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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The MisenPOPIC Year In Review: The Best & Worst Of Music, Movies, & Television

Here we go! Ever since 1987, I have been handing out awards and making lists recognizing the best in entertainment before the internet launched and I found out I wasn't as original as I thought I was. Oh well, at least I can be another voice in the community to indicate what I liked and didn't like. I sometimes catch myself telling others that there is a lack of creativity in today's pop culture, and it seems that more than ever corporations are controlling all aspects of pop culture. People also seem to care about an actor or rock star's personal life or what they look like in a bathing suit as opposed to the actual art they have created. People are becoming famous for simply being famous. If you are good-looking and appear in a home-made porn film, you are on your way to becoming a superstar, maybe even a brand name! Our society is so intrigued with seeing celebs fall on their faces and destroy their lives maybe in order to feel better about themselves. It's gotten so bad that people care more about these celebrities who they don't even personally know, but can't even listen to their children tell them about the good things going on in their own lives. While we keep getting all this new technology to enhance watching movies or listening to music, what matters most to me is the actual substance. You can throw all the digital effects, THX sound, 3-D motions, but if the story isn't there, I could care less. But if I look past all of the crap, I must say that I have never been so enamored with so much outstanding television programs. We are seeing some amazing storytelling nowadays on our boob tube from some really creative people like Matt Weiner (Mad Men), Zach Gilligan (Breaking Bad), and Damon Lindelof (Lost). As the movie and music industries are being tied down by so much red tape and lack of any substance, prime time cable dramas provided the most bang for my buck and keet me the most entertained this year. But of course there were and always will be great movies and great songs that reminded me why I love pop culture as well. It's just getting harder and harder to find them!

Top 10 Songs Of 2009
It definitely helps that I rarely listen to the radio anymore or watch music videos on Fuse so that I don't get sick of the usual overplayed tunes. This was a strange year in music, and the first time in a long time that there was no definitive song of the year candidate. I went back and forth numerous times over the past few days until I could determine what I thought was the best tune of the year. To qualify for this list, the song had to have been released as a single. Keep in mind also that these were the ten songs that I enjoyed the most, not the ten songs with the highest degree of musical integrity.

10) The Wrestler by Bruce Springsteen- One of the Boss's best tunes I've ever heard that was featured in the surprise hit movie of the same name starring Mickey Rourke. How it won the Golden Globe for best song from a movie but wasn't even nominated for an Oscar is still puzzling to me!

9) Empire State Of Mind by Jay-Z & Alicia Keys- You know how much I loathe Jay-Z, and I still have no idea what words he is spewing on this tune. But the melody is fantastic! Alicia Keys who actually has talent, worked her magic to make this a great song and one of the most memorable of the year. Right now it's still the number one song in the country.

8) The Fixer by Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam's new album only available at Target! I never thought I would hear this happen for a band who yearns to keep their integrity. But with the music business being the way it is, did they have a choice in order to sell their album? The first single from the album was a great little rocker, but definitely not something you would expect to hear from them back in 1991 when they were the kings of the rock and roll business. I'm not a Pearl Jam fan at all, but have loved the first singles from their past two albums. The times might be a changin'!

7) Fire Burnin by Sean Kingston- A great dance track with a funky beat. Somebody call 911, Mikey Hersh actually might still have his dance groove on at the ripe age of 32. This tune was one that always got me dancing like Danny Manero or Al Pacino in Cruising (had to throw in a few obscure pop culture references!)

6) Poker Face by Lady Gaga- I still am not sure if Lady Gaga is just the fad of the moment. But I'm surprised she has had four hit singles from her hot album. Thanks to a nice cover version sung by Cartman on South Park, the song began to grow on me. Another great dance song with a synth-techno 80's beat that might have worked for a band like Human League back in the early 80's.

5) You Found Me by The Fray- If I want to hear a basic corporate pop/rock song at the moment, I know I can count on the Fray. Their music is so simple and formulaic, but it works for me. The first song from their self-titled second album, you couldn't escape this song thanks to it being featured in a multitude of television commercials. Until October, this song was the best I heard and was the front runner for Song Of The Year.

4) This Is It by Michael Jackson- So maybe it wasn't really a new song, but it's the last tune ever released from the greatest entertainer I have seen. Well maybe until we get a slew of unreleased material from The King Of Pop in the upcoming years. Just a great R&B song written by Michael Jackson and my main man, Paul Anka. It's a great swan song to remind me that I lost one my childhood heroes this past year.

3) Modern Day Delilah by KISS- Maybe the new album from KISS was a Sonic bust, but the first single and lead track on the album was a genuine Paul Stanley classic rock and roll masterpiece. One of only two good tunes on the new album, this song reminded me once and again why I love this band and feel so bitter towards the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame for snubbing them from induction once again.

2) Uprising by Muse- I knew very little about this band until I saw their performance on the MTV Music Awards and was blown away. A great song which uses that "Come On" chant to possibly pay homage to Blondie's 1980 hit, Call Me. Uprising has held the #1 spot on the Modern Rock Charts since October. I almost had this song penciled in for the top spot, but the annoying usage of it in movie and TV promos got to be a little too much!!!

And the best song of 2009!....

1) Sexy Little Thing by Chickenfoot- Thank you to Sammy Hagar for continuing to write such kick-ass melodic songs! He and Chickenfoot bassist Michael Anthony are so much better off without the Van Halen brothers. This song just rocked my socks off, made me smile, and confirmed my believes that Rock & Roll will never die. The best rocking song of the year, and the best overall song of the year! Just hit play on the Youtube video above and listen to the guitar melody from Guitar Icon Joe Satriani.

Honorable Mentions:
Whataya Want From Me?/Adam Lambert
Kiss A Girl/Keith Urban
My Life Would Suck Without You/Kelly Clarkson
This Town/O.A.R.
I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)/Pitbull
Right Round/Flo Rida
I Gotta Feelin'/Black-Eyed Peas

The Worst Song Of The Year:
One Time by Justin Bieber- Not just the worst song of the year, but one of the worst songs of all time! I guess with some basic production, any kid with good looks who can be marketed to the Disney tween audience can have a hit song! Usher, Chris Brown, and anybody else associated with this piece of garbage should be ashamed of themselves!

Top 5 Albums Of 2009
Before I get to the best albums of the year, I'd like to stick a huge middle finger to KISS and the Dave Matthews Band for releasing two big turds for albums this year. The new KISS album, Sonic Boom, might have gotten some love from critics who know nothing about the band, but it was a quickly produced piece of shit with the exception of two singles. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer may be better musicians, but KISS either needs to record more modern-sounding songs without the retro KISS sound to make us forget that Ace and Peter are no longer in the band, or just stop with new material. As for Dave Matthews Band, I know I'll get shit for this because many feel Big Whiskey & The Groogrux King was one of if not their best album ever. I just didn't like it at all and expected more.

5) Leave This Town from Daughtry- You can't get more basic and formulaic than Daughtry, but once again another fine album by the American Idol alum! It took me awhile to get into this album, but it's pretty darn good with some nice ballads. Props to my brother for sticking to his guns on this album. Although Daughtry was the first American Idol to debut at #1 on the Top 200 Albums Chart, the record doesn't seem to have made as much impact as his self-titled debut album. Is it better than the first album? I'm not sure! Is it one of the five best albums I heard this year. Absolutely! Okay you can now throw me under the bus for this opinion!

4) Tinted Windows from Tinted Windows- Tinted Windows was a unique super-group consisting of Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, former Smashing Pumpkins member James Iha on guitar, Adam Schlesinger from Fountains Of Wayne on bass, and the surprise lead vocalist Taylor Hanson. The songs on the album are very bubble-gummy, but very good. Schlesinger never fails to amaze with fun and catchy tunes. The first single, Kind Of A Girl is a good example of what you could expect to hear on this album. Good stuff, and I'm curious if a second Tinted Windows album will ever be recorded.

3) 21st Century Breakdown from Green Day- Nice to know that some bands still want to keep the album concept alive. Although not as good as their previous concept album American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown was a fun album to listen to with even more catchy rock melodies from Billie Joe and the boys.

2) Anomaly from Ace Frehley- KISS might have dropped the ball, but no worries as Ace Frehley picked it up releasing perhaps his finest album ever. Filled with hard rocking riffs, and lyrics devoted to his new-found sobriety, the Space Ace should be very proud of himself. Songs like Pain In The Neck, Outer Space, and A Little Below The Angels were instant classics. Even if you aren't a KISS fan but like great rock & roll, I suggest you pick up this album!

And the best album of 2009!

1) Feel The Steel from Steel Panther- The absolute funniest rock & roll album of all time filled with tunes about sex, drugs, and the hard rock lifestyle. Not only were the songs hilarious, but the production on this album was so great. If you weren't in on the joke, you would possibly think Steel Panther was a real band from the 80's scene trying to make a comeback. I'm probably the only music critic to name this as best album, and I'm man enough to admit it was the most enjoyable album I listened to this year.

Honorable Mentions:
The Fray/The Fray
Rock Of Ages Soundtrack/Various Artists
Swoon/Silversun Pickups

The Worst Album Of The Year:

'55 Cadillac from Andrew W.K.- Instead of making an album full of more melodic party songs that we have come to expect, Andrew W.K. released an record of only instrumental piano music. And it totally sucked! Not even powerful piano melodies, just annoying music to put to you sleep. You mean to tell me I waited six years for this crap? Shame on you, Andrew, shame on you!

Top 10 Movies
For the most part, I saw movies that made me laugh, made me cry and made me keep hope alive that creative screenwriters and directors are still out there cutting the red tape from studios. Unlike last year when I saw two movies so horrible that I walked out on one and squirmed in agony for the other (The movies you ask? The Love Guru and Wall-E. Both received an F!), there weren't any movies that rated less than a C-.

10) The Blind Side- Maybe it was formulaic, but I liked this movie. It might have ranked higher if I didn't read the story the movie was based on before seeing it in the theaters.

9) Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs- Sony's first successful animated movie that might soon put them in the same league as Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar. A short movie, but a sweet one!

8) Anvil: The Story Of Anvil- Does it deserve to be pushed for serious consideration as Best Picture Of The Year? Absolutely not! But it was probably the most honest and real story of a hard rock band past their prime trying to become relevant again. Honestly, as a hard rock fan, I can honestly say that Anvil never hit it big because they simply weren't that great a band.

7) Star Trek- JJ Abrams reboots the Star Trek franchise!!!! Even I'm now a bit intrigued by the whole Star Trek phenomenon.

6) X-Men Origins: Wolverine- My buddy Kevin and I have had plenty of arguments about this one, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one. It was a fun thrill ride of a movie that I enjoyed perhaps due to low expectations. A huge improvement over Brett Ratner's horrible third X-Men movie!

5) Inglorious Basterds- Quentin Tarantino redeems himself after his less than stellar Grindhouse movie a few years prior. This movie even got an amazing performance from Brad Pitt who I never respected as an elite actor. One of the best war movies of all time regardless if the history was tainted a little bit. Christoph Waltz's performance is truly worthy of an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

4) Public Enemies- How could a movie with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale be a stinker? No chance! This movie sort of just came and went this past summer, but Michael Mann's unique crime drama about the infamous John Dillinger was a great movie that I really enjoyed. Marion Cotillard was outstanding in an underrated performance as Dillenger's love interest. This one should see new life on DVD.

3) Up In The Air- Just informing all of you if you haven't seen the movie or heard all the buzz about it. It's going to probably win Oscar for Best Picture Of The Year when announced in March, and this critic personally would be very pleased to see it happen. Truly one of the most fascinating movies I've ever seen, and indicates the main reason why I could never ever be an on-the-road-all-of-the-time corporate asshole!

2) Bruno- I'm not sure why this movie got panned so badly. Bruno was the only movie in 2009 that me laugh so hard that I cried, even if my wife was so repulsed by the movie. I truly thought Bruno was funny as funny if not funnier than Borat.

And the best movie of 2009!

1) Avatar- I'll say it one more time. Avatar is going to be the cult movie for this generation just like what Star Wars was for my generation. Although the movie might have been preachy about saving the environment, I didn't mind. I wanted James Cameron to thrill me once again with his imagination and creativity, and he came through in the clutch for me. Just like his last movie Titanic, the early reviews were mixed, then were horrible, but as the movie kept making money, the reviews ended up as favorable and led to many awards. I think the same might happen for Avatar!

Honorable Mentions:
I Love You Man
The Hangover
Michael Jackson's This Is It
G.I. Joe- The Rise Of Cobra

Worst Movie Of The Year:
Night At The Museum 2: A Night At The Smithsonian-
The second time definitely was not the charm for Ben Stiller regardless of how much money the movie made. This movie was almost two hours of pure agony and almost ruined how special the first Museum picture was to me.

Top 10 TV Shows Of 2009
Because I've developed a huge crush on prime time cable dramas and funny animated comedies, I felt it's time to salute the best of the tube. Regardless of Hulu and DVR, I'm still rushing to get home to watch most of the following shows.

10) South Park- Do you know if any show that has been on for twelve seasons and continues to get better? Especially for a comedy? I used to just watch the show in reruns, but it's been so good and so raunchy lately that I make sure to watch it every Wednesday when Trey Parker and Matt Stone are writing new episodes.

9) Glee- The stupidest and fluffiest show maybe ever, but I keep watching for the musical numbers and because I love Lea Michelle who I truly think is going to be a huge huge star.

8) Friday Night Lights- I've just started watching the previous three seasons of this show, and it really deserves the accolades it has gotten even if very few people are watching it. I'm more than patient with waiting for the episodes to rerun on NBC once they are finished airing on Direct TV which I have no desire to purchase. One of the few TV series spun off from a film to be better than the original source. Go Timmy Riggins, Go!

7) Flash Forward- The best new show of the season which has gone on hiatus until March, which I'm okay with in hope they can keep the show interesting. I'm still not attached to any of the characters yet, but the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to come together.

6) Entourage- Vinny and his crew might be losing a bit of steam, but their antics always make me smile. I also look forward to what Ari's going to say and do each week, and love the random celebrity cameos. The show probably has one or two seasons left, than it's time to create a movie franchise just like HBO did with Sex And The City.

5) Family Guy- Family Guy was losing a bit of steam due to the huge surge in popularity, but out of nowhere the writing has gotten a lot better. It's beginning to resemble the show I fell in love with back in 1999 when it debuted after the Super Bowl. Stewie and Brian probably have the best chemistry of any TV duo.

4) Lost- Lost was all over the place last season, but still is one of the best shows on TV. I think I'll be shedding a tear after the upcoming final season, but at least I'll get some of the answers to all of the questions that show has provided us over the last five seasons. After another superb season finale, I'm dying to know how everything is going to unfold. Will next season even take place on the island considering what happened at the end of last season? February 2nd can't come quick enough.

3) Mad Men- Simply brilliant! The show had many twists and turns all for the better of the show. After a poor Season 2, Matt Weiner and his writers revitalized the show with more emphasis on Sterling Cooper while keeping the relationship between the Drapers interesting. After what went down on the Season 3 finale, Mad Men will have a new dynamic to the show. The question is, will January Jones be returning? Sorry, can't write any more, already spoiled enough!

2) Dexter- Season 4 was back and forth this season, but the finale more than made up for the roller coaster ride during the previous ten episodes. I still am keeping quiet as to not spoil the ending for my pals who are still catching up on the show. Dexter is the most lovable serial killer in the history of television, and I'm expecting a record number of kills next season. Mad props to John Lithgow who was brilliant as Trinity, although his performance was not nearly as magnificent as Jimmy Smith as Miguel Prado from Season 3.

And the best show of 2009!

1) Breaking Bad- The adventures of Walter White and his former student Jesse Pinkman as they break into the drug underworld are simply fascinating. Although I have only seen the first season while needing to catch up on what I've heard is an even better second season, I'm going out on a limb to tell you that this might be the best TV drama I have ever seen. Better than Dexter, better than Lost, better than The Sopranos, and better than The Wire. I can't wait for Season 2 on demand, and the season premiere in March.

Honorable Mentions:
The Office
American Idol

That Metal Show

Worst Show Of 2009- All Reality Shows!!!!- I'm just going to lump all of this horseshit together which includes Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore, The Hills, The Girls Next Door, Teen Mom, The Real World, Celebrity Apprentice, Brooke Knows Best, Rock Of Love, Tool Academy, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, and probably a lot more I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Personal Pop Culture Highlights of 2009:

Meeting my Idol, the one and only Paul Stanley (February)
Watching The Harlem Globetrotters play and meeting Curly Neal (March)
Broadway Shows That Include: Rock Of Ages on Broadway (April), Hair (July)
Seeing Rent again at the NJPAC and meeting Anthony Rapp afterwards
Awesome Concerts I've attended: Fleetwood Mac (June), AC/DC for the 4th time (July), Steel Panther (October), KISS (October), Paul Anka (October)
Chiller Theatre Shows (April & October)
Interviewing Clayton Rohner from Just One Of The Guys (October)
Minnesota Vikings Game (October)

And of course.. Creating & Contributing to the MisenPOPic Blog to entertain and inform the millions and millions (okay, maybe tens and fives) of my fans about the great and sometimes obscure nuggets in pop culture!!!

Here's looking to a great 2010!!!



  1. nice site you got here!

    i agree with you about worst album of 2009 with andrew WK's piano album. i bought it with the hopes of some really cool party tunes or at least some rockin piano playing and all it is was a bunch of crap. its obvious when you hear this album that andrew can barely even play piano at all and even with whatever small amount of skill he has, he just played the worst music. i never thought he had any sort of talent really, but i was hoping for something at least cool to listen to.

    i was so dissapointed with the album that i had to figure out why the hell andrew even made the album in the first place. cuz you got to admit that its a little weird that this party rocker dude would disappear for six years and then come with his first new album and it was crappy instrumentel piano????? that just doesn't make any sense.

    i started to look around to find out about what the hell happened to andrew WK anyway, and it turns out that theres tons and tons of weird stuff going on with this guy. i think this piano album was some sort of scam, or some kind of forced album -like maybe he was required to release another album to get out of a record deal or some other legal thing.

    and also, i found some interviews with andrew where he's basically admiting that this piano record was the first album he made without his regular 'team'', so it seems like once he was free to do what he wanted, he made a piece of crap record.

    i just hope he gets his act together and brings back the muisic that made me like him in the first place.

  2. Thanks for the comment and the support. Yeah, even when I heard that the album would feature only piano instrumentals, I figured it would still be good with him striking the keys to make powerful melodies like Jerry Lee Lewis just without lyrics. Instead, it sounded like a demo album that a buddy of yours attending school at Julliard would make. The songs were just horrible. Not sure this was a good move on his part, but maybe he would rather be a motivational speaker than a rock star? Let's hope the next album features the party anthems we love from the man who always wears that same dirty white shirt.