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Top of the pops: best and worst musical moments of 2012

Posted at 12:52 pm, December 31, 2012 in Music & Nightlife

From alchemic opera to Eric Idle and bhangra dancers, it’s fair to say 2012’s been a varied year for music. Time Out’s Music & Clubs editor Jonny Ensall picks some of the best and worst music moments of 2012.

The Crackers

Damon Albarn's Dr Dee

Damon Albarn
The Blur frontman should put his feet up over Christmas. This year he staged an opera (‘Dr Dee’), organised an African music-themed train tour around the UK (Africa Express), made a Blur reunion happen in Hyde Park and, just last month, helped the great Bobby Womack mount his comeback at Hammersmith Apollo.


Triangle-obsessed indiefolk act Alt-J took the Mercury Prize (and made our best albums of the year list) but it was Robin Carolan’s Tri-Angle Records label which really put three-sided shapes on the agenda. Acts on his roster, including Holy Other, Evian Christ and AlunaGeorge, helped define the sound of progressive electronic music in 2012.

The song of the Olympics was not Muse’s official anthem, ‘Survival’ (a creative statement about as subtle as Darth Vader’s Death Star) it was D’Banj’s Afrobeats classic ‘Oliver Twist’. This hit represented just the cusp of a wave of chart house-flavoured West African bangers that kept the capital dancing all summer.

Liz Frazer
Antony Hegarty, curator of this year’s Meltdown festival, pulled off a real coup when he persuaded the shy, ex-Cocteau Twins vocalist on to the stage at the Royal Festival Hall for two nights in June. Expectations were high, but they were met by Fraser at her quiet, elegant, angelic best.

Jessie Ware

Rinse comes of age
The pirate radio stationturned- tastemaking institution – responsible for giving Katy B and Jessie Ware a leg up to the top – celebrated turning 18 this year by staging a show inside Tate Modern’s newest space, The Tanks, and holding a blowout at Brixton Academy. London wouldn’t be the same without them.

The Turkeys

Olympic Closing Ceremony
Having Russell Brand mime The Beatles, pushing Jessie J’s nearly nude arse on stage, allowing George Michael to perform new material – all were programming decisions we find it hard to forgive. But having Eric Idle jump out of his skin at the sight of a troupe of bhangra dancers – a move straight out of the ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ handbook of ’70s sitcom humour – tipped this ceremony into travesty. Jonny Ensall

Have we missed any? What were you favourite music moments of 2012?

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