The Patch

January 12, 2007

Friday 12th January

Filed under: Music & Film — Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 2:01 am

Why Hip Hop sucks in 2006 (and most other genres of music)

So another musical year has passed on, but has it been a vintage one?  Well the short answer is “no”.  The long answer is “no, I hate Johnny Borrell and everything he stands for.  Vectra for sell.”

After the magnificence in all things audio that was 2005, where The National produced one of the all time great albums in Alligator; Conor Oberst matured into this generation’s spokesman; internet pioneers Arctic Monkeys emerged as an exciting and revolutionary voice of Britain; Arcade Fire took over the world with dazzling live shows and Razorlight didn’t release an album, these end of year ponderings do not speak much of great joys, discoveries or comebacks. 

The biggest woe of the year is of course the rise in ‘schmindie’.  Token two bit indie bands that everyone in the world, apart from NME, is still desperately trying to find a use for.  The likes of The Kooks dominated the popular charts with medirockrity; Razorlight returned with Johnny Borrell’s self stylised “we’re crap but if I act like I’m in the greatest band in the world then people might think I am” attitude; moronic variations of The Automatic’s drunken anthem Monster filled many a student’s summer night (the only one that I found worth in being the ‘Michael Chopra’ variation, mainly because I bought Michael Chopra for Hearts on Championship Manager once and he was aces) and Boy Kill Boy continued to exist.

Pseudoelectronica also prevailed, with Hot Chip managing to bore the airwaves.  How adding a keyboard to 4 skinny indie kids with guitars suddenly became hip and original is still perplexing this cynical head.   

Panic! At the Disco hit some distress involving the leaving of the bass player.  A pity they did not hit a truck instead.  And those other kings of emo, My Chemical Romance, returned with their ‘career defining album’, with songs, you know, about love and loss and how shit it is and that.  Oh, and the ‘controversial’ Cancer.  Oh dear.

Some company was found for James Blunt in the incessantly dull singer songwriter camp, as Jose Gonzalez, Paulo Nutini and James Morrison rose to prominence in the hearts of mums everywhere.  I’m sure there’s an equation somewhere that shows the correlation between how dull something is and how popular it is amongst the middle aged middle class.

Promising come backs proved disappointing, with the likes of DJ Shadow, Beck and even Morrissey floundering in their attempts to move forward, either rehashing old work to tedious effect, or getting lost in vain efforts to evolve and remain relevant.  Oh for the days of Endtroducing, Odelay and Vauxhall and I when these artists could actually record something that mattered for more than a few minutes.

Bob Dylan also returned, with a disappointing new record.  Also, his bizarre ramblings about all music of the last 20 years being worthless and his refusal to own up to those lyric stealing accusations lets him down.  Bad show Bob, bad show.

Another musician with a loose tongue finding her way onto playlists and the minds of the public this year was the loathsome Lily Allen. Fortunately a mix of dull cod reggae songs, a genuinely vile personality and the hopeful cancellation of the dreadful new Robin Hood series should mean 2007 shall be a considerably quieter from the Allen household.

Unfortunately 2004’s most boring band, Snow Patrol, decided to grace the music world with their mediocre presence again.  Insomnia rates were at new low.  Coincidence? 

This year also saw the split of one of the UK’s most dynamic and ambitious bands in Hope of the States.  A genuinely sad loss for music, as not only did they produce the most majestic aggression on record, but their live shows were an awesome spectacle to behold. 

More acts with far less public appreciation tha was conveivable were Peter, Bjorn and John and Liam Frost who both had stunning single of the year contender releases criminally ignored by the record buying public that thought Crazy was entertaining enough to warrant 9 weeks at the top.

And of course, no efforts from The Shins, Modest Mouse and Radiohead, all of which I was very much looking forward to.  Oh well.

Sounds bleak doesn’t it?  Don’t worry; this year did have its great moments.

2004’s other most boring band Keane actually came up with something that you could tell apart from every single other song they do with the rather brilliant Is It Any Wonder?, which was one of the singles of the year.

The Mercury Music Prize finally got over itself and wasn’t afraid to give the award to the most deserving act, even if they were the biggest band in the country.  For Arctic Monkeys did finally get round to recording proper studio cuts of those classic demos and came out with an album with intelligence and integrity that perfectly summed up modern British life and was certainly worthy of all that hype that fell its way.

Pretenders to the best band in Sheffield throne emerged in the form of the exuberant Little Man Tate. With a selection of free demos that equalled anything their northern compatriots put out in 2005, the Tate set themselves up nicely to conquer the music world in 2007. Even if Jarvis Cocker doesn’t make much of them. The idiot.

There were some surprisingly welcome returns from such previous disappointments as Muse.  Previously too tortuous and over the top to warrant anything more than ‘yeah, they’re alright, but, you know…’ Super Massive Blackhole was daringly fresh and inventive and showed a band striving to be SOMETHING, which I like.

Pet Shop Boys, Scissor Sisters and Luke Haines also returned with dizzyingly delightful electro pop that kept those dance floors full.  Mika also cropped up to join the camp electrodisco party sounding like Rufus Wainright deciding to just let it all go.

Pop came to the fore again as number one airwave act of the year The Feeling, dominated every radio station in the land.  And very welcome they were too, with that sense of joy surely warming everyone’s heart.  Expect similar piano poppers Air Traffic to have a similar grip on those playlists next year.

Female voices found their way into the music lover’s conscious this year, as new albums from the beautiful pixie that is Joanna Newsom and gruff, alcoholic, suicidal wench Cat Power impressed those who could be arsed switching off MTV for a few minutes and going out and finding something worthwhile.  Magic.  

And not forgetting Amanda Palmer of course, as Dresden Dolls not only managed to create another splendid offering in Yes, Virginia but also managed to instil that beautiful burlesque passion and fashion in every one of their fans.

Alt-pop Americana brilliance showed its quality again this year with the superbly fun Little Ones showing up pretty much everyone one if their contemporaries even though they only released six song this year.  Ambitious songbird, Sufjan Stevens, also got around to previewing some VERY promising new material.  Here’s hoping he doesn’t faff it all up again.

New evolutions from former shoegazers turned pop joys Mojave 3 and the respectable side of emo, Pretty Girls Make Graves, saw impressive new LPs that showed a promising new direction.

Though many maligned the awesomely spectacular Guillemots for being that bit too schmaltzy and cheesey, they’re album packed a wonderfully over the top punch that should have seen it sail to the top of the charts.

One band immune from critics this year were Australia’s Sleepy JacksonPersonality proved to be one of the most consistent and addictive records this year and saw Luke Steele verging on Brian Wilson levels of insane genius.  Sadly, the record buying public were not as convinced as the critics so this modern classic was doomed to the lower echelons of the charts.

As too was The Decemberists’ latest offering in The Crane Wife.  Colin Meloy’s witty, articulate tales were matched in their intelligence by fantastic vaudevillian songwriting, though were still unappreciated by that huge audience they richly deserve. 

And just as the year was closing and it looked like the hip hop world was going to have nothing worthwhile to show for itself for the entire year (the first person to mention Plan B is an idiot), the legendary Nas returned to show the world how to speak right fast over a funky beat with the excellent Hip Hop Is Dead.

So, it’s not been too bad really.  I may have been a tad over the top with my dire proclamations at the start of this article, but, heck, when you care about something so much you get a little narked when it don’t come good.  I can still only see one album released this year having the critical and commercial acclaim, and general all round fantasticness, that merits it being played in 20 years time however.  We shall see.

Also supplied is a handy guide to what were the top 10 albums and singles of last year.  But what triumphed?  Well don’t go crazy with the wonder, just scroll down a bit.

 

Top 10 Albums of 2006

10. Guillemots  – Through the Windowpane

Guillemots 

9. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife

 

8. Hope of the States – Left

 

7. Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia

6. Cat Power – The Greatest

5. Mojave 3 – Puzzles Like You

4. The Sleepy Jackson – Personality: One Was A Bird, One Was A Spider

3. The Little Ones – Sing Song EP

2. Joanna Newsom – Ys

1. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Arctic Monkeys

Top Ten Singles of the Year

10. Luke Haines – Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop

9. The Feeling – Love It When You Call

8. Guillemots – Trains to Brazil

7. The Pipettes – Pull Shapes 

6. Air Traffic – Just Abuse Me

5. Arctic Monkeys- When the Sun Goes Down

4. Little Man Tate – What? What You Got?

3. Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks

2. Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family – The Mourners of St Paul’s

1. The Little Ones – Lovers Who Uncover

Festive Film Feature Fun Frolics – “Fantastic” Fawn Fully Formed Fans

Alas, another Christmas has gone by. The turkey has all gone. The presents are all broken. And the extended family are at bay for another 12 months. Huzzah!!! This Christmas like most other Christmasses, except ones before telly and one in 1993 when every single person in the United Kingdom forgot telly existed for some reason, saw the big five channels dig deep as they tried to entertain with the newest, most dazzling blockbusters the film world had to offer. And I’m sure you’re all wondering as to how the bunch offered up this year compare with those of Christmasses past. If you’re not, then don’t bother reading anymore as this is precisely what this article is about. So for those with the heart to care, here are my picks of a film fueled yuletide. Oh, and thanks to the wonderful bumper edition of What’s On TV for helping me make up my mind as to what to see. What’s On TV, the Billy Joel of TV guides.

First up on this festive film feast was Twins on 23rd December. I like this film. It reminds me of when I was young and didn’t care about good scripts, clever direction, quality acting or suitable mis-en-scene, and all that was needed was the hilarious pairing of Danny De Vito and Arnold Schwarznegger as, you’ve guessed it, TWINS!!! How crazy is that??!?!?!? One’s short and fat, the other’s tall and athletic. A magnificent piece of cinema. I missed the last half hour or so for some reason, possibly eating something, not too sure, so I don’t really know how it ends as I’ve forgotten. It’s probably a happy ending. So don’t be upset or anything.

Also on this day I caught some Kelsey Grammer singing in A Christmas Carol: The Musical. He’s got some vocal chords on him. Another singy version of Dickens‘ tale was on Five as The Muppets gave their version of it. A genuinely excellent film, that is both funny and touching and probably the best version of the story I’ve seen. Michael Caine also puts in one of the finest performances of his career as Scrooge.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was on in the evening but I didn’t watch it. I have seen it lots before though so feel I can comment on it. Ignore this comment if you don’t agree with my presumptions. This is one of the 50 greatest films ever. Beautiful to look at, and so charming. A joy to watch on any occasion.

Nuns on the Run was on. I refused to watch it. I saw Jaws on the Sky TV guide thing and thought it said Jews. That is all I have to say on the matter.

Christmas Eve then, and what was to be beheld on such an occasion? Well Madeline was on, but not in Scotland. The entire nation had a day of mourning for this loss. Tom Hanks turned up in Turner and Hooch as a policeman called Turner who has a dog called Hooch. I forget the rest.

I liked the original Tim Allen movie The Santa Claus as it made me feel oh so festive when I were a younger, but now I’m older and more cynical and have a hat to my name, I care less for it. And less so for its tiresome sequel The Santa Claus 2. The head teacher was a looker though.

I really wanted to watch The Nun’s Story as it has Audrey Hepburn in it and I would. Unfortunately family gatherings were necessary so I missed it. How I wept. I cheered myself up by watching A Fish Called Wanda though as John Cleese is a funny man with considerable muscle definition.

And on to the birthday of the old fella himself. To celebrate BBC One offered us a grotesque pig in the form of Babe. I don’t really like pigs and find them a bit repulsive, but this was quite quaint in a nice little Australians are a bit dim way.

ITV tried to pull in viewers with a family double of The Grinch and the first Harry Potter. I participated in the watching of neither, preferring to do absolutely anything else. The rest of Christmas was a blur. I don’t think I watched any films.

Hey Arnold! The Movie opened Boxing Day for Channel 4. What’s On TV describe the animation as ‘basic’ and suggest the script has ‘plenty of spirit’. Trust them if you want, you’re not getting an opinion from me.

Diagnosis Murder’s cool, rebellious Italian charm merchant Scott Baio was Bugsy Malone in Bugsy Malone. This is actually a fantastic kids’ film. Watch it if you can.

Other daytime drama stars turned up in more films as Murder She Wrote’s Angela Lansbury dared to act in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I felt like eating Coco Pops.

One film that I thought I may not like but actually really did was Freaky Friday, or more precisely its new and improved 2003 version starring the rather MILFy Jamie Lee Curtis and the ghastly Lindsay Lohan. Very fun it was. Even better than the original.

ITV came out tops from the 27th to 29th with their righteous decision to screen all three Back to the Futures on consecutive days. I won’t get started on how much I love these films as I would be here all day and I don’t care enough about my readers to do so, but if you have seen them already you should know why they are great, and if you haven’t seen them then you’d better have a good excuse like being blind or allergic to time travel romps or something.

Each of these classics was followed by a film in the Jurassic Park series. I hate Jurassic Park.

Something I do not hate however is Dunga, the legendary Brazilian captain who helped them to their 1994 World Cup win. Dunga was not in the brilliant City of God, set in his home country, but I feel his appearance would have been reassuring and masterful. As it stands, City of God is still devastatingly compelling and harrowing in a ‘golly, that made me think way’. “It’s one of the seven greatest films ever!” shouted Cammie Smith from Bath.

Macauley Culkin found his face on our screens again with the Christmas fodder that is Home Alone. What a prankster, eh? If Joe Pesci and the tall one came round my house wanting to rob it, I’d probably be utterly terrified that they might kill me. Kevin wasn’t. He had paint tins and Micro Machines.

I saw some of Holes which had that tosser from Even Stevens on it stealing some shoes or something. I didn’t watch enough to found out what these holes were, or indeed where they were.

More Muppet action was to be discovered in the Caribbean as Muppet Treasure Island was reeled out again by the BBC, and for those who haven’t seen it before was probably most entertaining. I have see it many times before so it wasn’t.

The biggest disappointment of this holiday for me was probably the death of my family. A close second was me being unable to see High School Musical, which from every trailer and word of mouth message I have received looks like it could well be the greatest film ever. Sporty kid and swotty kid audition for said high school music, to find not only a starring role in the show, but also a starring role in each other’s hearts? Yeah.

I didn’t watch anything on the 30th as I think I was doing something else. I missed Spirited Away, That’s quite disappointing.

Arnold Scwarzenegger showed his softer side again in the hugely ironic entertainathon that is Kindergarten Cop. Fact – Arnold Scwharzenegger is spelt differently each time I write it in this article. But what is the right answer? WHAT!?!!!?!?!?

Tobey Maguire shot a horse in Seabiscuit.

I don’t think I saw anything else actually. I’ve seen The Life of Brian before though. That was on New Year’s Day. It’s funny. Not as funny as Spinal Tap though.

That is what I watched. What did you watch? Don’t bother writing to me about it, just think what you got up to. Now aren’t you ashamed of yourselves?

 

 

 

 

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5 Comments »

  1. God I hate the Artic Monkeys…

    Love the article though; this is all shaping up rather well methinks!

    Comment by Amy — January 12, 2007 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  2. Oh, well done Tom!

    Comment by Claire — January 12, 2007 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  3. Hehe, well done Spanky! This is great.I think we should play a game in which we mention coco pops and daytime tv as many times as possible.Preferably while eating aforementioned coco pops and watching the Hallmark Channel.

    Comment by denesha — January 12, 2007 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  4. That’s a lot of work and good stuff. I’m seeing the feeling in Febuary with my girlfriend but I don’t know who they are. Glad you rated them alright.

    One genre that you did neglect, which is one of the fastest growing and most promising is grime. It’s been a great year for grime, and garage to an extent. The genre has become more assessable and more albums are being produced, with some stocked in HMV.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Lady Sovereign. While I’m not a fan, she has gone massive in america. For someone that is generally disliked in the UK (and I’d say not a good representative of grime), she has done amazing in america and taken off. She even launched her album in Times Square. Hoping this proves to create an opening for other grime artists.

    Comment by Ian — January 13, 2007 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  5. wow all that was on for christmas? we don’t get that kind of quality tv over the holidays; everything is holiday themed. i would have loved to see the muppet christmas carol! muppets + christmas = awesome

    Comment by Amie — January 17, 2007 @ 2:29 pm | Reply


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