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2014: My Year In Lists (Part Two)

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Music! It’s that stuff that pours into your earholes from out of your radio (hahaha, remember RADIOS) digital music computer doodad… that contraption you’ve got clipped to your fashionable, like, satchel thing… whatever… you know what I’m talking about. Or maybe all your music is in a cloud somewhere. Music chip implanted in your brain? I don’t understand how anything works.

Look, we’re going to talk about the music that I experienced in 2014. And we’ll be doing so via a bunch of mini-lists, because the thought of combining everything into a big Top 10 or Top 20 list makes me very, very tired. And I’m tired enough already, you guys.  My iVinyl songtunes app won’t synch up with my sonic Bluetooth cochlear graft!!! I can’t even!!! That’s a thing kids say, right? RIGHT??? I’M GOING TO HASHTAG EVERYTHING JUST TO BE SURE.

To the lists…

5 Absolutely Perfect Pop Songs from 2014

“Team” by Lorde – This song is like getting drunk on a weird Thursday at 2am with a bunch of really cool people that you’ve only known for a couple of weeks, so they’re still exciting. “Team” manages to whip up almost a mystical feel, but super-modern; I imagine this is the kind of thing that Stevie Nix would turn out if she was currently 17 and into synthesizers.

“Pompeii” by Bastille – If I had to sum of this song in a single word, that word would be, “Triumphant.” Listening to “Pompeii” makes me want to triumph over something. I don’t know WHAT, specifically, I would like to triumph over, but still… this song makes me long for a non-specific triumph, where I’d thrust my clenched fists into the air right at the “but when you close your eeeyees” part. I feel like that would be really satisfying.

“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor – If you could use a wizard’s spell to turn a wad of strawberry Hubba Bubba into a song, this is what you would get. Now, I will grant you that the marrying of a sort of old timey-ish voice with modern pop isn’t a new idea.. nor is this the best ever example of that trend (Amy Winehouse would be the queen of that particular retro castle). However, “All About That Bass” is fun as shit, so whatever. Plus, when you see the song title written out, it’s mildly entertaining to pretend she’s talking about her love for a certain kind of fish.

“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX – There’s some kind of iffy racial stuff with this song… she’s essentially doing “black voice,” which is not cool… but, you know, the video was a whole, awesome Clueless homage. So… we’re going to say it’s okay to like this song…? Because it JAMS? Look, I’m not sure where I’m supposed to stand on Iggy Azalea, so I have to listen to my heart. My heart is telling me that this song makes my pants want to get up and dance. So there’s that.

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift – When Taylor Swift is president in like 2045, we’ll look back at the release of “Shake It Off” as the moment when everyone in America suddenly realized… hey… Taylor Swift is actually pretty great. Those first stirrings of goodwill will snowball until, eventually, we the people decide that it would probably be in all of our best interests if she just ran everything for a while. I feel like her Vice President will be her cat.

3 Terrible Songs from 2014

“Fireball” by Pitbull – I do not get why Pitbull is popular. He looks like a Miami dad, and he exclusively puts out songs that sound like they were specifically designed to be shitty ringtones.  And yet he’s super famous, and I work in a deli. The world, once again, fails to make sense. Anyway, I would rather be killed by an actual fireball, Backdraft-style, than ever hear this song again.

“Animals” by Maroon 5 – Everything about Adam Levine is gross… I imagine that he always smells like American Spirits, some kind of hair wax, and cheap lube… but this song, which is LITERALLY about hunting and killing women, is really just too much. Listening to “Animals” makes me want to apologize to everybody on behalf of my gender.

“Battleships” by Daughtry – The whole song is an extended, tortured metaphor about how a relationship is like two battleships fighting. That sounds stupid enough on its own, but then there’s the part in the song’s chorus when he goes “boom BOOM boom… boom BOOM boom.” HE’S BEING THE CANNONS ON THE BATTLESHIP. Sometimes, the onamonapias work in your favor, and sometimes they’re the hill upon which you die. Ugh, I can’t believe I phone-voted for you when you were on American Idol, Chris Daughtry. How the… not mighty, exactly… how the mediocre have fallen.

1 Song from 2014 That Sounds Like Time Travel

“Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – You could tell me this was a track that was accidentally cut from Prince’s “Dirty Mind” album due to a grievous production error, and I’d totally believe it. By the way,  I do an excellent car dance to this song that really impresses the other drivers and lets them know I’m a cool guy who is very hip to the popular musics of today. My car dance has shoulder wiggles AND head bobs. It’s pretty awesome. This song is more awesome, though.

2 Songs from 2014 That I Hated At First, Then Totally Loved

“The Man” by Aloe Blacc – I hated it because it was in every MLB promo for every baseball game that existed in 2014, and that kind of repetition is just brutal. But then baseball season ended, and I heard it context-free on the radio, and it made think… you know what… maybe this song is about how I’M the man, I’m the man, I’m the man. So I love it now. Because I’m THE MAN.

“Chandelier by Sia” – This is song is gorgeous and inspires within in me soaring emotions, and… for some reason, I hated it the first time I heard it. Some things are just too beautiful to be appreciated at first glance. Anyway, “Chandelier” makes me want to survive some kind of huge ordeal, then describe the experience via the medium of interpretive dance.

3 Artists/Bands That I Rediscovered in 2014

Carole King – That lady sure could beat the shit out of a piano. Listen to “Tapestry,” if you’re okay with taking the time to glue your heart back together afterwards.

Crooked Fingers -They’re kind of the postscript to the band Archers of Loaf, who weren’t even a really huge deal back when they had some hipster, record store cache. So this is the small band that came from a slightly larger small band. And man… they’re just weird and great and like the soundtrack to my life, if I were a little bit cooler. Listen to this song, then go listen to the entire album that it’s from.

Paul Simon – That I ever forgot about Paul Simon is shameful. Thankfully, the movie Obvious Child came along and reminded me of what a bad, Paul Simon-shunning person I had become. Mandatory Paul Simon listenings should be written into The Constitution. I’ll have to get a petition going that calls for said change; something that I can present to President Swift at a Town Hall meeting or some such.

16 Bands from 2014 That I Totally Made Up

Condescending Turtles

The Beefpants Trio

El Boring Boringson & The Dulls

Mama Jokes

Crucified Judas

Elbowsnatch

Virginia Hummelsmith & The Best Band That Could Be Assembled Via Craigslist

Goodbye Horses (a Q Lazzarus cover band)

Dads in Garages

The Dirtbag Dandies

Professor Emanuel’s Sweet & Sour Lemon Drops (sorry, that’s a brand of lozenge that I invented)

Cud Punch

Prolapsed Soul

2Scary4School

Wet Jeans

and, of course…

Ed Sheeren (but not the one you’re thinking of)

The Worst/Best Winners At The Academy Awards: A Retrospective

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, finally giving our nation’s famous millionaires an opportunity to win something on TV. In celebration of these fine people achieving everything they’ve ever wanted as they enjoy success beyond their wildest dreams (unlike yourself, who had a fistful of gummi worms for breakfast), here’s a breakdown of the LEAST DESERVING winner in each major Academy Awards category.

NOTE: We’re only going as far back as 1980, here, because, as far as I’m concerned, nothing that happened before I was born matters.

The Least Deserving Winners in Oscar History (1980 to Last Year)

Best Original Screenplay: Ghost (1990)

Ghost was a massive hit, mainly because it provided a visual for our nation’s number one collective fantasy: being wrapped up in Patrick Swayze’s arms while making pottery. The screenplay itself was nothing more than a collection of goopy soap opera beats loosely tied together by a bunch of silly, ghost-related business. Plus, no dance scene for Patrick Swayze??? I don’t CARE if it wouldn’t have made sense for the character. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Out of Africa (1985)

Have you ever actually WATCHED that movie? It’s 17 hours long and it literally accelerates the aging process in your body as you watch it. It LITERALLY does that. If you’re 25 when you start watching Out of Africa, you will be well into your 50’s by the time it’s over. Nothing that boring should ever be presented with an award of any kind, unless it’s an award for being the Best Nap-Maker. Which is not an actual award. I checked.

Best Documentary: He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’ (1983)

This is the actual poster for an Academy Award-winning film. I have no further comment.

Best Supporting Actress: Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Judi Dench was on-screen in Shakespeare in Love for less than 8 minutes. To give you a little perspective here, the thank-you speech she gave when she won the Oscar for that -8 minutes of screen time was in the ballpark of 4 minutes. When I become the President of Movies (should happen in the next decade or so, provided I get off my duff and finish the essay portion of my application), I will make it HOLLYWOOD LAW that you can’t win an award for a movie if you’ve been in it less than a solid half-hour. No exceptions allowed, even for knighted British fancypantses.

Best Supporting Actor: Benicio del Toro, Traffic (2000)

I’ve seen Traffic a couple of times, and… though I generally have no problem with Benicio del Toro… I simply do not understand how or why he won an Academy Award for this role. The only thing I can figure is that there was a misprint on the ballots that were sent out that year, incorrectly identifying the “Best Supporting Actor” category as “Best at Mumbling.”

Best Actress: Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich (2000)

It’s not that Julia Roberts was BAD in Erin Brockovich… she was, you know, fine. Sassy, and whatnot. It’s just bad luck on her part that she won the same year that one of the truly great, most flawless lead performances ever given by an actress was ALSO nominated. That would be Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. Who wins Award X at the Oscars is very often not about the actual performance (or screenplay, or ability to edit film, or whatever) itself… there’s always politics and “who’s overdue” and a million other factors. Roberts winning over Burstyn will go down in Oscar history as the most egregious example of TINSELTOWN SHENANIGANS.

Best Actor: Russel Crowe, Gladiator (2000)

Man… 2000 was a big whiff for the Oscars. This is a different version of the previously mentioned TINSELTOWN SHENANIGANS. “You really should have won last year, so… um… here’s your Oscar for that role, for THIS role! Love ya, xoxo!” Crowe was brilliant in 1999’s The Insider, but was beat out by Kevin Spacey’s deadpan suburban reawakening in American Beauty. It happens. The following year was a pretty weak one for the Best Actor category (Geoffrey Rush, for example, was also nominated for his turn in Quills; an extremely campy performance in an extremely so-so movie). And, when you factor in that people seemed to like Gladiator… C’MON UP HERE, RUSS!!!

Best Picture: Crash (2005)

Originally titled Racism is Bad: The Movie, Crash will go down in history as one of the biggest mistakes the Academy Awards ever made. Just a thoroughly terrible movie; it’s pandering, mawkish, and obvious to the point of insult. Crash winning the award for Best Picture is proof that, in 2005, the Academy voters were taken over by space aliens who really enjoy movies from the Lifetime Network, but with a higher casting budget.