So, yes. Music. I'm not going to do a countdown/top 10 of albums/songs and stuff, just a mixture of highlights of all sorts. Here we go.
Girls Aloud - Ten
OBVIOUSLY Girls Aloud were going to come first. I absolutely love Girls Aloud. They're a pop group that I grew up with, but never truly appreciated just how fantastic they are until my late teens. When it comes to pop music, they are without question the ultimate queens. There had been rumours flying around all year that they were to reunite for their tenth anniversary, so when they released a very secretive countdown in October, I was very very giddy. Their comeback single, 'Something New', most definitely didn't disappoint. It was exactly what every Girls Aloud fan wanted: a good old fashioned Xenomania BANGER. As reaffirmed by the lyrics ("We're the leaders of the pack - tell me, can you handle that?") Girls Aloud were back with a bang, and they weren't going to be put anywhere except the top of the tree. 'Ten' itself is an excellent collection. Of course, it's a greatest hits album, so it's mostly full of their singles; however there's a few cracking album tracks on there too. There are some truly fantastic Girls Aloud tracks which were never released as singles (the greatest being 'Rolling Back The Rivers In Time' - my favourite pop song of the 21st century,) so it's really nice to see them mixed in with some of the girls' best loved hits. So yes, it was a brilliant and successful comeback and I am very much looking forward to the 'Ten' tour next month.
Bruce Springsteen Live in Manchester - 22/06/12
Without a doubt the greatest live performance I have ever witnessed. If you didn't know, Bruce Springsteen is 63 years old. 63 years old, and he goes on tour for months on end, where he will play for 3+ hours every night. And he runs about the stage like a mad man. I don't love any musician like I love Bruce Springsteen. That night, he played the most spectacular set. He opened with my favourite, 'Badlands', and the set continued with some of his greatest energetic songs such as 'Two Hearts', 'Out On The Street' and 'No Surrender'. One minute you were laughing your head off at him soaking himself with wet sponges, and the next minute you were crying at the truly beautiful and moving tribute to the late Clarence Clemons - 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out'. It was truly extraordinary, and I honestly don't think we'll see a performer as good as Springsteen for a long, long time, if ever.
Steps Live in Sheffield - 15/04/12
Yep. The same year that I saw Bruce Springsteen live, I also Steps. And it was absolutely fucking BRILLIANT. No really, it was. I loved Steps when I was 7, and life was a LOT easier when I was 7. Obviously it was all nostalgia based, but it was bloody great. What I like about 90s pop artists like Steps is that they don't try and make out to be something they're not. At their peak, they were a pop act for kids and teens; they were a laugh, and that was all there was to it. And that's exactly what it was like seeing them live at the age of 19. We wore deeley boppers, did all the dance moves by heart and sang our selves stupid - just like we did when we were 7. There was no pretentiousness or head nodding, it was just a full on right laugh. It was one of my favourite nights of the year and I would love to do it again. Maybe it'll be S Club or N*Sync next, WHO KNOWS.
The Killers at O2 Academy Leeds - 17/08/12 & 'Battle Born'
I've been lucky enough to see my favourite band three times this year, but I never thought I'd be lucky enough to see them in my favourite (relatively small compared to arenas) venue in my hometown. Of course they were amazing, they always are, but this was just so special. I may not like Leeds a lot of the time, but it's home and nothing will change that; so hearing your favourite musician of 8 years profess his love for the town in such a great venue was a real blessing. Everything about that night was wonderful, and I'll never forget it. Another 2012 musical highlight was of course the release of The Killers' fourth album, 'Battle Born'. That album came out at the perfect time for me, and 'battle born' has become a phrase that I live by. 'Battle Born' is everything that I love about The Killers; it's got the beautiful stories, the big choruses, the synths and the guitars. I could talk about it endlessly, but all I'll say is that it was more than worth the four year wait.
I haven't actually listened to a lot of new albums this year, so I can't really do a top ten or anything like that. But out of all the albums I have listened to, these were some of my favourites:
- Battle Born - The Killers
- Sweet Sour - Band of Skulls
- In The Belly of the Brazen Bull - The Cribs
- Ten - Girls Aloud
- Wrecking Ball - Bruce Springsteen
- In Time To Voices - Blood Red Shoes
- A Million Lights - Cheryl (Cole? God knows. She's brill though alright.)
Finally, here's some other random musical highlights of 2012:
- Seeing Squeeze live. I only really properly got into them this year, but they've become one of my favourite bands of all time and they were fantastic.
- Seeing Paul Heaton live (supporting Squeeze). I've loved The Beautiful South since I was about 3 (but I wasn't allowed to listen to them anymore 'cause I used to walk around the streets singing "don't marry her, fuck me!" aged 4,) so seeing Paul was very special. His set was fantastic and he was incredibly funny. Top notch.
- Being in a small music video. It was all kinds of fun, but I haven't been able to watch it since it was done because it is just too cringey watching yourself (attempt to) act!
- Long Division festival 2012. Wakefield has become such a wonderful place for local artists, and so many people have put shitloads of effort into giving the city it's own music scene. Long Division made me so proud to have only a small association with the city, and I can't wait for this year.
Some final non-musical, other hobby related good things of 2012:
- Football. I thought our first season in League One was going to be horrendous, but it was one of my favourite ever seasons supporting the Blades. We had some amazing results, big scorelines and amazing away days. It was amazing and I loved every second of it. And then in true Blades fashion, our star striker got sent to prison, we lost out on automatic promotion to our bitter rivals, and we lost in the play off final. Never mind ey.
- I finally made a start on learning Spanish at the end of the year. I'm really enjoying it so far, it's actually quite a lot easier than I expected. I'd really like to be semi-fluent in 2/3 years... it probably won't happen but it's worth a try!
- Surfing. Well, flow riding. Me and some of my best friends first went to Flow House at Castleford Xscape earlier in the year. Flow riding is ridiculously fun and is really good exercise as well. It's quite expensive, but it's more than worth it. We try and go every couple of weeks if we can - it's definitely become my favourite hobby.
- Finally, all the nights out and fantastic memories I've made with the best people in the world. There's no point in naming names, but you all know who you are, and I love you all to death. I hope we all have many many more wonderful memories made this year.