By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
2012 saw some big-name comebacks, emotional reunions, and just plain weird occurrences, proving that America's thirst for nostalgia has still not been quenched. Have recent years been the worst for this, or have I just forgotten about the last decade already? Could something as joyous as the resurrection of long-dead music be a product of the recession? Bring on the recession deep enough to force Led Zeppelin to do one last world tour, says I.
5. The Beach Boys
Sure, they've been touring as a money-making nostalgia fest featuring few of the people responsible for any of the actual hits for decades now, but this year saw Brian Wilson rejoin the Beach Boys for a world tour, their first performances with Wilson since 1996. Just as they were getting some major attention and playing some bigger venues than they had been for many a year, the legal owner of the name "Beach Boys" (Mike Love) decided to kick Brian Wilson out again. Kick Brian Wilson. Out the Beach Boys. His own cousin. Good work, Mike. That's why the Beach Boys aren't higher up this list — they died again already.
4. Van Halen
February saw the first new Van Halen studio album since 1998, and the first with David Lee Roth since 1984. That is a very long time. It actually got positive reviews. Let's consider that for a second. Which bands effectively take nearly a 20-year layoff and then release an album of new material to anything but critical sarcasm and the sound of a fan base scurrying off into the distance? I mean, apparently most of the album was written in the '70s, but still. That's pretty impressive. Unfortunately though, they canceled tour dates (though not Dallas) for no specific reason other than being tired. David Lee Roth is 58. Mick Jagger wishes he were 58 again, David.
Sure, Soundgarden actually reformed in 2010 (although their proper reunion tour wasn't really until 2011), but this year saw the release of their first new album since 1996's Down on the Upside. Has anyone spotted any noticeable signs of Chris Cornell aging? It's terrifying. He looks exactly the same as he always did. He's only 10 years younger than David Lee Roth, who looks like time has beaten him half to death with whatever it is time uses to beat people. (I'm torn between the hands of a clock and just a huge stick marked "Time.") Another bonus to new Soundgarden material — no more Audioslave albums.
2. At the Drive-In
Every year the teenagers of 2001 wept at the stubborn refusal of At the Drive-In to give up on the current projects they were enjoying, and submit to the power of the dollar. This year, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez finally realized he needed the extra belongings that the Mars Volta just weren't supplying for him, and begrudgingly gave in to a Coachella performance, followed by a small number of world tour dates. In fact, begrudgingly doesn't even begin to cover it — I saw them at Trees, and it looked liked Omar would rather be on fire in a ditch somewhere, while the rest of the band seemed delighted. I didn't care though; I was one of those weeping teenagers.
1. The Ghost of Tupac Past
Although the argument goes he never actually died, it would seem the Ghost of Tupac haunted Coachella this year, in the unusual medium of having a good old dance with Snoop Dogg. Apparently it was incredibly expensive CGI, but I'm sure a lot of the audience sampling the "good time" Coachella had on offer believed that they were witnessing Tupac coming out of hiding after all these years. Until he literally disappeared. Some people are probably still getting over that.