From star-studded reunions and dramatic returns to unexpected reformations and tragic deaths, the decade so far has produced one memorable music moment after another. Here are 28 of the biggest…
Once upon a time, Jarvis Cocker said he “couldn’t really see the point” in reforming Pulp. What a sly sort, eh? The band returned in 2011 for a series of shows and festival dates, from Reading & Leeds to Primavera, and in 2013 even released a new single called ‘After You’. It was bloody good to have them back.
In 2012, the music industry was shaken by the demise of EMI. Once one of the ‘big four’ major record labels, it was stung by financial troubles – according to reports, it was £2.5 billion in debt – and was subsequently sold and broken up. Universal Music Group purchased its recorded music operations, while Sony snapped up its publishing operations.
One of the biggest spats of the decade so far has been Taylor Swift‘s assault on Spotify. The singer withheld her ‘1989’ album from the streaming service and then removed her entire back catalogue from Spotify, too, later explaining: “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment.”
The most surprising of splits: in 2011, REM called time on their career after 31 years. The US group, who are considered one of the most influential bands of all time, shocked fans when they announced: “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”
It was arguably the most controversial performance in the history of MTV’s VMAs, and the moment Miley Cyrus became a pop juggernaut: her performance of ‘We Can’t Stop’ provoked fury and outrage when she twerked with Robin Thicke and, erm, caressed herself with a foam finger.
Adele ruled the decade so far unlike any other artist. The colossal success of her album ’21’ was one of the biggest stories of the past five-odd years, and in 2012 it did the unthinkable: in an era of sluggish record sales and lacklustre commercial returns, the album sold a mind-boggling 10 million copies in the US and became the 21st century’s only diamond-selling LP.
One of the saddest stories of the last few years was the demise of legendary retailer HMV. The chain went into administration in 2013 but thankfully, 144 of the shops were bought by restructuring company Hilco. Boss Paul McGowan has since revealed that the business is now “very profitable” and does not have a single loss-making store left in the UK.
“That rock ‘n’roll, eh? That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away.” So said Alex Turner at his now infamous Brit Awards speech in 2014. “Yeah, that rock’n’roll, it seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.” He then told organisers to “invoice me for the microphone if you wanna” before dropping it on the floor.
They’re working on a new album now, but The Libertines first buried the hatchet back in 2010, when they reformed to play that year’s Reading And Leeds festivals. “I can’t really believe it yet. I haven’t quite digested it. It’s been a bit of a pipe dream,” Pete Doherty told us at the time, as he prepared to share a stage with Carl again for the first time since 2004. A mighty reunion.
Music and politics collided when Russian punk collective Pussy Riot were arrested and imprisoned for staging an anti-Putin protest in a church. Their plight provoked outrage, condemnation and messages of support from everyone from Bjork to Paul McCartney – until, eventually, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were all released.
Six years after Spotify made streaming second-nature for all music lovers, in July 2014 the Official Charts Company announced that plays for songs on streaming services would finally start to count towards the UK’s singles charts. A revolutionary shake-up of the music industry, OCC boss Martin Talbot said it was a necessary step in “future-proofing the charts”.
He hasn’t released a solo album since 1999, but it doesn’t make a difference to his bank balance: when Dr Dre sold his headphone company Beats in July 2014,to Apple for a reported $3.2 billion. “The first billionaire in hip-hop,” declared Dre shortly afterwards. “Right here from the motherfuckin’ West Coast.”
It was the finger seen around the world: MIA‘s rude hand gesture at the 2012 Superbowl half-time show upstaged Madonna and turned into a media ruckus as angry spectators complained and the NFL sued the singer for £10 million. She eventually settled the lawsuit – and won a shedload of publicity as a controversial household name in the process.
No comeback or album campaign got folk quite as excited as Daft Punk‘s ‘Random Access Memories’ behemoth. Months of trailers, snippets of music and endless intrigue finally culminated in cameos from Nile Rodgers and Pharrell, and the song that conquered all of 2013: the unstoppable ‘Get Lucky’ which, to date, has sold nearly 10 million copies.
What a way to make a festival debut, eh? The Rolling Stones played Glastonbury for the first time ever in 2013 as Mick, Keith and co celebrated their 50th anniversary in style with one of the most-hyped headline slots in Worthy Farm’s history.
Along with Beyonce’s self-titled video album, released exclusively via iTunes, U2‘s ‘Songs Of Innocence’ was the decade so far’s most attention-grabbing release – not because of its music, but because it was slyly delivered to every iTunes account in the globe, regardless of whether users opted to buy it or not.
In November 2011, Dr Conrad Murray was found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of pop icon Michael Jackson. Murray, who denied giving Jackson a fatal overdose of the powerful sedative propofol on June 25, 2009, was convicted after a six week long trial and sentenced to four years in prison.
In February 2012, meanwhile, the music world mourned when singer Whitney Houston passed away. Houston, who passed away aged 48, had accidentally drowned in a bathtub in LA. A coroners report later revealed that the soul legend had drugs including cocaine, Benadryl, Xanax, marijuana and Flexeril in her system at her time of death.
No-one was safe from Psy‘s mega-hit ‘Gangnam Style’. And in November 2012 it became the most viewed video of all time on YouTube, after clocking up a record-breaking 815 million views in less than half-a-year. K-Pop had crashed its way into the mainstream.
One of the decade so far’s most heartwarming moments, now, as Dave Grohl and Courtney Love put aside years of acrimony to celebrate Nirvana‘s induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2014. Even better was their performance on the night, in which they were joined by heroes St Vincent, Lorde and Joan Jett for a very special show.
One of the saddest moments of the decade so far was when Beastie Boys legend Adam Yauch, aka MCA, passed away in May 2012 following a three-year battle with cancer. The rapper was only 47 when he died, but left a legacy of innovation and inspiration behind.
After nearly 15 years of brilliant music, Jack and Meg parted ways for good in 2011 as The White Stripes split up. “It [the split] is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way,” said the pair in a statement. Their final album, ‘Icky Thump’, was released in 2007.
35 years: that’s how long it had been since Kate Bush had played live. The smart money was on her never performing again. But in 2014, the singer announced that she’d play a residency at the Eventim Apollo, London. Tickets for the 22 Before The Dawn gigs sold out in 15 minutes, and the end result didn’t disappoint: it was one of the most special and staggering live returns in years.
What an extravaganza, eh? The feel-good factor of London’s 2012 Olympics was kickstarted by an astounding opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle, which brought together the cream of British music for one evening: Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal and Paul McCartney were all present, flying the flag for British pop in an event that’ll never be forgotten.
In October 2013, the world lost one of its biggest icons: the imitable Lou Reed, founder of the Velvet Underground and cherished for both his revolutionary songwriting and grumpy attitude, passed away from liver disease at the age of 71. He left a massive, genius-shaped hole that will never be filled.
On January 8, 2013, the music world was sent into meltdown: David Bowie – the David Bowie – announced he was back. He released his first album in 10 years, ‘The Next Day’, in March of that year. The biggest legend of them all had returned and, even after a decade of silence, was still capable of making more noise than anyone else.
This was the one: the moment when, finally, The Stone Roses buried the past and got back together. As special as some of their foreign festival slots were, it’s those shows at Heaton Park that stick in the mind: a glorious homecoming celebration in June 2012, and one of the best resurrections of all time.
The most memorable music event of the decade so far, though, is also one of the most tragic and senseless: the death of Amy Winehouse, caused by excessive alcohol consumption, in July 2011. Winehouse was only 27 when she passed away: a timeless talent who was taken far, far too soon.