London girl group Flo have taken the top spot in the BBC’s annual Sound of … poll, which seeks to predict the year’s breakout acts.
Flo formed in 2019, after Renée Downer and Stella Quaresma, friends from theatre school, saw videos of Jorja Douglas singing on Instagram. Their debut single, Cardboard Box, produced by MNEK, was released in 2022 and quickly became a viral sensation. The band followed it up shortly after with debut EP The Lead, which was met with critical acclaim. Last month, the Guardian named Cardboard Box one of the best songs of the year, with Laura Snapes describing the track as “No Scrubs for the TikTok era … one of the freshest pop launches in recent memory, palpably floating on a sigh of relief as [Flo] kick some bug-a-boo back to Y2K where he belongs.”
In a statement, Flo described the Sound of … win as “wild”. “We feel so connected to our British music roots winning the BBC Sound of and admire the artists who have come before us, especially our gal PinkPantheress winning last year,” the band wrote. “Thank you to everyone who voted for us and put girl groups back on the map. To be recognised for our music and people to believe in our vision inspires us to go further this year.”
Flo also confirmed that they would be appearing on a remix of Hide and Seek, a recent single by grime kingpin Stormzy, who delivered the news to the band that they had won the poll. “It’s just been amazing for all of us to watch you guys break out this year and just be the stars that you are,” he said.
The runner-up in the Sound of 2023 poll was London dance producer Fred Again, who broke out during the pandemic with his series of Actual Life albums and collaborations with artists such as Headie One, FKA Twigs and The xx’s Romy. In third place was jungle producer Nia Archives, followed by singer-songwriter Cat Burns and soul trio Gabriels, the latter of whom Guardian lead pop critic Alexis Petridis described as “nothing short of incredible” in a five-star review last year.
Previous winners of the BBC Sound of … poll include Ellie Goulding, Adele, Years & Years, and Sigrid. More than 130 members of the music industry were polled, including representatives from major streaming services and former nominees such as Dua Lipa and Sam Smith.