TOP TEN: Disappointments in 2022

Paul McCartney AND Paul McCartney’s TWO guitarists AND Bruce Springsteen AND Dave Grohl all playing a shit twelve bar blues guitar solo on the Pyramid Stage AT THE SAME TIME like they’re in band practice after school – This was the most horrifically fucking self indulgent pile of toss I’ve ever seen. Sure, I did it at band practice after school too. But that was over 20 years ago and it wasn’t LIVE HEADLINING GLASTONBURY. Get some fucking perspective you bunch of old white tools. James Spearing

Kendrick Lamar’s album – It feels ridiculous to say anything that Kendrick Lamar – comfortably the most consistent artist in Hip-Hop of the last decade – is ‘disappointing’ but I only have to look at the fact that none of the Picky Bs editors has even mentioned this album since its release in May to understand why it came to mind. Mr Morale & the Big Steppers is certainly not a bad album, I’d go as far as to say it’s definitely a good album, but expectations for Kendrick Lamar are sure to be higher than ‘good’. It’s a sprawling record that goes lots of places, but doesn’t seem to come together in a cohesive way like his last 3 studio albums have. It’s technically all there, but somehow the magic is slightly lost for me anyway. Seeing Kendrick absolutely nail his headline slot at Glastonbury felt like a true moment, but 7 months on from release I can’t even remember any of the tracks from this album, a big shock for a die hard fan like me. Sam Atkins

Another year without a classic – I strongly suspect that this is a sure sign that I am well and truly a thirty-something now. But, where has the exceptional music gone? The beginnings of the last couple of decades have given us ‘event’ records from the likes of Radiohead (Kid A, 2000) and Kanye West (please don’t stop reading) (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 2010). I know classics can take years to anoint, and we had that pandemic thing, but I struggle to think of an earth-shaking LP released in the 2020s – and we’re now 3 years in. We’ve had loads of good stuff this year, but have we had any era-defining classics? I don’t think so, and I don’t think that’s just me being grumpy. The media at large may try their best to bestow this status on various records, but let’s be real. Seeing Kendrick Lamar’s underwhelming new album at the top of some year end lists reeked of publications going “we’re supposed to do this, so let’s do it”. Beyonce’s Renaissance came close, but I’m looking for an out and out capital ‘M’ MASTERPIECE in 2024. Tom Burrows

Live Nation – Well, most folks were already pretty disappointed with Ticketmaster and their parent company Live Nation, but this year they have descended to new lows.

Ticket prices for shows have reached new highs. Dynamic pricing really took hold and has meant it has gotten ridiculously expensive. Though on the face of it seems like a sensible idea, it just means more expense for gig-goers. It is not like they will reduce the base starting price! And with the increased price, comes increased “Processing Fees”. I had a friend pay over $100 in fees for one ticket. It was a really good ticket for a high-profile show. It’s an extreme example, but fees routinely hit double digits, per ticket. It simply shouldn’t cost that much. With artists having to cancel tours because of the cost involved for them, Live Nation seems like a parasite on an already fragile ecosystem.

And then comes the recent headline news as they failed to manage the release of tickets for tours for Bad Bunny and Taylor Swift. If they can’t manage ticket sales, what are all the fees for? It certainly isn’t dealing with bots and ticket touting. Hopefully, this is the breaking point and governments will step in to counter this monopoly. But I’m not holding my breath. Matt Paul

The Mercury Prize shortlist – The Little Simz album was the best one on the list, and while it has incredible moments, I don’t even like it that much. Kojey, Self Esteem and Joy Crookes I didn’t mind. Gwenno was a nice surprise. The rest was a living nightmare. You can hear my full rant on the podcast we did, but in summary: Fergus McCreadie sounds like music from The Sims video game, Harry Styles is grossly overrated, Bernard Butler was nepotism, Nova Twins was unlistenable, Sam Fender was boring, Yard Act was annoying and Wet Leg can fuck off. Electronic music was completely ignored and this is a ridiculous trend that the judging panel need to sort out from next year. James Spearing

Albums I was excited for – I thought 2022 was an absolutely exceptional year for albums, with one of the most consistently exciting Top 20 lists I have even put together. But despite this, I did notice a pattern of several artists and bands falling short when I had been expecting them to put out a classic. While the Fontaines DC album had some standout moments, on the whole it was a bit flat and left me thinking they should have slowed down for a year or two. The Weather Station followed last year’s AOTY contender with some plinky-plonk piano. Hurray for the Riff Raff, Bartees Strange, and more – not quite what I’d hoped for. Perhaps worst of all, was the latest release from Sharon Van Etten. Remind Me Tomorrow was her masterpiece, We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong was as underwhelming and forgettable an album as I heard all year. Fran Slater

Long-awaited returns
This is really another version of the ‘disappointed albums’ paragraphs that others have written, but some big names finally came back and the finished products were not worth the wait. Yes, this is a bit rich from someone who wrote an entire article earlier this year about artists coming back too soon after a previous project, but this just shows that there is a sweet spot of 2-3 years between albums. Kendrick, Beach House, Father John Misty, Mitski – they all returned after several years away and… was that it? What were they doing, living their normal lives? We demand to be entertained! Ok yes, some did deliver after an extended wait (Beyonce, Arctic Monkeys), but here’s hoping that some of my favourites deliver on high expectations next year. Tom Burrows

Black Country, New Road split (kind of) – While I understand and applaud Isaac Wood’s reasons for stepping aside from Black Country, New Road, it would be a lie to say that the time of his departure wasn’t a huge disappointment for me. After buying tickets to see them in Manchester on the strength of the first album, I hadn’t been too gutted when the show was cancelled – but the, as Ants From Up There seeped into my bones (and became my AOTY) I realised I was never going to get to see this special, special album in a live setting. Absolutely gutting. Fran Slater

Missing Shows – This year was full of exciting gigs. Making up for lost time with rescheduled shows. Tours for new albums. The calendar was busy. But around every corner was the spectre of getting ill. Whether that was the artist having to postpone the show, again. Or just me being stuck at home. Most of my music-lover friends have had to forgo a show this year because of this. For me the most painful example was missing out on seeing Bon Iver. I was super excited. I wrote about it last year as the gig I wanted to see most. They’re one of my favourite all time artists. And it was made sweeter by the fact I would get to see the show before Fran, who’s been waiting several years through postponements for his opportunity. But instead of losing my mind watching them play 715 CRΣΣKS. I was stuck in bed coughing up my lungs. Matt Paul

Album of the Year laziness – This gripe might be very specific to me, given how big a deal I make of my Album of the Year list, but seeing the AOTY choices from a great deal of big publications has left me pretty cold this year. It seems that some big names only need to fart and Pitchfork will say they’ve made the best music of the last 12 months. Whatever your opinion on the Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar albums that came out this year, it was clear that the response was muted and mixed. And yet here they are, in December, on the top of every list going. Come on, people – you had a chance to shine a light on so much great music and instead you chose to give more attention to two average albums – the only two albums out this year that didn’t need any marketing. Fran Slater

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