Five Trends To Watch For In 2012

It’s a new year, so of course we’re going to look ahead to the possibilities on offer. And rather than poking through bits of old chicken gizzards or swishing tea leaves around, we’ll just do what the sensible forecasters do: look at what is already happening and sift for common patterns.

Here are just five things which will probably happen in 2012, if we’re any judge:

The Return Of Thriftstore Chic
Ah, remember the oft-shouted refrain of the last two or three years: “THERE’S NO MONEY LEFT!”? Well that’s going to be a big motivating factor for artistic types in 2012. Home-made is back. We shall see paintings with no paint in them, books with fewer pages, popcorn as an ingredient, films made on the cheap, using special effects conjured up on laptops, fashion made from cutups of other, older styles (they’ve been at this a while, to be fair) and music which does not require videos of astonishment to be attention-grabbing. Not that anyone will be buying any of these things, but they will help to pass the time while you’re waiting for the communal soup tureen to be passed around the table.

The Return of the Early ’90s
Never mind that pop stars are still parading around in vintage dresses, tailored suits and acting as if it’s 1955, this year will see a definite lurch towards the immediate pre-grunge era. Not that we’re all going to go back to our ripped jeans and multiple layers of plaid (although there are new bands like Yuck who appear to be wishing for that very thing), there are definite signs of a return to silly dance music, and dance-inflected soul music – or what we’re probably now going to have to call middle school R&B – of the sort that Madonna and Janet Jackson used to do. Trip hop is on the way back again too. Emeli Sandé may be leading the charge, but there are plenty of other candidates ready to step up and take that orchestral soul crown, from War of Words to Delilah.

The End of 3D
Let’s face it, 3D is good fun, but it’s also a massive faff. Never mind that you’ve got to put the glasses on – over your actual glasses, in some cases – you’ve also got to hold your head just so, otherwise the screen goes a little blurry and it feels as though you’ve got fingerprints on your corneas. And for what? So you can see something in the foreground which you probably shouldn’t be looking at? Oh good. Cinema is already an immersive experience, and part of the reason for its continuing popularity is the scale of sensory information you receive: the big screen in your eyes, the massive sound system in your ears, and the freedom to move your head in a large auditorium. Even if you’re watching something as explosion-free as The Squid And The Whale, there is always something impressive about cinema. Putting 3D glasses on takes that sensory overload and puts a lid on it. It’s an impressive lid, and very decorative, but it’s still a lid.

Quality British Drama Will Go Supernova
Having watched the first episode of Sherlock last night, and been blown away by yet another astonishingly written British drama featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss, following on from the Christmas showing of The Borrowers, which starred Christopher Eccleston and Stephen Fry, and of course Doctor Who (you know the cast already) and Downton Abbey…well is anyone else worried we’re reaching saturation point? If things continue unchecked there will be one British drama – an adaptation of a classic science fiction novel set in Edwardian times and featuring startling new races of people, like H.G. WellsThe Time Machine – in which all the British character actors appear – Dench, Firth, Rickman, Tate, Laurie – doing their quality acting thing, being mesmerising, and then without any warning whatsoever, there’s a loud bang and a bright light and there’s a tiny ball of super-condensed quality matter, rolling down the front of your TV and onto the floor, where it leaves a dent. Enjoy it while it lasts!

A New End of the World
The ancient Mayans had this idea that 2012 might be the year in which something enormous happens, and this has been commonly taken to mean the end of the world. It’s not the first prediction of this sort and it won’t be the last. The question is, what do we do with this information? Beyond issuing a collective “ooh, imagine if it was true…” there’s no way to react. Either the world is about to suddenly pop at the hands of some unknown supernatural force, or it isn’t. In the face of such an apocalypse, any human endeavour at all – beyond telling the people you love that you love them –  amounts to a whole heap of time-wasting. The kicker is, if the world isn’t ending, those endeavours regain their usual importance. So all we can do is carry on as normal, and maybe measure our existance against the possibility of it suddenly ending, as a way to keep houses in order. With that in mind, expect to hear of a new prediction of global unbeing at some point in the latter half of the year.

What are your trends for 2012? Tell us here:

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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