As the BBC unveils it’s answer to the Brits, Radio Times asks some of the country’s best-loved broadcasters to name their stand-out acts of 2014…
Favourite song of the year: FKA Twigs’ Two Weeks. I’ve been playing that a lot, it really reminded me of Aaliyah’s older work. And I thought it was sexy and cool and well produced— and the vocals are great.
Favourite act of the year: Royal Blood. I saw them perform recently and they blew me away. I desperately tried to go and see them at Glastonbury— it was one of the only acts that I was adamant I had to see that were on early. They were on at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, which is about 9am Glastonbury time, but I only got to see one song because my friends took so long to get ready!
Personal highlight: I really enjoyed doing Big Weekend. That was one of my favourite line-ups that Radio 1 have had in a really long time and I loved doing shows from there all weekend. We had everyone from Rita Ora to Calvin Harris, Royal Blood, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Katy Perry. It was a really massive line-up.
Favourite song of the year: Pharrell’s Happy. It’s the global anthem this year because it’s such a brilliant song and I don’t think anyone was offended by it, which is quite unique. I don’t think there’s been any burn-out factor in it either, so every time it comes on the radio it literally makes you happy.
Favourite act of the year: Lorde has been amazing. She’s so incredibly young, so incredibly talented and very self-possessed. One of the smartest people you can interview. Royal Blood have also been a breath of fresh air, leading the way for guitar music and rock music, and making you quite optimistic about the scene.
Personal highlight: I’ve been waiting for seven years for a new album from Damien Rice and have always loved his music. He did a Maida Vale session and it was just him and me in the studio. When he did the Blower’s Daughter, I literally had tears rolling down my face. People see him as a man of mystery but he’s really a nice, down-to-earth man who has this streak of genius running right the way through him.
Favourite song of the year: Pharrell & Daft Punk’s Gust of Wind. 2014 has been huge for Pharrell and I could have chosen a few songs from his excellent album Girl, but I went for this one in the end. Simply put, it is soulful electronica vibes.
Favourite act of the year: Newcomer Jarrod Lawson. I have gone for a relatively unknown act who has delivered a promising debut album. Maybe because I listened to this jazzy vocals and intricate arrangements whilst on a beach holiday!
Personal highlight: I have been lucky enough to see Prince perform a few times, mainly in huge arenas, but never before in an intimate 500 capacity venue. I was asked to DJ at a charity event called Autism Rocks in May, where Prince was due to play with his latest protégé 3RDEYEGIRL. So there I found myself in this relatively tiny venue, in the presence of his Royal Highness – but only after he researched me thoroughly and approved of my credentials. He kept us waiting for a couple of hours so I carried on DJing and was just about to play Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music’, when Prince emerged on stage.
Favourite song of the year: Liquid Spirit by Gregory Porter
Favourite act of the year: George Ezra and Sam Smith – you don’t often get artists who you hear for the first time and you don’t know what age they are or even whether they’re male or female or what part of the world they come from, but they both have those kinds of voices that are impossible to place. In terms of old acts coming back and doing something very well, Coldplay’s album is great.
Personal highlight: David Gilmour was being interviewed for the new Pink Floyd album. As he came into the studio I was playing Wish You Were Here, and he started singing along to his own vocal which was fantastic. His performance was just to three of us in the studio so no one else heard it so it was like an exclusive performance.
Favourite song of the year: Can’t Do Without You by Canadian artist Caribou
Favourite act of the year? War on Drugs
Personal highlight? Glastonbury Festival. It’s such an honour and a thrill to broadcast from the festival and this year was just such an amazing, weird mix – we went from Dolly Parton to Metallica via Kate Tempest and War on Drugs in just 12 hours. It summed up the variety and fun of the festival, and music itself!
Favourite song of the year: Riptide by Vance Joy
Favourite act of the year: Kacey Musgraves. I saw her a Sheperd’s Bush Empire with my 10 year old daughter. Kacey’s like a sarcastic version of Dolly Parton – you laugh, you cry.
Personal highlight: I discovered that AC/DC’s back catalogue is on Spotify, so now I’ve been playing that really loudly. It’s brilliant.
Favourite song of the year: Afire Love by Ed Sheeran.
Favourite act of the year: Sam Smith. If you find yourself singing a song long after its been in the charts, it’s something that’s got power and it’s got life George Ezra also has that staying power.
Personal highlight: We went to the Commonwealth games in Glasgow this year and did live shows every day. They were fantastic. Simple minds tore the place up, as you might expect from a Glasgow audience. Paloma Faith was brilliant as she is such a unique performer. And in a much more intimate setting, we had Paolo Nutini singing for us in the studio. These are just moments that stay with you for a long, long time afterwards.
Favourite song of the year: Ben Howard’s End Of The Affair. I’ve always loved his song-writing but he has taken it somewhere even more interesting and epic.
Favourite act of the year: Royal Blood because the way they conduct themselves is brilliant. Never have I seen a new band have so much fun on and off stage and yet still create quality music and big live shows. Two very special talented blokes.
Personal Highlight: Royal Blood live at Reading Festival. The start of their takeover of the world. A number one album followed a week later and it was all glorious and loud and messy.
Favourite song of the year: Jack White’s Alone In My Home. I wasn’t a huge fan of his first solo album, but his latest one ‘Lazaretto’ is a terrific piece of work. He sounds so natural on it and ready to give something of himself away in his lyrics. I could pick pretty much anything from the record, but this track is a lovely, slightly spooked, reflective, piano-driven bar-room stomper.
Favourite act of the year: Catfish & the Bottlemen. They’re a band we played very early on in their career, but it’s all started coming together for them this year. I’ve followed them around the country on tour a couple of times and it’s been really heart-warming watching the reaction and interaction at their gigs and the way more people are discovering them. Van McCann their singer, is a natural frontman and the album The Balcony is probably my favourite debut of the year.
Personal highlight: Interviewing Noel Gallagher again, who’s always an entertaining guest and spontaneously funny in that brilliantly dry way of his. But I also loved doing a show live from the Glastonbury Festival, bumping into comedians and musicians. I think it was one of the few occasions when the rain held off, but it was a good bit of frontline festival reporting I think.
Favourite song of the year: Nick Hakim’s The Light. A very beautiful, haunting and slightly odd soul record made a chap from Washington DC. It leaves you a little broken-hearted.
Favourite act of the year: Girlband, from Dublin, are noisy as hell and astonishing live. Their first album is out soon and I feel like an excited teenager about it.
Personal highlight: Future Islands on David Letterman. I’ve been hugely fond of the band for many years. They’d always drawn fairly small crowds and so I was surprised to see them on the show and it has since launched them into the hearts of audiences all around the world.
BBC Music Awards will be on Radio 1 tonight (Thursday 11th December) at 8.00pm