Showing posts with label daft punk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label daft punk. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

the top ten best hit songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

Always the one that's the most entertaining to put together, a real treat here. Enjoy!

the top ten best hit songs of 2017

So as I said in my last list, I haven't considered 2017 nearly as bad of a year as some critics have, especially when it comes to the hits. Yeah, there was a lot of stupid, misinformed, or just outright offensive garbage that clogged up the charts, and I can see if you weren't willing to dig beyond the top ten you might dispirited in the dreary trap slog, but the truth is that the songs that did break away from that sound or mold - or hell, even a few of the tracks within it - were true gems across multiple genres. Yeah, country struggled in the mainstream this year, but there was real greatness in pop, hip-hop, EDM, R&B, and even some rock-leaning tunes. I wouldn't quite say the overall quality or sheer number of hits is comparable to 2015 or 2012, but it is up there. 

And what surprised me in a great way was the truly amazing hits of this year were strong enough to maybe even reach my year-end list of my favourite songs of 2017, not just the hits! And you know, for as many obscure or weird albums as I cover and then love, this is still a great feeling, that sometimes quality does win out and rise to mainstream prominence for everyone to share, and that's good for culture everywhere! Yeah, I know some of these picks might be controversial - especially in my Honourable Mentions - but as always they debuted on the year-end Hot 100 for 2017, and I did manage to find some quality here. So let's start with the Honourable Mentions, particularly one that if you saw my worst hits last year might shock you a bit...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 10, 2016 (VIDEO)

So this video was longer than usual... and actually really great, I dug the hell out of this! Two good weeks in a row... man, if only I had any hope we could keep this up, 2017 has some real potential to be a damn good year.

In the mean time, let's take care of old business next, shall we? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 10, 2016

So this week was a little weird. Not just because we started getting tracks from The Weeknd earlier than expected - I'm imagining next week to be just overloaded - but we got some big surprises all over the place, including a few artists I have not thought about or talked about in years. That, at the very least promised to make things interesting - note that I didn't precisely say good, although there really was some promise here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 8, 2016

So this was an interesting week. I'm hesitating to call it a great one - the fall turbulence is continuing and I'm not sure all the results of that are good... but the more I think about the trends here, the more I'm seeing things start to recover a bit, especially in terms of the songs rotating in and out. And while there are a few trouble spots - we'll get to them - overall this didn't seem all that bad, right?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the top 25 best albums of 2013

And now we're down to the final list - my top twenty-five albums of 2013. This year, I reviewed 135 albums - and frankly, I should have done more. But I feel it's a plenty big sample size to discuss my choices, and all of these earned their slots on this list. I'll also try to keep this as quick as I possibly can - I've already talked about all of these albums in detail, and you should all check out my reviews if you want a more in-depth discussion. Also, my list isn't exactly going to correspond with common critical consensus - there are albums I have picked that have been ignored, and there are certain albums that some critics lauded that I didn't find nearly as strong. Got all that? Good, because we're not waiting any longer, let's GO!

the top 50 best songs of 2013 (PART TWO: 25-1)

Whew, that takes care of that.

Last one is the long-awaited albums of the year - stay tuned!

the top 50 best songs of 2013

Some of you are probably scratching your heads with confusion at the title of this list and wondering, 'Wait, didn't he already make this exact same list a few days ago?' Well, this list is significantly different than the last one, mostly because we're no longer talking about the hits. No, these are the songs, singles or otherwise, that appeared on the albums I listened through this year and stuck with me. They aren't the hits - most of you might not recognize the songs I mention, but all of them bear the highest of my personal recommendations. That's right, from the 135 albums I reviewed this year, these were my favourite songs. I'm not segregating them by genre or success - singles or deep cuts all have a chance to make this list, which was initially reduced from thousands down to 436, which was then narrowed down to fifty. And believe me, even with that I had to make some painful cuts, and what is on this list will surprise you. So, without any more delay, here are my Top 50 Songs of 2013! Let's get started!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

the top ten best hit songs of 2013 - video

So this turned out as well as I expected. List 2/4 done, stay tuned for more!

the top ten best hit songs of 2013

Here's a fun fact about me - as much as I nitpick and criticize and say all manner of things people don't want to hear about the music they love, I've got my own fair share of popular music that I cherish, appreciate, or outright love. Sometimes, quality rises to the top, and while none of this particular list will show up on my upcoming list of the best songs of this year, I still think they're worth mentioning if only to reinforce some vague sense of populism that I have. But really, it's nice to point out that some mainstream music gets popular because it's good, and sometimes pop or country or mainstream hip-hop can be just as good as the most underground of indie hits.

Now the rules are as before: the songs have to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart this year - so as good as 'Die Young' by Ke$ha or 'Some Nights' by fun. are, I can't exactly mention them again on this list after they made my list last year. And on that note, don't expect any sort of coherent theme to these picks. While my year-end worst list had an abundance of terribly vapid luxury rap (especially near the top), on a year as varied and confused as the 2013 chart would indicate, my choices might surprise you. And fair warning: you won't agree with the majority of this list.

So let's get started with some Honourable Mentions, shall we?

Monday, July 29, 2013

album review: 'blurred lines' by robin thicke

For those of you who haven't been following the charts this year, let me provide a bit of commentary discussing the bizarre trends sprouting up on the Billboard Hot 100. While the year started slow (with the early months dominated by either the Harlem Shake, 'Thrift Shop', or a series of piano-driven ballads), a new trend began to coalesce as the summer began, a trend spurred by the release of a critically acclaimed album courtesy of one of the best electronica groups in the country, an album I may have already reviewed.

The song was 'Get Lucky', the band was Daft Punk, the album was Random Accessed Memories, and the music was a blend of funk and disco, two genres that many considered dead at the end of the 70s. And yet here they were, making a comeback unlike anything we'd seen. And while I had been saying the 70s had been making a comeback since earlier this year, it was nice to see the charts reflect some of that. And really, the stylistic flourishes that represented that decade were popping up all over the chart, from the chanting and 'righteous cause' bombast from Macklemore to the slick R&B touches with Justin Timberlake. Hell, Snoop Lion dropped an album that was basically an attempt at resurrecting politically-charged reggae! And with the exception of 'When I Was Your Man', both of Bruno Mars' charting singles were basically 70s throwbacks and they were easily on par with the best of his material!

But really, the song that had to rise to the top was 'Get Lucky'. Not only was it a scintillating and enthralling blend of disco and funk modernized, it had a real playful elegance in the lyrics that vaulted it above the average disco track. In my mind, it still is in hot contention for my list of the best songs of the year, and it might just rise to the top.

Unfortunately, it's been blocked from the #1 slot by another pseudo disco track that apparently jumped out of nowhere, also starring Pharrell, a song that very quickly drew some controversy for some rather overtly sexual lyrics. And it's this song - the title track from the album we're going to talk about today - that has blocked Daft Punk for over five weeks, and it's courtesy of an artist who I thought went out of business a good six years ago.

So let's talk about this artist, shall we? Robin Thicke is a guy you're all forgiven for forgetting, because outside of one single Glee did infinitely better, he honestly hasn't done much that I immediately remembered. Granted, I give him a bit more credit going back through his discography, but I've never been able to like his music all that much, and after listening through his albums, I think I know why. 

For starters, unlike many R&B crooners, Robin Thicke does have a fair amount of vocal personality, and his falsetto range is incredibly impressive (see, Julian Casablancas, this is how you do it). And I'll give him this, when he wants to make a song that sounds incredibly sexual, he has the slick sophistication and class to make it work. However, there's something about his delivery that doesn't quite click with me, namely that I never quite buy that he's entirely emotionally invested in his material. In comparison to, say, Usher, who throws everything and the kitchen sink into his love songs, Robin Thicke is a bit more laid-back, and that kind of puts me off a bit. On top of that, too often his lyrics can be a little too jokey and silly, and while there is a certain degree of self-awareness, it can sometimes undercut or confuse the emotional current of the song.

Now granted, I'll admit right now that R&B isn't my strong suit when it comes to genres (one of the reasons I didn't review Ciara's Body Party, outside of no interest and the general consensus being rather mixed on it). It's not that I can't recognize good R&B, but more that I have a much smaller tolerance for it in comparison to, say, country music. Most of this comes from the lyrics, in that too often the subject matter behind them seems a bit thin or the lyrics feel underwritten. But then again, that might be an area where Robin Thicke's goofier side might be an asset - he might not make an incredibly intelligent or moving R&B album, but I bet he could still make an interesting one.

So, how does his new album Blurred Lines fare?

Youtube review after the jump

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

album review: 'random accessed memories' by daft punk

You know, for every terrible or Chris Brown album I review, there's one great benefit to this gig, and it's a fairly simple one: getting the chance to go through the discographies of the greats.

It's a real thrill of anticipation, knowing that you're going to be perusing the collected works of acts that have amassed critical praise and massive success, but that you've never really had the chance to enjoy in detail. It's that amazing feeling when you realize you've discovered an artist for the first time (in your mind, at least) and you're experiencing something special, getting the chance to listen or watch something that can open your mind to all new possibilities. Because as fun as it can be to tear the justly deserving a new one, it's even more fun to find an act that has experienced critical praise and discover for yourself just how and why they got it. And while you will run into occasional duds or stretches of mediocrity, more often than not you find greatness. Of course, it's even more fun to find an unjustly overlooked act and sing their praises to the high heavens (which was my Nick Cave experience), but sometimes it's just as revelatory to join with the crowd.

And thus it becomes so cruelly ironic that it is only now I'm examining Daft Punk, one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved electronic acts of all time, and one that has built so much of their music on the principle of bringing people together. I'm completely serious here: up until this week, my experience of listening to Daft Punk has been confined to the few singles I've heard and a viewing of Interstella 5555 a long time ago. I've known they're great - they're one of the few unequivocably great things about TRON: Legacy - but I've never really had the chance to delve into the Daft Punk oeuvre.

Now, those of you who have read these reviews before likely know why I've been slow to listen to Daft Punk, but I'm sure a few of you are asking, 'well, if you knew Daft Punk was so goddamn great, why the hell didn't you listen to them before?' And really, that's a completely fair question - unlike Nick Cave or Depeche Mode, Daft Punk really don't have the massive backlog discography that would render tearing through their early albums all that strenuous. But those of you who have read my reviews before likely remember my general objections to reviewing electronica, mostly because I'm still not all that sure how to do it properly. That's one of the reasons you never saw a review of Armin van Buuren's new trance album that came out early this month - as much as they'd make my reviews considerably shorter, I tend to respond better when it comes to more lyrical material that relies more on words and less on feeling. And considering so much of electronica is based on feeling and mood (unless you're a serious sound nerd who can pull apart individual pieces of the song and assign meaning to them - I've seen a few of these guys and they're something else), I feel a little unqualified to talk about it.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I can speak at great length about an electronic act like The Chemical Brothers, of whom I'm a big fan. But this, I think, comes down to an issue of construction - so much of The Chemical Brothers' material is based upon judiciously chosen samples and a semi-coherent narrative that I find them more accessible, at least for reviewing purposes. It's a little easier to chart out album themes and messages with lyrics or samples, instead of just coming from the musical 'feel', per se.

But Daft Punk were different, at least on their early albums. They came onto the scene in the late 90s with Homework, and were immediately distinguishable from the rest of the Eurodance with an embrace of funky electronica and an array of weirdness in their audiovisual style. Like the rest of their contemporaries, the thematic elements of their music were about bringing people together to dance and have a great time, but the introduction of funk into the mix gave their music a strange edge that was distinctive, but not confrontational. In comparison to the sugary, super-optimistic dance tracks of the mid-to-late 90s, Daft Punk were expressing the same emotions but filtering them through a very different aesthetic, which gave their music a lot of character and personality. Their embrace of mid-to-late 70s funk tunes might seem a bit confrontational for electronica, but by filtering the energy and looseness of funk through their unique vision they created a sound unlike any of their contemporaries. It was a fusion of two musical genres very different in tone and theme, but very alike in energy and passion, creating something very much unlike anything else in modern music.

Then came Discovery and Interstella 5555, and at least to me, these two are halves of the same incredible whole. The music so perfectly matches the animation that considering one without the other feels a little incomplete, but it's a real testament to how great the disco-inspired album is that it still manages to hold up as an incredibly solid album on its own. If I was forced to make a choice between Discovery and Homework... damn, that's a tough choice, but I'd probably go for Discovery if only due to the fact that it's a little tighter and the disco melody lines are a little stronger. Plus, the sound is a bit more varied and there's a lot of emotional texture on Discovery that I really appreciated. As it is, it's one of the greatest electronic albums of all time and I can't help but place it in the upper echelons of great music.

And then Daft Punk made Human After All, and I'll be the first one to say that I don't dislike this album with the same intensity that a lot of Daft Punk fans do. Yes, it's not nearly as good as Homework or Discovery, but I still dug the hell out of the sludgy, rawer feel they were looking to create. The problem was that they didn't quite deviate enough from the formula, which got old and tired pretty fast. But while I'm convinced Daft Punk could have made a stronger album here with the material they were pursuing, it was enough to push Daft Punk back towards the material that made them stronger and iconic. 

And with that, after a series of live cuts and soundtracks, they made Random Access Memories, the now critically-acclaimed album that has been embraced and beloved by many? So what do I think of it?