Editor’s Note 12.28.11: The Top 10 Pet Peeves of 2011
THE TOP 10 PET PEEVES OF 2011
For the seventh year in a row, I am presenting my Top 10 Pet Peeves. It is a blast for me because I enjoy bitching about various aspects of pop-culture, and since 411mania is a pop-culture website, I have the opportunity to do that. I am sure you will waste no time in telling me how stupid some of my choices are. Oh well. These things annoy the hell out of me, but they might not strike the same chord for you.
It is important to note that many people or things will not show up because they have made so many appearances in the past, and I hate to reiterate myself too many times. To view my lists from previous years, and to see how odd some of my selections look now, click on any of the links below:
* Christmas Music Too Early
* Liam and Noel Gallagher
* Excessive Spoiler Reporting on Movies That Aren’t Out Yet
* Outrageously Dressed Pop Stars
10. Netflix – It hasn’t been the best year for Netflix, or its CEO Reed Hastings for that matter. Now, I’m not going to get pissy and say the selection for Watch Instant is poor because there are reasons for that, but Netflix has been a thorn in many of our sides this past year. From raising the prices of our monthly bills to the failed attempt to separate Netflix discs from the VOD service and call it Qwikster, I wished they would have not changed anything and kept the operation running as smoothly as it was before. I actually lost count at how many times Hastings had to apologize for various confusing alterations. I still love using Netflix, but they slipped up on too many occasions recently. Here’s hoping 2012 is brighter for the company. They need it.
9. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore – One of many celebrity relationships that were shoved down our throats this year, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore refused to go away and leave us the hell alone. If you are someone who uses Twitter, they might have been extra annoying unless of course you found their marriage fascinating, which is scary. Both scolded the tabloid press for being brave enough to suggest that Kutcher was cheating, but then it came forward that he was (duh), and coverage on them increased. Ugh. It’s amazing to me that we view these actors’ affairs as shocking and so scandalous. From then on, we had to hear about their problems 24 frickin 7. Inevitably, they split up, but then they were going to try and talk about it, then they ran into each other at the same restaurant, and it was a never ending stream of news that made me dumber. I didn’t care when they got together, and I especially don’t care that they are no longer an item. Let’s move on!!
8. AMC Stubs – I’m not sure how many of you have AMC theaters in your area, but they are one of the most popular theater chains in the country, so I’m hoping most of you will be familiar with their Stubs program. First of all, for those that have seen the advertisement for the Stubs card, I’m sure you will agree it doesn’t get more lame than that cringe-worthy animated short. What better way to turn us off than show us a couple girls talking about a hot guy. What makes Stubs so moronic is that some of us still remember the AMC MovieWatcher card, which was FREE. The Stubs card costs money, and you don’t get anything more than you did with the MovieWatcher card. What a slap in the face. Beyond that, I now get asked to join by every employee when I go to an AMC theater, so much that I want to rip my hair out. If I haven’t been asked to join Stubs at least three times during a trip to the movies, something is wrong. Yes, AMC is begging people to sign up by gradually wearing them down. I don’t mind free popcorn, drinks, and tickets from points gathered everytime I pay for a ticket, but the catch is that any time you earn enough for a free movie pass, they won’t accept it unless the movie has been in theaters for two months already. No free passes on new releases. Screw AMC and their Stubs program. I don’t need a computer log of my ticket stubs. I can store them in my own way.
7. Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchison – In May of 2011, Doug Hutchison got married for the second time. He wed Courtney Stodden, a 16 year-old, and was allowed to do so because her mother signed a consent form. He is 51 and his most notable contribution to the world was his role in The Green Mile. Since this controversial Las Vegas union, the media constantly reminds us of how creepy these two human beings are. Stodden was seen to be making frighteningly seductive facial expressions toward Hutchison on camera. The idiotic pair has flaunted their relationship for half of 2011, though it feels much longer. They were thrown out of a pumpkin patch because they couldn’t keep their hands off themselves when Stodden was wearing a skimpy outfit. These are the types of stories in the news. This is what we have to put up with on a daily basis because damnit, this is fascinating to some people. Because public loves a train wreck, this kind of trash must be reported on as much as humanly possible.
6. The End of CDs Announcement – The main reaction to this seemed to be a shrug of the shoulders, but it really pissed me off. Most people will immediately say that CDs are dead, I should get with the digital age, who cares, blah blah blah bite me. I buy music on iTunes as much as anyone, but not ALL of my music. I find it depressing that I will not be able to walk into a store and browse for music in the near future. I can’t begin to tell you how many bands I’ve discovered due to blind buying an album I spotted in a store, or simply by catching a glimpse at the cover art. When CDs go away for good, then the enjoyment of visiting a store and shopping around for music disappears with it, along with meeting someone with similar interests. Plus, there is something to be said about holding an actual album in your hands, appreciating the artwork in the case, examining the liner notes, and so on. Do we really not care about that as much anymore? What a shame.
The reasoning I heard was that CDs cost money to produce, but that seems stupid to me. They’ve always cost money, it’s not that much per disc, and it was worthwhile before, so why use that as an excuse now? I could ramble on about the differences in sound between MP3’s and CDs, but you already get the idea. I guess I don’t understand what makes the death of the compact disc a good thing. Now we can listen to music on an iPod, watch movies and shows right from home, communicate with people on the computer and never have to go anywhere or move our bodies at all if we don’t want to, making us mindless fat drones like in Wall-E. Personally, I will continue to buy CDs just as regularly as I always have until I can’t anymore. I love having my collection on display, and relying on a computer or iTunes to store it all just isn’t the same.
5. Charlie Sheen – Yes, at first it was really funny. The catch phrases and his rebellious lifestyle were amusing and intriguing to follow. But it got depressing and overdone in a hurry. I admit, I was saying “Winning!” to people regularly too, but that all changed when Sheen went on tour, a blatant grab for money based on the fact that his life was in shambles. He became a punchline. His “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour came to my neck of the woods, and when I saw how disgustingly cheap tickets were, I went. I suppose I went out of curiosity, but watching Sheen sit on stage doing nothing while the audience grew increasingly restless erased almost all the respect I had for him. Not only is he a joke, but a person at the show said it best when he described him as a “burnout.” After that tour, Sheen’s time in the headlines diminished, but he was a major name in 2011 and an extremely irritating one. It got to a point where Sheen became pathetic and we realized that the catch phrases weren’t all that humorous to begin with. He had a great gig with Two and a Half Men and he flushed it down the toilet. After all the news of partying, spousal issues, and so forth, he transformed his legacy to excrement. He quickly transitioned from the cool badboy to a sad washed-up actor.
4. Happy Madison Productions – For those who don’t know, this is the company owned by Adam Sandler. The name of course is taken from two of his comedies I can actually stand: Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. In 2011, Sandler’s production company has been especially unkind to the moviegoing public, many of which you will hear me rant about again when I rank my top 10 worst films of the year. The titles include: Just Go With It, Bucky Larson, Zookeeper, and Jack and Jill. People talked about Pixar’s streak of masterpieces. More impressive now is Sandler’s streak of the worst comedies imaginable. He and his company have become so lazy and idiotic with regard to the movies they bludgeon us with, that one wonders if they are trying to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on anyone who pays to watch their crap. Leonard Hayhurst made the argument in Ask 411 Movies that Sandler has stuck with these comedies because he has not been rewarded for any of his more serious roles. While that is true, it is the quality of the humor and sheer lack of effort he puts into every project that gets under my skin. Jack and Jill did horrible at the box office. Hopefully that is a sign that people have stopped caring. Seriously, how can people still find Sandler or any of his buddies funny at all? And don’t give me the “it’s all subjective” line either. I’m drawing a line at Happy Madison. If someone says they’re funny, I will say “No, you are wrong. I write for 411 and that means my opinion is right.”
3. Rebecca Black – The fact that this girl is even on this list a sign of how doomed music could be if the trend continues. It’s absurd that the idea now is that anyone with some money and access to YouTube can be an overnight music sensation, regardless of whether or not they’re well-known because we’re laughing at them. If a decent musician lands a record deal because of this, great, but Black’s “Friday” music video was the most viewed YouTube clip of 2011 and that is damn sad folks. In the words of Deb from Dexter, what the mother of fu is wrong with us that we make the most undeserving, untalented wannabes famous? What makes the situation worse is that the song is terrible on a level that is impossible to describe. And I know, some of you will say that she was able to gain popularity on these terms, so good for her. Well, I don’t care. It’s my column and I’ll cry if I want to. She is akin to fingernails on a chalk board and just thinking about her mind-numbing music gives me a permanent twitch. Can everyone include ignoring people like Rebecca Black a New Year’s Resolution? Thanks.
2. Donald Trump – Easily one of 2011’s most bothersome figures, Donald Trump embarrassed himself again and again over the course of the last 12 months. Every ludicrous and nonsensical statement that came out of his mouth was fuel for the media, and thus normal people had to put up with him on television ALL THE TIME. Whether it was his decision not to run for President, leading the birther charge, or dropping out of moderating the Iowa Republican primary debate, Trump controlled headlines in 2011, much to our collective dismay. Donald Trump is a complete tool from head to toe, and this most recent Twitter war with Rosie O’Donnell only further cements that. Observing those tweets, one couldn’t help but think of how ridiculous and childish they both are. His orange skin complexion makes him resemble a cartoon character, and you can bet that just about everything he says is a lie. One of my wishes is that 2012 has a lot less of The Donald. Do you still watch The Apprentice after dealing with Trump so much? If so, just…wow.
1. The Kardashians – Perhaps this one should have appeared on an earlier list of pet peeves. After all, they have been prominent in the public eye for many years now. What puts them here now is that in 2011 they have finally started to wear on me…hardcore. When they were just walking around being hot (or trying to be if you prefer), how could I really fault them? The world made Kim famous for a sex tape and her sisters hopped on for the ride. But then they got a reality show, and then another one, and a third, and I’ve honestly lost track, but who cares?! They’re on magazines, on music, and we never stop obsessing over them. I can’t take it anymore.
What tipped the scales for me was Kim’s wedding and subsequent split from Kris Humphries. I feel like I’m the only one who saw this marriage for the retarded sham that it is. Does anyone actually believe she married this guy for anything other than money (from selling pictures, a TV special, etc.)? If you think their union was built on genuine feelings, how far gone must you be? It’s all about the moolah for the Kardashians and the world bought it hook, line, and sinker. But the money they got from this seems low and scummy even for them. The coverage of this was mind-boggling, especially considering this person was famous because she unveiled her divine booty for Ray-J. The reports were and still are endless and unbelievably tiresome. It really is difficult to have respect for any of these people now, if there ever was to begin with. And even though many shows and sites make fun of them, at what point do we step back and decided to stop giving them press so they go the FU** AWAY!?
Hall of Shame
Britney Spears/Paris Hilton – Class of 2007
High School Musical – Class of 2008
Kanye West – Class of 2009
The Lohan Family – Class of 2010
Jersey Shore – Class of 2011
THE TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2011
I’m as much a lover of music as I am movies, and I listen to anything and everything so I love making a list of my favorite albums. I have reviewed a few CDs and concerts in the past, and hope to do more in the future. I gather my list of best albums similar to that of my list of films. The goal is to incorporate many different styles of music. I’m always eager to hear new stuff and discover bands that I have not heard of before, so if you have any suggestions you think should have appeared below, feel free.
10. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra – This one took me some time to track down, but after finally finding a site where it was available to stream, I could understand why this self-released mixtape received such glowing critical acclaim and ended up on just about every year-end Top 10-50 list I perused. This a stand-out R&B album that mixes smart songwriting with a delectable soulful atmosphere. While his genre is clear, the styles and influences Ocean integrates into these tunes afford such a recognizable, satisfying sound.
9. The Black Keys – El Camino – The duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney has only gotten better since their popularity skyrocketed with Brothers. This one was co-produced by Danger Mouse, who also co-wrote the songs with the band as well. He co-produced their 2008 album Attack & Release and proves again that the trio has excellent chemistry. In the end, it is a slick and more accessible sounding release with catchy hooks and sharp lyrics. I would call this their best, but it is another A+ collection from a reliable rock group.
8. Black Country Communion – 2 – Gradually, I am trying to spread the word more about Black Country Communion, another band that I suppose falls under the “supergroup” label as it consist of Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, and Joe Bonamassa. In under a year’s time, they released two marvelous albums. The sophomore album, 2, is just a smooth, old-fashioned sounding rock ‘n roll, which might not sound like much, but is actually quite impressive to achieve these days. I hope these guys stick around and continue to make music like this.
7. Kanye West & Jay-Z – Watch the Throne – Two camps emerged from this highly anticipated album: those who liked it and those who thought it failed to live up to the hype. Personally, I thought it met the hype just fine. All I was hoping for was a collaborative album that accentuated both of their talents and Watch The Throne accomplished that. I wasn’t crazy initially about the single “Otis,” but after hearing it on the album with the other songs, I warmed to it a bit. This was my favorite hip-hop release of the year because it is filled with superlative songs for all types of fans. It was tough for me to choose between three different offerings from this genre I enjoyed, but this is the one I have revisited most.
6. Tom Waits – Bad As Me – The more albums I hear from Tom Waits, the more I like him, whether it be older or newer material. He is undoubtedly an acquired taste, but his raspy vocals grow on you. Bad As Me has to be one of his most entertaining releases to date. It is packed with magnificent tunes from an artist who is impossible to shake from your memory. The album is focused, energetic, moving, and as richly textured as his previous work. Bad As Me is a celebration of his career with poignant ballads, bluesy numbers, and more. Each track is saturated with Waits’ own style and approach, and it is his unique personality and signature that makes his music so welcoming and fun.
5. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – I had never heard of the French electronic band M83 before seeing this album on a few “Best of 2011” lists, but Spotify has enabled me to check out many albums without having to blind buy them or listen to samples. I loved this double disc set upon my first listen. The synth sounds created some of the most infectious pop music of the year, but most of all, these songs flow like an album. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is a journey that is difficult to shut off once you’ve started it. After reading about it more, I dig the idea behind this effort and thought the 80’s inspirations were smart and effective. I look forward to seeing them in concert sometime soon.
4. The Decemberists – The King is Dead – I have been fond of the Decemberists’ music since 2005’s Picaresque, but always felt they were capable of more. I was extremely pleased then to hear The King is Dead, which is an above solid album all the way through. This is also the record I would recommend to people who were not familiar with the group. It is simple, straightforward, and wonderfully accessible. They released a stellar EP as well called Long Live the King, which, combined with this full album, results in a superb double whammy from a group I only gain more respect for as time goes along.
3. Anthrax – Worship Music – In my opinion, the most surprising album of the year was from Anthrax, who should also get credit for the best comeback. I have never been the biggest fan of their music, but I loved this album and feel it’s one of the finest of their career. It helped in my case that I saw them give a outstanding performance at The Big 4 concert at Yankee Stadium. They got the buzz going for this album with a great lead single, but once the full effort hit stores, it lived up to the expectations knowing singer Joey Belladonna had returned. Along with the Foos at #1, this is the hard rock/metal release I’ve listened to the most.
2. Adele – 21 – It was hard to ignore Adele in 2011. I had heard her music before this album, and thought she had a terrific voice, but my interest in her stopped there. But when “Rolling in the Deep” was released, I was an instant convert. This is an undeniable masterpiece from a woman who could dominate for many years to come. I hope the recent issue with her vocal chords fades away quickly. We need more artists like her around. She gives us such unforgettable music and her vocals possess such depth and emotion, not to mention a distinctness. Once you become a fan, her album is hard to put away.
1. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light – After 7 albums in 16 years, Dave Grohl’s band is still pumping out great material on a regular basis and Wasting Light is one of their best yet. From start to finish, this is a tight, intense, and memorable effort from one of the world’s most consistent groups. Here they collaborate with Nevermind producer Butch Vig to deliver an appropriately energetic and meticulously constructed piece of work with great riffs and an overall awesome sound.
* Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials
* tUnE yArDs – WHO KILL
* My Morning Jacket – Circuital
* Radiohead – The King of Limbs
* Ghost – Opus Eponymous
The Editor’s Compilation Disc
*Intro: Powerglove – “Batman Theme (1989 film)*
1. Iron & Wine – “Walking Far From Home”
2. Adrenaline Mob – “Psychosane”
3. Alison Krauss & Union Station – “Dust Bowl Children”
4. The Cars – “Sad Song”
5. Journey – “Tantra”
6. Lady Gaga – “Judas”
7. Rammstein – “Mein Land”
8. Metallica – “Hate Train”
9. Robbie Robertson – “Fear of Falling”
10. Dawes – “Million Dollar Bill”
11. Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
12. Wild Flag – “Future Crimes”
13. Tom Morello (Featuring Ben Harper) – “Save the Hammer for the Man”
14. Girls – “Saying I Love You”
15. Lykke Li – “Sadness is a Blessing”
16. Sixx A.M. – “Lies of the Beautiful People”
17. Lenny Kravitz – “Stand”
18. Falling in Reverse – “Raised By Wolves”
19. Amy Winehouse (Featuring Nas) – “Smoke”
20. Chickenfoot – “Last Temptation”
21. Anvil – “Running”
22. Five Finger Death Punch – “American Capitalist”
23. Staind – “The Bottom”
24. 3 Doors Down – “When You’re Young”
25. Dream Theater – “Breaking All Illusions”
26. Megadeth – “Public Enemy No. 1”
27. Coldplay – “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart”
28. Gary Clark Jr. – “Bright Lights”
29. The Human Abstract – “Antebellum”
30. Bad Meets Evil (featuring Bruno Mars) – “Lighters”