While Ciaran is beavering away with what will make up the Top 25 Singles for 2008, I thought I’d keep you entertained with some awards I want to give out for lesser known endeavours achieved during the year (meaning talk about some stuff that doesn’t fit into any proper structure). Let the ceremony begin!
THE ‘BEST VIDEO YOU COULD ONLY WATCH ONCE BECAUSE IT FREAKED YOU OUT SO MUCH’ AWARD
There was only ever going to be one winner of this category as soon as I clapped my eyes on ‘Stress’ by Justice:
As you can see it’s a decidedly unjaunty tale regarding some roustabouts in Paris. As with a number of controversial videos released of late it’s not so much the violence itself that captives, more the unglamorous, matter-of-fact nature of its cinematography and of course the twist that comes about two-thirds of the way through. It certainly provides a lot of thought for the viewer, the main one being “Urrrgh!”
THE ‘BEST INTERNATIONAL SONG THAT GIVES US AN EXCUSE TO USE THE PHRASE “THOSE WACKY FOREIGNERS!”’ AWARD
Now this award was still up for grabs at the 11th hour, but only a matted of days ago I was pointed to this little gem: ‘Les Limites’ by Julien Doré:
You may be forgiven for thinking this is your typical slice of obscure arthouse Gallic eccentricness. So it may surprise you to learn that not only did this prove to be a real summer smash (peaking at No. 2 in the French singles chart) but Monsieur Doré is a recent product of ‘Nouvelle Star’, France’s equivalent of Pop Idol/X Factor. Yes, the same media phenomenon that brought you Steve Brookstein and Michelle McManus is responsible for this, which owes more to Serge Gainsbourg than Simon Cowell. On a serious note, it does highlight the important point that good singing is not about high are the notes you can hit or how long you can sustain them for (though of course these abilities do help), it’s about how much emotion you are able to project in your voice and the level of characterisation you can emit - something that appears to be lost on all but the best reality-show hopefuls.
THE ‘BEST NEWSWORTHY EVENTS BY AN ARTIST WHO DIDN’T ACTUALLY GET AROUND TO RELEASING ANY RECORDS IN THE YEAR’ AWARD
This one goes to the group that made the transfer deadline day look like a game of one-man musical chairs, those lovely ladies that are (or indeed were) in The Pipettes. Firstly in April there was their outdoing of the Sugababes by going from Mk1 to Mk3 in one step. Then even the new line-up didn’t make it to the end of the year, with Anna (that’s the one that wasn’t Gwenno or Gwenno’s sister) choosing to pursue her own song writing career (which currently includes a co-credit for ‘Girls’ by the aforementioned ‘babes so the jury’s still very much out). Is Gwenno really that much of a tyrant to work with? I’ve had a number of ex-admirers getting quite tired of the situation and taking the view that they should just give up now before they become (even more of) a joke, but there’s been reports that their new material is even better than their debut album (which, faults an’ all remains extremely listenable), so like the most desperate Jimmy White fan I still remain hopeful.
THE ‘BEST ATTEMPT TO ROB GAVIN OUT OF HIS EVENTUAL RETIREMENT NEST-EGG’ AWARD
I very grudgingly give this award to Mute Records for re-releasing the BBC Radiophonic Workshop CDs. To explain this let me take you back to 2002; how my friends laughed when I spent quite a reasonable sum of money on a brand new copy of the album originally released in 1975 (a brilliant record covering a vast scope of the Workshop’s capabilities). How vindicated I felt when the CD was deleted shortly after, with copies selling online for even more considerable sums. And now this. Sure, normally I’d be very pleased that this masterworks are being made more available for a new generation to appreciate them, but music don’t put food on the table mister (unless your name is Brian Higgins of course).
THE ‘MOST WORRYING ABSENCE OF NEWS REGARDING SOMETHING WE’VE BEEN PROMISED FOR AGES’ AWARD
For the first time in living memory this award does not go to G’n’R for Chinese Democracy, an album I have yet to hear and is therefore immune to any criticism. Instead the spoils go to The Beatles. Another year gone, and while the Fabs themselves have been keeping in the news for various reasons, still no sign of the digitally remastered albums they’ve been talking about since the Moon landings. You remember them, the Beatles albums? The reason why they became international superstars and loved by people aged 1 to 100? Well it appears that EMI never have, which is why even to this day the Beatles CDs you buy in a shop (if you’re still lucky enough to live anywhere near a music shop now) still sound utterly terrible, every instrument sounds like it’s been separated from the others and is now competing with them rather than complementing the sound. For the time being, we’ll have to rely on the rather excellent bootleg jobs than audiophile fans have completed instead to the real thing. But surely that magical day will come - but for god’s sake get a move on, Sir George isn’t going to be around forever you know - unless there’s the quite plausible thought that he is God, and that’s why we’ll all be eating & drinking too much today. Merry Christmas everyone!