Archives for category: Music

2015gold1

Opinion
By James Pavel

20. FUN – COLDPLAY

Coldplay was on a war path to attempt to make the most peaceful and benevolent album known to planet Earth after the dreary affair titled, Ghost Stories. Yet the heart pangs left over in the debris from divorce and tales from the dead still manage to infiltrate Coldplay’s dogged attempt at a smiley face emoticon album. ‘Fun’ doesn’t sound as fun as it should be, because it’s really about somebody reflecting on the best parts of a relationship past its due date. (Below is a cover track.)

19. TRUE AFFECTION – FATHER JOHN MISTY

Father John cruises from Earth to space and only in the dark corners of nowhere does he allow his most sensitive thoughts to escape. It sound as though it has enough instruments to commission three school bands all competing at once, but all somehow works thanks to the genius of one of the few musical priests we can trust.

 

  1. NO ROOM IN FRAME – DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

Nobody takes inanimate objects and transforms them into marvelous, complex observations like DCFC. A picture in a frame should be as so, but to Ben Gibbard, his lack of presence in the photo indicates a direct snub. No one is as hyper sensitive as poor ol’ Benny, but then nobody is more self-aware either. The latest Death Cab offering was nowhere near the scope and value of the one prior (Codes and Keys), but it still contained enough genuinely sharp perspective to keep the Death Cab camp content.

 

  1. BALLAD OF THE MIGHTY I – NOEL GALLAGHER

A rock n’ roll living legend demonstrates he still has a few aces up his pissed-on rain jumper. If there was ever any quarrel over who the more talented Gallagher brother was, Noel, the grumpier one, put those debates to a bitter sleep with the release of his second solo album. It sounds alive and ready to entertain an aging but eager audience, and yet it still smells of that familiar Oasis cologne we dosed ourselves in the 90s with.

  1. SUGAR – MAROON 5

They’ve been downloaded more than Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z combined. They are a group that will never go away and now we are kind of happy they didn’t. Sure, ‘This Love’ and ‘She will be Loved’ were barrels of fun, but we didn’t expect it to continue. But the stupidly catchy ‘Moves like Jagger’ arrived followed by ‘Love Somebody.’ Oh and just in case we didn’t know who Adam Levine was yet, the reality program The Voice implanted him into every living room across North America. In 2015, we received a charming and delightful track about nothing we’ve never heard before, but now we can all finally agree that we are content that the band named after the colour between red and purple managed to stick around.

 

  1. IN MY EYES – BEST COAST

They are the Beach Boys for hipsters and new millennials. Their obsession with California dreamin’ is equal, but with a female singer comes a unique set of issues and reservations. Best Coast lead singer Bethany Cosentino can’t recall how she met John Doe in the first place, but he has successfully infiltrated her mind, her heart, and even the two pools of water stuck in her head.

 

  1. BEYOND LOVE – BEACH HOUSE

It is a wave of dreams brushing over velvet skies, a description that one could apply to everything Beach House in general. They have such a specific sound, yet continue to engineer new methods of making it sound all new again, a quality that can only be used to describe a great band.

  1. LEAN ON – MAJOR LAZER & DJ SNAKE

It lands in the top three songs of summer 2015. It was everywhere, like women’s jean shorts with white pockets seeping through the thighs and Lipton’s twisted iced teas. This banger has an absurdly catchy refrain pounding its way through every sound system north of the Antarctica. ‘Lean On’ made contorting one’s fingers into a gun the wildest hand gesture since we were throwing up the Westside symbol.

  1. HOTLINE BLING – DRAKE

Nobody has had more harmless fun poked at them than Drake. People genuinely hate Kim Kardashian. People genuinely hope Kanye West is attacked by sharks. But nobody genuinely hates the homie from the 6. He manages to combine tennis lessons, skiing, and grey turtlenecks into the strangest version of interpretive dance we’ve seen in music video format. He has managed to make owls and Toronto appear to be his inventions and now he has turned a generic line like “you used to call me on my cellphone,” sound like yet another signature Drizzy quip.

  1. SORRY – JUSTIN BIEBER

Trumpets, raspy voices and a new four-minute, half-ass apology define another Bieber banger. Just in case ‘Where are Ü now?’ or ‘What do you mean?’ didn’t sell you on the Bieber fever revamp, ‘Sorry’ was the one that finally lured you in. Even the biggest haters were declaring their sudden affection for Canada’s most lovable brat. Couples were breaking up on purpose so they could sing this track to one another in unison. The power of Biebs was undeniable at the halfway point of the decade.

  1. FLESH WITHOUT BLOOD – GRIMES

This song is more hype than the sprinkler under the trampoline in the summertime. It’s a song by a woman who is believably weird as opposed to the forced blue hair and contrived rebellion of Miley Cyrus, Hillary Duffy etc. As they say in Austin, Texas, stay weird Grimes.

 

  1. LET IT HAPPEN – TAME IMPALA

No song sounded as desperately urgent as ‘Let it Happen,’ a title that begs the listener to surrender to the cheetah-like pace of life. “All this running around, I can’t fight it much longer,” they sing during a brief hiatus from the technological chaos we’ve been submerged in since the turn of the decade. The robotic, computer blizzard that blisters in and out of this MDMA-laced bouncy castle is the perfect sound to symbolize the never-ending text messages, the infinite Facebook and Instagram feeds and the obsessive reality jungle we all swing vine to vine from.

  1. ANIMALS – DR. DRE FEAT. ANDERSON PAAK

Dr. Dre skipped the detox and headed straight for Hollywood. Dre hasn’t experienced failure in decades and that certainly wasn’t going to stop in 2015. He helped release one of the most successful movies of the year, a film depicting his rise to greatness, and then attached a very 2015-sounding soundtrack to it. The album was meh, but ‘Animals’ packed the exact same power, venom and tenacity that made NWA the world’s most dangerous group. (Below is an instrumental only.)

  1. KING KUNTA – KENDRICK LAMAR

Kendrick Lamar rides shotgun with the doctor as they pop the top on Dre’s Chevy Impala and manage to bounce all the way back to 1993. This instrumental could be off of Dre’s The Chronic or Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, but instead it arrives with the second most influential rapper in the game, the self-proclaimed King Kunta. Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly album was criminally overrated, but this Kunta track has legs on a daddy-long leg scale.

  1. STILL WANT YOU – BRANDON FLOWERS

Climate change and debt, he still wants her. The world is burning, but the Killers front man can only think about being madly in love. His second solo album would be telling, as it was certainly time for B-Flow to roar in a new direction. We heard every tale Las Vegas could offer, could Brandon finally revise his storytelling? The answer was a scintillating yes. He brought Mo-Town flavour to the reflection bakery and managed to carve a thoughtful and purposeful cake without sounding preachy or whiny. Brandon’s smiling the entire video, as if he knows we are all going to be OK, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

 

  1. BACK TO BACK – DRAKE

Back to back like he Jordan 96’, 97. Drizzy wants to be like Mike, but in reality he is the Steph Curry of the game right now. He’s making shots so easily and so consistently that the competition is currently suffering from a combination of slack jaw and night tremors. This is the most important diss track since 50 Cent destroyed Ja Rule’s career with ‘Back Down.’ It’s grimy, intimidating and laced with a couple of deadly one-liners, none more exceptional than “Is that your world tour or your girl’s tour?” Drizzy sings, he dances and he used to play a handicap kid in high school, but he proves you best not piss him off.

  1. BELIEVE – MUMFORD & SONS

Mumford and Sons borrow Coldplay’s template for ‘Fix you’ and achieve similarly explosive results. A slow, reflective build-up, followed by a memorable shotgun blast of electricity. It was Mumford’s best way of letting fans know that the banjo has been retired to the closet for now, and they better bring their ear buds and stomping boots in 2015.

  1. COFFEE – MIGUEL

It’s not Starbucks or Tim Horton’s. Nah, what Miguel is brewing can’t be found in stores, but only in private bedrooms near you. Coffee is what deters half the nation from driving off a bridge every morning or destroying the photo copier with a sledgehammer, but for Miguel a fresh pot symbolizes a successful night prior. ‘Coffee’ is a return to tremendous vocals and sensual RnB, a musical beverage desperately lacking from today’s musical vending machine.

  1. I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE – THE WEEKND

Billy Jean drama with Bruno Mars funk made the coolest song ever made about banging out booger sugar the second greatest track of 2015. From Tom Cruise lip-syncing on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, to every dance floor going mental when the DJ dropped it, this weekend madness was inescapable. With the exception of Taylor Swift, 2014 was void of any true pop classics. But in 2015, we have at least one single that will remain a dance floor anthem until we all go numb.

  1. WHERE ARE Ü NOW? – JACK Ü feat. JUSTIN BIEBER

The Bieber comeback plan was executed to perfection. Such a rotten apple in 2014, he was almost certainly on the path to wash-up village, population Lindsey Lohan. Bieber was mocked, ridiculed and despised. The boy who was supposed to be the next Justin Timberlake had fallen, and no one was certain if anyone cared enough to help him back up. And so began operation comeback. It began with the Justin Bieber roast on Comedy Central. The comedians/guests occasionally peppered Biebs, but left the heavy artillery for each other. When Biebs finally took the podium and thanked everyone, he gave us a juvenile smirk as if to say, “Why so serious?”

He gave a semi-sincere apology and we all sort of forgave him. But all was truly washed away with the tide when he finally did what he was supposed to do – release tremendous pop music. ‘Where are Ü now?’ is the defining song of 2015 because it sounds from the version of the future that we were all supposed to live in. Yet we don’t have spaceships, teleports, or vacations planned in other galaxies. What we do have is music videos where paintings, tattoos and graffiti collide. We have music where boy band hysteria blends with underground dub step and pretty boys collaborate with tattooed skids. What we do have is a world where a megalomaniac from Ontario, Canada is the king of pop culture in 2015.

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bling

Opinion
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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMYAEHE2GrM

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.

compton

Opinion
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.

Rapper-Snoop-Dogg-001

Opinion
By James Pavel

5. 2001

Snoop Dogg, a rapper that has managed the impossible, yet enviable task to somehow appear forever fly, despite being over the age of 40, will go down as maybe the most iconic rapper of all time. Whether it is Snoop Doggy Dogg, The Doggfather, or Snoop Lion, his persona has risen above the importance of any of his music with the exception of his first two albums. His marijuana endorsing lyrics and blunt-blazing escapades rivals the importance of Bob Marley in terms of getting high, and his ability to strike audiences as an authentic gangster has only been matched by Tupac Shakur, and briefly, 50 cent.

Personality conquests aside, as a rapper, the majority of his releases over the past two decades have failed to keep his game as pristine as the way he sounds on the fresh as laundry, ‘2001.’ The beat is following Snoop’s lead, hop-scotching to keep up with the Doggfather’s slick word-play, causing a head-bobbin’ reaction more natural than twisting a Philly blunt.

4. B*tch Please

The peak of misogynist hip-hop  is debatable, but regardless of the era, this song remains the Mike Tyson of the ‘g’s up, hoes down’ mentality. Political correctness and sexism aside, no rap joint lends more swagger to a  man desperate for some pizazz upon entry to the dance floor. Xzibit is in peak form, sounding as if he would rather steal your ride than just pimp it, and Nate Dogg’s final warning near the end is classic Dogg Pound representin’.

3. It Ain’t no Fun (If the Homies can’t Have None)

Its the 90’s West-Coast all-star team singing about group sex with the jubilance of children singing about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The Dogg Pound, along with Snoop’s homie Warren G are one, big, stoned out of their respective trees, happy family and seem in their element when passing around an anonymous groupie/stripper for the whole gang to enjoy. Although everyone has a marvelously perverted verse to add, Snoop’s the lieutenant general when it comes to obscene lyricism.

2. Who am I (What’s My Name?)

Nobody enjoys spelling their name more than Calvin Broadus – it’s outlandish that he wasn’t awarded a guest segment on Sesame Street to encourage children to pronounce their personal syllables with such pride and rigor. Not only has he rapped S-N-double O-P, D-O double G out in every album he’s released, here he devotes a full track to the entirety of his first and last name that the world has come to associate with the 6’4 Long Beach, California resident. Out of all the sing-a-long spelling bees that Snoop has conceived, ‘What’s my Name?’ is the crown jewel. Although he has evolved as a character, his rapping themes have remained remarkably stagnant. Whether he is paired with Katy Perry or Dr. Dre, the subject matter rarely varies. Yet, one when considers other 90s rap titans, perhaps his refusal to evolve into a more reflective version of his former self is a defense mechanism to maintain his indisputable survival as a relevant artist.

 1. Gin & Juice

Despite all the fuss made about the discographies of Eminem and Jay-Z, neither has a song that sets joints on fire or cracks the tops of Colt 45’s faster than this ode to Bombay and OJ. The Snoop Dogg experience can be reached in its entirety through his debut album, “Doggystyle,” when one considers that it features ‘Murder was the Case,’ ‘Ain’t no fun,’ ‘Lodi Dodi,’ and of course, ‘Gin and Juice.’ Snoop now exists as a caricature of Snoop Doggy Dogg. The present Snoopafella is a pop-star diva, a man who shows up four hours late to interviews and will collaborate with anyone willing to dump a quick million into his OG retirement fund. The original Dogg-Father was a thug-life menace, a rapper who feuded with Eazy-E, traded bars with Tupac, and boldly recorded an entire song about murdering the police force.

‘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 lil endo and a few sips of gin and juice.

the killers

Opinion
By James Pavel

5. Shot at the Night

Imperial 80’s magic blazes through the Nevada skies during this triumphant return to glory. It’s a song suitable for the soundtrack of 16 Candles or The Breakfast Club, only arriving 30 years too late. “Shot at the Night” states that The Killers are indeed conscious of what’s trending, demonstrated by the wise recruitment of French wizards, M83 for production value. It’s their most fierce single since the Sam’s Town masterpiece and delivers a sparkle of light to make one wonder if maybe the Killers haven’t completely exhausted their creative mojo.

4. Read my Mind

Besides, “The Stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun” being the most ridiculously awesome line ever, this is the song that every synth-obsessed band drools over constructing.  It’s the American dream condensed into one soothing spectacle seen through the red, white and blue pupils of the ΰbber-patriotic Brandon Flowers.  Music snobs hate to admit that this song engulfs the sky with the same colour of flame that any of Bruce Springsteen’s gems have managed to shower over audiences in the past. It’s as if Springsteen seduced Robert Smith and The Cure with cheap wine and a Las Vegas sunset, and nine months later, out came “Read my Mind.”

3. Mr. Brightside

Morrissey and U2, two of the Killers’ all-time heroes, have longed written as inconspicuously as possible in order to reach the broadest fan base possible. Brandon Flowers decided to do the exact opposite by shredding his personal diary of vulnerable entries and creating one of the defining pop/rock anthems of the 2000s, Mr. Brightside. Crowds erupt like the presence of a King the moment Dave Kneuning’s finger tips brush his electric guitar and gives passage to the world of sick lullabies and temporary persecution. Flowers is as dramatic as a drunken valley girl, but his conviction is real, and the success of this smash hit is his vindication.

2. When You Were Young

‘”When you were Young” made it official that The Killers would never just be remembered for one record. The song is a God-fearing, hurricane-chasing, tsunami of rock n’ roll all in the name of proving that they were not pseudo-Brits, but instead four Americans born and bred in the heart of the desert. The sonic energy of this rattle snake has enough soul surging through its core to transport an audience to the moon and back but they settle for a legacy-shifting moment. “The devil’s water it ain’t so sweet, you don’t have to drink right now,” is the ultimate “feels so good to be bad” lyric and for a brief pause, we really believe Brandon Flowers  is the only rock star that ever mattered.

1. All These Things That I’ve Done

It’s a song that transcends the band and is bigger than the group itself. If nobody remembers the Killers in 20 years, they will still remember this one. It’s profoundly deep for a pop song, as Brandon’s semi-sinister confessions are spoken aloud to the millions that allowed the Hot Fuss album to help define their mid-2000s experience. “I got Soul, but I’m not a Soldier,” is silly, ostentatious, confusing, and yet probably the most addictive and pulsating middle refrain written in pop-rock history.

seven-nation-army-the-white_5l0ut_2hlx44

Opinion
By James Pavel

Soccer stadiums are as rambunctious and boisterous as ever and in 2014 they are roaring a new anthem.

For decades, sports audiences have serenaded the pitch with the classic “Olé, Olé, Olé Olé, Olé, Olé.”

Then at the Euro Cup 2012, we began to hear hints of a Seven Nation revolution.

Now in the summer of 2014, the Brazil World Cup tournament has proven that Jack White’s signature riff has risen and been crowned the new Lord of the salutation universe.

The base riff of the White Stripes defining track “Seven Nation Army,” you know, the chant that rumbles, “O (high note), O, O, O, O, O,” whips from north to south, east to west, in every facility that has hosted a game in this massive tourney.

Quite simply, the “Seven Nation Army” chant has more crunch and venom than the jubilant, but somewhat stale, “Olé, Olé, Olé.”

How did this happen? You’d likely have to drink seven pints in an English pub to find out. My first recollection of this brilliant development was watching an English Premier League match, which is a probable location of this evolution’s birth, as the Queen’s men have always been complimented for their wit and cleverness.

The choice of this song is an obvious one. It is simple for an audience of tone-deaf maniacs to decipher and mimic, and it sounds like a deliciously fun chant to partake in. It’s also in wonderfully good taste, when one considers that Jack White is consistently hailed as a living, modern-rock legend.

White was recently quoted explaining that he was honoured that his work was being sung by nations across the planet.

“As a song writer, it is something impossible to plan. Especially in modern times. I love that most people who are chanting it have no idea where it came from.” (“Seven Nation Army can’t hold back Italian soccer,” artistdirect.com, n.d. July 2013.)

Soccer being the beautiful game and the most popular game, means that other sports are likely to follow suit. Hockey has recently picked up the trend of “Olé, Olé, Olé” and it will be interesting to see if NHL fans across North America will award Jack White with weekly tributes whenever the puck is dropped.

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Opinion
By James Pavel

5. Diamonds from Sierra Leone

It could have been just another classic from decades ago with a modern rapper spilling nonsense over it and misleading new music fans to believe that the song is a hip-hop original and not actually a slaughtering of a once stunning epic. No, Yeezus takes James Bonds’ eternal diamonds and somehow makes them shine even brighter. He manages to shed light on the severity of the diamond trade in Africa, while elevating his rapping ability to the top of the pack. The original is often overshadowed by the Jay-Z remix, but Kanye’s two verses sans Hova are as slick as any suit Jigga has ever had tailored.

4. I Wonder

Kanye West is kind of like the Anakin Skywalker of pop music. In the early years, he is the promising young Jedi that we pray will lead rap and pop music into a new realm of substance and innovation. But the culture of celebrity swallowed his wholesome nature and transformed him into the monstrous Darth Vadar, solidified by his recent marriage to the Death Star of nonsensical celebrity worship, Kim Kardashian.

So that is why it feels like a different universe when West was once a humble, back-pack sporting, Polo-rocking, producer turned rapper, dying to shine. His first two albums are bathed in soul music, which is appropriate since it is these first two releases where Yeezy is the most vulnerable and still determining who he wants to be. Kanye’s ability to empathize with women is only equalled by the late Tupac Shakur. “On that independent shit, give it up for a husband and some kids,” is a punch at feminism, but only a light jab because it has likely made thousands of single women weep from its bruising honesty. Kanye’s relationship with his mother is the foundation of this acute female perception and it would be this relationship that would serve as the ultimate clock to dictate when and how the hyper-sensitive ‘Ye’ would eventually transform into the polarizing ‘Yeezus.’

 

3. Runaway

“Runaway” is a modern anthem for the modern d-bag brought to you by the self-proclaimed international asshole. While sexism has quelled in the new millennium, the sexual appetite of men appears to have tripled, leading to rampant adultery, nonstop perverted thoughts and outlandishly stupid ideas like men sending text messages of their penises. While some married men will plead innocence even when handcuffed to the bed frame by their secretary, many fellas are at least aware of their piggish antics. While “Runaway” was a frigid, insensitive dismissal of any women foolish enough to remain close to him, it still showcased the self-awareness that has ultimately come to define, and at times, destroy Kanye West. The repeated hammering of the single piano key at the beginning before a voice yelling “Look at cha!, Look at cha!” is the mirror screaming at Kanye to dwell in self-reflection and discern why it is that he chooses to act like a monster so often.

2. Jesus Walks

It’s ironic that maybe his most defining track is about the pious figure that he would eventually compare himself to six albums later. From some corners of the world, this song is not just over the line, it’s over the equator.

The song is the defining anthem of his career because the initial and eventual interpretation of this song is exactly how to describe the complexity and genius of Kanye West. The naked audacity of West to champion his debut album over a song preaching the power of the son of Joseph, on a disc that blatantly states that many of his primary objectives make the Ten Commandments shiver, was at first blatantly arrogant.

But as you dissect the lyrics and allow the conviction of Mr. West to take hold, you realize that everything he’s spitting, no matter how ridiculous, has some level of merit.

“I’m not here to argue about his facial features, I’m here to turn atheists into believers,” is the slogan door-to-door Christians have been desperate for since Jesus left the building.

1. Black Skinhead

Today’s Kanye West has shredded his cuddly mascot teddy bear like a savage wolf, decorated himself in an aggressive leather uniform and shaved his skull so that his pulsating veins bulge through when he screams the menacing “Black Skinhead.” The backpacks and the teddy bears have been deserted in the locker room of the fictional ghetto university that he dreamed up in his first few albums, in favour of a beautiful, dark prison where it’s so desperately lonely at the top that Kanye is having delusions of divinity.

With his mother and grandmother both passing away and Jay-Z at times behaving as a rival rather than a big brother, Kanye has had no one to turn to except for the mirror that only seems to rev his ego with the power of a fully-fueled 747.

Kanye West simultaneously hates pop culture while completely defining it. He’s married to a woman who is famous and glorified despite having zero talent, while Yeezy is hated and ridiculed despite being one of the most progressive and talented artists of his generation. The dichotomy should make him vomit on repeat, but the pop culture monster that he co-exists in is impossible to destroy when he and his wife act as the central vortex of it all.