Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 50 Singles of 2009

We've come to the end of yet another not so glorious year so what better way to say "fuck off" to a terrible year then to celebrate the best singles of the year. While I've complained throughout the year that 2009 has been a terrible year for albums, the same can't be said for its singles. There were a plethora of fantastic songs to choose from and what a decision it became! Even if the choice seems fairly obviously, it became an epic month-long struggle to choose my number one song; at least seven songs were in contention at some point. And, as the list went down, it became harder and harder to pick what went on and what had to be forced off. In a weaker year, many of my runners-up would be serious contenders for the Top 20. Many thanks to Dave, Kameron, JD and Glenn for continuing to spread the good word of pop music and telling me what to listen to. I hope you enjoy this list and please feel free to let me know what you think.

The 10 Runners-Up: P!nk 'Sober' | Alexandra Burke featuring Flo-Rida 'Bad Boys' | Britney Spears '3' | Kelly Clarkson 'My Life Would Suck Without You' | Leighton Meester featuring Robin Thicke 'Somebody to Love' | Star Pilots 'In the Heat of the Night' | Demi Lovato 'Here We Go Again' | Blake Lewis 'Heartbreak on Vinyl' | Beyoncé featuring Lady GaGa 'Video Phone' (Extended Remix) | Lady GaGa 'Lovegame'

50. Disney's Friends for Change [Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus & Selena Gomez] 'Send It On'
The ultimate guilty pleasure of the year. It's so, so bad but so, so good at the same time. If nothing else, 'Send It On' proves that 2009 was the year of Demi Lovato.
49. Cascada 'Evacuate the Dancefloor'
48. Sugababes 'About a Girl'
47. Jay-Z featuring Rihanna and Kanye West 'Run This Town'
46. Cheryl Cole 'Fight For This Love'
45. Jennifer Hudson 'If This Isn't Love'
44. Britney Spears 'If U Seek Amy'
43. Agnes 'I Need You Now' (UK Radio Edit)
The album version was mediocre at best but the radio edit is simply glorious. Let's hope that Agnes' impending US debut makes her as big of a star as she deserves to be.
42. Alphabeat 'The Spell'
41. Shakira 'Did It Again'

40. Dolly Rockers 'Gold Digger'
Have you been Dolly Rockered yet? I know I was the instant I heard this track.
39. Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys 'Empire State of Mind'
38. VV Brown 'LEAVE!'
37. Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester 'Good Girls Go Bad'
I wouldn't have cared if Leighton Meester wasn't featured here. In much the same way Rihanna did on 'Run This Town' and 'Live Your Life,' Meester completely steals the track from Cobra Starship and makes it all about her. If this is any indication, 2010 should be a great year for her.
36. Darin 'Viva la Vida'
35. David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland 'When Love Takes Over'
34. Röyksopp featuring Robyn 'The Girl and the Robot'
33. Kings of Leon 'Use Somebody'
32. Taylor Swift 'You Belong With Me' (Pop Remix)
31. Erik Hassle 'Don't Bring Flowers'

30. Taylor Swift 'Love Story' (Pop Remix)
29. Demi Lovato 'Remember December'
28. MPHO 'Box N Locks'
27. David Archuelta 'Touch My Hand'
26. Pixie Lott 'Boys and Girls'
25. Mini Viva 'I Wish' (Cahill Radio Edit)
As if the Xenomania-produced wasn't amazing enough, the Cahill Mix turns the epicness of 'I Wish' to 11.
24. Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo 'Knock You Down'
23. A.R. Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls 'Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)'
This was the version that should have won the Oscar.
22. VV Brown 'Shark in the Water'
21. Beyoncé 'Sweet Dreams'

20. Mariah Carey 'Obsessed'
Mariah's dismissal of Eminem was by far more creative than anything Eminem has done in more than five years. "You're a mom and pop/I'm a corporation" is still one of the best insults I've ever heard.
19. Frankmusik '3 Little Words'
18. Girls Aloud 'The Loving Kind'
17. V Factory 'Love Struck'
16. Freemasons featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor 'Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)'
15. Jordin Sparks 'Battlefield'
14. Jonas Brothers 'Paranoid'
The Jo Bros grow up and deliver their cleverest pop song yet. A song about the pitfalls of celebrity that isn't whiny or "oh, pity me and my horrible life" after about thirty seconds.
13. Miley Cyrus 'Party in the USA'
Miley does it again! After the insipidness of 'The Climb,' she came back with this song and proved that she is the go-to girl for turning stupid-sounding lyrics into pop gold.
12. Natalie Imbruglia 'Want'
11. La Roux 'In for the Kill'

10. Jesse McCartney 'How Do You Sleep'
As I said before when I named 'How Do You Sleep' the 82nd best song of the decade, it is the epitome of summer jams. The song's message may not be especially "laid back," but Jesse's breezy delivery makes it feel that way.
9. Lady GaGa 'Paparazzi'
Need more proof that GaGa was the woman of 2009? 'Paparazzi,' a legitimate contender for best song of the year in any other year, is only the first of three GaGa songs in the Top 10. Excessive? Yes. But would the GaGa really have it any other way?
8. Shakira 'She Wolf'
Who else but Shakira would be insane enough to use not only the word "lycanthropy" in a pop song as casually as it was "love" or "heart" but also a wolf howl (a WOLF HOWL!) over the chorus? Bonus points for having the best non-GaGa music video of the year.
7. Little Boots 'Remedy'
It took me awhile to get into 'Remedy,' but once I did, I was addicted like that chick who huffed electronic dusting spray on Intervention.
6. Agnes 'Release Me'
I fell in love with Agnes and her 90's power-pop throwback 'Release Me' at first listen.
5. La Roux 'Bulletproof'
If Agnes brought 90's pop music back, La Roux made 80's synth pop relevant again.
4. Lady GaGa 'Poker Face'
Who knew that "Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-poker face" would be the most addictive hook of the year?
3. Girls Aloud 'Untouchable' (Album Version)
Mark my words: In ten years, after the "OMG what a failure!" hysteria has died down, this and 'Biology' will be the songs Girls Aloud are remembered for.
2. Leona Lewis 'Run'
Technically this was released in the US in December of last year, but it's my list and I didn't discover it until this year anyways.
1. Lady GaGa 'Bad Romance'
Epic. Probably the most epic American song since Celine's 'It's All Coming Back to Me Now.' Lady GaGa already knew how to make catchy simple pop songs, but 'Bad Romance' adds an emotional, almost psychotic, desperation to that final minute that instantly turns the song into a classic. If this is where Lady GaGa is heading in the future, there is absolutely no way I am going to miss out on what she has to offer next.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Secret Prom?

Sonny: Prom's off everybody.

Tawni: What?! I've been dreaming about being prom queen ever since you brought it up 18 minutes ago!

Sonny: I'm sorry. I tried. I even used the magic word.

Grady: This is just like the puppet show all over again.

Sonny: Guys, nobody's more disappointed than I am.

Nico: You had to ask Marshall.

Zora: Always gotta do everything by the book.

Sonny: Oh yeah, is that what you think? Is that what you all think?

*Everyone nods in agreement*

Sonny: Well, I just checked out a new book. And it's called We're Having a Secret Prom by Sonny Munroe.

Nico: Are you suggesting...

Sonny: Yes, that's right. A secret prom.

Tawni: A secret prom?

Zora: A secret prom?

Nico: A secret prom?

Grady: A secret-

Sonny: Okay, I think we've said it enough times. We're having a secret prom!

Grady: How come you got to say it again?

Sonny: Because I wrote the book.

Tawni: I thought you checked out the book.

Grady: Wait, I'm confused.

Sonny: Okay there's no book, but we're having a prom.

Nico: Wait, a secret prom?

Sonny: *exasperated* Yes. Are we all on the same page?

Grady: Whoa, wait, there's a page?

Sonny: Really?

Otto; or, Up With Gay Israeli Soldiers

Like most minority-driven film factions, GLBT cinema has, for years, been repeating the same stories (coming out and/or being a whore) in the same settings (white, middle-class suburbia or NYC/LA). Every once in awhile, a film or an auteur breaks the mold and offers something different, but for the most part, we are stuck with the same old same old. This is why it is so refreshing when films as unique in perspective and delivery as Yossi & Jagger and Otto; or, Up With Dead People come along to offer something new. Both films may not be perfect, but they should be celebrated anyways.

Yossi & Jagger is an Israeli film from director Eytan Fox about a day in the life of a group of overworked soldiers. The main focus of the film follows the title characters, a gay couple whose relationship is blossoming amid unpredictable surroundings. With a runtime of 64 minutes, the film is forced to move quickly in introducing characters, setting up dynamics and moving forward with the plot. It's a shame since the film spends so much time doing this that it almost ignores Yossi and Jagger. Think about it. Until the end of the film, the only glimpses we get of their relationship are a soft core porn-esque sex scene and an emotionally revealing scene where Yossi admits to Jagger that after their time in the military is over with he can't live openly with him. The problem with this is that the suckerpunch of a tragic ending losing some of its impact since we aren't given a chance to truly know them. I imagine it was budgetary restrictions that prevented the film from being longer (and lent to the film's downright ugly digital video cinematography) so I must give Fox credit for making what does appear on screen work so well. The ending, as is, is devastating. If I had more of a heart, I would have been bawling. But with just a few more scenes between the two of them, the ending could have reached Brokeback levels of devastation. B-

If the tragedy of Yossi & Jagger feels familiar in the gay cinema universe, Otto; or, Up With Dead People, director Bruce LaBruce's "avant fag" ode to the zombie movie, is in the far stretches of said galaxy, so completely alien from anything in existence it is almost unclassifiable. The film is a hardsell to even the savviest of cinephiles and its first 20-30 minutes are an endurance test for anyone annoyed with the endless pretentious babble about the biggies: life, who we are, our place in the world, etc. But if you stick with it and give Otto a chance, the film will ultimately reward you. Eventually, Otto acknowledges that all of its pretentiousness is nothing but a joke, a parody of self-important indie/avant garde films that talk and talk for hours on end but really have nothing to say.

The main character Otto is not your typical protagonist. He's mute and unblinking throughout most of the film and there's the little fact that he's a homosexual zombie with vague memories of his life before rising from the dead. The most surprising thing about Otto is the fact that you care so deeply for this, for lack of a better word, monster. As the film moves on, you realize that Otto is the zombie equivalent to WALL-E: all he wants is someone to love. In a scathing attack on the gay community, LaBruce presents Otto's mates as less emotionally responsive and feeling than Otto. The guy who picks Otto up outside of a gay bar having a zombie-themed party does not care about Otto in the slightest except for a quick fuck. Even after the sex turns violent and Otto leaves the guy a bloody mess all he wonders is if Otto is up for doing it again. And then there's Otto's boyfriend from before his zombification. Throughout the movie, there are flashbacks of the two of them together, giving the impression of a loving and happy couple. When we finally meet him, we realize that Otto's memories are nothing but flashes of a now-dead reality. The boyfriend bailed as soon as things got rough in their relationship (it is revealed that Otto ended up in an institution for some time) and didn't care enough about Otto to help him through whatever he was going through. This realization crushes both Otto and the audience. Okay, maybe just me, but I was initially surprised by how much I cared for this muted and unresponsive person. Then I remembered my love for emotionally damaged and/or distant male characters and realized that Otto is just another facet of this character type, albeit in a vaguely unrecognizable form. And if loving emotionally damaged boys is wrong, Lord I don't want to be right. B

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Top 100 Songs of the 2000's: #60-41

Previous installments: #100-81 #80-61

60. Amy Winehouse 'Back to Black'
2007. From Back to Black.

If 'Rehab' was the song to show the world exactly who Amy Winehouse was, 'Back to Black' proved that she was, first and foremost, a musician. Winehouse, the closest the 2000's could ever refer to as a torch singer, reveals layers of hurt and devastation in the deceptively simple lyrics in ways unmatched by anyone. 'Back to Black' is definitive proof that a world without Amy Winehouse is one that is simply unlivable.

59. T.A.T.U. 'All the Things She Said'
2003. From 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane.

Can you name a better pop song by two Russian lesbians about coming out of the closet? I didn't think so. Long after the novelty of the rampant lesbianism wore off, the song remains one of the strongest pop songs of the decade. 'All the Things She Said' is proof that pop songs can be about more than just dancing, love and having a good time.

58. Shakira 'Underneath Your Clothes'
2002. From Laundry Service.

The perfect Shakira song. 'Underneath Your Clothes' combines everything we love about her into an amazing 3 minute and 45 second package: her trademark odd, almost indescribable lyrics, her inimitable vocal warble which is both unusual and beautiful at the same time and a divalicious nature that still allows her to be humble (like her breasts) and approachable. Shakira is truly one of a kind in today's pop culture.

57. Destiny's Child 'Survivor'
2001. From Survivor.

Suppose you are an R&B girl group, recently crossing over to Top 40 in a major way, and you have just undergone your second major lineup change in a year. How on Earth do you combat the haters who think you are over before you even begin? Well, if you're Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle, you come out with a hot track aimed right at the haters to stop them right in their tracks. My love for Pop Songs as Personal Expression can be traced back to this one and few have gotten even close to matching it.

56. O-Town 'All or Nothing'
2001. From O-Town.

Forget NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, O-Town was by far the greatest boy band of the decade (To be fair, however, it's like comparing finding dog shit in your living room to finding dog shit in your bedroom). Lyrically, there's nothing much to celebrate about 'All or Nothing,' but the boys really sell the song, turning it into one of my favorite shout-worthy power ballads.

55. Christina Aguilera 'Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)'
2000. From Christina Aguilera.

The album version of this song is blah, but the radio edit makes up for it tenfold. And there's no denying the iconographic music video; I still think about the white outfit Christina wears in the video.

54. Ms. Jade featuring Timbaland and Nelly Furtado 'Ching Ching'
2002. From Girl Interrupted.

In a decade where Timbaland made the enormous jump to the mainstream, it's still a shame that one of his best efforts remains largely forgotten amid his larger hits. Amid an insane, alliterative Furtado background vocal, 'Ching Ching' largely plays out like a classic he said/she said song. Timbaland's verse is strong but Ms. Jade dominates, angrily lashing out against all the "gangsta" bullshit she had to put up with while wearing the "wifey and mother/cousin, sister and brother/accountant, lawyer and lover" roles in the relationship. She may have been treated like a second-class citizen in the relationship but she'll be damned if he gets away with it.

53. iio 'Rapture'
2002. From Poetica.

This song makes me want to buy a pacifier, take some E and dance at a rave for 14 hours straight like I'm Andrew Garfield in Boy A.

52. Kylie Minogue 'The One'
2008. From X.

A typical love ballad done up in an atypical up-tempo, electropop manner which only heightens the emotions and beauty of the song. 'The One' is another game-changer from Kylie, proving that after 20 years at the top she is still willing to experiment a bit and find ways to expand her sound to unparalleled heights. I have a feeling this will be a song more people will be talking about into the next decade.

51. Alphabeat 'Fascination'
2008. From This is Alphabeat.

"They're like an edgier Same Difference!" was my first reaction to Alphabeat when Dave introduced them to me earlier this year. It was love at first listen for me; their carefree, neo-80's sound was right up my alley from the beginning. 'Fascination,' like the lyrics suggest, is pure exaltation. Why someone hasn't used this song in a dance montage in a movie yet remains a mystery to me.

50. Girls Aloud 'Untouchable'
2009. From Out of Control.

When someone called Girls Aloud's nearly seven minute long epic 'Untouchable' this generation's 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' they were not exaggerating one bit. 'Untouchable' is the epitome of the surreal electropop the Girls explored heavily on their Out of Control album. The raping of the beauty and ballsiness of this song at the hands of the three and a half minute radio edit remains one of the greatest tragedies of the decade. What should have been an easy #1 hit became the Girls first single to land outside the Top 10. Oh well. The public has proven time and time again incapable of recognizing genius when it is delivered to them on a silver platter. 'Untouchable' will forever be a fan favorite and one to remind us of the riskiness of pop music.

49. The Killers 'When You Were Young'
2006. From Sam's Town.

"He doesn't look a thing like Jesus/But he talks like a gentleman." If you don't like this lyric, there's really no hope for you.

48. Mya 'Case of the Ex'
2000. From Fear of Flying.

I will admit that with Mya's diminishing status as a popstar (or even a star at all), I'm not as crazy about this song as I once was. But nostalgia is a bitch sometimes and I have to give props to 'Case of the Ex,' which is still a damn catchy number and an important song from my awkward junior high period.

47. Britney Spears 'I'm a Slave 4 U'
2001. From Britney.

Oh that Britney. If there's one thing she knows how to do extremely well, it is inciting controversy and 'I'm a Slave 4 U' was her masterpiece in that regards. Remember the shit storm that erupted simply from the title leaking? What is easily forgotten is that 'I'm a Slave 4 U' is one of her best songs, a fantastic early example of the hip hop/pop hybrid that quickly dominated the decade. Plus, I must admit that somewhere there is videotaped evidence of me doing a really awkward and embarrassing dance to this song. Yes, there is a boa involved as well.

46. ATC 'Around the World (La La La La La)'
2000. From Planet Pop.

When so many songs I absolutely loved in junior high sound like complete shit ten years later, it is refreshing to find a song, especially one as niche as 'Around the World,' that is just as strong, if not stronger, than it was back in the day.

45. Pussycat Dolls 'Stickwitu'
2005. From PCD.

If the gays are ever allowed to marry, this will for sure be my wedding song. 'I Hate This Part' is probably a stronger ballad overall, but there's something about the cheesiness of the lyrics combined with the alarmingly anti-feminist tone of the song (I'm not going to find anyone who will love me more than you so I guess I'll just keep on dating you) that has me hooked every damn time.

44. Danity Kane 'Damaged'
2008. From Welcome to the Dollhouse.

I tried to resist since Danity Kane is nothing more than a second-rate knock off of the Pussycat Dolls, but I'll be damned if I couldn't get this song out of my head the entire summer of 2008. If that's not the sign of a perfectly done pop song, I don't know what is.

43. Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Lil' Kim and Mya 'Lady Marmalade'
2001. From Moulin Rouge! Soundtrack.

In a new era when singers collaborate with other pop singers or rappers and every other single, will the world ever witness a collaboration as epic as the one assembled for this cover of the disco classic. I highly doubt it and, in all honestly, who would want to be compared to this outing anyways. Everything about this song is perfection, from P!nk's trademarked attitude, Lil' Kim's gold digging rap and Xtina in all of her big hair glory swallowing the song whole with her over-the-top vocal exercises (and did I mention her enormous hair?).

42. Gwen Stefani 'Hollaback Girl'
2005. From Love. Angel. Music. Baby.

Even with its massive popularity, I'm still baffled at how 'Hollaback Girl' became a hit in the first place. With an odd, "stomp the yard" style hook and a cheerleading cheer as its main attention grabber, 'Hollaback Girl' is a downright unusual pop song and normally America ignores the unusual in favor of the rote. What's even more surprising is that given the large amount of times I have heard this song on the radio, it still feels as fresh as the first couple of times I heard it. Now that shit is bananas.

41. Carrie Underwood 'Before He Cheats'
2007. From Some Hearts.

As I stated in the post where I named 'Before He Cheats' the number one song of 2007, I'm still fucking scared of Carrie Underwood. She may seem all sweet and innocent, but you cross her just once and she will fucking cut you like she is Dame Judi Dench, no questions asked. If only there were more female country artists ready and willing to stand up for themselves like Underwood does here. Maybe country music would start to be more listenable.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Love Struck

I saw these pictures of model Dylan Forsberg the other day and I was literally dumbstruck by how pretty he is. I had never heard of him before but now I think you can count me as one of his fans. These pictures take me back to the good ole days when I was a complete Nazi and thought that blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryans were the most beautiful people on the planet. Thankfully, that was all I ever agreed with the Nazis on.

The Women of François' Boudoir

François Truffaut may have been one of the greatest film directors who walked the earth, but he was also a complete ho. Seriously. I was in a Truffaut mood today for whatever reason so I decided to surf the web for random tidbits about him. After awhile, I stumbled upon this brief biography of him. I swear to God I almost needed a dose of penicillin to get through it. Over the course of his career, he fucked at least five of his leading ladies. Five! I can't believe it. I know he's a Frenchman but that's just ridiculous. The one nice thing I can say about this whole situation is that at least he had exquisite taste in French actresses. The five women are (in approximately the order he slept with them):

Jeanne Moreau

Françoise Dorleac

Claude Jade

Catherine Deneuve

Fanny Ardant

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Mad Lib Ever

From the tween magazine I bought the other day:

Zac Dumps Vanessa for You!

Zac realizes you're the only girl for him in this silly story!

You're kickin' it at your house with the girls when you hear a blank (a funny sound) at the door. It's Zac Efron with a gift: It's a blank (an animal) to show you how much he cares! "This pet is as blank (an adjective) as you!" he explains. "I dumped Vanessa! She wears her blank (an ugly color) blank (an accessory) too much." You blank (a verb) for joy, and he blank (a cleaning action) you off your blank (a body part)! He asks you on a date to blank (a fictional location) where he buys you a(n) blank (a piece of furniture), and the two of you live happily for blank (a number) years.

And here is my answer (I must admit I was a little intoxicated when I came up with this).

You're kickin' it at your house with the girls when you hear a murp (a funny sound) at the door. It's Zac Efron with a gift: It's a zebra (an animal) to show you how much he cares! "This pet is as bitchin' (an adjective) as you!" he explains. "I dumped Vanessa! She wears her puke green (an ugly color) diamond ring (an accessory) too much." You fuck (a verb) for joy, and he mops (a cleaning action) you off your nose (a body part)! He asks you on a date to Narnia (a fictional location) where he buys you a(n) ottoman (a piece of furniture), and the two of you live happily for three (a number) years.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Am Terrified for the Future of Filmmaking

I am not a film major, but this past semester I decided to take a course about film genres to (attempt to) keep my sanity amid my accounting and business classes. If I had known then what I know now, I would have stayed far, far away from this class. Let me just start by stating my overall thesis for this blog post: If the people in my film genre class are any indication as to what films in 10-15 years are going to be like, December 21, 2012 can not come quick enough. A nuclear apocalypse would be less painful than the shit movies I'm going to have to sit through from these people.

I must add right here that I enjoyed the class and loved the professor. I had had her before in an earlier introductory film class and thought she was amazing. She actually showed foreign movies, much to the dismay of the idiots in the class, and introduced me to Breathless so I will forever be grateful to her. What drove me crazy about the class was the students. I have been in business classes for so long, I forgot how irritating those couple of kids who have an opinion about everything and feel the need to express it fourteen times a class were. And it always seemed these stereotypical fanboys had opinions during weeks when we discussed genres I didn't care about. During horror week, we had a 30 minute long discussion about Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies after briefly mentioning The Evil Dead. And, my God, you couldn't shut them up during fantasy week when Lord of the Rings came up. But when melodrama week came up, they were quieter than Taylor Momsen at a Celibacy Club meeting (Not to toot my own horn, but the professor was impressed that week that I had seen Broken Blossoms, Terms of Endearment and In the Mood for Love outside of a film class). As if that wasn't bad enough, it felt like for the most part none of them had a seen a film made before The Godfather but a majority of the class had seen The Neverending Story.

What really set me off about the stupidity of these future filmmakers were our final projects. The assignment was to take a film and discuss it relative to genre, whether it's an argument why it falls in one particular genre, why it's a hybrid of two genres or the persona of one of the film's stars. We had the choice to do a paper or a presentation and, since I obviously never read the papers, I only have the presentations to comment on. And boy do I have a lot to say about them.

The first one that really drove me crazy was a presentation on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. For a brief second, I actually thought that this might be an interesting presentation because who doesn't love hearing about a Hitchcock film? As the presentation wore on, however, it quickly became clear that the girl probably only chose the film because she didn't have to do much research to find article and books about it. With the number of factual errors in her presentation, she obviously didn't give a shit about the film or Alfred Hitchcock (which is sad because he's only the greatest director ever and far more fascinating than anyone working today). For instance, the girl at one point claimed that Juno and the Paycock was Hitchcock's first film. Now, I don't have the chronology of his entire filmography memorized, but I knew that sounded fishy as soon as it came out of her mouth. Sure enough, the bitch got it wrong. Juno and the Paycock was his 12th film, not his 1st. Seriously bitch, go to IMDb and verify this shit. It's not that fucking hard. As if that wasn't bad enough, she then referred to American Psycho, the 2000 film based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel and starring Christian Bale, as a sequel and/or remake of Psycho. When she said this, I wanted to get out of my seat, go to the front of the classroom and punch her in the face like she's that bitch from Jersey Shore. How stupid can you possibly be? I mean, where on Earth is she getting this information from? Did she just assume that since they both have the word psycho in them they must be related?

Oh, and she was only the tip of the iceberg. There was this other dirty hippie bitch that drove me absolutely nuts even before she started talking. Earlier in the year, while discussing Holocaust films, she came out of nowhere and started talking about Persepolis, which she outright admitted that she had never seen and obviously knew nothing about it. So we had to take a two minute detour from the lecture to get her back on track and finally shut the fuck up. She decided to discuss City of God, which hurt right away since I'm a massive Meirelles fanboy. I tried to be objective at first, but some of the first words out of her mouth made me hate her even more: "I'm talking about City of God which is like ALL in Portuguese." Now, out of context, this may not seem so bad, but the way she emphasized "all" it made it sound like we should give her a fat fucking medal for willingly watching a foreign language movie. Yes, bitch, you are so amazing and we should throw you a fucking parade for your valor and intelligence. Give me a fucking break.

Now I have to talk about the guy who couldn't follow directions to save his life. In the first place, the professor sent at least three e-mails to all the presenters telling them that they needed to bring their presentations on memory sticks because there was no time to switch between her computer and someone else's. I don't know if he didn't get these e-mails, didn't read them carefully or is just a complete dumbass, but he came to class with his laptop and seemed completely clueless and dumbstruck when the professor asked if he had his presentation on a memory stick. I could tell the professor wanted to strangle him--hell I wanted to strangle him--but she had to be nice and quickly disconnect her computer and connect his to the project her. Next his presentation started and it was so awful I would have jumped out the window if we weren't on the first floor. First of all, he decided to talk about Superman, but instead of focusing on one of the films like the assignment asked, he went on and on about Superman's origins in comic books. Uh, yes, that's completely relevant to a film genre class. Then he couldn't get the (unnecessary) sound to work on one of his stupid slides. The professor had to keep reminding him that he only had 10 minutes and couldn't spend the time fixing the slide but he decided to ignore her and kept on fooling around with the sound on this one goddamn slide.

I know this may seem inconsequential and petty on my part, but this whole class just bothered me. Judging by the students, films are going to be even more blockbuster-heavy and dumber than the dreck that gets released every summer. If you can't even get basic facts right in a simple presentation or have such a limited knowledge of films you don't know much about pre-1980 films, what the hell are you going to do when you're a director on a film set? Not anything I want to see, that's what.

I'll leave you with one concluding remark from the last presentation of the day: Casablanca is apparently now a film noir.

(Oh, and if anyone's interested, I'd be glad to post my paper about What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and how its a horror and melodrama film hybrid. My prof said it was brilliant!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Top 100 Songs of the 2000's: #80-61

The countdown continues. For #100-81, click here.

80. Aaliyah 'More Than a Woman'
2002. From Aaliyah.

It figures that as soon as I became interested in Aaliyah's music she was killed in a tragic plane crash just weeks before 9/11. 'More Than a Woman,' her first posthumous hit, may not be her best song, but it's the one I always think of first when I think of her. The song is a fitting tribute to the artist she had grown into and the artists she could have become. RIP Baby Girl.

79. Dixie Chicks 'Landslide'
2002. From Home.

While countless artists over the decade tried their hands at covering previous hits, very few realized that you had to do more than just sing the notes to make it work. The Dixie Chicks understood this when adapting the Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks classic to their signature country sound. And while they stay true to those roots, the Chicks also make it listenable to non-country fans (can you imagine how someone like Gretchen Wilson would have mangled the song's poignant beauty?). For that I'm eternally grateful.

78. Britney Spears 'Stronger'
2000. From Oops!...I Did It Again.

As the third single from her second album, Brit's 'Stronger' was unfortunately forgotten amid her usual controversy-starting antics. Thankfully, the song has recently begun to be reappraised by Brit fans as one of the, er, strongest singles of her career. The song may not have been earthshattering like 'Baby, 'Oops' or 'Slave,' but it's a fun girl power anthem and contains Brit's best vocal performance to date.

77. Justin Timberlake 'Cry Me a River'
2003. From Justified.

And speaking of Britney, JT finally proved his worth as a solo artist with this Timbaland-produced valentine to the woman who completely fucked him over (Or so he says. Funny, he's made two songs about what a whore Britney was yet she's remained mum on the whole situation). Besides starting his winning relationship with producer Timbaland, 'Cry Me a River' also solidified Timberlake as THE male solo artist of the decade and the one R&B singer every young white singer could look up to and emulate.

76. Natasha Bedingfield 'Unwritten'
2006. From Unwritten.

Say what you want about it--and I'll be the first to say that's it's neither the most sophisticated or subtle song ever written--but I find 'Unwritten' to be a wonderful song. I must admit that this is more of a sentimental pick as it became popular around the time I graduated high school and its message was terribly important to me. Plus, if you think about it, there are so many ways its inspirational message could have come off as extremely cheesy (think 'The Climb' or 'No Boundaries').

75. P!nk 'Don't Let Me Get Me'
2002. From M!ssundaztood.

The moment P!nk went from pop star to musical icon speaking directly to and for me. As a 13 year old boy working through his own issues, you can't imagine how glad I was to find such an artist in a genre perhaps best defined by dance songs and love ballads.

74. The Saturdays 'If This Is Love'
2008. From Chasing Lights.

Before The Saturdays (aka "Girls Aloud for the Recession") took a complete nosedive with Wordshaker, they released a slew of bitchin' singles from their debut album. 'If This Is Love,' with its big chorus and addictive "call and response" structure, just happened to be the best of them.

73. Kanye West featuring Daft Punk 'Stronger'
2007. From Graduation.

Never in a million years would have I predicted that combining the 'Jesus Walks' rapper with the electropop group that brought us 'One More Time' would have made something as epic sounding and feeling as 'Stronger.' Say what you want about him after "TaylorGate" a couple of months ago, but I'm glad rap music has someone like Kanye constantly taking risks and pushing his music beyond the limits of the genre. I'd rather have a cocky asshole like Kanye than any of these one-hit-wonders-in-the-making rappers making the dreck on the radio I'm continuously forced to listen to.

72. Beyoncé 'Ring the Alarm'
2006. From B'day.

Beyoncé went from an artist I adored to one I completely worshipped with every new, batshit crazy thing she came up with the moment I heard her sputter out "Ring the alarm/I've been through this too long/But I'll be DAMNED if I see another chick on your arm" in her now infamous "B ain't takin' no bullshit" voice. 'Ring the Alarm' was a turning point in her career and, unfortunately, it was ignored by the public. Let's hope this song gets rediscovered for the gem it truly is.

71. Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams 'Kids'
2000. From Light Years (Kylie), Sing When You're Winning (Robbie)

When two enormous pop stars collaborate on a song, one of two things usually happens: the song is a monster hit ('The Boy Is Mine') or the song is popular for five minutes and then damned to obscurity for all eternity ('Beautiful Liar,' Girls Aloud and 'Babes version of 'Walk This Way'). Thankfully, 'Kids,' the one-time pairing of the two biggest music icons in the non-US world, falls in the former category. I'm not exactly sure what the song is about, but its anthemetic chorus and the way Robbie and Kylie's voices somehow sound made for each other despite being completely different make this one a can't miss.

70. Kelly Clarkson 'Behind These Hazel Eyes'
2005. From Breakaway.

Similar in sound and theme to her mega-smash 'Since U Been Gone,' 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' may seem like a curious and ultra-safe choice as the follow-up single, but I find the song still has merit on its own. While 'Since U Been Gone' celebrated the end of a relationship with a swift kick in the ass and a "Good riddance," 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' is more pensive and acknowledges that, yes, the break-up does hurt. "Here I am, once again/I'm torn into pieces" is still one of the most emotional lines of the decade; it's hard not to feel and understand what she is going through.

69. Jennifer Lopez 'Do It Well'
2007. From Brave.

After years of making great hip-hop influenced pop music, J. Lo capped off an incomparable decade with this final dance masterpiece. The song starts off with a bang--a chorus of "Do it, do it, you're doing it well!" followed by that unrelentingly heavy dance beat--and honestly never lets up during its three minute runtime. Naturally, since this song is possibly the greatest of J. Lo's career, the public ignored it and went back to listening to Soulja Boy.

68. Evanescence 'Going Under'
2003. From Fallen.

Goth rock is not my thing at all, but for a brief period of time Evanescence, led by the vocally underrated Amy Lee, held my attention and proved that not everything in that genre is tuneless garbage. Coming between their breakthrough 'Bring Me to Life' and the gorgeous 'My Immortal,' 'Going Under' was a bit of a bust on the charts, but it is always the one I associate with Evanescence in the few times I ever think about them. I'm a sucker for a big note and Lee has got a million of them in that chorus alone.

67. Sneaky Sound System 'Kansas City'
2008. From 2.

Sneaky Sound System's ode to internet relationships contains what is no doubt one of the top 3 hooks of the decade: "Someboddddddy in Kansas City loves meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." If that does not suck you in and make you instantly fall in love with this song, there is simply no hope for you my friend.

66. Ciara featuring Missy Elliott '1, 2 Step'
2004. From Goodies.

To this day, I'm not sure what it is about this song that has held my attention all these years. Ciara is not exactly known for her big voice, but her vocals are practically monotone here. The lyrics are nothing noteworthy (it's a simple ditty about dancing) and Missy's rap certainly doesn't rank among the best things she's ever done. Whatever it is, I have to give it up to '1, 2 Step' for working against all odds and becoming one of the few songs I heard on the radio a million times and never grew tired of.

65. Boomkat 'The Wreckoning'
2003. From Boomkatalog One.

Taryn Manning and brother Kellin were the masterminds behind the little-remembered pop group Boomkat and their ballsy minor hit 'The Wreckoning.' It's such a shame this song never caught on because it was one of the few songs of its time to take the newly in-vogue combination of pop music and hip-hop beats and create something wholly new with it. If there was one song on my countdown I wish people would listen to and give another chance, 'The Wreckoning' would be it.

64. Britney Spears 'Oops!...I Did It Again'
2000. From Oops!...I Did It Again.

The music video, complete with infamous red leather jumpsuit, is probably one of my most cherished of the decade. I don't think I'll ever forget her divalicious entrance and that highly-imitated choreography. While the video is often well-regarded, people forget that the song is actually still quite a stunner. As she did with '...Baby One More Time,' Brit has fun at our expense toying with the naughtiness of the title while going "Who me?" since the song is nowhere near as dirty as one might imagine. Not that innocent, indeeed.

63. Jason Mraz 'The Remedy (I Won't Worry)'
2002. From Waiting for My Rocket to Come.

I've been waiting in vain for seven years for Jason Mraz to make a song as urgent yet still upbeat and fun as his breakthrough hit 'The Remedy.' He's come close at least once ('Geek in the Pink') but over the years he's matured into more of a mellow indie rocker who is hellbent on chilling out to the point of insanity (or so it seems). Oh well, I suppose. At least we'll always have this song to remind us that he once had the ability to be this amazing.

62. Rihanna 'Don't Stop the Music'
2008. From Good Girl Gone Bad.

Forget your umbrellas, hating that I love you and rehab, 'Don't Stop the Music' was the song on Good Girl Gone Bad. With its heavy bass and that "mama say mama sa mamacusah" chant, 'Don't Stop the Music' is absolutely delirious and entirely effectively as a dancehall song; who doesn't want to get up on a table and start dancing for its entire 4-1/2 minute runtime?

61. David Archuelta 'Crush'
2008. From David Archuleta.

Any fears that I had supported the wrong Idol contestant were quickly put to rest after I heard this song. On first listen, the song may seem like nothing more than 90's boy band cheese, but Archie sells it. Also, I love the way he plays with the duality of the song's meaning (is it about a shy guy gathering the nerve to ask a girl out or is it really about a guy coming to terms with his sexuality?). Archie may not have a signature sound yet, but I'll definitely be curious to see where he takes his music as he matures in both age and musical style.