So, it's about that time that everyone with a keyboard and internet access compiles a list of their favorite things that came out during the year. And you already know I had to get on board.
But rather than a "Top However-Many," I'm just going to go with some superlatives. These are the things that I had thoughts about this year. Everything else I just kind of stared at blankly and walked away from.
Most Isolating Film:
People who saw this -- and even some who only peeped the trailer -- seemed to have to have the most over-the-top reactions I've ever witnessed, myself included. I, for one, saw it, loved it, went and bought the soundtrack the next day, and then got the DVD when it came out. Others, though, threatened to stop talking to me because they saw it on my recommendation. The people that hated this movie REALLY hated this movie. But the people that loved it, seemed to obsess over it for months. So I guess, thanks Sofia Coppola for giving all us pretentious artdouches something to argue about in '07.
(edit: the thought occurred that this movie was actually released in theaters in '06, but since the DVD came out at the beginning of '07 it stays)
Most Amazing Television Show:
From the moment I first saw the teaser for Vh1's Flavor of Love Girl's Charm School I knew it was going to be my favorite show. And it did not let me down. It's the scene when Schatar gives Mo'Nique (even typing these names seems to prove the how fantastic this slice of television history truly was) the infamous "titty apple": from that point on, it was non-stop jawdropping for half an hour every week. And then twist of all twists, it actually had kind of an emotional ending. Well, right up until Larissa got all ass-out at the reunion special.
I must say, this show had some stiff competition from Vh1's other tribute to the subtle elegance of womanhood, Rock of Love. But at the end of the day, Brett Michaels is just no Mo'Nique, and that made all the difference.
"My Moon, My Man" rocked my speakers from the moment it was released. And then when "1 2 3 4" hit as the follow-up, I had my bus pass ready and waiting to go the day The Reminder was finally released.
Yeah, too bad the album blows. It's the classic case of the singles being the only good songs. "Sealion" is pretty catchy, but it's also a cover. And there are isolated moments in random songs that are worth hearing. But as a whole, this album was a colossal snooze to me. A lot of the tracks are really similar, a lot of the lyrics are about the same subject matter, and a lot of the instrumentation is repetitive. Add to this, I think Feist's voice was a lot more on point when she did Let It Die. For the record, THAT album was one of my favorites that year, so please don't think I'm just anti-Feist. But The Reminder went from being my most anticipated album of the year to my least favorite within the stretch of about one week and three listens. Weak.
Song People Who Have Been in My Car Are Probably Sick of Hearing:
"Bamboo Banga" is my shit. There's simply no other way to put it. M.I.A. laid it down on this track and I can't get enough of it. I first listened to it when it leaked, after I swore I wasn't going to ruin the album for myself by hearing everything out of sequence before it hit stores. But the first 30 seconds of this song hit me like that first cigarette puff and I've been hooked since. Ms. Arulpragasam, you did indeed come back with "power power," and I thank you for it.
Breath-robbing Live Show:
This year I attended more concerts than any one year of my life prior. Why? I had money to burn, and a lot of acts I enjoy all decided to hit the road at the same time. Fine by me.
Regina Spektor, Sparklehorse, Joanna Newsom, M.I.A., and Tori Amos (in no particular order) were all personal highlights of the concert circuit. But no one killed it like Bjork killed it.
The woman received a 2 hour standing ovation from the seated-show crowd at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Even during "Cover Me," which she sang accompanied only by her keyboardist on harpsichord, the crowd stayed standing and in awe.
And beyond that, there were fire, lasers, a brass band, a bunch of crazy electronic instruments (including the mythic reacTable) and live percussion, and Bjork herself running around with her seemingly endless supply of energy. It was rave meets symphony, and it was unbelievable. No one does it like Bjork.
Greatest Thing Ever (this year or otherwise)
You may not care, but to me 2007 will possibly one of the greatest years of my life simply because my three favorite musicians all released albums this year, and they were all great.
Bjork (while we're still on the subject) put out Volta which continues her streak of making music that sounds unlike anything else happening in the industry. It's a fusion of West African rhythms, Chinese instrumentation, classical horn arrangements, and political themes: all of course with a generous helping of Bjork's 30th-century digital stylings.
As Feist's The Reminder was the most disappointing album of the year, Tori Amos's American Doll Posse was the most surprising. What's weird: they were released on the same day in the States. But when I went to buy them both, I approached Ms. Amos' album with a bit of trepidation as the predecessor -- The Beekeeper -- was a bit of a clunker. But to my extremely pleasant surprise, the new album is really the best she's made since her mid-90s heyday and I fell madly in love with it. Not to say that it couldn't be shorter (it's over 20 tracks long), but on the whole it's the most engaging work she's put out since she started maturing her sound at the turn of the century, and one of my three favorite albums of the year.
The real stunner this year though, for me, was White Chalk by PJ Harvey. I wasn't thrilled with the first single "When Under Ether" (even though it has since grown on me), but that track is really just a teaser trailer for what's contained in this album. Both beautiful and searing, White Chalk is a collection of some of the best songs ever written by an artist who's already made six albums of amazing songs. Never one to repeat herself, which is really an understatement, this album bears nothing in common with any of the work that has proceeded it: where is the electric guitar? where are the aggressive drum patterns? where is the rock star demanding you "lick her legs" before she cuts yours off? Not on this album. And yet, for as stately, acoustic, and (most shockingly) quiet as the music sounds, there's still something in the delivery that emotionally knocks the wind out of you.
I could go on and on about this record, but I won't. Hell, I'm happy you even read this far. But suffice it to say it's a genius work and probably my favorite of the year.
(M.I.A.'s Kala is a strong runner up.)
And now, for the most important award . . .
Most Obvious Douchebag:
You already know
It's Britney, bitch.
Ms. Spears participated in SO much douchery this year: the irresponsible parenting, the erratic behavior, the VMA disaster, that weave. But, truly, it's the absolute refusal to get help that makes her 2007's most obvious douchebag. Because anyone who could see his/her own kids plastered on so many tabloids because of his/her actions and not lock his/herself into rehab is really a remarkable piece of work.
Props to Chris Crocker for working so hard to earn this honor for himself, even in his manic defense of Britney (which I'm not even going to link to because you've probably already seen it a thousand times, and also because as viral videos go, posting that mess is like intentionally giving someone herpes). But even he is no match for The Toxic One.
So here's to you, Britney Spears, for setting the live performance bar even lower, for confirming the obvious that you needn't be talented to be a celebrity, and most importantly for showing the doubtful that women can be douchebags too.
Have a happy new year, everybody. Thanks for reading.