27 January 2016

Kroagnon Awards 2016: Day Three - Music and Books

Welcome to the Kroagnon Awards 2016! All this week, we'll be announcing all our favourite things of 2015, ranging from the broad to the niche. As well as being voted on by editors Dave, Matt and Tom, several categories have been decided by you, our readers, and industry experts. And Jonny Morris.

Kicking off today's round of awards is our Album of 2015, Froot by Marina and the Diamonds. The Welsh/Greek singer-songwriter's third album was her third UK top ten hit and yielded popular singles such as Happy, I'm A Ruin and Forget. Froot saw Marina move back towards the sound of The Family Jewels after the floor-filling sonics of Electra Heart, and was one of the most innovative and intelligently-crafted albums of the year. Adele's 25 naturally followed shortly behind.

Although it was released at the tail-end of the year, Adele's Hello quickly ascended the charts and spearheaded an inevitable revival of her global fanbase. Now, a month into 2016, her onslaught of the music industry shows no signs of letting up, with her follow-up single When We Were Young released last Friday. Both tracks are taken from 25. Also nominated was Years & Years' hit King.

Jonny Morris writes: "I can’t claim to be up-to-date with the latest music scene. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy new music – I’ve starred Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen on Spotify – but as I haven’t listened to Radio 1 since Mark and Lard split up, it only really comes to my attention via recommendations. So my nomination of my single of 2015 is a track which wasn’t even a single but the opening track of an album of old Elvis recordings given a Philharmonically Orchestral treatment. Now, I know what you might be thinking, I was thinking it too. But, giving it a chance, listening to the first song, I was amazed. It worked. It was the same song, but it just sounded bigger. As big as Elvis’ voice, you could say. It did that great thing of taking old music and making it sound new – of making the dead sound alive."

Jonny Morris is a writer, tweeter and father. Visit his blog here.

Following David Bowie's tragic demise on 10 January, there was a resurgence in sales of his music, but Lazarus, the final single to be released while he was alive, had already been met with a positive reception. It was clearly a popular track with you, our readers, too as you voted it your favourite single of 2015. You also nominated Little Mix's Black Magic.

2015 was a huge year for London-born Jess Glynne with four singles hitting the top ten, and three of those rising right to the top, meaning she has now sung on five number one songs in under two years. Last year also saw the release of her debut album, I Cry When I Laugh, which reached number one too. After a long few years of hard work, it was really rewarding to see it all pay off for her. Also nominated was Adele, who returned to the world of music with quite some force as the year drew to a close.

Barely anyone knows who Public Service Broadcasting are, which is a shame as they bring something different, if not chart-topping, to an increasingly monotonous industry. Their blend of archive audio with newly-composed scores is unique and often insightful. Their 2015 album The Race for Space concerned the 1960s USA/USSR pursuit of space flight and the lead single, Gagarin, is a highlight. Definitely one to check out if you haven't already.

This song is truly terrible. Perhaps even as bad as last year's 'winner', It's My Birthday by Will.I.Am and Cody Wise. Avoid at all costs.

Concerning a man just trying to make the internet a nicer place, James Goss' Haterz is one of the most original books of recent years. Containing a startlingly accurate commentary on users of social media in 2015, Haterz is witty and intelligent in equal measure and thoroughly recommended. We also enjoyed Penguin's first two Books of British Short Story.

Of all the 101... or 1001... books, 1001 TV Series to Watch Before You Die, edited by BBC iPlayer maestro Paul Condon, is easily the most essential. It goes through television history from around the globe, right up to the present day, and features direct but intriguing entries from industry experts, including a few who will be familiar to readers of this site.

Una McCormack writes: "I strongly recommend Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta. This is a vivid post-apocalyptic novel, set in a world of plastic seas and water shortages. It’s written in an intense and lyrical style: I found myself dreaming about it for weeks after. Incredible to think this is the author’s first novel."

Dr Una McCormack is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University, and a New York Times-bestselling author. Visit her website here.

That's it for today! Come back tomorrow when all our awards will be about
the television adventures of Doctor Who!

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