Well, kids... we reached the end. December 21, 2012 has passed – the day we all bit the big one. If you're reading this now, you've survived what came true of the Mayan prophecy – the nuclear blasts, the tsunamis, the earthquakes, the alien anal probes and the rampant outbreak of Courtney Love's V.D. You have survived the 2012 Doomsday... it's the end of the world as we know it.
I'm amazed you made it. You somehow crawled out of the wreckage, managed to find a working computer that miraculously has an Internet connection, and felt it was a good use of time to stop by UG. Kudos to that. I'm probably a goner by this point, and given the fact that you may be one of the only few surviving members of the human race, let me remind you of the year that was 2012 so you can try to repopulate the earth with guitar skills and the proverbial goblet of rock.
If you don't know me, I'm Zach, and I've been UG's weekly re-capper of music news for the past 80 weeks; I've humbly attempted to keep you all entertained with this weekly column, whilst throwing in some music-related musings about life and its relation to the bigger picture – you know, all that pretentious writer sh-t. If you've already read this blog series, or have ever left me a kind, encouraging comment, I have to say you rock in every sense of the word. You're going to just fine on Earth 2.0.
So take a few minutes to take your mind off the whole global holocaust thing and let's review the year 2012 in music - a year of birth, life, and death.
Birth - Beginnings, Breakouts and Trends
Like any year, 2012 gave birth to a fair share of interesting, weird, surprising, impressive and downright stupid trends and accomplishments in music.
One of the most intriguing aspects technologically was the hologram trend, which took the music news headlines by storm thanks to a surprise "performance" by deceased rapper Tupac at this year's Coachella Music Festival. While certainly an unexpected reality, this hologram trend in music performance (which had already been used in Japan for a while) was met with skeptical views. The ability to take old footage of a dead artist, digitally manipulate it, and throw it on stage next to live musicians raised some ethical questions amongst the music community. Do holograms take away from the true live experience? Is it morally right to exploit the image of deceased artists for ticket sales and shock value? Or is the emergence of this technology a positive and progressive step in live music entertainment and something that celebrates the memory of icons we no longer have the pleasure seeing live?
My opinion, as it usually does, rested somewhere in the middle; while the potential for abuse was certainly a factor, and we wouldn't want to have the rich fat cats getting richer off a rock legend novelty, perhaps having a hologram of a dead band mate make a brief appearance at a show could be a warm gesture to honor their memory and celebrate the music they made.
I guess that's all a moot point now, what with all the global catastrophes and lingering Courtney Love STDs floating around the toxic atmosphere.
At the end of all the technology + music arguments, piracy issues (SOPA), and pretty much all the other antagonizing opinions on the current state of the music industry we had in 2012, you ended up reminding yourself, "hey, it’s just music, why take it so seriously?" And then we browsed the headlines and realized that 2012 contained its fair share of musical WTF?! moments.
Namely, when it was announced this year that none other than Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and singer Avril Lavigne were making hot, sweaty Canadian love, skepticism of the impending apocalypse was strongly squashed by the union. The engagement of Chavril (I totally could have worked for Access Hollywood, sadly) suggested that not all was well with the world, as the couple would be sure to release some of the worst music the world has ever heard and their demon spawn would go on to wreak havoc on tabloid grocery store magazine racks. Luckily, we were all spared the pain.
Viral videos again played a part in skyrocketing the careers of questionably decent artists this year, yielding millions of Internet memes and days where you couldn’t get "Call Me Maybe" out of your head. Such was the case with Psy's overexposed "Gangnam Style", and the pseudo-StingGotye hit, which resulted in this famous 5 people, 1 guitar clip.
Focusing on quality music though, 2012 saw plenty of new releases. In the metal world, we headbanged to albums from Lamb Of God, Metallica (EP), Corrosion Of Conformity, Cannibal Corpse, DragonForce, Shadows Fall, Periphery, Testament, All That Remains, Pig Destroyer, Between The Buried And Me, As I Lay Dying, Down (EP), The Faceless, The Contortionist, Gojira, Job For A Cowboy, Jeff Loomis, Meshuggah, 3 Inches Of Blood, and Serj Tankian, to name a few.
In the rock world, we were treated to new albums from Jack White, Paul McCartney, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, The Cranberries, The Shins, The Mars Volta, Tenacious D, Slash & Miles Kennedy, The Beach Boys, The Hives, Soundgarden, Rush, Coheed And Cambria, Muse, No Doubt, Mumford & Sons, Green Day, The Killers, Mark Tremonti, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fiona Apple, and The Darkness.
And of course, who could forget the instant classic, "Smothered, Covered & Chunked" by Insane Clown Posse?
While it was a good year for new releases, what was more impressive than these albums from current, younger bands were the revivals and reformations of some of rock music’s biggest, veteran acts.
Life – Artists Bring Their "A" Game
First, former Beatle, and all-around pop music legend, Paul McCartney, is going as strong as ever at 70 years old; he had a huge year with the release of "Kisses On The Bottom", his appearance at the London 2012 Olympics, and his performance at the 12.12.12. Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert, which featured a special reunion. Paul played the role of Kurt Cobain for the night, as Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, all former members of Nirvana, joined Paul onstage and jammed out a heavy original.
Other classic bands proved they are still thriving in 2012:
Rush kicked absolute f--king a-s with the release of their 19th(!) album, "Clockwork Angels", delivered yet another stunning tour, and learned that they would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (finally). KISS kept it real with a new album and tour, The Rolling Stones gracefully knocked another year of touring under their belt, Van Halen released a new record with original singer David Lee Roth, and, oh yeah, the freaking Beach Boys got together to record another album. Even Black Sabbath reunited to being recording a new album, although unfortunately not with original drummer, Bill Ward. Queen also regrouped and hit the stage with singer Adam Lambert (albeit a controversial choice for vocalist, and without bassist John Deacon). And then Led Zeppelin released "Celebration Day", the concert performance of their 2007 reunion gig at London's O2 Arena. What an amazing band...
On the hardcore reunion front, the longtime broken up bands At The Drive-In and Refused also reformed for a few festival and concert dates, and other reunions included No Doubt, Garbage, The Monkees, and of course, Spice Girls and 98 Degrees. It was with the reformation of 98 Degrees that the human race knew they could die happy, and looked up to the sky with outstretched arms to welcome the Apocalypse.
Such was the case with Lamb Of God's Randy Blythe. To summarize the story within the shell confines of a nut, Blythe was arrested in the Czech Republic upon entering the country for a stop on the band's tour. Since the band was last in the country in 2010, a Lamb Of God fan who jumped off the stage during the band's performance, hit his head and died shortly after. Blythe was accused of manslaughter and chilled in jail while the powers that be tried to peel back the international legal red tape. Fortunately, Blythe was released, but it doesn't seem like he's entirely off the hook. While it's sad that a kid died at a Lamb Of God show, the takeaway point from the story is... just don't jump off the stage at a metal show. It's fun, but... someone could get hurt. And now I sound like my mom.
And now, we've come to the point in the show where we remember the bands that are no longer together, having broken up in 2012 (think slideshow montage of the bands' pictures rolling by the screen with cinematic orchestral music).
2012 in remembrance of...
...Bee Gees... Chumbawumba... INXS... Swedish House Mafia... David Crowder Band... Jet... The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza... Thrice... and Ween.
But in all seriousness, there's always going to be a handful of deaths in any given year, 2012 being no exception. Singers Etta James and Whitney Houston said adios to the world; Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys, folk singer Doc Watson, The Monkee Davy Jones, Michael Davis of MC5, Robin Gibb, one of the Bees in the Bee Gees, and Jim Marshall of Marshall amps all are chilling in a nicer place.
Other deaths included (and granted, I'm sure my ig'nant a-s is leaving someone out):
Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt of Iron Butterfly, Robbie France of Diamond Head, Mark Reale of Riot, Tonmi "Otus" Lillman of Lordi, Ronnie Montrose of Montrose/Van Morrison/Edgar Winter Group, Richie Teeter of Twisted Sister, Graham Simpson of Roxy Music, Tommy Marth of The Killers (saxophonist), Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T. & The MG's, Bob Birch of Elton John band, and Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence.
And with the deaths that happened earlier this year, we've come full circle with Doomsday 2012 and the end of the year.
For me, 2012 was prettayyy, prettayyy, pretty good. Highlights for me definitely included covering NAMM 2012 for UG, meeting an amazing girl who became an amazing girlfriend (I scored big time), getting a real-ass job in Northern California, writing guitar lessons for a new rock music website, picking up bass and deeply exploring the instrument, and of course, progressing on guitar. All the while, still writing for UG every week is still something I love doing and I'm very thankful for those of you take the time to read the often stupid words that come out of my head.
If you have the energy, why not take some time and comment on some of your personal musical highlights from 2012, as well as your favorite events from the year. Maybe some other lone soul, lost in the desolation of human extinction, is also reading this right now. Connect. Start the world anew.
And with that, I leave you, the last people on earth, to carry the torch and use this knowledge to make the new world a better place. I’m sure the view is pretty sh-tty right now with the landscape of corpses and debris, but carry on, keep it real, and keep playing guitar.
On The Next Year As We Know It...
As a result of drinking too much on December 21st, the human population simultaneously wakes up after passing out cold for five days straight and realizes the world hasn't ended... and Chavril still exists.
Lou Reed and Metallica release "Lulu II: Electric Boogaloo", a collection of Yanni-inspired originals and remixes of The Beatles "Revolution 9" by each band member.
Paul McCartney and Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath begin a worldwide 2-year long tour, with tickets only costing 8 bucks a piece. The only catch is each band only plays nothing but Mushroomhead, Ace Of Base, Toto, and Creed covers. Do you go?