Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Friday, 1 January 2010

Pop's space cadets set to blast off

Clockwise from left: Daisy Dares You, Delphic, Ellie Goulding, Marina & the Diamonds, Owl City, Hurts

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

2009 will go down as the year when pop music was electro, brash and fun, and when stars were super-styled, untouchable and a bit mad once more.

With acts like Lady GaGa, La Roux, Tinchy Stryder and JLS breaking through, pure pumped-up pop reigned supreme, and bombarded us with uplifting synths, modern beats, fairytale lyrics and futuristic imagery.

New guitar acts - in the form of indie bands and traditional singer-songwriters - hardly got a look in.

So what about 2010?

165 UK music tastemakers named favourite three new acts
Responses counted and compiled into a list of the best new stars
Longlist of 15 published in December, the top five and winner to be named from 4 January

Electro-pop will continue to dominate, judging by the 15 acts on the longlist for the BBC Sound of 2010, drawn from the tips of 165 leading UK music pundits.

The Sound of 2010 list provides a glimpse of what may be in store, and a number of the acts suggest one strand of the electronic future may be less pumped up and more spaced out.

A dreamy, escapist feeling runs through the list, from the hypnotic indie ravers Delphic to singer Ellie Goulding, with her quivering voice and soft, twinkling beats.

A couple of underground dance producers - Joy Orbison and Gold Panda - have made the list this year, making tunes to soundtrack distant daydreams.

One-man US bedroom boffin Owl City, who has already had a US number one single, is probably the best advocate of this new mood, with tunes about his dreams of escaping his parents' house in Nowhereseville, Minnesota.

The Drums
Daisy Dares You
The Drums (pictured)
Everything Everything
Gold Panda
Ellie Goulding
Joy Orbison
Marina and the Diamonds
Owl City
Two Door Cinema Club

"Every mushroom cloud has a silver lining," he sings on Cave In, summing up the feeling of blissful fantasy and detachment from real life.

Rather than confronting an unforgiving world, are we reacting to tough times by retreating into something comfortable and comforting?

The two British rap hopefuls on the Sound of 2010 list - Giggs and Devlin - are willing to bring everyone down to earth with a thud, though, with hard-hitting lyrics about crime, violence and poverty.

Once again, the solo female singers appear to be the most radio-ready and chart-friendly artists on the list.

They are the precocious Daisy Dares You (who fits the 2009 pop mould most closely), Goulding, the theatrical Marina and the Diamonds and soulful Rox.

Guitar bands are well represented, but we may be kept waiting to discover the saviours of rock 'n' roll.

With the death of "landfill indie" a year or two ago, the appetite for new guitar groups has almost entirely disappeared.

Only three rock bands scored a UK top five single in 2009 - Kings of Leon, Kasabian and Rage Against the Machine. And Rage do not count.

Rather than retreading well-worn ground, the new bands on the Sound of 2010 list - and many others - are searching for a new sound by venturing into more remote and hitherto unchartered musical territory.

The 'anti-Liam Gallaghers'

So they are arty and adventurous rather than anthemic.

Often, they combine unlikely influences, as Delphic do with indie and techno. The Manchester trio, who say boring indie inspired them to create something new, want to be the "anti-Liam Gallaghers" and have the motto: "The guitar is dead, long live the guitar."

The Drums mix surf pop and doom rock, while Everything Everything and Two Door Cinema Club have shown glimmers of brilliance with their experiments in odd, left-field guitar pop.

Stornoway make stirring British bloke folk using banjos, violins and brass, while Manchester duo Hurts are not into guitars at all and look like they are aiming for the cover of Vogue Hommes rather than NME.

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