Saturday, 27 December 2014

A year in music, Dolores Delargo Towers style

It's in the "bit in-between" - the pause for breath as the shops start to dispense with the tinsel and Shakin' Stevens and you start to wonder what to do with that mound of leftovers at the bottom of the fridge - that our thoughts turn to "reviews of the year that was".

Let's start with music.

I can't deny that 2014 was a bit underwhelming. Maybe it was just me (what with the distractions of the two of us at different times being "at risk of redundancy", and moving house in the middle of it), not keeping up with the newest releases - and certainly with all that was going on, I felt I rarely had the time or the inclination to listen to it all. However, there were some highlights...

Keeping up our long tradition here at Dolores Delargo Towers of live events, I did manage to tick off some significant musical "firsts", beginning with a marvellous evening with Miss Mari Wilson in Soho in January, and ending with Mr Adam Ant in November. We were humbled by the presence of the marvellous Chrissie Hynde with the Pet Shop Boys at the Prom for Alan Turing in July, and overwhelmed with glitter by Earth Wind and Fire at Proms in the Park in September.

On a much smaller scale, we had a fab evening of salsa courtesy of Jesus Cutino Y Son de Cuba at the sparkling Hippodrome, the effervescent Al Pillay saved the day at the end-of-LGBT-History-Month Ball, there was the fun of West End Live with Daniel Boys and Jodie Prenger, the "Evening with Noel Coward" courtesy of Stefan Bednarczyk, and Eve Ferret provided a showcase for the lovely Andy Bell. We missed: Prince in Camden, Kylie in Shoreditch, Dolly at Glastonbury, and of course the hyped-up musical event of the year - Kate Bush in Hammersmith. Hey ho.

But what of the musical world "out there"? Forty years on from the birth of Blondie and of Abba winning Eurovision? In a year where the charts were dominated by dross like Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, a year when U2 mis-fired an album launch, Take That became a trio, Sinitta, Band-Aid and S-Club 7(!) made comebacks, and a Disney song (Let it Go) became an "anthem", was there any sign of salvation?

Well, several of "our kind of Divas" - albeit very different in style - had new albums to promote, not least Amanda Lear's tribute to Elvis, Marianne Faithfull's tribute to London, Dame Shirley Bassey's tribute to the songs no-one ever let her sing till she was old, and Kylie Minogue's tribute to... pop! To my chagrin, 99.999999% of all shopping this year has been focussed on improving our domestic surroundings here at Dolores Delargo Towers #3, and nary a CD nor a DVD has been purchased all year. In fact, since moving in we haven't even connected the DVD or stereo together. Most of our musical entertainment of late has been via the wonders of the interweb, and (despite the fact I was very, very lackadaisical about posting my usual "Pick of the Pops" musical round-up blogs during 2014) here are just a few things that piqued our interest...

We always love those sassy divas who can actually sing (as opposed to that dreadful wibbly stuff that Christina or Beyoncé or any X-Factor-wannabee does, or that hideous pseudo-"street-cred" rubbish that comes from the charts), and providing us with a well-needed dose of just that (as I featured in April) was Miss Kimberly Davis (with a significant degree of assistance from "musical producer of the year" Dave Audé):

...and another diva (with whom I have had a love-hate relationship over the years) with a classy set of pipes, Miss Mary J Blige pulled out all the stops with F For You:

Speaking of Dave Audé, his Aftermath (Here We Go) for the aforementioned Andy Bell was an absolute joy:

Possibly the weirdest - and most infectious - of this year's clutch of choons had to be I'm an Albatraoz by AronChupa (featured here in November):

Providing a harmonic novelty as well as delightful amounts of young male flesh, from July came the boys of Out of the Blue and their Shakira cover:

Speaking of totty, the ever-lovely Mika returned this year with a lavish video for Boum Boum Boum - and in French, no less...

Dear old Auntie Beeb pulled out all the stops (and all the stars!) for their ensemble version of God Only Knows:

Dance act success story of the year had to be the unpronounceable Kiesza, who seems to have captured the hearts and minds of critics and the buying public alike (most unusual these days) - here from March is her marvellous Hideaway:

Miss Róisín Murphy delighted us with her return early in the year, and she chose a magnificent tribute EP to some of our fave Italian crooners with which to do it:

On our return from Spain in February, we just had to delight our audiences with the simply filthy Sebastian Castro and his Bubble:

Unfortunately not as massive a success as we may have hoped, Princess Kylie's utterly wonderful Into The Blue needless to say remained a very welcome "ear-worm" for most of 2014:

Mr Jimmy Somerville's rediscovery of Disco with Travesty - as featured here last month - was not just one of 2014's most incredibly uplifting moments, but had the most brilliant video of the year, too:

There is, however, absolutely NO CONTEST when it comes to the "Song of the Year".

In 2014, when we gayers experienced some of the most virulent homophobia we had heard in a long time - not just from the usual selection of fucking horrible African dictators, American evangelists and Islamic psychopaths, but thanks to a coldly cynical state-sponsored effort by the most reprehensible world leader since the dark days of the mid-20th century, Vladimir Putin - it fell upon the sequinned shoulders of a remarkable bearded drag queen from, of all places, Austria to provide us with the most rousing song of defiance of the lot. Bigger than Eurovision, bigger than the combined forces of GaGa, Queen Madge, Cher and Dame Elton put together - 2014 was the year of Conchita Wurst!

Let's hope the musical world can come up with another eclectic selection in 2015 (and that I can concentrate harder on musical discoveries of the newer kind to share with you, dear reader...).

More cogitations on the year 2014 to come - stay tuned!


  1. 2014 wasn't terribly exciting, IMO. I only bought a handful of new albums this year (Bette Midler, Lana Del Rey, Kiesza, Take That, Indila, Stromae, Marianne Faithfull, Bryan Ferry amongst other - and of course Kylie). There were however some wonderful re-issues, including Diana Ross and Donna Summer, much to my enjoyment.

    Most of the songs I liked were not much more than a pleasant radio song for a week or two before I got bored with them, although there were some excellent ones (some which are of course featured in your post).

    However, 2015 will bring us a new Madonna album - and that's all I need! But in case I'd want to put something else on, I am also very much looking forward to new albums from Marina & The Diamonds and Lana Del Rey. Other acts I like that might put out new material this year include Pet Shop Boys and Bananarama - so I think we might be in for a fun music year...

    1. I hesitate to call either Miss DelRay or Miss Lambrini Diamandis "fun", but yes! Let's clink our glasses to Queen Madge, to Bette Midler, and to all the surprises that will no doubt assault our eardrums in 2015 (although I do hope Ms Ciccone's leaked tracks get a big makeover by the time the album is released, otherwise there's no hope)... Jx

  2. You are of course kidding? I love the 6 tracks that have been officially released, especially "Living For Love", "Ghosttown", "Devil Pray" and "Unapologetic Bitch". I haven't listened to any of the other (around 30!) leaked songs - imagine the willpower! I'm saving them until after the albums comes out, since many won't be used and others are in demo form.

    But then again, Madonna could fart for 80 minutes, call it an album and I would not only buy it on every available format - I'd love it! ;)

    1. I am little more discerning than that, I'm afraid. I loathed several tracks on "Hard Candy", and felt one or two on "MDNA" were a bit half-hearted. I also have not listened to all the leaked stuff, but the bits and pieces I have heard sound to me a bit unfinished; less "polish" and finesse than one might expect from Queen Madge... Jx

  3. Well, the songs that have been released were not totally finished (M had to lock herself alone in her apartment, frantically trying to do the final mixing herself in a few hours in order to release them). I don't know if they will sound any different on the actual album when it comes out - but I absolutely love all 6 tracks the way they are.

    Regarding her last two albums, I feel that she just wasn't as involved as she had been with all her previous albums. She was leaving her record company and preparing a tour when she did Hard Candy, and during the recording on MDNA she was busy with about 200 other things. What I have heard from Rebel Heart, however, is filled with what was missing from those two albums: Madonna!

    I heard "Living For Love" on the radio for the first time about an hour ago, while I was getting my hair "done" ;) Sounded fabulous!


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