very shy as a young child but I started to do children’s theatre when I was six and actually felt comfortable on stage. I learned piano and would play covers of songs by artists like Coldplay, Keane and especially Adele. But I would change the melody or the chords just to make it more my own.
“Tellef was a musician and asked me to join him on one of his shows. He knew I was confident enough to go on stage but he said he didn’t want me to just do one of my favourite Adele songs. He said I had to write a song of my own. I guess he realised I had something in me and I just needed that little push to create my own songs.”
Sigrid’s early career was a little disappointing. Beginning at 16, her songs such as Sun, Two Fish and Known You Forever were played on radio but made no impact on the Norwegian charts. Despite this, she made a positive enough impression to earn deals with Petroleum Records and then with the major label Island Records.
Her debut single for Island, Don’t Kill My Vibe, became Sigrid’s breakthrough track.
“I wrote that song about a bad experience in the recording studio. I was working with older musicians who basically patronised me and made mean comments. I didn’t say anything at the time but all the frustration and anger poured out when I was writing the lyrics.”
Three more songs accompanied Don’t Kill My Vibe on Sigrid’s debut EP. The other single Plot Twist only charted in Belgium. But the overall quality of Sigrid’s work was enough to convince the 173 music insiders plus a number of past Sound of... winners and nominees that she deserved top spot in the Sound of 2018 poll. Her success now with “Strangers” effectively confirms their opinion.
“I love Adele, who won the Sound of... poll ten years ago. She has gone on to have an amazing career. It would be great if I could follow in her footsteps. But if I can achieve anything remotely like Adele’s success then I will be very happy indeed.”
The Spice Girls
The Spice Girls are apparently reuniting to pursue new projects.
If this sounds familiar, yes, we’ve heard this sort of thing on a number of previous occasions. Last year, for example, Geri Horner, Emma Bunton and Melanie Brown were supposedly getting together as Spice Girls GEM to perform concerts and record new material. Of course, it didn’t happen.
So, why should this time be any different? Well, this reunion involves all five Spice Girls. Despite being asked to participate, Melanie Chisholm and Victoria Beckham had no involvement with Spice Girls GEM. It was even reported that Victoria intended to take legal action against Geri, Emma and Mel B to prevent them performing Spice Girls songs.
The new enterprise also involves a great deal of money. Word is that each girl will receive ten million GBP without even having to perform a concert. Masterminded by their former manager, Simon Fuller, the deals apparently include hosting and judging a new talent show, other television work, a variety of endorsement contracts and a new compilation album. The latter may perhaps include one or two new songs.
At present, this is just speculation. But all five girls, plus Simon Fuller, recently spent a day together at Geri’s house and there was more to discuss than the latest news about their respective children. Indeed, Mel C confirmed the group had debated the possibility of reunion projects but said everything was in the early stages with nothing set in stone.
The news sparked interest among Spice Girls fans in Britain. Sales and streams of their 2007 Greatest Hits album rose by more than 200 per cent returning the LP to the U.K. albums chart top 100 for the first time in five years. The album can be heard in full at www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6GipCeuH6s&list=PL10p0p1NCBGGGj3O9J-tnCvWPlB2ySqHI.
Well, sort of. Former Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle has announced details of what fans can expect from her forthcoming British Isles concert tour. In response to pleas from Girls Aloud fans who want to hear the group’s songs played live again, Nadine will perform classic Girls Aloud hits in addition to her own solo material.
“I love the Girls Aloud songs and get messages all the time from fans who want to hear them in concert,” Nadine stated. “So, I’m giving them what they want. The concerts will be one big party night out. All the hits the fans love plus the new songs I’ve been working on over the last few years.”
Nadine released a new single, Go To Work, last September. Despite good reviews, the track was only available as a digital download and made little impression on the charts. The song video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=a60eCadP1Fo.
She is back now with another single, Girls On Fire. As yet, there is no accompanying video but a live performance filmed at the Nightingale club in Birmingham can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIVu4jUn3FE.
Jacob Allen’s falsetto vocals have caused confusion among some music fans. Those who have perhaps heard just one song or not seen Jacob and his band perform live have wondered if the voice belongs to a woman rather than a man.
Puma Blue were first heard on record last year with the release of their debut EP, Swum Baby. Although the record did not sell particularly well, the eclectic sound of soul and R&B infused with jazz certainly attracted the attention of music critics. The EP was acclaimed as one of 2017’s most essential listens.
All five tracks on Swum Baby can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7USlOw7aeL0. A video for lead single, Want Me, is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTAvEQvkao0 while the video for second single, (She’s) Just A Phase, can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGLV2ZnveB4.
If you enjoy the EP and would like to hear more from the south London-based outfit, Puma Blue have just released a new song, Only Trying 2 Tell U. The accompanying video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsvyuqWAJEo.
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