My music overview of 2010

I apologise to readers who don't like music, because next week there will be a post a day as I run down my top 20 albums of 2010. Regular readers will know that music is perhaps my main passion (outside procurement blogging of course) so please indulge me for this one week of the year as we go a bit mad on the coverage.

And it has been a strange year. No common threads I can discern other than not a good year for UK 'indie'.  There is so much music available so easily, we see less and less consensus about artists and every individual fan has their own usually pretty wide range of stuff they like.

As Drowned in Sound said about their own (well worth reading) best of the year list;  "If 2010's year-end listing season marks anything, it's a strange but apparent death of consensus".

So, as I predicted last December, it has been a year for consolidation rather than new innovators really; without giving away secrets, my debut album of the year is great but arguably could have come from any of the last 5 decades. Female pop / folk / country / blues singers have had a good year; and established North America bands moved up a gear.  Half way through the year I thought it was looking like a very strong year; but it faded somewhat, and there's not much in the list that is from the last few months. It was a good year also for comebacks and older artists  finding a new lease of life - even Take That (not in my top 20 but with their most critically acclaimed album ever).

But my number 1 is well worth that position; and the 10 or so after that are all very strong in their own way.

A year ago, I mentioned Ellie Goulding and the Drums, which proved to be good tips although personally I rate them both as OK rather than anything more.  I tipped the Joy Formidable last year; they had a pretty good 2010 but 2011 will see their first major label release and hopefully global stardom.  So what else in terms of 2011?

I don't see clear trends, although guitar driven indie rock has to come back somewhat; new albums from Bombay Bicycle Club and the Maccabees should be good.  And new, young guitar bands like Yuck, the Flashguns, Vaccines and Mona (who will appeal to folks who liked Kings of Leon when they were good) should have an impact.  Warpaint will have a big year, and James Blake and Jessie J are talented, hard to categorise UK artists breaking through.   In popland, Florrie is very talented and a great drummer although she'll be promoted as a solo singer (attractive?  No, hadn't noticed at all).  R'nB will continue to take over the world becoming totally mainstream yet incorporating some of the most talented artists working in any field - it's not really my 'bag' but Kanye West and Janelle Monae made hugely original albums this year.

But my main hope is that we see some anger.  Whether the trigger is the economy, the disparity between rich and poor, global environmental issues, repression in Chine and elsewhere.. I would just like to see some young musicians genuinely try and make a point with passion, energy and excitement.

OK, I was a child (student) of the punk years, so maybe that has influenced me too much.  But 'rock', even though I love it, has become very corporate and organised.  I would like to see kids use music to make my generation feel a little uncomfortable; we've taken all the money, the houses, the jobs and the free education after all....   Doesn't have to be 'punk' music; Dylan did it, NWA did it in very different ways and musical styles.  Who is going to do it for this decade?

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  1. Sheena:

    Oddly enough, I really want to say Kanye. From his first release and subsequent albums after that, he’s a hip hop artist who has managed to actually grow with each album, providing more and more depth as he contemplates his own rags to riches story and that he won’t be able to live up to the hype. There was the auto-tune disaster of course, but he learned from it and moved on.

    I have to agree with Pitchfork: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is a rare ten. And the “Runaway” movie is … something new. And beautiful.

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