2014: The Clash Almanac

Predictions for the year to come…
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In 1964, Isaac Asimov predicted quite a few things pretty accurately for 2014. Wireless technology, 3D TV, microwave meals and coffee machines were all spot on. One thing Asimov never saw coming, however, was an old-skool jungle revival. In that vein, here are the Clash predictions for 2014…

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EPIC DRUM ROLLS GET ALL NATTY

If 2013 let us skip back inside UK garage’s nostalgic 2-steps then brace just a year later for a visceral old-skool jungle renaissance. Much of the finest vintage Amen break-sponsored ragga from ’93 and ’94 is stranded on cassette battle packs, lost in lofts and presided over simply by spiders. But as modern producers like Rudimental, Paul Woolford aka Special Request and even Example are reaching more firmly for the jump-up mojo of jungle then expect the lost names of Remarc, DJ Rap & MC MC and DJ Brockie to march straight into the middle of your noisy life, all natty from their metaphysical resting places of AWOL and Jungle Fever raves. MB

Special Request, 'Soundboy Killer'

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THE AGE OF CRITICISM MATURES

Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Beady Eye, Dizzee Rascal, MGMT, Jay Z, Eminem and Kanye West received their fair share of praise for their 2013 albums, but they also got some seriously savage whippings. Online communities across Reddit, Twitter and various other social media deltas are flooded with contrarians that analyse every detail of every album or video for even the slightest whiff of distaste. As Lily Allen found out, no artist is safe. For every hero, there is a hate campaign. Next year, we expect more artists than ever to receive the harsh whiplash of our critical culture. In turn, we expect some high profile and ill-advised reactions. They thought Twitter would be our Roman forum, but instead it’s the coliseum. JZ

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AFRICA’S DIGITAL DIASPORA

Africa is an exciting place right now. Fourteen per cent of the world’s population is there, most of them are under 30, and they are now responsible for the second-biggest mobile telecom market in the world (Asia is number one). It’s this market that is helping Spinlet, a mobile music streaming service, grow at an alarming rate. Already, the company has unearthed 85% of what they are calling an undiscovered African music landscape, providing a platform for artists who aren’t signed to labels. What does this mean? Well, lots of producers and pop artists already incorporate African genres and rhythms, but we predict a growing infiltration of this into Western pop sounds, as the burgeoning music scenes are mined for fresh talent. We expect to hear gqom, azonto and tarraxinha penetrate the dance and pop realms of 2014. JZ

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OPEN LETTERS SURPASS CLOSED LETTERS AS MOST POPULAR TYPE OF LETTER

Open letters have featured in society for centuries, but in 2013 it felt like the entertainment industry really decided to get knee deep into some Martin Luther-like preachings. Sinead O’Connor, Boris Johnson, Russell Brand and even Jez from Peep Show got in on the act. Perhaps it’s a reflection on our gradual realisation that the tide of an ugly future is coming in, and these are our high-profile attempts to stop it. Or maybe, and more realistically, it’s traffic bait masquerading as moral values. We all have to grow our Twitter followings somehow. Either way, we expect a flurry of open letters in 2014. JZ

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WESTERN SPIRITS REMAIN LOBOTOMISED BY SMARTPHONES

As the Arab Spring’s cultural fallout still floats down, we hear Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan liberated voices address the past, present and future. The Internet is livid with outspoken thoughts as once-oppressive authorities are no longer present to smash down the freedom of speech. Yet, the web-noise in the West is very different. Protest music remains lobotomised through the youth’s hypnotic obsession with their bubble-wrapped lives on their smartphones, and soon-to-be-common smart watches. With a digital world curated and firewalled from any suffering, a youth’s illuminated handset offers the calm balms of numbing distraction. Thus, whilst our government’s snooping surpasses that of Confessions Of A Window Cleaner, we are predicting another record year for political inaction and placid civil rest, whilst we all argue about ‘Watch The Throne Pt.2’. MB

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HOUSE MUSIC HAS ITS SOUL LEACHED FURTHER

Deep house is big business. Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Maya Jane Coles all plough their sunken and endless 4/4 furrows to global acclaim. However, hurl in the massive poppy success of Disclosure and Breach then look at the fugly boy band potential of Hot Natured and we are suddenly staring at 2014’s rather watery proposition that house music is going to move even more central from its leftfield origins. What the originators of Ron Hardy, Phuture and Derek May, or the visionaries behind Transmat, Trax or Dance Mania would make of such a gloopy, anonymous mess is best left unvoiced. House music was a movement. Now it’s an industry. We’d like the soul back, please! MB

Maya Jane Coles, 'Burning Bright'

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TORRENTS FACE EXTINCTION

The war on piracy got hot this year, as revenue for the MPAA (AKA world film police) increased by 50%, in a bid to crack down on Hollywood’s greatest enemy: the digital pirate. Here in the UK, the closest we get to a blockbuster is a Stone Roses biopic, but that didn’t stop them from launching a British Intellectual Property Crime Unit back in September. Virgin Media customers are already finding most torrent sites blocked, but through 2014 we expect this to become widespread. Movies will go first, then your music, then your cracked copies of Ableton Live. The average cultural consumer will quickly realise that if they want to watch Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit on Sunday night, they may need to explore legal and paid means. JZ

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DOWN UNDER GOES ON TOP

Australia and New Zealand unleashed a barrage of new music on the globe this year. Lorde, Chet Faker, Flume, Kirin J Callinan and many more sent depth charges into every genre under the sun. A&Rs and management teams are quickly preparing themselves for a veritable gold rush. With Courtney Barnett, Rufus, The Preatures, Vance Joy and Remi all set to release in 2014, we reckon Oceania will provide some of the year’s biggest pop and indie albums. JZ

Lorde, 'Tennis Court'

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BRANDED CONTENT TAKES OVER

Bill Hicks once said: “If you do an advert, then you are off the artistic register forever.” Music writer Ben Cardew rightly pointed out that viewpoint “seems rather archaic” now. These days Jay Z can write a 59-minute album purely for Samsung, and judging from the fact it went platinum the day it came out, his fans seemingly couldn’t give two f*cks. Consumers are rapidly accepting branded content as a means to an end and musicians are recognising it as a natural revenue stream. In turn, brands are slowly realising they have an opportunity to do something special and create huge cultural moments in our conscious lives, thereby forever burning their logos onto the retinas of tomorrow’s children. It’s not about tonight’s ITV film being sponsored by Motorola anymore; it’s about moon jumps, or music academies turning skyscrapers into LED equalisers. In 2014, we expect to see more tours, albums, shows and experiences funded by brands than ever before, and we don’t expect you to care. Want Oasis to get back together? Expect Carling to foot the bill. JZ

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SHAZAM BECOMES MODERN EQUIVALENT OF FOAM HAND

In layman’s terms, Shazam is an app that recognises whatever song is playing in ear’s reach, so that you identify it without asking someone else and ultimately exposing yourself as a deep house charlatan. Most people are ashamed to Shazam, in case a nearby head heckles them for not knowing that, “This is ‘Atmosphere’ by Kerri Chandler, you dick!” Consequently, you will often see people blatantly Shazam-ing from their pockets, pretending to take a photo of the speakers, or incorporating the action into an already monotonous dance move. Despite all this user paranoia, Shazam is having a huge impact. This year has already proffered a case study in MK’s remix of ‘Look Right Through’ by Storm Queen. The track was Shazam’d almost 700,000 times on its way to chart success, something that has been credited for moulding it from club staple to chart botherer. In 2014, we reckon Shazam will help turn radio, podcast and club plays into true viral success. JZ

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Words: Joe Zadeh and Matthew Bennett

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