Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 round-up part two

Gone but not forgotten:

Levi Stubbs, Paul Newman, Yves St Laurent, Eartha Kitt, Ken Campbell, Bobby Fischer, Arthur C Clarke, Jeremy Beadle, Freddie Hubbard, Miriam Makeba, Humphrey Lyttleton, Paul Raymond, Isaac Hayes, Harold Pinter, Oliver Postgate.

Biggest ego:
It's been a long time coming (cf his award show outbursts- "My video was the best 'cos it cost a million dollars and had Pam Anderson"- well that tells you everything about his value system...) but this year Kanye West's messiah complex went into full effect.  See, for example, his ludicrous posing as Christ on the cover of Rolling Stone, after his mom claimed that he was comparable to Gandhi, Jesus and Martin Luther King.  Sure he is, Mrs. West!  She later died during plastic surgery, which tells you everything you need to know about her judgement.  Now, egos are nothing new in music, and in American R&B in particular; most musicians need one, and occasionally they can back up their ridiculous claims with groundbreaking, innovative music (Prince, Michael Jackson, LL Cool J...)  This year, however, Kanye borrowed Cher's old Autotune, came up with some one-finger melodies to accompany his vocoder warblings and flung it in the public's face with the claim that we should be grateful for living in a time of such genius. The gulf between self-belief and recorded output has never been wider.

Self-fulfilling prophecy award:
Florence and the Machine have been announced as the recipients of the 2009 Critics' Choice Award at next year's Brits.  This is the new-ish award, the mechanics of which  where a previously (more or less) unknown act is anointed by the powers-that-be at the BPI as the next big thing.  Which is pretty much what then happens.  Last year's award winner was Adele, who at the time had yet to release any music.  Which tells you a lot about how the music biz operates.  
It all reminds me of a story that Bernard Butler used to tell, about how a nascent Suede were called into the office of the NME, and told they were going on the cover (prior to any actual singles being released) as it had been decided behind the scenes at the paper that they were going to be the NME's "Band of 1992".  "So that's how it works..." thought Butler.

Most uncompromising comeback:
Portishead Third: John Carpenter overtones, skronk jazz wailings and drums nicked from Trans-Europe Express.  Put that on yer coffee table, yer middle-class twunts!

More to come tomorrow...

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