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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 10 (Finale)

10. Rodrigo y Gabriela - Tamacun (2006)

Why: Sometimes you hear music that makes you realize the limitless potential of musical ability. Because these two artists have no limits. They can make the acoustic guitar produce melodies which are unlike anything anyone else is producing.

9. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

Why: Possibly the best title song of an album of all time. It's about revenge, arson, regret and despair. Or it could be an allegory for the state of the world. 'Start as you mean to go on'.

8. The Walkmen - The Rat (2004)

Why: Loud and super-fast. Lyrics that are half angry and half remorseful. A forceful hit of drums , bass and guitar played to a frenzy and dripping with raw emotion.

7. Keane - We Might As Well be Strangers (2004)

Why: Starts off softly and turns into a loud admonish. A topic everyone can relate to. Because everyone has people who just aren't around as much as they used to be.

6. Norah Jones - Don't Know Why (2002)

Why: Is she really jazz? The debate still continues. (I think she's more acoustic soul). But she makes beautiful music, none more so than the Grammy winning track off her debut album. The throaty, whispered lyrics and melancholy lyrics blend perfectly.

5.Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps (2003)

Why: The verses are extremely vague.But the chorus, that chorus made this song one of the best love songs of the decade. Sad,pleading and revealing; usually that kind of emotional transparency turns into a sappy pop song so it takes real skill to not fall into that trap. Still noisy and energetic but it's undoubtedly a ballad.

4.Eminem - Lose Yourself (2002)

Why: The most commercially successful rap song of all time.And it isn't junk. Irresistible beat with a smoother flow than we've come to expect from Em. Still dropping the lyrics but slow enough so we hear everything about the struggles of the life of Rabbit. It's as if Eminem channelled 'Born to Run'.

3. Coldplay - The Scientist (2002)

Why: A piano ballad about love and apology. Hopes and regrets, sadness and futility. This song captures it all; softly and beautifully.

2.Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002)

Why: When the country needs him, The Boss delivers. A story about a fireman climbing the tower on September 11th; surreal and desperate. Full of religious imagery, it's a song about coming through the hard times and rising above.

1. Outkast - Hey Ya (2004)

Why: A fusion of a whole lotta musical styles - funk, jazz, hip-hop, rock and rap, among others. High energy and completely electrifying. Most original song of the new millennium.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Definitive Reading List (part6) - Postmodern II

20. Haruki Murakami - The Wind-up Bird Chronicle -1995 - Japan

19. Vladmir Nabokov - Pale Fire - 1962 -USA

18. Flann O'Brien - At Swim-Two Birds - 1939 - Ireland

17. Harvey Pekar - American Splendor - 1976-2008 - USA

16. Franz Kafka - The Metamorphosis - 1915 - Austria-Hungary

15. Thomas Bernhard - The Loser - 1983 - Austria

14. Phillip K. Dick - The Man in The High Castle - 1962 -USA

13. Julian Barnes - Flaubert's Parrot - 1984 -England

12. Martin Amis - Time's Arrow - 1991 -England

11. David Foster Wallace - Infinite Jest -1996 -USA

The Definitive Reading List (part5) - Postmodern

10. Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable (The Trilogy) - Samuel Beckett - 1951-1953 - France
9. Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges -1962 - Argentina

8. American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis - 1991 - USA

7. Catch -22 - Joseph Heller- 1961 -USA

6. Naked Lunch - William S. Burroughs -1959 -USA

5. The Blind Assassin - Margret Atwood -2000 - Canada

4. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut - 1969 - USA

3. Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon - 1973 -USA

2. If on a winter's a traveler - Italo Calvino - 1979 -Italy

1. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer -2002- USA

Monday, October 25, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 9

20. Radiohead - Idioteque (2000)

Why: The entry into electronic beats. Unclear lyrics, possibly apocalyptic and dealing with war, climate change and technology uprising. Weird how it all falls together so perfectly.

19. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (2003)

Why: Proof that you don't have to depart from simplicity to still have a good song. Same guitar riff through most of the song until the solo kicks in. But it's the (much-debated) drumming of Meg White that gives the song its impact.

18. Arcade Fire - Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) - 2004

Why: A fantasy world where there are no parents and no adult problems in a town buried under the snow, with a tunnel connecting two people. The song builds slowly until all the instruments and voices enter into a sing-along which is both joyful and melancholy.

17. Outkast - B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad) - (2000)

Why: This track dropped three years before bombs started being dropped on Baghdad. A high tempo drum and bass song that broke down the barriers between dance, hip-hop, electronica and metal. Every hip-hop/dance crossover of the decade started here.

16. Snow Patrol - Run (2004)

Why: One of the best crowd participation songs ever. As with most Snow Patrol songs the lyrics seem to be able to fit in with quite a lot of depressing situations. Crashing drums and heavy guitar are present but it's the vocals that get you.

15. Animal Collective - My Girls (2009)

Why : There is no genre of music for this song. It created its own category. Call it a landscape of sound, it's like if a psychedelic drug was administered via sound instead of pills. Listening to it on headphones will cause drifting away.

14. Arctic Monkeys - A Certain Romance (2006)

Why: Heavy rocks riffs to start with. Some indie style picking, some reggae strumming. Somewhat out of tune drumming. And the most original lyrics anyone has ever written come from this band.

13. Coldplay - Clocks (2002)

Why: The most recognizable piano riff of the decade. Chris Martin singing of comparison, contradiction and running out of time, or he might be, because the lyrics aren't all that clear-cut. Hypnotically frantic and exceedingly gorgeous tune, Coldplay built a lot on this.

12. Lupe Fiasco - Hurt Me Soul (2006)

Why: Three different hooks are in this songs. A ferocious satire about the hypocrisy of the modern rap scene. Lupe continues to show distaste for the violent, negative lyrics of modern rap but questions if the rappers are really 'coming true'. The last verse perfectly captures the overwhelming nature of life in the 21st century.

11. Bruce Springsteen - Long Walk Home (2006)

Why: Bruce goes political better than anyone else. Talking about how he felt during the George Bush presidency in this song, he details the change of the singer's world. People, places and ideals have changed. The world feels strange. The Boss always captures the moment in song perfectly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 8

30. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero (2009)

Why: Usually synthpop is forgettable but every now and again an excellent track turns up. Karen O went from punk idol to glam superstar with this song. Put this on and you can feel the in tune with your adolescence again.

29. Coldplay - Fix You (2005)

Why: Chris Martin thinks it's 'probably the most important we've written'. A sentimental rock ballad which delivers words of encouragement while having sympathy for the downtrodden. Add in the sing-along and it's completely song for the people.

28. Kanye West - Jesus Walks (2005)

Why: Criticize the media for not embracing songs about faith during a massive hit song about the same topic, extensively played by the said media. You can't make that up. Be positive with the lyrics, but have an awesome beat to make it popular- that's the lesson.

27. The Strokes - Last Nite (2001)

Why: One of the best guitar tracks of the decade. The muffled sound of the singing somehow manages to work even though it's hard to pick up the lyrics at first. This is a song that seems to be much too short cause you never want it to end.

26. Radiohead - Everything in It's Right Place (2000)

Why: This was the song that signalled the departure of Radiohead from alt. Electronica and all sorts of effects make the song surreal. The completely abstract lyrics don't help the clarity either. A bit of a caught-up mind-trip.

25. Bombay Vikings ft. Falguni Pathak - Tera Mera Pyaar Sanam (2002)

Why: The English and Hindi merging is what Bombay Vikings do best. They never did it better than in this song. They usually get overly sentimental with the English lyrics but they walk the line perfectly to make it poignant without being cliched.

24. Arctic Monkeys - I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor (2005)

Why: If Tom Jones covers your song at Wembley one year after it comes out, then its got to be something. Noisy, punk and full of energy. It's a bit eclectic but it works. "Like a robot from 1984" may possibly be the most original description of a girl looking good while dancing.

23. Beck - Lost Cause (2002)

Why: A candidate for most depressing song ever. The starkly honest portrayal of a relationship that doesn't work.

22. The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love (2003)

Why: Are they serious? Are they joking around? I have no idea but they made a great song. Heavy guitar riffs with interspersed solos and falsetto lyrics; are we channelling Queen?

21. The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize (2002)

Why: The melodic soundscape Flaming Lips creates with guitars is unlike anything else. A psychedelic trip about making the most of life before it's over

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 7

40. Outkast - Ms. Jackson (2000)

Why: Custody battle? Not the topic you'd expect for a number one hip-hop track. But it wasn't your normal hip-hop track either, (it sampled Richard Wagner). Outkast continued to clear their own spot in the hip-hop game

39. Seal - Love's Divine (2003)

Why: The song is initially carried by piano and the haunting tones of Seal's voice. The percussion & synthesizers get involved halfway through to give serious energy. One that gives you goosebumps (or should anyway).

38. Coldplay - Yellow (2000)

Why: The song that made Coldplay superstars. People take it to be a happy song, which itself is a testament to the ability of the band. Because it's about unrequited love but you still get brightness and hope from it.

37. Daft Punk - One More Time (2000)

Why: Possibly the start of the autotune regularity. The pop/house track gets you up and keeps you going for the entire 5 minute duration. Which is what you want from house music anyway.

36. Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor - Come What May (2001)

Why: The perfect song for a movie? It fits into Moulin Rouge! completely as a declaration of love, becoming prominent as the film goes on. By itself it's still great, coupled with the film- it's a masterpiece.

35. Band of Horses - Detlef Schrempf (2007)

Why: Does anyone know why it's named after the German basketball player? Soft guitar picking with sporadic overlapping solos give the structure. The voice of Ben Bridwell manages to sound like he can produce vibrato-it's that haunting.

34. Killswitch Engage - The End of Heartache (2004)

Why: The founders of metalcore hit the charts with the album of the same name. Screaming and singing alternating, positive lyrics, crisis of faith and relationship issues. Shredding guitar riffs and pounding drums. What took them so long to get famous?

33. John Legend - Ordinary People (2005)

Why: A simple piano ballad about how relationships are in real life. 'No fairy-tale' endings are something everyone can relate to.

32. Wilco - Jesus , Etc. (2002)

Why: Do Wilco ever give song lyrics that are direct? Seems like you can fit any topic in the world to what they're singing about. And it's a good thing. A simple song with understated instrumentation, which comes and goes sporadically.

31. Bob Dylan - Mississippi (2001)

(nothing on youtube.Take it on faith)

Why: Finally Bob Dylan gave us some of the old. Why'd he hold back for so long? A beautiful love song that recalls all the classic folk tunes you thought were gone

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best Concert DVDs (21st Century)

As I'm already making decade lists, why not? It's music too, so somewhat related. Nothing's better than a good concert DVD, in my opinion. Watch some if you don't believe me. The performance and DVD release has to be from 2000 to count.

20. George Michael - Twenty Five -2006 - Various

19. Norah Jones - Live in New Orlean - 2003- New Orleans

18. Slayer - Still Reigning - 2004 -Augusta Civic Centre, Maine

17. Iron Maiden - Rock in Rio 2002 - Rock Rio Festival,Rio de Janeiro

16. Audioslave - Live in Cuba -2005 - Cuba

15. Foo Fighters - Live at Wembley Stadium - 2008 -Wembley Stadium, London

14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Tell Me What Rockers To Swallow -2004 - The Filmore, San Francisco

13. Arctic Monkeys - At the Apollo -2007 - Manchester Apollo, Manchester

12. Genesis - When in Rome - 2007 - Circo Massimo, Rome

11 Scorpions - Live at Wacken Open Air 2006 -2008 - Wacken Open Air, Wacken

10. The Police - Certifiable : Live in Buenos Aires - 2008 - River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires

9. The Rolling Stones - The Big Bang - 2008 - Various

8. The Killers - Live From The Royal Albert Hall - 2009 - Royal Albert Hall, London

7. Queens of the Stone Age - Over the Years and Through the Woods -2005 -Brixton Academy, London

6. The White Stripes - Under Blackpool Lights -2004 - Winter Gardens, Blackpool

5. Elton John - Dream Ticket -2004 - Various

4.Rush - Snakes and Arrows Live - 2008 - Ahoy Arena, Rotterdam & Wireless Amphitheatre, Atlanta

3. Coldplay -Live2003 - 2003 - Hordern Pavillion, Sydney

2. Rage Against The Machine - Live at the Grand Olympic Stadium -2003 - Grand Olympic Stadium, Los Angeles

1.Bruce Springsteen - London Calling: Live in Hyde Park -2010 - Hyde Park,London

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 6

50. Damian Marley - Welcome to Jamrock (2005)

Why: Another one addressing the social issues facing Jamaica. Marley wants to unify Jamaica and wants those in charge to help. An overused topic? Not when the gap between third and first world remains so apparent.

49. Kate Nash - Nicest Thing (2007)

Why: The song with the most truthful lyrics about unrequited love. Manages to personify hope, anger, annoyance , longing and sorrow in four minutes.

48. Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out (2003)

Why: One of the most recognizable riffs of the decade; one you've probably sang along to. Simple sing-along lyrics help with the singing along style of this song.

47. Jimmy Eat World - The Middle (2002)

Why: The song that carried Jimmy Eat World to the mainstream. Lyrics that reflect going through troubled are about as emo as you get from Jimmy Eat World, but they keep it fun with a catchy hook and upbeat guitar.

46. Keane - A Bad Dream (2007)

Why: Based on a W.B. Yeats poem the song is a ethereal as you'd expect from the source inspiration. Starts out pretty slow and calm but develops into a loud expression of anger.Or as angry as you get from Keane anyway.

45. Kanye West ft. John Mayer - Bittersweet Poetry (2007)

Why: Lyrics that map the demise of a relationship but an on-again, off-again one. Manages to make the love-hate relationship seem so clear that even people who never had one can relate. Signals the start of Kanye going alt, whether that's good or bad remains debatable.

44. R.Kelly - Ignition (Remix) (2003)

Why: A casual unleashing of images that create the mood of a night about the town. This is the song that symbolizes 'the best night out' in the 00 decade.

43. Coldplay - A Message (2005)

Why: Another beautiful Coldplay song with ambiguous lyrics. Is it to a lover who's away? To an ex? A ballad of unrequited love? We'll never know but it's beautiful. Whatever the story behind it is.

42. Snow Patrol - An Olive Grove Facing the Sea (2009 Version)

Why: An entire orchestra gets involved in this one. Possibly the most haunting of Snow Patrol's songs (and haunting is their style) and maybe the one that's most fantasy inducing. It gets into your head, like very few songs will.

41. Bruce Springsteen - Devils & Dust (2005)

Why: Acoustic folk rock puts Bruce back to his 'Ghost of Tom Joad' best. Lyrics are about an American soldier who is struggling to find the point of his mission. Not your conventional anti-war song, the soldier wants to do what's right and take a righteous stand.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 5

60. Coldplay - Swallowed in the Sea (2005)

Why: Coldplay have the ability to sing ambiguous lyrics and everyone finds their own meaning to them. Possibly about lost love, although it isn't really clear why the love is lost. The haunting vocals of Chris Martin backed by first by string choir, guitar chords and then a musical crescendo make this song a journey in music.

59. Wilco -Impossible Germany (2007)

Why: Finishes off with an rhythmic guitar solo for the last two minutes. The entire song is heavily guitar driven but with a folk and blues feel to it. Lyrics don't seem to have much to do with Germany but they mention Japan so it could be a WWII thing.

58. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out of My Head(2001)

Why: Those 'La-La-La' vocals are what make the whole song. There's a whole bunch of catchy hooks in here.But this song is good because Kylie never tries to over do it.She keeps it minimal and catches you with the 'less is more'

57. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks (2006)

Why: The song that makes everybody start whistling. Most people know it from the FIFA 08 soundtrack. Lyrics that seem to be a dialogue from two people who just don't care what the other has been up to.

56. Matisyahu -King Without a Crown (2005)

Why: The most exciting new American reggae musician of the decade is a Hasidic Jew from Pennsylvania. I'm sure no one saw it coming. Incredibly powerful and uplifting, the spiritual lyrics of this song are perfectly delivered by Matisyahu.

55. Damien Rice - 9 Crimes (2006)

Why: A piano duet with whispered throaty vocals. The lyrics don't make a lot of sense but when Rice sings it suddenly they seem to be meaningful.

54. Babyshambles - Fuck Forever (2005)

Why: Was it Pete Doherty's message about the madness his life has become? Or was it about a really good hookup? A transfixing guitar riff but as Doherty sings 'They'll never play this on the radio'.

53. Oasis -Stop Crying Your Heart Out (2002)

Why: Try as you might you can't not compare it to "Don't Look Back in Anger". Proof that Oasis still had the ability to make you cheer up and feel good, no matter what else is going on.

52. Dr. Dre ft. Eminem - Forgot About Dre (2000)

Why: Forget Dre? Not likely but just in case Dre decides to tell you just why you won't and lists his significant accomplishments and influence on the rap genre. Eminem puts a verse of machine-gun lyrics from his Slim Shady alter-ego about random acts of violence. It might be one of his most memorable

51. Cody Chesnutt - Look Good in Leather (2002)

Why: Most people know it from the claymation Axe ad. An entire R&B song full of boasting but all done with a smirk. Never gets over the top about how rich he is or that he only drinks Hennessey.It's just all about looking good in leather.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 4

70 . Feist - 1234 (2007)

Why: Sounds like it should be on Sesame Street. So they put it on there. Starts off as a vocal ballad and finishes up with an entire horn orchestra and crashing cymbals. It remains brilliant even though overplayed through that iPod commercial.

69. U2- Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of (2001)

Why: Usually the criticism directed at U2 is that they don't live up to their own standard they set with their early works. Maybe that's evolution but this song is a throwback to those early U2 days. A lyrical masterpiece of not letting the past keep you down.

68. Black Kids - Love Me Already (2008)

Why: The perfect mix of alienation, unrequited love and bad advice is how this song starts. One guitar solo and a keyboard bridge later and it all works out in the end. It's the most high energy song that seems like it should be slow , but it works.

67. Nas - Hip Hop is Dead (2006)

Why: With a statement that bold you have to have verses to back it up.And Nas has them. A track which decrys the commercial way which hip hop has gone and stresses for a return to its originality.

66. Bruce Springsteen - My City of Ruins (2000)

Why: Originally about Asbury Park the song became a hymn for America after the September 11th attacks. It brought a message of hope and rising from the ruins and once again set The Boss up as the voice of America.

65. The Shins - New Slang (2001)

Why: "You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life". Those are the words said when the headphones are passed in the movie Garden State. The description might be correct about this haunting song about being stuck in a seemingly dead-end life.

64. Eminem ft. Dido - Stan (2000)

Why: The progression of an obsessed fan from from idolatry to homicide, only to realize in the last verse that he got it all wrong. Eminem shows us that he is an exceptional storyteller in one of his earliest tracks.

63. Slayer - Payback (2001)

Why: The song that may be the angriest song of all time. Classic Slayer with angry riffs and the most violent lyrics in music around. When you finish listening to this you're never angry because nothing can make you as angry as Slayer are.

62. Death Cab For Cutie -I Will Follow You Into the Dark (2006)

Why: Till death do us part has never been said quite like this before. Written and performed as an acoustic solo by frontman Ben Gibbard, the metaphors come flying in. Still not sure if it's romantic or fatalistic.

61. Justin Timberlake -Cry Me a River (2002)

Why: The breakthrough track for Timberlake. Released after his breakup with Britney Spears, most people heard this and said 'Are you sure this is the guy from 'N Sync'. Vindictive lyrics over a catchy track make this song a continual favorite.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 3

80. Between the Buried and Me - Selkies :The Endless Obsession (2005)

Why: A song that showcases BTBAM's style of merging multiple genres. It starts out as progressive, turns into metalcore, has moment of death metal and then ends up as alternative.

79. Sizzla - Just One of Those Days (2002)

Why: Sizzla somehow manages to put out about two albums a year. But from 2002-2004 every album was excellent. No one did the sad songs better than he did and the lyrics from this apt break-up song are soaked in reality.

78. Muse - Knights of Cydonia (2006)

Why: An upbeat guitar track about making your own chances and controlling your destiny. A bit of crazy space rock which is exemplified by the intro coming from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

77. Dizzee Rascal - Fix up, Look Sharp (2003)

Why: Took a sample from Billy Squier and arranged it completely out of the norm.And grime music usually isn't norm anyway and it drifted from that. One of the songs that helped the world realize the talent of the unique Dizzee.

76. Modest Mouse - Float On (2004)

Why: The song to shout and clap along with. Great lyrics about hopefulness, mostly about the small stuff coupled with a great rhythm section. Inspiring us all to float on if things get too heavy.

75. Radiohead - Pyramid Song (2001)

Why: Thom Yorke thinks its the best he's done. A piano driven song that references Dante, The Tibetan book of the Dead and Hesse's Siddharta. What more do you need?

74. D'Angelo - Untitled (How Does it Feel) -(2000)

Why: A tribute to early Prince with soul, funk and quiet storm. Lyrics which deal with a man pleading with his lover to get some. The Marvin Gaye songs for the next generation.

73. Iron & Wine - Naked as We Came (2004)

Why: An acoustic ballad about burying your dead lover. Haunting lyrics which are, to be honest, quite depressing. The song is beautiful in a way only sad songs can be.

72. Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl? (2003)

Why: A total throwback to the 1960's Motown feel. But with more overdriven guitars thrown in. A total hyper driven song. Somehow the spoken line of the title works as a chorus.

71. M.I.A. - Paper Planes (2007)

Why: Possibly a violent song? Possibly a satire of views on immigrants? The song seems to contain more layers than you can fit into a pop song. Everyone's favorite Sri Lankan rapper finally crossed over into the main with this song about being underground.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Songs of the Decade -Part 2

I'm taking the decade as 2000 - 2009, otherwise there'd be some songs from 2010 on the list. Here's the continuation :

90. Nas - One Mic (2002)

Why: The ode to the simple life. Nas finds the perfect lyrics to go with excellent production, managing to find space for both dystopian and religious themes. And he samples Phil Collins; can't argue with that.

89. The Cribs - Men's Needs (2007)

Why: The most infectious opening riff of 2007 sent this Brit indie band catapulted them to stardom . Mostly because of this song being on continuous loop on the dance floors of London clubs. The accent is a bit thick but if you can listen through it, the lyrics aren't bad.

88. Junior Senior - Move Your Feet (2002)

Why: A song that was the background music for several football trick compilation videos on Youtube.Because the mix of disco, punk and indie was perfect for watching people do drinks.Or really, just perfect to make you move your feet.

87. Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats (2003)

Why: It's a large debate as to whether the original by The Knife is better. Fans of electronic music go for the original. But the haunting, emotive lyrics are transferred best in the acoustic version by Jose Gonzalez when he strips away the production and leaves only the song itself.

86. Avenged Sevenfold - Seize the Day (2006)

Why: A sentiment made even more poignant by the death of the band's drummer. Filled with great guitar solos to match the apt lyrics, this song showcases Sevenfold at their best. If you aren't inspired to do something after listening, your laziness has gone too far.

85. Dans Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill (2007)'

Why: A satirical lyrical rant at English pop culture and its mindlessness. No band is spared or placed on a pedestal, they're all 'just a band'. Don't take the fake of hype and get caught up. Think for yourself. That's the message they're going for.

84. The Hives - Hate to Say I Told You So (2000)

Why: One of the best guitar tracks of the decade. Reminiscent of the Brit pop and garage bands of the 1960's, The Hives faded quickly from public view. But this remains their signature (and best) song.

83. M83 - Kim & Jessie (2008)

Why: French electronic dream pop can be done no better than by M83. An ethereal sound with haunting electronic waves which accentuate the vocals. It's both beautiful and energizing.

82. MGMT - Time to Pretend (2008)

Why: It's not really clear if MGMT are being ironic about the celeb life or they actually really want in on the lifestyle. The lyrics are clever and coupled with an ecstatic groove, the song is exceedingly catchy.

81. The Killers - Mr. Brightside (2003)

Why: A melodramatic song about unrequited love.But so over-the-top with jealousy, betrayal and other emotions that it never seems dated. A song that was perfect for being performed live in front of a large audience, it came out when everybody needed such a song.

Songs of the Decade -Part 1

Maybe I'm a whole year late. Then again, maybe it takes a whole year to come up with the songs of the decade.Or maybe I'm really bored. Anyway, here's my list (and if your don't like it, make your own):

100. Johnny Cash - Hurt (2002)

Why: Possibly the best cover of all time. Cash takes the Nine Inch Nails original and carries it to another level of melancholy. When he plays that single note over and over you feel as if you'll never be happy again. only Johnny Cash can stay relevant for four decades at such a high level.

99. Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (2007)

Why: The French electronic duo made the ultimate Micheal Jackson tribute with this song.And they did it before he died too. Complete over the top melody with a child chorus hook, this song remained infectiously catchy even with all the overexposure.

98. The Streets - Dry Your Eyes (2004)

Why: British hip-hop usually isn't taken seriously. After hearing this you'll change your mind. The biggest hit off the concept album A Grand Don't Come for Free is also the most realistic portrayal of a break-up by someone in hiphop ever.

97. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly (2006)

Why: An Academy Award winning song form the movie Once. Haunting vocals fused with great chemistry between Hansard and Irglova (who also start in the movie). A song with minimalist accompaniment which is all the better to appreciate the lyrics and vocals.

96. Twista ft. Kanye West & Jamie Foxx - Slow Jamz (2004)

Why: A slow jam about slow jams. Back in the the almost forgotten days when Kanye used to do more rapping and less being insane, he had excellent lyrics. Twista unleashes super-fast lyrics as always and Jamie Foxx name drops every soul singer since Motown came around. It somehow works.

95. Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows (2002)

Why: The most rhythmic QOTSA song ever? Probably. And that's saying a lot. A running guitar riff coupled with some serious slap bass still manages to give a mournful tune that catches the mid-decade mood.

94. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - More Justice (2001)

Why: Has Damian Marley ever dropped a bad verse? Or even a bad lyric? Releasing socially conscious music as always, he again speaks of the struggle for the poor youths of Jamaica while maintaining a smooth lyrical flow over an overdriven guitar backing.

93. Gorillaz ft. De La Soul -Feel Good Inc.

Why: Switches from electronically drenched to a chord based guitar chorus seamlessly.The lyrics move from the sublime to the senseless but it all fits. And any time De La Soul get included is good.

92. Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook

Why: They may have used every instrument they could find for this song. It's in Icelandic but it doesn't matter because it works. The continuous drums crescendos and acoustic guitars are what make this a great track.

91. The Roots ft Cody Chesnutt - The Seed 2.0

Why: The best rock song from a hip hop group in a while. A catchy guitar hook which completely sticks with you. And completely takes away from the fact that the song is about leaving a legacy of multiple children with different women.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Definitive Reading List (part4) - Magical Realism II

25.The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov -1967 - USSR

24.The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis - Jose Saramango -1984 -Portugal

23.The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts - Luis de Bernieres - 1990 - UK

22. Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin- 1983 -USA

21.One Arm- Yasunari Kawabata - 1969 -Japan
20. Perfume - Patrick Suskind -1985-Germany
19.The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman - Angela Carter- 1972- UK
18.Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel -1989- Mexico
17.The Kingdom of This World- Alejo Carpentier -1949 -Cuba
16.A Universal History of Infamy - Jose Luis Borges - 1935 - Argentina
15. Illywhacker - Peter Carey - 1985 -Australia.
14.Chocolat - Joanne Harris - 1999-UK
13.The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende - 1982 -USA/Chile
12.The Game of Contemporaneity - Kenzaburo Oe - 1979 - Japan
11. The Green Mile- Stephen King - 1996- USA

The Definitive Reading List (part3) - Magical Realism

10.The Shadow of the Wind -Carlos Ruiz Zafon -2001- Spain

9.The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz- 2007- Dominican Republic/USA

8. Everything Is Illuminated-Jonathan Safran Foer - 2002. USA

7.The Famished Road - Ben Okri -1992- Nigeria

6.In the Skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje -1987 - Sri Lanka/Canada

5. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez- 1985-Colombia

4.The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera -1979- Czechoslovakia

3. The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass -1958 -Germany

2. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie -1981- UK

1.One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez - 1967- Colombia

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Defense of the Champions league

The UEFA Champions League (CL) football cup competition organised by UEFA since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe.

Prior to 1992 the tournament was officially called the European Champion Clubs' Cup but was usually referred to as simply the European Cup or European Champions' Cup. The competition was initially a straight knockout competition open only to the champion club of each country.

The tournament consists of several stages. In the present format it begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round. The 10 surviving teams join 22 seeded teams in the group stage, in which there are eight groups consisting of four teams each. The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout phase, which ends with the final match in May.

Since the tournament changed name and structure in 1992, no club has managed consecutive wins

(WIkipedia for the above)

The consecutive finalists so far have been AC Milan (1993(L),1994(W),1995(L) ); Ajax Amsterdam (1995 (W), 1996(L) ); Juventus (1996 (W), 1997(L), 1998(L) ); Valencia (2000 (L),2001(L); Manchester United ( 2008 (W); 2009 (L) ).

There are several possible reasons for this.

1. Pressure - For big clubs there is always pressure to win the CL. The holders however have extra pressure. The pressure to do it all again. The club mentality comes into this; the drive for another win or to be content with past achievements.

2. Mass Media - This isn't the 1960's and 1970's when teams regularly defended. What's different? The medium upon which you're reading this. The internet allows for mass archiving. The pre-match preparations never involve guesswork. Every thing a team did before is somewhere on the internet. Only completely new strategies can't be countered.

3. Time Factor - The time to develop a side is extensive. Several coaches come into another coach's intention of a side. Especially since many clubs have managers for one or two years. While the CL can be won by a coach who has implemented his preferred side in a club, the continuous upkeep of that said side sometimes needs a reconstruction year.Especially when playing at high levels. (It may be relevant that all team that reached consecutive finals had the same manager)

4. Playing Style - This is one usually pinpointed. Every team has their own particular style. When they win the CL it is because of this this. It does not necessarily have to be original, just effective. Milan of 2003 were not the first to use catenaccio & counterattack but it was effective that year. Barcelona in 2009 elevated the passing style they already had to another level.

The problem is that a style takes a long time to develop and to successfully assimilate into the team.

5.Champions scrutiny- All teams do research before matches. But every team analyzes the champions in the post season. Partly to see why they're successful, partly to figure out how to stop them in case they have to play them.CL winners are under far more scrutiny in the defending year than the previous.

6. The post season analysis - When a style becomes successful, due to mass media, it will immediately be broken down and analyzed. The post season is a long time in football and the teams can afford to have people studying the CL winner.

A style is easier to break down than to create. The previous style that benefited the winner will now be unsuccessful and the post season (while a long time) is not long enough to implement a new style.

7. Forcing the issue - If a team persists in playing the same style from the previous season it will inevitably be nullified (Barcelona 2009,2010. Bayern Munich 2001, 2002). If they try to adopt a completely new style it will fail because of time factor limitations in implementing such style (Real Madrid 2002,2003.). Minor adaptations are the only possibility & this is far more difficult to predict the success of.

8. The Exceptional Style - This is directed at Barcelona. The style they played for 2009 was their own style.It was very difficult to defend against. Even through several analysis, the breakdown of the style showed almost no method to nullify them. However they did not make the 2010 final. The style they played was the same.

If such an exceptional style could be nullified, then it stands to reason that persisting in the same method year after year will be ultimately unsuccessful. The fact that when the style was changed to the long ball method in the second semi-final caused problems for Inter (since they obviously were unprepared for Barcelona using this method) shows the necessity of changing the style. The inability of the Barcelona players to successfully adapt to the new style shows the further time factor importance.

9.Time between semis & final - This is usually around three weeks. Usually most teams in the final have already won their league long before this. If the defending champion reaches the final , the other team has three weeks to study everything they did this year and last year. Sometimes the allure of returning to the successful method can be too much.

10. Mental fatigue - Reaching the final twice in a row means that the team has played more matches than any other team. Coupled with a tight league race (Juventus 1997) and a long domestic cup run, the mental pressure on players is high.

Each of these reasons can be broken down individually. Singly they are not the reason for no defense of the trophy.It is possible however, that a combination of some or all of these factors result in there being no successful winner of the CL in consecutive seasons.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Definitive Reading List (part2) : (still) 20th century Comedy

(still) in no particluar order

35.Anthologie de l'humour noir - Andre Breton -1939 - France
34.The Horse's Mouth - Joyce Carrey -1944-Ireland
33. A Season in Sinji - J.L. Carr - 1967 -UK
32. A good Man in Africa - William Boyd -1981 - Scotland
31. Henderson the Rain King - Saul Bellow -1959 -Canada
30.Zulieka Dobson -Max Beerbohm -1911 -UK
29. Omeros -Derek Walcott -1990- St. Lucia
28. Molloy - Samuel Beckett - 1954 -France
27.Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes -1984-UK
26. Money -Martin Amis -1984 - UK
25. I served the King of England - Bohumil Hrbal -1983- Czech Republic
24. High Fidelit - Nick Hornby -1995- Uk
23. The Little World of Don Camillo - Giovanni Guareschi -1948 -Italy
22. Brewster's Millions -George Barr McCutcheon-1902-US
21. Great Apes - Will Self -1997 -UK

The Definitive Reading List (part1) : 20th century Comedy

in no particular order:

20.Portnoy's Complaint - Phillip Roth -1969 -US
19.Zazie dans le Metro - Raymond Queneau -1959 -France
18.Fireflies- Shiva Naipaul - 1970-UK
17.Puckoon -Spike Mulligan -1963-UK
16.Nice Work - David Lodge - 1988 -UK
15. The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike -1984-US
14. A Confederacy of Dunces -John Kennedy Toole -1980 -US
13. Penrod -Booth Tarkington - 1914 -US
12. Office Politics - Wilfred Sheed -1966 - US
11. The Ginger Man - J.P. Donleavy -1955- France/Ireland
10. Scoop - Evelyn Waugh - 1938 - UK
9.Lucky Jim- Kingsley Amis- 1954 -UK
8. Catch -22 - Joseph Heller- 1961 -US
7.Thank You, Jeeves - P.G. Wodehouse -1934 -UK
6. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -Douglas Adams - 1971-UK
5. Breakfast of Champions-Kurt Vonnegut - 1973 -US
4.My Uncle Oswald - Roald Dahl - 1979 -UK
3 . What's The Worst That Could Happen? - Donald Westlake -1996- US
2.The Edible Woman - Margaret Atwood - 1969 -Canada
1.Brigdet Jones's Diary - Helen Feilding- 1996 -UK

Monday, April 26, 2010

potential future oscar winners

The criteria for this is that only actors/actresses with one previous Oscar nomination or less are eligible (no Peter O'Toole). Also only first time future winners, so no one who has won an Oscar previously. The movies used for justification (minimum 2) will not include the Oscar nominated role. Since it's potential future, trying not to include actors who haven't had a good recent performance (no Steve Martin)

15. Viggo Mortensen

justification : The Road; Appaloosa, A History of Violence;

14.Mathieu Amalric

justification : The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Kings and Queen; Munich; Un Conte de Noel

13. Natalie Portman

justification: V for Vendetta; Brothers; Cold Mountain; garden state

12. Sergi Lopez

justification: dirty pretty things; Pan's labyrinth;Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien

11. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

justification: Lust, Caution; In the Mood for Love;Internal Affairs; Chungking Express;2046

10. Gael Garcia Bernal

justification : Amores Perros; Y tu mama tambien; The Motorcyle Diaries;

9. Audrey Tautou

justification: Amelie; Coco avant Chanel; Dirty Pretty Things; A very Long Engagement

8. Paul Giamatti

justification: Sideways; American Splendor;Cold Souls

7. Michael Sheen

justification: The Queen; The Damned United; Frost/Nixon

6. Gary Oldman

justification: Sid and Nancy;Dracula;Prick up your Ears; JFK, The Contender

5. Christian Bale

justification : The machinist;American Psycho; 3:10 to Yuma

4. Alan Rickman

justification: Die Hard; Sense and Sensibility; Michael Collins

3. Christopher Plummer

justification: The Sound of Music; The insider; Syriana;

2. Ken Watanabe

justification: Letters from Iwo Jima; Memoirs of a Geisha; Kizuna; Shizumano Taiyo

1. Gerard Depardieu

justification: Bon Voyage; Quand j'eatis chanteur; green Card;

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A list about graphic novels.

Graphic novels are underrated.Mostly because there are a lot of them, most of which aren't that great. So the good ones get lost in the rubble. But the good ones are very good, bordering even on the exceptional. (& I mean by literature standards.). Taking into account only stand-alone graphic novels i.e. written by one author or (one set of authors) only for one (completed) series where characters are not reused by other authors. So as good as Batman : The killing Joke and Daredevil: Born again are , they won't be included.

17.Y: The Last Man .Author -Brian K. Vaughan. Artist -Pia Guerra. released 2002-2008

why: Every male mammal on earth dies except one man and his monkey.A great plot, sharp dialogue and dealing with scientific advancement issues. also full of gender differences issues.


Persepolis . Artist and Author - Marjane Satrapi. released in 2000.

why: About growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Very clever and witty although at times dark it gives an insight about how character prevails even when it is tried to be repressed.

15. 300. Author and artist - Frank Miller. Released in 1998


why: Everyone's seen the movie by now. Doesn't mean you shouldn't read the comic. Every page is a double page spread of rich colours. As much action in the book as in the movie.

14.David Boring . Author & Artist -Daniel Clowes. released in 2000.

why: A story about a man trying to find the perfect woman with a nuclear apocalypse impending. Full of sardonic humour with plot elements from film noir and Nabokov.

13. Blankets . Author and artist - Craig Thompson. Released in 2003.

why: An autobiographical coming of age novel. About growing up in a strict Evangelical family and first love and early adulthood. Perfectly written in the sense that you can comprehend (and at times relate) everything and get drawn into the remembrance of experiences .

12. Les Adventures de Tintin: L'Ile Noir. Author and artist - Herge. released in 1937-1938, English translation in 1966.

why: It's the best of the Tintin adventures in my opinion. Tintin was great since the 1930's and still popular and a great read even today. Still serialized in newspapers now. Classic adventure stories like this are all too rare these days.

11.Our Cancer Year . Author- Harvey Pekar & Joyce Brabner. Artist- Frank Stack. released 1994.

why: I'm not sure if i can put the whole American Splendor series here but this is representative of it. It tells the story of Pekar's struggle to overcome cancer as well as throwing in social commentary about that year. Filled as usual with Pekar's confrontational style.

10. Ghost World . Writer and Artist - Daniel Clowes. Released 1993-1997

why: A good film was actually made out of this graphic novel. A realistic look at teenage life and relationships, albeit a slightly cynical one. Comparisons can be drawn with The Catcher in the Rye.

9. The Sandman . Author - Neil Gaiman. Artists - Several. Released 1989-1996

why: Winner of the world fantasy award and a NY times bestseller.Several elements of classical mythology are present. As well as character focus on The mythical Sandman is creative yet holds true to the myths.

8.The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol. I&II). author- Alan Moore- Artist - Kevin O'Neill

why: Several major nineteenth century characters from novels appear together in this graphic novel. Henry Jekyll, Captain Nemo , Allan Quatermain and several others join to fight Fu Manchu & the Martians. The most original use of created characters in a long time, if not ever.

7. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Writer and artist - Chris Ware. released in 2000.

why: Several possibly autobiographical elements. A story of relationships with family. Several parallel storylines and flashbacks occur. Jimmy daydreams a lot and his fantasies are his only recreation. The smartest kid one earth may actually be a daydream fantasy of a lonely,dull middle aged man. Great work which explores themes of isolation and depression.

6.V for Vendetta . Author- Alan Moore. Artist- David Lloyd. Released 1982-1989.

why: A story about an anarchist terrorist who lives in a dystopian future. Written in the 80's the parallels to modern life are there for all to see. Several literary themes are present, (V always talks in iambic pentameter). The debate to whether anarchy is preferable to fascism is also looked into.

5.From Hell . Artist - Alan Moore, Author - Eddie Campbell. Released in 1991- 1996.

why: A huge conspiracy theory that follows the Jack the Ripper murders and the possible identity of the killer. Immensely detailed and as much a comic about the Victorian era as Jack the Ripper.

4. Bone . Author and Artist - Jeff Smith. released 1991-2004

why: The funniest adventure story around. You can read it either as a fan of adventure or comedy and be impressed. Very deep characters as well, especially for a comedy.

3. Sin City . Artist and author - Frank Miller. released 1991-2000

why: A nod to the film noir style and hardboiled detectives.Very black and white in the 1940's feel of a detective film which gives a pulp fiction style. Great memorable characters are everywhere in Sin City, each with their own agenda.

2.Maus: A Survivor's Tale . writer and artist : Art Speigelman. Released 1972-1991

why: Winner of a Pulitzer prize. A world war II story about the Holocaust where everyone is presented as anthropomorphic animals. Biographical too, since it's about the author's father. It also deals with the after-effects of the Holocaust for survivors as well as those who didn't experience it. Large portions are on the author's relationship with his father.

1. Watchmen - written by Alan Moore, art by David Gibbons.released 1986-1987

why: Most people know the movie.Which is unfortunate because it isn't a very good movie even if you haven't read the graphic novel.If you have, then you know how far they missed. Watchmen is regularly used in the argument that graphic novels should be considered literature. It's a compelling argument after you've read it.