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Mephedrone, Porn, The Apocalypse - 33 Trends That Defined 2009

By Luke Lewis

Posted on 29 Dec 09

 
 

There’s been a lot of Eeyor-ish pub talk about 2009 having been a “bad year for music” - as if there exists a vague, abstract standard of excellence against which to judge a given twelve-month period.

It’s ludicrous, of course. How many ‘good’ albums does it take to make a ‘good’ year for music? Sure, if you masochistically listened to nothing but N-Dubz, Cascada and The Twang, you’d probably conclude that these were pretty lean times.



Equally, you could have immersed yourself in nothing but dubstep. And if you’d done that, while you possibly wouldn’t have been much fun to hang out with, you might well think that 2009 was an exhilarating, boundary-smashing time for new music.



It’s true that there was no universal breakthrough band, no generational lightning-rod in the mould of The Strokes or Arctic Monkeys. But who, beyond music journalists, cares about that? Here’s my attempt to define the past twelve months in music and beyond, using that quintessential 2009 format, the mildly sarcastic list.

1. Boring bands becoming exciting
The Horrors, The Maccabees and Jack Penate all surprised everyone by releasing second albums that didn’t remotely suck.



2. Exciting bands becoming boring
Thanks to Josh Homme’s influence as 'Humbug' producer, Arctic Monkeys transformed from Britain’s most spikily eloquent band into a bunch of heads-down noodlers with problem hair and an alarming fondness for double denim.

3. Good comebacks
That’ll be Blur and Rage Against The Machine, the live highlights of the year. All the fun of being 15 again, only this time you can get served!



4. Bad comebacks
I’m looking at you, Red Dwarf easter special, Fame, The Wonder Stuff, Dodgy, Skunk Anansie and every other band who forgot that the reason they split up in the first place was because they hated each other and no-one liked them anymore.

5. The death of supermarket indie
Razorlight lost a drummer. Kaiser Chiefs went on hiatus. The Fratellis doo-doo-doo’ed into side-project oblivion. Annoyingly, Snow Patrol are still going strong - but then Gary Lightbody, like the poor, is always with us.

6. Live Tweeting
The advent of mass-Tweeting during TV programmes heralds a genuine revolution in media, and in 2009 achieved the impressive feat of making The X Factor almost watchable, thanks to the waspish comments of @Popjustice et al.

Conversely, the habit of Tweeting during gigs must be stopped. Put your iPhone away and watch the band, douchebag.

7. Spotify playlists
Music bloggers: can’t be bothered writing anything? Then create a Spotify playlist instead! It’s just like making someone a mixtape - only without any of the effort, imagination, craft, expense or attention to detail. Brilliant.

8. Pornographic indie videos
NSFW! From Girls to Yeasayer to Flaming Lips, you were no-one this year unless you had someone’s cock and balls jiggling about randomly in your video.



9. Mephedrone
It’s cheap, it’s legal, can be ordered online, and apparently delivers a high that’s midway between cocaine and MDMA. What could possibly go wrong? Well, according to some, it “makes your brain bleed out through your nose”. Hmm, I’ll stick to Red Stripe, thanks.

10. Music industry in turmoil (yawn)
Yes, yes, no-one buys CDs anymore (unless they’re by Susan Boyle) and major labels now generate significantly less profit than the average Big Issue vendor - but next year, can we stop going on about it?

11. The Apocalypse
From big-budget films such as The Road and 2012 to home-grown TV shows like Day Of The Triffids, we couldn’t get enough of imagining our species’ imminent decline. Meanwhile, the Copenhagen summit demonstrated that, even though we know we’re hurtling towards the End Of Days, we’re too stupid and self-interested to do anything about it. Happy New Year!

12. Video games trampling all over rock history
OK, we know gaming is now a bigger industry than music. Fine. But do they have to rub our noses in it by making Kurt Cobain sing Bon Jovi songs in Guitar Hero 5 (admittedly quite funny), or rendering Iggy Pop and Blur in Lego? What next, Ian Curtis as an unlockable sprite in Grand Theft Auto?



13. Remixes that aren’t a total waste of time
Skream’s version of 'In For The Kill', The xx’s inspired remoulding of 'You’ve Got The Love' - for the first time in a long while, the remix was deployed as an artform in itself, as opposed to contractual B-side fodder.



14. Auto-Tune
Who knew Cher’s 'Believe' would cast such a shadow over noughties hip-hop and R&B? Things got so bad Jay-Z was forced to pronounce the 'Death Of Auto-Tune' - then spoilt it by recording ‘Forever Young’ with Mr Hudson, a man who’s built a career on sounding like a Dalek Sting.

15. Twitter outrage
Because there’s no better way to pour scorn on The Daily Mail than by forwarding a link to their website to absolutely everyone you know, thereby sending their traffic through the roof.

16. 'Slacktivism'
All right, Facebook warriors, you got 'Killing In The Name' to Number One. That’s impressive - but you’re hardly the Sandinistas, so less of the power-to-the-people triumphalism, OK?

17. The digital music backlash
The self-promoting dorks behind The Pirate Bay were sent to prison. Lily Allen called filesharing "dangerous". And the rest of us, after years of cheerfully right-clicking on every MP3 we could get our hands on, realised that maybe stealing artists’ work was Not Cool after all.



18. Artists 'revolutionising the industry'
Public Enemy asking fans to fund their next album; Ash releasing a single every fortnight for a year... are we doomed from now on to listen to bands talk about ‘monetizing their brand’ in every interview? I liked it better when they just bragged about drugs and shagging.

19. Viral marketing
OK this is hardly new, but it seemed to kick into a particularly irritating higher gear this year thanks to the Talk Talk/X Factor 'brightdancing' non-craze, and T-Mobile’s eminently punchable “I’d start a superband”, free-texts-for-life bloke. Jam with you? I’ll jam your face into this lamppost if you don’t piss off immediately.



20. Online viciousness
A cliched observation, it’s true, but I’m convinced user comments are getting even more nasty and brutal. This year I’ve been called a cuntknocker, a jebend, an assclown, a twatblanket, and a fucktard. And that’s just by my boss. It’s getting out of hand.

21. Fat blokes in hardcore bands taking their shirts off
A personal bugbear, this. If I wanted to watch a plus-size shouter shake his sweaty backfat all in my face, I’d watch WWE. Look at this clip. Does that look like a good night out to you?



22. Entirely fictitious genres
I’m sorry, can someone explain to me what exactly is 'Italian' about 'italo-disco' merchants Heartbreak? One of them looks like Boycie out of Only Fools And Horses. Check out the dancing in this clip, by the way. Remind you of anything?



23. Vampires
Blah blah Twilight. Yadda yadda True Blood. When did we all start sharing the same taste in entertainment as nerdy teenage boys? And don’t get me started on fucking zombies...

24. The word 'amazing'
Surely the world’s most over-used adjective. Enough.

25. The word 'douchebag'
Punchy, satisfying and elegant - the thinking man’s insult.

26. Staggeringly good comedy
It used to be received wisdom that all the great sitcoms - Fawlty Towers, Blackadder etc - ended after just a few seasons. But Peep Show (Season Six) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season Seven) just keep getting better. 2009 might have been the best year for TV comedy ever (Horne & Corden notwithstanding).



27. Rise of the nerds
When a spod like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gets a Hollywood movie made about him (due 2010, starring Justin Timberlake), and square-faced “social media expert” Pete Cashmore is judged the world’s most influential Twitter user, you know something is deeply wrong. The geeks have taken over. How did we let this happen?

28. Super-speed memes/virals
From 'I’mma let you finish' to Ray 'We mash a hybrid of styles' Gun, the pace of LOL-worthy virals has accelerated exponentially thanks to Twitter, meaning if you haven’t heard the joke within 18 hours, you might as well not bother.



29. Pointless iPhone apps
No please, go ahead, show me that application that uses GPS to show you where the nearest urinal is, it’s not remotely tedious.

30. Awful music TV presenters
Thought Fearne Cotton and Vernon Kaye were insufferable? Step forward Rufus Hound and Rick Edwards, men who manage the scientifically unlikely feat of exuding even less warmth and likability than Justin Lee Collins.

31. Snarky lists
Like this one.

32. Errr

33. That’s it

 
 
 
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