By James Pavel

  • The strongest emotion that I experienced during this movie was sadness. There are some great shots, some satisfactory action scenes, but to summarize this movie with a singular emoticon, it would be a :( with tears streaming down.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal is in this movie for about a third less than I anticipated. Yet, he still stood out to me as one of the most intriguing characters. He is a reckless hippie with a strong passion for Grandpa’s old, cough medicine, and eventually succumbs to his stubbornness to play by the rules.
  • Gyllenhaal is the most unpredictable actor in Hollywood at the moment.
  • I could never and would never attempt to climb Everest or any mountain remotely close to its tremendous size. I genuinely believe that humans aren’t really meant to attempt such a feat. We can’t get planes or helicopters up there, what makes us think our brittle bones belong that high up?
  • In my eyes, the idea of being that cold for that long is a vivid and accurate portrayal of Hell.
  • It is ironic that many believe that Heaven is up above, but the highest point on the planet is actually an area where one’s nose could freeze off after five minutes. #Justsayin.
  • There are scenes in this film that remind me of the Alberta winter. Yes folks, winter really is that brutal in the prairies.
  • I wonder if little Sarah has any interest in climbing.
  • Freezing to death, falling under ice and drowning, and being eaten by sharks remain the top three worst ways to die in my books.
  • Jason Clarke is the best lead actor that no one has heard of. He has now starred in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and now ‘Everest.’ Say it with me – Jason Clarke. He ain’t going nowhere.


By James Pavel

-Mission Impossible is America’s version of James Bond and rather than compare who is better, I feel they are both necessary in the fictional world of terrorism and nuclear attacks.

-Yes, Tom Cruise is crazier than a senior home. But that is why we must hault celebrity worship. They are JUST people. That means they convey idiotic ideas similar to your toddler brother or your crystal-meth addicted sister. They are actors – that’s it. So appreciate him as an actor and do not view him as some sort of all-knowing idol or as someone who should automatically know right from wrong, or crazy from sane.

-Three of the most badass action scenes of the year all occur in this film: Firstly and obviously, the opening scene where Tom Cruise rides on the side of a departing aircraft. Secondly, the underwater sequence where it has been reported that Cruise held his breath for five minutes. Thirdly, the motorcycle scene where Cruise travels at mach 7 speeds to catch a spy carrying an extremely important memory card.

-Toned, pouty-faced, Eastern Europeans/Russians are the new blonde.

-For 53 years old, Tom Cruise is stupidly jacked.

-For 53 years old, Tom Cruise has amazing hair.

-For 53 years old, Tom Cruise is cooler than most 17 year olds.

-This movie was entertaining, but it is the second installment of this series that will likely be considered the greatest version when it’s all set and done.

-I can’t look at Alec Baldwin without thinking of Jack Donaghy.

-What a shame that Tom Cruise has come to be such a polarizing character. In the past five years, he has released three of his greatest action movies: Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, and now  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Cruise is the greatest action hero of all time, but his career has taken such a savage blow from his personal beliefs and antics, that his accomplishments will forever be cast in a dismal shadow of controversy and confusion.


By James Pavel

20. Luniz – I got 5 on it

If you didn’t blaze at least one blunt in the 90s to this track, your life may be void of meaning. This track doesn’t disguise that it’s about drugs (see 2015’s ‘I can’t Feel my Face’), instead it celebrates its loyalty to joint rolling and hot-boxing, fresh with a chorus that sounds straight out of the late, great Nate Dogg’s stable.

19. Warren G feat. Nate Dogg – Nobody Does it Better

Nate wasn’t lying. Nobody crushed a hook like him and nobody has since. He was the West Coast maestro, the one who turned a couple sizzling bars into an instant classic. Warren G, Dr. Dre’s cousin (fun fact), brings his A-game and we catch Warren at his finest, singing about how everyone should be proud of their silver medals when they’re looking up at him on the hip-hop podium.

18. Outkast – Rosa Parks

Country music meets rap music, Humans meet ATliens and the world meets Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Two of music’s most eclectic characters dropped one of the funkiest rap tracks of the decade, a trend that continued right up until the 2000s where their career climaxed with a Grammy victory for album of the year. Andre 3000 is now maybe the most overhyped entertainer on the planet and Big Boi maybe the most underrated rapper in the game spitting solo, but we’ll never forget the hot sauce they spilled back in the decade where our greatest fear was computers tripping over a 0 being added to its date calculation.

17. Skee-Lo – I Wish

This track came out after the film Aladdin and when making three wishes to a giant blue man that sounded like Robin Williams was all the rage. Skee-Lo was refreshing because unlike other rappers, he rapped about what he did NOT have. Skee-Lo is self-depreciating and self-aware, two qualities that generally don’t see the light of day in the world of hip-hop.

16. House of Pain – Jump Around

Getting’ white boy drunk is a relatively new saying, but it should have erupted in 1992. These drunken Irishmen threw a party so boisterous that it has people jumping at football stadiums, pubs and weddings to this day. It temporarily turned rap into a mosh pit, but at its core is most definitely a hip-hop banger for the ages.

15. Craig Mack – Flava in Your Ear Remix

Bad Boy Records never sounded so unified. It features Big Daddy Kane’s 80s rhyme play escorted to the future, where Biggie and Mack drop lyrical mind tricks over and over again with LL Cool J helping on the remix with non-sexual lyrics for a change and Busta Rhymes sounding fresh out of the insane asylum.

14.  Master P – Gangsters Need Love too

P loved to squeeze all his signature grunts and yelps into each track, a tactic mimicked by today’s rappers such as Young Jeezy and even Kanye. P was, for a notable period, the wealthiest hip-hop producer on the planet. His label No Limit pumped out albums by Silk da Shocker, Mystikal and even Snoop Dogg, but the greatest album ever produced by the No Limit Soldiers was by P himself. “Ghetto D” is not west coast or east coast, it’s just a common-ground classic.

13. Lil Troy – I Wanna be a Baller

White people have never been so confused by hip-hop lingo when it comes to the term “Baller.” We assume rappers mean playing basketball, despite zero references to free throw shooting or slam dunks. “Ballin” of course means throwing American benjamins in the air, rolling in drop top convertibles, and drinking expensive alcohol that still tastes disgusting. We all want to be ballers, and Lil Troy provides the anthem.

12. LL Cool J – Doin’ it

Rap’s biggest pervert was the mastermind behind some of rap’s dirtiest tracks and made listening to rap more than just a boys club. Women dug LL, as he will remind you in every track, but this one had just enough testosterone to make dudes bob their head to. Based on this track alone, LL is the king of dirty talk and probably takes sexting to a disgusting new level.

11. Mobb Deep – Shook Ones part. II

The Mobb never achieved the glory and success they dreamed of, but what they did do was create one of the hottest rap songs of the 90s. M.O.B.B. was more than just a punch line in a Jay-Z diss track (The Takeover), as proven by the film 8 Mile when Rabbit’s go-to freestyle beat is this instrumental. It’s a stupidly sick beat that Havoc and Prodigy augment with grimy, back alley vernacular that shakes the booties off half-way crooks right across the country.


10.  Coolio – Gangster’s Paradise

 Despite his ridiculous haircut, Coolio dropped some serious material in the 90s. The song served as the perfect appetizer for the feature film, Dangerous Minds, executing one of those perfect maneuvers where both song and movie achieve success.

9. Snoop Dogg – Gin & Juice

‘Gin and Juice’ is the defining backyard boogie that horrifies parents with real-life tales of what actually happens when Mom and Dad leave their teenager home alone so they can visit Aunty Betty for the weekend.  Pockets full of rubbers, enough booze to send a choir of students to the emergency room, and enough green in the air to decorate a St. Patrick’s Day parade and it all started with a little endo and a few sips of gin and juice.

8. Jay-Z – Dead Presidents II

It’s the hardest version of Jay-Hova, and therefore the realest version. He snags a sample off his future rival Nasty Nas and as he spits in his eventual diss, Nas made it a hot line, but Hova made it a hot song. It is how every submission in the early 90s coming out of New York tried to sound, except nobody nailed the exam like Jay.

7. Westside Connection – The Gangsta, the Killa and the Dope Dealer

 This song serves as the pinnacle of gangster rap. Not even in N.W.A was Ice Cube this menacing. Someone didn’t just piss in his corn flakes, there’s a full-on cowpie floating around in there, and he’s not happy about it. Normally co-conspirators signal the time to switch songs, but WC and Mac 10 do more than just hold their own with the Don Mega. This song samples Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” but they take the pain down Crenshaw Boulevard instead of a downward spiral via Trent Reznor.

6. Puff Daddy – I’ll be Missing you

 The best hip-hop sample ever? Probably. Puffy takes the Police’s creepy, stalker-tale and turns into a timeless dedication to the memory of Notorious BIG. Say what you will about Bad Boy Records, but they sure did a lot more for the memory of Big Poppa than Death Row ever did for their fallen soldier, Tupac Shakur. From a career standpoint, the track launched Puffy from Biggie’s hype man to a respected solo artist and eventual Grammy winner. This song is now synonymous with Biggie’s death and remains a staple of mourning.

 5. Nas – If I Ruled the World

 Nasty recruits pre-crazy Lauryn Hill and makes people remember what important rap sounds like. No one spits intellect like Nas and not many of his tracks arrive as crystal clear as the message in Rule the World.

4. Bone Thugs n’ Harmony – Crossroads

Eazy-E’s Clevland diciples pay him the ultimate tribute by having their greatest track serve as a toast to his legacy along with other precious, fallen loved ones. Bone went on to have an illustrious hip-hop career, but this track remains their cornerstone to this day.

3. Notorious B.I.G – Hypnotize

This song could be “Big Poppa,” or “Juicy” but it’s the music video that separates this track as Biggie’s all-time greatest. Remember, there was no YouTube, Netflix, Snapchat, Facebook etc., in the 90s; It was MTV and MuchMusic. So when a video dropped, the whole world paid attention. And no video was cooler (the 90s term for sick) than “Hypnotize.” Diddy was still Puffy and had more swagger than Kanye West and Jay-Z partyin’ at the Grammys. Plus, there’s mermaids. Hot mermaids.

2. Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg – Ain’t nothin’ but a G thang

It’s the best back-and forth in rap history. Pass the hot potato has never been so fun, as both spit delicious, west-coast venom, and pave two roads that lead to hip-hop royalty and millions upon millions of records sold.

1. Tupac Shakur – Live and Die in L.A.

Tupac Shakur was the white Kurt Cobain of the 90s in terms of how he defined it, lived it and died in it. Nobody rapped harder, nobody repped harder and nobody has been missed more than rap’s ultimate poster boy. The track has a funky, floating in the Venice Beach waves which brilliantly juxtaposes the lyrics and Tupac’s life as a whole. The world’s worst kept secret is that we all dream of living in California and nobody exploited that cover-up better than the dude with Thug life tatted across his belly. “Every n**** in L.A. got a little bit of thug in em” was such a genius way of making every wannabe wankster believe that Tupac revered them in some twisted California brotherly manner. Most importantly, Tupac was not just a rapper for black people but for everybody because of his poignant poetry, his ability to point out social injustices and all accomplished with such unmatched thug passion that he remains the greatest rapper to have ever grabbed a microphone.



By James Pavel 

 Beautiful women and handsome men gawking over one individual and declaring the eventual victor madly in love is to some, as fake as television can get.

We can’t “act” love, or script true feelings, but when spoiled with helicopter rides, nightly hot tub dates and ample litres of wine, the L-bomb gets dropped more on ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ than at a drunken heart to heart between two bros.

But what is horrible, hilarious and mildly depressing is that this reality series is actually as real as reality shows get. This isn’t ‘Survivor’, where producers have to recognize which contestants will immediately loathe each other and therefore clash. It’s not ‘the Apprentice’ where teams are “randomly” formed, only to ensure chaos ensues because type A personalities are clashing from the get-go.

I can’t tell you how ‘The Bachelor’ series is not similar to ‘Keeping with the Kardashians’ because that show is media pollution, plain and simple.

Home renovation shows are the greatest fraud of them all. Elapsed time, unrealistic budgets and who knows how many actual tradesmen and women working on site before the miraculous unveiling of a brand new dining room.

The Bachelor/Bachelorette is easy peasy for the writing team. They need to recruit 20 to 30 great looking people that are hell bent on falling in love with the same tenacity that their grandparents had.

You find an individual that is drop-dead gorgeous but has enough intelligence to carry a broad conversation with anyone from George Clooney to Daffy Duck, and that is where the hardships for the production team stops.

You just allow emotions and jealousy to take centre stage and make sure the cameras catch everything. These men and women ARE real. And although I didn’t initially believe so, I do now believe that their emotions ARE real. They are caught up in this majestic landscape where they get to be swooned and attempt to swoon this beautiful creature and finally, yes finally, their greatest fantasies are coming true.

They are in love and they desperately don’t want this joyride to end. They believe that the 15 minutes to sometimes a full day is theirs to capture and own, and yes, to love. So the cattiness begins. The resentment leaks through. They suddenly aren’t on the cherished one-on-one date and it is driving them bananas.

There is no show that amplifies the foundations of jealousy the way The Bachelor/Bachelorette series does. And because these feelings of love, betrayal and jealousy are as real as Donald Trump running for president in 2016, then it must be declared as the realest reality show on television.


By James Pavel

  • Ice Cube’s son looks exactly like him. Duh.
  • Paul Giamatti excels at playing a slime ball. I mean that in the best possible way.
  • I didn’t anticipate Eazy-E to be the focal point of the movie, especially with Dre and Cube exercising so much creative control over the film.
  • After watching Dre’s version of how business went down with Ruthless Records and Death Row, it’d be wise to argue that the album ‘2001’ was the true pinnacle of his career. Dre had complete creative freedom, had no one to report to with the exception of Jimmy Iovine, had all of his apprentices on the album, and it features Dre’s most creative lyrics ever. The album ‘2001,’ which dropped in 1999 also set the precedent for all rap music that followed over the next six to eight years. There would be no “In da Club” or “Without Me” without the influence of Dre’s classic album. It also features arguably Eminem’s greatest lyrics ever. You know, the ones where he threatens those “loud-ass motherfuckin’ barkin’ dogs.”
  • Suge Knight is a horrible human being.
  • ‘Ain’t nuthin’ but a G thang’ is an amazing song, until you fast forward to the future and hear ‘Still D.R.E.’
  • I wish they had explained Eazy’s influence on Bone Thugs n’ Harmony a bit more. The audience only sees a tape labeled “Bone”, but this group continues to rep Eazy til’ this day, meaning that his influence on them was likely akin to Dre’s influence on Eminem.
  • Ice Cube had easily the most versatile and unpredictable career of any star showcased. Cube went from a gangster group, to writing a wildly successful movie, to eventually releasing an album (The War album) that merged rock/rap and came off as a gothic, apocalyptic adventure that rap has never really seen before or after. He then formed a new group called Westside Connection that became the greatest ambassadors of California outside of Snoop Dogg and the dead-too-soon Tupac Shakur. Sure, Cube went on and made a bunch of terrible movies, but at the end of the day, he still got paid, which was kind of always the plan wasn’t it?
  • Love that they included the Rodney King drama. Police brutality obviously was a huge influence on the creation and direction of NWA.
  • I can’t imagine having to make a movie about my own life. Obviously Dre and Cube have accomplished a great deal, making it somewhat easier to know what should be included, but how do you dramatize certain points and know what exactly would be considered turning points? The film made me realize that life isn’t like a movie at all. There is no one to film the tears or the climatic moments that transform a boy into a man. It’s all a blotched, confusing memory that becomes more difficult to explain as the years pass.

burt-reynolds1 Opinion By James Pavel Half an ounce of Butter Ripple Schnapps and half an ounce of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum poured into a single shot glass. In the U.K they call it a Werther’s Original because it tastes like the candy. In Canada, but more specifically Alberta, it is called, ordered, shouted, projectile-vomited out, and order again, as the “Burt Reynolds.” It is hands down the most popular alcohol-induced shooter in the business by a massive margin. Shots of Patron, Sambuca, or porn stars, can’t touch this shot that is so lionized, it is often ordered simply by a patron placing an index finger under the nose, which ridicules the classic moustache of the burly actor, Burt Reynolds and also signifies that they desire another round of Burt. But a new shot may finally be worthy of dethroning the almighty Reynolds. A young man with an ironic moustache, a straight-brimmed baseball cap and a grin only an 18-year-old in a bar could muster, approached me a month ago. “Can I have a James Franco?” he barked. I immediately assumed this was some toxic creation he had conceived in his friend’s parent’s basement, but I am polite and professional so I asked him to explain himself. And so he did. It contains .5 oz. of Jameson’s Irish whiskey followed by .5 oz. of Frangelico liqueur. The James from the Jameson and the Fran from the Frangelico – and so it is called the “James Franco.” How insanely brilliant. Before me was no longer a drunken man/boy but a complicated genius who I wanted to applaud for such alcoholic wizardry. I slapped his hand and told him it was coming right up. The Burt Reynolds took over from the iconic, douche-bag worshiped Jägerbomb. The bomb stole the show from the Gladiator. And now I believe the Burt Reynolds may finally succumb to the great James Franco shooter. Not only is Irish whiskey witnessing a heroic comeback, but James Franco is a much more culturally-relevant celebrity than Burt Reynolds, a point that holds significant weight in our celebrity-obsessed world. It may take a year, potentially two, but I believe the great transition from Burt to Franco is upon us. Enjoy!


By James Pavel 

20. Fever – The Black Keys

They are the definition of commercial success. Not since Moby has an artist been featured so prominently in the repetitive interruptions between our favourite TV shows. It is the greatest case of “selling out” if that term still held any significance. Bands, just like mom and pop, work to make money and since album sales generate roughly the same amount as the cost of a lawn mower, bands like the Keys have evolved and in their case, prevailed with finding new avenues for their marketable medleys.

The Black Keys are an excellent band that seem to have no problem being liked by as many people as possible. Staying true to your fans is overrated, especially considering how much music your supposed die-hard audiences are inundated with.One minute they are rocking a “The Black Keys are my brother” t-shirt and next week they’ve devoted themselves to Jack White’s seven nation army.

The Black Keys have a fever, and they don’t care how many people they infect.

19. Brother – Gerard Way

His band, My Chemical Romance, the godfathers of modern-day emo music, did a lot more for the past decade than anybody will ever admit. The dark and the gothic will always require a map and MCR was more than welcome to serve as the compass.

No, they were not as sinister as Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie, but they made up for it with dare we say, much more relatable music. The cornerstone and literal poster boy was of course the MCR genius, Gerard Way. So here he is, releasing a solo album that almost nobody even pretended to give a fair listen.

18. Jealous – Nick Jonas

It only took Bieber fever to knock the entire trio of Jonas brothers off their pop throne, but does it not seem that the Jonas family tree may get the last laugh? Bieber, who has an incredibly hollow discography for someone so immensely popular, seems on a path to mayhem while the most talented Jonas is having a real go at providing a fresh face in the male pop department. Jonas sounds like what Prince would sound like if he remembered how to make catchy pop hooks, with a bit of Justin Timberlake’s future, sex, love-funk garnished heavily from start to fin.

17. It’s Alright Now – Bombay Bicycle Club

For a brief minute, we thought they could be the next Coldplay, but they’ve instead completed a U-turn towards a destination unknown and the view is surprisingly pleasant. They are somewhat a U.K-version of Vampire Weekend, meaning they are a hipster’s dream, sliced with enough different cultures to host a United Nations pow-wow.

Their new album is unmistakably weird, perhaps to a fault. They forged so many tranquil rock antidotes on their breakthrough album, So long, see you tomorrow, that we were expecting their version of Viva la Vida and death to all his friends to follow suite.

Instead we got an album more on par with MGMT’s psychedelic experiments of late that will leave fans either musically challenged or defiantly bored.

16. Seasons (Waiting on You) – Future Islands

The lead singer is blessed with the voice of a draconian monster, but thankfully he has put his demonic syntax to good use. He sings about the seasons changing, but blissfully that is where the banal humdrum ceases and the synth-funk takes over.

15. Style – Taylor Swift

Although her country twang will never quite abandon her enunciation abilities, she has surrendered her cowboy boots and Levis’ with this latest offering. It should be more of a difficult transition except Swift barely broke a sweat when she tore the queen of pop throne off Katy Perry’s brunette main. Of course, she never meant to do it, as nobody pretends to be more innocent and care more about everyone else than Swift does. She is the first to claim to be Ed Sheran’s biggest fan or applaud Rihanna for behaving like a hungry porn star at the MTV Awards, but sometimes it seems like she might not be faking it. Is she actually this kind? Is that even allowed in 2014? Maybe that’s the idea behind her album being titled 1989 – she has recognized that nobody could get away with her actions in today’s sick, twisted, Kardashian worshipping world.


14.  Blame – Calvin Harris feat. John Newman

This generation could look back at this unnamed decade and potentially declare it as the period where electronic dance music completely ran the radio and music festival circuit. Nobody has played a more pivotal role in this EDM reign than the great Scot, Calvin Harris. In 2014, he challenged human intelligence by releasing a song called “Summer” in the summer with all of the sounds one would expect in the summer.

It was one of the most offensive attempts at solidifying a sure thing, and thankfully the world responded with an indifferent shoulder shrug. He came back with an actual song this time, called “Blame,” where a person points the finger at alcohol, seductive women and everyone besides the mirror for his inability to keep his trousers on.

13. Give me Something Good – Ryan Adams

He’s what Ben Gibbard should look like after Zooey Deschanel kicked him to the curb. He’s also what Gibbard would sound like if he rolled around the mud, shot Jack Daniels and loved jamming out to Tom Petty. This is the most classic-sounding song of the entire year. If this was 30 years ago, this would be a song that we would still be singing right now when your parents went out of town. Now will we be singing this in 2044 on planet 3C0D8T? Probably not. But can we sing it for the next few years before all hell reigns down? Absolutely.

12. Feel the Effect – Tokyo Police Club

It’s their worst album carrying maybe their best song. “Feel the Effect” has universal synth brilliance, meaning that you could sing anything to it and it will still sound tip-top which is actually what the whitest people claiming to work in the Tokyo police force manage to do. “I’ve got a friend with a limo,” and other nonsensical lyrics accompany this perfectly-arranged pop-rock, bubble bath wave of pleasure.

11. Best Friend – Foster the People

Can anyone host a party better than Mark Foster and his peeps? They crowd-please with the same precision as puppies and new born babies, except they make everyone want to dance and shout, old people included. This song is about your drug addict friend that you predominantly want to abandon, but you still find yourself saving room for him or her in your wedding party.

10. Alex – Nicky Blitz

Jenny, Mandy, and now finally Alex, that stunning dame, finally has a song to call her own. What is wonderful about Nicky Blitz’s single, a song that has crystal meth-like addiction rates, is that Alex can be the name of a boy or a girl, meaning twice as many people can hear this song screamed to them until the end of time. Aleeeeeeeeeex…why? Because you gave me yooo’ number.

9. Not Such a Bad Thing – Justin Timberlake

Leave it to JT to recognize that instead of saturating the radio with a lethargic EDM fist-pumper, he releases a throwback to the N Sync*/BSB domination days, where falling in love to pop songs happened every other music video. He hasn’t forgotten his roots, except maybe the macaroni curls and full-piece denim suits. He is a mainstay on late night television and sometimes stars in the year’s biggest films but this hasn’t stopped him from writing songs about everyday implications that “Not Such a Bad Thing” discusses.

8. West Coast – Lana Del Rey

This is what sex and violence sound like. Del Rey is brake-slamming beautiful, but she’d rather be the girl smoking cigarettes on the back of a Harley than settle for being crowned pageant beauty queen. In regards to her track “West Coast,” has anybody sounded more rebellious singing about the west side since Tupac? No she isn’t contorting her fingers into a W or plotting a stomach-wide Thug Life tattoo, but she certainly possesses the same level of crazy that made Pac so lionized. Now am I saying Del Rey is the new Tupac? Of course not. But is she what Marilyn Monroe would have sounded like if she was open about her drug use, her man-eating and feeling half-insane 24/7? Potentially.

7. Copper Thief – Case Conrad

Stealing copper is a crisis Alberta electricians can easily relate to. Every month, pounds upon pounds of copper are stolen from job sites and exchanged for money or used illegally on other job sites. Case Conrad is not from Alberta nor is he an electrician and is likely not singing about the plight of electricians across western Canada, but he has potentially and unintentionally released an anthem for journeymen and women across the great white north to use in informational campaigns. Oh did I mention this is a fantastic track?

6. Song for Someone – U2

It’s four decades of gaining, losing and then attempting to retain rock n roll glory. U2 was the most criticized band of the year and had their latest offering, Songs of Innocence written off by smug iPhone users before the album was even allowed one listen. What a world we live in that individuals freely post pictures of themselves half-naked and list their most in-depth thoughts for hundreds to view, yet when one of the most celebrated bands of all time give them an album for zero dollars, people are up in arms over privacy issues. This is one of U2’s most complete albums not just of the past ten years, but of their entire career. It’s all killer and no filler, with “Song for Someone” being one of five or six standouts. It’s combines all the elements that make a U2 song a spiritual journey. Bono’s swooning and soul-searching, Edge’s piercing axe and lyrics that manage to include the whole world.

5. Midnight – Coldplay

Crisis fell upon Coldplay in 2014. Songs about yellow, Charlie Brown and skies full of stars could not save the nicest guys in rock n’ roll from their first public fluster with controversy. Chris Martin’s divorce from Gwenyth Paltrow was boring and lacked the drama the tabloids yearned for, but it allowed Coldplay to finally sing about true pain or as one of their best tracks on their album Ghost Stories was called, “True Love.” But the real battle cry, the howl of pain that we needed to hear came via “Midnight,” Coldplay’s paralyzingly-dark, moonlight meditation.

4. Blue Moon – Beck

The hipster godfather that no one would ever admit relation to (that is the hipster way) has managed to take on a whole new context of music without any real transition period. “Blue Moon” is a request for company, a plea for someone to join Beck at his lonesome tea party under the dark skies.

3. XO – Beyonce

Bae isn’t just a cheerleader of love, but one of its glowing champions. She isn’t done shaking her booty or boasting her independence. No, she remains as strong as a prized ox, and doesn’t shy away from allowing herself to become completely consumed with pure and unfiltered hugs and kisses. She demands relentless and pertinacious affection till the lights go out and anything less will not satisfy the Queen bumble B.

2. Chasing the Light – Sam Roberts

Teeny boppers may remember 2014 as the year of Sam Harris and not Roberts, but for the rock n’ roll loyal, it should be reviewed as the year Sam Roberts took his sound to expansive and profound new depths. When Sam chases the hot, fizzy flow, he chooses to open with a spiralling synth before drums hammer down like hot lightning reigning down over a summer village. “Chasing the Light” is about turning dreams into reality, without forgetting who and what made those dreams possible.

1. Bullshit Ballad – Kevin Drew 

He heard your guilt-loaded lies on the radio, and Drew wasn’t buying the goods. He knows your words are intended to sound sincere, that they are supposed to coerce him to view kindred pleas as peace offerings, but K-Drew instead rips up today’s radio love letters like Simon Cowell waking up on the wrong side of the hay. He torches the transparently vague and contrived pseudo-love songs with his compelling and vigorous roar, spliced with a turbulent and majestic guitar spot that blasts away the fake and makes room for only the realest in 2014.


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