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PinkPantheress tops BBC’s Sound of 2022 poll

The enigmatic bedroom-pop artist pipped Wet Leg and Mimi Webb to the prize

By Joe Goggins

PinkPantheress press shot, 2021
The Bath-born rapper's mixtape 'To Hell with It' hit the Top 20 last year. (Photo: Brent McKeever)

PinkPantheress has topped the BBC’s annual Sound of… poll.

The Bath-born, London-based bedroom-pop singer-songwriter came first in the 2022 rundown after a whirlwind 2021 that saw her build up a significant following on TikTok, where she boasts more than 1.1 million followers.

Eventually, tracks that became hits there – the genre-spanning likes of ‘Pain’ and ‘Just for Me’ – became crossover smashes on the UK Top 40, whilst her debut mixtape, ‘To Hell with It’, reached the Top 20 on the album chart. Her blend of jungle, hip-hop and UK garage won her high-profile admirers, with Coldplay covering ‘Just for Me’ for Radio 1’s Live Lounge.

The film student remains enigmatic; little is known of her outside of her penchant for conjuring deeply introspective pop songs in her university dorm room in the early hours. “I find it easier to not lay every single card on the table,” she told the BBC. “I like my privacy and I felt like, if I have my music out and my face everywhere, it would start getting too much for people.”

This year’s Sound of… shortlist was voted for by a panel of 130 industry experts, including Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish. Isle of Wight folk duo Wet Leg came second after scoring a sleeper hit with their single ‘Chaise Longue’ last year. Mimi Webb, who had a top ten hit with the ballad ‘Good Without’ last year, was in third, while Lola Young, whose version of Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey’s ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ soundtracked 2021’s John Lewis Christmas ad, was fourth. West London drill innovator Central Cee rounds out the top five.

“I fell in love with PinkPantheress’ boldness and playfulness with sound,” said Radio 1’s Clara Amfo, who was also on the panel. “It takes a certain type of vim to play around with classic records and make them sound fresh and captivating and she does that with aplomb.”

Previous winners of the poll include Adele, Michael Kiwanuka, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith. Last year’s countdown was topped by Coventry rapper Pa Salieu. 2020’s winner, Celeste, went on to have a number one album that same year.