23 December 2011

The Hell With It! I'm Making A List! My Favorite Things

Everyone else gets to make lists.  So I decided that I would.  It'll be mostly music stuff, but I'll splash other stuff in.

Comeback of the Year: The Primitives Best known for having an album on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack - that song being the very catchy "Crash" (which was seven years old when the movie was released in 1995) - this group, led by the charismatic and initially platinum blonde Tracy Tracy, flashed and then flamed out.

Fast forward eighteen years. The Primitives come back with a new EP - Never Kill a Secret.  And it's really good. Tracy's voice aged really well.

This was the easiest choice on this list.  The rest - not so clear.

Album of the Year: Cars, by Kris Delmhorst.  I love covers.  So, clearly, an album full of them is going to catch my attention. A classically trained cellist, Kris did an album of covers of songs originally done by The Cars.  Many of their big hits are represented.  And done really really well.  But here - judge for yourself.

She keeps the originally optimism of the songs, while adding her own soulful quality.  And none of them are boring.

OK, I Admin It: Guilty Pleasure of the Year: Price Tag, by Jessie J.  I don't want to like this song.  I don't want to like it at all. But it's not about the money, money, money.  It's a damned happy song, and I'm not ashamed to say I enjoy it.  Jessie J, a songwriter by trade, wrote this song and performed it herself.  And she really can sing.  I have posted a live performance of the song, so you can enjoy it, too.

I Had NEVER Heard of Them Until This Year, Which Is Hard To Believe, And I Love Everything They Do: Spain. One of Josh Haden's many projects, this one has at times featured his sister Petra.  They did release material this year - available on their Bandcamp page - so if you are looking for a Christmas gift for me, this would be a good one - so I guess it's OK to put them on this list.

More importantly, I had never heard of them until this year, and they are fantastic. Seek them out.  Here is a live performance from 2011 of their 2006 song It's So True, rereleased this year.

Not everything they do is so quiet, but the guitar/bass sound in this song is definitely their signature.  And I love this song - it's so mournful, but so heartfelt.

I Had NEVER Heard of Them Until This Year, Which Is Hard To Believe, And I Love Everything They Do, Honourable Mention: The Like. This band, who I discovered while watching music television channel TheCoolTV, also gets the Thanks for Blowing My Daughter's Mind award.  For this 2005 video.

From what I can see, they released no material in 2011, hence the honourable mention.  Still, their two albums, while very different and with different lineups, are both worth a listen.

I Missed This in 2010, But The Party Lives on This Year: Phantogram. I mean, they're from Saratoga Springs, NY!  Upstaters are not bands I should be missing.  And yet, I missed this exciting two-piece.  They released an EP in 2011 (Nightlife), but what I was listening to this year was not that, but their 2010 release, Eyelid Movies.  They also toured in 2011.  So here's a live performance of one of their 2010 singles, from the 2011 Coachella festival - this is another one of my favorite songs of the moment.

Song of the Year (and you know I'm right): Friday.  Love it or hate it, it was everywhere. And let's not slag too hard on the vocalist - Rebecca Black isn't a bad singer at all.  She's not.  The song was terribly written, but her performance of the song was admirable, and the combination of the terrible-but-accessible lyrics and her earnest rendition made for a catchy tune.

Song of the Year (runner-up): Lluvia al Corazón.  Maná has for years been one of the biggest selling bands to come out of Mexico, and yet, you've never heard of them.  Something of a Latin version of U2, but they're so much more than that.
They've been around for more than thirty years.  And they don't get mainstream airplay because they sing in Spanish.  I mentioned above that they are like a Latin U2, and that extends to their philanthropic endeavours as well. I urge you to check them out.

Movie of the Year (or, who my Oscar Vote is going to): The Descendants. It's a drama, a three-hanky tearjerker.  And yet, it's still really funny and touching.  George Clooney (Best Actor) gives what I think is the best performance of his career since E/R - the old sitcom starring Eliott Gould, not the NBC drama - in a movie that should take home a lot of hardware during this awards season.

And for those who did not get my E/R reference or forgot that George Clooney did a lot of forgettable television early in his career, here is a montage of clips from the classic 1984 series, which also featured a cameo by Martha Quinn:

Best Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants.  The depth of emotion that this woman had to tap into for this role, which will get Supporting nominations but was really a lead in this movie, is jarring from such a young actress.

By the way, if you can't tell, I really liked the movie.

Best Book I Read This Year: Rat Girl. Kristin Hersh's chronicle of her early songwriting days, when mental illness was starting to creep in.  A fascinating read, especially if you are a fan of her band, Throwing Muses (as I am).

News Story of The Year: Osama Bin Laden is dead. Really, are you surprised? There was no bigger story, no matter how many Kardashians got married and divorced.

Television Show of the Year: Outsourced. It's a shame that this touching comedy set in India was cancelled too soon.  It even looks like it was a last-minute cancellation, paving the way for the far-inferior Whitney.  However, we'll always have that complete first season.

Little-known fact: Outsourced was based on a movie of the same name. And I have not seen this movie, but it looks like it's far more dramatic.  This series could have been M.A.S.H. for a new generation, except funny and not overrated.

Blog of the Year: American Curler. Shameless self-promotion.

I guess that's enough stuff to list for now.  Let the debate begin.


  1. Unfortunately, you are 100% WRONG about the tv show of the year. The best show, by far, is "The Middle." Perhaps it's just because I'm a middle-aged, working mother, but I love this show. It's better than "Modern Family," which gets all of the attention because it's so "correct." The Middle might not be PC, but it is soooo true, and therefore funny. It allows me to laugh at my own, very similar, life. Sorry, but this teacher has to take off points for that answer. Other than that, I'll give you an A.

  2. I did forget one award - best new show. It wasn't going to "The Middle" either, but you reminded me of it.

  3. So, I vote "New Girl." I hope it wins!!!