2011 POP AWARDS – Evening Standard, 9 Dec 2011

Unlike some awards ceremonies we could mention, here at the Evening Standard we don’t just hand out trophies to any two-bit pop star who happens to be passing the office. We take the task of honouring the year’s greatest moments in pop extremely seriously, and if that means risking Rihanna’s wrath as she’s denied the Best Haircut prize for the second year running, so be it. Our academy has voted, that man who handles the National Lottery balls has ensured impartiality and the year’s music winners can finally be revealed. Let’s get this over with before anyone makes a speech.



Ed Sheeran – Wake Me Up

“And I know you love Shrek, ’cause we’ve watched it 12 times, but maybe you’re hoping for a fairy-tale too/And if yourDVDbreaks today you should’ve got aVCR, ‘cause I’ve never owned a Blu-ray, true say”. Boldly swiping the lyrical banality crown from that Kate Nash song about liking tea and flossing, man of the people Sheeran goes on to detail how bad he is at computer games while a nation listens rapt.



Rihanna v Alan Graham

Ri-Ri mustn’t encounter many sexagenarian Northern Irish farmers in her day-to-day life of singing about sex, talking about sex and presumably, actually having sex. But when she chose Mr Graham’sCountyDownfield as the ideal location in which to reveal her bra for a video shoot in September, he told the saucy A-lister to sling her hook. “If someone wants to borrow my field and things become inappropriate, then I say, ‘Enough is enough’,” he said. “I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends. Perhaps they could acquaint themselves with a greater God.” If only.



Lady Gaga the motorbike

That crazy Gaga, eh? What will she transmogrify into next! Having finally eaten her meat dress, Gaga took to Photoshop for the cover of her Born This Way album and turned her arms and snarling face into the front bit of a huge black motorcycle. No doubt she now has a crack team of evil scientists working day and night on doing it for real.



The Stone Roses

The Manc indie legends win the prize this year, when all they did was host an amusing press conference, rather than next year, when they finally return to the stage and everyone wonders why we were so excited about another chance to hear a man who sings like a wounded ox.



Justin Bieber’s


No matter where you are, at any time of day, you are never more than six feet away from a Belieber weeping hysterically and trying to persuade Justin to follow them on Twitter. We can only imagine what they would do to that woman who claimed he’d fathered her child if they ever catch up with her.



Rebecca Black – Friday

Helping to redefine the concept of a hit in the digital age, this hilariously inept vanity production, paid for by 14-year-old Black’s mother, never topped the charts but was seen a staggering 167 million times on YouTube. Admittedly most of those viewers were laughing and pointing, then listening again to check the American schoolgirl really was singing “Tomorrow is Saturday/And Sunday comes afterwards”. Predictably, Simon Cowell loved it.



Jessie J

During theLondonriots, the BRIT School star almost caused further furious window smashing when she announced: “I’m off to the studio. If I can’t help physically. I’m going to write about it.” Then she lived with a broken foot for a bit and claimed: “It’s put everything in perspective. I have a different respect now for people who don’t have legs.” We can’t wait until she has the chance to speak on national television every week as a judge on The Voice.



Aloe Blacc – I Need a Dollar

The progress of the Californian soul singer’s single through the charts mimicked the graph of unemployment figures as it crept upwards over a period of months, eventually landing in the number two spot in June. The catchiness of his tune, inspired by chain gang chants, made its sentiments easier to swallow: “I said please mister boss man I need this job more than you know/But he gave me my last paycheck and he sent me on out the door.”



Emeli Sande

Shaved round the back and sides with a giant peroxide carwash sponge on top, the pop up-and-comer’s signature look should make her forthcoming album cover instantly recognisable when it starts to dominate the charts next year. More helpfully for her longer-term prospects, she can really sing too.



Two fingers to the haterz

They have it tough these pop stars, as we all know, touring the nation’s primary school assembly halls as unknowns with only their skyscraping self-belief to sustain them. So it’s delightful when they finally achieve mainstream fame and celebrate with a song about how completely amazing they are and how dumb the world was for not believing in them from day one. See Ed Sheeran’s You Need Me I Don’t Need You and Jessie J’s Who’s Laughing Now for reference.



Gillian Welch, HMV Apollo Hammersmith, Nov 23

The country folk singer’s firstLondonappearance since 2004 didn’t look like a big deal, with Welch and her musical partner David Rawlings standing on a bare stage with two guitars. Yet their obvious joy at having beautiful new songs to perform after a long period of writers’ block generated a magical atmosphere in the audience. They even tempted David Cameron away from saving the world for an evening.



Pulp, Glastonbury, June 25

Of the two “secret” shows at this year’sGlastonbury, it was Pulp’s unbilled set on the Park Stage that captured the celebratory spirit of the weekend more than Radiohead’s seriousness. The reunited Sheffield band did the greatest hits, Common People and all, and reminded people that Blur v Oasis wasn’t the realhigh pointof the Britpop years.



Lana Del Rey

She vamped her way across the internet with her stunning ballad Video Games this autumn, looking like a bee-stungHollywoodlegend and describing herself as “Lolita got lost in the hood”. Then it turned out that her real name was Lizzy Grant, she might have had a bit of plastic surgery and she hadn’t sounded that way since birth. Hey guess what kids? Lady Gaga isn’t really a motorbike either. There are better things to get angry about than artifice in showbusiness.



Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks

It’s got whistling on it, which certainly helps. Plus a swaying bassline that virtually demands that you concoct a spurious dance routine to it. Then you listen more closely to the lyrics, realise the LA indie pop trio are singing so sweetly about a high school shooting spree (“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/You better run, better run, outrun my gun”) and sit back down again.




Still breaking international sales records on a daily basis, Adele’s 21 album took us back to another time in music – the age of Brothers in Arms, Thriller and Rumours, when a single album seemingly took up residence in every home on the planet and songs sounded like such enduring classics it was hard to believe they were less than a year old. Any optimistic statistics about the music industry in general this year are all thanks to her.




1 -Put Bollywood composer AR Rahman in a room with Mick Jagger, Joss Stone and Damian Marley; 2 – get the latter three to sing over the top of each other in their wildly disparate styles; 3 – put fingers in ears; 4 – run screaming from the building. The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary reunion can’t come quickly enough.