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Singer George Michael, who passed away on Christmas Day, performing at the Olympic stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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Mega-names like Sting (above), Guns N' Roses, Coldplay and James Taylor are among the acts coming to Singapore next year.

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Vinyl's comeback is great news for stores like Roxy Records at Excelsior Shopping Centre.
FORECAST 2017: MUSIC

A year of deaths ... and rebirths

What were 2016's major developments and how will they impact the arts, entertainment and design next year? BT Lifestyle takes a look at the forces that'll shape 2017
Dec 30, 2016 5:50 AM

2016 is quite easily the worst year for music fans. It doesn't matter what genre you listen to, chances are the Grim Reaper came and took away one of your favourite artistes.

And just when everybody thought the worst was over, fans of 1980s pop woke up to the sad news on Boxing Day in Singapore that George Michael has gone to join the great big gig in the sky on Christmas Day (in the United Kingdom) to jam with David Bowie, Sharon Jones, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey and more.

But enough with the gloom as 2016 was also the year local music-lovers got a chance to see many of their favourite singers in the flesh as a bumper crop of concerts and festivals took place in Singapore.

The most high-profile was Madonna, whose Rebel Heart tour was announced at the eleventh hour after already selling out most of her other shows in the region; so those who missed out or didn't want to travel overseas had the chance to catch her in our own backyard.

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2017 looks set to be an even bigger year for concerts with the first month already looking jam-packed with shows galore.

Indie music-lovers will be scratching their heads deciding between Passenger and PJ Harvey who are both playing on the same night of Jan 13, while Bryan Adams, Laneway Festival and Metallica's gigs will all take place consecutively over the weekend of Jan 20-22.

That is just the tip of the iceberg, of course, as other mega-names like Guns N' Roses, Coldplay, James Taylor and Sting have also been booked for the following months, ensuring things will get loud here.

But what's most encouraging is seeing fans not wait till the last minute to purchase tickets - a practice that is common and almost unique to Singapore.

Both the Coldplay and Jacky Cheung shows have sold out months in advance, showing a certain maturity in our concert-going culture and hopefully giving promoters more confidence in bringing in big (read: more expensive and hence riskier) acts in the near future.

Apple, which arguably shaped the way music is now consumed mostly on digital platforms with the introduction of iPods and iTunes, made another revolutionary move by killing the headphone jack on their latest range of iPhones.

It might make them look like tech villains / Nazis by pushing users to go wireless, but considering Apple was also the first to ditch CD-drives from their computers (to the same uproar before other makers subsequently started to follow suit), this really could be the start of something new and big in the digital realm.

But don't expect physical formats to go away completely - especially when vinyl made its strongest comeback this year with LP sales overtaking digital sales for the first time in the UK a few weeks back.

In Singapore, it might be next to impossible to buy CDs but vinyl shops continue to pop up all over the island.

The paint at the second branch of Hear Records in Chinatown, which opened only about two months ago, has barely dried, and a new kid on the block is already getting ready for business from tomorrow.

Vinyl Kakis has set up shop at Excelsior Shopping Centre, making it neighbours with veterans like Roxy Records (which recently celebrated its 54th anniversary) in the same building and Vinylicious next door at Peninsula Shopping Centre.

If you can't find what you want at those shops, some of Singapore's oldest record shops are just a street away at the decades-old audiophile haven that is The Adelphi.

It's comforting to know music will always live on - regardless of formats - even when their makers are no longer with us.

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