At the end of next week, all the major league baseball teams will call up their promising minor leaguers for September games. This annual roster expansion gives everyone a chance to see who has the next potential MVP.
Also at the end of next week, the horse racing season at Saratoga will end. This brief 6-week race meeting is where most of the major stables annually bring their most regally-bred 2-year olds, to see who has the next potential Kentucky Derby winner.
And so it is with music, too, where each fall, as the summer doldrums end and the concert and record release schedules get back into full swing, writers, editors, broadcasters, and other observers of the scene try to figure out who has the next big hitmaker. Why do we continue to do this when most prognostications are wrong? Because it’s fun, and – on the off chance that you get lucky and pick the right person, horse, or band – you then have bragging rights for at least the next year. Looking over Paste’s list of 26 artists to watch, I’m struck by several things: how many of them have already been here, playing in our “Soundcheck” studio (hey, maybe WE get bragging rights for a year); how few of them come from the usual hotspots of NY, LA, or Austin; and how the definition of “next big thing” has changed. Sure, Amy McDonald may be a genuine top-40 star; she’s already gone double-platinum in the UK. But some of these artists are definitely not Billboard Hot-100 material. Mugison, from Iceland? Dent May and His Magnificent Ukelele? Not likely to be appearing on an arena stage near you anytime soon, but certainly capable of becoming the next internet “buzz band.”
So here’s your chance to show how ahead of the curve you are. Who’s a rising star that we should keep an eye on this Fall? And failing that, who do you like in the eighth race at Saratoga today?