Lists

The good, the bad and the happy, 12 big moments of 2015

Wow, what a year! 2015 was the absolute tits, and packed a punch. There were political scandals, sport competitions, new types of beer sold, funny anecdotes told and the very best of meaningless celebrity worship. The music industry trucked on, still important as ever but imagining new ways to not pay and make both musicians and venues broke. There were some highs, with some amazing albums released and exciting new artists unearthed and unleashed, but there were some lows too, with several unfortunate deaths plaguing the music world.

Triple J continued with their policy of totalitarian musical fellatio and those god awful album descriptions that would fail to sell OK Computer, but on the plus side Lewi McKirdy is still there, so perhaps not all is lost. In honour of the original Dirt Dog, here’s the best of the Best, the Worst and the Un-Categorisable events of 2015.

2015 retrospective

As we look back at 2015, there have been occasions for celebration and those that make us cringe. This is the the good, the bad and the happy of 2015.

THE GOOD

Australians doing well

Numerous Australian musical identities have made ship-sinking waves domestically and overseas this year, with Perth’s Tame Impala and Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett holding up the 2015 torch like Cathy Freeman held up the 2000 one. Far from being just another pop imitation, it’s nice to know that these two artists in particular are forging ahead with distinct styles that are bound to influence future artists, perhaps in the same way that contemporary bands of all stripes point to Australians artists from AC/DC to The Avalanches as their biggest influences. A Boonie-sized 52-can slab of beer also wings its way in in the form of imaginary internet props to The Rubens, Gang of Youths, San Cisco and Royal Headache.

Reunions!

Bands from everyone’s childhood are forming back like an egg getting smashed in reverse. This year, Blur, Faith No More, The Chemical Brothers and Refused, to name a few, all released their first albums after kissing and making up after spending too long (twelve, eighteen, five and seventeen years, respectively) in the doldrums. In the age of needlessly unearthing the barely buried (there’s plans afoot to remake Memento already) it’s nice to see life given to artists with something still to give.

No more Tone

Many Australians openly celebrated, and at least most probably let out an internal cheer, when Malcolm Turnbull did a double backflip from a ledge, picked up his political knife lightsaber and sliced Abbott’s Prime Ministership in two. Abbott was a leader destined to never succeed beyond getting the prize. The bloke was trapped in a delusion that is becoming increasingly obvious in his post-PM days; he had no strategy beyond his three-word slogans and “not being Labor” (that was his prime reason he gave to not dump him when the Liberals had a leadership spill).

For some reason, he thought it a good move to re-introduce Knights and Dames – announcing a national “Tony Day” would have been less hubristic and more popular – as well letting everyone know he wished to ‘shirtfront’ Vladimir Putin. Being called a dickhead by the old guy at the supermarket and being loose as fuck eating a raw onion were probably the only good things he did.

FIFA finally got done

After years of blatant corruption, it was so gladdening to see the Americans finally pull the collective finger of the bum and smudge it on FIFA and other football executives. For years and years, ostensibly for the good of the game, the big wigs at FIFA and football associations around the world have been a cesspit of corruption, bribes and money laundering.

It is actually starkly amazing that this has been allowed to continue for so long, and it’s a bit shameful that it took the Americans to pull the collective finger out of the bum, to smudge the bevy of dishonest FIFA executives despite evidence staring everyone else in the face for years. Sepp Blatter and Co are almost Machiavellian enough to be Bond villains (an American executive used FIFA money to pay for an apartment inhabited solely by his cats). Considering that, it might turn out that these arrests will be as effective as cutting the head of a hydra, but at least it’s a long-awaited start.

THE BAD

The response to Courtney Barnett winning a J Award

For so many reasons this whole issue is a shitfight, and Happy has covered most of them over here. In fact, looking beyond what the title of this refers to, there are even more factors to this shitfight, factors which are worth far more energy than bemoaning breakthrough Australian artist winning an award handed out by a state-sponsored cultural artifice. One of those could actually be criticising triple J for having its own awards for artists when already the coverage they over-eagerly give them really should be reward enough, as the most popular national youth radio network in Australia has an incredible effect on choosing the winners and losers in the Australian music scene.

Booing Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes, responding to abuse, does a spear-throwing celebration after a kicking a goal towards those booing him. All good in the name of chest-thumping, testosterone banter, but the upsurge in booing he received after the event no doubt points to a large racist undertone in Australia – or more accurately, in the attendees of some AFL games. The bit where Aboriginals fit in with modern Australia is rather messy, so it’s completely understandable that it touches a nerve.

After the shitheap the following booing Goodes saga became – Goodes ended up not attending the traditional retiring players parade out of the fear of abuse – the above fact doesn’t help with the feeling of overwhelming despondency. It’s hard to fit this whole issue into one paragraph – and there a lot of explanations and important aspects to this controversy that don’t include anything related to racism – but this whole episode uncovered a lot of unsavoury elements in Australia and Australians, most unfortunately the inability to discuss anything slightly touchy without resorting to childish shit- flinging.

Paris and the Bataclan

Last month, the music world faced the unworldly menace of jihadism when deadshits stormed the Bataclan concert hall and proceeded to kill as many people as they could. This was the second jihadist attack Paris suffered this year, as earlier, in January, the offices of Charlie Hebdo had been stormed and their employees slaughtered. Many more jihadist attacks were performed around the world – such as a suicide bombing in Lebanon and a Russian plane being bombed in Egypt, both in November – but the Parisian attacks are for many reasons the most stark of the lot. It’s been fourteen years since 9/11, events which killed 3,000 people, ushered in the age of global jihadism and changed the world forever. As things are going, it seems we will have to deal with the jihadist terrorism for the rest of our foreseeable lifetimes.

Jay Z and Tidal

Earlier this year, Jay Z acquired Tidal, a high-fidelity audio streaming service and oriented the business to become artist-owned. At the introductory press conference, he brought out some of his friends who were going to benefit from Tidal’s innovative approach. Trouble was, those friends were all incredibly rich, established musicians; Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Jack White, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Alicia Keys, Usher, Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Jason Aldean and J. Cole were all there. That, and Jay Z was asking for absurdly high subscription prices too. Even though streaming services are all the rage nowadays, Jay Z rather stuffed up because he confused helping rich people becoming richer as good PR, something which, uh, gave him numerous problems.

THE HAPPY

Putin’s personal DJ

The Russian president – who by the by has a very shirtfrontable face – has his own personal DJ. Well, sorta. In February it was reported that Alex Mamonov – aka DJ Fenix – had been invited to the Kremlin to put a scratch show in front of an audience featuring the biggest of Russian big wigs. Other than that, he also performed at Putin’s second inauguration and in front of then-Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev a few times as well. It really begs the question as to who would be the Australian version of DJ Fenix; if only Tone had asked Simon Caldwell to provide the soundtrack to his ‘Team Australia’ speech, it might’ve gone down better.

Hayne Plane

Jarrad Hayne discarded a comfortable situation – best footballer in the league, a megabucks salary – for one shot, one opportunity at everything he ever wanted yo, once in a lifetime. The Hayne Plane showed he actually had ambition, something which footballers often bring up when they just mean they want to go to a bigger club to earn more money, and his attempt at trying to break into the NFL is a very relatable beacon on the hill. On the flip side, the nauseous media coverage of the Hayne Plane was something to truly behold in between the chunks of vomits on the screen. Australian media worked hard on gushing and fluttering their eyelashes in the hope of winning the ever-elusive approval of Americans. They almost succeeded in distracting everyone from humble admiring the Hayne Plane’s jet heels.

New Star Wars

It’s been ten years since the last Star Wars movie, but really it could be argued it’s been thirty-odd or more since whenever it was Return of the Jedi (the last decent one) came out. No more will Star Wars fans have to endure shit like the forced Anakin / Padme relationship, where Anakin says a range of creepy and weird things and still gets the girl, nor events like trade negotiations being a major plot point in the movie nor George Lucas’ trigger finger editing.

However, before the release of The Phantom Menace back in 1999 there was equal excitement, and look how that turned out. Now with JJ Abrams and Disney at the helm, there’s the very real fear that Star Wars will fall into a net safer than a society made out of cotton wool balls and lens flashes, and will be driven into the ground a la comic book movie franchises.

Johnny Depp’s dogs

The Deppsta learnt the hard way that you can’t merely rock up in Australia and skip quarantine just ‘cause. Barnaby Joyce – what a name, by the way – remembered the lessons learnt from the Dead Poets’ Society and promptly seized the day, swaggering his rather large scrotum around and telling off Depp and his missus Amber Heard for not following the correct immigration procedures. “If we start letting movie stars even though they’ve been the ‘sexiest man alive’ twice to come into our nation,” the Minister for Agriculture chest-thumped, “Then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody? It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States”.

Well, it actually wasn’t that much of a biggie – the couple didn’t declare their dogs as you’re meant to do, and thus filled the quarantine form out incorrectly -but it was nice to see the deeply Australian sense of equality and the ordinariness of everyone, stated in a very culturally-cringey way. Gotta love this country!