THE YEAR OF THE GORILLAZ by Ian Thorn
January 11, 2006
Although 2005 was Chinese Year of the Rooster, at the start of the year you could have been forgiven for thinking it was Year of the Crazy Frog. Oddly enough, as if to redress the Yin/Yang balance between good and evil,
cartoon characters were also
responsible for the three best singles of the year.
Scoring massive hits with Feel Good Inc, Dirty Harry and – pick of the bunch – Dare, 2005 quickly turned into the Year of the Gorilla(z).
A band that gives manufactured pop a good name, Albarn and Hewlett’s animated minstrels were totally unstoppable, even managing to resurrect Shaun Ryder’s career. A veritable Madchester Lazarus, Ryder’s rambling on Dare proved the improbable icing on a perfectly formed pop tart, although what he was actually trying to say will remain one of music’s great mysteries. Come to think of it, that’s true of every Shaun Ryder vocal.
One of the most bizarre and
frightening twists in 2005 was the rise of something I shall call the “New Bland” movement. Spearheaded by James Blunt and Daniel Powter, the hallmarks of the genre are: pianos, platitudes,
“sensitive” lyrics delivered in breathy tenors, and (last but not least), complete and utter mediocrity. Blunt is well known for being a former soldier, so why does his music sound as if a breeze would blow him away? You’re Beautiful spent five weeks at number one. Come back, Crazy Frog, all is forgiven…
As for albums of the year, Goldfrapp and Franz Ferdinand both delivered great records despite industrial amounts of hype; Antony and the Johnsons made everybody cry (including me, I forgot to place a bet on them to win the Mercury Music Prize at 12-1). The Arcade Fire dazzled and Maximo Park, together with the Futureheads, provided a breath of fresh north-eastern air. LCD Soundsystem’s debut was the soundtrack to many a party, Jamie Lidell’s sweet soul music perfect for the morning after. The excellent DangerDoom collaboration and a
second consecutive masterpiece from Kanye West proved that there’s still more to hip hop than empty bragging – wake up, 50 Cent. A final mention should go to Rhode Island “power duo” Lightning Bolt, for doing what nobody else does – another album that sounds like 100 bassists and 100 drummers tumbling joyfully into a ravine.
Bring on 2006.