The European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA) are about breaking down borders and recognising emerging European rock, pop and dance artists who achieved success in other countries than their own. To do this, 10 European artists will receive an EBBA during a spectacular TV-show presented by BBC-legend Jools Holland. The show is organised in the context of Eurosonic Noorderslag, on the opening evening of Europe’s most exciting live music industry gathering of the year. Previous winners include now established artists such as Adele, Mumford and Sons, Kodaline, Christine and the Queens, Woodkid, Disclosure, Milky Chance, Selah Sue, Aurora, Damien Rice, Agnes Obel, Stromae, Caro Emerald, Dua Lipa, Alan Walker, Sigrid and many more.
Public Choice Award
During the award show, one of the EBBA winners will be presented with the Public Choice Award. This award will be presented to the act that has received the most votes from the general public. Voting will take place online.
The EBBA are co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, and organised by Eurosonic Noorderslag, in partnership with the European Broadcasting Union. The EBBA are supported by Buma Cultuur, Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Province of Groningen and the City of Groningen. With the EBBA, the European Union wishes to highlight the success of 10 debuting European artists in selling music and touring outside their home territory. These music awards aim to highlight Europe’s great cultural and linguistic diversity in popular music. The EBBA provide the opportunity for the public to discover emerging European artists, and for their music to be spread and enjoyed across Europe.
The winners of the European Border Breakers Awards are selected on the basis of their success outside of their home country. This success is determined on the basis of the artists’ sales, radio airplay, live performances on European festivals, and their position in the European Border Breakers Charts (EBBC). The EBBC show the most successful new tracks by upcoming artists crossing borders in Europe. The ranking is based on airplay outside the artists’ home countries, on the most influential European public radio stations. However, music streaming is becoming increasingly important to discover new artists. Therefore, from 2018 onwards, airplay data supplied by Radiomonitor will be combined with available streaming data to determine the Charts. Making the EBBC even faster, even more complete and even more relevant.
2018 EBBA winners
The winners of the 2018 European Border Breakers Awards are Alice Merton (Germany), ALMA (Finland), Blanche (Belgium), Kristian Kostov (Bulgaria), Off Bloom (Denmark), Salvador Sobral (Portugal), Sigrid (Norway), Skott (Sweden), The Blaze (France), and Youngr (United Kingdom).
Alice Merton (Germany)
Alice Merton could very well be the next big popstar to perform at Eurosonic. With her powerful voice, her EP and the catchy song ‘No Roots’, the 24-year-old holds all the cards. The sentence “I’ve got no roots, but my home was never on the ground” seems to sum up the life of the English/Canadian singer- songwriter who lived in four countries. No Roots charted high on iTunes, Spotify, Shazam and Hype Machine in France, Switzerland and Austria. In Germany, the song reached platinum status and #2 in the single charts. International success is imminent.
In the rare case of the 21-year-old Finnish songwriter ALMA it’s all about talent and songwriting. Debut song Karma is one of those instant pop gems that earned her two Finnish Grammys and comparisons to Rihanna, or ‘the voice of Amy Winehouse with Crystal Castles’ electronic pop’. She scores smash hit after smash hit (with German EDM-producer Felix Jaehn and recently American hip hop artist French Montana), is signed to Universal Music and made quite an impression at the BBC Radio 1 Future Festival and at Eurosonic 2017. She’s currently working on her debut album with the likes of MNEK, Rudimental, Gorgon City, Sub Focus, 2 Inch Punch and Charli XCX.
Blanche stepped into the spotlight when she represented Belgium at the first semi-final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev. It’s hard to imagine a better version of the folky song City Lights, but she did it again in the final. It earned her a 4th place ranking. The young Belgian singer has a soothing, husky voice that reminds of Lorde and London Grammar’s Hannah Reid. Blanche is signed to PIAS, and with just this one song released so far, that has racked-up over 20 million streams, it is safe to say the world is eager to see and hear her next move.
Kristian Kostov (Bulgaria)
His singing has brought Russian born Kristian Kostov a long way. He got to the final of The Voice Kids Russia and finished as runner-up in X Factor Bulgaria, the country which he represented in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. After a great performance Kristian and his song Beautiful Mess came in second place yet again in the final. He has been singing since the age of 6, first in musical group Neposedy and after 2011 as a solo artist. This 17-year old is already one of the most popular up-and-coming artists in Bulgaria and Russia. His voice earned him comparisons to singers like James Arthur, Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran.
Off Bloom (Denmark)
Off Bloom understand what modern times are asking for. They threw out the rule book to create unconventional, eccentric and future-proof pop music, just like their influences such as Hudson Mohawke, Baauer, Major Lazer and AlunaGeorge also did. Eager to offer some glimmer of hope and solace in a dark world, this Danish trio and their inventive take on pop should be part of music’s future.
Salvador Sobral (Portugal)
Being the winner of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, you would think it could only get better from there for Salvador Sobral. But life has dealt the Portuguese singer some very different cards. A serious heart condition forced him to interrupt his career in September. At an emotional last concert the 27-year old singer stated: “It is, unfortunately, time to hand over my body to science and to abandon my life of concerts and music.” Sobral achieved a record win at the Eurovision competition, and the first ever for Portugal, with his ballad Amar Pelos Dois, written by his sister Luísa Sobral. In 2016 the singer had already released debut album Excuse Me, which underlines his great song writing talent and the bright future that lies ahead after his recovery.
Norwegian pop singer/songwriter Sigrid signed a worldwide label deal with Island at just 20 years of age. With her rich, powerful, versatile voice, and elfin looks, she seems ready-made for pop stardom. Sigrid delivered on the promise in February 2017 with her anthemic single Don’t Kill My Vibe. It became BBC Radio 1 “Hottest Record in the World” and was streamed over 37 million times, with new single Pilot Twist following the same path. Sigrid is influenced by artists like Mø, Aurora and Sia.
Dreamlike folk, warm electronics and ethereal vocals conspire to draw you closer. Skott is Pauline Skött, a 25-year old singer-songwriter and musician from a tiny village just outside Stockholm. Early singles Porcelain and Wolf were praised by Lorde and Katy Perry, and the Swedish artist kept up the pace with a string of amazing singles in 2017. Skott cooperated with artists like Grey and Twelve’Len, and she is currently working on her debut album, expected to be released in 2018.
The Blaze (France)
Cousins Guillaume and Jonathan Alric are the core of this up and coming, producing and directing group. French duo The Blaze are not just about making good music, they create amazing, eye-catching music videos to accompany their warm and sensitive dance music. They released two singles in 2017, strong contenders on streaming platforms worldwide, before following up with the excellent Territory EP. For proof of their skills you should watch their mini movie for the Territory single, featuring an emotional homecoming in Algiers.
Youngr (United Kingdom)
British musician Dario Darnell is now taking charts and concert halls alike by storm under the monniker Youngr with his addictive, sweet pop music. First single Out Of My System is an emotional electronic pop gem that racked up 30 million streams on Spotify alone. Another way of conveying the message is through his trademark one-take live video’s. Darnell used to be in electronic pop duo Picture Book with his brother Lorne and is actually the son of American artist Kid Creole. Now the talented multi-instrumentalist is making some very serious strides on its own.
Highlights EBBA show 2018