Xolondon in London
Pretend I am giving out these awards in a posh hotel in London, surrounded by drunken popstrels...Artists of the Year: Will Young and Florrie. He finally reaches his sublime peak with Echoes ten years into his career. And Florrie, after a period of finding her musical voice, releases Experiments, the most listenable, concise pop music collection this year.
Singing Voice(s) Of The Year: Ed MacFarlane from Friendly Fires, Will Young, and Wild Beasts' Hayden Thorpe, whose voice finally tipped from weird to so right in 2011. And lippy Lana Del Rey (aka Lizzie Grant) for some fearless "monotonic" trilling. And Adele, of course.
Wiggling Butt Trophy: Ed MacFarlane. Behind every great voice is a great ass.
Most Precarious Hype: Okay, yes, Lana Del Rey. Let's admit it now: this could crash and burn. Latest release Off To The Races gives some hope though. Born to die, indeed.
Producer Of The Year: Richard X for his work on Will Young's perfectly realized Electro Pop Moment, Echoes. Total eleganza. Careening emotion without breaking a sweat.
Three Wise Men Who Deserve More Respect/Attention Than They Receive: Chris Glover, aka Penguin Prison, for his gem-laden debut, which is almost a Greatest Hits record. This guy has it all and not enough people understand that! Wolf Gang's Max McElligott, who did an equally fine job merging indie with pop melodies on Suego Faults' 10 tracks. I'd also add Jamie Woon, whose debut Mirrorwriting is the most subtle, lovely fuck music of 2011.
Best Musical Trend: The perfect EP. Following Robyn's EP mentorship in 2010, Beth Ditto and Florrie NAILED it down in 2011.
Lyrics of the Year: There are so many, but some are quite plain, with a personal meaning. Instead, here are two great lyrics that wordsmith big emotion...
Jamie Woon, for the heartbreaking conclusion of Shoulda:
A sign for what's beenAnd the chorus of Bon Iver's Holocene:
Sign for what'll never be.
The line under what's been
The line for what'll never be.
When the years are collected
I pray that we are regretless.
You and I, the connected
You and I and the blood and the bone.
…and at once I knew I was not magnificentWorst Lyric of 2011: This clunker from Marry The Night by Lady Gaga: "Love is the new denim or black."
hulled far from the highway aisle
(jagged vacance, thick with ice)
I could see for miles, miles, miles
Live Show Of The Year: Without a doubt, for sheer (gay) spectacle and audience love, Kylie Minogue slayed them (in Fairfax, VA of all places). Also loved Will Young at Shepherd's Bush Empire in West London. He owned the stage... "totes" imperial/totes adorbs. Both had excellent tour programmes too. Laura Marling was a blessing since I saw her in a synagogue.Most Unexpected Pop Moment of 2011: Sitting on a couch in Brian Higgins' big studio/office in the Xenomania HQ in Kent, answering the question of what I thought of Lana Del Rey with "I need to hear an album first."
Cutest 80's Popstar (Aging Well): Nick Heyward of Haircut 100
Album Cover Of The Year: Friendly Fire's Pala ties with Wolf Gang's Suego Faults. For complete packaging, Darren Hayes' deluxe edition Secret Codes and Battleships and Nicola Roberts' Cinderella's Eyes.
Best Vinyl Package: Wolf Gang's gorgeous (and $$$) limited edition 12" single for The King And All Of His Men. Look at the art here.
Best Ass Package: That Jonas brother.
Best Promotion Featuring Penises: LeKid's Oh Alright album release party invitation (definitely NSFW or children)
Best Summer Album: Torches by Foster The People. Chipper California sunpop.
Fave Musical Women of Tweet: Same as 2010: Tracey Thorn, Judie Tzuke, and Helen Terry, but I'd add Cher and Rihanna.
Best Musical Man of Tweet: Aaron Gilbert of Delays.
Most Favored Social Media: I lovex3 Tumblr
Most Missed Blog / Website: Remember The Eighties, supposedly due back in 2012.
Top Remixes Of The Year: Melanie C Think About It (7th Heaven Club Mix), Adele Someone Like You (Jonathan Gering Mix), Robyn Call Your Girlfriend (Sultan and Ned Shepard Remix), CocknBullKid Asthma Attack (Wawa Mix), Tracey Thorn You Are A Lover (Clock Opera Remix), Emeli Sande Heaven (Mojam Remix), Marina And The Diamonds Radioactive (Starsmith Rework), Florence + The Machine Shake It Out (Benny Benassi Mix), Florrie Call 911 (Florrie Remix), Will Young Come On (Beatless Version), Kylie Minogue Put Your Hands Up (Blue Satellite Remix),
My Own Favorite Blog Posts (On This Here Blog, By Me): A few: When Clare Maguire Rings, A Ke$ha Kristmas?, 10 Musical Thoughts on Marry The Night and an interview with Darren Hayes.
Biggest Surprise Album: The pop indie chick debut solo record by The Nicola, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud. My favorite songs are Lucky Day, Say It Out Loud and Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime.
Obligatory Madonna Award For Single Not As Good As It Should Be: Masterpiece. I'm not really in love with it.
Most Obviously Tired Award: Lady Gaga wins for the third time in a row. The Edge of Glory video-shoot meltdown said it all: personal drama ruins what should have been her finest moment. Rihanna's running a very close second.
Disappointing Albums: These are disappointing because I really do think the artists are talented and worthy of attention. First,
THE WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING AWARD goes, sadly, to my girl Florence Welch, who shouts her way through one of the loudest albums of the past few years. I've heard Ceremonials sounds much better on speakers in a room (versus earbuds). Maybe when I move into a cathedral I'll finally understand what that means.
Best Look: Florence Welch for her Virginia Woolf Goes To A Marvelous Party styling. Mannish elegance. Andre Leon Talley has the vapors.
Best Pop Diva Moment #1: Madonna reclaiming her throne with a simple declaration: "I absolutely loathe hydrangeas."
Best Pop Diva Moment #2: Darren Hayes telling me to have the French toast while he chose some berries. "Tell them I eat." he said, waving his fork over the bowl.
Worst Trend #1: Artists on Twitter responding only to negative tweets, thus 1) fueling more negativity and 2) alienating fans who come offering a positive comment. I don't care if its hard for you to respond to a compliment; that is a part of fame. Say Thank You and move on.
Worst Trend #2: Also on Twitter: Self aggrandizing hashtags and retweets. We do not need to see that everyone loves you. Bully for you, boring for us. And that hashtag branding? Gauche.
Good Riddance Award: The haughty/phoney Natalia Kills. who is probably waitressing at an Angus steakhouse in London. This shit happens when you rip off an artist (Gaga) who has already used up her own bag of tricks. It's like double jeopardy.
The "I Have No Idea What You Are On About" Award: Marina And The Diamonds blathering away to Popjustice about archetypes and selling out for a slice of the American dream, all the while actually selling out for a slice of the American Dream. It's as if, by arting it up, we might not notice her going what seems to be a very uber commercial route. That said - let me be contrary like Marina herself! - I fucking love her and Radioactive has truly beautiful bones.
The PR Award: Really? You Expect Me To Fall For This? I absolutely loathe Jessie J. And Ed Sheeran: pointless and derivative, if less offensive than Jessie.
Worst Song: Price Tag by shriek queen Jessie J. Followed closely by a Lady Gaga tie: Born This Way or Judas. You pick based on how loose your bowels feel in the moment.
Thanks to all who read this blog in 2011. I know that "nobody reads blogs anymore," so I appreciate anybody who takes their time to check out what I have to say. And thanks as always to my online friends and the London boys and girls. Music makes the people come together, etc etc bla bla bla. xo
Not done yet! Next: Top Songs, Top Albums and a huge-ass list of almost every song I loved in 2011. Follow me on twitter in 2012!