Category: Opinion

20 ALBUMS OF THE DECADE – Evening Standard, 13 Dec 2019

As the decade closes, it’s obvious who the biggest acts were. Since the ready availability of YouTube and Spotify stream counts, this period has been awash with gargantuan statistics, principally generated by Ed Sheeran and Adele but with Taylor Swift, Drake and Ariana Grande also making up the big numbers. But what music was so good it will genuinely last?… Read more →

STORMZY ‘Heavy is the Head’ album review – Evening Standard, 13 Dec 2019

You can tell how big a deal Stormzy’s second album is not just by its timing – intent on using those size 12s to boot Robbie Williams, Harry Styles or Coldplay out of the Christmas number one spot – but by the power of the gathered horns that form the backing for the opening song, Big Michael. It’s a mighty… Read more →

BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF 2019 – Evening Standard, 28 Nov 2019

Writing a memoir has become as predictable a part of a pop career as playing your best album track-by-track on tour and consuming more drugs than the South Wing of St Thomas’ Hospital. This year a few musicians indicated that, as album sales figures fade, this typing lark isn’t just a one-off. Dance producer Moby and Suede’s frontman Brett Anderson… Read more →

ELTON JOHN: ME book review – Evening Standard, 17 Oct 2019

Elton John – Me (Pan Macmillan, £25) Elton Hercules John’s autobiography arrives just five months after the film of his life, Rocketman, with the 72-year-old over a year into a worldwide farewell tour that won’t wrap up until December 2020. Characteristic excess, you might think, especially after reading an eye-popping life story that is rarely more than a page away… Read more →

LONDON FESTIVAL GUIDE 2019 – Evening Standard, 12 April 2019

Almost everybody loves a barbeque in their garden, but that doesn’t mean that by extension they’d also enjoy heading into the wilderness with Bear Grylls to eat spiders and drink their own wee. Same thing with festivals: live music outside is great, without necessarily having to sleep for three nights next to a man in a jester hat playing the… Read more →

UK FESTIVAL GUIDE 2019 – Evening Standard, 8 March 2019

Thankfully the UK has yet to experience a music festival disaster to rival Fyre’s damp squib in the Bahamas, but our outdoor calendar is still very much in flux. One of the stalwarts, Bestival, is rumoured not to be happening this summer, though its little sister Camp Bestival is still on. V Festival doesn’t seem to have survived its sponsor-free… Read more →

FOUR TIPS FOR 2019 – Evening Standard, 4 Jan 2019

OCTAVIAN Born in France, raised in London, Oliver Godji had such reach with his first song, Party Here, that Drake filmed himself singing along to it on Instagram. As with everything the Canadian giant touches, it created such buzz that Octavian’s last London show, in September, had to be upgraded from Village Underground to the Electric Ballroom. Even then he… Read more →

POP AWARDS 2018 – Evening Standard, 19 Dec 2018

As the Evening Standard still refuses to give my annual pop awards the kind of glitzy ceremony, star presenters and shiny trophies that the theatre and film bashes enjoy, I’m forced once again to ask you to use your imaginations to visualise this page being read aloud by Rihanna in the Dorchester ballroom. Look! There’s Marshmello, applauding gallantly. It’s been… Read more →

BEST ALBUMS OF 2018 – Evening Standard, 12 Dec 2018

It’s all “mixtapes”, “playlists” and “projects” round here these days. Some musicians will do anything to avoid calling a collection of more than a dozen examples of their music an album. But rather than signalling the death of the form, as some have suggested, I reckon it means that they understand what a big deal it still is. The album… Read more →

THE BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF 2018 – Evening Standard, 6 Dec 2018

When’s the best time to write your autobiography? That’s a tougher question for musicians than all those diary-keeping politicians. Do you get it done early, when you’re still big news but there’s less life to record, as Stormzy, 25, and Lily Allen, 33, did this year? Or late, like The Who’s Roger Daltrey, 74, whose memory banks may be f-f-fading… Read more →