As much a year-end tradition as the Queen’s Christmas message or the requisite ‘best of’ lists donning every publication is Noel Gallagher’s annual gripe-athon. As usual, our favorite curmudgeon has his two fingers on the pulse of what’s cutting edge, yet, with the unlikely exception of Yeezus, he just doesn’t get what all the fuss is about.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the prescient Gallagher shared his views on all the stuff kids are obsessed with these days. Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and, of course, David Bowie are all given a turn of his colorful wit.
To start with his least controversial opinion, Gallagher heaps effusive praise on David Bowie‘s comeback album, The Next Day. He concedes that 2013 was inevitably a good year for music simply because ‘any year that David Bowie puts an album out has got to be a good year, eh?’ He describes the album as ‘a fucking masterpiece…some of the best stuff he’s ever done,’ and adds that ‘nobody has the right to be that fucking good at this point in their career.’
Later, Gallagher proclaims that half of the Arctic Monkeys‘ latest record, AM, is really good. ‘You know, the other half is like, ‘Eh, yeah’ — but half of it is really fucking good,’ he elucidates.
It turns out that 2013 was a milestone year for the Oasis frontman. It was this year when he finally listened to Kanye West, and, apparently, he liked what he heard. ‘I was at a party…and that track ‘Black Skinhead’ came on…So I got the new album, and it’s fucking great…Particularly that track — it’s fucking out there, do you know what I mean? It’s got a great low-fi, punk vibe to it.’ Not surprisingly, when he was encouraged to watch an interview West did with the BBC’s Zane Lowe, Gallagher was impressed with his interview style, perhaps admiring and comparing West’s level of bombast to his own. ‘I thought it was one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen,’ Gallagher enthuses.
He also highly recommended Disclosure‘s ‘truly fucking mega’ debut. ‘I saw Disclosure in the dance tent [at Glastonbury], and I thought they were truly fucking amazing.’ Their debut, Settle, has a ‘really old-school fucking acid house vibe to it.’
It wasn’t all complimentary, though. Mention of the ’embarrassing’ Miley Cyrus kicked off a never-ending tirade that was punctuated with a bit of humor and some rather insightful comments on the state of the today’s music industry. When asked if he’s a fan, he responds, ‘I think there’s a trend, unfortunately, in the game, at the minute, of girls desperately trying to be provocative or desperately trying to — in inverted commas — ‘start the debate’ about some shit or other…She was on TV recently, Miley Ray Cyrus, and it was just like, ‘What the fuck is all this about?’ Ultimately, he believes that Cyrus and her ilk are more damaging to real female artists. ‘It’s a shame, because it puts all the other female artists back about fucking five years.’
While less controversial female artists like Adele and Emili Sande maintain ‘some kind of credibility,’ Gallagher brands them ‘music for fucking grannies.’ He offers this bit of advice to female entertainers: ‘Write a good song. Don’t make a provocative video — write a good fucking song. That’ll serve you better, I think…Be good. Don’t be outrageous. Anybody could be outrageous!’ Speaking of outrageous, when pressed on his feelings about Lady Gaga, he paints a picture of a one-trick pony. ‘Lady Gaga for me is all about the first album, because my daughter and my wife loved it. I’ve never heard of her since. What does that say?’ Until popular female performers find the right mix of honesty and passion, he concludes, ‘I feel bad for the girls. The sisters are not doing it for themselves.’
But, really, don’t get him started about Arcade Fire, the ‘arrogant’ ‘shit disco’ band that released their fourth album, Reflektor, this year. ‘Anybody that comes back with a double album, to me, needs to pry themselves out of their own asshole,’ Gallagher says of the Canadian band. ‘Who has the fucking time, in 2013, to sit through 45 minutes of a single album? How arrogant are these people to think that you’ve got an hour and a half to listen to a fucking record?’ Delightfully, Gallagher continues to riff on Arcade Fire’s controversial concert dress code debacle. ‘Do you know what the point of that is?,’ he explains. ‘That is to take away from the shit disco that’s coming out of the speakers. Because everybody’s dressed as one of the Three Musketeers on acid. ‘What was the gig like?’ ‘I don’t know, everyone was dressed as a teddy bear in the Seventies.’ ‘Yeah, but what was the gig like?’ ‘Ah, fuck knows, man, I have no idea. I was dressed as a flying saucer.’ ‘Yeah, but what was the gig like?’ ‘Fuck knows, I don’t know. Seen Cheech and Chong, there, though.’
Noel Gallagher’s epic 2013 interview ended with his revelation that he has enough material to start recording a new album. He plans to spend 2014 in a studio, possibly recording in New York, in preparation for a new record tentatively due in 2015. When asked if the new record will be recorded under the High Flying Birds moniker, he jokes, ‘Probably…, it’s such a fucking good name. I might change the Noel Gallagher bit — call it ‘Paul McCartney’s High Flying Birds’ and see if I sell any more tickets in America.’