Music- Annabel Steele
When it comes to music, the 2010s are split down the middle. Firstly, it’s been the age of electronic music. Of course, we had the synth-heavy 80s and the disco-loving naughties, but the past decade has put DJs and producers at the forefront of the music scene, creating and championing an unprecedented style of electronic music. And because of this, it’s all about collaborating; you don’t just look out for the new Calvin Harris release, but you also want to know who’s featured. The intricacies of production have become much more appreciated because of this: producers are no longer behind the scenes, but musicians in their own right. Artists like Flume, Skrillex and Martin Garrix have proved that you can create chart-topping electronic songs where production is the main focus: lyrics aren’t necessary anymore. This idea, which before 2010 only really existed in the minds of classical composers, is changing the way we think about music – for the better, I think.
But there’s also a new genre which puts lyrics above anything else: grime. The main criticism of grime music is that every beat and every backing track sounds the same; but that’s sort of the point. The lyrics, and the way they’re delivered, take the place of instruments. You don’t look for melody in a grime track, you look for rhythm. The better the writer, the better the artist. Wordplay is the priority: playing with the relationship between the vocals and the beat, and treating the instrumental as an accessory to the lyrics. Grime artists have cultivated an entire culture out of their music, and collaboration is important here, too. Different artists have established their own style of writing and delivery, but collaboration in grime is the process of figuring out whose styles would complement each other.
All in all, it’s been a decade to remember – and, more importantly, one which I think will play a huge role in defining the trajectory of music from here.
Fashion- Annabel Steele
The past decade in fashion has been the most diverse ever. The difference between high end and high street is more noticeable than ever, and more recent concerns over the sustainability of the fashion industry have shaken up attitudes towards how we should dress. But there are a few ideas and trends which I think will come to define what we’ve been putting on our backs for the past 10 years.
First of all: fashion trainers. If you’d told my 2010 self that I’d be sporting Nikes on a night out in 10 years, I would have laughed in your face. But now, I find myself double-taking at someone’s footwear if it isn’t something that could technically be worn to the gym. I was so against this trend when it first made an appearance, but the moment I realised it was here to stay was also the first moment that fashion became a genuinely important part of my life: the first time I watched the Chanel Haute Couture SS14 show. After watching Cara Delevingne skip down a rotating staircase to Sébastien Tellier accompanied by a live orchestra, in a tweed mini dress, glittered eyes and a pair of stunning white Chanel trainers… well, I was hardly going to be against the shoes after that religious experience.
Next up: colour! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: thank you, young Donna Sheridan. Funky patterned trousers, animal print shirts, bright knit jumpers: festival wear, but all year round. To Anna Wintour’s smug delight, we’re not afraid of colour anymore. But we don’t just owe it to Donna. The progress we’ve made towards LGBTQ+ equality, and the integral part fashion has to play in that movement, has also brought colour back into our lives. Pride is called Pride for a reason, and the movement isn’t just about who you fancy – it’s about having the freedom to cultivate your own identity, and fashion is central to that process.
And on a similar note, I also hope the 2010s will be defined by a genuine encouragement to wear whatever you want. Androgyny, drag, body positivity… we are moving, slowly but surely, towards a more inclusive and accepting society, and that has been reflected in fashion choices across the board.
Food- Sophia Rink
Culinary journalism’s upward trend over the past decade owes its widespread cultural foothold in large part to the adjacent rise and eventual stabilization of social media and its associated practices. While foodie culture in general has certainly seen its fair share of new gastronomic trends – craft beer, deconstructed plating techniques, everything rainbow, and ridiculous dessert portion sizes to name a few – the solidification of social media as a form of personal journalism has played an understated but incredibly important role in the way that food is reported in the media, discussed, and even consumed. Presentation is no longer solely about showcasing food to one who has ordered it but about how Instagrammable it is. Food is used as a marker of digital social status and culture. Trendy eateries have always been salivated over by the masses, but with how second-nature photo sharing has become over the last decade, it’s now become an ingrained reflex to photograph a meal to prove its worth – the sight of the consumable is nearly as important as the act of consumption. By situating the photograph and the sharing of the visual experience as the first order of business, eating is made into a secondary motivation for purchasing food. Sites like Pinterest and homespun culinary blogs have furthered this push towards visual consumption – while they have made food and culinary experimentation more accessible and more desirable, they absolutely impart a sense of aesthetic ambition. For example, meal prepping does make one’s life easier on busy days, but do the instructions which suggest arranging brightly-coloured vegetables to form a rainbow in the Tupperware mean that modern cooking is successful only if it is visually appealing? The answer is no, but with social media in mind it’s worth thinking about what you eat and why you’re eating it.
Film- Milo Farragher-Hanks
For me, the moment that best surmises the past decade in cinema is Ethan Hawke’s tormented Reverend protesting “Well, somebody has to do something” in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. It’s a sentiment perfect for an era that has sometimes felt like a crisis point for the medium, a time in which all has been in flux much has been done – for good and ill. Once accepted wisdom about what kind of films people see, where and how they see them, and even what cinema is has been called into doubt. In some welcome, overdue ways, it has been a time of broadening. Movements like #OscarsSoWhite and #TimesUp have given voice to long-silenced accounts of systemic inequality in the industry, and helped to challenge conceptions of whose story is worth telling. All this has been significant and valuable. Yet in other, broader ways it has felt like a period of narrowing. Slowly but surely, a complex confluence of factors have concentrated the attention of the entertainment press and audiences near-exclusively on a single type of film: CGI-heavy, mega-budget spectacles based on existing properties. The films that dominate the popular imagination are budgeted such that they must appeal to all possible tastes, often making the world of cinema feel utterly bereft of risk and surprise. Of course, that is not the case. This is the decade that gave us We Need To Talk About Kevin, Moonrise Kingdom, Inside Llewyn Davis, Under The Skin, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Handmaiden, Moonlight, Phantom Thread, Leave No Trace and so many more aesthetically and narratively bold, stirring films. But the continual existence of the conditions that allow such films to be made and find an audience does not feel like a guarantee. As a medium stands on the precipice between widening and closing, only one thing is sure – somebody has to do something.
Podcasts- Euan Notley
Perhaps the most surprising development of the 2010s has been the rise of the podcast. The golden age of radio as longform entertainment came to an end in the 1950s with the mass marketing of the television. Now suddenly, the podcast has resurrected the audio format. While television still reigns supreme, the rate with which podcasts have entered our popular culture is astounding.
The rise of the podcast can be summed up by the story of the biggest podcast of all. Journalistic radio show This American Life had been having success releasing their episodes as podcasts and decided to create something specifically tailored to the medium. The result was Serial, a real-life murder mystery told over twelve episodes. By the time the first season was wrapping up it was the most popular podcast of all time and the first to get people ‘binge-listening’. Ten years ago, podcasts were either a hobby for amateurs or somewhere for traditional radio shows to put their back catalogue. Now they’re big business.
Today it feels like everyone has a podcast. They provide an easy way for the up-and-coming broadcaster to produce their own content or existing stars to try something more laid back. True crime still looms large; the BBC’s recent hit The Missing Cryptoqueen about a cryptocurrency scam was straight out of the Serial mould. Interviews are also a major trend, with people like David Tennant and Alec Baldwin sitting down with celebrity friends for freeform conversations.
Roosevelt’s ‘fireside chats’ recognised that the power of radio was it brought you into people’s homes. The podcast brings you right into the listener’s ears. It is the perfect form for the age of the smartphone and solitary consumption of media. The podcast shows no sign of dying off in the 2020s, but the 2010s shall be remembered as its coming-of-age.
Books- Alice Hobbs
Trends that have defined the last 10 years in books can only begin with the Twilight Saga, the trilogy which premiered across 2008-10. The ramifications of this trilogy panned out for years after as seen in the obsessive relationship genre which was transformed in E.L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey (2011). This narrative of Twilight/ Fifty Shades of Grey was commodified in the many spin off novels seen in both adult and young-adult literature. This trend was replaced by the “girl” trend which was seen in 2012 with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl which also took the publishing world by storm. These consumer fads have therefore largely defined the last 10 years in books. However, more important trends have also taken hold. Novels in the last decade have also challenged the white hegemony of the literary world with writers such as Marlon James winning the Man Booker Prize in 2015 with A Brief History of Seven Killings. This diversity was further seen in the success of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Zadie Smith’s Swing Time in 2016 which both gained critical acclaim, Whitehead won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his novel. Standout books in 2017-2018 were defined by quirky protagonists, and largely female authors. This was seen in the huge success of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Unlike the other trend-setters Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone Girl Eleanor Oliphant has not been replicated for sales and instead its quirky and unique aesthetic has remained stand-alone. Sally Rooney’s Normal People which won Waterstones Book of the Year was also a triumph and featured this quirky dynamic. 2019 has so far been defined by the publication of new novels by big names such as Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and David Nichols Sweet Sorrow. The last decade in books has been an unusual one. Fads have dominated the market but within these chart-toppers we have been some genuinely beautiful books which will by all means become classics of the future.
TV- Marianna Panteli
We are still in the new Golden Age of TV. TV’s return to the top podium may have begun in the Noughties but it has persevered throughout this decade too. This is despite the major shift in how we are watching it. A medium that was once set to a public schedule and watched as a family, now provides us so much more choice in where and when we watch and who we watch with. Streaming platforms such as Netflix are redefining what TV is for better or for worse. In the midst of all these technological advances the TV programs that these many platforms have given us continue to surprise, shock and delight.
Dark and moody dramas lured us in with their sinister charm. True Detective, Hannibal and Fargo raised the expectations of what we expect. Not only were the narratives of these dramas captivating but the cinematography rivalled anything that you could find at Cannes. TV, to my outrage, has always been seen as Film’s slightly low rent cousin. However, the dramas of the past decade have put this assumption to shame and showed the potential of TV as a true art.
We have also seen shows struggle under the weight of their own popularity. When Black Mirror first aired in 2011 it quickly gained a cult following. In the years to follow it became a global phenomenon. With people protesting Trump’s election and Brexit waving placards bearing the scribe “I don’t like this episode of Black Mirror”. But inevitably it has begun to lose its grip on the zeitgeist as new shows enter the arena. We entered the decade anxious about all this new technology about. We leave the decade with a tangible sense of fear about the climate crisis. The TV we are drawn to is reflective of this.
As with other arts industries the TV industry has had reckonings about past abuse and continuing inequalities. The ramifications of which are too vast to do justice here. However, as we enter a new decade it is not just the content on our screens that is changing, but the way the industries themselves operate.
Photography- Noa Lee
A decade fraught in human turmoil has demonstratively captured the very essence of photography, connection. We all can recall the photo of a little Syrian boy Omran Daqneesh whose bloodied, dusty face became a symbol of civilian suffering during the siege of Aleppo. As the photograph flooded the media, many hearts reached out to a distant place in a genuine moment of human connection. It is not a good camera that makes the shot, but the human story behind it.
Another defining moment is the Crying Girl on the Border. Photographer John Moore snapshotted Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez crying as she and her mother are taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas on the 12thof June. Capturing the journey of immigrant families whom rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico to seek asylum but then detained by US authorities, this single photo instigated public outcry on the Trump Administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the border under which immigrants caught entering the US could be criminally prosecuted. The fear of separation between a mother and daughter caught worldwide attention as it was published, and the policy was reversed on the 20th of June. Not too technical, nor artful, photography of the decade seems to echo a deeper intuitive kinship with the audience.
Iconic and intense, White House photographer Pete Souza captures the former President Barack Obama and members of his national security team monitoring the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. The photograph luminates the anxiety-filled air. Not particularly visually grandiose, the single shot is a significant moment in American history as it encapsulates the end of a chapter of terror for many anguished families. In a sentence, photos of the decades are ingrained in human stories of tragedy, love, anxiety, fear and hope.
Theatre- Marianna Panteli
As one of the oldest art forms in existence it might seem strange to ask how theatre has changed over the last decade. How can you define this decade of theatre? For it is a mere blink of the eye in the lifespan of theatre. However, theatre has continued to roll and adapt with the times.
A big innovation in theatre came at the end of the Noughties and continued to grow in success throughout this decade. NT Live is broadening the reach of British theatre across the world by bringing it to our cinema screens. As we say goodbye to this decade, NT Live celebrates its 10thanniversary and is now broadcasting to 2,500 venues across 65 territories, with 700 in the UK alone. Nothing can quite capture the feeling of being in the theatre itself, however NT Live’s initiative is making theatre more accessible to more people. As a medium that can sometimes seem out of reach, with most major productions being in the major cities, NT Live goes some way in democratising the medium. This is technology and theatre working hand in hand in an outstanding way.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical took the stage and then the world and then possibly the universe by storm. This 2015 sung-and-rapped musical looks at the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. I don’t think I need to say much more we know so much about Hamilton.However, what is remarkable about this musical is how it has sunk into our everyday lives. It is now being parodied at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and also thoughtfully and hilariously picked apart for its gender politics in Katharine Ryan’s Glitter Room. This the mark of a show that has embedded itself in our culture and then started to change it.
To round up my piece, I could not help but mention Fleabag. In 2013, it started its humble beginnings at the Edinburgh Fringe where Waller-Bridge received a three-star review in the Guardian for her one-woman monologue. In the following years, it has had an Off-Broadway run, become a cultural phenomenon, and finally found itself as the star of the West End as the decade draws to a close.
Fine Art- Olivia Hendren
The art world has changed significantly in the past decade. Protest art has become more prominent in the world of fine art, and street art is finally being praised for its significance. Banksy’s recent shredding canvas surprised buyers at the anticipated Christie’s auction, raising questions about how we assign value to an artist’s work. Fine art also used to be seen as its own category and style, however in recent years, the definition of what makes a work ‘fine art’ has shifted.
The rise of Instagram and other social media platforms has made selling art easier for individual artists, and smaller buyers. CJ Hendry, an artist with a well-known Instagram following, has built her career though the platform. CJ started her art career by selling hyper realistic pen drawings from her parents’ garage in Sydney Australia but has since moved to New York City and has sold her paintings to many celebrities and collectors including Kanye West.
This past decade has blended the arts with politics, conservationism, and activism. Challenging the norms and exclusive nature of the art world will allow artists to start conversations that might have been previously ignored. Artists now truly question the very nature of who is and is not included in the ‘art world’.