A look at artists who might define the next 12 months

As 2010 draws to a close, Andy Welch reveals the musical stars who should be hitting the headlines in the next 12 months.

It's never easy to work out what the future has in store, not least in the musical world.

Only last weekend, Simon Cowell demonstrated what a fickle business it is on X Factor's spin-off show, revealing he predicted Gamu Nhengu would go on to win the competition. As it turned out, the Zimbabwean immigrant ended up back in Scotland fighting a deportation case and it was Matt Cardle who won the hearts of viewers.

It will be very interesting to see how the coming 12 months treat Emma's Imagination. Dumfries singer songwriter Emma Gillespie won Must Be The Music, Sky's answer to X Factor, earlier this year.

Her debut album Stand Still and first single This Day are ready to go in January and it's difficult to imagine Radio 2 not claiming her for their own.

Away from the world of TV talent shows, we have a very different prospect in Jessie J – a 22-year-old Essex girl who would make Simon Cowell blush. She's already telling us to Do It Like A Dude – a song she says she wrote for Rihanna but decided to keep for herself – and it won't be long before even more people are hanging on her every shouty word.

More subtle is Pete Lawrie. The Welsh songwriter has a voice somewhere between David Gray and Ray LaMontagne. If, come the summer festivals, there aren't fields of people singing The End and All That We Keep back to him, something has gone very wrong indeed. Next up, and an almost sure-fire tip for success in 2011 are Mona.

The band from Nashville, Tennessee, were dubbed The Princes of Leon by NME, and they are open about wanting to be the biggest band in the world, make no mistake. Clare Maguire is another artist who could clean up next year.

Already endorsed by the music press, it's only a matter of time before the public catch on to the Birmingham singer, who cites as influences Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Portishead and Jay-Z.

James Blake is blessed with a devastatingly beautiful voice, and music blogs all over the internet have been awash with talk of his talents.

The first thing most people heard was his take on Limit to Your Love, originally by Canadian artist Feist, but now tracks from his forthcoming album have started to emerge and it seems there's a great deal of substance to back up his early promise.

Whether he'll break through to the mainstream ultimately depends on whether radio stations play his music – they hold the keys to artist success these days – but do yourself a favour and investigate him further. There are other artists and bands that will shine brightly over the next 12 months. Just as everyone, this time last year, was convinced by the likes of Delphic, Ellie Goulding and Daisy Dares You, it's been artists such as Janelle Monae, Bruno Mars, Tinie Tempah and Plan B who've defined the year, who hardly anyone saw coming.

The important thing is to keep an open mind and open ears, and you will stumble across something special all by yourself.

...And the one everyone has been waiting for

Despite insisting it was not a full-blown reunion, when Blur got back together to play Glastonbury and Hyde Park two years ago, thousands of fans hoped it would be a new beginning. Now it seems their prayers may have been answered with news Damon Albarn, Alex James, Dave Rowntree and Graham Coxon have apparently scheduled a recording session in January with the view to releasing an LP of new material by the end of 2011. That's not allowing for artistic differences, of course, but the promise of a new Blur album, the first in over a decade, is something worth waiting for.