It’s December again - except it's not, it's January now Mr Murray! - and the world is just as fucked as ever. Possibly slightly more, possibly slightly less. I guess it’s easy to lose track of these things without an ordered list to tell you what to think. Having been precariously perched on the 2015 bar stool for quite some time now, we’ll soon be staring down the menacing barrel of 2016. So how best to celebrate yet another successful orbit around the Sun?
We thought about publishing an objectively correct ranking of the year’s best records. But sadly we couldn’t get hold of any doof doof scientists to determine what the metrics should be. Instead, we’ve fallen back on our Top 8 Whatevers. You know the score – our trusted team of R$N scribes pitch in with lists of music they’ve enjoyed, petty grievances they want to air, obscure interests they want to highlight. Basically whatever’s on their mind. Let’s do this.
Here's Tim's Top 8 of 2015... delivered in 2016 because he's "been on holiday".
The Germans have a word for it, apparently – although to be honest, I’ve forgotten what it is – but it describes, in a not necessarily pithy kind of way, the phenomenon of reading articles, particularly regular columns, just for the ire and anger they cause. And, in keeping with previous years, I’ve spent far too long in 2015 reading things just because they wind me up. More specifically, I’ve been reading the Guardian. I’m your typical lifelong Guardian reader, all middle class and north London-y (and like most Guardian readers and especially writers, I could trace back to my working class parent(s) to show you how genuinely working class I was), but god, it’s now like a parody of itself, Its film coverage in particular has gone the click bait route, rewriting news from the US trades, endlessly hand-wringing over whether a trailer shows a film may not have grasped political complexities, finding umpteen different ways to rewrite the same gags (“Look! We’re just like you! Adam Sandler’s rubbish!”, “Hahahaha. Johnny Depp’s made a lot of films with Tim Burton”), two or three reviews of each film (“First look!”), increasing reliance on the word “presumably” rather than asking a question like, you know, journalists would, story after story about Netflix (more on that later) and about a gazillion Star Wars stories. Highlights included, on the aforementioned Star War tip, a feature about Star Wars Clickbait that even admitted Guardian editors had asked ALL the paper’s writers for, er, Star Wars feature ideas; a “regular series” called We Play The Agent, unceremoniously dumped after a day or so (it was beyond embarrassing) and the idea of calling its the year-end awards from its chief film writer Peter Bradshaw “the Braddies”. My new year’s resolution is to stop wasting my time reading cobblers by the likes of their resident “funny man” Stuart Heritage (apparently the first person to ever have a baby) just because it annoys me…
Tabloid Football Nicknames
If you’ve ever seen that Total Wipeout song with former Top Gear whopper Richard Hamilton, you’ll recognise the moment when a contestant mentions they once, I don’t know, had a frog as a pet when they were seven. From then on, Richard the Hamster Hamilton and the other presenter (I can’t even be arsed to look it up) then call them “frog lover”, “amphibian enthusiast” and “Froggy McFrog from Froglington” until their humiliation is complete. (This rule also applies in that Ninja Warrior programme where Chris Kamara pretends to laugh all the time and be noisy for money.) And in the same way, Claudio Ranieri once said he tinkered with the team. He became the Tinkerman. And now the tabloids’ sports pages endlessly refer to him as the Tinkerman. Also: anything with Man at the end. “He’s not the Tinkerman anymore. He’s the Changing Man. etc etc, ad infinitum. Ditto Jose Mourinho, whose Special One will haunt him to the grave. “He’s not the Special One. He’s the Sacked/Miserable/Not That Special (delete as applicable) One. As long as, of course, he’s not Mou. Or Mour. Or anything else that fits in the space in a headline. No one in real life has ever called him that. Similarly, if anyone has ever called Wayne Rooney “Roo”, I’ll eat one of the many hats I own. It’s not just football though – Michael Schumacher was never called Schuey/Shooey until he had that accident. It’s just a made up nickname.
“What we know so far”
The phrase that sums up 2015 for me. Started out life as a feature on film blogs after someone had announced a new Marvel or Batman film (“Batman Vs Superman: What We Know So Far”), cobbled together from rehashing old stories and rumours and trying to build a composite picture. The answer, generally, to save you reading all that old cobblers, is generally “not much”. There’s already Star Wars Episode VIII, Episode IX and more features: “What We Know So Far”. Now it’s crossed over into the real world, with live blogs about disasters, terrorist attacks and the likes routinely having “What We Know So Far” updates. Because, obviously, a terrorist attack is just like the next film featuring the Dark Knight.
Whisper it – as I did to a mate the other day, who then admitted much the same – I’m getting a bit bored of the vinyl revival. Specifically, remastered, 180gm, tip-off card issues, reissues, and more. “They take up far too much room,” he noted, wryly. Not only that, but, when it comes to some of the soundtrack ones (ones I’ve invested a small fortune in, incidentally), they cost the proverbial arm and a leg and, again as my pal added, are all a bit, you know, samey. “Carpenteresque.” “Synths.” For films you’ve not seen and in many cases won’t bother seeing. It’s a microcosm of the vinyl revival as a whole. Look at the the racks full of Springsteen reissues. Millions and millions of the fuckers. Seriously, who doesn’t own every Springsteen album they’re already going to own? Who's buying these things? Wading through the piles and piles of reissues of mediocre records on vinyl, all with lavish packaging that you can’t be arsed to even read about, let alone undo properly… Ebay divs. Discogs divs. You’re all fucking divs. Speaking of which…
I actually saw an article in 2015 where someone – a second rater on the Standard, I think (see the first point about reading shit just to wind myself up) – where someone talked abut binge-watching like they’d just heard of it. Netflix banging on about it like they invented it. Ooh, you watched three or four episodes of a programme on the bounce. Well done. Unlike anyone who has been doing it since they got a DVD player more than 15 years ago. You’ve not invented the wheel. Stop going on and on about telly, how it’s replaced film and everything else to do with it.
Grown ups liking Taylor Swift
Grown men banging on about Taylor Swift making perfect pop music: bit noncey.
The Flaming Lips mucking about with Miley Cyrus: bit noncey.
The NME banging on about Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift: bit noncey.
Japanese businessmen and schoolgirl’s knickers: bit noncey.
It’s all the same.
Calling yourself a nerd/geek
Punk rock 101: if you have to call yourself a punk rocker, you are not a punk rocker. That rule, which I learnt by rote sometime in the late 1970s, but was, apparently, being secretly passed on by spiky-haired youths, bondage-wearing freaks and Sex T-shirt-sporting types since the mid-1970s, still stands true today.
So every self-proclaimed geek and nerd calling themselves geeks and nerds aren’t really geeks and nerds. Because if you were, you wouldn’t be wearing a t-shirt with “geek” or “nerd” written on it. Did you ever see a proper punk wearing a t-shirt saying “punk” on it? Did you ever see anyone who wasn’t a Ted wearing a t-shirt with “acid house” written on ? No, of course not. You’re all just bandwagon jumpers. Banging on about The Force Awakens – the billion dollar earning Star Wars film, set to be the most successful film EVER – as if it’s some kind of secret club. It’s not. You all like the same stuff. And you’re all shouting at the same time, in the same voice, about how individual you are.
All of you.