A brief consideration of the year that was.
Last year was the year of Nigella Mania. Men ogled and drooled over the Christmas cookery that drizzled and oozed all over Mrs Saachi’s delicately plump fingers. Naughty winks, simpers and sojourns to the local café all lead us to feel that is was our right to fritter our money down our gullets (why make your own caftiere of espresso if you can get dressed, styled and made up to walk ten minutes down a road and then pay 2 quid a pop for them instead?)
As sober times came upon us, we realised that we frankly couldn’t give a honeyed fig whether we’ve provided enough cream in our macaroni cheese to kill a small buffalo because, well, have you seen the price of dairy produce?
We were weary of rich rich foods, the kind of food Fred Goodwin (probably) eats, every day off gold plates (possibly) while Nigella does some kind of erotic fondue based striptease (unlikely, I’ll admit, but the metaphor remains.)
Nigella offers a panacea of Creole soup, for the over-induldged, but what the nation needed was something more. No exotica, no promise of fortune, we needed sensible fare, bland, the foodie equivalent to magnolia paint to ease the fiery heartburn of a decade of excess.
Delia was our Gaviscon.
Simple, basic fare. How to cook the turkey not garnish, trim and puff it up until we think it’s some kind gastronomic marvel before tasting it and remembering we don’t like turkey anyway. Bland, comforting basics are the fodder for the Christmas year. Virtuosity overwhelms as we feel the rational purse keeping surrounding us once more. How we sighed with relief, watching the google box, as the safe soothing tones of reason guided us through how to have a satisfactory Yuletide dinner.
Shoulder pads were the 80s trend which could be considered the gift that just kept on giving in 2009. Like herpes. The warrior-woman of the boardroom look represented money money money in a Brownite move. The rational was that if we look like money and spend like we have money, then maybe, just maybe, we will get some. The same logic supported sky-high shoes- look like you only ever take taxis then someone is bound to order you one on the company account.
Looking to the year ahead the key looks are jumpsuits (because fixing your own boiler well be a messy, messy job), deconstructed (to ward of enquiries about your worn, frayed clobber with a ‘bang on trend’ retort), ditto for vintage, and milkmaids (a version of grown-your own taken to the next level). Pragmatism in extremis will be a bitter pill for many of us to swallow.
Of course, one trend is set to weather through the noughties into the, um, new decade (any ideas on what this one is?) The curse of the harem pant. The fantasy-wear favoured by genies and Conservative candidates for Stoke-on-Trent requires little sartorial explanation. Recommended wear of choice for any minister planning a Budget report this year, me thinks.
In a time honoured tradition the Christmas charts last year was ruled by the X-Factor scourge. Within the top five singles, there were two X-Factor winners, a duplicate version of an X-Factor single and a satirical number by Peter Kay as the winner of Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice.
Alexandra Burke’s re-interpretation of ‘Hallelujah’ with its with mass choral support and heightened production seemed to split the nation into the 576,000 who bought copies of the single, and everyone else who much preferred the beautifully pared-down Jeff Buckley version. Hell, most of us would even have taken the Leonard Cohen version.
However, the seeds of malcontent were stirring, as half a decade in the grip of the musical mogul seemed to loom towards us. This grip, as tight as his smile after another round of botox, weakened as a facebook phenomenon gathered momentum to block the his latest ingénue, Joe McElderry, from reaching the top spot. The baby-faced winner’s version of The Climb was trashed by the expletive-filled Killing In The Name by rock band Rage Against The Machine.
This remarkable turn off affairs blossomed from a Facebook group started by Jon Morter, 35, a part-time rock DJ and logistics expert from South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, who’s campaign followed on from 2008, when he attempted to get Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up to the top of the Christmas charts. This time, he was aided by comedian Peter Serafinowicz, who urged his 268,000 followers on Twitter to buy the alternative record. It became so popular that even dear old Sir Paul McCartney got in on the game.
The choice of song was so beautifully oppositional to the shmaltzy ballad previously performed by Disney’s latest cashcow and star of the Hanna Montana franchise.
While McElderry urges listeners to “keep the faith”, the Rage track challenge accepted conventions with the now iconic phrasing: “Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me.”
Does this mean then that the reality pop bubble has truly burst? Unlikely- Alexandra Burke is still storming the charts, little Joe made it to number one in the end and Simon Cowell’s company is still a subsidary of Sony, who happen to manage Rage Against The Machine. It looks like ‘the man’ will still be in charge of the music business for a few years to come.