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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Friday, 07 January 2011 00:00|
2010 has been a fairly strong year when it comes to music. While it has been a year without Gaga as she tours the globe, others have stepped up to the plate with new material (Kylie Minogue, Scissor Sisters, Mark Ronson, Belle & Sebastian), or have taken the opportunity to do a bit of navel gazing by releasing greatest hits or retrospectives (Robbie Williams, P!nk etc.).
Sure, the music industry is continuing its downward spiral financially, but it has actually encouraged an environment where artists have to put out quality product and find new ways of promoting their art bb nn. Like any other industry, desperate times call for innovation. Touring has become not just a side business, but absolutely essential to the artists looking for a big payday. More and more people may be illegally downloading music (shame on you), but if ticket prices for someone such as Gaga is indicative to anything, fans are still willing to pay top dollar to see their favourite acts.
Album of the Year
As I said, there have been quite a few excellent albums out this year. Looking back at some of the albums I've reviewed this year, a common theme seems to come up: cohesion. Artists and bands put out music that felt like a cohesive whole instead of just a collection of songs or singles. Whether it was Marina & the Diamonds, Kylie Minogue or Belle & Sebastian, the albums they put out felt like they had a been stitched together with a common theme in mind. Arcade Fire in particular put together an excellent package with The Suburbs, and they nearly were my favourite album of the year, but one album beat them out.
The Scissor Sisters with Night Work not only put together a crazy collection of catchy songs involving sex, gender bending, and frivolity (with frolicking), but they put out an album that has that cohesiveness that I listened to a lot. I mean a lot.
It's too bad that more people haven't gotten onto the Scissor Sisters bandwagon, because this album actually works as the best introduction to the band. With Night Work you get the best possible mix of New Wave Revival/Glam Rock. One only has to listen to a song like "Any Which Way" to get the raison d'être of the band. Simply put, this album of the year is a rare of example of where I feel it needs more attention in the mainstream music press, not less.
Song of the Year
While considered a flop by the UK music press (it peaked at #12 in the charts and only stayed in the top 100 for four weeks), it's one of those songs that despite its lack of commercial success will manage to live on with the fans. I can't tell you how many times I've listened to this song (hundreds?), but it has been on consistent play since I got the Aphrodite album in July, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend, my roommate and those I work with (sorry everyone!). "Get Outta My Way" had the whole package for me: great song in its album form, a selection of remixes that showed the song had both depth and breadth when it came to musical styles, and a video that was a slick piece of work (though perhaps not video of the year material).
Bottom line, this is one of those great pop tunes that has had longevity in my listening habits. I am an attention deficit music listener, and the fact that I am still listening to this song some seven months after the album's release, is true testament of a great song.
Concert of the Year
For the first time in five years I have not gone to a billion live shows in a year. In fact, I only went to one live show this year: Hole at BluesFest. So while Courtney Love is technically taking this category by default, I do want to praise the show on its own merits, because it was still a damn good show.
Courtney Love is not the most... stable of people (at press time, this was the best way of saying this without the fear of lawsuit). Her musical efforts are spotty at best (her solo material, while good, pales in comparison to her work with Hole), but with Nobody's Daughter, Love has seemingly hit a bit of a musical renaissance. She may not be completely sober (depending on the day), but the new album and her tour have proven that she may still have a catfight or two left in her.
Her live show back in July featured a fantastic mix of both old and new Hole. Love, who was celebrating her forty-fifth birthday that night, was in fine form, rocking out as though it was her first (or maybe even last) show ever. She had attitude without being her usual train-wreck self, and managed to capture an audience that was probably a mix of people who only know her from the tabloids and fans that have become more than a little beleaguered with her clichéd rockstar-bitch persona over the years.
Even if I had managed to see other shows this year, I think they would have really paled in comparison to finally seeing Courtney Love perform. Growing up as a teenager, it was also my dream to see the Smashing Pumpkins and Hole perform. I saw the Smashing Pumpkins in 2007 and Hole in 2010; two more things off the bucket list!
Video of the Year
There have been a slew of great videos this year, from your typical pop/dance videos such as the Scissor Sisters' "Any Which Way", to more artistic endeavours like Ok Go's "White Knuckles". However, there was one video in particular that stood out as the video of the year, not so much because it was the "best", but because it managed to not only turn a few heads, but perhaps change a few perceptions as well.
That video would be for "Ice Cream Truck" by Cazwell. Go YouTube it, but be warned that this really should not be viewed at work.
My significant other argues that this song and the video do not contribute anything to music, the video only works on a satirical level, and if a serious point was trying to be raised with its release, the point is completely lost. I would actually argue the exact opposite of that. The video while obviously satirical does provide us with an interesting case of gender-bender and the sexualisation of music videos. While it may not necessarily open serious dialogue, the fact remains that people will still be talking about the video. And for a large part of the female (and gay male) population, the guys aren't exactly hard to look at.
2010 closes on a high note, with some excellent albums, catchy songs, and even a bit of innovation within the music industry. My only music resolutions for 2011: get back to seeing more live concerts.