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The Strictly Readers Awards: The Best & Worst Of 2013

The final section of our awards is a genre by genre breakdown of the best acts in the world right now. It always serves as a great guide to the kind of bands Reading should be booking and how well certain genre’s are translating to the Reading audience.

The Best British Band

 Tie: Arctic Monkeys (12%)

Unsurprisingly, I’m running out of ways to describe just how great a year the Arctic Monkeys had, but perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay the band is to say that they’ve finally found their footing. The second half of the Monkeys’ career has been defined by bumbling progression and the search for a satisfying new sound and direction. AM seemed to solve that conundrum, allowing their blistering and oozing guitar work to sit alongside Turner’s new found knack for seductive, lingering, balladry.

Tie: Biffy Clyro (12%)

Could there be a more perfect expression of our readers’ wishes than to have Biffy and Arctic Monkeys share this award? The two British institutions have been going back and forth trading one award for another, and now, when it came right down to it, our readers simply couldn’t separate them. The only question that hangs over Biffy is where do they go from here? How to continue to push their sound and their live performances forward.

The Best International Band

Arcade Fire (19%)

An absolute landslide victor for Arcade Fire (no other band broke 5%). There had been doubts about Arcade Fire’s fourth album; it was the record the band needed to make but questions where raised about the execution and whether they’d simply lost the plot. The Strictly readers clearly disagree and have stuck firmly behind the band who delivered the chilling but sexy “Reflektor” and the euphoric ode to a miserable relationship “After Life”. The Canadians headline set at Glastonbury will be one of the year’s biggest events, can they pull it off (we know they can), will the casual audience turn up to watch them (we’ll have to wait and see).

The Best Solo Artist

Frank Turner (7%)

A hotly contested category that saw Kanye West, Noel Gallagher, Lady Gaga, Jake Bugg, Eminem and Lorde all hovering around 5%, but Frank Turner pulled it out in the end. Let’s face it, sometimes the best solo artist award feels like the Frank Turner award, however, in 2013, this is no arbritrary award. Frank released his most successful solo album to date, played some huge shows, and established himself as a legitimate pop star.

Best In Rock

Queens Of The Stone Age (13%)

Biffy Clyro actually lost this category, I’m truly stunned. We knew it would take a herculean effort to topple the Biff and Josh Homme delivered. Queens Of The Stone Age ruled the roost in Europe sparking pits with festival headlining sets, while back in blighty they dominated with a crushing new album which our readers named the album of the year.

Best In Indie

Arctic Monkeys (15%)

Biffy couldn’t hold off the international horde but the Monkeys could, fighting off both Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire to claim the Best In Indie title. There’s not much left to say other than that, eight years after their mainstream breakthrough, Arctic Monkeys are still the definitive face of indie music.

Best In Metal

Black Sabbath (4%)

Is Reading becoming less metal or more metal? The line ups wobble back and forth but for years a big groundswell of fans have wanted to see an injection of the heavy stuff, but this year’s results suggest a sense of apathy. Rather than offering a broad range of picks including the ultra-obscure and ultra-cool, this year’s Metal category was a mix of none votes and rather generic voting.

In short, if you’re a house hold name and released an album, you were in and round winning this award. Black Sabbath are a worthy winner. The released a cracking comeback album, but the real surprise is the lack of interest in the category and the lack of votes for bands like Deafheaven.

Best In Punk/Hardcore

The Bronx (6%)

The Bronx’s released their sixth self-titled album and, despite receiving lukewarm reviews from the press, our readers clearly loved it. The Bronx’s cause is also helped by their routinely brilliant live show that I’m sure more than a few of the voters witnessed in person in 2013.

Best In Dance/Electronica

Daft Punk (11%)

Earlier in the year William Sorenson and I (David Hayter) went head to head on the Daft Punk album. I gave it four stars and marvelled at the state of the art production and clear love for dance music, whereas William thought it lacked edge and sounded pompous. Both points were valid, but I wholly expected young Reading fans to agree with William – because even I had to admit that Random Access Memories was too cosy – but lo and behold, our readers loved it.

Best In Rap

Kanye West (49%)

Eminem’s headline set clearly wasn’t enough to stop Kanye West’s Yeezus as the Chicago rapper rampaged to a preposterous 49% of the vote! The nightmarish Yeezus proved to be a strange beast, more popular with rock and pop fans than traditional rap obsessives. 2013 was an incredible year for rap music with landmark releases coming week after week – for Kanye to win this award so comprehensively is simply staggering.

Best In Pop

Lady Gaga (10%)

Lady Gaga wins the Best In Pop award for the second time in three years. ARTPOP couldn’t fulfil its grand ambitions, but it did deliver enough barmily inane hits to win over our readers. Gaga’s victory might be a surprise (because 2013 was a perceived to be a down year for the star), but it appears the unstoppable catchiness of her hits trumps the negative press coverage.

The Worst Band In The World Right Now!

Bastille (7%)

Wow…this hasn’t happened before. Bastille, our readers “Best New Band”, have been labelled “the worst band in the world” by another section of our voters. If any more proof was needed, this result should confirm that there is no one, definitive, Reading fan. We like different things, we hate different things, some of us loved “Pompeii”, some of us wanted to shove pencils in our eyes and ears whenever it came on the radio – c’est la vie.



Author: david

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