Never heard of electronica band Years & Years? You soon will have. The trio have bagged the BBC Music Sound of 2015 award, an accolade given to the most promising band or artist in the UK, as chosen by more than 100 tastemakers.
Fronting the band is 24-year-old vocalist and actor Olly Alexander, who played Cassie Ainsworth’s stalker in feature-length Skins episode ‘Skins Pure’. Joining him are bassist Mikey Goldsworthy and keyboard player Emre Turkmen.
Despite being no stranger to the limelight, the good news almost proved too much for the lead singer Olly. “We can’t really get our heads round it, Olly nearly passed out when we found out, it was so surreal and emotional,” said the band. “It feels like it means we’ve got a real shot, which means the world to us. People are going to listen to what we’re going to do, and we’ve just got to not muck it up. We’ve got to make the most of it and deliver.”
Last year’s winner Sam Smith certainly hasn’t mucked it up, achieving two number one singles and topping the album chart with debut offering In The Lonely Hour.
Years & Years supported the Stay With Me singer on tour and have already bagged their first top ten hit alongside producer The Magician with dance track Sunlight, which was released in September last year.
Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens revealed the top five acts, one per day, this week on The Breakfast Show from a longlist of 15. He said: “Years & Years have already and will continue to capture imaginations with their electronic melodies and lively on stage sets. They are a young band with loads of ideas and a clear vision of the music they want to make, and that will take them far this year.”
Years & Years saw off tough competition from second place artist James Bay, who has already been named BRIT’s Critics’ Choice for 2015. Unsigned grime musician Stormzy took third place, followed by 18-year-old rapper Raury in fourth and spoken word artist George The Poet who came fifth.
Previous winners include Adele, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding and 50 Cent, who won the award in its first year in 2003.
The longlist is chosen by around 140 DJs, critics and bloggers, who are each asked to nominate their three favourite acts. No act who had been lead artist on a top 20 single or album before 27th October 2014, or had appeared on a talent show like The X Factor, could be nominated.
Head of Music for BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra George Ergatoudis said: “Olly Alexander is blessed with a distinctive intoxicating voice that works beautifully with the band’s emotive electropop production. They fully deserve to top BBC Music’s Sound Of 2015 and they’re surely set for stellar success.”