Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010: Year In Review

Top 10 Songs of 2010

10. Mike Posner - "Cooler Than Me"

One of my most-played songs of 2010. The best song Justin Timberlake never recorded. While no one can really replace JT, while he's off acting and actively not recording a follow up to "Future Sex/Love Sounds", I'll take Mike Posner and this killer song.



9. Lifehouse - "All In"


This is exactly the kind of song I would have listened to over and over again in 2002. And trust me, that is a compliment. A gorgeously shot video in the vein of older Incubus and Our Lady Peace videos from the early 2000's. Lifehouse is one of those bands you really don't think of that often, but they continue to release amazing songs that become hits while staying fully under the radar ("You And Me", "Broken", "Spin", and the #1 song of 2001 as named by Billboard's year end chart, "Hanging By A Moment"). I'd say they don't make 'em like this anymore, but this is clear evidence that they do.


8. Kanye West - "All Of The Lights"

Pure rap genius. Featuring Rihanna, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Common, Fergie, The Dream, Tony Williams, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, and Elly Jackson. Who ever heard of one song featuring that many people? NO ONE. And that's why it's genius. The Rihanna hook is genius and the Elton John outro is genius. There is just no other word. I could do without the Fergie cameo though. Just saying.

7. Methods of Mayhem - "Time Bomb"


It is clear that Methods of Mayhem have come a long way since they featured Fred Durst and Lil Kim in one of the worst songs I have ever heard. I probably never would have heard this song - their first single since 1999 - if I hadn't seen their performance on Jay Leno. One of the best lyrics of the year in the first verse - "Over again it plays / I'm not scared to face the wreckage of my younger ways". Tommy Lee finally grows up (sort of) at 48 and the result is amazing.



6. Adam Lambert - "If I Had You"

This song, and especially the video, is a fierce glitter apocalypse. Also included on the Top 10 because it contains an obviously essential line to any party: "got my boots on, got the right amount of leather, and I'm doing me up in a black kohl liner." I wouldn't dream of partying in a debauchery soaked forest any other way. Probably the most fun glam song of the year from one of the most underrated and amazing albums I have heard in a long time ("For Your Entertainment", 2009).



5
. JTX - "(I'm Gonna) Party Like A Rock Star"

While the edited version is nowhere near as fun as the unedited, both versions of this song are pretty awesome. This song gained popularity on Sirius HITS 1 but not on the Billboard Hot 100 sadly. The kind of party anthem that could have been written in 1989, 1999, or 2009. And that is one of the greatest compliments I can give. And it features probably the best lyric of 2010, "I guarantee you Steven Tyler wouldn't put up with crap like this." The unedited version is below.



4. Sean Kingston & Justin Bieber - "Eenie Meenie"


Every year I have to include some kind of slightly embarassing song for my best of the year list. (Don't forget in 2008 I included "Fashion" by Heidi Montag on my top 10 songs of the year. Don't forget.) Much to my disappointment, this duet didn't become the hit I had hoped, although it did reach #15 on the Hot 100. The lyrics are completely nonsensical and I don't care. I too dismissed this song at first, but give it a chance. It will grow on you - like a fungus.



3. Deadmau5 f. Rob Swire - "Ghosts N Stuff"


If one song can inspire me to an entire blog post and basically define the soundtrack of my favorite book of all time, it more than deserves to be here. See my thoughts here.



2. The Pretty Reckless - "Make Me Wanna Die"

I played this song on repeat quite frequently towards the end of 2010. The song and the video are intoxicating. A real rock song.



1. Enrique Iglesias f. Pitbull - "I Like It"

It is only once in a very long while that a definitive summer anthem like this song comes along. This is the kind of song that I will be able to listen to in 10 years and be instantly taken back to driving down 95 in my brand new car with the windows down. This is the kind of song you fist pump to in dingy college bars and love every second of it. Far and away the best song of the year.



Honorable mentions:

Pop:
~ Timbaland f. Katy Perry - "If We Ever Meet Again"
~ Taylor Swift - "Back To December"
~ Miley Cyrus - "Can't Be Tamed"
~ Nick Carter & Jennifer Paige - "Beautiful Lie"
~ Greyson Chance - "Waiting Outside The Lines"

Rap/R&B:
~ Pitbull f. T-Pain - "Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)"
~ Nelly - "Just A Dream"
~ Jason Derulo - "What If"
~ Diddy Dirty Money - "Coming Home"

Rock:
~ Florence and the Machine - "Dog Days are Over"

Country:
~ Sugarland -"Stuck Like Glue"
~ Clay Walker - "She Won't Be Lonely Long"

Undescribable:
~ Antoine Dodson - "Bed Intruder"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Less Than Zero: The Soundtrack

"Less Than Zero" by Bret Easton Ellis is my favorite book of all time for a variety of reasons.

The debauchery, the hedonism draped in a fog of drugs and fast cars, cocaine on the sleeve of an $800 suit.

Nights at Spago, Valium, Quaaludes, Betamax, Christmas in Palm Springs. Crimson and clover, over and over.

"'Just charge it,' Trent says wearily."

The realization that we could Disappear Here and no one would know the difference.

"The flash blinds me for a second and I take a swallow from the champagne bottle."

The fact that Bret Easton Ellis wrote this masterpiece at 21 years old and it would become my favorite book at 18. The fact that the disenfranchisement of the mid-to-late 1980's never went away, it just disguised itself behind cell phones and the fact that the way we can not disappear from being contacted makes us even more alone.

When it was made into a movie in 1987 starring my favorite actor of the 1980's, Andrew McCarthy, as Clay, the soundtrack was as follows:


  1. Aerosmith - "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu"
  2. Roy Orbison - "Life Fades Away"
  3. Poison - "Rock N Roll All Nite"
  4. LL Cool Jay - "Going Back To Cali"
  5. Glenn Danzig - You and Me (Less than Zero)"
  6. Slayer - "In-A-Gadda-De-Vida"
  7. Public Enemy - "Bring The Noise"
  8. Black Flames - "Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)"
  9. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - "She's Lost You"
  10. Alyson Williams & Oran Juice Jones - "How to Love Again"
  11. The Bangles - "Hazy Shade of Winter"
But really - these songs were selected to ostensibly sell records and "Going Back To Cali" or any such mid-80's rap song would never have been on the record players of the disenfranchised teenagers in the book. This was, of course, before it was cool for teenagers wearing Ralph Lauren polo sweaters draped around their shoulders to embrace rap music.

So here it is, based on thematic elements, character development, and just the all around atmosphere of the book: my idea of the real soundtrack to the book "Less Than Zero".


1. Kings of Leon - "Closer" (2008)





2. Third Eye Blind - "Slow Motion" (1999)


3. Deadmau5 f. Rob Swire - "Ghosts N Stuff" (2009)



4. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - "Crimson & Clover" (1982)


5. Matchbox 20 - "Back 2 Good" (1996)




6. The Verve - "The Drugs Don't Work" (1997)




7. Brand New - "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" (2003)




8. The Verve Pipe - "The Freshmen"(1997)




9. The Cowboy Junkies - "Sweet Jane" (1988)



10. Foo Fighters - "Everlong" (1997)




11. The Moody Blues - "Nights In White Satin" (1967)




12. The Pretty Reckless - "Make Me Wanna Die" (2010)



"Clay, did you ever love me?" I'm studying a billboard and say that I didn't hear what she said. "I asked if you ever loved me?" On the terrace the sun bursts into my eyes and for one blinding moment I see myself clearly. I remember the first time we made love, in the house in Palm Springs, her body tan and wet, lying against cool, white sheets. "Don't do this, Blair," I tell her. "Just tell me." I don't say anything. "Is it such a hard question to answer?" I look at her straight on. "Yes or no?" "Why?" "Damnit, Clay," she sighs. "Yeah, sure, I guess." "Don't lie to me." "What in the fuck do you want to hear?" "Just tell me," she says, her voice rising. "No," I almost shout. "I never did." I almost start to laugh. She draws in a breath and says, "Thank you. That's all I wanted to know." She sips her wine. "Did you ever love me?" I ask her back, though by now I can't even care. She pauses. "I thought about it and yeah, I did once. I mean I really did. Everything was all right for a while. You were kind." She looks down and then goes on. "But it was like you weren't there. Oh shit, this isn't going to make any sense." She stops. I look at her, waiting for her to go on, looking up at the billboard. Disappear Here. "I don't know if any other person I've been with has been really there, either ... but at least they tried." I finger the menu; put the cigarette out. "You never did. Other people made an effort and you just ... It was just beyond you." She takes another sip of her wine. "You were never there. I felt sorry for you for a little while, but then I found it hard to. You're a beautiful boy, Clay, but that's about it." I watch the cars pass by on Sunset. "It's hard to feel sorry for someone who doesn't care." "Yeah?" I ask. "What do you care about? What makes you happy?" "Nothing. Nothing makes me happy. I like nothing," I tell her. "Did you ever care about me, Clay?" I don't say anything, look back at the menu. "Did you ever care about me?" she asks again. "I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care." "I cared about you for a little while." I don't say anything. She takes off her sunglasses and finally says, "I'll see you later, Clay." She gets up. "Where are you going?" I suddenly don't want to leave Blair here. I almost want to take her back with me. "Have to meet someone for lunch." "But what about us?" "What about us?" She stands there for a moment, waiting. I keep staring at the billboard until it begins to blur and when my vision becomes clearer I watch as Blair's car glides out of the parking lot and becomes lost in the haze of traffic on Sunset. The waiter comes over and asks, "Is everything okay, sir?" I look up and put my sunglasses on and try to smile. "Yeah."
~ Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top 10 Christmas Songs

10. Elton John - "Step Into Christmas" (1973)

One of the most unashamedly upbeat Christmas songs I have ever heard, and I love it.



9. Elmo & Patsy - "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (1979)

This song NEVER gets old. I couldn't find the original version on YouTube - copyright claims and all - but here is a "remix" version.



8. John Lennon & Yoko Ono - "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (1971)

Originally an anti-Vietnam protest song, this song has become a standard (and incredible) Christmas song. Little known fact: the chorus is the Harlem Boys Choir.



7. Lou Monte - "Dominic The Donkey" (1960)


My favorite Christmas song as a child...what can I say, I was an odd child.



6. U2 - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" (1987)

Gorgeously sad and the black & white music video only adds to the atmospheric quality of this all too short song. Honorable mention goes to the aching and slow version by Death Cab For Cutie.



5. Wham - "Last Christmas" (1984)

Absolutely NO song of Christmas lists of the past 100 years would be complete without the necessary inclusion of "Last Christmas". Bonus points for George Michael's sexy hair in the video.



4. Jon Bon Jovi - "Please Come Home For Christmas" (1994)

While the band's song "I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas" is amazing, I had to go with the solo song by JBJ, maybe because of the sexy video with Cindy Crawford that accompanies it.



3. Celine Dion - "The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)" (1998)

I could listen to this song all year round and that is the highest compliment I can give a Christmas song. Celine's entire Christmas album is incredible and the best Christmas album of all time.



2. Britney Spears - "My Only Wish (This Year)"
(2000)

Listening to this song brings me back to a very specific time in my life, of being 13 years old and assembling and decorating the Christmas tree singlehandedly while listening to this song on the CD "Platinum Christmas" on my "gray box "1998 Toshiba laptop.



1. Mariah Carey - "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (1994)

Hands down, the best Christmas song of the modern era. There is a reason why this song sounds good all year long. Also it is more than refreshing to see a home-video esque music video with Mariah running around in the snow with a hat, braided pigtails, and gloves on, instead of 6 inch stillettos.