Arts: America saves the day
Rock & Pop
But there have been some remarkable debuts this year crossing all manner of musical boundaries. Ben & Jason's first full-length album Emoticons, saw them dubbed as righful scions of their heroes Nick Drake, Roy Harper and Jeff Buckley. All-Seeing I, a Sheffield band which comprises a series of part-timers including Jarvis Cocker, the Human League's Phil Oakey and Babybird's Stephen Jones, yielded one of the most eclectic and exciting LP's this year in Pickled Eggs & Sherbert, and Cousteau crept up on us unawares with a startlingly sophisticated debut album - a cross between Burt Bacharach and Nick Cave.
The dance scene may have spawned disappointing albums from Leftfield and Underworld, but the Chemical Brothers produced their best album yet, Surrender - the coruscating "Hey Boy Hey Girl" must rate as the dance single of the year. Moby successfully revisited his dance days with Play, an album that brings together warm soul and hip-hop rhythms and antique samples.
Basement Jaxx and Clinton (formerly Cornershop) also proved that there is still room for imagination and individuality in dance music.Jacques Lu Cont, the brains behind Les Rythmes Digitales, also showed that retro doesn't need to be bad, even when it's naff. His Darkdancer embraces the tinny drums, squeaky synth and gratuitously shallow lyrics that were the scourge of the Eighties. It's simply irresistable.
After years of Brit-pop's smug effrontery, American indie-rock outfits Smog, Will Oldham aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Wheat were the perfect antidote. All three reside at the lo-fi end of the genre and each have produced albums which, after only one listen, highlight the hideous inadequacies of corporate music. The Webb Brothers also released the brilliant Beyond The Biosphere, a languid, quasi-concept album full of warm psychedelic- style pop. And saving the best till last, The Flaming Lips returned with their masterpiece, The Soft Bulletin. Judging by this year, the future of music has got to be in America.
BEST OF 1999
Ben & Jason
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 2 Pirelli calendar 2015: The problem with 'plus-size' models like Candice Huffine
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Angelina Jolie confuses everyone with 'ay up me duck' East Midland's greeting to Derby actor Jack O'Connell at awards show
Lee Evans announces retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Willow and Jaden Smith talk duality of apples, holographic realities and the melancholia of the ocean in incredible New York Times interview
Winnie the Pooh banned from Polish playground for being an 'inappropriate hermaphrodite'
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie confirmed to enter jungle
Drawn Blank: Bob Dylan exhibition showcases the musician's bold and vibrant paintings
G20 summit: Enter Putin. Accompanied by four warships. To the sound of mockery
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
David Cameron 'compares Vladimir Putin’s Russia to Nazi Germany' ahead of tense meeting
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine