The Best Music Videos of 2010

Originally posted 2010-12-26 10:00:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

We’ve all heard — and perhaps even echoed — the common complaint about the contemporary treatment of music videos on broadcast television.  It’s typically voiced in a sarcastic question, something like:

Do you remember when MTV used to play music videos?

These days, the music video feels like a lost art form.  They’re more readily available than ever before, what with digital download software like iTunes and websites like Amazon.com, never mind free sites — like YouTube — where copyright is a questionable notion pushed to its limits by users and exploited by record labels in the form of add-on ads.

This being said, the Weekend Review’s “Best Music Videos of 2010” is one of the biggest lists of the season, and perhaps the one that calls for the most interaction from you, the reader.  If there are any videos that you haven’t seen yet, you should definitely search them on YouTube and, depending on how far up the list they are, consider breaking down to download them.

These videos will hopefully remind you that the music video can be a fascinating and fun extension of songs and, sometimes even, albums.

The Black Keys take to the playground for a good old fashioned fight over a woman in “Tighten Up,” which ends up being hilarious.  “Saskia Hamilton” and “King of Anything” are fast-paced, well-edited videos, the former being all the more impressive for being fan-created and Ben Folds-endorsed.  Get ready for white rooms and clothes and lots and lots of paint in Locksley’s take on “The Whip,” and prepare to love the claustrophobic setting of Spoon’s “Written in Reverse.”

You get the idea: these videos run the gamut.  I hope you’ll check them out — YouTube is probably the first, best place; simply search the title, artist, and term “music video.”  This should keep you busy until tomorrow’s list!

The BEST MUSIC VIDEOS of 2010

1)  “Tighten Up” – The Black Keys (Brothers)

2)  “Saskia Hamilton” – Ben Folds & Nick Hornby (Lonely Avenue) – produced by charlieissocoollike

3)  “King of Anything” – Sara Bareilles (Kaleidoscope Heart) – dir. by Laurent Brie

4)  “The Whip” – Locksley (Be in Love)

5)  “Written in Reverse” – Spoon (Transference)

6)  “In the Sun” – She & Him (Volume Two) – dir. by Peyton Reed

7)  “Memories” – Weezer (Hurley)

8)  “By Some Miracle” – Philip Selway (Familial) – dir. by David Altobelli

9)  “God Save the Foolish Kings” – House of Heroes (Surburba)

10)  “Between the Lines” – Stone Temple Pilots (Stone Temple Pilots) – dir. by Christopher Sims

Honorable Mentions:

“Jefferson Jericho Blues” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Mojo)

“From Above” – Ben Folds & Nick Hornby (Lonely Avenue)

“Help Me Rhonda” – Al Jardine with Steve Miller (A Postcard from California)

The Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade (2000s): NUMBER FIVE is Green Day

Originally posted 2010-02-03 19:12:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This is the first in a five part series dedicated to the top five rock artists of the decade, 2000-2009.  The criteria used to determine this list were: (1) Quality of Music, (2) Quantity of Released Material, (3) Diversity of Media, and (4) Roles of Artists/Band Members.  Look for new posts coming soon!

By Chris Moore:

The fifth entry on this list, Green Day is a strong candidate for top band of the decade, if only for their impressive return to the forefront of popular punk/rock music over the past ten years.  Even in their heyday, Green Day did not acheive the recognition that they have in the past six years. 

Who could have predicted that a trio of ostensible knuckleheads like Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool would be headlining the concept album revival in the mid-2000’s, complete with a rock opera/musical adaptation set to the tunes of American Idiot?

[Is that the sound of crickets?]

PAST SUCCESS

Without argument, Green Day was one of the most successful bands of the nineties rock revival, carving out their reputation by way of the punk rock genre.  It was a bit of an exaggeration to have titled their best-of disc International Superhits!, but their music did appear on many different charts in many different nations over their first decade as a band. 

And, for better or for worse, if you turned on a radio in the nineties and listened long enough, you couldn’t avoid hearing songs like “When I Come Around” or especially “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”  The latter was the song that ER character Jeanie Boulet chose to sing at the funeral of a friend. 

When one of the most popular dramas of the decade chooses your song at the peak of their own popularity, that’s saying something…

WARNING AND A LOW POINT

Which brings us to THIS decade.  I would be hard-pressed to find another group from the nineties in their genre that have had such staying power as Green Day.  Bad Religion?  Not so much.  Chumbawamba?  A one hit wonder.  The Offspring and Rancid?  Well, they’re still around, but they certainly haven’t acheived the mainstream success that Green Day has. 

That is, if you discount Warning, their first studio album of the decade.

Any way you look at it, Warning is a low point in their career, failing to ascend the charts, make sales, and receive positive reviews in the characteristic manner that their previous albums had.  Two years after Warning, things weren’t looking any better with them supposedly “co-headlining” a concert tour with Blink 182, but actually opening each night. 

This all amounted to a great deal of evidence that Green Day had peaked and this was their descent into obscurity.

A SETBACK BECOMES A COMEBACK

As they returned to the studio to work on their next album, Cigarettes & Valentines, things weren’t looking any brighter.  Near the end of their sessions (according to Armstrong), the master tapes were stolen.  There weren’t even rough mixes remaining.

So, what does this band decide to do in a moment of crisis?

Start from scratch.

That’s right: Green Day decided to start from scratch.  Although a song or two from the aforementioned doomed album would make its way into live sets, the band started over, taking this as an opportunity to approach their new album from a different angle.  So, they broke out their guitars and began writing, working together in new and better ways than they had before. 

The result?  Only their most critically acclaimed, highest-selling album to date, American Idiot.

AMERICAN IDIOT & 21ST CENTURY BREAKDOWN: A CONCEPT ALBUM REVIVAL

Green Day’s mentality following the loss of their master tapes brings to mind Conan O’Brien’s final lines from his closing statement last month on The Tonight Show: “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

You think?

I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve never been a big fan of American Idiot.  I think I’ve missed something in the translation of the lyrics, and I’ve been told that the at-times-boneheaded lyrics that I am turned off by are, in fact, purposefully constructed in order to make a statement about the average American.  Perhaps.  What makes me believe this is true, and what makes me nod my head in American Idiot‘s direction even if it won’t appear on my iPod any time soon, is that the album is so carefully constructed.  One flip through the CD booklet will reveal an overarching concept, artwork, and other notes that were cleverly compiled and arranged to create a whole that is stronger than the parts.  I won’t go comparing it to the first seven records of the Moody Blues — the industry standard for excellent concept albums — but I will say I have great respect for the band’s intentions.

Their follow-up album?  21st Century Breakdown is an even more expansive concept album that tackles the question: What will we do when our national slogan can no longer be “Change We Can Believe In,” and must instead be (hopefully) “Change That Has Already Taken Place and A Society That We Are Happy With”?  This is an interesting question indeed, particularly for those of my generation who defined their coming of age by being in opposition to all that George W. Bush’s presidency represented.  As we “graduate” into a different, potentially better society in 2012, what will we do to avoid the pitfalls of the previous presidency and its perspectives? 

A mere year into Barack Obama’s term in office, we have already begun tackling the question: How long is too long to wait for that change we believed in?  Some are patient, some are less so, but 21st Century Breakdown makes an interesting statement on these essential questions, particularly on an emotional/intuitive level.

SIDE PROJECTS AND ADAPTATIONS

Amidst all this standard studio album work, Green Day has also been able to thrive in a number of different ventures outside of traditional band output.  They have released a Billboard Top Ten live album, a platinum-status greatest hits compilation, a B-sides/rarities collection that broke the Billboard Top Thirty, and worked their way into the retro market by preparing a Green Day vinyl box set.

Outside of the band, Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool have formed such side projects as The Network and the Foxboro Hot Tubs, both successful to different degrees and certainly indicative of a band hungry to record, produce, and play new music in a prolific manner. 

Then there is the rock opera/musical based on the story told through American Idiot, certainly a unique addition to any band’s list of tributes.

And so, at decade’s end, Green Day has reasserted themselves in what can only be described as an impressive manner.  It took me until 21st Century Breakdown to really appreciate their work, and I can only hope that the coming decade will be every bit as successful in terms of not only popularity but also quality!

The Best Original Christmas Songs of 2010

Originally posted 2010-12-25 10:00:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

I didn’t originally plan to make a Christmas music-related list, as there isn’t really much of note this year.  However, considering that I have twelve other categories, I figured: why not?

The only song that organically caught my interest this year is Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights.”  Released as a single earlier this season, I decided to check it out, as Coldplay’s last album was actually quite good.  A bit overrated, to be sure, but certainly one of the best of 2008.  And while “Christmas Lights” may not be a contender for an all-time holiday classic, it is the best I’ve heard this year.

The other two that stood out to me are the original tracks from Wilson Phillips’ new Christmas CD.  “Warm Lovin’ Christmastime” and “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” have the Beach Boys-esque harmonies you’d expect and manage to pull off that Christmas feel that is essential for a great yuletide track.

So, consider checking out these songs, though in this category I am a big fan of the rock classics — Elvis Presley, Phil Spector & friends, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, etc. — and new classics — Barenaked Ladies, Moody Blues, Relient K, Brian Wilson, etc.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and hurry back tomorrow for one of the biggest lists of the year!

The BEST ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS SONGS of 2010

1)  “Christmas Lights” – Coldplay

2)  “Warm Lovin’ Christmastime” – Wilson Phillips

3)  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” – Wilson Phillips

The Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade (2000s): NUMBER FOUR is Jack Johnson

Originally posted 2010-02-18 13:56:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This is the second in a five part series dedicated to the top five rock artists of the decade, 2000-2009.  The criteria used to determine this list were: (1) Quality of Music, (2) Quantity of Released Material, (3) Diversity of Media, and (4) Roles of Artists/Band Members.  Look for new posts coming soon!

By Chris Moore:

For an artist whose entire recorded career is contained within this one decade, Jack Johnson has compiled an expansive and impressive catalog.  He has matured quickly, enough to form his own record label and to gain the respect of some of the biggest names in rock music.

As I type this, I’m listening to the live En Concert version of “Constellations,” a duet with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, performed as comfortably as if they were buddies jamming in their parents’ basement.

Most notable of all is the manner in which Jack Johnson has achieved success — namely, by recording chart-topping albums in an age when singles are all the rage and illegal downloading has cut many artists’ sales.  In a mere nine years, Johnson’s repertoire extends across four studio albums, a soundtrack, three concert DVDs, and a live CD.

Without a doubt, Jack Johnson is one of the top rock artists of the decade.

AN ALBUM GUY, AN ACOUSTIC GUY…

Just to recap:  singles ruling the music kingdom, illegal downloading killing sales, music stores closing their doors.

Well, you wouldn’t know it by the way Jack Johnson has built his career.  Thus far, it’s gone down something like this…

2001: Brushfire Fairytales, a mix between conventional (read: acoustic) and catchy/quirky, a debut album that manages to crack the top forty in the U.S., rising all the way to number 34 despite the fact that the only single released faltered on the fall line, forty slots lower.  Songs like “Inaudible Melodies,” “Flake,” and “Losing Hope” were already outstanding, while others shared the promise of thematic (“The News”) and lyrical (“Posters” – “Here comes another one, just like the other one”) material to come.

2003: On and On, a darker, more lyrically interesting album, a follow-up that skyrockets to number three in the U.S. and manages multi-platinum sales globally.   You wouldn’t know it from the U.S. singles charts, but there are some tremendous songs here — “Taylor,” “The Horizon Has Been Defeated,” “Gone,” “Holes to Heaven” — the list goes on…

2005: In Between Dreams, a veritable “best of” collection, an instantly classic album with a crystal clear sound and a beautiful sense of atmosphere, a true masterpiece.  It hit number two in America, and in a rare case of the UK being behind, they finally caught wind of Johnson as he topped the charts there.  It’s all here — the carefree, relaxing (“Banana Pancakes,” “Better Together”), the serious, politically-charged (“Crying Shame,” “Good People”), the good love songs (“Do You Remember?) and the jilted love songs (“Sitting, Waiting, Wishing”).

2008: Sleep Through the Static, billed as “Jack Johnson gone electric,” an even calmer, lower-key record than he had ever produced before, one that takes some time to grow into.  This is a case of each individual song being great — played in order, the “chill” factor is too much at times.  Not the strongest note to end the decade on, but it leaves us with some wonderful tracks like “All At Once,” “If I Had Eyes,” “Go On,” and “They Do, They Don’t.”

JAPAN, THE GREEK, AND EN CONCERT

His career as a professional athlete — surfer — may have been brief, but Johnson hasn’t stopped moving in this career, either.

And there are the films to prove it.

Live in Japan is more than just a concert DVD; it is a documentary of the On and On tour.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, comes A Weekend at the Greek, an even more interesting, visually stimulating documentary of two concert dates on the In Between Dreams tour.  I’ve seen a good number of rock documentaries and live DVDs over the years, and believe me when I say that the latter (The Greek) is perhaps the best I’ve seen.

En Concert, released last year, was the final Jack Johnson release of the decade, and his first CD/DVD combo.  Excellent, colorful booklet?  Check.  Great setlist?  Double check.  Some great guest duets?  Triple check (J Radio, Paula Fuga, and Vedder).

In any rock artist’s career, the ratio between studio albums and live albums must be carefully balanced.  From the outside, three live CDs and/or DVDs may seem excessive when held up against four studio recordings, but Jack Johnson somehow managed it.  He was smart to release Japan as a bonus disc with The Greek, and he held off on a companion CD until En Concert.  This was a rare circumstance of the overlap between smart marketing and an affordable, fan-friendly strategy.

WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS — COLLABORATIONS AND OTHER VENTURES

If this was all Johnson produced this decade, it would be more than enough.  However, he wasn’t content to stick to these traditional products alone.  He took on the task of recording the Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George soundtrack, involving others like G. Love, Matt Costa, and Ben Harper.  This was not only a strong release, but also featured some of the strongest tracks of his career — “Upside Down” (his highest charting single at #38), “Broken,” “Wrong Turn” — as well as some of the silliest, albeit catchiest — “The Sharing Song” and “People Watching.”

Meanwhile, he continued his interest and involvement in independent films (he did graduate as a film major, after all!), contributed to numerous high profile tribute releases (“Mama, You Been on My Mind” for I’m Not There, “Imagine” for Instant Karma, “Someday at Christmas” for This Warm December), and nurtured the careers of the several artists on his Brushfire Records label.

My respect for Jack Johnson is multiplied when I consider how he accomplished all these things on his own in less than ten years.  He is a unique voice and sound in modern rock music, as well as a prolific artist, and as such, I was not surprised to hear that, a mere month into the new decade, he has already returned to the studio to work on his fifth album, due out in June 2010.

Even with my disappointment after Sleep Through the Static, I can already feel my anticipation building!