Friday, December 19, 2014

the top 10 albums, singles, gigs and comedians of 2014 + end of year awards

Here are the Top 10 albums, singles, gigs and comedians of the year, as well as awards for the film, exhibition and articles of the year. Maybe I could call these awards 'The Muldoons'? Thoughts welcome. As with previous years, an act can only appear in the top 10 albums list, or the top 10 singles list, not both.

A couple of weeks ago I also put up my annual review of the year mixtape, and it was such a great year, the shortest I could make it was double the length of the previous years! You can listen/subscribe to it on Spotify here or on Youtube here.

Top 10 Albums of the Year

1. The War on Drugs - Lost in The Dream
2. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
3. Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters - Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar
4. Damien Rice - My Favorite Faded Fantasy
5. The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
6. FKA Twigs - LP1
7. Caribou - Our Love
8. Kiasmos - Kiasmos
9. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
10. SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land

Top 10 Songs of the Year

1. Sia - Chandelier
2. Tourist ft. Lianne La Havas - Patterns
3. Jenny Lewis - Just One of the Guys
4. Lowell - The Bells
5. Ed Sheeran - Sing
6. Elbow - My Sad Captains
7. Duke Dumont - I Got U (ft. Jax Jones)
8. Bonobo - Flashlight
9. Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting on You)
10. Royal Blood - Little Monster

Top 10 Gigs of the Year:

1. Prince, Koko
2. Pharrell, Wireless
3. Mogwai, Glastonbury
4. Prince, the Roundhouse
5. Nine Inch Nails, The O2
6. Robert Plant, Roundhouse
7. Olafur Arnalds, Roundhouse
8. Nas: Illmatic in full, Lovebox
9. Prom 57: Mahler - Symphony No. 2, 'Resurrection', Royal Albert Hall
10. Dolly Parton, Glastonbury

Top 10 Comedy shows of the Year

1. Alex Horne: Monsieur Butterfly
2. James Acaster: Recognise
3. Daniel Kitson: Captain Bang Bang's Magic Castle, The Hob
4. Sara Pascoe: Sara Pascoe vs History
5. Mark Watson: Flaws
6. Pappy's
7. Bec Hill
8. Red Bastard
9. McNeil and Pamphilon Go 8-bit
10. Cupcakes with Colebook & Khoshsokhan

Film of the Year: Pride
Exhibition of the Year: Exhibit B (yes, that one that protestors prevented from opening in London)
Article of the Year: Why We Should Give Free Money to Everyone, by Rutger Bregman (there's also a short version available here)
The Onion Award for Best Onion Article About US Gun Policy: ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens' - The Onion

Fans of ye olden day music can also reminisce about my top 10 albums from 2013, 2012, 20112010, 20092008 and 2007, as well as my top 10 singles from 2013, 2012, 20112010, 200920082007 and 2006. Maybe when I hit 10 years of singles countdowns I'll do a top 10 countdown of the last 10 years. Treat the blog on our anniversary.

Monday, December 01, 2014

zane lowe, coldplay and bbc 6 music: has the festive countdown been ruined forever?

There are some that suggest that the magic of awards season has fallen away somewhat in our modern world. Are they right? Let's examine the issue via Relentless energy drink's (just the 50.6g of sugar and 160mgs of caffeine per can, folks!) lead brand ambassador Zane Lowe, who has - for the third year running - mined his BBC Radio 1 show's longstanding 'Hottest Record in the World Right Now' feature to create a 100 strong list that this week will be placed in order, from the least greatest, to the most greatestest.

Nobody of sound mind could contest that it needs to fall to somebody around here to work out what the greatest song of 2014 is. This is no superficial matter, dear reader. What could be more vital than finding out whether Sam Smith or Bastille represent the greater pop high of 2014? But more on that thorny issue later. Such countdowns are quite the en vogue thing at the BBC lately. You'll surely instantly recall that last year, to celebrate their first decade on air, BBC 6 Music compiled '6 Music's Greatest Hits', inviting Joey Public to vote for the 100 best songs released over that same 10 year span.

As one could perhaps expect, fans of the participating acts were keen to see their favourite songs do well, and so piled in to cast their ballots. Soon after, seeing an opportunity to deftly spin publicity from such good-hearted public service broadcasting, plucky acts realised they could use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to ask their fans to vote, possibly helping push them higher up the all important final league table.
Amongst said plucky upstart bands experimenting in these bold new promotional frontiers were London four piece Coldplay, who scraped together what votes they could from their 13 million Twitter followers and 38 million Facebook fans, in the process narrowly managing to nudge victory in the poll in their favour.
It might dismay you to learn that there were dissenting fringe voices within music journalism that had the temerity to suggest that Clocks by Coldplay isn't the greatest song of the last decade. Of course, such comical views will hold no weight here. They may even have suggested that Clocks by Coldplay isn't even the best Coldplay song of the last ten years, hotly contested race we all know that to be. Well if you manage to find traces of any of these voices then post their Twitter handles in the comments so we can all online bully the fuck out of them. We, of course, will stand together in our respect for the honourable decision of the ballot box.
So perhaps it can actually be true that Lowe's poll this week will come down to whoever has the most fawning and gullible 'active' fanbase? In search of evidence, there's actually a fun game to be played in counting up the likes and retweets in order to get a good idea of what the top five will be. So *drum roll* here comes Drowned in Sound's possibly exclusive (!!) unveiling of the top five: 1. Coldplay (they'll obviously win, with their ample 32,637 likes, 1,357 retweets and 3,137 favourites) 2. The 1975 (11,081 likes, 1,228 retweets, 2,826 favourites) 3. Sam Smith (12,503 likes, 392 retweets, 1,280 favourites) 4. Ed Sheeran (a paltry 1,427 likes, but a solid 1,266 retweets and 3,680 favourites)  and 5. Bastille (4.300 likes, 307 retweets, 870 likes). Memo to Sheeran's social media team: raise your Facebook game.
Anybody choosing to suggest that this marshalling of fanbases may be ever so slightly turning the process into something other than a noble quest to determine the year's best song may at least be able to spare a thought for the management of Kasabian, who've only had 60 retweets so far for their 'Eez-eh' campaign, somewhat raising the possibility that even Kasabian's loyal fanbase have come to recognise it as 2014's worst song. It's an even more dire set of circumstances meanwhile at The Horrors battle HQ, who've managed to enlist just 13 retweets. Special mention must also be given to the social media interns representing Team Disclosure (12 retweets) and Team Metronomy (9 retweets) for not being sufficiently versed with Twitter to yet know that if you tweet your promotional message as a direct reply to @zanelowe, rather than as a publicly viewable message, none of your fanbase are going to see it. It's certainly not a mistake you'd catch Team Slipknot (246 retweets) making.
Congratulations then to Coldplay, whose prize is a valuable little moment of #Q4 publicity. Chris Martin will say something simultaneously lightly amusing and self deprecating, and will also be sure to mention how Coldplay have the absolute best fans in the world. All of the online voting commotion clearly points to the true purpose of our modern festive countdown: no night time radio show could ever hope to engage this many potential listeners by just sitting around and drawing up their own top 10 songs of the year list. There's a radio show to promote, and albums to sell before Christmas. Campaigning awards are here to stay. As the final winner is revealed on Thursday, we should celebrate the infallible methods these countdowns have of determining once and for all the greatest song of the year.