Three Reasons to Care About Pop Music in 2008: Highlights of the Year

1: Cat Power releases Jukebox (January 2008 )

Photo courtesy of Flickr and Gretchen Robinette

Photo courtesy of Flickr and Gretchen Robinette

Having been plagued by drink problems and depression since the release of her 1995 debut Dear Sir, even Cat Power’s staunchest fans would be forgiven for fearing that entering the thirteenth year of her career could be a bad omen for the frail singer-songwriter. However, Jukebox marked her evolution from troubled troubadour to a soul-singing poster girl. A follow up to 2000’s The Covers Record, Jukebox showed off the real-life Chan Marshall’s skill for artistic interpretation. Her breathy, intense versions of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York’ were utterly captivating, but it was the reworking of her own song ‘Metal Heart’, previously the bleak centrepiece of her 1998 album Moon Pix, which provided the highlight. Imbued with a tenderness and warmth absent from the original, it suggested a newfound personal stability and hinted at how stellar her musical star could become.

Check out ‘Metal Heart’ here…

2: My Bloody Valentine reform (June 2008 )

Photo courtesy of Flickr and dsbartholow

Photo courtesy of Flickr and dsbartholow

2008 was the year of the Reformation as former bands put aside their artistic differences and personal squabbles to make shed loads of cash. The Spice Girls hit the road, the Verve headlined Glastonbury and ex-Libertines Pete Doherty and Carl Barat played a series of impromptu gigs together, but the loudest reunion of all went largely unnoticed as My Bloody Valentine, dormant since 1992’s critically acclaimed album Loveless, reformed for a series of shows. Audience members went home with ringing ears—the volume was so loud that free ear plugs were offered at the door—but, more importantly, with their heads full of the band’s spectacularly dizzying and chaotic performance. With the power of their ferocious, melodic rock undimmed, My Bloody Valentine may not have been the reforming band who grabbed the biggest headlines, but they certainly made the loudest noise.

Check out ‘Only Shallow’ live from the 2008 shows here…

3: Leonard Cohen’s version of Hallelujah enters the chart at number 36 (December 2008).

Photo courtesy of Flickr and Michael Foley

Photo courtesy of Flickr and Michael Foley

As X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and deceased singer Jeff Buckley battled for Christmas number one with their respective covers of ‘Hallelujah’, Leonard Cohen’s original version limped in at number 36 to give him the first UK chart placing of his career. His version may have lacked the pop sheen of Burke’s, or vocal dexterity of Buckley’s, but was no less moving. Instead of the melodramatic bombast of the cover versions it spawned, Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ offered a mournful, middle-aged perspective of loss and salvation that was tremendously affecting. Dripping with regret, irony and longing despite its chintzy 80’s production, it was impossible to listen to Cohen into lines such as “And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of song/ With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah” without being incredibly moved.

Check out Leonard Cohen’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ here…

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~ by benjaminhewitt on January 27, 2009.

4 Responses to “Three Reasons to Care About Pop Music in 2008: Highlights of the Year”

  1. Did Cohen’s Hallelujah chart at 36 or 37?
    Make up your mind cheif 😛

    • It was 36, it was a typo…was your spelling of “cheif” (sic) a similar mistake?

      Stones and glass houses, Christoper…

  2. Thanks,hoping Cat Power gets going. Really like her music.

    Bill at Lakin Report

  3. Thanks Bill, always a pleasure to hear from a fellow fan!
    Have you heard her Dark End of the Street EP which she released at the end of last year? It’s really good.

    And thanks very much for the comment.

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