Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaw shit. That song… hits… Shit. It’s actually borderline difficult to listen to.
No no no, it’s not difficult because of the phenomenal LavaLa Rue, silly! La Rue has absolutely become one of my favourite things in 2021! I love her more than many of my direct family members! I definitely love her more than at least a portion of the people I’ve been married to! In fact, she’s the official winner of the 2021 Necessary Evil One to Watch™ award! Do I have a logo for that? I feel like I should have a logo for that. Hang on a second…
Yes, I know I have beautiful eyes, try saying something original we all don’t already know every now and then, yeah? Lava La Rue now officially has the same accolade awarded to her by Necessary Evil as she did by the Grauniad way back in July 2019. But did that Grauniad award come with such a beautiful logo? No. So sit down, your nonsense didn’t mean shit.
The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.
Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.
(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)
I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars! Do you sense that? Those faint but ever rising embers of putrid hellfire? Can you feel that, underneath your feet? The unmistakable rumbles of the devil’s chord painfully calling at your wordlessly from the depths? Can you smell that? That unmistakable aroma of a Nailbomb t-shirt once used in desperation as a makeshift toilet tissue but now hurriedly discarded in shame in a Castle Donington Portaloo? You know what that is? That’s metal, son, like they used to make it in the old/Black country!
Seth Manchester joins us once again, he had quite the 2020. Except, this album actually came out in 2019. And, actually, one of his albums from part 1 was even from 2018. Whatever, I’ve had quite a 2020 belatedly realising albums that he’s produced!
Have you noticed how things are a bit weird at the moment? Like, there seems to be something in the air, doesn’t there? People seem to be a little less socially active these days; nobody came to your barbecue last Thursday; WWE crowds are drastically down; you’re pretty sure Paul should have been at school these past few weeks not that you’re going to ask the little shit and risk getting pulled into an endless conversational loop about the largest dinosaurs; and Italian mayors seem to be furious these days. Something’s… different…
I don’t watch the news- if I wanted a posh voice feeding me a liberal agenda I’d just ring my parole officer- but it’s clear to me what’s happened. There’s an unmistakable stench of disappointment overlaying an aggressive smog of sadness that’s infected the whole country. They know. You know. Everyone knows.
Considering neither The Manic Street Preachers or Lupe Fiasco were scheduled to release an album in 2019, I don’t think I was looking forward to any record this year as much as Ms Van Etten’s fifth. Her fourth, ‘Are We There’, was one of the threealbumsreleased in 2014 that were legitimate GOAT contenders and all kinda given my joint album of the year. It was such an amazingly accomplished and powerful record, one that moved the more eloquent reviewers to state that it was “an absolutely devastating Sturm und Drag bulldozer of emotion, a sharp piercing blade of hopeless heartache that is as heartbreaking and moving as any movie you’ve seen since ‘Toy Story 3“. I have to assume that Toy Story 3 was still totally a topical reference point when that prodigiously insightful yet dangerously sexually alluring reviewer wrote that. While I spend all of my time excruciatingly droning on about how artists/people should be constantly evolving and pushing their sound/personality forward, I often catch myself just hoping that artists responsible for my favourite things will just do those favourite things again! Hey, Jazz Cartier, why isn’t the new album just Red Alert ten times?? Hey, Tegan and/or Sara, why aren’t you just giving me Walking With A Ghost?? Lil Yachty!! Why are you… why are you… Why are you doing any of this…? I… I’m not sure what exactly I want from you… But do that, please. Do Minnesotaagain, that’ll cheer me up. Sharon van Etten! I can’t wait to see where you take your sound and evolve your music on this new album! But, having said that, please make it exactly the same record as ‘Are We There’! You can, I dunno, add a few trap beats to a couple of songs and have track eight heavily influenced by Hardware, but make sure that, at the base level, it’s exactly the same as ‘Are We There’!! Give me those exact feels! Reach into my bloodied chest and tear out all of those emotions like you did in2015!!
‘Remind Me Tomorrow’… isn’t that record. It’s an incredible reimagining of what weight, muscles and undeniable gall bladders* her songwriting can achieve. Synths blast all over the place like the sounds of invading forces damaging the outer wall of the claustrophobic shelter she’s built herself to evade the apocalyptic terror of her mind outside. The first line of the album is ‘Sitting at the bar I told you everything/You said “Holy shit, you almost died!” and the following songs act as almost a flashback, telling the listener exactly what these near fatal experiences were. It’s an amazing album. Look above, it’s the eighth best album of the year. It was considered for number one, but holy shit, you’re about to see how hotly contested that accolade is this year. Like I said, every top ten album is merely different levels of essential. Buy them all, you cheap fuck.
On ‘CURSEBREAKER X’*, Equip step shit up massively. Previously, the less forgiving may have accused them of being more gimmick than legitimate artist. Every album, like 2018’s ‘Synthetic Core 88‘, came with the hook that it was the soundtrack to a video game that existed nowhere but inside Equip’s imagination. This inspired some incredible music, but for many the conceit would be far too ‘cute’ and even ‘eye rollingly hipster’ to bridge that gap between ‘concept you might appreciate’ and ‘music you unreservedly love’. ‘CURSEBREAKER X’ doesn’t just bridge that gap, it clears it in a single bound by casting a +50 COMPOSITIONS spell and fills the cavern beneath it with buffed power ups as it flies over. Equip breaks the game with WWE 2K20 level glitches that make it unplayable, because they’re playing something else entirely with ‘CURSEBREAKER X’.
(*we’ve seen far too many artists recently, from awakebutstillinbed to Ariana Grande to repeat offender american poetry club, show such a flagrant disregard for proper capitalisation that I’m pleased to see Jamila Woods, Michael Kiwanuka and now Equip have fought against this by, if anything, overcapitalising their records. I’m pleased to officially announce 2019 as The Year We Won Our Capital Back)
Seriously, since when did we all decide that we need to be fucking happy all the time? Recently, happiness hasn’t been something you worktowards, it hasn’t been treated as a welcome result of actually doing worthwhile stuff, it’s no longer something that you practice or a mountain that you climb. Now, you have to be happy as a default state of mind, you owe it to yourself to just be fucking delighted twenty four hours a day. The very concept of happiness has changed. Happiness used to be a result of your general situation, with happy friends and a happy family in a happy community. You were happy because the general situation was exceptionally acceptable. Now, you’re encouraged to simply ignore and avoid all bad feelings, to stick your fingers in your ears and ignore however your friends, family and community might feel. Just make sure that you’re happy. Now we’re encouraged to pursue and gorge on happiness for happiness’s own sake. Be happy! Be happy! Be happy!
Hey, and guess what, while I’m writing this exit polls for the UK election have just been released:
In 2019, I’m supposed to reject all negative thoughts and ensure that I still feel happy, rather than properly react to it. There isn’t a better time to write a blog post about how all this is absolute bullshit.
OK, fair warning- maybe even a trigger warning, but I’ve got to be careful because some people get so fucking angry when you word a content warning that way*- but this post might go to some pretty dark places. I mean, I’m just going to talk about my life a bit, which is always going to be a bit dark, isn’t it? For you, I mean. I’m alright with it, I fucking live with it, but I appreciate how some people might get a bit uncomfortable. These people can just read my Princess Nokia bit again, that was pretty funny. I’m going to use the brilliant ‘B/X’ album as a jumping off point to talk about how I was ‘freed from my body’, then masterfully bring it back at the end to Don’t Do It Neil. It’ll be a fucking amazing post, and I don’t know why more people don’t read this blog, it’s fuckin’ straight fire.
(*because some people- and I can’t stress this enough- are fucking dumb)
Hooray for me. A winner is me. I’m the king of the world. I am a golden God. I put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp. I’m that star up in the sky. I’m that mountain peak up high. Hey, I made it. I’m the world’s greatest. I assume that allows me to enslave any underage girl I want, with occasional pissing privileges. What a time to be alive.
This week 2019 officially outstripped 2018 on Necessary Evil, with the site getting more views and more individual visitors than ever before. This despite me not even starting the end of year list, which has always been the only reason any of you miserable cunts (love you!) ever visit this piece of shit site. This is, of course, an outstanding achievement which you no doubt would have heard on the news. Whatever it is that I do on this blog is more popular than ever. Perhaps it’s due to me writing many more non-list entries this year. In 2019, I’ve written
I’ve written a number of non-list entries, which beats my previous record of ‘a lot less’ at best and, more commonly, ‘fuck all’. I’m not going to waste much time trying to analyse why I’m so popular- just luck at that fucking face. Adorable- but such a momentous occasion deserves something of a celebration. And I couldn’t think of a better one than this. Or, more accurately, I could think of a million better ways to celebrate than this, but this is the only one I could be arsed doing. Good? Good.
You could probably guess what I’m aiming to do. As we edge towards the end of the year, it’s obvious what needs to be done, and the fact that we are about to close on a decade that has seen the arrival SnapChat, Pope Francis, Boko Harem, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz only makes things more imperative.
Yeah, I know, I should have done this in January when I finished the countdown, much like I published detailed breakdowns soon after 2016 and 2017 finished. But you know what? I’ve just been busy, man, y’know? Did you not notice that it took me three entries to list the greatest Money in the Bank matches ever? If I’m spending so much time on bullshit like that how am I ever going to find time for bullshit like this? Are you going to be one of those people who doesn’t like it when things they don’t like happen?? Grow up, this is neoliberalism and you’ll accept whatever we tell you that you’re happy with.
I don’t mean to say ‘don’t answer that’ as a joke, like the answer would somehow be difficult to hear, it was an entirely serious suggestion. An order, really. It would really slow this entry down to a standstill were I to pause now to open it up for reader’s suggestions. It’s pretty much the definition of a rhetorical question, see? I’m not actually expecting you to answer, merely just asking it for dramatic effect. Do you see? Good.