What sound dominated 2008? When you are looking at the industry from a long tail perspective, with all the various niche labels and artists beginning to flourish, it really is difficult to pin down what they year sounded like. The pop chart was its usual mess of cheap RnB and mildly entertaining electropop, with even some Nickleback thrown in to balance things out. Not forgetting the Brit school class of '08, of course.
I had been predicting the return of disco for quite some time. You could feel it bubbling - the word returning to the vernacular, a mid-tempo pace coming back to the dance floor. Hand claps and triangles were seeping into even the most stalwart of producers material. We'd already seen some mainstream applications - both Madonna and Goldfrapp had big success with Confessions and Supernature - though I felt both of these albums used disco in a kitsch retro form (incidentally in 2008, both artists turned their back on disco with albums that were commercially less successful).
Hands down the best "dance" album of the year goes to Crazy P's Stop Space Return - fantastic fresh disco and electronic pop. The underground retro italo movement also came to the front with Heartbreak's debut Lies - hot on the heels of Vogue's prediction that italo was back. I had thought that new albums from The Killers and Cut Copy might encorporate more of the disco sound - instead, they kept things cautious and stayed well within their established boundaries of 80s pop.
And DJs were allowing the sound to sit prominently within their sets. A visit to Glasgow during Sara Berg's UK tour allowed us to check out Optimo's set at Sub Club. The small basement was alive with shimmering nu disco and italo - truly the best set I heard this year. Metro Area - no stranger to the genre that they perpetuate in immitable style - delivered the best mix of the year with their contribution to the Fabric series. The London club scene was not so consistent - with large clubs closing down, and the kids still falling into k-holes across Shoreditch, harder darker electrohouse still dominated - though there were signs of a more melodic, discohouse trend developing (The Joiners Arms legendary Thursday night sets being a prime example!).
Will disco finally re-invent itself in 2009? For the sake of the future of clubbing - lets hope so.
Image from PTGreg on Flickr