2022’s Best In Culture

by James Hendicott
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music concert, festival

As we come to the celebrations that mark the end of our year, we’re also offered a nice chance to reflect on what’s been great about 2022 (and forgive us, this is going to be nothing but positive). Of course, ‘the good’ is probably something personal, but there have also been some incredible cultural moments in 2022, from great TV to wonderful albums. As the country emerged from Covid and back to a normal life, here were our annual highlights:

Fontaines DC continue rapid rise

Dublin’s finest rock band in some time continues to absolutely fly. Now backed by more strong tracks from their three records to date than they can possibly squeeze into a setlist, the band were on fire in a series of homecoming shows at Iveagh Gardens in the summer, and then at Vicar Street this December. They’re sharp, poetic, vibrant, and something of a rock and roll gut punch. If you don’t know them, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon…

Tell Me Lies on Disney Plus

Raunchy American college drama Tell Me Lies is perhaps the most enthralling show of the year. Based around the relationship between Lucy (Grace Van Patten) and the somewhat creepy Stephen (Jackson White), this show earns its age rating, but also captivates in the way it digs into the dark side of life and personal connections. It enthalls from moment one, which sees a flash forward hint at the obsessions and harshness that lie ahead.

Karen McManus’ compelling crime writing

Colourful crime writer Karen McManus has had a huge Netflix hit on her radar in recent years, with ‘One Of Us Is Lying’, a compelling and multifaceted teen drama with murderous tendencies that has captured imaginations. Her books, unsurprisingly, are just as good, and with ‘One Of Us Is Lying’ airing its second season in 2022, and a third already confirmed through a massive season ending teaser, other books like ‘The Cousins’ and ‘Nothing More To Tell’ have earnt a revisit, too.

Kendrick Lamar reaches incredible highs

Increasingly iconic rapper Kendrick Lamar has turned strong musical performances into a genuinely sensational stage show, complete with clever lighting, track-referencing acting and a lively dance troop. At the cutting edge of modern music, his Glastonbury headline set in 2022 opened him up to a new audience this side of the water, and helped establish the California native, who later played two glorious nights at the 3Arena, as the unquestioned star of his world.

The rise of women’s football

While the success of our nearest neighbours this summer may not have been greeted with such enthusiasm this side of the water, the European Women’s Football Championships felt like a seminal moment for the ladies’ game. Since, the game has been growing notably fast,

and the arrival of former American international Heather O’Reilly as an unlikely star at Shelbourne in the summer felt like a huge moment locally. A space well worth watching.

CMAT shows star quality

CMAT – the initials and stage name of inventive Dublin songwriter Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson – released her wonderful debut album (complete with intentionally grammatically incorrect title) ‘If My Wife New I’d Be Dead’ early in 2022, and she’s gone from strength to strength with it. Witty and dramatic in its style, hits like ‘I Don’t Really Care For You’ and ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby!’ are kind of throwaway, but absolutely gorgeous with it and delivered in a style the likes of which Dublin’s rarely seen. She’s one of a kind.

Dublin gig scene takes off in a huge way

After a quiet couple of years, 2022 was always going to be huge for live music, and so it proved. Some massive highlights included a series of vibrant shows at Marlay Park, Electric Picnic (a wash out, arguably, but so much fun), and the likes of The Cure, Arctic Monkeys and Kendrick Lamar all dropping on the 3Arena.

Bono’s book has surprising charm

Bono’s reputation as a somewhat self-absorbed character precedes him, but in ‘Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story’, the U2 frontman blows the idea out of the water. A poetic exploration of his roots as they connect to his music, you feel like you’re glancing at one of Dublin’s main character’s soul, and it’s a pleasant experience. A glorious show at the 3Olympia where he combined storytelling with renditions of a handful of U2 hits simply brought the whole thing home. Buy it, it’s certain to surprise.

Twitter on the way out… Mastodon steps in

Elon Musk is a controversial character at the best of times, and his somewhat unstable takeover of prominent social media platform Twitter has seen many run for the hills, while many others embrace what can only be described as a fairly egocentric approach to running the platform. Mastodon, a platform without a clear owner that, admittedly, has its own flaws, has been a popular alternative. Musk is clearly at least a little worried, having banned links to Mastodon (among others) on Twitter. At first glance, the newly popular alternative appears a far more friendly place to hang out.

Other Voices only gets better…

No longer so centred on ‘the church’ – specifically St James’ Church in Dingle – a hugely expanding music trail and shows across the country have helped lift what to the uninitiated is a short series of music TV shows into the stratosphere. In music circles, the Dingle event is quite simply one of the best weekends of the year, and given its rising popularity, all the addons are very welcome. It’s rare to see artists of such quality given such intimate staging, and the difficulty getting into the main shows reflects that, but if you do manage to sneak inside the door, these experiences are unforgettable.

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