BBC Sound Poll could be a star-maker. Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding are among the past winners, and as such, the announcement of who has been chosen as the up-and-eater with a big year ahead of them is always worth watching.
This year, it’s PinkPantheres. The TikTok sensation saw some pretty stiff competition on the shortlist – buzz band Wet Leg, fellow social media breakout star Mimi Webb, south London singer Lola Young and UK rap riser Central C – but came out on top after being selected by a panel of more people. Over 130 industry experts including Elton John, Billie Eilish and Jorja Smith.
Here’s what you need to know about the Pinkpantheres.
So… who is that?
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok in the past year or so, you’ve probably heard his music. But if Internet fame generally goes hand in hand with all that online, Pinkpanthes has gone the other way.
We don’t officially know her real name — a quick Google will give you one, but it hasn’t been confirmed by the artist or her PR reps — and only in the past few months have we found out what she looks like. But none of that has stopped the Pinkpanthers from signing a record deal with a major label, racking up millions of streams, entering the UK charts and now topping BBC sound polls.
Thanks to some of the interviews she’s given, we know a few things about the viral star: She was born in Bath in 2001 to a Kenyan mother and English father, and moved to Kent as a child. In his teens, he covered Naughty’s Hero My Chemical Romance and Paramore in a band, before experimenting with production on GarageBand.
While at the University in London, he started putting his music on SoundCloud but got little attention, and so he turned his attention to TikTok. The all-consuming app picks up and removes increasingly viral songs – Doja Cat and Olivia Rodrigo, two of the biggest musicians on the planet right now, have both seen their tracks dominate the app.
And like the two of them, the success of PinkPantheres has proven to be more enduring than a flash in the TikTok pan. Her borderless production style—a more sample-heavy mix of bedroom pop, drum’n’bass, emo, 2-step, garage, hyperpop, disco and beyond—is all packed into songs that rarely exceed two minutes. The first venture Mark – has won his fans both in the music press and in the industry, with Parlophone and Elektra signed on his last summer.
Her first mixtape, To Hell With It, arrived in October with 10 tracks in 19 minutes.
What are his biggest songs of all time?
The track that started it all, and his first TikTok hit, redefines Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall.
Another TikTok smash, and her most streamed track ever – an emo-tinged spin on the UK garage classic, Sweet Female Attitude Flowers’ Sunship Edit.
The lead single from that debut mixtape, this time an alt-pop from Adam F.’s drum’n’bass favorite Circles, is Heartache again.
What did the judges say about him?
Jack Saunders, host of Radio 1’s Future Artists, said she was a “pop prodigy” and “everybody wants to be a Pink Panthers fan right now”. He continued: “It was a terrific year for talent on Radio 1’s Sound Off list this year and it shows you the quality of the winning Pinkpanthes.”
can i watch him live?
Not for a while, it seems. She played her first live show in October and November last year, with three dates in London at Pickle Factory, Bermondsey Social Club and The Cause.
And as it stands, next time she’ll hit that level at the Reading and Leeds festivals in August. But we wouldn’t be surprised if a few other gigs are announced (and then sell out fast) in the meantime. Keep your eyes open.
And finally… how did he get that name?
No one expected Bradley Walsh to play an indirect role in naming the hottest new viral musician, but he did: The Pink Panthers’ stage name was inspired by a question United asked on The Chase (“A female panther should What’s it called?”) and the title of one of his favorite movies, Steve Martin’s Pink Panther remake.