This is the first in a weekly series of posts which will be more opinionated than other stuff that I post on the blog. Think of it as a music-centred editorial, or a not-as-good/informed On The Record. This week, what would success mean for 2011’s Next Big Thing?

Mona: The next Big Thing? Really?

As we are a few days into 2011 now are we any closer to figuring out what to expect from the next 12 months? Everybody in music has to have an opinion on who will ‘make it’ this year. The BBC has gone with 15 acts, while The Irish Times has given us no less than 30 acts to look out for over the coming months (one noticeable omission from The Irish Times’ list is the, er, omission of any Irish acts to keep a lookout for, but perhaps that is for another day).

In two days NME will introduce their own bands you should keep an eye on (hint: The Vaccines will be on the list). But what qualifies as success these days? Last year NME put The Drums on their cover, under the headline ‘The New Decade In Music’. If that was a sign that The Drums would dominate the year (and beyond, they added below) then surely they were mistaken. The Drums have released an album and toured a lot since that fateful cover. Yet their best song, ‘Let’s Go Surfin’, which came out in 2009 on a separate EP, is treated by Pierce and co as an albatross and they rarely play it live. They have not exactly set the world on fire; go on, find some lists of the best of the year which had their self-titled long-player on it. They also lost a founding member of the band.

So do The Drums count as a success story? They were tipped by nearly everyone who had to donate an opinion on the future of music. Others who appeared in the year-old issue of NME include Giggs, Kindness, Egyptian Hip-Hop, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Hurts and Ellie Goulding, among many, many others. But bar Goulding, who since that issue has apparantly fallen from favour with the New Musical Express because she is pop, how many others could be deemed as having a successful 2010? They may have won over new fans but come on, how many will make it to a second album, and in some cases, how many will make a first?

Success in the music world needs to have a different definition. If Mona are banking on a drip-feed of success from sounding exactly like Slane headliners Kings of Leon, should they really count as ones to look out for in the coming weeks and months? Brother have already had a spread in NME, which they came out of looking like Oasis wannabees, while Steve Lamacq has already talked about how rubbish they are. So success for these bands would equal what exactly?

Releasing an album, doing a tour, making the festival rounds and then dropping off the radar never to be heard from again? That will happen to most of the acts that you will read about over the next few days and weeks. And that is the other thing with these tipped acts: how many will you actually listen to? Will you go out of your way to listen to The Next Big Thing? How many will actually be able to make a living off music? Can The Vaccines turn an 84-second song into a festival anthem? Or are they destined to fall by the wayside like so many more that have gone before? The answer is, sadly, inevitable.

Remember: New music isn’t just for the first week of January.