Since Stanley Kubrick’s justly celebrated artfest movie of 1968, we had been led to believe 2001 was going to be the era of manned flights to Jupiter, video links to Earth, zero gravity toilets and decor not a million miles removed from pop art (along with BBC Twelve). In fact, what we got was the past with DAB radio (as opposed to now, which is the past with an i-Pod).
Yes, my hearties, things changed very little in the brave new millenium, or 21st century if you like. The US began an era which is best forgotten and is shortly to end when Obama takes on his new role. In February, there was a foot and mouth crisis in the UK: the following month, the Russian space satellite Mir re-entered earth’s atmosphere and fell into the Pacific: and in May, Bayern Munchen won the UEFA Champions League. Tony Blair was re-elected in June, just in time to lead the UK into another unwanted war in the Middle East, and the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed for his crime. Jeffrey Archer managed to lie and cheat his way into prison, as did Andrea Yates for admitting drowning her children in the bathtub.
But the year was doubtless dominated by the wholesale massacre of 3,000 Americans in the September 11 attacks on three sites in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. No-one who saw it can forget the sight of the formerly proud and imposing World Center twin towers belching smoke like some obscene chimney, a monument to mankind’s fatuous pride in destroying its own in order to perpetuate some horribly misguided obsessional vision. The cult of the martyr had reached its apex: the world has yet to come to terms with its aftershock.
The 2001 Festive Fifty (broadcast between Christmas Day and the 27th), despite JP’s misgivings, was a truly memorable one, with New Order making a triumphant return to the top 10, the Strokes scoring with four tracks (including two in the top ten) from their provocative garage rock debut Is This It, and JP’s fave Welsh band Melys lilting their way to top spot. P.J. Harvey, fresh from winning a Mercury Music Prize, only managed one entry, despite John’s loyal support over an extended period.
Peel Off Bingo? No, not John’s hot new session act, but another crappy newspaper promotion.