Tasty sound bites of 2008

Emma Lee Who wants to listen to a miserable indie guitar band when there’s a credit crunch on? Not us. In 2008 pop was back to counter the economic gloom and steal the charts back from the skinny trouser brigade. EMMA LEE takes a look at 12 months in the music world.

Emma Lee

Rewind to 2007. Guitar-wielding men in skinny trousers ruled the charts. It was the glorious second coming of Britpop. But when 2008 arrived, bringing the economic downturn with it, we needed something more uplifting. We needed proper, catchy tunes, synthesizers and big choruses. And we got them.

Despite turning 50 in the summer, Madonna still insisted on wearing leotards - and teamed up with Justin Timberlake on the track Four Minutes.

UK R&B star Estelle got the breakthrough she deserved (with a bit of help from Kanye West), hitting number one with American Boy, while Norwich songwriter to the stars Cathy Dennis helped another wannabe to the top of the charts - Katy Perry - by penning the controversial I Kissed a Girl.

And Rihanna, possibly the hardest working woman in pop, was a permanent fixture in the charts all year.

You'd be hard pressed to find a cheerier band than Denmark's Alphabeat - Fascination made us feel like we were in an 80s teen movie.

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And grime artists Wiley and Dizzee Rascal both got a shiny pop makeover and delivered two of the best tracks of the year. Wiley's Wearing my Rolex (the credit crunch hadn't affected his bling collection it would seem) was his biggest hit to date and he went on to collaborate with Mark Ronson on Cash in My Pocket (optimistic, given the financial climate) while Dizzee Rascal teamed up with one of pop's other in-demand producers, Calvin Harris, on Dance Wiv Me.

For the first time in recent memory Glastonbury didn't sell out in advance. It did, of course, rain, though. And the festival rang the changes by inviting hip hop superstar Jay-Z to headline the Pyramid stage.

Meanwhile, the Latitude festival at Henham became one of the summer's hottest tickets with Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros and Blondie among the star attractions.

US rockers Kings of Leon got promoted into the 'stadium filler' league and the Killers made a comeback, while MGMT's psych-rock celebration of rock 'n' roll excess, Time to Pretend, was the indie anthem of the summer along with the chant-a-long That's Not My Name by the Ting Tings.

The pop bands it's acceptable for grown-ups to like, Sugababes and Girls Aloud, both delivered oddities. Sugababes did a cover version of “that song off the Boots advert”. And, is it just us, or did the Girls Aloud's single the Promise bear more than a passing resemblance to the Blankety Blank theme tune?

They should both watch out, because in 2008 a new girl band arrived on the block, the Saturdays, who delivered two shiny pieces of pop - Up and If This Is Love.

Despite a challenge from Boyzone, our hearts still belonged to the original man band - Take That, who returned with their second post reformation album, the Circus. They're playing some massive dates next summer, and there's been the strongest hint yet that Robbie Williams will be taking time out of his hectic UFO-spotting schedule to join them on stage.

However, we're more excited about the Blur comeback. Damon Albarn, Alex James, Graham Coxon and Dave Rowntree have decided to take a break from their day jobs of writing operas and making cheese to reunite for some shows at Hyde Park and a possible Glastonbury headline slot in the summer.

With Amy Winehouse on hiatus from making music, Duffy, Adele and Gabriella Cilmi were on hand to fill in on retro pop duties.

Mark Ronson, Kate Nash, Arctic Monkeys, Mika, Kylie and Foo Fighters were among the winners at the Brit Awards, which was hosted in a predictably shambolic style by the Osbournes, while the Mercury Music Prize went to Elbow for the Seldom Seen Kid - acclaim that was long overdue for Guy Garvey and co.

The Christmas Day Top of the Pops was off (bah, humbug) and then back on again (merry Christmas, Auntie Beeb, have a glass of sherry on us).

But, of course, the music telly that really got us talking was X Factor - we've been so hooked that we can't remember the last time we went out on a Saturday night. Not only did it catapult Sharon Osbourne's replacement, Girls Aloud's Cheryl Cole, to nation's sweetheart status (the tears, the lovely hair), but it also seems to have found another true diva in the shape of winner Alexandra Burke. Just watch the rerun of her duetting with Beyonce in the final for proof.

A performance on the show by the Cowell Pop Finishing School graduate Leona Lewis of Run by Snow Patrol led to it being rush released and breaking the record for single downloads.

The X Factor was also the setting for Britney Spears to mime and march her way back onto UK TV screens. And there was plenty of other drama too - such as Laura White's early departure, the are-they-aren't-they? romance between (mini Jamie Oliver) Eoghan Quigg and Diana Vickers and the spats between Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue.

And it provided us with one of the most interesting battles for the Christmas number one in recent years - which version of Hallelujah (the most downbeat festive hit since Gary Jules' cover of Tears For Fears' Mad World) would top the charts on December 25? Whichever way you look at it, the real winner was, of course, Simon Cowell.