(Well, here’s the list. This is a direct representation of my poor tastes and resounding ignorance of what’s popular this year, in 13 bite-sized categories. Pray for me.)
BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
I knew when I first listened to this CD that it would be the best thing I heard all year. This says one of 2 things. Either it is one amazing CD, or it was a piss-poor year for music. The real answer lies somewhere in between, although this is truly a wonderful album.
They rock harder than any dance-rock band, and they’ll make you dance more than any rock band. Their songs are catchy, dark and sexy; truly the make-out CD of the last 4 years. Lyrically, they find a way to break the norm of teenage angst with honest songs about longing and emotional distress, suicide and death. This is a synth-rock emo CD for adults who have grown out of the genre, or never really liked it at all. If you find yourself looking for any new CD to buy, I offer this album my full endorsement. If it hits you at the right time, “Poison Arrows” will stay in your CD player for a month straight.
RUNNER-UP ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
When you listen to Of Montreal, you get the feeling like they are purposely trying not to make the perfect album. In amongst the musical brilliance, they always find a way to muck things up with experimentation gone horribly wrong. Well, despite their best efforts to avoid it, they finally pulled it off.
Once a 60’s throwback band with a heavy influence from the Zombies and others like them, Of Montreal tackles a dozen different genres on their newest and best album ever. If you don’t like one track, the next one will be your favorite, and so on. Using faint electronic elements, drum machines and a mixture of all sorts of strings, random sounds and vocal harmonies, they transcend the usual sound of their former Kindercore counterparts. If you didn’t have the patience for a band like Of Montreal in the past, please reconsider, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
(In case you’re wondering, my choice for best album of 2003 was “Reconstruction Site”, by The Weakerthans.)
THE “E FOR EFFORT” AWARD:
Green Day – American Idiot
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
The Velvet Teen – Elysium
Green Day tried to pull off the pop-punk rock opera concept album, and succeeded. Almost. You have to give them credit for trying. Franz Ferdinand showed up in amongst about a hundred other 80’s throwback bands, and didn’t look back at the saturated market. They were certainly the best of the bunch. The Velvet Teen surprised everyone with the most beautiful sounding album of the year. Quiet and emotionally draining in exactly the right places, this was an unexpected wonder.
RADIO SINGLES OF THE YEAR:
Mr. Brightside – The Killers – Hot Fuss
Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
American Idiot – Green Day – American Idiot
If you have to listen to the radio at work as much as I have to, it’s always a pleasant surprise to hear something you actually want to listen to. Initially, I enjoyed “This Love” by Maroon 5, but that got pretty sickening after the billionth God damn time.
The Killers released a mediocre album with about 3 decent songs on it. “Somebody Told Me” was their first single, but “Mr. Brightside” is superior in just about every way. It’s the first song I would turn up the radio to listen to since OutKast’s “Hey Ya”.
Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”, with its’ Strokes-like intro leading into an unrelenting pogo-fest, was always nice to hear squished in between Creed and Disturbed at 8am. Like the Killers, their second single, “This Fire” is the superior single, but it’s not on the radio here in Madison.
Celia hates “American Idiot”, and I don’t blame her. It’s just another slice of the Green Day radio single pie. It offered nothing new, and gave us not too much to look forward to in “American Idiot”. However, this song marks a huge change in Green Day’s style. In fact, they’ve changed their “style” on every album they’ve released. They had the 2 albums about girls, the album about growing up, the one about failure, the angry one, the mellow one, and now the one about the guy who walks around a lot. In a year that was the biggest one in political history, “American Idiot” was the theme song for the blue states.
WORST RADIO SINGLE OF THE YEAR:
What U Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani’s solo album is nothing short of a career-ending mistake. I’ve always defended No Doubt because I admired their abilities to write catchy songs that sounded like nothing else you’d hear on the radio. Turns out, Gwen is worthless without her band.
Egotistical, completely self-indulgent and downright silly, “What U Waiting For” is not only the worst song I’ve heard this year, it might be the worst song I’ll EVER hear. Enough said. I’m done talking about music.
BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
I will not lie to you. Fahrenheit 9/11 changed the way I look at things. Call me easily swayed, call me an idiot or a traitor, it doesn’t really matter to me. This, the most successful documentary ever filmed, was also the most important. If George W. Bush would’ve lost the election, Fahrenheit 9/11 could have gone down as the most important film ever made.
I was one of the first in line to see it in Madison. I laughed my ass off one moment, and was completely disgusted the next. I cannot watch it without crying. If there’s ANYONE who hasn’t seen this movie yet, get a hold of me and I will burn you a copy. Even though the election is over, it’s never too late to see how much you’re being kept in the dark.
RUNNER-UP MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
(Roadside Attractions/The Con)
2004 was the year of the documentary. When Michael Moore
was taking on the biggest enemy in the world, Morgan Spurlock was taking on the second-biggest enemy; McDonalds.
The amazing thing was, where Michael Moore fell short of his ultimate goal, Spurlock succeeded. You can no longer “Super Size” anything at a McDonalds. This David and Goliath story was funny as hell, scary and very informative. It goes very well with “Fast Food Nation”.
TELEVISION SHOW OF THE YEAR:
Let me make a few opinion-based statements, since this is what this list is all about:
1. Arrested Development is the funniest, smartest, most brilliant show on TV since Seinfeld.
2. The writers of Arrested Development exist at a higher level of comedy consciousness than any other staff on television.
3. Watching Arrested Development will make you a better person, maybe even save your life.
I cannot say enough about Arrested Development. They saved the sitcom from reality-tv destruction, and put every other sitcom to shame. They have the best cast, the best storylines, and the fastest pacing of any live-action show. If you laugh hard enough, you’ll miss the next 10 jokes. Sometimes I can’t even laugh because I’m simply floored by the brilliance in the joke they’ve crafted for my entertainment. If you don’t like Arrested Development, you’re just not intelligent enough for the future of network sitcom.
RUNNER-UP TELEVISION SHOW OF THE YEAR:
Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are geniuses. Special-effects wizards, inventors, scientists, former Special Forces agents, carpenters, mechanics and robot builders. They are using their multiple talents to re-create and test famous Urban Legends. The result is the smartest and funniest non-fiction show on TV. I beg you to give this show a chance, and you’ll be hooked and amazed.
(In case you’re wondering, my choice for the best shows of 2003 were the entire Fox Sunday night lineup: King of the Hill, The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle and Arrested Development.)
DVD OF THE YEAR:
The Simpsons – Complete Fourth Season
When all is said and done, the Simpsons should go down in history as the greatest television show of all time. It has not only defined a generation, it has changed the world. Season 4 of the Simpsons was arguably the best season of the best show ever. If you aren’t planning on buying every single season of the Simpsons like I am, season 4 is where you should start.
2004’s WORST THING EVER:
The less said about this, the better. Check out Boycott Unity
for my feelings on the outcome.
2004’s BEST THING EVER:
Hey, I got married this year. This should really be YOUR best moment of 2004, too.
2004’s RUNNER-UP BEST THING EVER:
The Mutha$%#!ing RED SOX!
The Red Sox did something that had never been done before. They won 4 straight playoff games against the Yankees, and swept the Cardinals to break the longest drought in baseball history. It’s almost unfair that this happened the same year that I got married, because nothing in 2005 will compare to these 2 moments in my life. Maybe if I get RE-married, and the Packers win the Super Bowl, but that’s really it.
(So, there you go. Indeed, this was a short list of things that only mattered to me, and I left a lot of things out. If you want to add your own categories or tell me that I’m a knob, do so in the comments section.)