The West

  • *A *RENA *

Perth Arena was long overdue and well over budget but thankfully we were not underwhelmed when the 15,000 capacity entertainment centre finally threw open its doors on November 10 for Sir Elton John and his fans. Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Nickelback, Matchbox Twenty, Pink, One Direction and Neil Young have all played or announced concerts, but no gig from the man many WA fans were told would hit the state-of-the-art venue . . .


After a huge year touring his magnificent new album, Wrecking Ball, as well as playing gigs to boost Barack Obama's presidential campaign and raise funds for victims of hurricane Sandy, the Boss finally announced his first Australian tour since 2003. Nine dates in March have been announced but none in WA.


Fremantle trio Eskimo Joe became the first major act to fund the recording of an album with monetary pledges from fans via the crowd-sourcing website Pozible. They hoped for $40,000 and at last count were well over $50,000 for the album, due mid-2013.

  • *D *YLAN, BOB *

The Minnesota minstrel released his 35th studio album at age 71. The brilliant yet bleak Tempest earned critical raves and cracked Top 10s around the world, proving that great artists don't f-f-f-fade away. The video for single Duquesne Whistle, directed by Australian Nash Edgerton, was a ripper.

  • *E *DM *

Like AOR or album-oriented rock, EDM is a catch-all acronym for electronic dance music, which continued its invasion of the US this year. DJs and producers such as Tiesto, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5 and Skrillex not only heavily influenced the upper reaches of the pop charts, they also headlined major festivals, including Future, Stereosonic and Summadayze.

  • *F *ESTIVALS *

After predicting last year that the bubble would burst for festivals, it did . . . for some. The Big Day Out almost imploded, with a cut-down line-up attracting fewer than 10,000 punters to the Victoria Park foreshore. Meanwhile, the dance-leaning Future Music and hard n' heavy Soundwave each pulled three times as many over the Labour Day long weekend. Expect those two to compete for the title of WA's biggest festival in 2013, while the BDO rebuilds.


South Korean pop star PSY sparked a dance craze with the horse-riding moves that accompanied this K-Pop hit, making Gangnam Style the Macarena of 2012.


Burnt out from relentless US touring and promotion, the award-winning Melbourne singer-songwriter gave up on music after releasing her second album in 2007. This year, after some soul-searching, Higgins rediscovered her mojo and returned with her best album yet, the chart-topping The Ol' Razzle Dazzle.

  • *i *TUNES *

The online music store finally landed the big fish of AC/DC. After years of refusing to break up their albums, last month Accadacca made their entire back catalogue, from High Voltage to Black Ice, available via iTunes.

  • *J *JJ *

Long-serving music director Richard Kingsmill and the other apparatchiks at the national youth broadcaster, Triple J continued to hold the fate of many new bands in their hands. If you can't get played on the Jays, you can pretty much forget about touring nationally. Meanwhile, commercial stations remained stuck on playlists aping US radio.

  • *K *ELLY, PAUL *

The peerless Australian singer- songwriter enjoyed another busy year. He released the album Spring and Fall, headlined the annual Kimberley Moon Experience concert in Kununurra and was the subject of an excellent biopic, Stories of Me. Next year, he plays two big gigs at Kings Park alongside New Zealand singer-songwriter Neil Finn.

  • *L *ADY * *GAGA *

Little Monsters flocked to Burswood Dome for two Born This Way Balls hosted by Mother Monster, aka Lady Gaga, in July. Arguably the most spectacular tour of 2012 was definitely the craziest, with the pop superstar performing in front of a medieval castle, crawling out of a giant chicken and singing to a giant, floating robotic Gaga head.

  • *M *UMFORD & SONS *

There was no second-album syndrome for the London folk outfit, with Babel racking up the biggest first week of sales for any album released in the US this year. Their gear was stolen after their show at the Belvoir Amphitheatre in October.

  • *N *ICKI MINAJ *

Move over Gaga, Beyonce and Rihanna, there's a new girl in town. The curvaceous Trinidadian rapper was everywhere this year. She released her second album, played half-time at the Super Bowl with Madonna and rapped on hits for Madonna, Alicia Keys and Justin Bieber. Minaj also unveiled a perfume, was a judge on American Idol and played Perth Arena.


The British boy band continued to dominate headlines, chat rooms and wherever teenage girls congregate. One Direction's Australian tour sold out in a nanosecond, however the two concerts at Perth Arena aren't until September, so perhaps some Directioners will have grown out of them by then. Fingers crossed.

  • *P *INK *

Any worries that motherhood may slow down the feisty American singer were blown away when Pink returned with the high-energy hit single Blow Me (One Last Kiss) and announced another epic tour of Australia. She plays four sold-out gigs at Perth Arena in June.

  • *Q *UEEN *

It was a big year for the Old Dart, with the London Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The concert for the latter starred Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox and Paul McCartney, yet the enduring image is of ska-pop scamps Madness performing Our House from the roof of Buckingham Palace.


Mick, Keef, Charlie and Ronnie - now there's a boy band - didn't play for HRH or the Olympics, saving their energy for concerts celebrating their 50th anniversary in London and New Jersey. The Stones also released two new songs on another greatest hits collection; both were rockin' business as usual.

  • *S *TREAMING *

While music listeners love the convenience and massive song catalogues of streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio, artists are still unhappy about the low royalties. Some claim that they could earn as much busking for a couple of hours as they do from millions of streams.

  • *T *AME IMPALA *

The local psychedelic rockers scored rave reviews for second album Lonerism, which topped NME and Triple J's end of year lists and saw Kevin Parker and chums play sold-out shows around the world.

  • *U *NIVERSAL *

The biggest record company in the world, Universal Music Group, got bigger with the acquisition of EMI for £1.2 billion ($1.87 billion) in September, throwing into doubt the future of various labels, including the Beatles' old home, Parlophone.

  • *V *INYL *

While the compact disc continues to go the way of the dodo, sales of vinyl records are holding steady. They are a drop in the ocean of overall revenue from recorded music, yet it seems enough genuine collectors and DJs cherish the high-fidelity sound that the flat black platters should outlive cassettes and CDs.


The man better known as Gotye became the first Australian artist to top the US charts since 2000 when his hit Somebody That I Used to Know, featuring Kiwi singer Kimbra, went to No. 1 in August. De Backer spent this year touring the globe, picking up awards and ended with the news that Somebody is also the first Aussie song to top US Billboard's end-of-year singles chart since Olivia Newton-John did it with Physical in 1982.

  • *X * FACTOR *

After her major label deal came to nought, it was nice to see Perth's Samantha Jade win the fourth season of The X Factor, score a new record deal and her first ARIA No. 1 with the victor's single What You've Done to Me. However, one can't help wonder whether shows such as The X Factor and The Voice aren't less about discovering new talent and more about reviving the faltering careers of the judges/coaches.

  • *Y *OUTUBE *

When we weren't LOLing at cat videos, the so-called "people's radio" was where many music fans went for new videos of their favourite artists, who would hopefully earn funds via advertising. The Google subsidiary reported this year that four billion videos were streamed per day worldwide. Half were apparently parodies of Gangnam Style.

  • *Z *ULU WINTER *

The London indie rock outfit were among the multitude of new acts trying to make some elbow room in the international music scene with their debut album, Language. Other acts making an impressive entrance this year included Australians the Rubens, Flume and Alpine, American bands Alabama Shakes and Electric Guest, and England's Citizens! and Birdy - plus Freo's own San Cisco.

The West Australian

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