2012 Entertainment Year in Review

I haven’t blogged much this year, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to share my Top picks for 2012. Instead of sharing a few posts, I’ve combined all into one action-packed review post <images coming>. Share your thoughts!

Top Movie: The Hunger Games

hungergames-1I’ll probably receive some criticism for this one, but I’d read the trilogy in anticipation of the movie,  at the

beginning of the year, and since the story was so fresh in my mind, I was excited for this one to come out. Thankfully, compared to the book, this one did not disappoint. Of course there were some parts that were taken out that I believe should have been left in, but overall it was exciting, well acted/written and visually appealing. A must see if you haven’t already (but read the books first).

Runners up: Comedies come close to taking the top title this year with 21 Jump Street and Ted. If you haven’t seen these, prepare to be in pain from laughing as they are ridiculously hilarious.

Top Book: The Glass Castle

The Glass CastleLike I note every year, my top books aren’t necessarily books that came out this year. As I wrote in my review, I didn’t have any expectations when I started reading this one, but it eventually pulled me in and became a book I didn’t want to put down. Jeannette Walls has a great writing style and I’m excited to read more from her in the future.

Runners up: This hasn’t been a great year for picking good books, and the bulk of my favourites happened at the start of the year. My #2 book was The Hunger Games Trilogy and ROOM.

Top Album: The Killers – Battleborn

Killers- BattlebornThis album felt like it was a long-time coming – four years in fact, since Day & Age was released. From the moment I started listening to it, I couldn’t stop. As a group, these guys are consistent and put out music they know their fans will love. It’s a solid album that I’ll probably be listening to years down the road.

Runners up: This was a tough year as the two runners up – Metric – Synthetica and Dragonette – Bodyparts – could have easily taken the #1 spot.

My top 5 albums of 2011

MusicWhen it comes to music I tend to get hooked on one artist/group for a while and find it hard to break away from those albums. Here is my list of my top 5 most played albums for 2011:

5. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Lupe Fiasco - Lasers After the success of his last album The Cool I couldn’t wait for Lupe to put out his next. It was a long wait but Lasers did not disappoint.

There are so many great tracks on this album, but if I had to pick three favourites I’d have to go with: Words I Never Said feat. Skylar Grey, I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now feat. MDMA, and All Black Everything.

Here’s the video for Words I Never Said feat. Skylar Grey:

4. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch The ThroneOf all the concerts that I’ve missed, this is the one I wish I had gone to most. When the album first came out I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but it grew on me over time.

For a while it was on constant repeat on my phone and out of the great selection of tracks my top three would have to be: No Church in the Wild, N—-s in Paris, and Gotta Have It.

Here’s the video for the first single from the album, Otis:

3. The Black Keys – El Camino

The Black Keys - El CaminoEl Camino came out later in the year, and by that time I was still overplaying their last album Brothers, so I was fairly certain they’d make into my top 5 list.

Within a couple hours of listening, I was hooked. Some of my favourites are: Lonely Boy, Dead and Gone, and though the chorus sounds a lot like a track from Metric, Nova Baby.

Here’s the video for Lonely Boy:

2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyKanye always seems to put out a good album so I had no doubt this one would be any different, and of course I wasn’t wrong.

The best three tracks off the album in my humble opinion are: Monster (thanks to Nikki Minaj), Runaway feat. Pusha T, and Gorgeous feat. Kid Cudi & Raekwon.

Here’s the video for Runaway:

1. The Strokes – Angles

The Strokes - Angles I was never really a big enough fan of The Strokes to listen to their albums, but I really liked the first single from this one so I decided to give them a listen. After it was released in March, I kept it on replay for quite a while and ended coming back to it when not listening to the albums above.

Here’s the video for Under the Cover of Darkness:

The best of 2010: Music

I am a huge fan of music. Yes it may be mainstream, and not indie enough for you hipsters out there, but it’s what I enjoy. What are your top albums of the year? Did any of mine make your list? I’m always open to listening to new artists so please share!

5. Shad – TSOL

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of London, Ontario born rapper Shad by now – if not, check out his first video “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home” and that should jog your memory.

I’ve been looking forward to TSOL for quite a while now, especially after the first single “Yaa I Get It” was released. The album is a lot more polished than his previous work, and quite a few tracks are catchy and single-worthy to me. Shad has a ton of skill and is one of those true stars that’s flying under the radar. It’s only a matter of time before an American label recognizes him and puts him on front stage like he deserves.

4. Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Ever since I started listening to Kings of Leon a year or two ago, they’ve quickly shot to the top of my favourite bands list. It’s great rock music, with that southern spirit that is too hard to not enjoy.

Come Around Sundown started off a bit slow for me. It took a few listens before I could really get into this one, but then it felt like I’d been listening to it for years. I’ve even wondered if I had put on one of their old albums by mistake a couple of times.

Overall the album is a continuation of what they did on the Only By The Night album, so there isn’t nothing new there.. but hey, why mess with a good thing?

3. Broken Bells – (Self Titled)

I’m not really sure what got me listening to Broken Bells, but I’m happy I decided to give them a chance. Consisting of James Mercer (The Shins) and Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley), the two come together to create a great combination of vocals and sounds. The album is great for long drives or lazy Sundays, and best of all a few of the songs are catchy so you’ll be humming them all day.

Here’s, The Ghost Inside, which is a great track from the duo. It also features Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, so obviously it’s  a hit with me 🙂

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

This is an album I never would’ve expected to see anywhere near my top 5 list, but here it is. Arcade Fire is a band I’ve long considered to be overhyped. Yes their music is good, but the adoration it receives from many kind of turns me off.

I decided to let all bias go and test out the album. It took quite a few listens, but it eventually started growing on me. Next thing I knew, I was listening to it pretty much non stop on the subway ride into work for 2 or 3 weeks, which with all the music on my iPod is quite the feat.

If you’re not a big fan of Arcade Fire, give this album a try; I promise you’ll at the very least like it. This one is the most deserving to be on my list because as I said, I wasn’t their biggest fan before hand.

Here’s The Suburbs video which is of course the title track, and also a great one:

1. Vampire Weekend – Contra

Definitely not a conventional sound that everyone will like, Contra by Vampire Weekend has been sold for the longest out of this top 5 group (January), but still manages to keep me coming back. Last year I wish I’d put Dragonette’s Fixin’ To Thrill at the top of my list, because it was one of those albums that did the same, so I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity this year (not to say Franz Ferdinand was any less deserving of the #1 spot).

Back in March I wrote a post breaking down the album fairly well so please check it out: My Musical Fix: Vampire Weekend

NEW VIDEO: Kings of Leon – Radioactive

I’ve been hearing about Kings of Leon working on their new album but now that I know “Come Around Sundown” is coming out October 19, I can’t wait. I think next to Metric (side post: when are THEY coming out with another album? Jeez..), these guys are probably my favourite band.

Anyway, back to the video: I love this track! It’s a catchy tune with that typical Caleb Followill raspiness that is the Kings of Leon sound. The song (and video) has that southern American feel to it; I guess the guys wanted to head back to their roots, which are showing a lot. In an MTV article, drummer Nathan Followill is quoted saying the type of music was what they grew up with.

“Gospel music was a big part of us growing up,” the drummer said, “so to be able to come back and revisit that part of our lives at this stage in our lives is a very special thing.”

It’s good to see the band taking a fresh approach to their music. I’m excited for the upcoming one and will definitely be keeping an eye out for it. What do you think of the “Radioactive”?

A few musical addictions

I haven’t done a music post in a while so I thought I’d recommend a few of my favourites for this fine #musicmonday.

Drake – Thank Me Later

Now while I’ve been listening to the album a lot lately, I’m not the biggest fan of Drake. He has catchy songs, which I really enjoy from time to time, but like he says in one of them, his career is so over produced and created. I can’t see this upper class kid rapping about what he raps about and take him seriously. He lacks what the kids call “street cred”.

Eminem – Recovery

When I was a teenager I used to be such a big fan of Eminem. As the years went by and the albums got ridiculously repetitive (funny, serious, kim/hayley, repeat) I lost interest in him. I haven’t even bothered picking up his previous two albums and according to him on this one, that’s a good thing because they sucked. I’m not sure if this is a case of someone who has gone stale and is trying to revamp his career, but Eminem seems to share a lot more and not just take jabs at his family and celebs (though these themes pop up once or twice).

Broken Bells – self titled

Thanks to Twitter I was introduced to Broken Bells. I’d never heard of them before, but now I love this album. It’s a mellow album, for the most part, and EVERY song is single-worthy, which is so hard to find with music today. I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for new music to listen to.

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