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21st Century Scottish Pop

Edinburgh Rockers Idlewild

At the dawning of the 21st century radio had become increasingly competitive though still important for launching new artists by broadcasting artists plugged by record labels. However, the technological revolution of the Internet allowed musicians the potential to by-pass record companies and reach new audiences beyond traditional markets. This was to have the dramatic effect of people power over commercial interests.

Travis's Fran Healy







Link to Scotland's top musicians


Travis were arguably the biggest Scottish band at the beginning of the new century and rode the crest of a radio wave with their optimistic single Sing that replicated the success of their 1990's singles. Similarly the championing of Idlewild's early singles by BBC Radio DJ's helped their popularity to grow. In 2001, Mull Historical Society AKA Colin MacIntyre was also helped to success via the Radio Scotland play list.

Britpop TV programs were also influential: Top of the Pops, Later With Jules Holland, Pop Idol and Fame Academy all offered a brief taste of stardom for a few Scottish popsters. Scottish/Persian singer Darius Danesh became well known for being a runner-up of Pop Idol; his first single, Colour blind, entered the UK charts at number 1 and the accompanying album went platinum. In total Darius had five UK Top Ten singles. David Sneddon sprang to fame when he won 'Fame Academy'. His single in 2003 Stop Living The Lie reached number 1 in the UK followed with Don't Let Go reaching number 3. His debut album, Seven Years - Ten Weeks, entered the UK Chart at number 5. Michelle McManus won the second season of UK Pop Idol and the resulting single All This Time reached number 1 on the UK charts in 2004 remaining there for 3 weeks. Despite their popularity Danesh, Sneddon and McManus have subsequently had little success in what had become an increasingly fickle pop market.



Belle & Sebastian

Mull Historical Society

Darius Danesh

David Sneddon

Michelle McManus


James Grant

David Sneddon

To listen to a selection of Independent Scottish artists currently recording and playing round the country click below.

Listen to Scots musicians online

Davy Cattanach of the Pictones


Mylo is considered one of the heavyweight DJs of the world. With numerous hit singles and sellout tours under his belt he has been hailed 'the savior of dance music.' After studying at Oxford University and at UCLA, California he returned to his native Skye in 2001 to start making records at home and distributing demos. Sony BMG signed him in 2003 and his debut album Destroy Rock & Roll became huge in the UK and spawned a string of radio and club hits. It was cited by many, including Sir Elton John, as their 'Album of the Year.' Mylo is now one of the hottest club acts around, travelling the world on sellout headline tours and major festivals.

Franz Ferdinand struck a golden chord with audiences and the media. The recording industry voted their 2004 debut single Take Me Out winner of 'Best Contemporary Song' in the Ivor Novello Awards. Ferdinand's intelligent approach has made them celebrities of Scottish/UK Pop who look like enduring beyond one or two hits. Another quality star is KT Tunstall whose debut album in 2004 Eye To The Telescope initially reached 73 in the UK charts. However, following a late cancellation on the prestigious Later With Jools Holland TV show Tunstall's original performance as a last minute stand in caught the attention of many viewers. Shortly thereafter Telescope was re-released and it shot to number three in the UK charts, was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize and won her a Brit Award for 'Best British Female Artist'. Now a multi platinum selling artist her success continued with the single Suddenly I See winning 'Best Song Musically and Lyrically' at the 2006 Ivor Awards.

Snow Patrol, though technically Northern Irish are part of the influential Scottish music scene. After signing with Polydor records in 2003 they released their song Run from the album Final Straw. Iain Archer, a collaborator from this period, won an Ivor Novello award for his contribution to the album. Three more singles from the album reached the top half of the UK charts and in the USA Final Straw became one of the most popular British albums of 2004 selling over 250,000 copies with Run reputed to have been played 28,000 times on American radio. Their next album Eyes Open repeated their earlier success when the single, Chasing Cars became an Internet download sensation and entered the charts after being played on the TV show Grey's Anatomy.


John McLaughlin


Trash Can Sinatras

Franz Ferdinand


KT Tunstall


Cosmic Rough Riders

Dogs Die In Hot Cars

Snow Patrol

The Lush Rollers

Monica Queen

James Yorkston

The Internet was instrumental in helping Sandi Thom's career take off in 2005 after receiving massive publicity from web casting her gigs from a London basement. Using the net to promote her music to a wider audience paid off when RCA became interested. Her debut single I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker went to the top in the iTunes UK download chart and the UK singles chart and her album Smile...It Confuses People made number one in the album charts.

Paulo Nutini's chance came in 2003 when David Sneddon was delayed attending a concert and Nutini was given the chance to perform. The crowds' reaction and a good performance on Radio Scotland encouraged him to move to London where other radio and live appearances followed. In 2006 he signed for Atlantic Records and has played sellout concerts in the UK and performed worldwide, including appearing on Later With Jools Holland, also at New York's Carnegie Hall, The Montreaux Jazz Festival and Scotland's 'T in the Park' festival. After supporting The Rolling Stones in Vienna he was invited to reappear with them. He made good use of Internet publicity by offering his first single as a free download, then followed it with a purchase single that hit number 5 in the UK charts His debut album These Streets, charted in the UK at number 3.

The Fratellis performance on TV helped their critically acclaimed 2006 album Costello Music chart at number two in the UK. They recently played two shows at the Glasgow Barrowlands that sold out in 7 minutes, a record for the venue.

2008 and Scotland's music stars continue to illuminate the Pop world with the East Coast becoming more prominant in its contribution partly through a group of musicians from Fife known as 'The Fence Collective' helped by the rise of KT Tunstall one of its earliest associates. More recently 'King Creosote,' a stalwart of the collective, has been commanding critical acclaim in the music industry and is set to take over the soft pop mantle held by Belle & Sebastian. On the rockier side are 'The Aliens' and 'The View.' Rising female stars are Emma Pollock formarly of 'The Delgados' and Glaswegian Amy MacDonald who headlined the 2008 Ne'erday show at Glasgow's George Square. It seems that oor lassies are set to continue in the footsteps of Lulu, Annie Lennox & Katie Tunstall. Now as the first decade of the 21st century enters its final year many new artists such as 'Glasvegas' are making their mark on the pop music scene confident enough to unashamedly sing in their own Scottish accents.

Sandi Thom

El Presidenti


Paulo Nutini

The Beta Band

Biffy Clyro

Camera Obscura

Isobel Campbell

The Fratellis

My Latest Novel


Union of Knives

Odeon Beatclub

Fence Collective

The Aliens

Amy MacDonald



Day Of Days



Despite having a small population Scotland's contribution to the Pop culture over the last five decades has undoubtedly been significant. As to the future, Scottish musicians through the Internet can create an International fanbase using shared resources such as 'My Space' or 'You Tube' and no longer need take the trail of tears through the major labels or media sources. It is a confidence that has been restrained for decades that can emerge safe in the knowledge of their ability to create music that can embrace and inspire lovers of Independent pop through out the world. Watch this space.



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