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Jack Garratt tops BBC Sound of 2016 list

By Mark Savage
Music reporter

Published
media captionJack Garratt in 2016: "I am trying to stay as grounded as possible"

Experimental songwriter Jack Garratt has topped the BBC's Sound of 2016 list, which highlights the most exciting new artists in music.

The singer, from Buckinghamshire, said he was "unbelievably, overwhelmingly grateful" for the honour.

The list was compiled using tips from a panel of 144 DJs, journalists, festival bookers, bloggers and critics.

Last year's winners were pop trio Years and Years, who joined the likes of Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding.

Sound of 2016 - the top five

1) JACK GARRATT

media captionJack Garratt performs Weathered at Maida Vale for BBC Introducing.
  • Jack Garratt interview
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2) ALESSIA CARA

3) NAO

4) BLOSSOMS

media captionBlossoms perform Blown Rose at SXSW

=5) WSTRN

=5) MURA MASA

Hailing from Little Chalfont, Garratt has come a long way since 2005, when he entered the British heats for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and placed eighth - out of eight.

The then-teenager went back to the drawing board, creating a genre-defying twist on pop music, which takes emotive singer-songwriter melodies and treats them with sparse, electronic beats and plummeting basslines.

He got his big break through the BBC's Introducing scheme, which allows aspiring artists to upload their songs for consideration by local and national radio stations, and has seen tracks like Breathe Life and Weathered championed by BBC Radio 1.

Like Ed Sheeran, the 24-year-old performs all his shows as a one man band - singing live while playing guitars, keyboards and drum pads.

Among the people who voted him onto the Sound of 2016 list was Anna Karatziva, head of talent and music for MTV Networks.

"I first saw Jack Garratt perform at the Great Escape in Brighton early last year and was blown away with his performance and his personality," she said.

"We were all mesmerized throughout the entire set and from then I knew he was going to be successful."

media captionFind out who's on this year's list and what the Sound Of is all about.

The Sound Of... list began in 2003 and has become a useful predictor of commercial success in the music industry.

Years & Years, who topped last year's list, saw both their debut single and album top the charts; ending up as one of the year's best-selling acts.

They said their advice to Garratt was "just enjoy it".

"It's quite nerve-wracking but in a good way," said keyboard player Emre Turkmen. "It's a real opportunity because many more people will have their eyes on you."

"Dear Jack Garratt," added his bandmate Mikey Goldsworthy, "you're going to be really busy."

Garratt, who has also won the Brits Critics' Choice prize, beat Canadian pop star Alessia Cara to top the BBC list; while third place went to leftfield soul singer NAO.

He called the honour "a moment of elevation", but promised to keep his feet on the ground.

"To have this kind of validation from my peers is ultimately one of the highest forms of respect that I can receive," he told the BBC. "But I have worked very, very hard to not let this kind of success get to me."

The musician also praised the "versatility" and "diversity" of the 15 acts on the Sound of 2016 longlist.

He added: "What really excites me is to know that UK music is at the forefront of changing the idea of what a 'genre' is and encouraging exciting music."

media captionA look at some of the previous Sound of winners

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