Blur announced their reformation exclusively to NME before going onto play rapturous shows in 2009 that included London’s Hyde Park, T In The Park festival and Glastonbury. A documentary about the band’s year titled ‘No Distance Left To Run’ is due for release in 2010.
In possibly his most ill-thought and egocentric moment yet, Kanye West took it upon himself to ruin 19-year-old singer Taylor Swift’s moment of glory at the MTV Awards, declaring Beyonce the rightful winner. Sheepish apologies and an entertaining internet meme (“I’mma let you finish, but…”) soon followed. Pic: PA Photos
Madonna had a traumatic 2009. The singer – newly divorced from filmmaker Guy Ritchie – won a difficult battle to adopt a child from Malawi, witnessed the death of her one-time-close friend Michael Jackson and cancelled shows in France after a stage collapsed killing two people.
Muse returned with suitably bombastic new album ‘The Resistance’ on September 14, and announced live shows at Wembley in 2010. For those who couldn’t wait until then, 10,000 fans got to see the band up close when they played a stunning gig in their tiny hometown of Teignmouth, Devon. Pic: Dean Chalkley
Glastonbury returned to full health in June 2009, after struggling to shift tickets in the previous year. Headliners including Blur and Bruce Springsteen (plus Jay Z’s incendiary 2008 show-stealing set in 2008, of course) ensured the legendary event once again sold out in the blink of an eye, with the surprise death of Michael Jackson the only low over the heady weekend. Pic: Danny North
Beyond the death of Elvis, there had never been a global tragedy in music on this scale. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died aged 50 on June 25 2009. His record-breaking series of dates at London’s O2 Arena was duly cancelled and accusations of drug-addiction and even murder filled the tabloids. A tragic end to a spectacular career. Pic: PA Photos
Jay-Z reaffirmed his status as King Of Hip-Hop/New York/The World over the past 12 months with a critically-acclaimed new album ‘The Blueprint 3’. Other highlights included selling out London’s Alexander Palace in just 15 seconds and, in January, playing a special inauguration-eve show in honour of the new American President, Barack Obama. Pic: PA Photos
More awards. More global chart-topping songs. Singing at the new American President’s First Dance. Can anyone’s year top Beyonce’s? The ultimate accolade (beyond MTV Award wins and a 2010 Grammys nomination) came, of course, when the ‘Crazy In Love’ singer won NME’s Track Of The Decade after a poll of NME writers and bands. Hats off. Pic: PA Photos
Simon Cowell exploded into living rooms with TV’s ‘X Factor’, but this year there was an astonishing retaliation from a Facebook group championing Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ (‘Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!’) as an alternative Christmas No.1. Unbelievably, the Raging masses won, with 5 million people tuning in to hear that Sunday’s chart show. Pic: D.Chalkley
Yeah Yeah Yeahs won NME’s Track Of The Year for their ecstatic song ‘Zero’, with album ‘It’s Blitz’ only pipped to the Album Of The Year top-spot by The Horrors and The xx. Karen O also helmed the soundtrack for the stunning movie version of classic children’s book ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, directed by Spike Jonze. Pic: PA Photos
What a comeback. From being dropped by their label and written off by some as Hoxton-haircut-wielding-hasbeens, The Horrors rose again like a gothic phoenix from the flames with ‘Primary Colours’, an LP drenched in classic influences and packed with gems of songs. No surprise then, when they won the NME writers’ Album Of The Year. Pic: Dean Chalkley
As someone who declares her rejection of fame on the cover of a magazine, it’s hard to take everything Lily Allen says seriously. But then her comments about illegal file-sharing were an earnest shake of the hornet’s nest that saw her engage in a fiery online debate with music-fans and bands alike about the music industry. Before unplugging her computer and running to the hills. Pic: PA
It was another rollercoaster ride of a year for Morrissey whose live shows were marked by incident: repeated cancellations, a collapse in Swindon, being hit by a missile before quitting the stage in Liverpool, and the ejection of a fan in Hamburg sat in contrast with his triumph at the Royal Albert Hall. Pic: PA Photos
U2: officially the biggest live band in the world. 2009 saw the Irish rockers dominate the planet with their dramatic stage sets and big-money roadshow. According to Billboard more than 3 million fans attended their concerts, generating gross revenues of over $311 million. Pic: Ed Miles
The band on everyone’s lips for 2010 – The Drums. Having dazzled in 2009 with single ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, the New Yorkers will hit UK stages on the Shockwaves NME Awards Tour in January.
Pic: Richard Johnson
The long-awaited Guns ‘N’ Roses album ‘Chinese Democracy’ was released in November 2008, but months later and lawyer-battles with Dr. Pepper (who promised free drinks should the album get released) and a blogger who leaked tracks were still waging. Stadium shows beckon in 2010, with Axl already on fine rock ‘n’ roll form and alleged to have punched a photographer at an airport.
If Simon Cowell squats at one end of the music spectrum, in a world of cash, suits and lumpen covers, then at the other end rest Animal Collective and their seminal ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ album. For many the must-have release of the year, its psychedelic, unapologetic and playful songs further carved the band’s reputation as sonic experimenters and daring musicians. Pic: Tom Oxley
Lady Gaga: a popstar who somehow personifies the insanity of the internet/paparazzi/world-in-ecological-and-economical-meltdown era that we’re living in. Totally fucking bonkers and slightly brilliant, then. Pic: Guy Eppel
Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones formed Them Crooked Vultures. The world rocked that little bit… harder.
The Arctic Monkeys’ third studio album received mixed reviews: some praising its assured rock sound and deft lyrics, others questioning the whereabouts of dancefloor-fillers like ‘I Bet You Look Good…’ from the good ol’ days. Either way, the Monkeys were back and Reading and Leeds festivals were theirs this year. Pic: Tom Oxley
Bruce Springsteen debuted at Glastonbury in June at the ripe old age of 58. Festival head honcho Michael Eavis praised The Boss’s stamina after he played for 2 hours and 40 minutes, finishing just before 12.40am. Pic: PA Photos
In January Barack Obama became America’s first black president and took over the hot seat from regular NME ‘Villain Of The Year’ George W Bush. Beyonce sang as Mr. President and wife conducted their first dance. It doesn’t get any better than that. Pic: PA Photos
Arguably late to the party, as streaming services like Spotify start to make MP3s and piracy redundant, in October the government’s Lord Peter Mandelson outlined the details of anti file-sharing legislation set to come into play. Illegal downloaders’ internet connections could be cut off from July 2011. Pic: PA Photos
Spotify founder Daniel Ek (right) launched the impressive ‘celestial jukebox’ service in the UK in October 2008, and throughout 2009 it was a cultural force to be reckoned with. A solution to illegal file-sharing and the death of the MP3? If the advertising-and-subscriptions-funded business can make the numbers add up, then very possibly, yes.
Technology, rather than world-changing new genres, characterised much of the most interesting evolutions in music this year – and indeed over the past decade. The iPhone 3GS was the must-have gadget of the year, with limitless Apps available for download making the pocket-computer a bottomless glass.
Not since David Beckham went from burning effigies of him hung in the street to being the national hero known as ‘Goldenballs’ had we seen a celebrity elevation like this. Cheryl Cole, racism-accusations long forgotten, is now a post-Diana People’s Princess: a spirited TV pop idol, gossip-magazine darling and smiling face of the all-consuming monster that is the ‘X Factor’. Pic: PA Photos
Twitter revolutionised the way in which fans could interact with the bands they loved. Follow Lily Allen, P Diddy or Mike Skinner, for instance, and you could know their every move and share your thoughts with them in real-time dialogue. A good thing? The jury’s still out.
He’s the human equivalent of a talking dog turd, but we’d be amiss to not mention gossip blogger Perez Hilton as part of the musical map of 2009. Now we’re just waiting for more great bands to appear as the backlash against the vacuous ‘celeb’ shite he represents. Pic: PA Photos
In April the four people behind the file-sharing resource website The Pirate Bay were found guilty of copyright infringement and handed one-year prison sentences. Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmsioppi, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom heard the verdicts in Stockholm before insisting their service would never die.
Pic: PA Photos
Rihanna’s year started with a hideous assault at the hands of her then boyfriend Chris Brown. But the singer was never going to take things lying down: a gun tattoo in March and new album ‘Rated R’ in November both highlighted her fighting spirit.
Pic: PA Photos
Chris Brown: a serious contender for NME’s ‘Villain Of The Year’ in 2009, especially now that we’ve seen the back of George W Bush.
Pic: PA Photos
What a year Florence Welch had. Incredible sets at Reading and Glastonbury, a Mercury nomination, a Brits win, 2 NME covers and a stunning debut album all suggested even better things to come. The good news? The singer is in the studio from January working on a new album for 2010. Pic: Tom Oxley
A shock win for singer-songwriter Speech Debelle at the 2009 Mercury Prize. The singer dumped her label shortly afterwards, claiming they had failed to capitalise on her victory.
Pic: PA Photos
Despite repeated requests from journalists about whether The Smiths would reform in 2009, Johnny Marr only had one band in his mind: The Cribs. Joining the Jarman brothers, Marr recorded a new album with them and hit the road for riotous live shows. Pic: Tom Oxley
Blink 182 were lucky to be intact at the end of 2009, after drummer Travis Barker was almost killed in a plane crash. Friend of the band DJ AM also survived the crash, later in the year dying from a drug overdose.
Pic: PA Photos
Radiohead opening Reading festival with ‘Creep’ was one highlight of the year that won’t be forgotten any time soon. Happily, the band are also promising a new album in 2010, with studio sessions continuing in January. Thom Yorke was also spotted recently at December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen. Pic: PA Photos
Coldplay’s studio sessions with Brian Eno saw Chris Martin banished from the studio temporarily, in a bid to shake up the band’s sound. Live the foursome dazzled in gigantic stadium shows with guests as varied as Jay Z, Girls Aloud and Simon Pegg also taking to the stage.
Back from the pop-wilderness (swanning about in LA) Robbie Williams launched his new album on the British public with a manic appearance on TV’s ‘X Factor’ and a live-on-radio engagement-that-wasn’t-an-engagement. Welcome back, Bob. Except we’re not sure that anyone’s actually missed you. Pic: PA Photos
Dizzee Rascal owned the chart top spot for much of 2009, with singles ‘Bonkers’ and ‘Holiday’ both claiming number ones. The rapper also picked up a Best Dancefloor Filler award at the Shockwaves NME Awards in Brixton in February, before leaping off the stage into the crowd. Pic: Dean Chalkley
Dubstep continued to flourish overground as a scene with Skream’s remix of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ a smash hit on Radio 1 and in clubs around the country.
Paramore knocked Madonna off the top of the UK albums chart on October 4. The five-piece US outfit’s third LP ‘Brand New Eyes’ went straight to the top, knocking the pop queen’s new compilation ‘Celebration’ down to number two. Pic: Tom Oxley
Britney continued to dominate tabloid headlines as her manager and ex-boyfriend received restraining orders, she mimed on the ‘X Factor’ and her Circus tour filled stadiums around the world – spurring more miming allegations. Pic: PA Photos
Who’d have thought that just months after their punchy headline performances at Reading and Leeds festival, a seventeen-year-old Rage Against The Machine song would be Christmas number one? Certainly not the band. An astonishing anti-‘X-Factor’ Facebook campaign powered the LA rockers to the top of the charts. And it snowed loads – Merry Christmas! Pic: PA
The Cure (pictured with Tim Burton) brought the 2009 Shockwaves NME Awards to a close in spectacular fashion by headlining the Big Gig at the O2 Arena in London on February 26. Robert Smith and co played a career-spanning set, following on from winning the Godlike Genius at the Shockwaves NME Awards ceremony the previous night. Pic: Dean Chalkley
Kings Of Leon’s ‘Only By The Night’ and Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling’ have been named the iTunes best-selling album and song of 2009.
‘Only By The Night’ fought off competition from Lily Allen’s ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ in the album category, while the second best-selling song of 2009 on iTunes was Lady GaGa’s ‘Poker Face’. Pic: Danny North
The XX released their impressive debut album ‘XX’ in 2009, and are hotly-tipped as ones-to-watch in 2010. Band member Baria Qurshi has already left the band however, due to ‘personal differences’…
Pic: Tom Oxley
He may be old enough to claim a free bus pass but that hasn’t stopped ex-Beatle Paul McCartney from being one of the most exciting musicians in the world. Millions tuned in to watch his appearance on the ‘X Factor’ whilst the guestlist for December’s O2 show reportedly included Noel Gallagher, Kate Moss, Ringo Starr, Madonna, Victoria Beckham and Tinchy Stryder. Pic: Paul McCartney
Guitar pioneer Les Paul died on August 13 aged 94 in New York from complications arising from a severe case of pneumonia. The musician and inventor was an enormous influence on modern rock music, releasing the pioneering Les Paul Goldtop guitar model through the Gibson company in 1952. His Les Paul Standard model, first released in 1954, remains hugely popular today.
Pic: PA Photos
Susan Boyle’s debut album ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ toppled Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ to became the fastest-selling UK debut of all time. The album, which features covers of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’ and Madonna’s ‘You’ll See’, sold over 130,000 copies on its first day of release (November 23), according to The Official Charts Company. Pic: PA Photos
La Roux’s year went from success to success as the singer played the Samsung NME Radar Tour in May before packing out tents at Reading/Leeds and Glastonbury. The carrot-topped performer, a.k.a Elly Jackson, is now recording material for her second album, due for release in 2010.
Pic: Tim Cochrane
Throughout 2009, The Stones Roses’ John Squire denied claims that the band were planning to reform. Speaking to NME.COM, a spokesperson for Squire said he was not involved any reunion, describing the reports as “unfounded from John Squire’s perspective”.
Pic: PA Photos
One of the finest rockumentaries in recent years saw ageing rock no-hopers Anvil propelled into the global spotlight. The 50-something musicians had enjoyed limited success in the 80s, before becoming stuck in dead-end jobs. The film, albeit briefly, changed all that, in what was one of the most heart-warming stories of the year.
Pic: Danny North