It’s a cliché to assert that musical trends go in cycles. Even so, it’s striking the extent to which critics’ tips for 2009 – by The BBC, The Guardian and The Times, among others – sound uncannily like a description of the zeitgeist circa 1982.
On the one hand we’ve got a slew of impassive-yet-tuneful electro acts (then: Eurythmics, OMD, Ultravox; now: Little Boots, La Roux). At the other extreme, there’s a surfeit of portentous, ultra-serious indie-rock (for The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen et al read White Lies and Red Light Company).
Perhaps these echoes shouldn’t be surprising. 1982 was also a year of recession in the UK. A broken economy, you could argue, enabled both genres to flourish: sleek synth-pop helped people transcend national gloom, glowering raincoat-rock authorised them to wallow in it.
However, these sort of lists are flawed as a bellwether of musical trends since they only apply to box-fresh acts.
In truth, most of the key watercooler moments will be provided by big, established bands. Blur‘s (strongly rumoured) headline appearance at Glastonbury will no doubt inspire a wave of Britpop nostalgia, while other major reunions (The Stone Roses, anyone?) will continue to proliferate, as promoters seek banker tours in a bid to stimulate a rapidly contracting live scene.
Other predictions? It’s a safe bet that female artists will continue to edge out their male counterparts, guitar music will have a quiet year, and – with any luck – the success of acts such as Florence And The Machine will shift indie’s epicentre from Brooklyn back to east London.
I’m also quietly hoping that music critics in 2009 will stop being quite so impressed by beardy, backwoods Americana in the Fleet Foxes/Bon Iver mould. Yes, we all know those albums are fragile/timeless/heart-rendingly beautiful. Now can we move on to something that doesn’t smell of compost and pullovers?
But what else can we expect from the coming year? Will nu-rave implode? Will The Wombats raise eyebrows by going dubstep? Will ‘grebo’ come back? Leave your own musical predictions by leaving a comment below.