Weekly column for the award-winning The New European, the voice of the 48%
Issue 53, 13-19 July 2017: INCENDIARY SUMMER WHICH CHANGED MUSIC. The heatwave of 1976 has become a mythologised chapter in British history. But, says Sophia Deboick, when the weather broke, music would never be the same again.
Issue 54, 20-26 July 2017: BRITPOP: A REVOLUTION DRAPED IN A UNION FLAG. Blur versus Oasis, the rise of New Labour, and a flood of nostalgia – 1995 was a heady year in music and politics. Here Sophia Deboick relives the year British culture found a new confidence.
Issue 55, 27 July-2 August 2017: EUROPE ON THE EDGE OF TOMORROW. The music, culture and politics of 1880 offered Europe a taste of the future. Here Sophia Deboick explores the beginnings of modernity.
Issue 56, 3-9 August 2017: THATCHER, DISASTERS AND STOCK, AITKEN AND WATERMAN. The hit factory of Stock, Aitken and Waterman is famous for bringing us Kylie, Rick Astley and a whole new way of sugar coating pop. Sophia Deboick remembers 1987, the year music in Thatcher’s Britain was spun right round.
Issue 57, 10-16 August 2017: ROCK LOSES ITS INNOCENCE. Beatlemania sweeps the US, the Rolling Stones take things even further and Top of the Pops first appears. Sophia Deboick on 1964, the year rock’s strait lace started to come undone.
Issue 58, 17-23 August 2017: SEX, SCANDAL AND THE FIRST EVER POP STAR. Life still seemed genteel and lighthearted, but darker forces were not far from the surface. Sophia Deboick on 1936, a year which saw old certainties eroded, and the emergence of a performer with a claim to be the first ever pop star.
Issue 59, 24-30 August 2017: HOW THE INDUSTRY STOPPED FIGHTING AND GOT REAL. 2007 was the year the music business finally got to grips with new technology, Tony Blair quit and Amy Winehouse’s troubles became painfully clear. Sophia Deboick looks back at a pivotal 12 months.
Issue 60, 31 August-6 September 2017: ELVIS, CLIFF AND THE BIRTH OF BRITISH ROCK AND ROLL. 1958 was the year when rock and roll gripped the nation, prompting some to ask of a young Cliff Richard ‘Is this boy too sexy for television?’ Here Sophia Deboick explores when the teenager truly arrived in Britain.
Issue 61, 7-13 September 2017: GLAM BRITANNIA. In 1972 Ziggy played guitar, Marc Bolan hit his stride and blokes across Britain made nervous moves towards their sister’s make-up bag. Here Sophia Deboick rediscovers glam Britannia.
Issue 62, 14-20 September 2017: ODE TO JOY: SOUNDTRACK OF THE AGES. From the Die Hard films to the Proms, via Rhodesia and Tiananmen Square, Ode to Joy has been one of the most malleable pieces of music ever written. Sophia Deboick traces its varied history back to 1824, its year of creation.
Issue 63, 21-27 September 2017: GRUNGE GOES SUPERSONIC. Grunge arrived, pop got saucy… and Bryan Adams outstayed his welcome. Sophia Deboick on 1991, a year marked by the changing of the musical guard.
Issue 64, 28 September-4 October 2017: SYNTH, SKA, SHAKIN’ STEVENS AND SHADDAP YOU FACE. Sophia Deboick looks back on 1981, a year of riots, a royal wedding and plenty of musical innovation.
Issue 65, 5-11 October 2017: POP’S BIG BANG. Sophia Deboick on 1911, a year in which the last lingering cobwebs of Victorianism were blown away by a new sound.
Issue 66, 12-18 October 2017: THE YEAR MUSIC TRIED TO CHANGE THE WORLD. When it comes to music, it doesn’t get much bigger than 1967. Sophia Deboick on a momentous year.
Issue 67, 19-25 October 2017: ROCK AND ROLL, REBELLION AND RIOTS. Sophia Deboick looks back on 1952, a year which saw the first stirrings of a new sound and a new character – the teenager.
Issue 68, 26 October-1 November 2017: MUSIC’S TURN TO THE DARK SIDE. Sophia Deboick on 1970, a year that heard the death knell sound for the hippie era, and saw rock culture take an ominous, sinister turn.
Issue 69, 2-8 November 2017: JAZZ TAKES CENTRE STAGE AS U.S. GOES TO WAR. As the slaughter of the Great War intensified, and certainties that had preceded the conflict faded away, an imaginative and rebellious spirit emerged. Sophia Deboick looks back on 1917, a year when the world hung in the balance.
Issue 70, 9-15 November 2017: THE YEAR OUTLAWS TOOK OVER COUNTRY. A sterile-sounding genre is revived by an injection of illicit creativity. Sophia Deboick on 1975 and the musicians who put the soul into rural America’s music.
Issue 71, 16-22 November 2017: POP IN ITS POMP AS A NEW AGE DAWNS. 1985 was a year when pop showed off its global consciousness and when metal fought censorship and goth unfurled its wings, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 72, 23-29 November 2017: A BLUES DAWN AS WORLD HEADS TOWARDS THE DARKNESS. Rock and roll gets its blueprint and its founding myth, while the Great Depression rages. Sophia Deboick on 1937, a year marked by the posthumous and the ominous.
Issue 73, 30 November-6 December 2017: THE LAST YEAR OF A TRULY UNITED KINGDOM? Sophia Deboick looks back at 1997, a year of girl power, Cool Britannia and mass hysteria, and wonders if we will ever see a time like it again.
Issue 74, 7-13 December 2017: THE BIRTH OF CELEBRITY. Sophia Deboick looks back at 1926, the year when celebrity culture was born and great leaps were made in music and cinema.
Issue 75, 14-20 December 2017: THE AGE OF THE MISFIT. Lean times for rock and roll allowed for the emergence of a new type of star in 1960, argues Sophia Deboick.
Issue 76, 21-27 December 2017: THE ADVENT OF THE CHRISTMAS SINGLE. Our obsession with the Christmas No. 1 all began in 1973, explains Sophia Deboick, with two songs still at the heart of our festive season.
Issue 77, 4-10 January 2018: YEAR OF THE WILD AND THE MILD. It is remembered as the year punk exploded. But, as Sophia Deboick explains, there was another side to 1977.
Issue 78, 11-17 January 2018: PILLS, THRILLS AND THE SECOND SUMMER OF LOVE (1989). Sophia Deboick looks back on how music was transformed by the arrival of Ecstasy in Britain’s nightclubs and raves.
Issue 79, 18-24 January 2018: BRITAIN’S HIGH SUMMER (1966). The sixties were in full swing and Britain bestrode the world. Sophia Deboick looks back on the year that ended an era.
Issue 80, 25-31 January 2018: THE YEAR NATURE SHOWED NO MERCY (1816). A natural disaster cast a shadow over Europe, but failed to dim the continent’s incredible creativity, writes Sophia Deboick.
Issue 81, 1-7 February 2018: THE KING’S ASCENT (1954). The term hadn’t quite been coined yet, but with Elvis taking his first musical steps, this was the year rock ‘n’ roll took shape, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 82, 8-14 February 2018: ROCK’S ANNUS MIRABILIS (1971). Sophia Deboick looks back on a year of clean breaks, new beginnings and some of the greatest music ever made.
Issue 83, 15-21 February 2018: MUSIC AT WAR (1943). In the darkest year of the Second World War, music wielded an immense power to inspire both compassion and cruelty, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 84, 22-28 February 2018: BLITZ KIDS ADD SPARK IN BLEAK TIMES. It was the year John Lennon, Ian Curtis, Bon Scott and John Bonham died. But, as Sophia Deboick explains, 1980 was also a year of new beginnings.
Issue 85, 1-7 March 2018: PUTTING A TWIST ON PARANOIA (1961). Sophia Deboick on a year filled with both fun and fear, and a fad that was far more revolutionary than it might first appear.
Issue 86, 8-14 March 2018: A WORLD KNOCKED OFF BALANCE (2001). Sophia Deboick looks back on a year defined by a single event.
Issue 87, 15-21 March 2018: ENLIGHTENED MOOD MUSIC (1788). With the Age of Enlightenment at its peak, music came with a lofty tone, says Sophia Deboick, and Britain challenged central Europe’s cultural dominance.
Issue 88, 22-28 March 2018: CULTURE TAKES A CRASH COURSE (1929). It was the year of the first Tesco, the first Oscars and the first telephone on the US president’s desk. But at a time of significant advancements, there were also ominous forces at work, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 89, 28 March-11 April 2018: SPELLBOUND BY SPACE, AS COUNTERCULTURE TURNS TOXIC (1969). The moon landings may have provided a moment of inspiration and optimism for the world but, as Sophia Deboick explains, this was a year of the sinister, as well as the spellbinding.
Issue 90, 12-18 April 2018: WHEN THREE TRIBES RULED THE CHARTS (1984). Sophia Deboick looks back on a year when British music found its voice… Or, rather, three very distinctive and different voices.
Issue 91, 19-25 April 2018. NEW WORLD ORDER (1876). Sophia Deboick celebrates a year that would impact generations to come in art, music, politics and technology.
Issue 92, 26 April-2 May 2018. DISCO INFERNO (1979). The destruction of thousands of disco records at a baseball game this year not only symbolised the end of an era but an act of intolerance, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 93, 3-9 May 2018. WORLD ON A TRIP (1965). It wasn’t only Bob Dylan undergoing a fundamental change of direction this year, as old certainties began to erode and new possibilities began to emerge. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 94, 10-16 May 2018. THE DOOMED AGE OF GRUNGE (1992). As the genre reached its apex, it cast a shadow from which it has never fully emerged, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 95, 17-23 May 2018. MARCH OF THE MINSTRELS (1324). As music gets creative – and secular – so the forces of reaction move against it. Sophia Deboick considers an era of radical change and familiar themes.
Issue 96, 24-30 May 2018. WORLD GOES ON A CRAZY STREAK (1974). Music takes an absurd turn, politics crops up in the unlikeliest place and a discovery revolutionises our understanding of the world. Sophia Deboick looks back.
Issue 97, 31 May-6 June 2018. RIPPING THE 70S TO SHREDS (1978). In a world (and an industry) of exploitation, objectification and misogyny, female performers made great strides forwards. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 98, 7-13 June 2018. BIRTH OF THE CELEBRITY (1838). It was the year of a towering new monarch’s coronation but it also sparked the rise of today’s worship of stars, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 99, 14-20 June 2018. A FAT LOT OF GOOD MUSIC (1949). The crooner was eclipsed by something a bit more coarse and technology laid the foundations for music’s next great leap forward. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 100, 21-27 June 2018. AMBITION COMES INTO VOGUE (1990). A frenetic year saw the charts at their most eclectic, trousers at their loosest and bras at their pointiest, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 101, 28 June-4 July 2018. BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE (1968). As a succession of tragedies befall the world, music plays a role in processing them, like never before. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 102, 5-11 July 2018. BLACK, WHITE AND THE BLUES – RACE AND THE DAWN OF ROCK AND ROLL (1955). Sophia Deboick turns the clock back to modern music’s Year Zero.
Issue 103, 12-18 July 2018. THE KING IS DEAD… LONG LIVE THE QUEENS (2009). With the passing of a pop giant, a new wave of stars emerged – some of whom would fade and some endure. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 104, 19-25 July 2018. POLICE TRY TO END THE PARTY BUT MUSIC MOVES ON (1994). A clumsy new law menaces dance music, but youth culture remains one step ahead. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 105, 26 July-1 August 2018. TEEN SPIRIT TAKES OVER (1963). Teenagers come of age, the sexual revolution accelerates and innocence dies. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 106, 9-15 August 2018. FIRST STIRRINGS OF A MUSICAL ISLAND (1580). The English Renaissance took music in new directions and saw the emergence of a tune which still echoes down the ages. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 107, 16-22 August 2018. FRESH START FOR MUSIC AS A NEW DAY DAWNS (1946). For a world still recovering from the horrors of war, pop culture offered escapism and a glimpse of a brighter future. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 108, 23-29 August 2018. SYNTH PROVIDES SOUNDTRACK AS METAL GETS BITE (1982). New sounds – and some very big names – emerge, while a classic rock myth is born. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 109, 30 August-5 September 2018. BEGINNING OF THE FUTURE. With the Space Race very much on, 1959 reeked of the future. And one band were particularly influential. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 110, 6-12 September 2018. HOW MUSIC GOT NUDE, LEWD AND A LITTLE BIT SCANDALOUS (2004). While the US produced a very raunchy scandal, British pop’s great controversy was a little more tame. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 111, 13-19 September 2018. MUSIC MANIA TAKES HOLD (1844). Strauss Senior, the first pop idol, soon found himself eclipsed by something rawer in Liszt, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 112, 20-26 September 2018. HALLYDAY HERALDS THE NEW WAVE (1962). French pop provided the pioneers, as protest music also took voice. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 113, 27 September-3 October 2018. AMERICA GETS THE BLUES (1920). As recovery from the war continued, a new era of individualism and hedonism was already on the horizon. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 114, 4-10 October 2018. NUANCE TAKES CENTRE STAGE (1993). Before the Britpop steamroller removed it, the charts were filled with subtlety. Sophia Deboick looks back on a year of complexity.
Issue 115, 11-17 October 2018. WATER WONDER (1717). Sophia Deboick on one of the most spectacular musical performances ever staged.
Issue 116, 18-24 October 2018. POP’S LAST HURRAH (1986). Sophia Deboick on a year when the pop charts were filled with vibrancy and variety… characteristics that were about to become severely stifled.
Issue 117, 25-31 October 2018. ELVIS RULES ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (1956). A year on from rock and roll bursting on to the scene, this was the moment youth culture truly took hold. Sophia Deboick on a pivotal moment.
Issue 118, 1-7 November 2018. THE TIN PAN KING (1913). A dominant, if unconventional, Irving Berlin was confounding the critics, as music took its first tentative steps towards ‘pop’. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 120, 15-21 November 2018. DEPRESSION SUPPRESSION (1931). The economic turmoil of the Great Depression produced much downbeat realism but also escapist whimsy. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 121, 22-28 November 2018. STILL DIGGING IT (1649). English music takes a radical turn which continues to resonate three centuries on. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 122, 29 November-5 December 2018. BOWIE THE BOMBASTIC (1983). The singer re-emerged in one of his most ebullient incarnations, while another star unveiled his own signature move. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 123, 6-12 December 2018. COOL BRITANNIA ACHIEVES LIFT-OFF (1996). A self-confident Britain holds sway, with the Spice Girls and Oasis to the fore. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 124, 13-19 December 2018. MUSIC TO KEEP THE DARKNESS AT BAY (33,000 BC). Sophia Deboick pieces together what is known about the dawn of music, and finds qualities that have echoed through the millennia.
Issue 125, 20 December 2018-2 January 2019. LAST CHRISTMAS: THE FINAL BIG BATTLE FOR NO. 1. X Factor’s advent was shortly to end the traditional fight for the festive top slot. But it went out with a bang in 2003, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 126, 3-9 January 2019. STAR AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS POWERS (1731). The castrato singer Farinelli was the undoubted superstar of an era in which musical advances were made not just with compositions, but instruments too. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 127, 10-16 January 2019. ROCKET 88 FUELS THE FUTURE (1951). A new song stakes a claim to be the first rock ‘n’ roll single, while music elsewhere plays catch-up. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 128, 17-23 January 2019. WHEN THE SCREAMING STARTED (1988). As a hit new documentary provides Bros with an unlikely comeback, Sophia Deboick looks back to the eccentric twins’ first embrace of fame.
Issue 129, 24-30 January 2019. LIKE A PRAYER (1150). As the Romani brought a gypsy beat from the east, Europe’s greatest musical innovator, Hildegard of Bingen, found a sound that could examine the human condition, as much as praise God. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 130, 31 January-6 February 2019. MILLER TIME (1940). As the Second World War took shape, a big band leader dominated the year. While, from very different quarters, a Disney film and an emerging folk star signalled sounds of the future. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 131, 7-13 February 2019. BRITAIN BEFORE THE FALL (2012). The Olympic year represented a high point for a self-confident and outward-looking United Kingdom, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 132, 14-20 February 2019. SCREWBALL SOUNDS (1923). Music came with a sense of optimism, Orientalism – and often surrealism – as pharaohs and fruit provided the inspiration. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 133, 21-27 February 2019. LOTS TO LOVE IN WAR OF THE ROMANTICS (1865). Conflict need not always be destructive, as the 19th century culture clash proved.
Issue 134, 28 February-6 March 2019. RACY RHYTHMS (1909). Singers started to unbutton, and America got a taste for adultery. Sophia Deboick on a saucy year in music.
Issue 135, 7-13 March 2019. SKIFFLE’S SPRINGBOARD MOMENT (1957). As the washboard-and- tea-chest movement peaked, and took British music ever closer to a new era, the Beat Generation and original ‘highschool’ musicals dragged the US in a different direction. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 136, 14-20 March 2019. ROMAN RHYTHMS (80 AD). Much remains unclear about the nature of the music produced by the Romans. But, as Sophia Deboick reports, by piecing together the clues, their creativity can still be heard.
Issue 137, 21-27 March 2019. MUSIC HALL’S BOOM-DE-AY HEYDAY (1891). Britain – as ever – focused on the twin fascinations of sex and scandal. And did so with a glorious abundance of fun and frivolity. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 139, 4-10 April 2019. COUNTDOWN ENDS WITH A POP (2000). A vintage year for the industry saw the most No.1s ever, as attempts to greet the new millennium with gravitas fell flat. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 140, 11-24 April 2019. ON THE MONEY (1933). Sophia Deboick on a remarkable year which churned out a string of classic songs which still resonate today.
Issue 141, 25 April-1 May 2019. AN ESCAPE FROM EASY LISTENING (1948). While the charts were filled with much that was bland, the year’s standout hits displayed technical innovation and, in one case, an inspired slice of weirdness. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 142, 2-8 May 2019. MINSTREL MONARCH (1513). His musical talent and passion might have been overshadowed by other elements of his reign, but Henry VIII deserves his reputation as a king with an ear for a tune, says Sophia Deboick.
Issue 143, 9-15 May 2019. BROADWAY’S BRASH BRILLIANCE (1904). While European sounds veered towards the melancholy, and often morose, America was tuning in to something far more effervescent. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 144, 16-22 May 2019. OUR YEAR OF TEARS (2016). Two deaths overshadowed an ominous 12 months for Britain and the planet. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 145, 23-29 May 2019. MEMORY LAINE: THE YEAR A MUSICAL TITAN REACHED HIS PEAK (1953). The original ‘hardest working man in showbusiness’ enjoyed his annus mirabilis while rock and roll’s beat started to sound. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 146, 30 May-5 June 2019. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1939). A concert in the US inverted stereotypes and thwarted bigotry, while the arrival of war shaped British music. Sophia Deboick reports.
Issue 147, 6-12 June 2019. GIRL POWER GROWS UP (1998). Sophia Deboick on a barnstorming year when female performers took the lead on pop.
Issue 148, 13-19 June 2019. NATIONAL ANTHEMS (1850). Sophia Deboick on a year in which music was helping to forge state identities on both sides of the Atlantic.
… and now listen to the Year in Music playlists on Spotify.