Review of the year: Pop

A year of vocal tics and indie licks from Gorillaz and Hal to Kaiser Chiefs and Ry Cooder

In each year, there are just a few albums that catch the public mood and become mainstays of the charts. This year's mood seemed to be set by Michael Parkinson, with Katie Melua, David Gray, Jamie Cullum and Robbie Williams joining Blunt and Coldplay as chart fixtures, with the increasingly horsey Madonna doubtless cantering up on the rails following her solo audience with the wrinkled chat-show host.

The other big seller came from the undisputed band of the year, Kaiser Chiefs, whose Employment boasted the wall-to-wall singalong hooks that soundtracked the year, as well as being the advance guard for a great year of homegrown indie-pop from the likes of The Magic Numbers, The Coral, British Sea Power, Goldfrapp and Hal.

By Mercury Prize time, however, the Kaisers were so ubiquitous that the judges opted for the novelty of the androgynously-voiced Antony & The Johnsons - thus ensuring that the Chiefs managed to dodge the career-killing Mercury bullet. Whether Antony's charms endure for a second album remains to be seen; certainly, despite a massive promotional push, the follow-up album from previous winner Ms Dynamite failed to ignite much interest. Can Robbie Williams be allowed to win next year, please?

Outside the more corporate territory, however, 2005 was a vintage year for rock and pop, with quite the best haul of quality music for a decade or two. Where my annual compilations usually take up two or three CDs, this year's couldn't be squeezed on to four, and whatever your favoured genre, there was plenty to satisfy the most ferocious of appetites. In the wake of The Libertines, there was abrasive new punk-pop from the likes of The Dead 60s, The Others, The Ordinary Boys and the huge homemade successes of Hard-Fi and Arctic Monkeys. Late on in the year, Babyshambles finally delivered on a little of Pete Doherty's non-pharmaceutical reputation with their debut album.

On the urban front there were excellent albums from Common and Kanye West, while the growing maturity of UK hip-hop glimpsed on several compilations was affirmed by striking releases from Roots Manuva and The Mitchell Brothers. And if folk-rock is your thing, there was a bumper crop of acoustic creativity from Devendra Banhart, Laura Veirs, José Gonzalez, Espers, King Creosote, Tunng, Willy Mason and Bright Eyes - the last became one of two acts (Ryan Adams was the other) to release three albums in a single year. Elsewhere, a new strain of psychedelic prog-pop became improbably fashionable again, courtesy of Sigur Ros, Viva Voce and especially Arcade Fire, whose Funerals wound up high on many magazines' best-of-year lists.

My choice for album of the year would be a toss-up between Ry Cooder's Chavez Ravine and Sufjan Stevens' Illinoise, both intelligent, large-scale explorations of American psycho-geographical themes. Along with splendid new works such as Gorillaz' Demon Days and Kate Bush's Aerial, they established 2005 as the year that the concept album returned to pop with a vengeance.

This wasn't the only way the clock seemed to have been turned back to the Seventies. Reunions and revivals littered the year: Cream returned to the Royal Albert Hall, scene of their farewell concert three or four decades earlier, for a get-together prompted by Ginger Baker's medical bills; Pink Floyd confronted the unthinkable and reunified for a literally show-stopping finale to the otherwise mostly tedious Live8 concert in Hyde Park; the Stones celebrated Charlie's new-found lease on life with another tour and their best album for ages, a feat Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder failed to emulate.

Further evidence of the old hands' renewed grip on their careers came from Brian Wilson, whose Glastonbury performance, watched by reportedly the largest Glasto audience ever for a single act, made a fitting Sunday-afternoon finale to an event otherwise dominated by a White Stripes show of breathtaking audacity, from the beautiful, co-ordinated set design to their devastating cover of Son House's "Death Letter". And virtually the whole of September was turned over to pop's venerable bard Bob Dylan, with Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home documentary accompanied by all manner of DVD, CD and book releases.

On the business front, despite the huge success of iTunes, the record industry continued its paranoid struggle with the demon of file-sharing, persecuting children for illegal downloads and treating staff, journalists and purchasers alike as potential pirates. Record companies' protestations that these measures were being taken to somehow "save" music were revealed as bogus by their willingness to continue favouring larger corporate retail clients with the kind of advantageous pricing deals that will ultimately kill off small independent retailers, traditionally the lifeblood of a healthy, diverse music industry. Pretty soon, it'll just be Madonna and Robbie at Tesco, and tough luck if you want something a little more outré.

The Five Best

Sufjan Stevens: Illinoise

Ry Cooder: Chavez Ravine

Hal: Hal

Kaiser Chiefs: Employment

Gorillaz: Demon Days



Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.


Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • 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.

    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower