Posts Tagged ‘Eminem’

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.

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Live shows give fans a front row seat to the passion, the focus, the energy of their favourite musicians. Live shows can also be unpredictable. Bands can change the album version of a track by making it louder, slowing it down, playing it acoustically, or doing it a cappella, for example. To elevate the show further, some bands will call on other musicians to perform with them on stage, giving fans a rare glimpse into the true art of collaboration. Here are some of my favourites.

“Under Pressure” – Queen, David Bowie and Annie Lennox. Wembley Stadium, London. 1992.

Queen and Bowie originally recorded this track in 1981. In 1991, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury passed away. He was most well known for his eccentricity in his stage presence, in his fashion, in his music. In 1992, the remaining members of Queen held The Freddie Mercury Tribute concert, where all proceeds went to fund AIDS research. They teamed up with a number of musicians, including Bowie and Lennox, who are both quite unique in their own right. From Lennox’s theatrics, to Bowie’s really green suit and oddly mismatched eyes, they gave one hell of a performance.

“Stan” – Eminem and Elton John. Grammy Awards. 2001.

Eminem surprised fans and I’m pretty sure the entire industry when he agreed to do a duet with Elton John. It was such a big deal because at the time, Eminem was being heavily criticized for his homophobic lyrics/attitude. To quiet all the naysayers, in lieu of Dido, he chose openly gay piano-playing Elton John to accompany him on his track “Stan,” at the 2001 Grammy Awards. It was a big moment for everyone, and they even hugged it out and held hands at the end. Take that haters.

“All Along the Watchtower” – Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. St. Paul, Minnesota. 2004.

In 2004, a slew of musicians got together for the Vote for Change Tour. The purpose was to play in all the swing states to encourage them to vote. The line up was different in every city, and St. Paul was the only one lucky enough to see these two rock Gods tackle rock legend Bob Dylan’s eternal classic. They share a mic, play guitar facing each other, and just seem like they’re having the best time ever. It’s kind of bromantic. Not to mention, they’re both over the age of 60, and manage to rock out like they’re still teenagers. Impressive.

“Crush” – Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. Radio City Music Hall, NYC. 2007.

Dave Matthews of Dave Matthews Band is a genius on the acoustic guitar. Tim Reynolds is even better. He can master that instrument like nobody’s business. When you put the two of them together at Radio City Music Hall, what you get is pure ecstasy. Reynolds’ solos are fantastically fanatic, yet it’s as if he’s not even trying. Possibly one of the best versions of this DMB track I’ve ever heard; gives me chills every time.

“Glycerine” – Bush and Gwen Stefani. Gibson Amphitheatre, Los Angeles. 2012.

Gavin Rossdale of 90s post-grunge band Bush married Gwen Stefani of 90s rock band No Doubt. He was probably the sexiest man alive at the time and she, the sexiest woman. They created two gorgeous children, and after a ten year hiatus, Rossdale reunited the band and went on tour to support 2011’s The Sea of Memories. At a stopover at the Gibson Amphitheatre in L.A., the darling Gwen Stefani joined them on stage and she and her dear husband performed together. And it was adorable. They gushed over each other but it wasn’t gross; it was just so darn cute because everything about this couple is perfect. For someone who grew up in the 90s, this is a treat and a half.

Music brought to our attention this year worth mentioning, for better or for worse; without regard to record sales, popularity or radio play. Just a take on 2011’s music, as I heard it.

Best Folk AlbumThe King is Dead The Decemberists.

This album is a perfect example of why folk is starting to become more and more prevalent in popular music. Tracks like ‘This is Why we Fight’ and ‘Down by the Water’ have elements of folk, country, rock and pop blended together to create a complex sound. And yet they make it sound so simple.

Best TV Show Soundtrack:  How to Make it in AmericaVarious.

The tracks are always hip, perfectly placed and make every scene that much better. My personal favourite, M83’s ‘Midnight City’ playing while “Ben”, actor Bryan Greenberg, and “Nancy”, actress Gina Gershon, finally break the sexual tension between them in the backseat of a cab. So appropriate. Other artists on the soundtrack include Damian Marley, N.E.R.D., Martin Solveig and Otis Redding.

Biggest Loss for the Industry:  Amy Winehouse.

She was only 27 years old and even if you weren’t shocked by her passing – we were all aware of her struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism – you can’t ignore her talent or the music she brought into our lives. She will be missed.

Most Severe Identity Crisis:  Mylo XylotoColdplay.

Who are they trying to be? They blew our minds with Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head. X&Y wasn’t bad, but Viva la Vida or Death and all his Friends was the start of their descent and coincidentally, their ascension in mainstream music. The current album Mylo Xyloto (really?) can only signify they’ve fallen. I blame Gwyneth Paltrow and her obvious hindrance of Chris Martin’s creative mind. Naming your kid “Apple” doesn’t make you cool. Neither does putting out a song called “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”. Because it isn’t. The intended metaphor is pedestrian for a band like Coldplay, and the whole album is just lazy. I guess once you’ve hit it that big, you don’t need to try anymore. That’s a crying shame.

Best Collaboration Track:  “Paris”Jay-Z/Kanye West.

A great hip-hop/rap offering: it has quotes from the film Blades of Glory, courtesy of Will Ferrell and Jon Heder; it has references to fish filets, Gucci and Mary Kate and Ashley. But most importantly, it boasts lines like “That shit cray”, “Ball so hard” and my personal favourite, “Doctors say I’m the illest/Cause I’m suffering from realness”. Instant classic.

Worst Collaboration Track:  “E.T.”Katy Perry feat. Kanye West.

Katy Perry gave us some pretty useless tracks this year, including ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)’ and ‘Firework’. Her lyrics are terrible, her videos worse, she’s more than obnoxious and her permanent bug-eyed look a la Zooey Deschanel is infuriating. This track doesn’t help her credibility as a musician, it only makes things worse. And Kanye, after spitting great rhymes on ‘Paris’, completely fails on this track with lines like “Tell me what’s next/Alien sex?/I’ma disrobe you/Then I’ma probe you”. Poor Kanye, can’t get anything right.

Most Exploited Collaborator:  Pitbull.

Seriously, why does he appear on so many tracks? In 2011 alone, he was featured on J-Lo, Marc Anthony and Timbaland songs; he also released his own album Planet Pit (definitely somewhere I never want to visit), with songs featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer, T-Pain, Enrique Iglesias, Sean Paul, Kelly Rowland, Jamie Foxx and Chris Brown, to name a few. Call me crazy, but anyone who gets around that much is kind of a slut.

Worst Summer Anthem:  “Pumped up Kicks” Foster the People

It’s a track with dark lyrics, commenting on teenage gun violence, from the point of view of the shooter. Yet the upbeat, cheerful music with random whistling interludes (clearly stolen from OneRepublic’s ‘Good Life’) give it a bubble gum pop-rock sound. This song somehow went from no one listening to it at the beginning of the year, to mainstream by summer time. I’m still trying to figure out their intention: they obviously want to create awareness for a serious issue, but when disguised with unicorns and rainbows, no one’s really going to pay attention to the message. It was a summer anthem for many, just not for me.

Best Summer Anthem: “Young Blood”- The Naked and Famous

It’s a song about youth and hope, a song about possibilities and liberation. The music is uplifting and unique. Everything summer should be.

Better Gallagher Brother:  Noel.

Both former Oasis frontmen ventured into solo careers, and both released an album this year. Sorry Liam, you and your “Beady Eyes” just couldn’t compare to Noel and his “High Flying Birds”.

Most Confusing Video of the Year: “We Found Love” – Rihanna.
If you hear this track at a club, you can’t help but feel good, alive and full of life. When you watch the video, however, you can’t help but want to curl up in a ball in the corner of the room and cry. It shows two young adults constantly going on drug binges, jumping around, dancing, skateboarding, having the time of their lives, making out and making love. But it also shows them yelling at each other, fighting,  passing out on the floor, crying and sitting in a bathtub fully clothed. It’s like they’re saying don’t do drugs because look at what they do to you; while also saying do drugs, because look at what they do to you. You be the judge.

‘Bad Girl Turned Sad Girl’ of the Year:  Lindsay Lohan.
How many times can she go to jail? How many hours of community service can she do? How many more chances will she get? No one thinks of her as anything other than a pathetic disaster. At age 25 that’s just sad.

Douchebag of the Year:  Adam Levine of Maroon 5.

I can deal with Adam Levine’s egocentricity. I can turn a blind eye at his attempt to resurrect his career by being a judge on “The Voice”. I can even pretend I don’t notice that he’s an exhibitionist as most of Maroon 5’s videos feature him, and only him, semi-nude, getting frisky with a hot blonde. But what I can’t handle is that he claims to have the moves like Jagger. Adam, you’re not even close.

Most Surprising Song of the Year:  “How to Love” – Lil’ Wayne.

I don’t think I was the only person shocked by Lil’ Wayne’s attempt at singing. A love song of all things. We’re all used to his tough guy image, as seen in his gangster rap, his multiple tattoos, his trips to prison and his grills of course. But this track shows a completely different side of him: it’s sensitive, sends a beautiful message and aside from a little creepy raspiness, his vocals are half decent. Props to him for stepping outside the box and giving it a try. Who would’ve thought?

Least Surprising Song of the Year: “When We Stand Together”Nickelback

Why? Because it sounds like every other song they’ve ever written, produced and played. Who keeps telling them to make the same song over and over again? Take a hint Nickelback, none of us are standing together with you. 

Best Canadian Representation:  Take CareDrake.

So I’m not the hugest Drake fan out there, but he’s definitely talented and knows how to make a solid record, Take Care being no exception. He’s had collaborations with the best of them and is recognizable worldwide. He wins this category because everything about him is so Canadian. He always mentions his hometown of Toronto, he’s biracial, he’s friends with Justin Bieber, and he was on Degrassi – it just doesn’t get more Canadian than that.

Worst Canadian Representation:  Goodbye LullabyAvril Lavigne.
Avril first started out as a teeny-bopping, punk-rocking tomboy from Napanee, Ontario who became famous all over the world. Then she married and divorced Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and her music became boring: Goodbye Lullaby will put anyone to sleep. I understand a musician’s sound changes over time as they age, learn and develop. With experience, they can become more insightful and introspective. Avril may have used this album’s direction to demonstrate her growth and maturity. But then again, she’s dating Brody Jenner.

Hometown Shout Out:  USS ApprovedUbiquitous Synergy Seeker

It’s an eclectic album, fuses all kinds of sounds together and can put anyone in a good mood. Plus they’re from Toronto, why wouldn’t you want to check them out?

Best Live Show:   Ben Harper, Sound Academy, Toronto.
                             Eminem, Lollapalooza, Chicago.
                             Bon Iver, Massey Hall, Toronto.

Ben for his endless stamina and dedication to playing over three hours of live music non-stop. Eminem for throwing everything he had into his performance to ensure every fan out of thousands at Lollapalooza was entertained. Bon Iver for having such remarkable musicianship to bring an entire crowd to silence as they watched in awe.

Most Disappointing Album:  King of LimbsRadiohead.

After waiting four years for a follow up to the epic In Rainbows, all Thom Yorke and co. could do was produce eight mediocre tracks. The only thing they’re consistent at is being inconsistent.

Worst Song of the Year:  “The Lazy Song”Bruno Mars.

Everything about this song is painful. In the video his background dancers don monkey masks with sunglasses, his lyrics allude to him putting his hand down his pants and he himself was runner up for douchebag of the year. I don’t know if I’m more annoyed at him for making this song (or any of his other ones), or at the general public for accepting it. Note: I know everyone was expecting Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ but I’ve decided that she’s suffered enough for one year. She has been teased relentlessly for making a bad song, just like Aaron Carter and so many others have done before. She’s only fourteen, leave her alone.

Album of the Year:   CeremonialsFlorence and the Machine.
                                  Bon Iver, Bon Iver – Bon Iver.

It was a tough call to make so I chose both. They are equally unique and distinctive and stand out above the rest in their own way. The albums as a whole are musical genius. Florence’s voice is powerful and only amplified by the haunting, almost tribal-like music that accompanies it. Justin Vernon’s vocals for Bon Iver are ethereal and complemented by orchestral instruments and perfectly produced sounds. Either way, can’t go wrong.

Song of the Year:  “Someone Like You”Adele.

This was probably the easiest category. There is nothing wrong with this song: from production, to music, to lyrics and especially to vocals. Everything is flawless. And above all, it manages to break your heart, every time. Well done Adele, well done.