Review of entertainment in 2012: The lords of the dance

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

'Gangnam Style is the biggest dance craze since the Macarena'

As British pop culture's innocence was largely Saviled in 2012, perhaps it's for the best that some of the biggest cultural happenings were less threatening than a WI autumn fete.

Forget "God Save the Queen"; 35 years on from The Sex Pistols we had, er, "God Save the Queen" and the nation's pop stars – curated by Gary Barlow OBE – saluting 60 years of hereditary rule by singing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" in front of millions. It made the Olympic Closing Ceremony look like Altamont, with G4S a more shambolic Hell's Angels.

Meanwhile, Adele continued to sell albums like it was 2011 and Mumford & Sons proved that you can be wildly popular despite no one ever actually admitting to liking anything you've ever done. As if to reiterate the meek point, the Turner Prize was won by someone who used to be in Eighties indie band Talulah Gosh.

It wasn't all good clean fun, though; the year's two most talked-about TV shows of the year were morally (Homeland) and sexually (Girls) grubby. And all the better for it.

Homeland, which has crammed two series into 2012, is infuriating and implausible in equal measure. And, with its sub-atomic mass of cliff-hangers and implausible plot shifts, it was the most easy-to-spoil TV show since 24. And, with the second series airing here just a few days after the US, spoiled indeed it was. Thanks, users of Twitter everywhere!

Girls, meanwhile, set records for the amount of newsprint expended on a TV show that had not yet been broadcast in the UK. That was thanks to an ongoing debate about the show's incredibly white cast which ensnared everyone from Girls' creator Lena Dunham to Times columnist Caitlin Moran, whose reaction to being asked about the issue before interviewing Dunham was "I literally couldn't give a shit about it". Which of course led to further internecine squabbling about the merits or otherwise of the Brooklyn-set hit. The debate was worth having, but for anyone over the age of 23, the more obvious reaction to watching the warehouse parties of Girls wasn't, "Why are all these people white?", it was, "When did I get so old?".

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the borough lost its reputation as the world's coolest neighbourhood with the arrival of the Barclays Centre. Built by property developer, Bruce Ratner, with investment from Russian billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov, the arena's rise may mark the official end of Brooklyn's domination of 21st-century hipness. Despite Jay-Z's "co-ownership" (he actually owns 1/15th of 1 per cent), the stadium and its NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets, has marketed itself on Brooklyn's modern iconography, from hip-hop ("Brooklyn – go hard" T-shirts) to local street-food favourites made under licence by a huge catering firm. It doesn't help that the new rival for Madison Square Garden is named for a bank whose biggest contribution to 2012 was adding 'Libor' to the modern lexicon.

Mr Zed also lent his mass appeal to a more worthy cause – the re-election of Barack Obama. Jay teamed up with Bruce Springsteen to campaign alongside the US President in crucial swing states in the days before the election. The rapper's cool and Springsteen's mass appeal combined in a sort of pan-demographic ankle-lock to help deliver Obama a second term. Though the third rock star of the election, New York Times stats wonk, Nate Silver, could have probably told you that result before the second chorus of "I Got 99 problems but Mitt ain't one".

Meanwhile, the year's biggest pop hit – like Justin Bieber, The Wanted and others – was from the stable of his 31-year-old mini-mogul manager, Scooter Braun, whose tentacles reach deep in the pores of the pop cultural year.

Braun helped make Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" huge, simply by getting Justin Bieber to tweet about it. The song spent a month at number one, but the real proof of its ascendance to the pop pantheon comes in a different form – lib-dubbing. "Call Me Maybe" was lib-dubbed (where people mime along to a choreographed routine on YouTube) by everyone from the US Olympic swimming team to Crystal Palace's cheerleaders via Katy Perry, Harvard students and even US Air Force personnel in Kandahar. Braun also represents PSY, the man behind "Gangnam Style", a satirical poke at a wealthy Seoul district which has become the biggest dance craze since the Macarena. People who ought to know better spotted doing PSY's horsey jig include Eric Schmidt, Ban Ki-moon, Ai Weiwei and – according to Boris Johnson – our Prime Minister. Well done, all.

The defining moment in popular culture this year was one of the most unpleasant – the belated outing of Jimmy Savile's crimes and the subsequent fallout. Not only did the Savile affair work its way through the BBC's top brass quicker than a caffeinated management consultant, but it also ruined I Love 1967-through-1984 clip-show repeats for the foreseeable future. Instead of cheap nostalgia, telly addicts instead spent the past few weeks of the year paralysed by fear that their cuddly childhood favourite will soon be entertaining colleagues not on Dave+1, but on D-wing. Like it or not, we'll remember 2012 primarily for the fact that a man previously most famous for sending a pack of ice-cream-eating cub scouts on a rollercoaster almost caused the downfall of the entire BBC. Beat that, 2013.

@stephenfry I do so wish that every reference to Downton Abbey didn't make me want to puke. Nice talented people involved but… is it just me?

Stephen Fry, TV presenter

@SallyBercow Even Asda radio is playing Whitney. Lots of sad faces here by the frozen peas…

Sally Bercow, columnist

@Number10gov Congrats to Meryl Streep on her # Oscars win. Read more about Margaret Thatcher and other past PMs on our website

UK Prime Minister's official Twitter account

@MrsLRCooper its amazing how well One Direction are being received across the pond, no? Good luck to em I say, seem like good lads

Lily Allen, singer

@StuartAndrewMP Brilliant. Many congratulations to Pudsey the dog on Britain's Got Talent!!! #BGT

Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey

@StevieVanZandt English cops may be the only individuals left on earth that wouldn't want to hear one more from Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney!

Steven Van Zandt, actor and guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band

@MrNickClark Thinking of cutting off own head to stop Gangnam Style from bouncing around my head. Nothing else has worked

Nick Clark, arts correspondent for The Independent and i

@lenadunham Taylor Swift's album is triumphant. If she'd been here when I was in college I would have written papers on her, not Sylvia Plath

Lena Dunham, creator of Girls

@lindasgrant I have seen The Master. Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman will be made to mud wrestle for Best Actor

Linda Grant, novelist

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence