The Vessalis Music Awards 2010 Including My #1 Album Of The Year


Gen 2 2011, 16:46

OK, so at least a day late, but hey, you can't hold me to that. Been an exceptionally busy New Year's holiday for me this year, and I can be forgiven for having myself a little fun, right? ;)

But enough lollygagging, welcome to my putting a cap on 2010 music-wise; it's been one heck of an exciting year for music in general, with every single album in my Top 100 earning at least one five-star rating for one of their songs. It has been rather emotional to let go of a few releases, to say the least, but needs be... But before I get down to revealing the Best Of The Best, just a little breakdown for my genre awards:

Best Alternative Album Of The Year
Penny Sparkle by Blonde Redhead

Best Dance Album Of The Year
This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem

Best Electronic Album Of The Year
Into the Great Wide Yonder by Trentemøller

Best Folk Album Of The Year
Have One on Me by Joanna Newsom

Best Hip Hop/Rap Album Of The Year
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

Best Pop Album Of The Year
Bang Goes The Knighthood by The Divine Comedy

Best R&B Album Of The Year
Wake Up! by John Legend & The Roots

Best Rock Album Of The Year
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

Further transgressions now with a few words on the following choices:

Best Single Of The Year
Dancing on My Own by Robyn

Even with regards to some of the biggest pop stars making and releasing music these days, Robyn Carlsson represents something truly special. She hasn't created an alter-ego with which she can use to throw her music into different varieties of sonic realms; the girl is so special all on her own that she can rap alongside Snoop Dogg with enough swagger to keep up one moment, and sing Hyperballad at a ceremony with the Swedish royal family and Björk herself in attendance without missing a single note. Straddling the divide between indie-cool and the pop-mainstream with incredible panache, Body Talk registers as her finest album of her career so far, and this lead-off single was the perfect choice to officially launch the campaign. Very much a sequel to prior track Be Mine! and following through on the tear-stained electro-balladry that launched her back into the mainstream in 2007 (her duet with Kleerup, With Every Heartbeat), it wasn't just a consolidation of everything that Robyn had done up until that point, but with its muscly bass synth rumbling underneath as it offset Robyn's sweet vocals and harmonies, not to mention one of the biggest choruses to ever grace a pop song, it was able to strike you right at the very center of your heart with all of the precision of a razor-sharp icepick and still give you enough momentum to dance through your tears. Just superb.

Best Video Of The Year
Born Free by M.I.A.

One popstar that I couldn't seem to stop talking or thinking about this year was the inimitable Maya Arulpragasam, the Sri Lankan/British artist-turned-rapper, who upon the release of her much-anticipated third album proceeded to put her professional mouth in it at every opportunity she got to speak her mind or defend herself. The Lynn Hirschberg article was the kind of career-deflating stitch-up that even the most egotistical of artists couldn't pick themselves up from and reviews for MAYA weren't nearly as vociferous in their praise for the proud Tamil as her earlier work. However, M.I.A.'s motives should have been made perfectly clear to all once she released the link to the first music video for MAYA's campaign, the Romain Gavras-directed affair being swiftly taken off of Youtube and VEVO on the grounds of its violence and sexual content. In a year when the epic short film/music video was something many artists were getting excited about again, M.I.A. and Gavras came up with something that enhanced the power of the original track (which was one of the finest punk-rock tracks of the year, thanks in no small part to that Suicide sample) and was one of those rare music videos that actually tried to say something, be it about sensationalism, terrorism, screen violence or artistic presentation. In short, the single most passionate clip to be released this year.

Best Promotional Campaign Of The Year

Beginning life as a series of viral videos that were being circulated amongst the most reputable music blogs all over the world, much mystery still surrounds the iamamiwhoami project with regards to who or what it is about in particular. The only professional musician named amidst the throng of the six-strong team is that of lead singer Jonna Lee, by way of her appearances in all of the music videos, but even this wasn't clarified until a good way into the year, when all sorts of female popstars were being put in contention for these weird and wonderful videos (including Christina Aguilera, which got more than a few people excited). Once that had all died down, and the group started releasing singles and remixes on iTunes, the faithful remained, precisely because between the music, the accompanying clips and profound air of mystery surrounding it, nothing out there was quite like it, tallying up over four million views collectively for their virals and videos on their Youtube channel alone. It felt like the best kept secret amongst pop aficionados all over the world, culminating in a webcast made on November 16th in the dead of night of an hour-long concert video that invited a Youtube subscriber into their fold with typically beautiful/disturbing results. For true showmanship and creative panache, these guys deserve every plaudit they receive.

Best Bit-In-A-Song Of The Year
The middle eight in All the Lovers by Kylie Minogue

Another lead-off single that did incredibly well to launch a much-antipicated return to pop was Kylie's All The Lovers. It ticked all of the requisite boxes regarding all things about the Australian popstar; genteel, wistful vocals complemented by top-of-the-line electro synths that sung a sweet ode to a lucky loved one, with much saintly imploring from Minogue to "dance". But it's directly after the piano-led refrain and Kylie's whispered repetition of the song's first few lines that the track finally lets loose with a middle-eight so uplifting and joyous that you almost feel like you don't know what you've done to earn the right to listen to such loveliness. Accompanied by one of the better videos of her career, its impact is undeniable. Just lovely.

Guiltiest Pleasure Of The Year
Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim
Runner-Up: The Glee Cast discography
I wouldn't be being honest to myself if I didn't include either of these questionable pop fancies in my end of year tally, so here they are... ;)

And on that note, some none-too-impressed words about a couple of releases...

Most Disappointing Album Of The Year
Bionic by Christina Aguilera

I'm not going to rain on this album quite as much as others have, but I do have to make mention of the fact that this was an album that should have been spectacular but rather irredeemably wasn't. Having justifiably taken a lengthy-by-pop-music-standards time off to look after her baby son, Aguilera and her team were to assemble a cruise-liner's worth of pop's most current soundsmiths and writers to create the comeback to end all comebacks. Amongst the roster was Santigold and her co-writer/producer John Hill; indie electro-pop noiseniks Le Tigre, Peaches and Ladytron; two of rap music's most prominent female MCs, M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj; hitmakers deluxe Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Cathy Dennis, Linda Perry... And yet, it all fell despairingly short. Many including myself were quick to blame Lady Gaga for spooking X-Tina into an embarrassingly contrived fashion-obsessed futuristic sexpot to try and stay relevant, but that isn't necessarily the case (even if these themes are responsible for the most derivative track of her career, Glam). In truth, though she's credited as a co-writer on nearly every song here, it all comes across as a little desperate on Aguilera's part, a particularly cynical case of artistic submission that doesn't convince in the slightest. She can still belt better than probably any singer in the world and there are flashes of brilliance on here (Birds of Prey is about as awesome as a Cathy Dennis/Ladytron collaboration could ever possibly sound), but this is a step back from the girl who gave two of the last decade's best pop albums.

Worst Album Of The Year
Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross by Christopher Lee

Sure, I'll admit that most metal music can be pretty awesomely silly and come out the other side as undoubtedly amazing; I'll be the first to admit that Christopher Lee is without doubt one of the most brilliant actors the world has ever known; but coupled together for a concept album that, along with an 80-piece orchestra, told the story of the bloodthirsty monarch who laid all manner of hell down on his opponents in the eighth century that ultimately sounds like an extremely horrendous West End production that was pulled just before the sets were built is the stuff of pure WTF! (Don't believe me, watch this...) I almost feel bad condemning this album, because in truth it is a magnificent listen when one is in the right mood, but it is plagued by more than a few fundamentally wrong decisions. The first has to be asking Lee's daughter, Cristina, to perform narration duties, speaking in a hilariously lukewarm monotone that suggests automated destination responses on public transport (and when she's replaced by a particularly maniacal soprano, it's flat-out hysterical); the second is that following the story is a tricky endeavour even with a narrator, given the theatrical nature of the project many of the other singers are indistinguishable from each other, though admittedly Lee's voice is still surprisingly strong in the moments he does actually sing. Thirdly, it contains quite possibly the most horrible love ballad in human history, introduced particularly painfully by Ms Lee, intoning that the "end of every military campaign always brought an heir"... I implore you to listen to this album, even if it's only once.

Nearly there now, just a few more awards to hand out:

Best Debut Album Of The Year
Drink the Sea by The Glitch Mob

Best Group Album Of The Year
Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

Best Solo Male Album Of The Year
The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens

Best Solo Female Album Of The Year
Harmony by Sa Dingding

And here we are, My Album Of 2010:

The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe

Those who know me well enough (or at the very least pop over to my journals once in a while... fine, anyone I meet) will have guessed this by now, and words are very short considering I've written about this girl and her album almost continuously since her major-label debut was released in May this year. This album literally is the future, and remains a relative secret with regards to its success on both sides of the pond with her mainstream breakthrough elusive no doubt thanks to the sheer denseness in style, ambition and flair this album offers. The girl delivered on the promise of her EP and did better than good. To better elucidate my point, just take a look at the video below...

And that was 2010 peeps! If there is a next time, see you then... If not, take care and be good! xxxooo


  • Orange_Anubis

    Yay did you finally watch the rest of that hour-long iamamiwhoami film? I love it. Poor Xtina - I think I've mentioned once or twice that I don't think that album's at all bad. No surprises to see Janelle in her crown on here! But I hadn't heard of that Christopher Lee project and it looks HILARIOUS.

    Gen 2 2011, 17:14
  • Babs_05

    Doh. Of course. Janelle. Silly me, should have got that. I blame my crimbo cold. Haven't seen this hour-long film, so much catching up to do. And you kept Christopher Lee to yourself?! Looking that up before dinner. And you!! Raising the bar with your awards journal! Absolutely brilliant.

    Gen 2 2011, 17:41
  • Nialloleary

    Hey George-You put the rest of us to shame with the amount of work you put into your lists-I guess I'd put Deerhunter over Blonde Redhead, Scuba over Trentemøller but I agree both of your choices are excellent. With you on Kayne-I wonder if he could have also been selected for best Pop album as well :) I really wanted to like the LCD Soundsystem & Arcade Fire albums-but the critics loved them so I must be wrong. Anyway I'll have a read through of the top 100 albums-thanks for posting & Happy New Year!!

    Gen 3 2011, 18:40
  • voolksorf

    "Dancing on My Own" is the single of the year!

    Gen 3 2011, 21:51
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