Winner: Sam Fender
A year dominated by sold-out shows across the world, a No.#1 debut record, BBC Radio 1’s Hottest Record of the Year, the fastest selling vinyl album of 2019 and the craftsmanship to navigate complex and sensitive topics, Bethan Fletcher explains why Sam Fender is the recipient of The Mic’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year award.
Winning the BRITs Critics’ Award at the very end of 2018 lay the groundwork for Fender rolling into 2019. This year has seen him release his critically and commercially successful debut album, Hypersonic Missiles, embark on a stellar UK tour and touch the hearts of many with his socially political yet relatable music.
The crowning achievement for Fender by far this year was releasing his debut album, Hypersonic Missiles. Climbing straight to the number one spot upon its release in September this year, Fender managed to create not only a number one album, but the fastest selling vinyl album of 2019. Hypersonic Missiles provided listeners with bangers traversing small town frustrations to provocative tracks concerning male suicide and abusive relationships. Over anything, Fender’s lyrical abilities shone within his debut album. Simply yet beautifully navigating complex and sensitive topics; observing the world surrounding him then transforming his vision into explosive music accompanied by soaring vocals. Despite gaining rave reviews, countless hours of airplay and an overwhelming response by fans – the album reads more like a passion project rather than a carefully constructed formula built to sell records and tickets.
Embarking on his Hypersonic Missiles Tour, this year Fender managed to sell out tickets up and down the country almost instantly, with our own Rock City show selling out mere minutes after release. Looking back, it was only February of last year which saw Fender take on the Bodega stage. A starting block for many artists, even the idea of Fender playing within such an intimate setting today feels laughable. With impossible expectations from eager crowds, Fender managed to satisfy the adoring eyes and ears of thousands through blinding set after blinding set. Unfortunately, with a handful of dates left, Fender had to cancel the latter half of his tour due to illness with the fear of putting his voice out for months otherwise.
Managing to achieve the near impossible; connecting equally with mass audiences and critics, all while creating personal and sincere art which is every bit as commercially successful, Fender has hit the nail on the head this year. Next year will see Fender open for the likes of Kasabian and The Killers, along with putting on his biggest headline event yet – a homecoming show as part of Newcastle’s This is Tomorrow Festival. With a well-rested voice, we cannot wait to see what Fender has up his sleeves for 2020, following a truly spectacular 2019.