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

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
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

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

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

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

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

film

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

TV

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

TV

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

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    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