Around the World last 365 days..

world roundupFirst decade of the third millennium is drawing to a close. The 2000’s have been momentous in all walks of life. One of the most remarkable things that happened during the last decade is the dissemination of information through the medium of internet. Entertainment, especially music, in terms of reaching out to listeners has gone through a revolution. Youtube, file sharing and digital download, proved to be a boon to the music fan, music became really accessible. Writing about impact of music during the last decade is beyond my pay grade, I will rather concentrate here on the last year, 2009.

2009 in music will most probably remembered as the year when Michael Jackson died. The King of Pop was mourned all over the globe with his hits topping the charts everywhere. Musically 2009 was a very vibrant year too, lots of new music was released. One of the major releases of the year was U2‘s No Line on the Horizon. The CD was a bold experiment, U2 consciously trying to move away from their comfort zone and the result was an album with Brian Eno as a co-creator, but it did not achieve the kind of success it’s predecessors could boast of, nevertheless the band showed that they still have the creativity and guts to go where not many had dared to go. Bono and Edge had reportedly spent a considerable amount time setting music for the Spiderman musical which is something to watch out for in 2010. U2 also embarked on a world tour with a custom made stage in biblical proportions and performed before sell out crowds. I wonder when they will come to India.

Talking about pleasant surprises, it can’t get better than what happened on Britain’s got talent on 11 April 2009, when Susan Boyle sang I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables. The event went on to become one of the most watched events in 2009.

In the world of pop it was the year of Lady Gaga. She  became the first artist in nearly ten years (after Christina Aguilera in 1999 and 2000) to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with their first two chart entries (Just Dance and Poker Face). Green Day released 21st Century Breakdown, the punk rockers delivered a first class album. Their previous release American Idiot had raised the expectations of the fans and the band definitely met it, if not exceeded it.

The Beatles, arguably the world’s greatest band ever, continued to exert their influence over us, but this time in a slightly different manner, through the Beatles’ version of Rock Band video game series.  Liverpool Hope University also did their bit in honouring the local heroes by introducing a Master of Arts in The Beatles, Popular Music and Society!

I had the fortune to listen to a lot of new music during 2009. One of those bands who caught my attention was Blackbud. This indie group have generated lots of interest and they have already been compared to some of the greats of the olden days. Blackbud released an eponymous album last year,its a superb album and I recommend you to check it out on youtube.

Early last year the dance rockers Franz Ferdinand had released their third album, Tonight. The single Ulysses is one of the best songs of last year. Pearl Jam‘s Backspacer too was a good effort with Just Breathe standing out, the song has the potential to enter any greatest hit list, given the size of Pearl Jam canon, I guess I am taking too much liberty. Kasabian is another group from the 2000’s whom I feel will, go a long way (actually lots of others also have the same feeling). Just listen to Fire from their 2009 album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, you will get hooked. The pyrotechnic rocksters Muse released The Resistance the album was noted for it’s classic musical influences, these guys might well be the Queen of our age. Other releases of note are supergroup Monsters of Folk’s self titled debut album, Modest Mouse‘s No One’s first and You’re Next, Rammstein‘s Liebe ist für alle da (German: “Love is there for everyone“) and Porcupine Tree‘s Incident.And Our lady Madonna released her third Greatest Hits album titled Celebrations. I am sure there are many more, but right now this is all I can recollect.

Nine Inch Nails, the alter super ego of Trent Rezner was dissolved this year. Talking about band splits Oasis‘s nasty break-up and Aerosmith‘s reported split are what caught my attention last year.

In India the scene is emerging, bands like Lounge Piranhas, Avial, Motherjane, TAAQ and Themclones to name a few are getting more and more popular. Last few years have seen major international acts touring our country, this Mr Big chose India as the first stop for their re-union gig. Another high point will be Porcupine Tree headlining Mood Indigo. 2009 had been a very vibrant year for Indian bands, they had a busy time traveling across the country, many bands released CD’s, many like Indian Ocean and Raghu Dixit toured even abroad. And lots of clubs have started playing live music and it has helped bring the bands closer to their listeners.

So 2010 will be interesting. There is too much to wish for. Indian music had arrived on international scene when Beatles released Norwegian Wood, but its been a long time, waiting for a full fledged Indian outfit making a mark on the international scene. Lets hope that will be one the surprises 2010 will throw at us.