There was once a time when the only way you could expand your musical tastes and horizons, beyond what the commercially driven charts dictate you should like, was to follow the recommendation of critical ‘experts’. Those people who just instinctively know what is cool or clichéd, modern or post-modern, and who claim to walk the fine line between pretension and sophistication with ease.
The great irony in relying on these supposed taste experts is that we are investing our musical curiosity in a company with only one board member – the critic himself. And as board practice goes, relying on the instincts of one person alone is a recipe for disaster, or musical disaster in this case.
A critic’s impression of ‘cool’ is inevitably going to be different from that of the general public. And so a musical bridge is created – how do we gauge public opinion on lesser known musical acts? You know, those underground artists that blow you away one Saturday night but your mates have never heard of (yet), or those live lounge acoustics that you just can’t get out of you head, or even that busker on the tube who really impressed you but you just couldn’t catch his name (remember, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice was once a busker).
TellYouGov tracks new talent
Fear not, lovers of underground music and emerging artists! TellYouGov records the thoughts of ‘tyggers’, or users (made up of members of the general public), among thousands of other topics, on up and coming musical acts, and uses this data to provide each topic with a net positive or negative score to give an insight into public opinion. This allows you to see if other people share your musical tastes providing a much more representative way of assessing what people think of new talent when compared with the musings of self-appointed critical experts.
Popular new risers from people on the ground
Making waves in the last month is Joe Bonamassa, an American blues-rock guitarist from New York. ‘You’ll soon know about him’ opined one tygger, while another described him as ‘a cracking blues artist who should get wider recognition’. While Joe has been known in niche blues circles for some time, the ‘tygs’, or comments, we’ve been receiving indicate he is starting to broaden his fan base with the dulcet tones of his blues guitar.
Next up is Pavement. Originally, one of the most popular and influential lo-fi rock bands of the 1990s, the band broke up in early 2000. After much speculation, the band recently announced a reunion tour after a nine year absence. Scheduled to begin in September this year, the announcement has seen excitement levels rise among tyggers: ‘best band back together to tour – woo hoo’ proclaimed one enthusiastic respondent while another described them as ‘one of my all time favourite bands who have recently reformed’.
Finally, Professor Green has seen his stock rise among tyggers. The East London rapper, who has previously worked with Lily Allen, is relatively unknown in the mainstream media but has developed a cult following on the underground rap battle scene and his single ‘Need You Tonight’ has caught the attention of our panellists. One respondent tygged ‘Need You Tonight is my favourite song right now’ while others commended the single's video as ‘brilliant’.
So there you have it. TellYouGov surpasses the biases of the traditional music consumption system, and the specific delivery mechanisms that govern it, bypassing the commercially driven charts and critical commentaries to what people on the ground are really feeling. If the charts don’t gratify your musical tastes, and you want to discover other artists that you and the general public, are listening and liking, have a look at the TellYouGov leaderboard. Who knows? You may end up stumbling across a hidden gem.