Greg James picks Harry Styles’s jumpsuits as his cultural moment of the year. Illustration: The Big Issue
What were the best cultural moments of the year in 2022? We asked some of the people who’ve made the year a great one for music, TV, radio and film to share their highlights.
The best cultural moments of the year, 2022
Greg James – Harry Styles’s jumpsuits
I feel like 2022 will be the year of Harry Styles’s jumpsuits. At one point, that was the only thing that was on TikTok. It was just clips of his live shows. It’s probably been the year of Harry Styles. Again. His music is great. The jumpsuits are even better. And it’s been really fun to watch my niece properly fall in love with him. She’s now 14, and of the age where she’s getting her proper first crushes. I took her to see Harry Styles at Wembley Stadium, and she was absolutely beside herself. So that’s been really fun to look at. And he provides so much content for the Breakfast show because he essentially does a Q&A session in every arena show that he does. So there’s so much stuff we play out, and he’s always wearing a different jumpsuit.
I’m a massive fan of Barry, the TV show. I think it’s incredible. I was recently introduced to it but I managed to do three seasons in about two weeks. I just don’t know how you pinpoint Barry. What is it? Is it a comedy, is it drama? It has had me in tears, it has had me incredibly anxious, and it has had me laughing my head off. What a show. On TV, that’s really stuck with me. My other big cultural fix was seeing Mandip [Gill] in 2:22 in the West End the other week. She was absolutely amazing – that was my theatre fix for the year.
Two deaths. Watching the final moments of the Queen’s coffin go down into the ground in St George’s Chapel I found very moving. Those final moments when she disappeared forever having lain in state for days and things going on for weeks it seemed but that final moment where that’s it. And Elvis. The movie Elvis. I love, love, love Elvis. And I had a nice chat with Austin Butler the other day, who was still talking like Elvis, hilariously. He hasn’t quite come out of character yet. So I loved Elvis. And Elvis dying in the movie, seeing it all over again. That hurt too. It’s a sad story, man. Elvis’s story is a sad story.
Guy Pearce – a Maori haka
I witnessed a Maori haka in front of me the other day, with 60 Maoris performing three feet in front of me. And I was just in tears. So that’s my cultural highlight, probably for a lifetime. I’ve had a few days like that on set here filming The Convert, working with a couple of groups of different tribes who in the story are sort of battling it out – so the scenes that I’ve been doing have been incredibly moving. So that is mine.
It was really nice to be a part of that. And it was nice for me to be once again a sort of a human icon. It seems to be what I do. I wasn’t on top of Buckingham Palace, but I was up there beside the Queen Victoria in her memorial state. And those things are pretty terrifying to do because they’re one-offs and you could so easily screw it up, and be forever the guy who fucked it up on top of the roof. But the challenge and the adrenaline that flows when you’re doing that kind of stuff is enormous. So for me, it’s hard to say no to something like that. I won’t be going back on the roof because once is enough. I think that the Jubilee was really interesting. There was a very good vibe about it. It is wonderful that the Queen was able to experience it not long before she left the planet. I think it was a thing of great joy. And it sort of united Britain at a time when everybody knew it was actually falling apart. And it didn’t fully fall apart until the Queen died strangely enough.
Vicky McClure – I Can I Am And I Will by Louis Byrne
Louis Byrne, my hair stylist and a very good friend of mine, has brought out a book – it’s his journal, called I Can I Am and I Will. It helps people to motivate themselves. It is a wellbeing book but done in the right way. Louis has a proper awareness of reality – he does free haircuts for homeless people. He is one of the good guys. And I’ve read his book and it’s been really helpful for me.
Johnny Harris – Beautiful Blue by Steve Pilgrim
Steve Pilgrim – a singer songwriter from Liverpool who is Paul Weller’s drummer. He’s an incredible musician – I saw him play what was probably the gig of the year the other week in the Union Chapel in London. He has a song and an album called Beautiful Blue. Buy that.
Eddie Redmayne – Walter Sickert at Tate Britain
The Walter Sickert exhibition at Tate Britain. I’ve always been obsessed with Walter Sickert. There’s this description of him turning Absinthe into beer – so everything that Degas was doing over in Paris that was all kind of quixotic and delightful, Sickert grounded it in a kind of British sensibility. I’ve never seen that many of his works together. I found that really beautiful, it was very special.
I have loved this group called Rüfüs Du Sol. They’re out of Australia. I was going through some rough times myself. When I was writing music, I was just kind of lost. In their music, there was a lot of personal stuff that hit home for me. I was in a kind of dark place, and I started listening to Rüfüs Du Sol and they really have been my transcendence into another place. I love their music, and I love the message. I just really connect with them.
There’s been a lot of good music that has come out this year. I’m really excited about Hurray for the Riff Raff. I’m proud to be contemporaries with them. Their album, Life on Earth, came out in February. That’s a record that really feels like 2022. It also feels like deep protest in a really positive way and not in a ‘everything’s fucked’ kind of way. The title song keeps saying “life on Earth is long”. In this year of loss, of despair, I really have been valuing things that help me recall that there’s a whole great, bright future. I mean, the future might be bright, or it might be dark. And, you know, probably both… but it’s up to us to look towards it.
I’d have to say the Jubilee. Regardless of the pleasure of being asked to perform there. I was out in the crowd watching Queen play and it was just wicked. Everyone felt so together, and that it was really a moment to be remembered. Like, if you ever think that there’s so much out there that divides us. It doesn’t take much to unite us. I was looking around and it was this gorgeously diverse group of people from all walks of life, all ages. It has nothing to do with the flag. It’s about celebrating that we get to live in this beautiful, wonderful melting pot. And that’s what we were celebrating.
Tim Minchin – Monocled Man
I’m not a great consumer of stuff. I don’t watch telly. I don’t listen to music. I love theatre, but what I love is stuff that just makes me go, I could live 10 lifetimes and I wouldn’t be able to do that. And I don’t mean avant garde, like ‘wow, I’m examining the very nature of art’. I don’t mean that. I just mean like, fucking sideways stuff that makes me go, ‘Oh my god, like how the fuck did you think of that?’ That’s why I like jazz, because that’s outside my comprehension. I love stuff that sit completely outside my abilities. That’s quite sort of narcissistic in a way, but that’s what I’m looking for.
My trumpet player has a really interesting jazz, hip hoppy, electronica act called Monocled Man, so I’ve just been listening to that recently. It’s not really highlights of my year, it’s just my brain doesn’t go back very far.
There’s this Perth author I discovered recently called Elizabeth Tan. I’ve just discovered her short stories and I think she’s a fucking genius.
My cultural moment of the year was watching the Netflix film, Don’t Look Up. First, they got a nice set of marquee movie stars to appear in it, so I thought that was good. It meant they’re all bought into the messaging. Second, I spend enough of my life in social media interacting with the press, and the public, and politicians and that movie was all about that: the intersection between scientists and this landscape that we call pop culture. So I’m watching the film, and it has comedic moments. It has absurd moments. And by the end, I said, ‘No, I didn’t just watch a tragic comedy about the end of the world. I watched a documentary.’
One of my favourite gigs we saw was Courtney Barnett. We got to support Courtney Barnett and I don’t think I’d ever seen her live, and that was brilliant.
Rhian Teasdale (Wet Leg) – Sound of the Morning
I’d say Katy J Pearson’s album that she released this year, Sound of the Morning. She’s amazing. She’s been doing music for 10 years under different aliases and I just like cannot wait to see what she does next. It’s onwards and upwards for Katy J…
I saw Tori and Lokita, directed by Jean Pierre Dardenne and his brother Luc and it was one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in a long time. So that really moved me a lot this year. They’ve made some of my favourite films – like Rust and Bone – and I thought this film was great.
Tamara Lawrance – The Swimmers
My friend took me to a screening of a film called The Swimmers. And I really think that film has changed my life. It’s about these swimmers that had to leave Syria because of the war. It’s the first time outside of a documentary where I’ve seen a true story in a film that depicts in real time the refugee journey. It follows these two sisters, and they have such an indomitable spirit and it puts so much into perspective. To see people fighting for the lives and the simplest human rights and the levels of inhumanity that they experienced made me think, again, what does an act of kindness cost? If somebody has risked their life to cross an ocean – not because they wanted to leave but because they didn’t want bombs for breakfast? Who am I not to give you water? Who am I not to ask how you are? It shone a light on the refugee crisis and I feel like it restored my faith in the power of film as well.
Pattie Boyd – Lee Miller and Picasso at Newlands House Gallery
There is a gallery in a town called Petworth, not far from me in Sussex, and they had a wonderful exhibition of Lee Miller and Picasso this year. It was incredible, just lovely, to walk through a museum that has a lot of space so that you can see all the photographs and see everything on display, properly and beautifully. I like Picasso’s blue period particularly. I think he was an amazing artist. Guernica, his most famous painting, is still very powerful.
The tribute show for Taylor Hawkins was just unbelievable – like nothing I’d ever been to or played at. I remember watching Live Aid as a kid and it had that vibe about it. There didn’t seem to be any hierarchy, everyone was just in it for the love and it was beautiful. It was a very emotional evening but also a highlight in terms of what a powerful concert it was. I think it will remain in people’s memories for a long time. We talked a lot when we toured with the Foo Fighters – we hung out, went to amusement parks through America – he was always really up for massive rickety wooden roller coasters that would just completely shit me up. So we’ve got some great memories. Has really was a sweetheart. A really, really, really beautiful guy. So it was special to be invited to be a part of it. We were really, really moved by it. Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter
Shaun Keaveny – How to with John Wilson
A mate of mine is Joe Lycett, the landmark genius comedian. He was on at 9pm last night, doing his David Beckham got you back special, which was just emotional, brilliant, hilarious. The guy’s a genius and has an annoying level of talent, but it’s not even Joe. I was waiting to watch Joe and I had about 27 minutes before he came on. I thought I could go upstairs and doodle on my guitar for a bit. Wife’s ill on the couch. And I just absent-mindedly went on the iPlayer and started scrolling. Because I’ve been watching Detectorists recently, I was going to watch one of them. Instead, I found this programme called How to with John Wilson. He’s this sort of whiny voice, American comedian from New York. And he’s made what looks like a colossal series of little 27-minute episodes. And it’s just how to do different things. The first one was how to do small talk. The second one I watched was how to do scaffolding. I was utterly blown away. All I would say to your readers is, please just watch it. And then tell me how brilliant it is. It’s hilarious. It’s thought provoking. It’s everything. I am a complete convert.
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