“So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over,
And a new one just begun.”
Happy Xmas (War Is Over), John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band
Let’s leave aside the addled chronology in this lyric, Lennon’s sloppy blurring of Christmas and New Year 0ffering yet more proof of why drugs are bad, mmmkay. It is indeed December 1st, marking the beginning of the end of 2012 and offering an opportunity to consider what the year has meant.
For some that will mean reflecting on a year in which the promise of the Arab Spring began to sour, with increased despotism in Egypt and other key countries in the region. Others will look to Obama’s re-election, and wonder whether all of his eloquence can indeed unify the world’s only superpower, which still looks hopelessly socially divided. Others will examine events closer to home, perhaps worrying that the ongoing inertia of the economy coupled with further brutal cuts to welfare can only create an ever widening gulf between the rich and the poor of the UK.
Not Pop Lifer, though! We’ll be turning our minds to the really important questions. What TV shows have done more than merely anaesthetise us while the world slips one stage closer to apocalypse? What cultural events have briefly made the human race feel like it’s one worth running? And what the hell is going on with pop music, which seems to be in its most enfeebled state in decades? Think we’re exaggerating on this last point? Then take a look at the below, a much anticipated duet by two of the most successful stars of our day:
“The sound of pop music writhing around in its own shit,” as popjustice summarise, with understatement.
But here at Pop Lifer we are a cynicism-free zone, committed to celebrating the positive impact pop culture has on our lives. Yes, pop has often tried to foil our plans (we’re still scarred by the car crash that was the Olympics closing ceremony, a celebration of 60 years of British pop that seemed to distill all of its eccentric glory into Liam Gallagher looking grumpy, Russell Brand gurning through The Beatles and the fucking Kaiser Chiefs) but we are undeterred.
That’s why, over the next 24 days we’ll be using the advent calendar format – handed down to the world, lest we forget, by Jesus himself – to offer up 24 sweet awards celebrating the best things that have happened in pop culture. First up, the Lady GaGa Award for Turning The Pop Video Into Glorious Art.
And if you open the fiddly little window you’ll find… …Lana Del Rey, with the video for “National Anthem”.
Just when attention was beginning to stray from LDR back in June, she returned with this visual orgy, casting herself as Jackie O to a black JFK in a video saturated with sun dazzled Americana. In fact, the “National Anthem” video was LDR’s “Paparazzi” moment, the one where she let her visual and thematic obsessions really fly, with the budget and confidence to pull them off. Just as Lady GaGa had been a bit awkward in her first two videos, so was LDR. And just as “Paparazzi” wasn’t GaGa’s best song, neither was “National Anthem” Lana’s. But as a song and video package it became her greatest pop moment yet and confirmed her as the most interesting, troubling female star since, well, GaGa.