Posts Tagged ‘Calvin Harris’

Here it is, folks, another round up of the year’s hits, misses and surprises. (Note: this break down is based solely on my personal opinion, and is not a reflection of popularity, success or earnings.) Enjoy!

Best Indie Album – AM by The Arctic Monkeys

An impressive fifth album from these Brit-rockers. Their sound seems to have matured, and draws the listener in, intriguing them with mellow rock tracks highlighted with electronic accents, reminiscent of 80s synth-pop.

Best Teen Sensation – Lorde

She’s 16 and putting out music way beyond her years, and even surpassing some of her veteran colleagues. She will undoubtedly be around for a very long time. You go, girl.

Worst Teen Sensation – Austin Mahone

He’s 17 and putting out music that’s tired, overdone, and lacking substance. He will soon be replaced by his very own carbon copy. Sorry, buddy.

Best New Artist – Bastille

This four-man band from the UK has took over my musical mind this year. It’s hard to place them in a single genre because they take elements of rock, indie, pop, and electronic and make them all shine. There’s something about the lyrics, something about the music, something about lead singer Dan Smith’s voice. When they fuse together, it’s innovative, harmonious, original, and it just makes sense.

Worst New Artist – A$AP Rocky

He has a dollar sign in his name, just like pop star Ke$ha. That is not a good thing. Rap music has taken a turn for the worse over the last few years, and it has become incomprehensible how so many of them are so successful. He’s no exception; in fact it’s probably why he has these issues:

Most Successful Secret Album – Beyoncé by Beyoncé

She wins this category mostly because she was the only contender. Dropping an iTunes-only visual album (ie each track accompanied by a video) in mid-December had never been done. As if that was not enough, Bey managed to pull this off with no one – including the media – knowing about it until it was released; in fact she set Internet ablaze. I think it’s about time we all hail Queen B.

Best Soundtrack – Great Gatsby

Lana Del Rey, The xx, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Florence and the Machine, Gotye, Sia. Not sure how many more reasons you need.

Douchebag of the Year – Kanye West

He claimed leather jogging pants was his idea, and no one else’s. This year alone, he compared himself to Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, and God. He got into a Twitter-feud with Jimmy Kimmel. He’s obsessed with himself and Kim Kardashian – his girlfriend/baby mama/finacee/soon-to-be-wife – and feels like the rest of the world should be too. Hence this video. Hence the winner of this category.

Best Summer Song – “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

Harris is already a champion DJ, and Goulding’s voice is unbelievably infectious. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s care free. Everything summer should be.

Least Lovable Artist – Katy Perry

She’s redundant, she’s ordinary, and she’s formulaic. She’s boring, she’s predictable, and she lacks any sense of creativity. My disdain for her is so intense, I actually have a visceral reaction to her music, and am done hearing her roar.

Most Lovable Artist – Imagine Dragons

This band from Las Vegas is just so darn delightful. Their music is uplifting, and during live shows, they are full of excitement, like kids in a candy store. In spite of their successes, they remain humble and grateful for the opportunity to play their music to the masses. I have yet to get tired of them, and that’s saying a lot.

Biggest Loss to the Music Industry – Lou Reed

Reed was an original and founding member of The Velvet Underground, one of the most influential rock bands of all time. He also managed to have a solo career after the band split up, and created his own music for over thirty years. A true icon.

Most Pretentious Artist – The Arcade Fire

For their upcoming tour in support of Reflektor, this Grammy-winning band put out a press release stating fans attending their live shows must wear a costume or formal attire. It’s unclear what the consequences are if their demands are not met, but regardless of their musical prowess, who do the think they are?

Worst Collaboration Track – “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly

Country duo Florida Georgia Line team up with rapper Nelly, in a failed attempt to marry both genres. It does not help that Florida Georgia Line look like the biggest douchebags on the planet, who have no game at all. Add to that the fact this video features sub par “video hos” who seem completely out of place. I do not know which musician is more pathetic for trying to use the other for fame, but neither one succeeds.

Best Collaboration Track – “#Beautiful” by Mariah Carey feat. Miguel

Regardless of Mariah’s diva tendencies, there’s no denying she has one of the best voices out there. Combine that with the sexiness and sultriness Miguel’s vocals bring, and what you get is this gorgeous track. Mariah strikes again.

Most Overexposed Artist – Miley Cyrus

She developed an obsession with dressing either semi or fully naked. We have all (unfortunately) seen far too much of her unhygienic tongue, and she felt the need to not only try to twerk, but also to suggestively use a foam finger. None of that however, seemed to have stopped her tracks from playing everywhere. She can’t stop, she won’t stop. Must be because she’s a wrecking ball.

Has-Beens of the Year – 98 Degrees

The 90s boy band put out an album this year, 13 years too late because no one cares about them anymore. They tried to stay relevant by joining Boyz II Men (down one member) and NKOTB on “The Package ” Tour. Riding the coattails of other washed up boy bands is no way to resurrect a career, boys.

Most Mancrushed Musician – Justin Timberlake

He’s got the voice. He’s got the moves. He’s got the charm. He plays guitar and piano, he’s well dressed, he collaborated with the one and only Jay-Z. His bromance with Jimmy Fallon is endearing, and his SNL appearances pretty hilarious. And he puts out videos like this – why would you not want to be like him?

Best Live Show – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis @ Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal

This year was a bit slower than most when it came to live shows. Several stood out, but none really reached unreal heights, except this super charming hip-hop duo who were entertaining, interactive, and incredibly full of energy. The crowd was living off adrenaline the entire show, including moments like this:

Best Rap Album – Marshall Mathers LP2 by Eminem

It’s Eminem at the height of his game. Rhymes you would not believe spit perfectly, rapidly and with the right amount of umph to turn heads, without having to drop Tom Ford’s name. He’s angry, he’s comical, he’s dark, he’s real. Hell, he’s Eminem.

Album of the Year – Trouble Will Find Me by The National

What else is there to say, other than this is one of the most beautifully written albums I have heard in a long time. Every track, from start to finish endlessly evokes emotions, to the point where you find yourself distracted because you get so involved with the music. Berninger’s controlled voice both subtly and eloquently adds many layers to the music. It’s truly a work of art.

Worst Song of the Year – “Accidental Racist” by Brad Paisley feat. LL Cool J

The problem with combining two genres of music is that it can sometimes completely backfire. This track tells the tale of a white man going into a coffee shop sporting a Confederate flag on his t-shirt. The barista is a black man who takes offense to this t-shirt and the track becomes a dialogue about slavery, racism, other things. They have both tried to explain themselves publicly, but none of it makes sense.

Song of the Year – “Wake Me Up” by Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc

EDM is becoming more and more successful by the minute, and Avicii is one of the younger DJs immersed in the scene. Avicii introduced a country/blues-esque feel to the track with Blacc’s vocals, and took it to the next level by fusing two genres that are typically worlds apart. It’s creative, it’s ingenious, plus it’s freaking catchy.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is a term used to describe music produced by disc jockeys (DJs.) With the help of turntables, drum machines, synthesizers, laptops, etc they’re able to express their musical innovativeness in the form of beats and sounds. I never really fully understood its appeal until I accidentally saw Tiesto play live in Vegas: it made me a believer. But EDM’s increasing popularity over the last few years has lead to a floodgate of DJs vying for our attention and for the novice listener, it can be overwhelming. So I’ve broken it down for you (and me.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              90s Dance Music – consists essentially of anything off Dance Mix ’92-’95, including Robyn S.’ “Show Me Love”; plus the likes of C+C Music Factory and Snap! By the mid-90s, we were all graced by the presence of the infamous Gino Beats (think Joee’s “Angel”): tracks indistinguishable from one another because the same beat was used over and over again in the same way. This also involved a lot of fist pumping (Jersey Shore Guidos are so behind the times.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Techno/Trance – most often associated with rave culture: one synonymous with glow sticks, copious amounts of Ecstasy and beaded bracelets. The beats had more of a dream quality to it, almost hypnotic. Although one could still dance, it was more mellow and chilled out, less aggressive compared to other styles. Artists include Paul Van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Electronic Music – as its name indicates, it has a stronger electronic presence to it. More digital and sharper sounds as opposed to the heavier bass beats found in other forms. Daft Punk and Deadmau5 fall into this category, both sharing the unique characteristic that they dress in costume every time they perform. For them it’s not about being seen, it’s about being heard and making the turntables sing, keeping the focus on the music. Though the large mouse-shaped head is a tad bit distracting.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 House Music – originating in Chicago, it was supposedly named after 80s Chicago nightclub “The Warehouse,” where people went to dance. Also supposedly named after the type of music you would find at home. House music possesses some consistent musical elements (kick/bass drum on every beat), but for the most part varies in style (ie progressive house, deep house etc.) Vocals are common but generally as an after thought compared to the beats. Tiesto was instrumental in bringing it to North America; along with Swedish House Mafia and Chicago-based Kaskade.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             House Pop Music – a term coined by me to describe house music that has been mainstreamed to the max by not only adding strong vocals, but those of big pop celebrities like Rihanna and Usher. Sure the resulting success of the track is mutually beneficial for both parties involved, and I’m no EDM junkie, but this screams sell out. It’s taking something from the underground and overexposing it. The vocals take over the track and the beats become the after thought. David Guetta and Calvin Harris currently reside here.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mash-Up Music – involves taking pre-existing tracks and mixing them together, instead of producing beats and sounds and mixing them together. This requires an incredibly creatively genius mind in order to recognize which sounds will end up in matrimony. Girl Talk is one of the best out there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Young House – music produced by a group of twenty-something DJs that have appeared over the last few years and taken the music world by storm. They’ve used the mounting accessibility to house music as a platform to illustrate their raw talent, and attempt to separate themselves from the rest by putting their own spin (no pun intended) on it. Avicii, Skrillex and Afrojack – all 25 and under – belong here.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              EDM will once again be showcased at Ultra Musical Festival in Miami over the next two weekends, and this year’s line up is doused in the best of the best. Most EDM DJs, with the exception of a select few (including Canada’s Deadmau5,) hail from somewhere in Europe; EDM having such a big presence in North American culture has to be saying something. It’s music that makes you feel good and there’s never anything wrong with that.
A wrap up of this year’s highs and lows in music, as I heard it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Americana Album – The Lumineers by The Lumineers
Americana is a musical genre that encompasses traditional American style, including country, bluegrass, folk, etc. With a surge of artists entering this field recently, The Lumineers stood out most this year. Their self-titled debut was infectious from beginning to end. Well done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Best Dream Pop Album – Valtari by Sigur Ros
Dream pop is a music genre that is rapidly becoming more and more popular. It blends rock, pop and ambient music and is mostly instrumental with faint vocals (if any) which tend to blend in with the music more than stand out in front of it. The perfect combination to send you into a dream and Icelandic band Sigur Ros took it to the next level on their sixth studio album. Just listen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Canadian Album – Hello Hum by Wintersleep
A great rock ‘n roll album, with a distinct east coast feel to it. On repeat for several months.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Worst Thing to Happen to Canadian Music – Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger’s Engagement
She used to sing about “Sk8er Bois”. He fronts Nickelback. She married Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and dated Brody Jenner. He sings the same song over and over. She’s 28, he’s 38. On their own they’re embarrassing enough to our country but now they’re joining forces, tying the knot and becoming one. God help us all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Best Thing to Happen to Canadian Music – The Weeknd
It’s no secret Canada lacks in representation in the hip-hop/R&B genre. Drake has been doing his best to keep the genre afloat, but he can now take a breather and let The Weeknd do some of the work. A soulful voice guaranteed to reel you in, is all over his three-disc debut album Trilogy. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Female Album of the Year – Born to Die Lana Del Rey
Her songs are beautiful, soulful and her vibe is a throwback to the 60s with a touch of modernity. Her voice is sultry and able to grab anyone’s attention with all its subtleties. This whole album says so much with so few words. Just breathtaking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Artist Whose 15 Minutes are Up – Lady Gaga
Her antics are played out: her male alter ego Jo Calderone turned no one’s head; sexual ambiguity is so last year. Her unusual fashion sense is tired: shock for shock sake stops being shocking pretty quickly. Though she has had several hit singles, they’re interchangeable. Gaga, it’s about time you got over yourself. We all have.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Douchebags of the Year – Green Day
Green Day planned to release three albums over the course of four months starting in November 2012. Relax guys, you’re not that popular. At a music festival in Vegas, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong threw a hissy fit/temper tantrum claiming the band’s set got cut short. He yelled out profanities and smashed his guitar on stage, while his bandmates followed suit. It always surprises me how they made it past the 90s.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Biggest 90s Comeback – The Cranberries
This year saw album releases by several 90s bands, including No Doubt, Soundgarden, Counting Crows, Smashing Pumpkins and Our Lady Peace. The Cranberries win because not only did they reappear after an 11-year absence, but they have neither toured since then nor has any band member gone solo or formed other bands. A true comeback.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English/Irish Boy Band Most Likely to Succeed – The Wanted
Most band members are in their 20s, therefore a fan base past pre-teens and they co-wrote some of their songs. One Direction, their toughest competitors, are much younger (late teens) and were discovered on the UK version of the X-Factor. They’ll be famous but it will be short-lived. The Wanted may not rise as fast, but will last much longer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most Unfortunate Band Break Up – Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters announced an indefinite hiatus earlier this year. It’s technically not a break up, more like a separation or a pause in their music careers. As of now they have every intention of getting back together, but only time will tell. Here’s hoping.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Most Fortunate Band Break Up – INXS
80s band INXS lost their lead singer Michael Hutchence years ago. Eight years later, the remaining band members appeared on Rock Star in search of a new lead singer, and found one in JD Fortune. Aside from releasing one mediocre album, and a little touring, not much else was accomplished by them, so they finally announced their break up this year. Some things are better left untouched.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Band Who Should Break Up – Maroon 5
The band should be renamed the Adam Levine Show because he is seemingly the only member. Every video stars him, he’s a judge on The Voice and often lends his whiny voice to other musicians on their tracks. The band might as well cease to exist because Adam Levine can do exactly what he’s doing with any band. So why not just break up already and put us all out of our misery?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Best Collaboration Track – “Sweet Nothing”  by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch
Calvin Harris collaborated with several musicians this year including Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Tinie Tempah and Kelis. He’s a talented dude, whose music consistently makes you want to let loose. But what sets this track apart from the rest, is the fierceness of Florence’s voice – there’s no contest.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worst Collaboration Track – “Good Time” by Owl City feat. Carly Rae Jepsen
Take Owl City’s shrieking teenage girl voice, add Carly Rae Jepsen  – the 27-year-old responsible for the unforgivable “Call Me Maybe.” Combine with cheesy lyrics (ie “Hands up if you’re down to get down tonight) and a super lame video. The result is a track eerily similar to 2004’s cringe-worthy Shania Twain/Mark McGrath collaboration, “Party for Two.” I’ll post both for comparison but just a warning: no good time will be had.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most Able to Pull Off Dating a 25-Year-Old – Madonna
Madonna is 53. Boyfriend Brahim Zaibat is 25.
J-Lo is 42. Boyfriend Casper Smart is 25.
You do the math.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Most Surprising Song – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
Swift’s songs are usually predictable, overplayed and an after thought. She has the squeaky clean, girl next door, goofball image. But this song is clearly a jab at an ex-boyfriend (apparently Jake Gyllenhall), and she manages to pull it off by making him look like a complete idiot, in a very tasteful way. Surprising because it’s unexpected and pretty ballsy, especially for Swift.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Best New Artist – Alex Clare
Clare went from releasing a debut album in the UK that nobody heard, to an overnight sensation in North America due to his single “Too Close” appearing on a Microsoft commercial. He wins this category for ingenuity. In his music: fusing electronic, rock and pop together with heartfelt lyrics and endearing vocals. And in his music videos: they’re odd, confusing and definitely make you think.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Best Live Show – Garbage, Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal
                                         Ben Harper Acoustic Tour, Massey Hall, Toronto
                                         The xx, Massey Hall, Toronto               
Garbage for returning after seven years away and showing up like no time had gone by. Ben Harper for demonstrating true musicianship through his instruments and his voice, while performing all by himself. The xx for making it impossible to sit still and leaving every fan awe struck for days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Worst Album of the Year – Wild Ones by Flo Rida
For spawning tracks like: “Whistle Baby,” easily the dumbest song of the year; “I Gotta Feeling” and “I Cry,” both sampled from other artists; “Wild Ones” which features Sia, who also appeared on David Guetta’s hit “Titanium” released about a week earlier. Bottom line: Flo Rida wins this category for making an album of the most unoriginal music.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Album of the Year – Coexist by The xx
There aren’t enough words to describe how incredibly beautiful, heart wrenching, soulful and musical this album is – it makes you want to sigh, love and cry all while having a dance party. Once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it and that’s a wonderful thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worst Song of the Year – “Starships” by Nicki Minaj
Minaj got out-rapped by an eight-year-old on live TV on her own track “Superbass”. She has decided to dress as either a cartoon or Lady Gaga in public. She is also responsible for songs like “Stupid Hoe” and “Beez in the Trap.” But of all the ridiculous and tacky things Minaj has brought to the music world this year, “Starships” wins: the video is unwatchable, the lyrics easily written by a ten year old sci-fi enthusiast and whenever it plays, I run for cover.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Song of the Year – “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
This song first took off when Burlington band Walk off The Earth did a cover and put it on YouTube. It immediately went viral and drew heavy attention to the original track by Belgian-Australian musician Gotye. The music is light and fun despite the sadness and anger that runs through it. Kimbra’s vocals take the song to the next level and pull even harder at the heartstrings. Couldn’t get enough of it all year.