Charli Fudges 2021 Wrap-Up
Welcome to 2022. So far this decade hasn’t been so much the roaring twenties as it has been the coughing twenties but as we fall into this new year, dead armed and bleary eyed from our booster jabs and still a bit weirdly socially awkward, its important to remember how far we’ve come. Or rather, remind ourselves how shit it’s been to help us feel a bit better about where we are now. A bit like when you’ve been queuing for a ride at Alton towers for an hour and you still have half an hour to go but you’re glad the worst is behind you.Except instead of a rollercoaster at the end, its climate change. Woo!
British people seem to have replaced talking about the weather with talking about theories on impending restrictions, the Brexit debate has replaced by pro-vaccine vs anti-vaccine and when you sit down in your hairdresser’s chair, you’re less likely to talk about where you’re going on holiday this year and more likely to exchange grim tales over whether you know anyone whose “got it”. But one thing remains the same, although its format may twist and turn to ensure its survival like a crafty little virus variant, art prevails. And this year has been a doozy. So sit back, try to relax and ignore that PTSD twitch in your eye, as we recap the year that gave us Jackie Weaver, the popularisation of sea shanties and a space race to see who has the smallest knob.
And yes, it’s late. Rolling Stone, Esquire et al have already given us their best of 2021 lists. But give us a break, it’s been a wild party season for everyone at the Lock In and I’ve only just managed to shake off my sleep paralysis demon long enough to google “2021 roadmap”.
So without further ado, let me take you back in time toJanuary 2021. The year started off pretty good with a flood of Bernie Sandersmitten memes, making me love both Bernie Sanders and mittens infinitely more than I already did. Reddit apes also brought Wall Street to its knees by short-squeezingGameStop stocks and inventing their own language on reddit. To the moon with you, diamond hands! *rocket emoji*
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing. Covid cases were on the rise as the government struggled to deal with a brand-new variant and prompted us all to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Yes, I’m definitely still talking about this time last year, though I’ll admit I’m testing positive for a bad case of déjà vu.
Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams – One thing that was a breath of fresh air was Arlo Parks long awaited debut album ‘Collapsed inSunbeams’. A sweet and clear voice, with a proclivity for modern poetry interwoven with a distinct west London enunciation, laid over crisp beats. Collapsed in sunbeams on repeat helped a lot of people breathe through the slog that was January lockdowns.
Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs – But life is all about balance. And sometimes a good rant and a swift kick to the wall is all that will suffice, and who better to be pissed off with than Sleaford Mods, who released their sixth official album in January. The lyrics, as always, making us laugh, think, hate with, and relate to the Nottingham duo who say this album was inspired by “human lives being expendable to the elite”. A grim but prophetic start to what would be a hard year for some. Banging tracks though.
More lockdown woes followed in February for the most part, with schools closed again and people having to pick only their very bestest, bubbled friends to pretend to exercise outdoors with (bags of cans are pretty heavy, no?). But the end of February brought hope, in the form of a roadmap out of lockdown, and the explosion of the use of the word “roadmap”. Suddenly, I was being asked to make “roadmaps” at work, exchanging roadmaps-to-the-pub memes, and playing roadmap related drinking games on skype quizzes. It was like Y2Kfashion of words – suddenly everywhere but with no real substance or meaning.
Black Country New Road – For the First Time – But February also brought another eagerly awaited debut release. Arguably the most exciting band of 2019, Black Country, New Road really made their fanbase wait with bated breath, listening to the same two songs over and over again onSpotify while they signed a label and recorded their first album. Luckily it was worth the wait, and For The First Time delivered 40 minutes of crashing symbols, rumbling basslines and eerie, soaring trumpets, set off by the trembling, intimate vocals of frontman Isaac Wood.
It’s a Sin – Our first television entry of the year goes to channel 4’s fun but incredibly poignant miniseries. Inspired by a true story, it follows a group of four friends living together in London around the time of the Aids epidemic. With a fabulous 80’s soundtrack and a super likeable cast, including Olly Alexander from Years and Years, It’s a Sin did a great job of transporting you to a time when yearned for feelings of freedom and youth slid into fear and impending doom. Its also my mum’s top pick of 2021 telly and Cathy knows her stuff.
The news really got its shit in gear in March. We had that weird boat incident in the Suez canal which meant urgent goods purchases such as my Bluetooth shower radio and ever so chic ladder-style bookcase were annoyingly delayed. I had to actually shower in silence and had literally nowhere to show off my collection of philosophy books from my first year English and Media degree. It was a nightmare but did provide us with some excellent tweets. Meghan and Harry also went on telly and bitched out the royal family for being racist and lizards. Mainly probably just the first one, but it was still mad.
But the biggest thing that happened this month was the death of Sarah Everard and the deepening chasm of disquiet that was further dividing the UK. Protests against the police erupted, echoing sentiments from BLM and preceding the uprising of Extinction Rebellion later in the year. If there was one thing 2021 did really well, it was to further sow the seeds of discontent and revolution across the country, and really permeate into the mainstream discussion.
Serpentwithfeet – DEACON – Josiah Wise released his groundbreaking second album in March to rave reviews. Joyous where his first album was dramatic and perhaps also more down to earth and accessible, serpent with feet celebrates same-sex love as a black man in this sun soaked homage to relationships.
Taylor Swift - Red – Just when Jake Gyllenhaal thought it was safe to exploit young girls again, die hard swifties were treated to a 30 song saga from the queen of the break ups herself, including anew 10 minute version of a song about a 3 month relationship she had 13 years ago. Taylor swift can dine out on the details of a failed relationship more than Prince Andrew at a pizza express in Woking and I’m so here for it.
Talking of alleged sex offenders, deformed carrot Donald Trump was forced to leave the white house in 2021 in a rare moment of something positive actually happening in politics. Unfortunately, like a whinging Cartman-esque kid who would rather piss all over his old toys than let his mum give them to charity, he convinced the MAGA gang to storm the capitol in a move which was incredibly anti-democratic, but which also introduced us to the hilarious insta-meme that was the QAnon Shamen. Swings and roundabouts.
The biggest bit of news this side of Atlantic were that pubs were finally open! Cue millions of brits donning scarves and hats and updating their QR scanner to sit outside and do what we do best – drink pints and complain about the weather.
Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg – Easily one of the best albums of 2021, Dry Cleaning’s debut album New Long Leg introduced us to the delightfully dulcet tones of front woman Florence Cleopatra Shaw. Dry, sardonic monologues set over tight post punk tracks felt like exactly what we needed this year. Finding out that the grimly modern tagline of the main track (“do everything and feel nothing”) was the advertising slogan for tampons was the cherry on top for me.
There’s been a few strange news moments courtesy of the pandemic, like when we thought a sweet, elderly man having to singlehandedly fund the NHS by wobbling up and down his garden was a positive thing. Also, scotch-egg gate was also a favourite for me personally. But of all the surreal, dystopian and generally weird shit I’ve seen this pandemic, the government telling us how to hug on the news in May is definitely up there. We’re through the looking glass here, people.
May was also the first sign of live music coming back (yay!) in the form of an outdoor Blossoms gig (boo!). It was also the month that Dominic Cummings, in a form of karmic payback, reared up like the bongo-headed snake he is to bite Boris Johnson on the arse by telling everyone what a cock up he made of the pandemic. Like it was some king of big secret.
Bo Burnham’s Inside – Netflix has become like more of a close friend than a content provider throughout the pandemic, providing such standout cultural moments as Tiger King and the comfort that only binge watching an old series can provide. This time, quarantine king Bo Burnham manages to write, film and edit his own 1 hour and 27 minute musical epic which never once mentions the C word but manages to successfully evoke (and laugh at) all those familiar feelings of panic and isolation that lockdown brought. Also, the tunes slap. If All Eyes On Me wasn’t on your Spotify Wrapped this year you haven’t been living right.
St Vincent – Daddy’s Home - The amazing Annie Clark, AKA St Vincent released her ode to the 70’s this year, cementing her place as one of the most interesting artists from the last ten years. Daddy’s home explores Annie’s complicated relationship with her once incarcerated father and offers us a personal look back at her life, set over perfectly arranged funk, pop and rock and roll.
Football. Football. More football. Then racism because of football. That was basically June. Oh, and a skin crawling peek at Matt Hancock’s sex life as he took the whole eat out to help out thing a shade too far with his assistant. And that wasn’t even the worst thing he did last year. Between the accusations of cronyism, the fake crying on the news and his completely bewildering attempts at parkour, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were being trolled hard by Mr Hancock. But unfortunately not, life in 2021 in Tory Britain really was one big joke.
Lucy Dacus – Home Video – Queer, indie-pop icon Lucy Dacus released Home Video in June to rounds of applause from the likes of Pheobe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Snail Mail. Her trademark famously honest lyrics and catchy guitar riffs take on a pop twist in this, the 26 year old’s third album.Definitely one to belt out in the shower on your Bluetooth radio speaker, which thankfully arrived for me in the month of June. *praying hands emoji*
Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee – Japanese Breakfast, otherwise known as Korean-American musician and author Michelle Zauner, released a perfect pop album in 2021 in the form of Jubilee. A seamless mixture of sweet and melancholy, this album sees Zauner joined by an orchestra of string and horn for her third album, giving us something completely new but strangely nostalgic at the same time.
July brought with it the nauseatingly entitled Freedom day, and saw a return to the norm for indoor venues. I ripped off the plaster with my first gig of the year being Pete Doherty set against the romantic backdrop of Hull. I have to say, dodging stray spit from an enthusiastic libertines fan with two teeth while I anxiously waited for my boyfriend to return with pints in plastic cups was…strange. It was like the once familiar backdrop of live music had become a hostile entity, and the things that used to make it so great, like everyone singing the words, fist pumping with pints and bumping into each other, suddenly just served to remind me of the many bodily fluids that were being exchanged. It didn’t last long though, and I was soon sweating away with the best of them, singing into strangers faces and just being grateful the liquid I was just covered in was cold, indicating the contents to be cider rather than piss.
On a completely unrelated note, this also happened to be the month yours truly caught Covid. Resulting in a scathing review to the local curry house after I discovered, utterly appalled, that my jalfrezi tasted like nothing. Still sorry about that, Aagrah bro’s. I’m sure it was a great curry.
The Green Knight – The first film entry on our list,A24 never fails to deliver and the minute I heard they were going to be doing a trippy version of King Arthur played by Dev Patel I was all over it. The story itself is simple, but the symbolism is rife and complex and presented by stunning cinematography and visual brilliance. If we go into another lockdown I might just go into full-on magic hermit mode by dosing up on mushies in a darkroom and attempting to sit through this one.
Summer of Soul – Another Netflix gem, Summer of Soul tells the story of a cultural festival in Harlem happening within weeks of the far more famous Woodstock. Featuring amazing footage of Steve Wonder, Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone set against a moment in history and a backdrop of amazing fashions and intriguing characters, this is definitely one of the best music docs of 2021.
I actually have no idea what happened in August because I turned 30 and took it upon myself to drink more cans and smoke more cigs than I had done in my whole 20’s combined in one last youthful act of joie de vivre. I did learn that there’s always helpfully dodgy characters on the Doughnut Groyne in Brighton and that you can actually grow blisters on top of already existing blisters if you try really hard.
Kanye West - DONDA – While everyone else was mourning another year without holidays or festivals, the artist formerly known as Kanye West was living his best life. From a presidential campaign, to a new album, to designing and selling his own fucked up little Kanye Crocs, shit was hectic in the world of our Lord Yeezus. We’re still waiting on his solution for world debt and global warming as promised in 2020 but I really feel like 2022 might really be the year.
In September we learned that making it harder for millions of people to enter the job market based on their nationality would actually lead to huge workforce shortages. Who would have fucking thought? This then had a knock on effect on lorry drivers, giving us Suez-canal-on-acid type delays and shortages except this time it was important shit like McDonalds milkshake and Nandos. Luckily, they made the lorry driver test safer so more people signed up. These days you only need to demonstrate your ability to maim a lone hitchhiker, as opposed to kill.
Suspicion over vaccinations also continued to grow, despite Delta now sweeping the nation and forcing people all over the country to write denigrating and false reviews for well meaning curry houses. Suspicion only grew further when word hit the nation of Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend in Trinidad’s swollen testicles, the cause of irreconcilable circumstances between him and his fiancé and ultimately another devasting blow to the pro-vax argument.
Squid Game – September was also the month of squid game madness and an upsurge in people completely missing the point and using the idea to gain views on their Youtube channels by recreating the challenges for cash prizes, the irony forcing me into yet another existential crisis. It was a good year for existential crises.
New Order at Heaton Park – It was also the month New Order played to 35,000 people at Heaton Park in a glorious return to fields, friends, and fun for a lot of people. Supported by the always excellent Hot Chip, the enthusiasm of the crowds was unparalleled, and I think you could probably hear the last few lines of Love Will Tear Us Apart (the last song, of course) from Warrington.
Facebook changed its name to Meta in October and Zuckerberg once again demonstrated how totally normal/and/human.exe he really is by showing us how much he loves a bit of barbecue sauce. So do I, Mark, so do I.
This was also the month that Little Amal, the giant puppet of a girl representing the struggle of refugee children also arrived in Westminster, signalling the end of a nearly 5000 mile journey across Europe to bring awareness to a problem which sadly only got worst this year. This was also the month of COP21 in Glasgow, where world leaders agreed something had to be done but couldn’t quite agree on what. Alexa, cue up existential crisis number thirty….
Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure – Fortunately we had another brilliant music release in October to get us through it. Rebecca Lucy Taylor released her second album in October and it has since been deservedly called the best album of the year by the likes of the Guardian, The Sunday Times and Gig wise. Full of witty observations, coming of age revelations and intimate disclosures, Rebecca has created an album of female empowerment anthems for the modern age.
Dune – Timothee Chalamet starred in this sci fi epic back in Autumn, showing himself to more than just a marionette doll with cheekbones that could cut glass. This star-studded adaptation brought cinema goers back out in their droves after the hiatus that was lockdown and proved that there is more to a life of consuming visual media, than streaming Netflix on a balanced laptop on the edge of your bed while trying not to spill sweet and sour sauce on your duvet.
By now, we’re all sick to death of hearing about government incompetency but oh November was good for it. This was the month we found out that there was a party in Downing Street during the deep dark recesses of Winter 2020 lockdown. Suspend your disbelief for a moment and try to believe that people willingly went to a party with a bunch of Torys, and you may find yourself outraged that while people’s relatives were dying without saying goodbye to their loves ones, Downing Street was tucking into the cheese and wine. Its since come to light that this wasn’t a one off, with leaked documents now telling of a BYOB garden party back in the summer. So, Boris is not only a rule breaker but he’s a cheap skate too. Unforgivable!
Get Back – This long awaited music doc was released on Disney+ in November, making Paul girls of us all and giving us a front row seat to the making of one of the best albums and most memorable live music shows of all time. Hearing the Beatles write classics such as the titular song there in front of you is almost surreal, as those melodies so well known to us are still strange and slowly forming in the minds of their creator. Its also an intriguing look at the power balance and personal relationships in the band that have previously only ever been guessed at.
Adele - 30 – Top cockney crooner Adele also sweptback into the public eye with her massively successful album 30, prompting the question “how many times can you sing about the same thing in the same way before people get bored?”. The answer? At least one more time.
December was literally last month so if you need me to remind you what happened you must’ve drunk more than me which is highly unlikely. Ask anyone.
But let’s wind this up here because everyone knows all that happens in December is the copious consuming of mince pies and baileys, and unless you’re a Tory you likely even skipped the obligatory, beer fear inducing office party. Critical content consumption in December is generally Harry Potter and the Eastenders Christmas special, and music releases in this month tend to look like the contents of a dogs dinner after its been thrown up (see Ed Sheeran and Elton John). But there were a few things of note.
Don’t Look Up – Could there be a more appropriate end to the year than a film depicting the ending of days to a disengaged and disillusioned audience? Top shagger Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this Netflix film which leaves you thoroughly entertained but also a little bit hollow inside. Kind of like the Friends reunion.
FKA Twigs - Capri songs – Yes, its another female artist music release on the list. No, I don’t care about male representation, this is my list bitch. Technically this album is out in January but Cheltenham born artist Tahliah Debrett Barnett released Tears in the Club ft The Weeknd during December, a precursor to her 17 song epic album Capri songs which will be dropped later this week. Packed full of collabs with the likes of DanielCaesar, Jorja Smith and Shygirl, its gonna be a baddie.
In conclusion, 2021 was a great year in some ways. I barely even scratched the surface music wise, not even mentioning releases from Idles, black midi, Little Simz etc. and skipping over some great films like Last Night In Soho and thai horror, The Medium. But perhaps more importantly, it was the year we came back together again for gigs, nightclubs, and shits and giggles in general.
I missed out on a few big things like Billie Eilish and her *gasp* boobs, and Olivia Rodrigo fever (I don’t get it, I’m sorry) and perhaps got a bit peeved thinking too hard about Them Torys (oh no, our country, its broken!),but I’m honestly just glad I got this far without any overt Tik Tok references….shit, never mind.
See you in 2022!
Charli Fudge is an honorary Barrovian having shacked up a few years ago with one of the West Coast’s finest’s - very own Mark Pratt. Has previously written for Itchy City Guides and Vice but has since settled down for the understated life of a public sector worker/forever unfinished novelist.