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Learning Gains – new breakthrough higher ed bands

There's some new higher ed bands about to climb the hit parade. Paul Greatrix at the sign of the swinging cymbal
This article is more than 4 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

We’ve done a lot about the vital connections between higher education and music here before. For example, we’ve covered the older big names on the HE music scene, I’ve reported here on the lost bands of HE and some of the forgotten ones.

In addition we have had other HE-related music topics including universities named after bands, VC Desert Island Discs and, perhaps inevitably, Administrator Desert Island Discs too.

There has also been coverage of some books about university gigs as well as discovering some real academics in real bands. Most recently, we’ve looked at those we were convinced were going to hit the big time in 2019.

Of those we’ve tipped for the top, a few have broken through to the musical higher ed big time, including:

TEF Will Eat Itself – hard to fathom and genuinely unpopular English folksters but unaccountably still going
Sugar Daddies – seedy, sleazy, leering ageing neanderthal pub rock – popularity massively exaggerated but still grabbing the headlines
No Deal – exceptional topical miserabilistic rock anti-harmonies from this stand-offish quartet who everyone keeps claiming can’t keep going
REF Speedwagon – guilty pleasures for many – these brainy prog rockers are still churning them out
New Kids on the Blockchain – incomprehensible electro burbling from the ageing keyboard twiddlers
Ace of CASE – internationally popular trendsters – now in the big money league
Four Star – highly rated cerebral popsters who seem to be able to name their price
Admissions Scandal – shockingly aggressive US rock trio, in and out of prison recently
Library Cats – cute indy pop which is still turning heads
Augar Review – radical folk rock combo – gone very quiet recently after initial flurry of activity – much talk of a big tour this winter
Predatory Journals – impenetrable exploitative thrash metal with growing sales despite public opprobrium

And some noted here before are still teetering on the brink of sector stardom:

Unconditional Offer – sluggish alt rock from this southern stoner quartet, surprisingly still going strong
Puppy Room – fey Glaswegian tinkly pop trio.
Lucky Jim – ageing solo vocalist from Inverness. Not lucky. Actually called Brian
Two Year Degree – sharp suited jazz funk quintet who really mean business
GPA – earnest US quartet much discussed but yet to persuade many in the UK of their merits.
Snowflakes – teen pop sensations who have reacted surprisingly positively to the negative publicity they’ve received
Entry and Search – breakthrough rebellious and controversial hip hop duo but not quite made the impact predicted
Spiked – wilful, self-indulgent, contrarian grungecore
Cyber Security – this electronic trio have already managed to build a massive online following despite their wholly derivative sound.
Accelerated Degrees – long-haired, leather-trousered thrash metallers, continually irritated by being mixed up with Two Year Degree
Learning Gain – progressive Paper Lace derivatives. Famous for strange outfits

So much for earlier predictions. Since our last scouting mission we’ve been scouring the nation’s students’ unions and university social spaces to find tomorrow’s higher ed stars. These then are the new acts which we are tipping for future HE pop stardom:

Unexplained Differences – intelligent and numerate chamber pop
Graduate Outcomes – career musicians playing a long game
The Degree Apprentices – alternative indie guitar melodies from hard-working trio – popularity difficult to gauge
Digital Outriders – challenging Midlands electronic combo hotly tipped by Smita Jamdar
AI – too clever for their own good
Climate Emergency – fully acoustic outfit destined to make a big impact
The Specialist Investigators – very much in demand dark sounding duo
Designated Data Body – hard rock musos
USS Express – gilt-edged pop with very expensive production
These Data Futures – still waiting for the much-anticipated first album from this south west tech trio
Culture Class – arty guitar noodlings
Chemistry Brothers – explosive rock duo
The MK Dons – a group of shy and retiring OU academic folky types
London Grammarians – picky or playful (depending on your perspective) lyrical meanderings from this hard core group of linguistics researchers

How many will make it to the big higher ed stage? Time will tell.

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