Monday, December 31, 2007

RE: THE BEST SONGS OF 2007: PART 3 (#41-60)

Part three of my list is indicative of what Interpol culled on their last album as 'pace is the trick'. These songs you either totally love or hate for their concepts and the execution. While I favour experimental wall of sound over traditional song structure, some of these songs borrow, steal or simple collate different standards all in the name of fun. Such daredevil action should be rewarded at all cost.

60.‘Paris is Burning’ (St. Vincent): while we wait new words from Portishead, here is the pop base trip/hop now operates from: a creepy bordering on slow-mo rave that utilizes a smart trick by under-funding itself both vocally and musically to heighten its full psychotic message.

59. ‘Goody’ (Cecile): kitty kat perfection.

58. ‘Antichrist Television Blues’ (Arcade Fire): fantastic Springsteen-induced rave.

57. ‘Flightless Bird, American Mouth’ (Iron & Wine): nice and touching.

56. ‘1234’ (Feist): almost Bjork-like in its unabashed joy, Feist lets her tightly coiled folk-leanings down and around her shoulders with such grace.

55. ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ (Radiohead): though it’s not as vicious as ‘2+2=5’, the track rushes about, jittery in aim and pace but glorious to witness.

54. ‘World Town’ (M.I.A): if this doesn’t convert you then nothing else ever will. Pure pop bliss with its catchy yet frantic chorus, Maya hurls on the ‘third world democracy’ our direction whether we’re ready for it or not.

53. ‘Melody Day’ (Caribou): a straight up psychedelic wonder, with its sinewy layers of sound, Caribou have crafted a sophisticated sound that strikes red hot too.

52.‘Flex’ (Dizzee Rascal): street flexing from his grime eminence.

51.‘Rehab’ (Amy Winehouse): brilliant, funk jam that nary tries to patch up a bruising, jaded soul.

50. ‘None Shall Pass’ (Aesop Rock): though his current opus couldn’t maintain the pace this scatter-heart single sets, one need not look too much away from its mélange brilliance: minimalist beats juxtaposed with bizarre vocals and it works stunningly.

49.‘Never Seen Your Face’ (Bishi): only the London underground could have produced both Bishi and this lead single from her upcoming album. Steeped in Eastern vocal styling and ornate production, the track unfurls with ‘Moulin Rogue’-like madness and culls any pretensions.

48. ‘Four Horsemen of 2012’ (Klaxons): chaotic but simply cool.

47. ‘Diss’ (Cat Call): another M.I.A sister spirit about to blow up big in ’08.

46.‘Handle Me’ (Robyn): no one does the Bjork/Pink divide better nor espouses so much pop attitude as well.

45. ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss’ (Yoko Ono): oldie but goodie with as wicked remix.

44. ‘She’s A Rejecter’ (Of Montreal): pure mania every time they rip the line, ‘oh, no/ she’s a rejecter’, then crash it all around them with chaotic noise. Lovely mess this!

43. ‘The Equestrian’ (Les Savy Fav): once again, their punk attitude hits you hard like a slap in the face.

42.‘Beautiful Girls’ (Sean Kingston): it’s hard to pin down the original version now given its many remixes but no matter, they’re all effective in showcasing Kingston’s nice contrast of grating vocals to so many spastic bursts of pop, reggae, steel pan and ska.

41. ‘Tame the Savage’ (Celebration): spins so gorgeously out of

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

THE TOP 100 SONGS OF 2007: #61--80 (PART 2)

Part two of my list is the unquestionably pop section. Almost every strain of pop is captured here:the heavy '80s frost of 'Catch You' to the blue-eyed refrain of 'Candyman'. It's as if serious artists have taken back the turf from the teeny-boppers that grabbed the spotlight just before the start of the decade. The genre also mixed itself with other genres too, to further blend the line of what can be considered pop in a natural state but when the results are this good then who cares....

80. ‘Yummy’ (Gwen Stefani): slinking further and further into a maze of uncertainty, Stefani ups the thug-girl shtick while the Neptunes keep her out of trouble with a minimalist beat. It shouldn’t have worked (Fergie would have tanked after the first couplet) but somehow Gwen crashes into the wall and walks away with hardly a bruise.

79. ‘Listening Man’ (The Bees): slow horns juxtaposed with a post-ska vibe, the track breezes through its sedate yet unreal aesthetics.

78. ‘How Come You Don’t Hold Me No More’ (Hot Puppies): excellent update of Sleater-Kinney’s ‘Milkshake n Honey’.

77. ‘Candyman’ (Christina Aguilera): credit Aguilera for plugging away until the ideal sugar comes along. It’s shameful fun without the trappings of intensity but somehow this adaptation works.

76. ‘Road to Recovery’ (Midnight Juggernauts): subdued pop gloss.

75. ‘Barracuda’ (Miho Hatori): a surreal piece of force.

74. ‘Earth Intruders’ (Bjork): I’ve always felt The Knife’s brilliant ‘We Share Our Mother’s Health’ was a challenging swipe at Bjork. For so long she has directed how electronica can be listened to but last year the pack behind her gained much ground. Bjork’s reply –‘Earth Intruders’—I view as the last stand to push herself further away again, as if indignant that she’s being overhauled. Timbaland provides the blissful funk and Bjork mouthing the shuffling feet sounds of her taking to flight. Another battle won.

73. 'Not Yet’ (The Veils): builds like a slow fire burning everything in sight.

72. ‘Bluebells’ (Patrick Wolf): wondrously touching and ever so deliciously ambiguous.

71. ‘Publisher’ (Blonde Redhead): lulls into a new dub haze by thankfully incorporating all three band members on vocals.

70. ‘O Katrina’ (Black Lips): nice, tight jam fitted into a critique on American Homeland response to the hurricane.

69. ‘Behave’ (Charlotte Hatherley): brilliantly balances nuance and subtlety to posit a psychedelic punch…and that lovely guitar strumming allows the song a blissful climax, swaying the whole thing into the cosmos.

68. ‘Evergreen’ (Celebration): unwinds like a psychedelic wonder, especially towards the end when they croon ‘sun down’ alongside the subtle yet insistent drums.

67. ‘Dancing on Our Graves’ (The Cave Singers): brilliant rock lullaby.

66. ‘Satan Said Dance’ (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah): loopy pianos give way to stoned vocals reminiscent of the Rolling Stones plus creepy right through.

65. ‘Catch You’ (Sophie Ellis Bextor): it’s taken a while but Annie Lennox influence has finally hit mainstream. ‘Catch You’ rekindles Lennox’s strident attack on pop with its currents of 80’s style synths. Pure and simply enjoyable.

64. ‘The Coolest’ (Lupe Fiasco): straight up rap that other people would kill for, the other rappers will witness his greatness in ’08.

63. ‘To the Dogs or Whoever’ (Josh Ritter): in a year when rock moved away from simplicity, Ritter hung tough by Dylan-esque word power. His aim is the personal though, like a stern parent directing the lives of others.

62. ‘Patty Lee’ (Les Savy Lee): on its attitude alone, this is an outstanding winner.

61. ‘Not The Way That I Do’/ ‘Baby Makin’ Hips’ (Fantasia): proving to be more than a one trick pony usually entails doing things totally different but Fantasia struts the same groove with the same attitude and its better, classy and gutsy enough to succeed. This is beyond even Beyonce in full flight.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Part One: THE BEST SONGS OF 2007 (#81--#100)

As this is a five (5) part series, I'll just use the different issues to sum up the theme of the songs. 2007 had probably the most wide assortment of noise-makers than any other year. The fact that these songs are at the end of my top 100 songs shouldn't distract from their just means that the tracks ahead of them were even more radical. The sound merchants are represented through the likes of Dan Deacon and Battles, both who tinkle with electronic urges. In Deacon's case, he suffuses more vocals and comical gaffes. R&B sees the new-comer Estelle about to blow up Stateside surely with the release of a track that is subtle but irresistable. Even more established acts but less than revolutionary offering found a nice range to espouse their egos further (Kanye, Beyonce). Enough talk, here's the first batch of twenty songs.

100. ‘The Chills’ (Peter, Bjorn & John): creepy, but nice creepy, PB&J captured hearts with the strange 'Young Folk' last year (well, not mine...the song didn't make my list year and isn't on this one either). Believe me when I say it's probably the weakest thing on their fine 'Writer's Block' disc whereas 'The Chills' arguably is the best. As the title suggests, this is a blast of icy maturity wrapped in warm vocal work.

99. ‘Esmeralda’ (Speech): all but vanquished from the music scene but the prodigal son returned to the fold along with his band to deliver what is a standard funk exercise.

98. ‘Sugar Mama’ (Beyonce): in a totally new approach, Miss Knowles caressed our thoughts instead of ramming down our throats (as in the case of the equally yummy 'Upgrade U') and behold the sultry result.

97. ‘Atlas’ (Battles): in many ways, ‘Atlas’ highlights the highs and lows of Battles: in its initial segments it proves wildly exciting but it subsides towards it end, leaving us on a high but wishing for more. In a sense though, I'm sure the band and those who gush effusively about them, will say this is precisely the intended effect.

96. ‘Debbie’ (Architects in Helsinki): noisy, loud yet irrepressibly with momentum. This from a group that still wildly grafts any noise they can imagine themselves funking to then recycling it our way.

95. ‘Dumb Animal’ (TV on the Radio): last year’s champions return with an electric EP and this was the most wowing moment. Notice the gleeful shards of electronic feedback towards the end. A year one from the monumental 'Wolf Like Me' and still no group rocks the house like them.

94. ‘Innocence’ (Bjork): it’s been a long time since Bjork has left herself so vocally open to the sheer nuance that it evokes, juxtaposed with Timbaland’s insistent beats. The many different remixes I've heard are way more fun but even in such a natural state, the two titans of pop have balanced out each other's egos and haven't disappointed (which is more than I can say for both solo disc).

93. ‘St. John’ (Cold War Kids): odd flow works nicely.

92. ’Bound’ (Suzanne Vega): even in this current resirrection of her career, 'Bound' proves that no one can parry pop more fecklessly than this woman and unlike others, she can spread it delicately on an entire album too.

91. ‘Crystal Cat’ (Dan Deacon): boldly going further than others like Battles dared to, Deacon fuses electronic sparks on ‘Crystal Cat’ endlessly and, more crucially, successfully. That a pudgy Caucasian can make this type of record and get critical praise for it is really scary.

90. ‘Minaret’ (John Vanderslice): brilliant piano-laced track that drapes its sentiment post 9/11 rememberance. A line like, ‘same name, same war’ is more than a cheeky political reference too.

89. ‘Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)’ (Estelle): ah, the new funk/blues leading lady!

88. ‘Rock Number One’ (Cassius): sheer funk bliss and somehow I get this more than the over-hyped Burial disc.

87. ‘Electrik Boogie’ (Ursula 1000): the influence of Prince crops up all over this much so that one is tempted to remember that the Purple One actually did solo work this year.

86. ‘Stronger’ (Kanye West): though it points to a departure (or is it demise?) of sorts, the Daft Punk sample absolutely rocks here. One of the few forward-thinking tracks on his otherwise dull album.

85. ‘Plaster Casts of Everything’ (Liars): frizzled jam that scoops its insides without copping out. Takes guts to dare put out a record like this and let people love it.

84. ‘North American Scum’ (LCD Soundsystem): cohesively impressive blast of funk from one of the milestone albums of the year.

83. ‘Take My Time’ (Junior Senior): white boy geek pop isn’t supposed to be this fun and formidable and it many ways this group has surely evolved by now: this is from their 2005 album that is only now swimming Southside.

82. ‘Don’t You Evah’ (Spoon): a blissful soul whooping.

81. ‘Art of Story Telling Pt. 4’ (Outkast feat. Floetry): even with a suspect Floetry crooning the chorus, Outkast fizzes the freshest rhymes exquisitely.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


As it's the festive season, I've decided not to rank the songs this time around. In fact, as with the case of my impending top 100 songs list., the uniformity of 2007 meant that all lists proved hard to pin point the utmost best or worst (except my album list). All of these twenty songs are so horrible and in some cases disappointing that you can decide the order in which you want to decipher them. No surprises that hip/hop had more than 50% of the list given its current malaise. Reunions by two 1990s powerhouses proved comical at best and as for the rest, a big 'UGH'.

Here they are...

1. ‘The Way I Live’ (Baby Boy Da Prince feat. P. Town): ridiculous and horrible.

2. ‘Taking Chances’ (Celine Dion): really Celine, all those years in Vegas run contrary to this song's title.

3. ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ (MIMS): shameless and self-effacing and he has Jamaican ties.

4. ‘Doe Boy Fresh’ (Three 6 Mafia): totally horrible.

5. ‘On The Hotline’ (Pretty Ricky): redundant and juvenile.

6. ‘Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)’ (The Spice Girls): they came back together for the purpose of this crap?!

7. ‘Girlfriend’/ ‘Hot’ (Avril Lavigne): the sound of a sell-out, Lavigne embarrasses herself with this generic answer to Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’. Come to think of it Lavigne hasn't produced a single track worthy of anything but damnation on her current CD.

8. ‘Joe Grine’ (Kiprich feat. Delicious): terribly wooden.

9. ‘Lip-gloss’ (Lil Mama): are you serious with this!

10. ‘Same Girl’ (R. Kelly & Usher): depressingly retrograde.

11. ‘A Bay Bay’ (Hurricane Chris): so bad that it’s laughable.

12. ‘You Know What It Is’ (T.I): totally boring with Wyclef proving how annoying he can be.

13. ‘Wanna Love You Girl’ (Robin Thicke feat. Snoop & Pharrel): the flattest vocal work ever.

14. ‘I Fell In Love with a DJ’ (Che’Nelle featuring Babycham): ugh and trite.

15. ‘Wake Up Call’ (Maroon 5): totally drags its feet on its own concept.

16. ‘Ayo Technology’ (50 Cent feat. Justin Timbaland & Timbaland): a trite effort with the least effective Tim beat ever produced. All three are stretched beyond relevancy.

17. ‘Crank That’ (Solja Boy Tell ‘Em): like a slow painful death.

18. ‘I Got It From My Mama’ (Will I Am): totally ridiculous.

19.‘Rockstar’ (Nickelback): ugh.

20. ‘(I Wanna See You) Push It Baby’ (Pretty Ricky feat. Sean Paul): vapid

Thursday, December 13, 2007


In a way, it's a real pity that I'm only posting the absolutely ten worst films I saw this year when in fact 2007 has had such a bumper crop of bad, inane films. These films have no 'technicalities' attached to them, they're just awful. Other films like 'Premonition' and 'Balls of Fury' just narrowly avoid the list because these ten were even worse but even 'Spiderman 3' deserves a bad rap. The most worrying trend is the fixation directors have when it comes especially to sequels: trying out new character plots that sink the film and make 'wrap up' difficult to achieve. Or, there's the start of a trilogy like 'The Golden Compass' for example that uses its time (and, alas! ours too) toexplain what we already know in a most laborious manner. Then there are films like '300' and 'The Last Legion' that parade as a historical account of something but what they omit is as disastorous as what they put in.
That said, here are the worst films of the year:

1. ‘Hannibal: Rising’: for a film that chronicles the upbringing of a brilliant serial killer this film lacks everything except its unending boredom. Dr. Lecter is stripped of any personality, sexual overtone or any real conviction of his cannibalism. Add an Oriental relative that figures more of an Electra-complex figure and the word ‘twisted’ doesn’t even begin to explain this hash.

2. ‘Wild Hogs’: The generic plot is the main offender here: four friends—a portly Martin Lawrence is thrown in for racial harmony—decide to rediscover their machismo on an outback road trip. What ensues is one cliché-ridden romp to another and a lot of really disappointing slapstick humor.

3. ‘The Number 23’: Jim Carey plays a man obsessed with mathematical equations that all add up to the number 23. If the film actually trued to revert everything from that figure, like, with a plot for example, then maybe the straws it grasps for would’ve allowed it to breathe easier, instead it sucks up the life out of this hollow, absurdity that tries to pass itself off as horror.

4. ‘Vacancy’: As ‘Vacancy’ ascribes to be a type of thriller, what occurs after each scene is supposed to induce paranoia but, even though the motel manager (a creepy bordering on annoying Frank Whaley) is confirmation that the night will be hell to survive, it never successfully manages to unearth much after this set up because it relies too much on the obvious and what not needed to have been hidden. Excruciatingly bad

5. ‘Mr. Brooks’: If the notion of Kevin Costner playing a serial killer disturbs you because you know there’s no way he’s edgy enough to pull it off then skip ‘Mr. Brooks’, a dull film that tries to carp out intricate thrills from performances that are laden with rigor mortis. Not even the presence of the usually wild-ride William Hurt can sustain interest because his imaginary character is held in check. Still, if the plot hadn’t cornered itself so deep in etching mystery then maybe it’d breathe better. Oh, by the way, if the notion of Demi Moore playing a serial cop disturb you…

6. ‘Hostel II’: Roth doesn’t spend too much time with logics in ‘Hostel II’, instead he laboriously shows us the behind the scenes excitement to collecting the human prey. I can’t recall any other horror flick making its aim and outcome so evident and not expecting to suffer for this foresight of our knowledge. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

7. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’: over long, over wretched with its plot and over the edge tipping towards south in terms of everything else except actually trying to balance its messy equations.

8. ‘Blood and Chocolate’: A film that pretends to chronicle the lives of were-wolves then stops and turns to an impossibly trite love affair with a human involved. ‘Blood and Chocolate’ uses every conceivable cliché and still ends up chewing its leg off.

9. ‘Transformers’: ‘Transformers’ readily embraces the summer’s worst trend of tacking on multiple characters and plots to give the illusion of strength to an already burgeoning script. Here we are kept tediously updated with the happenings of the Defense Secretary (Jon Voight) and soldiers fighting unknown technology near Qatar. In addition, Agent Simmons (John Turturro) of the unclassified Sector Seven and our hero, Sam (Shia LaBeouf, in the reprisal of his ‘Disturbia’ role, but downright uninteresting here) become tied to the plot as well. Four continuous and drab story-lines that not only go nowhere in the end but keep the time of the first attack by a Decepticon to the next way too long to sustain much interest in the ground-breaking CGI technology that we’ve glimpsed in trailers for the film.

10. ‘The Brave One’: While she struggles mentally to decide what to coherently follow, ‘The Brave One’ tethers with a look back to Erica’s (Jodie Foster) past and sees nothing to offer her or us real or imagined. Because the principle of exacting revenge is never fully explored to or by her at any point ‘The Brave One’ ends up toothless despite arming itself for the long haul. Like her other recent films, Foster carries this one viciously overboard by integrating all her previous ebullient roles into this persona and the necrophilia is utterly wooden.