Culture Music

2022 Musical Reflection

To tell the truth, I have struggled a bit to appreciate some of 2022’s album releases. The album that best summarises this sentiment, Taylor Swift’s Midnights album. It constitutes a series of repetitive, bitter songs, which I found to be particularly uninspiring. 

This is not to say there has not been any good releases from this year, I have loved Florence and the Machine’s truthful and raw Dance Fever as well as Lykke Li’s expressive and emotional Eyeye

However, these new releases have not been the songs that have come to define the year for me. 

The band that has taken centre stage for me this year has been the 70s glam rock band, T. Rex.

The love affair started with a trip to Dundee earlier this year with one of my flatmate’s wanting to go to the Michael Clark exhibition at the new V&A, appropriately titled ‘Cosmic Dancer’, referencing Clark’s enchanting dance to T.Rex’s 1971 glam-rock masterpiece. 

Leaving the exhibition, poster in hand (now hanging proudly on the bedroom wall), I had a newfound respect for Clark’s ‘punk ballet’ and T. Rex, starting the repetitive playing of ‘Life’s a Gas’, ‘Get It On’ and ‘Children of the Revolution’ for the rest of the year. 

Since that visit to Dundee in March, hummings of “I was dancing when I was twelve” can be heard radiating out of various corners of the flat. Whilst I am not convinced this love has translated to every member of the flat (sorry), I hope in the future when I hear T. Rex or see that poster, I will remember that trip to Dundee and how it led us to dancing like there’s no tomorrow in the living room blasting ‘Cosmic Dancer’. 

T. Rex further cemented their position as my 2022 defining band in September 2022 when my dad and uncle’s band (51st State) came up to Edinburgh to perform a gig at ECA. 

Their rendition of T’Rex’s ‘20th Century Boy’ was a climactic moment for me, listening to their music on repeat for the past few months, it was a cathartic 3 minutes and 39 seconds of singing out-loud their ridiculous (“I move like a cat, charge like a ram / Sting like a bee”) yet poignant lyrics in a room full of friends and family. 

This gig itself is one of my core 2022 music memories, being one the strangest yet enjoyable gigs I have attended.  

I was nervous before the night that not many people would know the songs or be confused by the night that featured my personal tutor reciting punk poetry (think John Cooper Clark), my dad’s covers band defining themselves as an ‘indie, new wave, punk rock band’ and my flatmate DJ-ing. There were only two outcomes from the gig: the weirdest night resulting from a slightly mish-mash of individuals performing or a great night featuring a room full of 21-year-olds singing and jumping to all the songs their parents would have danced to at our age. 

From visiting a friend’s flat and seeing the set-list from the night pinned to their living room wall, I hope despite the randomness, the latter is the case. 

Whilst T. Rex has won the award for the band which I will associate with 2022, other notable 2022 songs for me include Everything But The Girl’s ‘The Heart Remains a Child’ (confirmed by my Spotify wrapped) and slightly more strangely Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’.

The latter I now associate with my flatmate’s 22nd birthday party, a night that somehow ended with the infamous Dirty Dancing lift being attempted. Despite the first attempt ending with both of us crashing down, somehow, we miraculously managed to achieve an acrobatic feat that would put Johnny and Baby to shame.

It is not just my 2022 music listening habits that have been delving into past hits, but 2022 has also seen previously released songs go viral. Most notable, Kate Bush’s 1985 ‘Running up that Hill’. Bush wrote this song in her countryside home in Kent about asking God to swap her and her lover’s places so they can understand each other (“Do you wanna know how it feels?”). These fantastical and supernatural sonic undercurrents made it a perfect match for Netflix’s Stranger Things, in which its use was instrumental in defining the series. 

The song has since entered both the US and UK Top 10 and was named 2022’s ‘Song Of The Summer’, being the most streamed song (an immense 86.6 million times) between June and August. Perhaps a reminder of the timeless nature of music and how our interpretations and associated feelings with certain songs can change, develop and fluctuate with time. 

I notice this ebbing and flowing of feelings towards certain bands this year with T. Rex. I used to listen to T. Rex thinking how bizarre they were (“Oh Debora, always look like a zebra”) and now I leave 2022 admiring the catchiness of their nonsensical lyrics and I will take their nonchalant lyrics about the importance of not taking life too seriously with me into 2023 (“But it really doesn’t matter at all / No it really doesn’t matter at all / Life’s a gas / I hope it’s gonna last”). 

Image “T.Rex .. record cover of Electric Warrior” by Nick Kenrick.. is licensed under CC BY 2.0.