Best in show

Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 00:00

We don’t know which was more surprising: that this year’s pop sensation came not from ‘The X Factor’ but from the Gangham stylings of South Korea’s PSY, that Russia’s Eurovision grannies trumped Jedward, or that Katie Holmes ended a match made in Scientology heaven

Gaga over Treacy

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Lady Gaga hollered, dressed in a pink burka and towering high boots, at the opening of Philip Treacy’s first show in more than 12 years at London Fashion Week in September, “The greatest milliner in the world: Philip Treacy.” The clothes on a line-up of black models were the costumes belonging to Michael Jackson. Two gospel choirs closed the show.

Deirdre McQuillan

PHOTO: JONATHAN SHORT AP

Louis, Louis, oh no

It’s been a tough year Louis Walsh, with the double stress of a defamation suit and plummeting ratings for The X-Factor. Walsh had taken the Sun to court over its reporting of false allegations that he assaulted a man in a nightclub. In January, Leonard Watters was convicted of making false reports to the Garda, and, in December, News Group Newspapers settled with Walsh for €500,000. Meanwhile, The X-Factor limped to its underwhelming end.

Kevin Courtney

PHOTOGRAPH: JULIEN BEHAL

End of an earache

Westlife, the balladeering boyband originally managed by Louis Walsh and signed by Simon Cowell, were calling it a day after 14 years at the top, 26 UK Top 10 singles (including 14 No 1s) and 50 million worldwide record sales, and they bowed out with a final show at Croke Park on June 23rd.

Was that Irish rain or was it the tears of 85,000 bereft fans saying farewell to their musical heroes? And who was that lone music critic cackling into his anorak? I was actually at the penultimate show, but it was still heartwarming to know that there was only one gig to go, and we’d never have to endure the fearsome foursome performing another simpering ballad onstage again. At least not until the inevitable 20-year reunion tour in 2019.

Kevin Courtney

PHOTOGRAPH: DAVE MEEHAN

Turned on

Appearing for the first of two live dates at the RDS in July, Bruce Springsteen dragged an enormous (fake) power switch on to the stage and flicked it to ON. The reference was to three nights earlier, at Hyde Park, when Westminster Council controversially pulled the plug on the 62-year-old rocker, halfway through a duet with Paul McCartney. “Before we were so rudely interrupted,” he purred at the RDS crowd, as the E Street Band ripped into a barnstorming version of Twist and Shout.

Eoin Butler

PHOTOGRAPH: DARA MAC DÓNAILL

Marriage impossible

It seemed like a match made in Scientology heaven – the marriage of Operating Thetan 7 Tom Cruise and the rictus-grinning, Rosemary’s Baby-style host-body for his seed, Katie Holmes. They went together like pebbles and beige. Holmes filed for divorce in June and the question on everybody’s lips was: which of them would get custody of the slavering paparazzi that dogged their every step? The answer, we now know, was that they got joint custody (Holmes, on the other hand, got primary custody of their child, Suri).

Patrick Freyne

PHOTOGRAPH: REUTERS

He's your man

Never have one person’s late-in-life money problems led to so much joy for so many. It’s a few years since Leonard Cohen, that gravel-voiced troubadour, lost his savings to a dishonest underling, but he’s still on the road trying to recoup his losses. There’s now a touch of Elvis in Vegas about his repeated visits to these shores (four after a hiatus of 20 years), still it was nice to have him back again at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham for a four-night stint. It might be turning into cabaret (the Leonard Cohen Dancers, anyone?), but its genius cabaret all the same.

Patrick Freyne

PHOTOGRAPH: DARA MAC DONAILL

Seoul earner

Ten years ago, PSY’s success would have been inconceivable. His lyrics are in Korean. The Seoul neighbourhood he satirises, and the K-Pop celebrities who make cameos in his video, are unknown to audiences outside of South Korea. No record mogul would have given this guy a break. Fortunately, we live in the YouTube era, when no earthly obstacle exists to halt the march of a small, tubby man riding an imaginary horse. Gangnam Style has racked more than one billion YouTube views and made its creator a global superstar.

PSY has said his humour doesn’t always translate into English. But no one missed the joke last month when he donned a pair of parachute pants and invited MC Hammer to duet with him at the American Music Awards.

Eoin Butler

PHOTO: LESTER COHEN/WIREIMAGE

Baby steps

When Victoria Beckham arrived at Brown Thomas in Dublin, in July, for a preview of her winter collection, her one-year-old daughter Harper took her first public baby steps beside her and stole the show. PR Caroline Kennedy snapped the pair and her image went viral.

Deirdre McQuillan

PHOTO: CAROLINE KENNEDY PR

Spice grannies

Jedward thought they had the novelty vote sewn up at the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, in May, but hadn’t reckoned on Russia’s troupe of six babushkas who strutted their stuff in traditional, hand-sewn costumes and shoes made of lime-tree bark. Their oldest member is 76. Their song, Party for Everyone, wasn’t a booty call but an old-fashioned ditty extolling the virtues of cleaning the yurt and making bread. The grannies came second in the contest, behind Sweden’s Loreen.

Kevin Courtney

PHOTOGRAPH: SERGEY PONOMAREV/AP

Love/Hate at first sight

In the third series of gangster drama Love/Hate, RTÉ’s drama department scored one of its biggest critical and commercial hits in years. And the series finale packed in everything the show’s fans could have hoped for: guns, budgies and a mob boss more upset about his receding hairline than he was about selling out his best friend.

In the climactic episode, the perpetually hoodie-wearing Darren (Robert Sheehan) single-handedly rescues his psychotic boss Nidge (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) from the clutches of an IRA hit squad.

But the latter quickly recognises that he does not possess the muscle to go to war with the dissident republican group. When a peace deal is struck, it is at the price of his loyal lieutenant’s life. For gangland heartthrob “Dazzler”, it is a betrayal of Shakespearean proportions.

Eoin Butler

PHOTOGRAPH: BERNARD WALSH