Gerry McKeever

With the advent of the new year, once again everybody and their neighbour is jumping to make predictions as to who and what is going to be big in music this year.  The BBC has released it’s ‘Sound of 2009’ list, a format it began back in 2002.

Though the nonsense actually featured on the list is far from meriting mention, the rhetoric surrounding the predictions shines a light on the haggard mainstream culture of this century. Apparently, this year will see the return of ’80s-style electro-pop, tipping the guitar bands in the battle for the limelight.

Though this perceived movement and dynamism within the music industry may well help people to get excited about the emergence of new acts, in taking this line it appears the mainstream media has run out of ideas. The rebirth of electro-pop seems to have been punted repeatedly for at least two or three years now.  Sorry Beeb, but we’ve heard it all before.

Simply sighting acts which had a successful 2008 and are not electro-pop is not enough to portray this years’ money-spinners as having come out of nowhere with a ‘wacky’ retro concept. This wave of acts is supposedly taking its cue from the legacy of Madonna, Kate Bush, Prince and David Bowie, a disparate selection of performers with  one important thing in common: groundbreaking originality.

Sadly, this seems notably absent from the majority of acts the BBC has backed, with the bad smell of production-line music wafting from the direction of the major labels. Hopefully the public will eventually get fed up with being fed these false trends and seek out the genuine wealth of great musical material that’s available.

On a more positive note, the Glasgow scene is looking healthier than ever. Aside from the promise presented by the bands we’ve featured, the ever-increasing number of small venues and independent labels is cementing Glasgow’s underground scene as the finest in Britain. As the clubs wake up from the post-festive lull, the Hogmanay hangover is going to be short-lived, when the end of this month sees the full-blooded raving start all over again. Will this year be even messier than last? Almost certainly.

In terms of Traditional and World music, this year is kicked off beautifully by the Celtic Connections festival later this month (opened by Bela Fleck with Toumani Diabate), perfectly setting the tone for another fine and diverse year of music in Glasgow.  The continued support of live music at all levels in this city is what sets it apart, and long may it continue.


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