Review of 2010-Part 1
“Mixing pop and politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses.”
The charts have always been a refuge for the terminally bland, drawing in the vain, the vacuous and the deluded in the same way a dog turd attracts swarms of greedy flies. But this year the cacophony of corporate auto tuned drivel that’s dominated the airwaves seemed even more depressing than usual, I mean they don’t even pretend it’s about music anymore!! If the year’s charts were truly representative of ‘pop music’ in the 21st century then I would hack off my ears and start painting sunflowers on my bottom. So. . . what really happened in 2010 ?
Well, as ever the ‘record industry’ appeared to be light years behind technology as the corporate giants persisted in the myth that illegal downloaders were solely to blame for the drop in the sales of recorded music. Of course plummeting music sales over the last decade had nothing to do with the rise in popularity of console games, smart phone apps, streaming music services, the way people now engage and interact with music, or the fact that the quality of music the labels actually produced was often nothing short of abysmal. We are talking N-Dubz, Katy Perry, The Wanted, Tinchy Stryder, JLS, The Jonas Brothers and Cheryl Cole for starters. I mean, let’s face it , the nations yoof aren’t really going to be tempted away from their X-Boxes, I phone apps, or streaming music services by offering up their hard earned cash to purchase Scouting For Girls latest musical abomination are they? So who is really to blame? Technology? Or those who refuse to embrace it? More on this later. . .
The year started in tragic fashion; the huge earth quake that devastated Haiti was of course dreadful, as were the two ‘big’ charity records that followed in the aftermath. From America, we were given a re-recording of the abysmal ‘We Are The World’ with the performers seemingly blissfully unaware of their own governments shameful economic policies that have been ruthlessly pursued to protect American corporate interests yet at the same time have devastated Haiti’s agricultural and manufacturing base, leaving them the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Musically the UK was not to be out done and Simon Cowell ensured his imminent canonisation by presenting a warblefest in excelcis with a truly lamentable cover of R.E.M’s.classic ‘Everybody(’s Ears) Hurts,’ featuring musical giants such Kylie Minogue, Cheryl Cole, Leona Lewis, Robbie Williams, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart and Susan Boyle. Yes, yes, I know it’s a worthy cause, but why not send the Haitians money directly? Or even money to STOP charity records forever and wouldn’t it be nice if Cowell, Lionel Ritchie, Quincy Jones et all had been a little more vocal and caring in the past over Haiti’s problems, pre-earthquake? But that’s not quite as opportunistic as a nice disaster is it and crikey it might even get political which could damage future potential sales!
Amongst early album releases which piqued our interest at VP Towers were Dag For Dag’s ‘Boo’ and BBC’s Sound Of 2010 runner up, Marina And The Diamonds début ‘ The Family Jewels’ … alas the mainstream charts remained interminably shite. Lady Ga Ga, hailed by many as the most innovative and original performer of her generation continued in her role as the most successful, groundbreaking, boundary pushing, sexually provocative Madonna impersonator the world has ever seen. At one point she even wore a dress made completely of meat to prove she, wasn’t, y’know, like, a piece of meat. All complete bollocks d’jour of course, but she now appears to be ‘critic proof’ with columnists desperate to curry favour with Team Ga-Ga as they hang on to her every contrived, rehearsed utterance almost as if she is about to impart the meaning of life itself. In March Damon Albarn finally produced his masterpiece with Gorillaz’s remarkable ‘Plastic Beach’ an album of breathtaking scope and depth and one which reinvigorated and indeed reinvented the whole idea of the ‘concept album’. Gorillaz dire warnings of impending environmental catastrophe seemed somewhat prophetic when on the April 20 there was a huge explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig causing a devastating oil leak which led to substantial damage to the marine and wildlife habitat around the Gulf Of Mexico. In fact it was very much a year of leaks.
‘Hands & Knees’ By Dag för Dag
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Albums of course still leaked and Geoff Taylor of the BPI described illegal downloading, somewhat over emotionally, as ‘a parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music, and is holding back investment in the fledgling digital entertainment sector.” Not Simon Cowell you note, as he is able to grease the record labels sweaty palms whilst he exploits a generation of young people, pocketing millions in the process, no it’s you, sitting there on your PC, you, the music fan are the enemy within. Shame on you! Meanwhile instead of trying to hang on to an old broken ‘business model’ other bands were looking at new ways of giving music to music fans in a format that they actually wanted. The Indelicates set up their own label, ‘Corporate Records’ whose mission statement read ‘As the traditional music industry struggles to adapt to the challenge of the internet, we make it simple for musicians to share, sell and promote their work. Sell single tracks or group them into multiple albums, set minimum prices or use a pay-what-you-like system, embed your tracks in blogs and share static download links on twitter and facebook. Corporate Records is designed to reflect the music market that exists and to make it easy for artists to get all they can from it.’ They also self released their second album, ‘Songs For Swinging Lovers’ which showed talent doesn’t need big budgets, just vision and belief. (Ok, ok, a big budget would help, but would the end product really be any better and which is more important? )
But it wasn’t just the new kids on the block who’d embraced the possibilities and new opportunities that the digital age could bring, Indie veterans Ash finished their A-Z series in September 2010, a digital subscription service by which the band ambitiously released twenty six singles in one year- basically one song every two weeks. Subscribers also received exclusive material plus the chance to grab limited edition merchandise, signed promos, gig tickets, etc etc. This made fans feel they were being included, not excluded or ripped off by a faceless corporate entity. Meanwhile diminutive reformed sex pygmy and internet denouncer Prince, proved that you literally can’t give away his music these days as he surreptitiously attempted to slip his latest album ‘20Ten’ into millions of copies of the Daily Mirror. The pocket-sized Jehovah’s Witness hailed the giveaway of his album as one of the most exciting developments of his entire career. Alas after hearing the album many did not share ‘His Purplenesses’ enthusiasm! Back over on ‘Plastic Beach’ Gorillaz gave away (to subscribers) what is alleged to be the first album to be recorded on an I-pad entitled ‘The Fall’, on Christmas Day
‘Amarillo’ By Gorillaz
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Without doubt the year’s biggest leaks came from Wiki Leaks. In April they posted a video which showed Iraqi civilians and journalists seemingly being killed by US forces. But this was a mere aperitif to the main course when they released the Afghan War Diaries consisting of more than 76,900 documents. This was soon followed by the Iraq War Logs and U.S. State department diplomatic cables. Another kind of leak, purportedly from a split condom, landed Wiki Leaks founder and Man Of The Year, Julian Assange, in hot water, a situation which currently sees him under house arrest in the U.K. at the behest of the CIA Swedish judiciary following claims of sexual impropriety.
Sarah Palin proved that she and her wacky ‘Tea Party’ friends are just about as crazy as shit house rats by claiming that Assange should be ‘pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders’ This from the women who said in an interview with right wing screwball Glenn Beck, ‘ obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies.”
Facebook and Twitter went from strength to strength whilst MySpace cleverly transformed itself into an unusable, shambolic mess, proving once again, that Murdoch’s money poisons all that it touches. The Twitterati went into mourning after their benevolent father Stephen Fry apparently withdrew from the social networking site after not saying that women aren’t generally too keen on making the beast with two backs, and certainly not saying “it’s the price they are willing to pay for a relationship”. Bottom spanked, and suitably chastened, Stephen soon returned to merrily tweet away about his love for the Apple God, Norwich City FC and sweetmeats in the shape of ironmongery. Order was restored in the Twitterverse.
The Brit awards were as pathetically irrelevant as ever, a fact confirmed by the bestowing of a ‘lifetime achievement” award on Gods own red-coat, Robbie Williams, who, desperate to revive his flagging career, teamed up again with Take That. Williams and Gary Barlow also gave us the most cringe-worthy, smug, homo-neurotic -unerotic video in history with the utterly dreadful ‘Shame.’ A song that demonstrated that your average six year old has greater lyrical dexterity than these two gurning chumps.
Liam Gallagher also made a prize plumb of himself at the same awards, openly snubbing his brother Parker from Thunderbirds look-a-like Noel, and tossing his award into the crowd. The evenings host, chubby comic Peter Kaye merely stated what many had been saying for years.
Liam however was none too happy and later tweeted with one imagines, a furiously furrowed mono-brow, whilst summoning up his famed poetic eloquence “Listen up fat fuck, As a real northerner I was brought up 2 say shit 2 people’s faces not behind their back. Live forever LG“
Meanwhile The XX took the Mercury Prize and also wowed fans at Glastonbury.
In other awards ceremony fun, James Corden and Patrick Stewart clashed, which gave Corden ample opportunity to demonstrate just why he is regarded as the unfunniest man in the country, if not the world, his half witted ripostes to Stewart’s equally bizarre insults were the stuff of TV Hell. And let’s face it Corden’s had some stiff competition from a seemingly endless supply of singularly unfunny comics who were inexplicably given their own TV shows this year. I give you, John Bishop, (Stan Boardman with botox and veneers) Michael McIntyre ( Derek Nimmo without the humility) , Rhod Gilbert (Max Boyce without the jokes), Russell Howard (George Formby minus the charm or ukulele) and Frankie Boyle (A Netto Gerry Sadowitz, without the point ) to name but a few.
Glastonbury celebrated its 40th Anniversary and was a remarkable occasion due in no small part to alcohol, great music, bonhomie and the most intense heat I’ve experienced outside of a microwave (review here.) Despite the populist view that Gorillaz headlining performance was something of a disappointment I found the experience of sitting in a huge valley in Somerset listening to ‘Plastic Beach’ a quite magical event, in direct contrast to the feelings encountered by around 80,000 festival-goers who briefly abandoned music to watch England’s abject humiliation at the hands of Germany during the World Cup. Other festivals saw the Libertines reunite ( Reading and Leeds) and erm, ELP (High Voltage Festival) Sadly the Love Parade festival in Germany in which twenty one people were killed and around five hundred were injured highlighted the dangers of cramming too many people into one area in the name of maximising profits.
Then there was the general election and it all started so innocently with the hilarious David Cameron poster campaign, mercilessly lampooned by the likes of MyDavidcameron.com where it was possible to generate your own campaign posters. Cameron’s airbrushed, faux, earnest integrity quickly became a laughing stock as the posters went ‘viral’ (we had to join in of course-see below)
However grumpy old Gordon Brown (with ‘a smile as weak as an anaemic winters sun glinting off a coffin plate’) was not exactly fleet of foot during the election campaign and found himself in ‘humble-pie’ mode after privately describing former Labour voter Gillian Duffy, as a ‘bigot.’ Alas for Brown the all hearing ears of Sky News picked up this unguarded remark via a mic that was still switched on. But was he correct? Was he merely making a private comment that many may agree with? Invariably a conversation that starts with ‘and all those immigrants from Eastern Europe’ can often presage something much more sinister and is precisely the sort of comment that can be filed in the same category as ” look, I’ve got nothing against ‘em, I love Whitney Houston and I love a good curry… BUT. . .”…You obviously don’t need a map to see where this ends. However Gillian Duffy, it transpired, did…
And then we had the TV debates on a set that had many commentators comparing the whole exercise to a rather dull version of the TV show ‘Blind Date’ (which when you think about how things transpired, isn’t too far away from the truth.) The TV discussions were all about Nick Clegg, everybody loved him, his brand of refreshing honesty and integrity won over the public and spawned the slogan, ‘I Agree With Nick’. A phrase which now of course, sticks in the craw like a putrid slice of Miss Haversham’s yellowed, decayed, fungus infused wedding cake. If you look in the Oxford Dictionary today the definition for Clegg should read: [noun]“someone who tells lies” or simply “Twat.” Oddly The Liberal Democrats performance in the general election was surprisingly muted, given the TV hyperbole, but after a hung parliament was delivered by the nation, Clegg still ended up Deputy Prime minister. He’d apparently decided that principles weren’t really necessary as he quickly jumped into to bed with David Cameron whilst simultaneously shafting his own party and voters. The only good thing to come out of the election was the decimation of the BNP’s vote.
The tuition fees debacle caused riots on the streets of London with Conservative HQ being occupied, much to the annoyance of Dan Bull who spotted a gap in the market and wrote one of the year’s most annoying dittys, a protest song, protesting against protesters, which included possibly the most patronising opening line ever. For those who say rioting has never achieved anything I’d say read your history books, I for one was proud to see the youngsters leading the way and showing that this rank and corrupt coalition should be opposed at every turn.
Another devastating blow for the coalition came when David Cameron’s hipster credentials took a severe hammering. Johnny Marr banned David Cameron from liking The Smiths music, in this tweet “David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.” Morrissey soon joined in the fun stating “It was not for such people that either ‘Meat Is Murder’ or ‘The Queen is Dead’ were recorded;” This echoed Paul Weller’s comments when he was informed that David Cameron was a big fan of ‘Eton Rifles.’ In fact maybe now the first time voters who were conned by Cameron’s oily charm can relate to the Modfather’s 2008 rant when he said of the Conservatives “I think they were absolute fucking scum – especially Thatcher, who I think should be shot as a traitor to the people. I still think that, and nothing will ever change my opinion. We’re still feeling the effects of what they did to the country now, and probably always will: the whole breakdown of communities, trade unions, the working class – the dismantling of lots of things.” And yes ladies and gents, boys and girls it’s happening all over again!
Thus far the coalition’s one success has been their propaganda victory (ably assisted by the guiding hand of the chief puppeteer, Rupert Murdoch and his media machine ) in convincing the country that it’s actually the public sector who caused the financial crisis not the bankers. To quote Bill Bailey ‘It’s genius, evil genius.’ And just to prove the coalition were taking us back to the Eighties, Phil Fucking Collins returned to the album charts with his trademark nasal mewling and sweaty top-lip. Do us a favour Phil, buy a decongestant and f**k off back to Switzerland.
“I Hate The 80’s” By The Vaselines
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There were devastating floods in Pakistan, Chilean miners, riots around the word due to austerity measures and the X Factor runners up murdered David Bowie’s wonderful mini epic ‘Heroes,’ a song about two lovers who meet in the shadow of the Berlin wall, which had all its sweeping, elegant, cold war majesty stripped from it and was rendered absolutely lifeless by the karaoke brigade. These I’m sure you are acutely aware, are all signs of the impending Apocalypse. Cowell’s unrelenting sodomy of popular culture continued unabated and bizarrely he was even being accepted as a force for good as he continued to stretch the link between talent and success to breaking point. People have called me elitist in the past due to my hatred of all things X Factor, but really, when you think about it, is there really anything more elitist than sniggering from a perceived position of superiority as young, naive people are humiliated on TV by very rich, very smug people in the name of ‘entertainment’? It’s cruel, its nasty and it’s Bread and Circuses.
Cheryl Cole continued to cement her place in the public’s hearts as national sweetheart, her alleged racist brawling now well and truly airbrushed from her resume. We all make mistakes of course, and Cole’s sexless, joyless, mimed clunking performance at the Brit Awards was yet another clanger and also a crime against music. In other news Green Day decided to change their name to “Glee Day” and clambered aboard the jazz hands a go-go high school musical bandwagon as ‘American Idiot’ was turned into a Broadway musical, proving they are about as punk rock as my Aunt Maud. Has anybody sold out this much since Nick Clegg ? Hollywood once again demonstrated it’s uncanny ability to waste money is second to none, with only ‘Shutter Island’ and ‘Megamind’ shining some light on the turbid sea of celluloid shite.
It was a year that proved truth is stranger than fiction when the former England international footballer Paul Gascoigne, arrived in the Northumbrian town of Rothbury to offer his support to gunman Raoul Moat, who was in an armed stand-off with police. Gazza arrived armed with gifts for killer ‘Moaty’ including “a can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep warm”. A situation which prompted his incredulous agent to splutter “He’s doing what? I am sitting having an evening meal in Majorca. I’m speechless.”
(Full Gazza Interview below)
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It was also the year in which people continued to go to gigs and talk or shout through songs, which always pisses me off.
And it was the year in which David Beckham’s relentless campaign for a knighthood took a slight wobble after England’s failed World Cup bid. However Paloma Faith’s Damehood is surely now in the bag?
And 2010 was the year in which the BBC finally confirmed they too shared the same view as the rest of the country with regard to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.
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So all in all a shite year in which we said goodbye to Malcolm McLaren, Ari Up, Dennis Hopper, Jay Reatard, Kate McGarrigle, Mark Linkous, Alexander McQueen, JD Salinger, Frank Sidebottom, Lena Horne, Michael Foot, Alex Chilton, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, Gregory Isaacs, Captain Beefheart, Ronnie James Dio and Turkey magnate, Bernard Matthews (who was rumoured to have booked James Blunt to play at his funeral). Perhaps the most bizarre death was ELO founding member Mike Edwards who surely was mistakenly dealt Norman Wisdom’s death card and was killed by huge runaway bale of hay which rolled down a hill. ‘The good die first, And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust Burn to the socket’ which would possibly explain why Thatcher still refuses to shuffle off this mortal coil. We also said hello again to Suede, Pulp, The Libertines and erm, Take That with Chimpy Williams.
There were many marvellous moments in 2010- Glasto, NYC, Italy, interviewing one of my heroes from The Jesus And Mary Chain, Jim Reid, and Emma Anderson from Lush popping into VP Towers. We also managed to put a few great bands on, locally before the recession bit deep , such as The Indelicates .
And for balance there were some mighty deep down and dirty lows. The year ended with snow, in winter of all seasons!! Or ‘Snow-meggeddon’ as described by The Daily Mail and the UK ground to a juddering halt. Well we really do need a rest to regroup and prepare for battle against the forces of evil that threaten our very existence in 2011 ie/ The Coalition
So that was my year, how about yours? In part 2 of our round up we ask some musical chums to share their thoughts as they reflect back on 2010.
- Sir Simon Cowell? “X Factor” Boss Tipped For Knighthood (popcrunch.com)
- Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn on Loving America, Plastic Beaches and the Joy of Melancholy (spinner.com)
- Gorillaz give away their new album made on an iPad (guardian.co.uk)
- The VPME AWARDS 2010. (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Simon Cowell Is Giving Out Botox for Christmas (thegloss.com)