As we’re barrelling down towards the end of 2019, I’ve come to the realization that a decade is also ending. It seems like those ten years flew by in an instant, but looking back at my music library, I find myself reminiscing about many great albums and concerts (I’ve seen 150 by my count) that marked the last decade. So here’s the Music Addict’s decade in review, featuring my favourite musical moments of the past ten years.
Diary of a Music Addict is born!
Let’s start with my personal most important moment. In September 2012, I decided to put together a small website to share my thoughts about music. I had no expectations, only the hope to find a place to put my words to thoughts. 7 years later, my little corner of the Internet is stronger than ever and gets more visitors than I’d ever dreamed of. It has now grown to a team of two with the addition of Maxime Allard, and is stronger than ever. Thanks to everyone for reading!
Favourite pop artist: Lady Gaga
The decade opened with Lady Gaga desperate for attention, showing up to the MTV Music Awards in a dress made of steaks. But over the last ten years, she has grown into an amazing musician culminating in her latest record ‘Joanne‘, and her starring role in ‘A Star Is Born’. Oh, and her song ‘The Edge of Glory’ is one of the best pop songs of all time in my view.
Ghost takes the metal world by storm
After two albums that showed promise but never quite got all the package together, Sweden’s Ghost hit bullseye with the trio of ‘Meliora‘, ‘Popestar‘ (with the fantastic ‘Square Hammer’) and ‘Prequelle‘. Some die hard metal fans complained that they are too pop, but their blend of 70’s rock, 80’s metal and pop sensibilities felt like a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stale genre.
The Trews have to be my favourite rock band of the last 20 years. This decade saw them release a self titled record that stands as their best work, and their latest ‘Civilianaires‘ that saw the band successfully experiment with their sound. If there’s one thing I can do with this blog, it’s spread the gospel of The Trews.If you have Spotify, check out this playlist I made.
Zac Brown Band
Their country/rock sound (with frequent Carribean side trips) and their fun concerts got them a huge following. A true crossover act, their lack of concern for musical boundaries has been inspiring, even when it fell flat.
Adele turns 21, then 25
This decade brought us two albums and a James Bond title song from British singer Adele. Her voice is unparalleled, and her songs earned her all kinds of industry awards and records. It’s unclear whether or not she’ll tour again, but apparently a new album is on the way and that’s great news.
There’s still life in Judas Priest
Let’s be honest: no one expects a great album from a band 44 years after their debut release. But Judas Priest did just that with ‘Firepower’, one of their most consistent record ever, and one of their best. Certainly their best since at least ‘Painkiller’ in 1990.
There’s life in Accept too
The German metallers had their heyday in the early 80’s, with a trio of classic records in ‘Restless & Wild’, ‘Balls to the Wall’ and ‘Metal Heart’ ranging from 1982 to 1985. They kicked off the decade with a new singer and their first album in 14 years, and it was easy to write them off as just another legacy act trying to cash in on nostalgia. But ‘Blood of the Nations’, ‘Blind Rage’ and ‘The Rise of Chaos’ turned out to be the best albums of their career, offering a more polished version of their classic metal sound. Just like Judas Priest’s ‘Firepower’, these records were produced by Andy Sneap, which can’t be a coincidence.
All the musicians who passed away
This isn’t really a highlight, but it definitely marked the past decade. I started making a list, then got depressed and stopped. We lost a lot of greats in the last ten years, more than ever in the history of rock music. And you know what? It’s only going to get worse because the legendary rockers aren’t getting any younger.
The Glorious Sons
One of the more dynamic rock bands to come out of the last decade. They’re still pretty much a Canadian phenomenon at this point, but they’ve had international spotlights like opening for the Rolling Stones. Their debut ‘The Union’ was musical dynamite, overfilled with passion and raw emotion. The follow ups ‘Young Beauties and Fools’ and ‘A War on Everything’ saw the band mature and refine their sound, maybe a tad too much. But their live shows remain great celebrations of rock ‘n roll.
Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’ tour
Modern technology finally made a touring version of ‘The Wall’ feasible. Grand spectacle at its finest, supported by one of the greatest concept albums of all time. Rumours are that Waters was using pre-recorded vocal tracks; if they were, so be it. This tour was a monument to rock delusions of grandeurs, to an art form that can be deceptively simple or larger than life.
Guns ‘n Roses reunites… and they don’t suck
Hell froze over when Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan patched things up and the latter two rejoined the band. The aptly named ‘Not in This Lifetime’ tour opened to expectations of the show being a trainwreck and the band members splitting up again inside of a few months. More than two years later, the tour is still going strong and is one of the most successful tours of all time. The band never sounded better, they’ve been hitting the stage on time and seem to be having a blast, even the notoriously dour Axl. I’ve seen the tour in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, and I still catch myself looking at any new dates, trying to see if a quick trip could work. My wish: that the next decade see a new album from these guys.
Nightwish finally lives up to its ambitions
Operatic metal always seems to fall flat either on the metal or the opera side. Genre precursors Nightwish built a huge following on the cult status of their original singer Tarja Turunen, but the metal aspect never connected with me. Her replacement Anette Olzon failed on both counts in my book, which was a shame as their main songwriter, Tuomas Holopainen was hitting his stride with great songs. Enters Floor Jansen, formerly of After Forever and ReVamp, and suddenly everything clicks in Nightwish. Their album ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’ stands as their best, and one of the greatest metal albums of the century. In concert, Jansen brought power to the songs of her predecessors during the tour supporting the record (which I saw in Worcester, Montreal and at Heavy Montreal), and the following history spanning ‘Decades‘ tour.
The progressive rock was stunned when Steven Wilson abandoned Porcupine Tree at the peak of their popularity to go solo. His first three solo records were pretty good but didn’t reach the heights of the best Porcupine Tree records. But his fourth album, ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ was simply a masterpiece. One of the bleakest piece of art I’ve ever experienced, Wilson found light in a cathartic way out of despair. The following tour (he played three shows in Montreal and I saw two) saw him reach new heights of popularity, far beyond what he experienced with his former band. The follow-up ‘To The Bone’ saw Wilson explore more upbeat sounds, to the dismay of some of his fans. But the tour behind the record was fantastic and I saw it three times (twice in Montreal, once in Paris)
The return of vinyl
Who’d have thought that vinyl would make a comeback? Music is increasingly commoditised, but vinyl brings back the experience of listening to music. It’s a fragile medium that requires care, and a sense of purpose in your music listening. And new releases are of much higher quality than the albums we got at the end of its first life, which is good.
So now you have some of MY favourite musical events of the last decade. Share yours in the comments below. Here’s to the 20’s!