The Tab Music Awards 2009

GEORGE OSBORN hands out meaningless awards to people who don’t care.

2009 Arctic Monkeys Awards Faulkner Music Radiohead

It’s the endless problem for a Cambridge arts student: what in fuck’s name do I get on with once term’s done? The week following that last essay is highly confusing at the best of times and pre Christmas is probably the worst time off of the bunch: Christmas seems agonisingly far away, the year is coming to an end I’m staggering ever faster towards my grave and most importantly of all I’m bored off my absolute tits. So this awards ceremony is the culmination of those factors: the utter tedium that is my life and a desire to preserve in written form a shred of memories from this year before my brain eventually steals them off me in old age. Bupa claim that music is a great way for patients with dementia to recall their memories so when knee deep in my own urine at a retirement home, maybe a fraction of song will remind me of 2009 and I’ll smile happily for a bit before slumping into a mild coma in a dilapidated arm chair.   

Morbid sidetracking aside, 2009 has been an interesting year for music. And I mean interesting in the sense that I generally haven’t been that interested by it. Lacking the oomph of say 2003 or 2005, 2009 has contrived to be a bit of a letdown in my opinion. Lots of hype and not enough delivery of quality records has somewhat ruined this year for me but inevitably the show must go on and there have been moments of true genius in the sea of pig swill, which I’m choosing to ignore most of the time in favour of focusing on the most particularly disgusting splodges of gunk floating in the river. So without further ado, here are The Tab Music awards for 2009 and a quick disclaimer none of these award titles are meant to offend anyone. But if they do, then that makes me even happier.

The Rom Houben award for Biggest Surprise of 2009

Winner:  Paulo Nutini’s Sunny Side Up

Yes, this one was a shocking turn up for the books. Instead of allowing me to stick my sharp metal critic boots into his latest album “Sunny Side Up” like I do in real life to mildly aggressive vagrants, Nutini pulled an album out of his arse that was, in a manner of speaking,  perfectly ok. Not even just inoffensive ok like James Morrison, but generally ok in the sense that I might actually listen to the album again one day when I’m working to pass the time a bit and perhaps even enjoy it. It’s not Bon Iver, Willy Mason or Richard Hawley by any means, but his folky jazz sound is reasonably entertaining in its own special way. If I was pushed, I’d probably recommend it if you were out of ideas and it was available for a fiver. If I was threatened with a big spiky stick, I’d recommend you to buy it full price and buy a copy for every friend and family member you know but even in that moment of absolute terror I’d at least have some sincerity behind it. Well done Paulo.

The Emile Heskey award for Predictable Shitness in 2009

Winner: Newton Faulkner’s Rebuilt by Robots. Hang on, I mean Handbuilt by Humans. No wait, I mean……

Boo me for my predictability, but this quite frankly is a massive stinking turd of an album of pure non-descript uselessness. Even if it was dressed up in Agent Provocateur underwear and given the looks of that saucy minx Carla Bruni, underneath it would still be a massive pile of absolute dog doo. What I most admire about Newton Faulkner is that his lack of originality stretches to new heights of mediocrity with his new album’s title being nigh on indistinguishable from his first (Hand built by Robots/Rebuilt by Humans). In my opinion, if he was planning to be that spastically unoriginal, he would have been better off calling his first album “Box of Wank” and his second “Box of Wank part 2” so there wouldn’t be any great illusions at what was inside the box and providing trading Standards with an interesting test case if they ever felt like pursuing the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” for false advertising.  To sum up Faulkner’s effort, if the concept of boredom somehow got it’s act together and released an album, this is exactly what the phenomena would aim for to perfectly highlight it’s bland, balsa wood complex as a state of mind. Newton has served up absolute and joyously predictable shite, and part of me loves him for it. The other part wants to bloodily massacre him for insulting my ears though, so swings and roundabouts eh?

The Nadia Almada award for most Misleading Name in 2009

Winner: Passion Pit

The first time I heard Passion Pit properly was at the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury. After months of being convinced that they were probably emo nob ends due to their name, I was surprised to hear a band with actual talent. Yes, their fetish for keyboards and laptop based music is a tad worrying, especially considering the on stage temptation of quickly updating your Facebook status to something like “Ian Hulquist is fucking loving playing live at Glastonbury!” must be pretty large, but the fact that they use it to create some of the most danceable and triumphantly happy songs that you could possibly imagine lets you forgive them for a huge number of transgressions, including calling themselves Passion Pit. I mean, just why call yourself that? It’s like naming your child Ku Klux and sending him off to cultural awareness classes: he might be the most bloody culturally aware kid in the room but first impressions are probably going to be crap enough to ruin little Ku’s childhood and turn him into a massive racist as a result of long term psychological damage. Which would be ironic, I guess and massively unrelated to the point. To conclude: Passion Pit, change your name!

The “Star Wars Episode I” award for the biggest disappointment in 2009

Winner: The Arctic Monkeys

Remember Alex Turner? That cheeky chap who at the beginning of the “I bet you look Good on the Dancefloor” video proclaimed “don’t believe the hype” before belting out one of the greatest and most instantly catchy songs ever recorded? Well unfortunately, he’s finally started believing his own hype and as a result the Arctic Monkey’s year has been a huge bloody disappointment. I had as much goodwill as Ebenezer Scrooge at Christmas when I listened to “Humbug” for a second time because it was hard to escape the fact that in terms of their track record of high quality, this was a huge drop into the arseheap of shiteness. But perhaps I could have forgiven them for it if it wasn’t for their absolutely bloody disgraceful performance at Reading. Paid roughly a million quid to headline according to estimates, Turner arrived on stage seemingly battered and played a shit set list that contained an indulgent “Flourescent Adolescent” and not a lot else. Blur, Radiohead and Kings of Leon played hit sets without blowing apart their credibility, so why Alex Turner’s head disappeared up his arse so successfully is a huge question for us all. An absolute shambles of a year for the band, and they need to regroup quickly before I start a massive press vendetta. In a small, Cambridge online paper relatively unknown for its music reviews. Right……

The “Two Girls, One Cup” award for Greatest Fantasy that finally came true in 2009

Winner: Radiohead live at Reading

As anyone who knows me knows, I absolutely love Radiohead. Not many other bands bypass my cynical edge quite so successfully, but I couldn’t feel totally happy with my fanship until I had seen them live. Thank the fucking lord I did. It’s hard for people who think I’m a massive blind fan boy to appreciate this sterling truth, but genuinely this was one of the most spectacular gigs I have ever seen in my life. A trippy light setting, massive video screens with close ups of the band warped with crazy effects and an absolutely bloody awesome set list that ticked nigh on every box available for even the most casual fan to enjoy, this set was a firework up the arse to the Arctic Monkey’s poor showing the night before. One of my mates prior to the gig claimed that seeing Radiohead live is a life changing experience and he was totally bloody right. It was near perfection and for two and a half hours I cannot remember anything except blissful happiness. Absolutely, fricking amazing and I can’t wait until next time I get to see Thom dance his little ginger head off. Bless.
 And that’s the last award of the year that I plan on handing out. Obviously there was a lot more that happened in 2009, but as I can’t fit it all in here are a few last brief memories that neatly sum up my year in a few bullet points (aka, Glastonbury reminiscing):

• Sitting in the Car on the way to Glastonbury listening to Fleet Foxes and thinking how awesome they’ll be live. Then seeing them live and feeling disappointed for allowing myself, however briefly, to drop my guard of heartless cynicism.
• Hearing a bit of a new song that’s come out recently in HMV that definitely samples the Avalanches “Closer to You” and not being able to find out who was using it and why they were ruining it.
• Sneaking into the press area for Blur’s Sunday performance at Glastonbury after being forced over the top of the barrier as a result of a crowd surge. Then, after feeling proud of myself for a moment, watching my mate hi five Damon Albarn as he ran up to the crowd. Cunt.
• Lying in a half collapsed tent at Reading that was covered in water and within about 50 yards of a standoff between police and fire starting looneys, deciding to leave at 5 in the morning to get a train home as combination of sleep and fear take hold and then arriving at the Station to a scene reminiscent of the Calais “jungle”.
• Appearing on the BBC television Coverage of Amadou et Mariam while dressed as a Mexican with a hairy stick on moustache, before later in the day having Nick Cave stare at me as if I was taunting him with it after he shaved his magnificent effort off probably merely days before hand.
• Reading the grim message that Planet Sound was being taken off the air as of the 15th December and feeling more upset about the news of that than I was upset the day my sister moved out.

So there we go, 2009 done and dusted. Just remember to keep music a personal experience people, and I guarantee you’ll have a fan-dabby-dooza of a time next year.  That is, of course, if anyone decides to release some good albums this time round……..