It’ll go down in rock history, of course, as the year Ultrasound reformed, but 2010 offered, unbelievably, even more than that. Perhaps inspired by the success of the RATM Xmas Number One campaign in 2009, maybe infuriated by the lies and injustices of the coalition cuts or – more probably – because Stephen Fry told them to on Twitter, 2010 was the year The People took The Power into their own hands.
Riots rocked Tory HQ, piss bottles rained down on a piss-taking Guns’n’Roses and literally every music fan in the UK completely ignored all of the reviewer kickings dished out to ‘Come Around Sundown’ – and even what the oracles read in the pigeon droppings – and bought seven copies each anyway. It was the year We Would Not Take Any More Shit, particularly from the somewhat bone-dry UK music scene. And here’s what we learned from it…
1. Viral Nudity Was No Longer Enough
Back in the pure and innocent days of 2009 – oh, that lost moral Valhalla! – all it took was Wayne Coyne rolling around naked in a massive hamster ball surrounded by frolicking nude hippies or someone using an erect penis as a microphone in a Girls video to send the internet into a ‘forward’ing frenzy.
The inboxes of 2010, however, demanded even less SFW shocks. And they got them – M.I.A. shooting ginger children, Klaxons morphing into slimy hermaphrodite sex mutants and Kings Of Leon acting like some kind of Amish telethon appeal film were the sort of videos that got Generation Shirk tapping out those monetising ‘OMFG’s and ‘LMAO’s like the tinkling of golden cash tills. Coming in 2011, the Dum Dum Girls’ first snuff video. Possibly.
2. Tardiness Was Not To Be Tolerated
You are Axl Rose. You are due onstage at a major UK music festival, in front of 50,000 baying rock fans. And yet you’ve so nearly cracked level 4-7 of Angry Birds, your audio book of the Stieg Larsson trilogy is really getting racy and you’re finally getting the hang of riding a horse in Red Dead Redemption.
Ho hum, just a few hours more, you’re sure everyone will understand just this once… OUCH! And so it came to pass that Axl ‘Alarm Malfunction’ Rose discovered that the Reading Festival in 2010 wasn’t quite as forgiving of poor timekeeping as a 2006 Rhythm Factory crowd half-expecting Pete Doherty.
3. Forward Rolls Were The New Drugs
With the now-illegal mephedrone being shunned by the rock elite in favour of shamanistic psychotropic plant intoxicant ayahuasca – an infusion that could only be considered a ‘club drug’ if the clubs you frequent are full of people lying dribbling on the floor being guided around their own psychological inadequacies by an imaginary gibbon called Colin while regularly throwing up and shitting themselves – the summer of 2010 found the nation’s hedonists getting ‘dizzed-up’ on forward rolls.
Practically no-one actually walked anywhere at this year’s Glastonbury, not least Jamie Klaxon, who performed a full 100 forward rolls over the course of the weekend and also teased one out of Harry Enfield, this very reporter and a passing policeman. The summer rang with the cry of, “Man, I bruised my balls off last night…”
4. Music Won’t Let The Tories Ever Be Cool
“The best chapters in our economic history are those that embrace the many, not the few,” David Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January 2009, before hilariously citing Thatcher as an example for “leading an ownership revolution that gave millions a new stake in our economy.”
That’s Margaret Thatcher – the nearly-dead harridan because of whom you will work until you die for effectively less money every year in order to pay off institutionalised education debts in the hope of scraping together a monumental deposit on 25% of an ever-shrinking ‘new build’ flat by your mid-40s so you can spend the rest of your life paying vastly unaffordable mortgage repayments in order to sell the place in your 80s to pay for your own shitty gran-nappies to get changed.
And, in homage to his heroine, Cameron instantly tripled student fees on taking office, making it three times less likely for the poor to afford a university education. “Embrace the many, not the few?” Pah, what was it the eminent poet and philosopher Johnny Rotten once said? “Get pissed, destroy”?
But then Cameron isn’t Thatcher, is he? He likes Kaiser Chiefs. He’s ‘down wit da yoof’. He plays The XX at his party conferences and name-drops The Smiths at every available opportunity. And rock, bless its leftist socks, told him to piss right off via Johnny Marr’s Twitter or XX press release. Should’ve asked Biffy Clyro, eh Dave.
5. Going Solo Was The New Getting The Band Back Together
Though the reunions rolled on at a cracking pace throughout 2010 – Pulp, Suede, Cast, Libertines – at the same time frontmen were knocking out solo albums like Nick Clegg broke promises. Kele, Paul Maximo, Brandon Flowers and Carl Barat all joined the ranks of Julian Casablancas, Thom Yorke, Paul Banks and Gruff Rhys claiming a second career allowance. And hey, if no-one’s splitting up it’s double the music, double the fun if you ask us.
6. The Americans Were Coming
The Drums broke the barricades, and in their wake flooded Avi Buffalo, Warpaint, The Smith Westerns, Sleigh Bells, Crocodiles, Beach House, Best Coast, Ariel Pink and a deluge of great indie bands so overwhelming that a band as stupendous as The Rural Alberta Advantage somehow got lost in the backwash.
And what did the UK scene offer up as its single line of homeland defence? Mumford & Sons; a rock Dad’s Army if ever there was. The best thing about the US invasion was that it reminded a UK alternative scene obsessed with polishing and Elbow-ing its way into the charts for the past decade what it really meant to be ‘alternative’ – i.e. making fuzzed up, fucked up pop songs seemingly recorded in disused septic tanks on very, very bad drugs. Hence, by the end of the year everyone from Yuck to Ringo Deathstar to Elephant to Fiction to Chapel Club were back ‘on message’. Yee-haw!
7. Mainstream Capitalism Always Wins Out
As we gathered there in our heaving thousands in Finsbury Park, flushed with our victory over the puppet-masters that control popular culture (yeah! We stopped one subsidiary of Sony Music being Xmas Number One by giving 79p each to a totally different one*! Hey, The Man – UP YOOOOOURS!), at the top of his dark Syco tower sprouting from the black core of the Top Forty, Sauron Cowell looked down, and plotted his revenge.
And sure enough, at the time of writing, some witless, wailing gimp has sledged effortlessly to the top of the Xmas charts in the rancid carcass of – gah, the inhumanity! – a Biffy Clyro song. And thus hard rock, broken and humiliated, is forced to bend before Cowell’s mighty wallet and we, the discerning music fan, feel like we’re being arse-raped with our own dismembered cocks or, um… (scuttles off to scour Tramadol Nights for a female equivalent).
* and a bit to charity