Monday, December 31, 2007

The 20 Best Songs of 2007

Well, I know I made you all wait long enough, but it's finally time for my list of this year's best songs! As much fun as I had ridiculing Britney's latest "record," praising the good stuff is really where it's at. And there was a lot of the good stuff this year to choose from, so it was a bit hard to narrow all of it down to such a small list. But, I've never been one to back away from a musical challenge! So, without further ado, I give you my Top 20 from this year.

(Click any link to download the song. Mp3s are available for a limited time, so get 'em while they're hot!)

20. "White Dove," John Vanderslice (from Emerald City) - The first time I heard this song was in CP's car, after a mini-blogger summit with Deadspot. I didn't really enjoy the whole CD, but this song really grabbed me, so I went home and promptly downloaded it. I've heard that it's about everything from child abuse to post-9/11 trauma. I haven't really been able to figure out a lot of the lyrics but it doesn't matter because the song rocks, whatever it's about.

19. "Stay," Sugarland (from Enjoy the Ride) - I can hear all the groans out there now. Eeeewwww, country! Whatever. I had to have at least one country song on my list or it wouldn't be fair. It was between this and Dierks Bentley's "Long Trip Alone," and while Dierks appeals to the red-blooded American woman in me, this Sugarland song appeals to my weakness for schmaltzy, Lifetime movie-worthy lyrics. Jennifer Nettles's voice often gets on my nerves, but she keeps the twang to a bearable minimum as she delivers this other-woman sob story.

18. "The Con," Tegan and Sara (from The Con) - The first time I heard this song I thought, "Boy, this reminds me of that song about walking with a ghost, except that it's actually good." Then when I checked to see who sang "Walking With a Ghost," I found it was none other than Tegan and Sara. Hey, you learn something new every day.

17. "Starving Pretty," Maria McKee (from Late December) - My girl Maria brought it this year with Late December, a collection of great, soulful songs that showcase her powerful voice. I almost chose "A Good Heart," a McKee song that was previously covered by Fergal Sharkey in cheesy synth-pop fashion. Even though I was so happy to hear that song the way it was meant to be sung, I just kept coming back to this one as the standout track from the album. It's like slightly melancholy carnival music, if there is such a thing.

16. "No One," Alicia Keys (from As I Am) - Here's a song that's been remixed to death since it came out, and I can't figure out why. The original version is just perfect as it is. Who doesn't love those woah-oh-oh-oh-oh's?

15. "Jacket," David Vandervelde (from The Moonstation House Band) - I first heard this at my old job over the summer. This guy who sat next to me was kind of the office DJ and he was always spinning something new on his iPod. This caught my attention because I thought it was Supergrass at first. If Vandervelde isn't a Supergrass fan, I would be extremely surprised. He had another good song from this record called "Nothin No'," but I wasn't impressed by much else.

14. "Love Today," Mika (from Life in Cartoon Motion) - Probably best known as the Verizon RAZR song. This song is so over-the-top, I can't help but love it. I also have a weird thing for guys who can sing falsetto. Love that high-pitched wailing.

13. "NY Nights," Jesse Malin (from Glitter in the Gutter) - I'm not a huge Jesse Malin fan because he kind of sounds like he's singing with a clothespin over his nose and a mouthful of food. Still, I don't know how anyone could not love this song. It conjures up images of walking along the boardwalk on Coney Island...about 50 years ago. Not that I was there, but you know what I mean. The song has a really sweet, old-fashioned feel to it.

12. "Ruby," Kaiser Chiefs (from Yours Truly, Angry Mob) - A nice little Brit-pop gem that didn't get much love this year. What a shame. Warning: if you don't get sucked in by that opening guitar riff and the da da da's, you might hate music.

11. "The Valley," Duran Duran (from Red Carpet Massacre) - It shouldn't surprise anyone to find the Double D on this die-hard Durannie's list. Their new record was produced by Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, which worried me at first, but it seems to be a pretty good marriage. I got the CD for Christmas, but I'd heard most of the songs before then. This one is my favorite so far, because it seems to be the least Timberlake-influenced and the most old-school Duran.

10. "The Underdog," Spoon (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) - Hand clap alert! I think Stereogum said this song has the best hand claps that are impossible to clap along with. That's pretty accurate. But hand claps at any speed make any song better. Music snobs get angry when I use the word "pop," mostly because they're idiots, but I consider Spoon a pop band. Sure, they rock, but they know how to make their songs catchy and accessible. I'm trying really hard not to use that music journalist cliché, "pop sensibilities."

9. "Guaranteed," Eddie Vedder (from the Into the Wild soundtrack) - Like Duran Duran, it should surprise no one that Eddie made it to my list. The whole soundtrack is really fantastic, and if I were the type of idiot person who liked to go on week-long hikes and climb mountains, this would be great accompaniment. Luckily, the songs are also a great accompaniment to walking down the street, riding the subway, or just lying in bed. "Guaranteed," the closing track, wraps up the record nicely with a gorgeous, acoustic tale of a man seeking to find his place in the world.

8. "Keep the Car Running," Arcade Fire (from Neon Bible) - My favorite song from Arcade Fire's sophomore record. They are one of the most original bands that I've heard in quite a while. I've been dying to see them live, especially after seeing them on SNL. If they bring even half the energy in person that they brought across through my TV screen, that would be one fantastic show.

7. "Umbrella," Rihanna featuring Jay-Z (from Good Girl Gone Bad) - This is just such a great pop song. I don't know what genius cabal of evil hit-writers came up with this, but they finally did a good thing. Also, I have to say that this song has been remixed to hell, just like the Alicia Keys tune. I don't know what the fascination with remixes is, but nine times out of ten, "remixing" really means "screwing up a good thing." Like that Chris Brown remix where he starts rapping about Cinderella or Snow White or whatever? Pure crap. I'd like to hit him with my umbrella. Eh eh eh.

6. "1234," Feist (from The Reminder) - Obviously, this became a huge hit after being featured in the latest iPod commercial, but I loved this before all the hype, yo. I swear, somehow, that makes me cool. I can't avoid a big ol' cliché here...this is the "feel-good" song of the year!

5. "Silent House," Crowded House (from Time on Earth) - This was co-written with the Dixie Chicks. The first time I heard it, I was driving home for a visit and started to tear up. It has a beautiful melody, but the lyrics are so sad. I can't quite figure out if it's about a family member (obviously a mother or grandmother) who has recently died or if it's about Alzheimer's...or a combination of both. Whatever it's about, it's a tear-jerker.

4. "Two," Ryan Adams (from Easy Tiger) - I almost put Ryan's "Halloweenhead" on the list instead, because it might be my favorite song from this record, but his vocals here are some of his best. A beautifully bittersweet song.

3. "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band (from Magic) - I got all choked up the first time I heard this song too, but not for the same reasons as with the Crowded House tune. It's actually almost embarrassing to admit why. The only way I can describe it is to say that it made me feel like I went back in time to when Bruce first started recording music, maybe hanging out on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, and it seemed like it captured some perfect musical moment in time. I probably sound like a total dork, but whatever. This is a pretty perfect song.

2. "Breakin' Up," Rilo Kiley (from Under the Blacklight) - Not only is this one of the best songs of 2007, but it is one of the best pop songs I've heard in years. And it throws a bit of funk in for good measure. It's also that rare break-up song that makes you feel great. Ooh! It feels good to be free!

1. "I'll Stick Around," Arckid - Unfortunately, this band (featuring members of Spacehog) hasn't released an album yet, so I can't give you the mp3. But if the Rilo Kiley song is one of the best pop songs I've heard in years, this one is the best one I've heard in even longer, I suppose. Since I have no song, I'll refer you back to this video post.

Well, there you have top songs of 2007. I will give one lucky person on my blogroll that chance to win a CD of these songs with a little trivia contest. The first person to correctly guess the answer to this question gets the tunes!

Q: The first concert I ever attended was in 1982. What artist did I see?

And since I don't have the Arckid song, I'll add one to make the CD track listing an even 20. I'll throw in another song that I had to download after hearing it 5,000 times on an Old Navy commercial: "The Way I Am," Ingrid Michaelson (from Girls and Boys).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sonic Sunday

This installment of Sonic Sunday was to be my Top 20 songs of 2007, but I'm gonna have to push it to Monday. I had an early flight into NYC this morning, spent most of the afternoon sleeping, and now I have to get ready to jet over to the (what will hopefully become an annual) Bogmen reunion show at the Nokia Theatre. And you know I can't just post the songs without blathering on about them, so I have no time to post right now. You could say it's been kind of a Manic Sunday (woh-oo-woh), but we can all look forward to Sonic Monday. That'll be a fun day (woh-oo-woh).

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Year in TV and Movies

You'll notice that I'm combining my 2007 TV and Movie recaps into one post. My reasons:

A. I'm lazy
B. I'm technically still on vacation
C. I watch a lot of crap TV (which I've already covered) and I rarely go to the movies

Therefore, I'm not sure that I have anything of interest to say, but when has that ever stopped me?

Best TV Show: The Office (NBC) - I was going to break TV shows up into best comedy/best drama á la The Golden Globes, but then I realized that I don't regularly watch that many dramas. C.S.I. (CBS)used to be my favorite show but The Office, which is on at the same time, just got to be so good that I chose to watch it instead. Unfortunately, I don't have TiVo or a VCR that works so I can't really catch up on C.S.I. at another time. I suppose I'll have to wait until it's in reruns or when the season comes out on DVD. I also never get to watch Supernatural (CW) anymore, since it's also on in that time slot. But I don't feel that bad about all this because there is no better or funnier show on TV right now than The Office. And to think, only a year or two ago I said that I "couldn't get into it." Back then I thought My Name is Earl was the best show on TV, but...

Most Disappointing TV Show: My Name is Earl (NBC) - I still watch it and like it but since they put Earl in prison, basically killing the premise of the show, it's lost a lot of its sparkle. There are probably more shows deserving of this title, but I put it here because of the sharp drop in quality from last year to this year. I have no idea why the writers wanted to mess with a winning formula.

Worst TV Show: Gossip Girl (CW) - My roommate forced me to watch this a few times, since it came on right after America's Next Top Model. The show is just pure shit, and I'm not saying that because I can't relate to the teen mindset. I certainly can. But to me, this show seems to be an inside look at how slutty celebutantes like Paris Hilton are created and I'm not interested in that. Actually the worst part of the show isn't even the action, it's that annoying narrator. If I have to hear her over-enunciate "Upper East Siders" one more time, I will kill my roommate because he's probably the reason I'll be hearing it.

Best Commercial - It's a toss-up between these two:

Movie of the Year - Well, since I only saw Hairspray and The Simpsons Movie in the theater, and only one of those starred John Travolta, I'll have to say Hairspray. Which means...

Best Actor: John Travolta - What, you were expecting Zac Efron? (Nothing against Zac...he's a doll.)

Best Actress: I don't know. Either Queen Latifah or Marge Simpson, I guess.

Actor I Never Really Liked Before Who Won Me Over This Year: James Marsden - My roommate always thought he was hot, but he was always too "pretty" for my taste. After I saw him in Hairspray though, I had to admit that he was pretty darn good-looking. I was also surprised that he was such a good singer.

Best Movie Soundtrack: Into the Wild - Ha, fooled you. Hairspray had a lot of good songs, but the album of all Eddie Vedder tunes wins. Not to mention that it's the only 2007 movie soundtrack that I own.

I guess that's it. I promise that my Year in Music wrap-up on Sunday will be much more interesting. (And interactive!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Very Special Sonic Sunday

I'd like to wish Eddie Vedder a very happy 43rd birthday. Age has mellowed him a bit, but he'll still be working that sexy brooding thing well into his 60s, I'm sure.

In honor of Eddie, and my undying love for him, here are a couple of very appropriate tunes.

"U," Pearl Jam - A rare "cute" and simple love song from Eddie. This is the Lost Dogs version, although I prefer the original, which was originally released on the B-side to "Wishlist." I had the song on my computer long ago and ripped it to a homemade B-sides compilation, which plays in my CD player but, for some unknown reason, will not import into iTunes now. Every time I stick the disc in my computer it just makes those annoying whirring and clicking sounds. So, I'm left with the re-recorded version. It really isn't that different, but there was an energy and sweetness about the original that isn't quite the same on this version. I can't really explain it. And a few of his "you's" sound like "yo's." But those are minor complaints, I suppose.

"My Baby's in Love With Eddie Vedder," Weird Al Yankovic - Even though Weird Al kind of rips on Eddie in this one, it's still a really funny song that I completely relate to. In fact, Eddie looks kind of cold in that picture, so I think I'll start knitting him a sweater right now.

And now on to Volume II of My Chris-Mixx!

(Click any link to download the song. Mp3s are available for a limited time, so get 'em while they're hot!)

1. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen - The Boss made it cool for rockers to cover Christmas classics, and his is still the best one of all.

2. "Christmas Bop," T.Rex - Sadly, I didn't discover this song until fairly recently. I can't believe that I've been celebrating regular Christmas all these years, when I could've been celebrating T.Rexmas. It's wonderful that Marc Bolan didn't let being Jewish get in the way of writing a totally glam Christmas song. It may be the only holiday tune that references silk jeans and space shoes. It reminds me of something though that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it could be a lost Rocky Horror Picture Show number?

3. "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth," David Bowie & Bing Crosby - I've never particularly liked this song, but this is the one version that is really well done.

4. "A Fairytale of New York," The Pogues - It's a Christmas song. It's a St. Patrick's Day song. It's both! What could be better??

5. "(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man with the Bag," The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Now that Brian Setzer/Swingers/Gap commercial furor has died down, I can appreciate this kind of music again. I think this is one of the most underappreciated Christmas songs, which is a shame because it's a lot of fun to sing.

6. "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams - Like I said before, Andy is Mr. Christmas. That's why he's the only artist who made it to both volumes of my mix.

7. "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms - Much like Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," this song has been covered a million times, but no one will ever beat Helms's version.

8. "The Christmas Letter," Mad Larry - Friends o' mine that I've probably mentioned before. The two founding members of the band are ex-Bogmen. This song was recorded for the Yule Dogs album last year, which helped raise money for Kristy's Smile, and it's now being featured on a national Radio Shack ad. Since the commercial started airing, I've noticed a lot of people coming to the Mad Larry MySpace page looking for it. It's a really simple, catchy song that will get buried in your brain if you let it.

9. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Knockout Drops - More friends! Also recorded for the Yule Dogs album, I think this was meant to be an outtake because the lead singer, Chris, is kind of goofing off. But, I guess everyone decided to keep it on the record because it turned out to be kind of funny. I especially love the end, where Chris tries to hold that last note but can't quite do it and ends up cracking up. Maybe if he didn't smoke 2 packs of P-funks a day...

10. "Father Christmas," The Kinks - I guess this is really an anti-Christmas song, but just the highly commercialized parts!

11. "Do They Know It's Christmas," Band Aid - From poor kids shaking down Santa for some cash to rich celebs shaking down middle-class record buyers for money to feed poor African kids. How's that for a mix-tape transition?

12. "Christmas in Hollis," Run-D.M.C. - The greatest (and one of the very few) Christmas rap songs. Since I can't really sing, maybe I'll make up my own Christmas rap. "Christmas in Sunset Park" doesn't really have a good ring to it, though. "Up Above the Porn Shop" might work. (Yes, kids, that's really where I live.)

13. "Up on the House Top," Jackson 5 - This was one of my favorite holiday songs when I was a kid. Every time I hear it, I feel like I should be wearing a construction paper red nose. I must have performed it in a school play way back when.

14. "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)," Elvis Presley - If Elvis were still alive today, he would probably change this to "Santa Bring My Baby Back Baby Back Baby Back Ribs."

15. "Snoopy's Christmas," The Royal Guardsmen - I'm not sure what Snoopy fighting the Red Baron ever had to do with Christmas, but the song works. I think we had this album when I was a kid.

16. "Baby It's Cold Outside," Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone - From Elf, a relatively new movie that I've probably already seen more than It's a Wonderful Life.

17. "I'll Be Home For Christmas," Aimee Mann - Hush, hush. Keep it down, now. She'll be home for Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Year in Reality TV

Let the recaps begin!

As you all know, I'm completely addicted to television. As for reality TV shows, I always have the best intentions to avoid them but end up getting sucked in to way too many of them. I don't know what the future of reality TV is. In five years, it will either replace every scripted show (although many reality shows are more scripted than scripted shows) or it will finally fizzle out.

Since I've watched my fair share, I thought I'd do a brief recap of the best and worst of reality TV this year. Hopefully I have enough brain cells left.

Best Reality Show: American Idol - There's no beating or stopping the reality juggernaut that is AI. It's really created the template for every talent show to come after it and, unlike a lot of reality shows now, there really does seem to be a point to it. If the only two true mega-stars that it creates are Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, that would probably be more than any other talent show has done. Even the runners-up from AI seem to do better than the winners on most other shows. Does anyone know what the girls from America's Top Model are doing now? Has anyone seen a Broadway show starring a So You Think You Can Dance contestant? Probably not. Like it or not, American Idol is here to stay and it's only threatening to become more powerful as the years go by. It doesn't even matter that last year's winner, Jordin Sparks, was a total dud. Everyone in the world is still looking forward to the new season, which starts in January. I know you're all looking forward to a new season of my recaps, right? Right??

Worst Reality Show: A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila - Ok, so I admit that I didn't actually watch this garbage. I did try for about 10 minutes sheerly out of morbid curiosity, but it wasn't even train-wreck funny enough to keep my attention. It just made my stomach turn. It's yet another dating show starring a supposedly bisexual bimbo who is famous for whoring herself out on MySpace and making horrible music. I say "supposedly bisexual" because her final two contestants were a dude and a chick who may as well have been a dude. Then she picked the dude. I would've given MTV points for being progressive under other circumstances, but I think the whole bisexual slant was just a gimmick to get more viewers. I don't doubt that Tila would've made out with a donkey if the MTV execs had asked her.

Best New Reality Show: America's Most Smartest Model - I know I haven't blogged about this show at all, but I was totally hooked. It boasted some truly hot guys, some pathetically stupid girls, and Ben Stein. I'm not sure why any serious models wanted this awful title, but I'm sure that being on TV didn't hurt them any.

Old Reality Show That Needs to Hang it Up: The Real World - It's the show that started the reality TV craze, back when it was much more "real." The first season had a raw feel to it because no one really knew what they were doing or what to expect, and even Seasons 2 and 3 were pretty true to the original concept. But, as it's become more popular and reality TV has become more "shocking," this pioneering show has morphed into something that's anything but real. The only bad thing about this show ending would be that the Real World/Road Rules Challenges might also come to an end, and I love those.

Most Disappointing Reality Show: The Two Coreys - As an '80s kid, I was really looking forward to this show. I found it mildly amusing when it started, but then I completely lost interest after the 2nd week. Feldman was annoying, his wife was even more so, and Haim was just tragic. Then I heard that a lot of the show was scripted and I really gave up on it. I don't know why the "scripted" thing surprised me, but it did. I guess I expected more from '80s icons!

Best Reality Star: Andre Birleanu, America's Most Smartest Model - At the beginning of the season, I didn't really like this guy. He just seemed like a conceited, rude jerk from Russia who thought all Americans were pigs. As the show progressed though, Andre turned into the true star. The things he said were absolutely hilarious and he was obviously having a good time messing with everyone. He also taught me that the word "Soviet" can be a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. The only thing I wish he would've said? "I must break you." That would've been beautiful. Like his body. Soviet!!

Hottest Male Reality Star: Brett Novek, America's Most Smartest Model - If I could create my perfect man in a lab (someone please let me know when that service is available) he would look pretty damn close to Brett. And, oddly enough, Brett is my favorite male name. So, perfect name, perfect face, perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect body, sweet personality...this guy is just a glorious piece of ass meat art. I was pretty bummed when he got voted off. He definitely should've won, instead of that jerk, VJ, who looks like something that fell out of Tom Cruise's ass.

Hottest Female Reality Star: Sarah Hartshorne, America's Next Top Model - This picture is actually before Sarah's ANTM makeover, and even though I liked the short, messy crop they gave her, she looked much better as a brunette. As you're looking at the photo, keep in mind that Sarah was brought on the show as the plus-size model. And the camera adds ten pounds. Oh, and then she got kicked off because she wasn't "plus-size" enough. The judges were upset that Sarah looked like she had lost weight and had become - horror of horrors - a normal-size girl! Whatever size she was, she was gorgeous and seemed to be the nicest girl of the bunch.

Scariest Reality Star: Sister Patterson, I Love New York - I don't watch this show either, but I'm quite familiar with New York's mom from watching Flavor of Love. This "woman" scares the beejeezuz out of me. I'm still waiting for Mike Meyers to show up and pull her wig off while yelling, "It's a man, baby!" Now, that's an episode that would pull in millions more viewers.

Best Illustration of Reality TV's Hold on America - When looking for a picture of New York's mom, I typed "I Love New York" in the Yahoo! search engine. The first two results on the search page were related to the TV show. The New York Board of Tourism came in third. Sigh.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Illustration: The Importance of Role Models

So, Britney's 16 year-old sister, Jamie Lynn, is preggers. I don't know who this so-called boyfriend of hers is, but when I first heard this news my first thought was, "Oh please let it be K-Fed's." That would be the best Maury Povitch episode ever.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Forgotten Classic Video of the Week

This week's forgotten video literally came to me in a dream over the weekend. I dreamed that Roger Daltrey died and I wrote a tribute post to him here on my blog, complete with an mp3 file of his 1985 solo tune, "After the Fire." Upon waking, since it was one of those really normal dreams that seems like it could have actually happened, I thought for a minute that it was true, until I realized otherwise. Still, I thought it was really odd that a song I hadn't thought about in years would find its way into my dreams like that. Hey, Roger! Get outta my dreams, get into my blog!

I don't want the dream to turn into some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, so I'm posting the video instead of the mp3. (If Roger drops dead tomorrow, I can't take responsibility.) After watching it again, I was reminded of how much I really liked this song. It really sounds like a lost Who tune - which is no surprise, since Pete Townshend wrote it. I'm not sure how I feel about the video. It's like a beefcake photo shoot come to life.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Firecrotch of the Year - 2007

I will be getting around to some good old fashioned recapping soon, and I'm going to kick things off by naming my Firecrotch of the Year.

There was no agonizing, scientific process involved in my decision. I didn't study the photo captions that each Firecrotch of the Month provided to decide which was the funniest. No, my decision is based solely on the fact that this person took the greatest joy in my silly little award, and treated it with the reverence that Marisa Tomei undoubtedly treats her Oscar.

I give you the Firecrotch of 2007 - Suze of Suzel's Sass.

Congratulations, Suze...and flame on!

I'd also like to thank the other Firecrotches - Happy Villain, Slave to the Dogs, Alice, and Dale - for bringing the funny. The girls were really on fire this year! I hope their dominance in firecrotchery has lit a fire under the men. You gotta bring it next year, boys!


Is anyone having problems downloading the songs that I posted on Sunday? I've had a few reports that the files aren't saving as mp3 or aren't playing properly.

UPDATE: If the files are saving as binary files or something else weird, try renaming them with the .mp3 extension. This is what I did when I tested out the downloads on my work computer and the songs played after I renamed them with the proper extensions.

I can't figure out why some people can download them just fine and others can't. I submitted a question to the File Nanny forum, so hopefully someone can help me figure this out.

One that may not work for anyone is the Paul Young tune. I think I bought that from iTunes a while back and it's still got the DRM childproof cap on it. It's a shame because it's such a great tune to get in the holiday mood. Someone made an e-card of it for YouTube, so click here if you want to be-bop around while ignoring the dull picture of a stream with a bunch of snowy trees around it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sonic Sunday: Chris-Mixx Vol. I

This edition of Sonic Sunday will be a two-parter, to be continued next week. For now, enjoy Volume I of my Chris-Mixx.

(Click any link to download the song. Mp3s are available for a limited time, so get 'em while they're hot!)

1. "Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You," Billy Squier - This is my favorite Christmas song of all-time, despite Billy's weird enunciation. (year=yeeeeee-ahr, cheer=cheeeeee-ahr, etc.)

2. "O Holy Night," Sufjan Stevens - Now, this one is my favorite religious Christmas song. I've always liked Celine Dion's version, but I realize that not many of you dig zee greatest singer in zee world. I found Sufjan's version online recently and was surprised by how much I really liked it. Love the banjo.

3. "Happy Holidays/The Holiday Season," Andy Williams - Andy is the King of Christmas, and this is one swingin' tune. Probably the only Christmas song that includes the phrase "whoop-dee-do."

4. "White Christmas," The Drifters - This is THE best version of "White Christmas," period.

5. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," U2 - A lot of people prefer the Darlene Love original, which I also love, but I really dig U2's cover. Maybe it reminds me of a time when U2 were a great rock band and not the complacent cash cows that they are now. (Start the crazy U2 fan backlash now!)

6. "Step Into Christmas," Elton John - Wonderful song, if not a bit inaccurate. I mean, "Step into Christmas, the admission's free?" Please. I'll probably be spending about $400 this year. Hopefully not more.

7. "Sleigh Ride," Harry Connick, Jr. - Much like The Drifters' "White Christmas," this version of "Sleigh Ride" is the best one I've ever heard. More horns...more horns!!

8. "Someday at Christmas," Pearl Jam - A cover of the Stevie Wonder classic, this one was recently introduced to me by Beth. I can't believe that this song has been in existence for 3 years and I hadn't heard of it before. That's what I get for endlessly procrastinating about joining the Pearl Jam fan club. I love this version of course, and Eddie Vedder's vocals are just lovely. It's helping to fuel my usual holiday fantasy of waking up on Christmas morning and finding Eddie under my tree.

9. "What Christmas Means to Me," Paul Young - Another song popularized by Stevie Wonder, wonderfully covered by Paul Young. I had a few pictures of Paul on my wall back in my teen years. Yeah, there were a few spaces that weren't filled by Duran Duran or John Travolta.

10. "Christmas Day," Squeeze - This is - surprise! - a Squeeze song that actually took quite a while to grow on me, but I love it now. It's kind of a funny, new wave-y look at Mary and Joseph's saga set in modern times. It's also about how Christmas wouldn't be the same without important stuff like aftershave.

11. "2000 Miles," The Pretenders - This is one of those songs that isn't always thought of specifically as a Christmas song, but it's a lovely tune for this time of year.

12. "(Christmas) Bells Of St. Ignatius," Wormburner - This is a local NYC band that I've gotten to know over the years, since we share some mutual musical friends. The lead singer, Hank, is one of the nicest guys you'd ever hope to meet. And after Barbara introduced me to The Weakerthans, I noticed some simliarities between John Samson's voice and Hank's.

13. "Jingle Bell Jamboree," Keb' Mo' - An awesome blues singer that my brother, J-Fred, introduced me to a while back. I only discovered this song recently and I immediately loved it.

14. "All That I Want," The Weepies - You may recognize this song from the newest JC Penney commercial. Every time I saw that commercial, I had to comment on how cute that song was so I finally found it online.

15. "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee - A classic that's been covered a million times, but nothing beats Brenda Lee's original.

Bonus: "The Chanukah Song," Adam Sandler - In case anyone feels like being a PC complainer, here's a song for all of our Jewish friends. Since it's a live recording, you can hear the throngs of stoner college kids going wild when Sandler tells them to "smoke their marijuanika." Duuuuude!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Project Runway 4, Week 5

Okay, so I lied when I said last week would be my last Project Runway recap. But, I just have to celebrate because...

Chris is back! Chris is back! Yay, Chris is back!!

As you can tell, I'm a big Chris fan and was very sad when he was auf'd on the last episode. The reason he got to come back is rather unfortunate, however. Poor Jack developed a staph infection on his face that seemed to be growing by the minute. Being HIV-positive, Jack is at even greater risk for those nasty staph infections that seem to be plaguing everyone these days. He mentioned that this latest one was his third in the past year, and therefore had to leave the show to have "more aggressive treatment." I assume that meant that he got to spend a week in the hospital hooked up to IV antibiotics. I've been there and I feel his pain. At the rate we're going, I'm guessing that by the year 2010 every single living human will have had at least one case of MRSA. That shit's insane. But I'm not going on one of those rants. Back to the show!

The designers were stripped of their models in favor of - gasp - regular women! Each woman had recently lost a significant amount of weight, and the designers' challenge was to create new outfits for the ladies' slimmer bods using material from clothes that didn't fit anymore. It was really an interesting concept, but of course some of the contestants just whined about how they weren't used to designing for non size-twos. If these designers ever hope to be successful, don't they think they might occasionally have to make an outfit for someone who isn't 36-24-36? But oh, I forgot. Women who wear above a size 8 don't really deserve to wear cute clothes. At least that's the message I get every time I go shopping. But I'm not going on one of those rants. Back to the show!

Some of the designers were very excited to dress everyday women, especially Kevin and Ricky. Ricky showed his excitement as he always does, with a copious flow of lachrymal fluid. (Thanks to Daffy Duck for that colorful phrase!) Steven seemed to be on board with the idea, but was mortified that his model brought her wedding dress along. All he could do was squint and sweat while sputtering a few words like "polyester" and "beading" over and over. In the end, he used a completely different fabric (each designer was allowed to spend $10 on additional materials) instead of taking advantage of the golden opportunity to show the judges some real creativity by hacking up that wedding dress.

Here's a look at the final designs:

1. Christian; 2. Elisa; 3. Kevin; 4. Victorya; 5. Chris; 6. Jillian; 7. Kit; 8. Steven; 9. Rami; 10. Sweet P; 11. Ricky

Click to enlarge. Photo from Blogging Project Runway.

Kevin, Christian and Jillian had the highest scores while Steven, Elisa and Chris had the lowest. It was then that my roommate and I started chanting, "Hell no, Chris can't go!" Well, not really, but we were feeling it inside.

I didn't understand why everyone loved Jillian's dress so much. I didn't think it was figure flattering at all. If I had just lost a ton of weight and some girl made me a dress that made me look fat, I would use her for a pincushion. But, whatever. She wasn't the winner. It was Christian, Queen of New York's time to shine! I liked his outfit, but I thought Kevin should've won. I think Kevin thought so too.

Thankfully, they didn't bring Chris back just to send him packing again. The Bottom Two were Elisa and Steven, and Private First Class Downey was dishonorably discharged. How sad that I finally came up with a nickname for Steven and he had to go! And before he could even pull a code red on Ricky. I can't find a picture of the guy I'm talking about, but you've all seen A Few Good Men. If you haven't, turn on TNT or TBS right now. Chances are, it's on.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ANTM 9 Finale

Last night, Tyra Banks crowned America's Next in a Line of Models You Won't Ever See Again (Except for a Guest Shot on the Next Cycle of ANTM). It didn't have to be that way but, as so often happens on reality TV, the best girl didn't win.

The first part of the final challenge took Chantal, Saleisha and Jenah to their Cover Girl commercial and photo shoot. This year, the girls were hocking new Wetslicks Spritzers lip gloss. Now, I don't know about these "spritzers," but I can tell you that I swear by Wetslicks Crystals #440, "The One." It is definitely the one. It's the most perfect lip color I've ever found, and if Cover Girl ever discontinues it, I will blow up their factory.

Sorry about that mini-ad. I wasn't even getting paid for it or getting a critique from Jay Manuel. Spritzing onward...

Jaslene showed up to give the girls some pointers and my roommate begged me to put the TV on mute. He thinks her voice is ultra-annoying, but I think his incessant whining about how annoying she is is even more annoying. The sound stayed on.

Chantal was pretty stiff during her commercial. It was like she was promoting a mixer at Delta Delta Delta. Jay explained that she may as well have been saying, "I'm reading lines! I'm a dumb model!" After his comments, Jay said Chantal did better, but I didn't hear it. Jenah couldn't remember her lines and screwed up to the point where Jay said she would need to use cue cards. Fearing that having to read from cards would make her look "weak," Jenah steamrolled right through her lines perfectly. Fear works! Apparently, so does crying because Saleisha messed up so badly that she had to take a moment off-set to openly weep about her suckitude. Afterward, the lines poured out of her just like all of those tears.

Everyone did pretty well on the photo shoot. It's hard to mess those Cover Girl shots up. Unless you wear goth makeup and scowl, they all kind of look the same. It's all "Life is swell! I'm a ball of sunshine! You need this makeup if you hope to look even half as pretty as me!" However, the two girls who act like they shit lollipops and rainbows didn't look nearly as good as Jenah, the supposed "attitudinal" girl. And here comes the part where I rant.

At panel, the judges had nice things to say about Chantal and Saleisha. Even if their performances or photos could've used some work, they were still nice girls. Oh, it was all so nice. And then they got to Jenah. Her commercial was perfectly fine. She looked like she was having fun and, at the end, she took a little bite of a strawberry and when it almost fell out of her mouth, she giggled. It was cute and charming. If Saleisha had done it the exact same way, Tyra would've bowed at her feet. Yet, coming from Jenah, Tyra felt like she was "making fun of the commercial" while she was doing it and came across as a smart-aleck who didn't want to be there.

The picture of Jenah that the producers forced the judges into painting a couple of weeks ago (out of nowhere) got quite a few more splashes of color. Apparently, it was decided that Jenah was a snotty "mean girl" with an "over-it" attitude and that was that. Everyone started piling on. Nigel told her she didn't have any charm. Tyra told her she acted like she was better than everyone. When the other models were asked who had the least potential in the competition, they both said Jenah and gave her "bad attitude" as a reason. Meanwhile, all of the girls in the house liked Jenah. Even Bianca liked Jenah, and Bianca didn't even like herself! Chantal, who seemed to be one of Jenah's best friends on the show, even went so far as to say that she wouldn't want her little sister looking up to someone like Jenah as a role model. Interesting that she chose to say something that specific after Jenah mentioned on a previous episode that she raised her little sisters and wanted to win so that they could be proud of her. I'm not annoyed with Chantal for saying what she said, as I'm sure she didn't think of it herself. The entire judging panel portion of the show screamed "producers' stunt." Finally, after being completely broken down, Jenah started crying and talking about how much she wanted to be there and apologized if she came off as a smart-ass. I wish she hadn't given those idiots the satisfaction of seeing her cry, but I do have to give her props for saying that she felt that she would make a better Cover Girl than the other two because she is who she is. She didn't believe that she had to run around being all sweet and sing-songy to be a role model, and that more girls could relate to her because she's real. The judges all sat there and nodded, and then Tyra beamed at Jenah and told her how proud she was of her. So, maybe she would make it to the final two after all that, right? Well, no.

After deliberating and admitting that Chantal was the most amateurish of the three girls, Tyra picked her first. Um...yeah. When it came down to Saleisha and Jenah, Tyra went on and on about how Jenah's pictures rivaled some of those of the top models in the industry. Jenah was practically a model already. Saleisha had a lot of work to do, but the decision was made. Saleisha was in. Tyra was saying some things, but I imagine the thoughts behind her fake smile were more along these lines....Jenah, you think I'm gonna keep you around when you take better pictures than I do? Girl, you crazy! This is MY show! Now, get the hell outta here before I five-head butt you!

I think it's hilarious that Tyra kept harping on the fact that models are supposed to "shine from within" and possess "inner beauty" so that they can be role models. Tyra never called Bianca on her shit while she was spewing venom at practically every girl in the house. If being nice was so important, why did all of Bianca's bitchiness go unnoticed? And let's look at some of Tyra's supermodel pals. Kate Moss is a coke-head. Naomi Campbell has anger issues. Gisele is kind of a slut. Cindy Crawford is just annoying. Come on. What women seriously look up to models? Well, most of us kind of have to look up to them because they're Amazonian freaks. But not so literally, what women seriously look up to models? Bulimics? Maybe if models were more like real women, we would have more respect for them. They look good in expensive clothes that no one would ever wear and crazy makeup that not even prostitutes could pull off. That's what they're here for. Please stop trying to make people think otherwise, Ms. Banks.

Anyway, Chantal and Saleisha did some weird Chinese fashion show. Clearly, Saleisha was a better strutter but Chantal provided more pure entertainment. There were performers on stilts next to the red carpet "runway" and as Chantal walked by on her 2nd run, one of the freaks tripped over the train of her dress and bit it hard. Chantal said she felt really bad, but I bet she only felt bad because she couldn't openly laugh. Hey, the guy deserved it. That's what you get for wearing stilts to a fashion show.

It finally dawned on me why I've never really liked Chantal, aside from her obvious Barbie-ness. I always thought she reminded me of someone but could never quite put my finger on it. Tyra said a while back that she looked like Cheryl Tiegs, but that wasn't it. She looks like a blonde Katie Holmes. Blah.

As I predicted a few weeks ago, Saleisha was named America's Next Top Model. Before the winner was announced, Tyra blathered on with an almost perverse glee that she was "worried" that she would be crushing the girl who didn't win. Much to Tyra's chagrin, I'm sure, Chantal didn't have much of a reaction at all. I imagine that, off-camera, she put her hands in her pockets, shrugged and bit her lip...just like Joey Potter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Forgotten Classic Video of the Week

I'm saddened that the video I really wanted to post is no longer on YouTube. I won't tell you what it is in case it resurfaces again and I can surprise you all with it.

So, for now, let's just go with Loverboy, okay? If you're feeling a bit warm, that's 'cause I just turned on the heat. It's a hundred above. It's "Hot Girls in Love."

This song may have one of the greatest first verses I've ever heard. It is sheer poetry that rivals anything on the new Britney Spears record. Sing along, won't you?

She's so young at heart; she likes the pleasure of his company
She cuts the inside groove with her silver spoon
She likes her tapes on 10, and it's the same as her anatomy
She's on a rainbow cruise all the way to my room

A rainbow cruise? That sounds faaaaa-bulous!

And now for a little holiday tip...

If you have too much to drink at a holiday party or on New Year's Eve, and you have one of those episodes where you really have to throw up but it won't come, and as disgusting as puking is you know you'll feel ten times better if it just comes up, try this: Imagine what Mike Reno's head-band-ana must have smelled like. I mean, he wore that thing every day for about 10 straight years. Almost as impressive as his ability to sing through clenched teeth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Outbreak III: Monkeys on the Internetz

I was thinking today that, since Hollywood seems to be plum out of original ideas, it wouldn't be too long before someone decides to make a movie about all the huge Internet stars who have gained fame through viral videos. It made me start wondering about casting decisions....

Tay "Chocolate Rain" Zonday - Obviously, this role would be the comeback that Jaleel White (and no one else) has been waiting for.

Miss Teen South Carolina - Obviously, this role would be the one to make everyone take Jessica Simpson seriously as an actress.

The Kid from Brooklyn - Gotta be Danny Aiello.

Chad Vader - Since I'm pretty sure James Earl Jones would refuse, Rick Moranis.

Stacy "Star Wars Trumpeter" Hedger - Amy Sedaris. That would be hilarious.

Star Wars Kid - Jack Black. That would be even more hilarious.

Numa Numa Boy - Kyle Gass.

Chris Crocker - Well, Seth Green did a fantastic impression for "The Soup," so I think he should get the part. Or maybe Cameron Diaz.

Dramatic Chipmunk - He would probably be a CGI character unless Richard Gere's gerbil was available.

I'm thinking that the theme song would have to be a chorus of some of the best of the worst from American Idol doing a send-up of a Kelly Clarkson hit..."Because of YouTube."

Am I missing anything or anyone?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Eye Boogers

Like the goop that's always accumulating in the corners of our eyes, the following items are curiously fascinating:

K-Fed Influences a New Generation of Hillbillies - Inexplicably, Kevin Federline made the cover of Details' "50 Most Influential Men Under 45" issue. This is just one more event in a long list recently that has me convinced that God has created another world somewhere and has stopped paying attention to this one. It's the only explanation I can think of for why we're all still here.

Britney Preparing for a New Roll in the Winona Ryder Story? - During a stop at a gas station for much-needed smokes and gum, Britney snatched a lighter from the register display and left without paying for it. When one of her photog-stalkers pointed out her theft, Brit's smart-ass reply was, "I stole something. Oh, I'm bad!" Believe it or not, Britney's not the biggest idiot in this story. It's a toss-up between the store owner who didn't demand payment or the paparazzo who went back to the store and paid for the lighter himself. Apparently, this isn't even the first time she's taken a five-finger discount. So, good going, morons. Never calling her on her shit will really help rid her of that pesky sense of entitlement.

Led Zeppelin Returns to the Stage - Led Zeppelin rocked London's O2 Arena earlier tonight for the first time in nearly 20 years. Who knows if this will truly be a one-off gig or if it will turn into a full-fledged reunion tour. If it ends up the latter, as long as tickets aren't set at Rolling Stones prices, yours truly will do her best to see them. All reports so far have been positive, and I can't imagine that I would be let down by one of the greatest rock bands to ever live. Who cares how old they are if they can still rock? The industry is clogged with young artists who suck.

Case in Point: Fergie - So, I was watching this stupid show last week about music in movies...Movies Rock or something like that. It was one of those shows that gets thrown together and put on for no apparent reason other than that a bunch of second-tier celebrities are bored and looking for a party. I didn't watch much of it but I did happen to catch this travesty - Fergie paying "tribute" to the James Bond franchise with a cover of "Live and Let Die." Since Paul McCartney is something of a pacifist, I was praying the whole time that Axl Rose would show up in a botoxed rage, beat Fergie down and then do his little snake dance on top of her until she promised never to sing in public again. (Just click the link and watch for yourselves. If I had to suffer through it, so do you.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Project Runway 4, Week 4

This is probably going to be my last Project Runway recap, although I'll still be watching. Not that I need reasons to quit, but here they are:

A. I'm saving my energy for American Idol, which will be starting soon, thank God.
B. I am the furthest thing from a fashionista, so I have no idea why I would be recapping this show in the first place.
C. They canned Chris, who was my favorite.

I thought I was going to enjoy this week more than I did, since the contestants had to design outfits with modern twists on outdated styles. There was a lot of '80s fashion near and dear to my heart...neon, ginormous shoulder pads, and Bon Jovi fringe, just to name a few, as well as poodle skirts, zoot suits and '70s flare. Teams of three were chosen, and each team had to create a cohesive collection of three looks that incorporated all of their outdated trends.

Here's a look at the final collections:

Row One: Team Jillian (Jillian, Kevin, Rami); Row Two: Team Kit (Kit, Christian, Jack); Row Three: Team Chris (Chris, Sweet P, Steve); Row Four: Team Ricky (Ricky, Victorya, Elisa)

Click to enlarge. Photo from Blogging Project Runway.

Jillian's team won; a decision I completely agreed with, although I thought Kit's team had a really interesting collection. Luckily, they came in second. Chris and Ricky's teams ended up with the worst scores - Chris's because the designs didn't look like they belonged to the same collection and Ricky's because the clothing construction suffered as a result of Ricky and Victorya spending most of their time arguing with each other. The final two came down to team leaders Ricky and Chris, and Chris was auf'd.

I didn't agree with the choice to get rid of Chris because, while his jacket may have been outdated, the dress underneath was quite nice and all of his work up until now has been good. Ricky, on the other hand, let Victorya walk all over him and ended up with the worst design in his collection - a sloppy dress that looked nearly as outdated as Chris's jacket. Coming on the heels of his horribly made suit from last week, I was really surprised that he was allowed to stay. Besides that, it's much harder to modernize shoulder pads than neon. People still wear bright colors. Who the hell wears shoulder pads except for football players?

I guess now that Chris is gone, I'll have to root for Kit.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

ANTM 9, Week 11

Ding-dong, the witch is dead.

That's all for now. I'll get around to the Project Runway recap sometime this week. Right after I catch it in a rerun. Major side effect of this (not quite) killer cold virus is that I've been in bed every night by 7:30, and only occasionally awake to hack up a hairball or two.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Forgotten Classic Video of the Week

I'm posting this video because I was inexplicably singing this song all day yesterday. I'm still sick, so you can blame it on the delirium, I suppose. C'mon and "Give it Up" for K.C. and the Sunshine Band. They made a noble attempt to survive past the disco era.

I have no idea what's going on in this video. It's like some horrible amalgam of ideas borrowed from Star Wars, Mad Max and Solid Gold. You know what this video needs? That old guy from the Corey Hart video.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Reality TV Overload

I finally got around to writing my recaps of America's Next Top Model and Project Runway from the last two weeks. I've tried to put them in some sort of order to avoid having one giant post that would make everyone's eyes glaze over. You can find them here:

ANTM, Weeks 9 & 10

PR, Week 3

PR, Week 2

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Good Touch/Bad Touch Elmo?

Has everyone seen this commercial? I thought it was a joke at first, but it's all too real.

I don't think I want to know what Elmo is concealing. Stop ruining my childhood memories, perverted ad men!

Project Runway 4, Week 3

Week 3 opened with everyone a bit sad that Marion was cast out last week. I guess he was a good egg. The always funny Chris suggested that the judges "should've gotten rid of Christian, then no one would've cried." Christian heard this, and everyone shared a good laugh, though something tells me that Chris wasn't being entirely jocular.

Unlike last week, when they nearly died after meeting SJP, the gays all shared a collective blank stare upon meeting former Giants running back, Tiki Barber. Of course, all the designers wore blank stares when they realized that they would be designing menswear this time around, with which none of them are really familiar. Tiki, now a sports correspondent, announced that he would wear the winning design on Today, which made everyone feel simultaneously excited and nauseous. Chris tried to put things in perspective by proclaiming that "pants are just two big sleeves sewn together." I was really hoping that meant that he would be making some Prince-inspired assless number but, alas, that was not to be.

The models were brought in and, as you might imagine, they were all boys this time. The girls, the gays and I were all very excited about this new development. Kevin was left to point out, once again, that he was the lone straight man on the show, while Elisa, once again, demonstrated her weirdness by refusing to look at or touch her model because she "has a boyfriend." Ok then. I'm surprised that she was able to make any garment at all with that attitude.

All of the designers seemed to have problems. Tiki Barber's cyborg wife stopped by the studio to check in on everyone's progress. Carmen and Ricky had a minor bitch-fight. I mumbled to myself that this would've been much more interesting if they had been designing an outfit for Jerome Bettis.

Most of the designs reflected the designers' inexperience with menswear, but there were a few good ensembles.

1. Jillian, 2. Carmen, 3. Christian, 4. Kit, 5. Rami, 6. Sweet P, 7. Kevin, 8. Ricky, 9. Steven, 10. Jack, 11. Victorya, 12. Chris, 13. Elisa

Click to enlarge - photo from Blogging Project Runway

At judging, Heidi called out the 3 best (Kit, Jack and Kevin) and 3 worst (Carmen, Sweet P and Ricky). I really liked Kevin's three-piece outfit and thought the purple shirt was totally hot. Tiki liked the construction of the suit, but wasn't a fan of the purple. He picked Jack's simple two piece look, which was nice but I thought there were too many stripes involved. Jack proved himself to be a really sweet guy throughout the whole episode, so I feel bad now for calling him a "Monet" in my Week 1 recap.

Ricky and Carmen were the bottom two - Ricky because his suit was boring and sloppy and Carmen because she didn't even finish a shirt for her outfit. Ricky was spared and lived to cry another day, while Carmen got the ultimate kiss-off from Heidi.

Sorry gays and gals, I couldn't find any photos of the male models in their skivvies.


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

My photo
I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

What Do Others Think of BeckEye?

"You're like an idiot savant of terrible garbage entertainment." - Falwless

"You're my hero." - Candy

"Get yourself a life. Better yet.....eff off." - Ann Onymous

"There's no one like you." - Klaus Meine