I’ve been a bit wary of speaking at formal occasions ever since I disgraced myself by welcoming everyone to my wedding, something Mrs Abahachi still appears not to have forgiven me for twelve years later, but nevertheless it gives me great pleasure to introduce the much-coveted glittering prizes and career-wrecking notices of disapproval that are the Over Awards 2010. As voted for by a random selection of regular contributors to the ’Spill, and then fixed by yours truly in the absence of any clear winner...
Our first segment could be entitled ‘How was it for you?’, a look back at the people and events that marked 2009. It seems typical of the communal atmosphere of the ’Spill that many people were happy to admit that they saw this in very personal terms; so nominations for Villain of the Year include ToffeeBoy’s soon-to-be-ex-Head of Department (“yes, I mean you, you penny-pinching, soulless heap of crap!”) and Events of the Year included AliMunday’s half century, Abahachi winning a research grant, CaroleBristol escaping redundancy and the debut performance of THE BOX, featuring debbym’s TheBoyWonder. On the sporting front we have Tottenham Hotspur’s 9-1 defeat of Wigan (May 1366) and the first twenty-five seconds of the FA Cup Final (TB), while Thierry Henri only narrowly missed the top slot for Chief Villain. Inevitably, however, the winners come from the worlds of politics and economics that continue to shape our lives in largely but not entirely depressing ways...
Event of the Year: 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall: an unforgettable series of exhibitions , films , gigs etc., commemorating a historic event now alien to a generation of youngsters from all over the world - education please! (thanks to gremlinfc)
Villains of the Year: reckless, greedy bankers (i.e. most of them, with an honourable exception, as debbym pointed out, being the Sparkasse employee who started redistributing wealth to those in need...), and the politicians who sucked up to them.
Hero of the Year, for all you incurable optimists, and Norwegians: Barack Obama.
Secondly, we come to the section for miscellaneous non-musical culture. Very little consensus in the book category – several recommendations for Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, but since that’s now thirty years old I’m not sure I’m going to allow it – so I’m going to leave this as a list of recommended reading: Dakota by Martha Grimes; From Right-Wing to B-Wing : from Premier League to Prison by Mark Ward; The World According to Garp by John Irving; 2666 by Roberto Bolano; Heliopolis by James Scudamore; Tom Holt's popular history Millennium; If the Dead Rise Not by Philip Kerr; Thanks For Nothing by Jack Dee and The Baader Meinhof Complex by Stefan Aust.
We have at least been watching some of the same films, so that we have a genuine competition:
4: Away We Go (2 votes, but since it’s Blimpy and Mrs Blimpy it gets beaten by...)
3. Synecdoche New York (2 votes)
2. Star Trek (3 votes, but since one of them is Mrs Abahachi our winner is...)
1. Let The Right One In (“A swedish vampire film for people who don't like a) swedish films or b) vampire films or indeed c) films. Actually people who c) don't like films will hate it. Oh, well.” (magicman))
Next up we have the People’s Choice section. Obviously that doesn’t mean that the People had anything to do with the choice; just like Birthday Honours for lollipop ladies and teachers, this is all about a shadowy elite making a few populist gestures...
The GremlinFC Hunk of the Year Award,for his renewed hunkiness in one of the year's low-level great fillums, goes to ....GEORGE CLOONEY!
Double-Act of the Year: even though one of them had clearly imprisoned the other in a dungeon and forced him to communicate his love of obscure indie through a speaking tube, it can only be JAPANTHER and SATANKIDNEYPIE!
The Way of the Hippo Lotus Flower on Pond for Peace and Harmony: DARCEY’s DAD!
The Godlike Genius Award for Services to the ’Spill: yet again, it’s BLIMPY McFLAH!
And that brings us at last to the music awards. I don’t know if Snadfrod had a similar problem last year, but we all seem to have been listening to completely different things, so there’s almost no overlap at all in our votes. Stand by, therefore, for some disorganised lists...
Rediscoveries: I’m tempted to suggest that I should win this one, for somehow managing to ignore Mogwai until this year. Other, rather less embarrassing rediscoveries, include: Corb Lund: Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!; Clifford Brown: The Ultimate Collection; Paul Butterfield Blues Band: East/West; Azure Ray: Azure Ray; Boy Hits Car: Boy Hits Car; Malcom Middleton: A Brighter Beat; Barry Adamson: Oedipus Schmoedipus; John Coltrane: A Love Supreme; Kip Hanrahan: Tenderness; The Beta Band: Best Of; Bellowhead: Burlesque.
The Overcooked Award, for ‘could try harder’: some controversial suggestions here... Bob Dylan (“I can't get beyond the voice and the downright misery of it all (yes, I know I'm a Smiths fan) - I'm sure there's a reason that so many 'Spillers are so keen on him but I can't see it myself - a touch of the Emperor's New Clothes as far as I'm concerned” – ToffeeBoy). Van Morrison (“He has been trading water for the last two decades. I am beginning to think that he is never going to release anything decent again.” – Carole.) Florence & the Machine, Animal Collective and Thea Gilmore all got nominated as well, but the winner – if only for the eloquence of the put-down – is Beyonce Knowles (“She's been responsible for four or five epoch-making records but currently doing half as much as ever before with twice as many 'personas'” – May1366).
Which brings us finally to Album of the Year, and the winner is...EVERYBODY! I’m going to take the optimistic view that it’s a good sign that no single album or artist got more than one vote, as clearly there was so much great music out there last year; we all listened to completely different things and yet we all still get along – how cool is that? Yes, I could have fiddled the results (how would you know that I was the only person who really adored Fever Ray?) or exercised a casting vote (but would I have supported Prefab Sprout for the quality of the record, or the back story, or the fact that Toffee was really helpful with some genealogical queries last year?), but no: here, my friends, in alphabetical order, are (some of) the Albums of the Year:
Doves: Kingdom of Rust
Fairport Convention: Live at Cropredy ‘08
Fever Ray: Fever Ray
The Horrors: Primary Colours
King Creosote: Flick The Vs
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba: I Speak Fula
La Brassbanda: Uebersee
Micachu & The Shapes: Jewellery
Prefab Sprout: Let’s Change the World with Music
Tom Russell - Blood & Candle Smoke
Oumou Sangare – Seya
White Denim: Fits
Withered Hand: Good News
Thank you and goodnight!