When Georgia first released her single ‘Starting Out’ towards the end of 2018, it started one of the most intriguing musical slow burns of the decade. Having released her warmly received debut album in 2015, the year that followed the release of ‘Starting Out’ saw the London-based drummer, singer and producer hit a whole new level.
‘Started Out’ was followed by ‘About Work The Dancefloor’, arguably the best pop song of 2019, which didn’t leave the Radio 1 playlist for an entire summer. Setting alight Glastonbury and beyond, Georgia looked to be tapping into a lost space in pop music, channelling the spirit and relentless four-on-the-floor of Robyn and proving that an irresistible chorus is all you need, all thrills no frills.
More singles - which also became Radio 1 minglers - followed, pushing back the release of the singer’s completed second album, the suitably-titled ‘Seeking Thrills’, to capitalise on the steadily swelling buzz. When the album did arrive, at the very top of 2020, it looked like it would rule festival season and make 2020 Georgia’s year. The big hit singles from the last year were joined by ‘24 Hours’, a euphoric ode to the dancefloor, and ‘The Thrill’, a rave-influenced track which pays tribute to her lineage, taking inspiration from her dad Neil Barnes’ time as part of dance duo Leftfield.
Since the release of the album, she’s appeared on tracks with Gorillaz, Mura Masa and Jessie Ware, becoming one of the most in-demand collaborators around, and sparking pop dynamite wherever she treads. The two years since the release of ‘Started Out’ have seen Georgia travel from indie outsider to something approaching a mainstream pop concern, all while sacrificing none of her heart or spirit. It’s an ode to second chances, and feels like a victory for the outsiders.
As with every album on this year’s shortlist, it’s therefore a crying shame that Georgia only managed to get a handful of shows – including a triumphant sold out London gig at Heaven – under her belt after her album was released. We’re certain that she’s soundtracked a thousand solo lockdown discos though, and ‘Seeking Thrills’ contains such a power that, when live music can return in its pure form, she’ll belatedly pick up her crown.
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Watch performances from the shortlisted artists on BBC Four at 10pm on 23rd September.