If 2016 felt like the year to end all years, then don’t get complacent – there’s still time.
It’s been posited that David Bowie was somehow keeping the unraveling fabric of space and time together just by being alive. His death on January 10 plunged us all into untold surrealistic chaos, in the same way Apple’s been shit ever since Steve Jobs untangled the organisation from his brain-matrix and turned up his toes.
It’s no worse a theory than the simulation hypothesis claiming we’re all living inside a computer game – and come to think of it, the boffins at CERN have gone a bit quiet since they fired up their atom-smasher in 2015 to see if we could connect to another dimension. Whatever the truth, something funny’s going on. Let’s take a closer look at the evidence – the most WTF moments of 2016.
The year started ominously with the emergence of three Hell’s children claiming to be from Naples, Florida. The USA Freedom Kids performed ‘The Official Donald Trump Jam’ at a rally in Pensacola while celebrating freedom with “Ameritude”, whatever that is. In lieu of rock star endorsements, somebody on The Donald’s team decided to wheel out three prepubescent cheerleaders spouting vengeance upon “the enemies of freedom” to the tune of the Go Compare ad. “With the state of those rallies,” you probably said to yourself, “thank golly Trump’s chances of becoming the presidential nominee of the Republican Party are so slim.” And then you went about your everyday business, ignoring that feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Thankfully rapper B.o.B. gave us all a good laugh when he came out as a Flat Earther on Twitter in January. “No matter how high in elevation you are, the horizon is always eye level,” he tweeted with one hand, while giving Galileo the bird with the other. “Sorry cadets, I didn’t wanna believe it either.” In this year of post-truth politics, B.o.B would probably have been condemned for his expertise had he offered his two cents during the EU referendum campaign. When renowned physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out his mistage, B.o.B decided to drop a diss track on his ass while invoking the name of holocaust denier David Irving. The madness continued when the scientist’s nephew, the aspiring MC Tyson, hit back with his own diss track like a pre-enlightenment Eamon and Frankee. They may well still be at it somewhere, arguing about the medicinal benefits of leeches as the sexual tension mounts.
There was something fetid and nasty in the air, because in March a full Twitter feud broke out between Kanye West and Deadmau5, who, lest we forget, are both investors in Jay Z’s Tidal. “You’re a bigger fuckin clown than anyone I know,” said the ample-eared Canadian electronic producer when West asked him to perform at North West’s party wearing a Minnie Mouse head. “Whose job is it to carry the head on the plane?” goaded Kanye some more. “Do you check the Mickey Mouse head or carry on? Does it get hot?”
In the 1980s, we the consumers were sold the lie that CDs were indestructible, that you could microwave them and eat your dinner off them. It might have taken 30 years, but supermarkets saw sense in 2016 and started selling vinyl once again, with Sainsbury’s taking the lead and Aldi and Tesco following. J Sainsbury – who’s a bit like J Spaceman but more into grocery provisions than psychotropic drone rock – also stocked some reasonably priced Crosley’s to help you tear your grooves asunder and then stock up on the same record again. Conspiracies! They’re everywhere!
Although having recently played such pivotal roles as Brian in the Christmas movie Get Santa, Andre the Thief in Paddington and Cook Senior in Channel 4’s racy kid’s drama Skins, Matt King eschewed the glamorous end of acting career to assume the character of Super Hans once more – but this time he’s on the DJ circuit rather than the telly. That’s right, King becomes his made up Peep Show alter-ego when he spins the platters that matter, but unlike other fictitious musical stars he doesn’t give a Monkees that Super Hans is not a real person but in fact the product of a scriptwriter’s febrile imagination. It’s a bit like when David Bowie had cocaine psychosis and thought Ziggy was taking him over, but not. At all.
April saw Justin Bieber share a picture from a hentai colouring book on Instagram which he said he’d spent half an hour colouring in. Hentai, for those pretending not to know, is basically a sub-genre of Japanese animation featuring cartoon hanky panky and accentuated bare breasts for men who will never discover what real sex is like. Belieb! Adding to a catalogue of bad behaviour, the Canadian singer still has some way to go before he tops being filmed pissing into a restaurant mop bucket while shouting “fuck Bill Clinton!”
McDonald’s proved it was down with the kids despite having a creepy clown for a mascot in a year when clowns finally proved what utter bastards they all are. Some Dutch genius made a mini-production studio out of a placemat in order that customers could make (animal) phat beats as they tucked into their nuggets. McTrax was only rolled out in the Netherlands, but the idea must have inspired Pizza Hut, who presented the world with its first pizza box turntables – though perhaps they should have invested the time into improving their mediocre crusts. Just a thought.
In an up and down year for Fabric, the true highlight was a visitation from a septuagenarian Polish couple who’d read about the London club in their local paper and decided they must make the pilgrimage. The couple were given complimentary champers all night at WetYourSelf! and lasted right up to 5am with no apparent leakage. A lovely time was had by all, although the old fella later said: “Personally, I’m not a big fan of techno but I am a fan of electronic dance music which Fabric used to play. I’d recommend [they] play this kind of music once a week or three times a month, it’s worth trying.”
Along with Cher and Texas, we can now add Posh Spice to the Wu-Tang Clan’s litany of weird collaborations over the years. The unlikely hook up with Ol’ Dirty Bastard was part of an even more preposterous hip-hop album recorded by Victoria Beckham at the behest of Roc-A-Fella’s Damon Dash around 2003, which never saw the light of day. With the internet being the internet, those execrable demos have surfaced of course, although the ODB track has gone missing in action, like the late great man himself.
In news that shook us to our very foundations, it was revealed that Pusha T wrote the “I’m lovin’ it” jingle for meat-harvesting CO2 merchants McDonald’s. Thankfully, we can still listen to our Clipse albums without considering the fact that the earth only has 60 harvests left – this one turned out to be a hoax.
You’d have to go some way to trump Ben Innes, the reigning Archbishop of Banterbury, who gained notoriety this year by posing for a snap with a suspected suicide bomber on board an Air Egypt flight. With that in mind, three young pretenders from Colchester, Essex told the Daily Mirror they’d climbed aboard a boat with a bar on it in Cyprus in order to assuage their hangovers following a night of clubbing. About 100 miles or so from land, they began to panic, discovering that they were on a one-way cruise to Syria. The episode was only slightly ruined by the fact they made the whole thing up, but why let the truth get in the way of top bantz?
Normally a man in a white van containing 80 speakers will have only one thing on his mind, and that’s to sell some of them to you while leaning out of his wound-down window at the traffic lights. Not 47-year-old Nelson Hidalgo. The Queens resident actually hooked up $20,000 worth of hi-fi gear in the back of his wheels and decided to blast it very loudly on the intersection of 127th Street and 35th Avenue during a Mets game, Coors Light in hand. It may not surprise you that Hidalgo was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal nuisance, general noise prohibition and disorderly conduct. “I know it’s illegal, but it’s the weekend,” said our hero, incredulously.
In July, a photo taken from behind Sven Väth stood over his decks went viral. The eagle-eyed noted the techno overlord paying much more attention to his iPhone than the task in hand, which was screening a live Euro 2016 football match between Germany and Slovakia. There’s no punchline, but I did just spend three quarters of an hour trying in vain to think of a Mario Götze pun, so it’s not like I didn’t put the effort in.
Glam metal himbos Mötley Crüe promised they’d retired after completing the last leg of the Final Tour at a theatre in LA on New Year’s Eve 2015, but having brought out a new range of sex toys in the summer, it seems they’re seeking one last buzz.
In a year dominated by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, it took some doing to secure the title of world’s biggest prick, but somehow Martin Shkreli fought off all competition to take the accolade with ease. The pharma Walter Mitty took to Twitter to tell his 182,000 sorry followers that he’d recorded a rap album with Just Blaze, Scott Storch and Timbaland, with working titles including ‘What Dat Mouf Do’, ‘I Ain’t Dindu Nuffin’ and ‘Lets Git Dis Money’. The house of cards came tumbling down when Just Blaze tweeted: “I don’t know you.”
In August, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg made a cookery show together. They missed a trick with their guests, though – they should have booked radical Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi so the three of them could have a circle jerk about all being denied entry to the UK by the Border and Immigration Agency.
News that James Blake and Chance the Rapper were sharing an apartment together warmed the cockles, but in reality it turned out to be a bit of a weird misunderstanding, with Chance imagining stuff in his head that wasn’t actually happening at all. Blake claims the pair “had playfully daydreamed about getting somewhere to live/work for a little while, but never discussed specifics.” The 2-step Enfieldian then told GQ: “I turned up and he told me my name was on the lease, which was creepy because I’d never signed anything.”
In August, beloved Berlin nightclub Berghain decided to follow the plot of some imaginary Robin Askwith movie called Confessions of a Deity when the venue was struck by lightning, by God, causing the assembled to strip down to their smalls, so hot were they. “People took off their clothes because the place became a sauna,” wrote DJ T on his Facebook, adding that he’d “never [seen] so many topless girls and boys in a club.” No, this all actually happened. Things got stranger still in September, when Conan O’Brien turned up at the club, an event that could also have also been turned into a movie called Conan the Berghainian. I thank you.
While Berghain was being celebrated in the news, a counterpart in London was under serious threat of closure. Fabric had its licence revoked following two drug-related deaths, a judgement that caused waves of protest from patrons and supporters. Ultimately the superclub reached a deal and will re-open, but the fight to save London from turning into one giant luxury flat continues. London Nightlife, 1 – Every Building Remotely Promoting Fun Being Shut Down and Sold To Non-Domiciled Oligarchs, 84,724.
In September, Fenriz of legendary black metal muthas Darkthrone got elected to serve on a council in a suburb of Oslo when he agreed to be on a backup list of candidates. He posted a picture of himself with his cat over the didactic campaign slogan, “Don’t vote for me”. He was duly elected. It wouldn’t be the last time in 2016 that someone entered a race for public office for shits and giggles and somehow got voted in.
Also in September, The Daily Mail, bastion of truth and serial divulger of ways to get cancer, reported that Kurt Cobain is alive and well and currently going great guns on Peru’s answer to Stars in their Eyes. Contestant Ramiro Saavedra sounds just like the late Nirvana frontman, and he looks just like Chesney Hawkes too. “It is true, Kurt is alive,” wrote Nirvana on their official Facebook page. “He needed time to learn to play the guitar with his right hand. Finding left-handed guitars is not easy. We are so happy to have him back and forgive him for all of the sadness that we have held so deeply in our hearts.”
Martyred monkey Harambe may have gone to heaven, but he remains forever in our hearts. And on festivals bills too. The deceased Cincinnati Zoo silverback gorilla was billed to be making a guest appearance at the Day for Night Festival in Houston in holographic form, alongside a slightly more earthly and tangible Aphex Twin (but only just). It ended up being a joke, but we wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been real. Because 2016.
Experimental avant-garde musical troupe Negativland had one more posthumous art prank up their sleeves this year, with a surprising giveaway from their final album. Fans were given the opportunity to listen to The Chopping Channel while doing whatever they saw fit with a bag of limited edition Don Joyce ashes. That’s right, they gave away their late member’s remains with their final offering. Who wants to open a book on what percent of Don went up in clouds of bifta?
Glamour magazine wheeled out a tried and tested publicity stunt by giving Bono a Woman of the Year award. A rule of thumb in 2016 was that the bigger the prick, the likelier the win (sometimes the prick didn’t even have to occupy the given field or carry the same genitalia). Yes, this was the year that parents stopped telling their children to try harder. “It’s hopeless,” they lamented, “the future is a dystopian nightmare and you’ll grow to hate us for bringing you into this cruel world where people like Bono exist and succeed. Life is a shitpot of sequential disasters and stubbed toes. And then we all die. And there’s no such thing as heaven or Father Christmas.”
Trump and Bono and Farage and Hopkins and other helmets identifiable by one name might have given it their best shots, but in 2016 they still didn’t suck as hard as Shkreli, the aforementioned sociopathic pharma babyman with the sweaty Hitler hair. In October, Martin promised to stream the single copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time In Shaolin if Trump was elected, and true to his word, when the day came he played bits of it while sitting in front of a webcam hunched over an acoustic guitar like a squiffy student about to launch into ‘Wonderwall’. He also plans to release as-yet-unheard music by Nirvana and the Beatles, but that’s unlikely, given that he’s the super featherweight world champion of delusional bullshit. Ghostface Killah said it best when he said: Martin Shkreli is a shithead.
Read next: The 50 best albums of 2016