British-Iranian artist Farrah releases the stirring ‘Back to You’
Sometimes it all gets a little bit serious in the world of diehard music appreciation, which is why the odd anomaly should be embraced and celebrated. Place special emphasis on the word “odd”, because there’s been no shortage of peculiarities in 2012, from 2Pac returning as a hologram to indie rocker Scout Niblett releasing a TLC cover. But if it isn’t Miley Cyrus and Tyler, the Creator or Grimes and Kreayshawn forming some unlikely creative alliances, then it’s the fact Lady Gaga did nothing particularly outrageous at all. Here are the 10 events of 2012 that didn’t so much tickle us, as leave us completely dumbfounded.
10. People are surprised that M.I.A. flipped off-camera at the Superbowl
The UK-born, Sri Lankan rapper presented her rude finger to 111.3 million viewers during the biggest event in the United States, officially showing up Madonna and Nicki Minaj. You can understand the organisers’ surprise when Janet Jackson flashed her boob in 2004, but a rude gesture from an artist taken to donning the odd promotional niqab and tweeting an antagonist’s private number to her entire fan base? Not so much.
9. Snoop Dogg becomes Snoop Lion
Going from Snoop Doggy Dogg, to Snoop Dogg, to Snoop Lion, the US MC moved in on Prince for the most high profile name-changes and spiritual awakenings. But while Prince’s conversion to Jehovah’s Witness made him drop sexy songs like Cream from his set list, Snoop Lion gets to embrace his “81 blunts a day” habit, safe in the knowledge that it’s all part of his quest for enlightenment. On second thoughts, perhaps that’s not that weird after all.
8. Justin Bieber vomits on stage
Even international superstars aren’t immune to the trials of adolescence. A broken voice and pregnancy claim aside, the Canadian pop star celebrated his 18th year with all kinds of awkward moments, from a bizarre photo shoot where he gets beaten up to releasing a song with Nicki Minaj. But it’s this unscripted performance in Arizona, along with the claim that he drank too much milk, that tops the bunch.
7. Meatloaf sings in support of Mitt Romney, terribly
Think what you like about the US hard rocker’s political assertions, because this rendition of America the Beautiful at a Republican rally in Ohio is just plain bad. No wonder they lost.
6. Blanck Mass is played at the Olympics
There was a lot that was strange about the London Olympics, but what was most bizarre about the whole thing wasn’t the fact that Adele didn’t show or Robbie Williams didn’t join the Take That party, it was the realisation that the sounds of Fuck Buttons and Blanck Mass were played during the opening ceremony. As two noise projects more likely heard at a bar backroom than the international stage, it was an unexpected triumph for outsiders everywhere.
5. Anish Kapoor pays tribute to Ai Weiwei’s parody of Gangnam Style
According to British artist Anish Kapoor, Psy’s novelty song Gangnam Style “lends itself so well to political comment”. That’s an idea seconded by dissident artist Ai Weiwei and, evidently, the Chinese government, who swiftly banned the activist’s parody of the global phenomenon. That only mobilised Kapoor and other high profile artists to call for an end to repression by going Gangnam for Freedom and proving the K-Pop hit far superior to the Macarena.
4. A Polish model sings Rihanna while walking barefoot through wet hair and dirty nappies
Introducing Natalia Siwiec, performing We Found Love while being escorted barefoot through a gauntlet of mud, wet hair, dirty nappies, ice water and live crayfish. As the face of Euro 2012, the Playboy cover star proved it’s definitely not her voice that’s her greatest asset on the Polish version of Killer Karaoke.
3. Lil B signs his cat Keke to his label, releases single
In a stellar year of hybridisation in hip hop, Lil B’s adopted tabby cat and musical protégé Keke wins the award for most original rap personality. Dazzling us with a brand new perspective in music, the singular rapper extends the speciesism debate to music by presenting a stuttering manifestation of said feline’s unique personality, complete with purring and petting.
2. Laurel Halo is partly responsible for Lauren Devine
When Laurel Halo wasn’t deconstructing music into obsolescence with her sparse and vulnerable album ‘Quarantine’, she was helping shape the image of self-made pop-product Lauren Devine. Laurel Halo, Teengirl Fantasy’s Nick Weiss and SSION’s Cody Critcheloe were on the production team for Just a Little Ready, and later This is How We Do Dubai, as Devine performed and sang in okay autotune about nothing in particular, while prancing around a Vaseline camera lens in an off-the-shoulder pant suit with chiffon maxi skirt. Most weirdly of all, by being too self-aware for “failed seriousness” and much too sincere for farce, Devine and friends are at the height of post-ironic sophistication.
1. A reality TV star produces the most challenging experimental album of the year
It’s been mentioned here before, but Farrah Abraham, a “teen mom” more famous for being pregnant than her musical talent, is next level. As the personification of how digital technology has repositioned the role of artist, Abraham’s unfiltered soundtrack to her autobiography and her life, ‘My Teenage Dream Ended’, is a terrifyingly literal expression of modern life from the perspective of a young adult raised on mass media. Intended as a pop album and received as an experimental opus, Abraham redefined art and probably couldn’t care less.