A lot of people don’t like Fall Out Boy. A lot of people would groan at the very mention of them. And that’s fine. There’s a lot not to like. Hell, they’re about to go on a summer tour with Wiz Khalifa. I have no problem with FOB working with rappers, but did they have to pick the worst one? However, I am a fan of Fall Out Boy, at least for the moment. And really, this is a good time to be a fan of them. They just reunited after a three-year hiatus, they’ve had more than a few hit singles in recent years, and they just released their second album in two years. So, since I’m well into my Fall Out Boy phase, I thought I’d write a review for it.
It’s… pretty good. The music is pretty good, the lyrics are pretty good, everything’s just… pretty good. Patrick Stump has a great voice, but it doesn’t really elevate the relative goodness of the album. I especially liked “Uma Thurman,” which uses a sample from the Munsters theme song, which everyone thought was from a Tarantino movie, so they decided to build the song around that. It’s a really fun, catchy song, as many of the songs on this album are, but it also has some pretty interesting lyrics relative to, let’s say, a Chris Brown song. I bring up that comparison because Chris Brown and FOB are two acts that are frequently on the radio, and what FOB has over Breezy is that they’re at least trying.
The real problem with the album is the creeping sameness of it all. Every song is not only structured about the same, but almost the exact same length, ranging from three minutes and ten seconds to four minutes and twenty seconds. Most of the songs are about love but, you know, creepy, which I guess you could call a theme, since the album is called “American Beauty/American Psycho.” And they handle the themes of each song pretty well, it’s just that there’s not much theme to be handling.
That actually pretty much sums it up. I give the album a B+. It’s a fun album, and while I wouldn’t call it a great album, or even my favorite Fall Out Boy album, it does its job well enough. I’ll have a review of Lupe Fiasco’s long-awaited Tetsuo and Youth out later today. In the meantime, like this post if you like it, comment if you don’t like it, follow me if you like it like it, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…
Every year, someone gets upset about the Oscar nominations, and the one thing that still shocks me is the fact that people still care. This year, there were a few major snubs, including The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature, Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Andre 3000 (All Is by My Side), and David Oyelowo (Selma) for Best Actor, and many more. But the most talked-about snub seems to be Selma which, while it did get nominated for Best Picture (you know it won’t win), is said to have deserved some more recognition from the Academy, especially director Ava DuVernay. And for the most part, I agree.
Selma is a very powerful film, and Oyelowo did a spectacular job as Dr. King. I don’t know if DuVernay is the best director of the year, as most of the strength of the film comes from the performances and the script rather than the directing, but I would say she did a better job than Bennett Miller or Morten Tyldum. Quite frankly, I think John Ridley deserves a nod for All Is by My Side. People really should be talking about that movie more.
But I digress. I have a lot of Jewish friends and family, and many of them point out the blatant erasure of several key Jewish figures. While watching the movie, I found the omission to be bizarre, but not consequential. This movie isn’t meant to educate people on the Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement, which many people didn’t know about. It’s meant to be a powerful movie about the triumph of willpower and black excellence. Still, it is admittedly a strange choice. Maybe Spielberg has the movie rights to those characters.
Yeah, another thing people noticed is that DuVernay and writer Paul Webb couldn’t use Dr. King’s actual speeches because Spielberg and DreamWorks own the rights to them. This doesn’t really harm the film all that much, as Webb manages to make some reasonable facsimiles that add to the film’s weight without being too over-the-top. At least, no more over the top than King’s actual speeches.
Even more notable than the film’s strengths is its lack of flaws. It’s just a solid movie all-around: great performances, great writing, pretty good cinematography, doesn’t lose my attention aside from a few points, decent though forgettable soundtrack. There’s not a lot to say about the film since everything about it ranks from decent to spectacular. That’s actually one of the few annoying things about the movie. Some things about it aren’t great, but those few things aren’t notable enough to talk about. With a movie like Lucy, for example, the good parts are excellent, and the bad parts are hilarious, which is why Lucy was one of my favorite movies of 2014 and why Selma is not. Yes, it was an excellent, moving film, but there’s nothing to say about it outside of that.
Still, I give Selma an A. I think I’ll do a double review of American Beauty/American Psycho and Tetsuo & Youth when they come out tomorrow. Or rather, two sequential reviews. In the meantime, like this review if you like it, comment if you don’t, follow me if you like it like it, you can also follow me on Twiter if you’re so inclined, and as always…
Note the use of the word “my” in the title. This is because this will not be a list of the movies I consider the best of the year. Rather, this is a list of my favorite movies to come out this year: the ones I enjoyed the most. For example, Boyhood is an excellent movie, easily one of the best of the year. But it’s also fuckin’ boring. That’s not the type of movie I’m talking about here. This list is for films more along the lines of…
I don’t think anyone expected much from Neighbors. In fact, that seems to be a consistent factor in Seth Rogen’s success: that people don’t expect anything of him. If we really started respecting him as a filmmaker, he’d probably stop impressing us. As it currently stands, though, Neighbors is impressive. While most of the weight is on Zac Efron, who delivers what I can say without hesitation is the best performance of his career, that’s not to detract from the movie’s other strong suits. Rose Byrne also does a great job, the cinematography during the party scenes is really cool, and it’s just a very funny and well-structured movie in general. Easily my 2nd-favorite Seth Rogen movie this year (spoilers).
#9: The Penguins of Madagascar
I’d say Madagascar is a franchise that keeps getting better. I really liked the first one when I was a kid, but it… hasn’t aged well. And while I did like the third one quite a bit, very little about it sticks out in my mind today. So imagine my surprise when I go to see this one and the very first joke is a Werner Herzog reference. Trust me when I say this is one of the wittiest movies DreamWorks has ever put forward. While Shrek 2 was definitely funnier, Shrek 2 was really more of a social experiment than a movie, a test to see how many jokes and references they could cram into a single children’s movie. Penguins is more deliberate, and I’ve often heard the worst types of people say it’s “too smart for kids.” Kids are smart. Let them have their action-packed silly penguin movie.
And yes, I do ship Skipper and Private.
#8. Top Five
On the surface, Top Five seems like a pretty simple movie. An interviewer helps a Hollywood big shot get back to his roots. However, only about 30 minutes of the movie take place on that surface. The rest of it is primarily spent focusing on the two leads, Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson. I’ve always found Dawson to be an underrated actress, and this is just another impressive performance from her. Which isn’t to belittle the star, Chris Rock, who seems to do best with his own material, and not that of, say, Adam Sandler, who happens to make a cameo in this movie as the same disgusting Adam Sandler archetype the man either is, or is way too fond of playing. That sentence may seem out of place in a top ten list, and it most certainly is, but this is a hilarious, heartfelt look at modern Hollywood. It’s sort of like a tamer, Chris Rock-er version of Tropic Thunder, in its name we pray.
#7: The Interview
Let me start out by saying that The Interview is the textbook definition of “overhyped.” It’s hard not to be when you almost started World War III. That being said, it’s very good. Most people probably expected a more politically-oriented comedy, and while there is a biting layer of satire, it’s still a Seth Rogen movie at heart. But that’s not a bad thing. Seth Rogen is funny. Seth Rogen is outlandish. Seth Rogen takes risks no other mainstream filmmaker would take. It works as a broad comedy, it works as a piece of satire, it works as an action parody, and above all, it works as a film.
Birdman is not a perfect movie. It’s a movie that’s made to be liked, a movie that exploits its audience into seeing a point that isn’t there, a disjointed movie that dips its toes into magical realism and then cannonballs right in, a movie that is essentially Black Swan. But while you’re watching, unless you’re really nitpicking, you don’t notice any of that. You’re be engrossed in the characters, the monologues, the cinematography. You’re too busy watching Michael Keaton and Emma Stone deliver earth-shattering performances despite the admittedly amateurish script to worry about what it’s really trying to say. It’s just such an engrossing movie. Often, a good film, or at least an enjoyable one, is not one that has no flaws, but one that sneaks them by you. And if viewers are paying attention to the right thing, they’ll find the massive flaws, and those are the people who hate the movie. But most don’t notice, at least at first. That’s Birdman. And I like it.
#5: The Grand Budapest Hotel
If this was a list of the best movies of the year, GBH would be a strong contender for #1. But, this is a list of the ones I enjoyed the most, and while it is a very funny, engaging movie, it’s simply not the movie I had the most fun with this year. That being said, there’s a lot to like about it. In fact, there’s not much to dislike about it. Good meme, Wes Anderson. (Yes, I consider each entire Wes Anderson movie to be a single meme)
#4: 22 Jump Street
While watching 22 Jump Street for the fourth time a few months ago, I took note of how it wasn’t actually that good. Yeah, it was funny and clever, but I didn’t observe much else to it. But then I started thinking about it again. And on a satirical level, it’s the best parody movie of at least the past fifteen years. I started thinking about every scene, and how it relates to the themes of the movie, and whether it’s just a funny scene, or a parody of some action movie trope, or a parody of the first movie, or a crucial plot element, or all five. It’s hard to analyze this movie because it’s not a movie that beckons to be analyzed. But it’s a movie that can be enjoyed not just while you’re watching it, but when realizing how clever it is several days or even weeks later.
#3: Guardians of the Galaxy
People tell me this movie isn’t as good the second time you see it. To which I reply, “I’ve seen it three times, and here it is on my top ten list.” The thing is, I definitely see where they’re coming from. Each scene stays pretty fresh in your mind, so there’s little enjoyment to be had the second time around, and unless you stop and think on the smaller touches in between viewings, you’ll miss them yet again. The biggest complaint I’ve heard from people is that the villain, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), is a generic Marvel villain. That’s also what I thought, the first time I saw it. Pretty soon into the second time, I realized how over-the-top he was, and the third time, I laughed my ass off at him. Calling Ronan a generic villain is like saying The Wolf of Wall Street glorifies criminals. Some people can’t stop and consider that a movie isn’t being serious.
#2: They Came Together
Have you ever seen a movie so smart it seems dumb? Watch They Came Together. Now you have. How great was that? This is a movie that sets the mood to give you a shitty romantic comedy and then gives you the shittiest romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. Some jokes are taken as bizarre, non-sequitur humor (Molly’s parents are white supremacists, Joel almost fucks his grandmother), but in those cases, they’re actually parodies of scenes or tropes from certain rom-coms. Other times, like in the shot shown above, it’s just bizarre, non-sequitur humor. But it’s always unexpected, and if you’re in a good mood, it’s always funny. Throw in some wordplay and one of the most likeable casts in the history of film, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Before I get to my favorite movie of the year, here’s some honorable mentions:
Edge of Tomorrow
Jimi: All Is by My Side
The Book of Life
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (i can explain)
The Skeleton Twins
Dear White People
And my favorite movie of 2014 is…
#1: The Lego Movie
I didn’t want this. I dearly hoped that something would surpass the 2nd movie I saw in 2014. But here we are. I didn’t see any movies this year that I liked more than The Lego Movie. No one’s ever been able to convince me of a single flaw in this movie. Very few have tried, because it’s The Goddamn Lego Movie. On a technical level, it’s a masterpiece on par with The Nightmare Before Christmas. On a storytelling and pacing level, there’s never a dull moment. This movie works on every goddamn level, and it does an excellent job of it all. Every year, I declare one or two movies to be among my all-time favorites, and The Lego Movie is pretty high up there right now.
And thus concludes my favorite movies of the year. If you disagree with me, please stop; it is not allowed. Like this post if you like it, follow me if you follow me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…
Don’t worry, I’ll get to the movie stuff soon enough. But first, there was a topic that I had on my mind that I wanted to explore: the best verses to be dropped in 2014. There’s one verse in particular that motivated me to make this list, and I’ll let you know which one it is. All these songs were released as singles or on albums this year. Leave a comment down below with any significant verses I missed.
10. Kanye West, Sanctified
It was a bit disappointing that Kanye wasn’t able to finish his album this year, but he dropped a few gifts on us throughout the year, most notably this verse from Rick Ross’ mediocre album Mastermind. Backed by a classic West beat and a memorable chorus from Big Sean, Yeezy delivers his trademark blend of boastful, poignant, and hilarious lyrics in only twelve bars. Despite a couple weaker moments (rhyming “sanctified” with “handkerchief”), this is a pretty interesting verse. And as a brief side note, Ross’ verse was also pretty decent.
9. GZA, Ruckus in B Minor
I already talked about this song a little bit in my “Best Songs of 2014” list, but I never got to discuss my favorite verse: that of the Genius. While the other verses range from topics like “drug dealing” to “being good at rapping,” and they’re all pretty good, but it’s the terminology GZA uses that really struck me. The beat slows to a crawl as GZA talks about astronomy and other cosmic jibber-jabber. The sheer scope of the verse is so fascinating, yet it still manages to tie back into the song, with some help from RZA.
8. Childish Gambino, Sweatpants (verse 2)
Childish Gambino is an artist who is constantly improving himself. He’s released two albums in the past year, and a third in December of 2013, each one more acclaimed than the last. And this verse contains Gambino’s witty, quirky lyrics at their finest. While this song is technically in character as “The Boy,” there’s still some decidedly Gambino lyrics in there (“Bring your girlfriend, man, trouble when I see her/err-err, err-err, onomatopoeia”). And whether this is flossing or an integral part of a concept album, it’s still a great verse.
7. Lil Wayne, Only
This was supposed to be the year that the long-anticipated Carter V album came out. It’s interesting that the Carter albums are consistently better than Wayne’s other albums, even though he doesn’t seem to be doing anything different. Regardless, Weezy honed in his skills this year in preparation, and dropped some pretty killer verses (“Believe Me,” “Truffle Butter”). It took me a little while to decide which one would make the list. It’s fast, funny, and reminiscent of Wayne’s heyday of Tha Carter II. It actually got me kind of excited for that album that might never come out.
6. Andre 3000, Benz Friendz
People frequently say Andre 3000 is one of the best rappers of all time. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone disagree with that statement. So naturally, any contribution from him is appreciated. But his deadpan delivery and complex flow on this track are especially notable. I don’t really have a lot to say about this verse. It’s just Andre doing what he does best.
5. Pharrell Williams, Move That Dope
Another fast and dextrous comeback verse, this one from the current king of pop (all of a sudden), Pharrell Williams. Yes, there was a time when Williams was a rapper, not to mention a pretty good one. He briefly had a supergroup with Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco called Child Rebel Soldier, but they tragically disbanded because they were simply too good for this world. Anyway, Move That Dope. Pharrell was worried about contributing to this song since he never actually sold dope, but ultimately, thank god, he agreed. Future and Pusha also have pretty good verses, but Pharrell steals the show.
4. Kendrick Lamar, Untitled
This sociopolitical-minded song was unveiled on one of the last episodes of The Colbert Report. Kendrick’s released a lot of good singles and guest verses this year, but ultimately, I think this trumps them all. I don’t know if it’ll be featured on his next album. Quite frankly, I suspect not. But it’s a powerful song nonetheless.
3. Big KRIT, Mount Olympus (verse 2)
I can’t even begin to describe how good this verse is. Listen to the song. Just do it.
2. Nicki Minaj, Flawless
Four years ago, Nicki changed the game with her verse on Kanye West’s Monster. Many argue that she’s never been able to live up to that verse. If that’s the case, this is the closest she’s come since. Like on Monster, Nicki pulls out all the stops, goes through about ten different voices, squeezes in a lot of clever wordplay, and drops a damn near flawless verse.
Before we get to #1, here’s a few honorable mentions:
Eminem, Shady XV
Big Sean, 4th Quarter (2nd verse)
Lil Wayne, Truffle Butter
E-40, I Don’t Fuck With You
Jay-Z, Seen It All
J-Cole, Fire Squad (3rd verse)
And the greatest verse of 2014 is…
1. Eminem, Calm Down
Eminem has improved himself quite a bit since he hit rock bottom on 2004’s Encore, and this was the first year where it seemed like he was really getting back into the swing of things. And while his SHADYXV album (and make no mistake, it’s his album) was a deeply flawed project, this verse is pretty much perfect. I also have to give props to Busta Rhymes, who performed admirably and was tragically overshadowed by Eminem. If you need any proof that Marshall’s still got it, listen to this song.
I’ll have the movie list up either tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime, like this post if you like it, follow me if you like me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…
This wasn’t a great year for music. Sure, it had its moments, but there were a lot of shitty new artists putting out shitty new music. I think you all know the one artist I’m particularly frustrated about. Regardless, here are my picks for the worst hit songs of the year. “Hit” refers to a song that made it onto Billboard’s Year End list. Let’s begin.
5. FANCY by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
What is it about Iggy Azalea that’s so intolerable? Perhaps it’s her blatant, unapologetic racism and homophobia. Maybe it’s her terrible lyrics. Whatever the case may be, she was the breakout star of the year in music, and this was her big hit. The DJ Mustard-lite beat suits Iggy’s uninspired, derivative lyrics just fine. To be fair, Charli XCX does a fine job, although her booming vocals really call for a better beat than whatever this is.
4. TEAM by Lorde
I never really cared for Lorde as an artist. I like a lot of her music and I like her as a person, but something about her style always just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. On an unrelated note, I fucking hate this song. I already reviewed it, so you can find that and see how bad a writer I was a year ago.
3. DON’T TELL ‘EM by Jeremih ft. YG
This song is boring, inept, and could easily make the #1 spot in a better year. Let’s look at some of the songster’s insightful lyrics. “Don’t you worry ’bout it, might gon’ work it out/Only is you got me feeling like this (oh why why why why why).” A very interesting question you pose, Jeremih. Why only is you got me feeling like this? The next line is, naturally, “Loving while grabbing the rhythm your hips (that’s right right right right right).” If this is supposed to be AAVE, it’s pretty fucking butchered. Then we get to the verse of Young Gangster, colloquially known as YG. It’s a pretty standard “steal your girl” verse, with a few baffling lines thrown in the mix in true YG fashion. “She wanna suck my dick, and I’m cool with it.” Thanks for clarifying, YG. I’d assumed you were a staunch opponent to the notion of my girlfriend sucking your dick. Glad to see you’re an easygoing guy. “On my late night thirsty, ’cause it was late night and I was thirsty.” Truly a remarkable display of lyricism on the part of YG. Bringing new meaning to the term “late night thirsty,” which I’m sure someone used at some point, to say that it means “late night thirsty.” Genius! I’m not interested in exploring this song any further. It’s awful.
2. WIGGLE by Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg
Jason Derulo has reinvented himself and, for the most part, it’s been for the better. “Talk Dirty” was a masterfully produced party song and “Trumpets” wasn’t half-bad either. That being said… “Wiggle.” I don’t even know how where to start with why this song is so bad. The beat is made on a fucking recorder. The lyrics are dumb and misogynistic, not that I’m expecting a feminist rallying cry from Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg, but there’s got to be a limit. That being said, Snoop’s verse isn’t awful. It’s one of those modern Snoop Dogg guest verses where you know he’s not really trying so it’s pretty impressive that he kind of pulls it off. Still, terrible, terrible song.
Before I unveil my #1, here are a few “honorable” mentions:
Dark Horse by Katy Perry ft. Juicy J
Rude by Magic!
All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
Maps by Maroon 5
Loyal by Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne and others
Animals by Maroon 5
Lifestyle by Rich Gang
23 by Miley Cyrus, Juicy J, and I think some other people
And the worst hit song of 2014 is…
#1. BLACK WIDOW by Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora
Oh boy. Where do I even start? Well, let’s begin with the chorus.
“I’m gonna love ya
Until you hate me
And I’m gonna show ya
What’s really crazy
You should’ve known better
Than to mess with me, honey
I’m gonna love ya, I’m gonna love ya
Gonna love ya, gonna love ya
Like a black widow, baby”
Apparently, this hook was written by Katy Perry. I guess that doesn’t surprise me, although it’s a bit odd since this song is a blatant ripoff of “Dark Horse.” I’m not sure why someone would want to advertise that she’ll love someone until they hate her. It seems like a way of turning people away from her. I’m being neutral because I don’t know anything about Rita Ora. For all I know, she’s pansexual. If she is, I’d still hate her. I had to copy and paste these from a lyrics website to figure out that she’s saying “honey” in the sixth line. It sounds like “harder” or “holla.” Both of which I could imagine white Rihanna Rita Ora saying in that context. She concludes by saying she’ll love you “like a black widow.” One could assume this is referring to black widows devouring their spiderboyfriends during sex, but that’s not really “loving” in the sense that the rest of the chorus seems to be. Unless she’s talking about aggressive, dangerous, unlikeable sex the whole time, which could make sense.
Iggy’s verses aren’t any better. They’re slightly above average for Iggy Azalea verses, but they still make no sense, don’t have an original bone in their body, and have a shoddy rhyme scheme that makes this entire song utterly detestable.
So, those are the worst songs of the year, in my opinion, of course. Like this post if you like it, comment on it if you comment it, follow me if you follow it, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…
Now, you may have noticed that this is slightly different from last year’s list, “The Top 5 Hit Songs of 2013.” Essentially, I have a lot of less successful songs that I want to talk about, so I tweaked the name of the list. Now, this refers to songs that were released as a single in 2014. So, if it was on an album, but not released as a single, it doesn’t count. And if it was released last year and only became popular this year, it also doesn’t count. So without further adieu, here we go.
10. CENTURIES by Fall Out Boy
When Fall Out Boy made their big comeback last year, people were skeptical. Fall Out Boy has always been a hit-or-miss band, and a pretty messy break-up and a pretty messy Patrick Stump seemed to indicate things wouldn’t work out for the best. Then their big comeback single came out, “Light ‘Em Up.” It was awful. But it was also popular. So popular, in fact, that the album Save Rock and Roll went to #1 in 27 countries, and the song managed to hit #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, which re-cemented Fall Out Boy’s place in the mainstream. Luckily, the lead single off their next album was much better. With soaring vocals, memorable lyrics, and a catchy, anthemic hook, this song is sure to gain a spot in Fall Out Boy’s greatest hits.
9. LOVE RUNS OUT by OneRepublic
When OneRepublic first broke into the public eye with their monster hit “Apologize,” they were just awful. Their lyrics were vapid, and lead singer Ryan Tedder was just not into it at all. But they improved themselves. With each subsequent hit, they slowly improved, and by 2009’s “Secrets,” they earned the coveted title of “good song by an overall blah band.” But they kept going. Their next hit, “Good Life,” was good enough to change people’s minds about the group as a whole, and with 2013’s “Counting Stars,” they became something no one ever suspected OneRepublic to be: experimental. They developed a unique, mystical sound that no one else on the radio had. And the climax of all their efforts is “Love Runs Out.” The tribal sound, the thought-provoking yet catchy chorus, it all just comes together beautifully.
8. UPTOWN FUNK by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
I like funk. It’s just my style. And I especially like how people like Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, and Bruno Mars are bringing funk back into the mainstream. Case in point, “Uptown Funk.” This is a song that just makes me happy. I just can’t help but dance every time I hear it. It would probably be quite a bit higher on the list if the lyrics weren’t so inept. But this song isn’t really about the lyrics. This song is about Mark Ronson, and his ability to make a stellar throwback beat that you can’t help but dance to. Uptown funk you up indeed.
7. TAKE ME TO CHURCH by Hozier
Alright, this song apparently became popular on YouTube some time this year, and this was the first anyone had heard of Hozier. If that’s the case, I must say, off to a great start. “Take Me to Church” is beautiful, poignant, creepy, and overall a unique experience. I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, and I’m sure you already know why it’s good, so there ya go. Hope to see more of you very soon, Hozier.
6. RUCKUS IN B MINOR by Wu-Tang Clan
Now, I can’t actually figure out whether or not this was ever released as a single, but they performed it on a bunch of talk shows to promote the album and it was available before the album was, so whatever. When the Wu-Tang Clan announced they’d be releasing their album (singular), people were pretty skeptical. But when they put out this killer single, that’s when they started to get more optimistic. After all, the album is called A Better Tomorrow. And this song seems to be a good omen of things to come. There is never a dull moment in this song. Everyone brings their A game, and they work off each other beautifully. This track was the Wu out to prove that they were, as the chorus says, still #1.
5. GOOD KISSER by Usher
For a while, people were predicting that this would be the song of the summer. And with good reason. It’s catchy, sexy, it’s got a really unique sound, and it’s by proven hitmaker Usher. I don’t really know where things went wrong, but I guess not every song can be a hit. Regardless, this is a great song.
4. i by Kendrick Lamar
This is a song that a lot of people were wary about when it first came out. It’s a lot more upbeat and sing-songy than Kendrick’s previous work. But over time, it caught on, and now here it is at #4. This song mixes a fun, guitar-heavy hook reminiscent of Andre 3000 with Kendrick’s trademark lyricism and delivery, making just the self-empowerment song that hip-hop needed.
3. DETROIT VS EVERYBODY by Eminem, Royce Da 5’9″, Dej Loaf, Big Sean, and Danny Brown
SHADYXV isn’t a very good album, but it certainly has its moments. And at no point does the album shine more than this lyrical powerhouse. The song starts off with a nice, powerful beat and a catchy, if nonsensical, chorus by Dej Loaf. First up is Royce Da 5’9″, who has a bit of a jumbled flow, but some pretty good lyrics backing it up. Next is Big Sean, who has shown tremendous growth as an artist since his 2011 hit, “ASS.” His verse is funny, fast, and well-put, though it’s a bit hard to tell through Sean’s lazy delivery. After that comes Danny Brown, whose annoying voice and simple flow make him probably the weakest link in this all-around great song. That being said, his lyrics are still pretty good. Which brings us to the crown jewel of this anthem: Eminem, a man at the top of his game. This might be one of my favorite verses of his, to be quite frank. His flow is insane, his lyrics are great, his rhyme scheme is great… it all just fits together so well. Overall, a triumphant, though somewhat flawed, anthem for the ages.
2. SUNDAY CANDY by the Social Experiment
For those of you that don’t know, the Social Experiment is Chance the Rapper’s band, and this is a single off their upcoming album, Surf. It’s a joyful, gospel-inspired ballad about love and religion, sort of the opposite of “Take Me to Church.” Chance delivers two great verses, Jamila Woods delivers an excellent chorus, and Donnie Trumpet and the band are amazing on the beat. It’s another song that just really makes you feel good.
Before I get to my #1 pick, here’s some honorable mentions:
Blockbuster Night Part 1 by Run the Jewels
Move That Dope by Future ft. Pusha T and Pharrell Williams
Turn Down for What by DJ Snake ft. Lil Jon
Sanctified by Rick Ross ft. Kanye West and Big Sean
Sweatpants by Childish Gambino ft. Problem
And now, the #1 song of the year…
#1. ***FLAWLESS (Remix) by Beyonce ft. Nicki Minaj
Beyonce releasing her self-titled album unannounced on Christmas Day last year had some advantages and disadvantages. It was certainly a surprise, but it meant that the album wouldn’t be appearing on any end-of-the-year lists, most of which had already been out. But it did allow Beyonce to dominate the year in music, with hits like “Drunk in Love,” “Partition,” and of course, “***Flawless.” Bey delivers a pretty impressive verse, and a fittingly boastful chorus, but the real moneymaker on the song is Nicki, who delivers one of her best verses to date and eliminates whatever doubt there was that she is the current queen of rap. “Flawless.” There is no substitute.
So, those are my favorite songs of the year. I’ll have a worst list out soon enough, along with a constant barrage of other articles recapping the past year. Like this post if you like it, follow me if you follow me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, give all these songs a listen if you haven’t heard them yet, and as always…
Into the Woods is, or was originally, a play by Stephen Sondheim, which melded 4 classic fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk) into one unique story, through the introduction of two new characters, the Baker and his wife. Then one day, Rob Marshall was minding his own business, taking a stroll down Navy Pier, when a thought occurred to him. “I should- I should make a movie. A new movie. I need to make one.” Just then, or rather, about 20 minutes later, he was struck in the face by none other than James Lapine. So Rob Marshall was like, “First of all, rude. Second, we should make a movie.” And thus the movie Into the Woods was conceived. How did it turn out?
This may seem like a weird thing to bring up first, but it was about 45 minutes too long. I know that it’s based on the play and it tells the same story as the play, but if you’re going to make a movie, you have to be liberal with some thing to keep the pacing up. It all falls apart around when the Giant’s wife starts attacking the village. I couldn’t even tell you what happens after that. The witch dies, I think. Jack’s mother dies. That’s about all I can recall.
Before that moment, however, it’s actually really good. I especially liked Meryl Streep’s over-the-top performance as the Witch. She was really dynamic and fun, and when she died, the movie died with it. I also admire Chris Pine’s role as Prince Charming. He gives a lot of depth to a formerly-one-dimensional character. Chris Pine never ceases to amaze me. While we’re at it, I would have liked to see a bit more of Johnny Depp’s Big Bad Wolf. He was a pretty basic Johnny Depp character archetype, but sometimes you need a little Johnny Depp, y’know? Other than that, everyone else did pretty decently. I really liked the kids that played Little Red Riding Hood and Jack. Good child actors are a rare breed.
The musical numbers were fun and lively for the most part, but once again, they seemed to get slower and harder to pay attention to as the film went on. The imagery and choreography was… mixed. It was certainly easy to pay attention to, and a few scenes (usually involving the Wolf) were actually really well-done, cinematographically. It was a bit too dark at times, but usually just serviceable.
There were a few twists and turns to keep you interested throughout. It’s fun to see how the filmmakers manage to weave the stories together. Although, the Rapunzel storyline enters a bit too late in the game (at least 45 minutes in), and it’s hard to get invested in Rapunzel and her prince. I can’t comment on how similar it is to the play, since I’ve never actually seen the play in its entirety, but it’s a pretty decent movie.
I guess I’d give it a B-. If you’re a fan of the play, or of musicals in general, or of Meryl Streep, or just need a movie to see, maybe you should check it out. Like this review if you like this review, follow me if you follow me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…