The Media Crunch
Taking a Bite of Entertainment….Daily

Feb
06

Nicci Nix Outfoxes Idol?

Remember the recent contestant on American Idol by the name of Nicci Nix? The helium voiced girl who travelled 14 hours by airplane from Florence Italy to sing Something Kind of Ooh for the judges? Well it turns out that she’s not who she first appeared to be. Miss Nix (from California or Pleasantville) has previously appeared on four other reality shows prior to Idol under the name of Nicci Palmeri. On Fear Factor, Next, Making the Band and Date My Mom she had nowhere near the high voice she staged for the hit singing competition. Whether the judges will recognize this now and disqualify her for being untruthful (highly doubt that) remains to be seen. You can see some videos of her other reality appearances here.

Feb
02

Christoph Waltz Deserves An Oscar Win

All the way back in September we here at The Media Crunch vouched for an early Oscar nomination for Christoph Waltz’s incredible performance in QT’s Inglorious Basterds. As the rest of ’09 flew by and more stellar performances were given (in particular, Stanley Tucci as George Harvey in The Lovely Bones) our position that Mr. Waltz deserved it was unchanged by any others. We just felt the performance was that good and we were far away from being the only one. As the Golden Globes approached and he won the prize more momentum was building, then he went on to win the SAG award. Now that the Oscar nominees have been revealed and he is definitely in the running our position is “Academy voters, this man deserves the Oscar!” Waltz gave an outstanding performance that will be remembered in film for a long time. He played the Jew Hunter Hans Landa believably and with as much gusto and flair as any past winner or present nominee. As a relative newcomer to American cinema after doing a lot of theater he was spot on, and among an ensemble cast he managed to constantly chew up the scenery. With a few awards for the role already under his belt, why not give him with the top prize as well?

Feb
02

2010 Oscar Nominations List

At 8:30AM this morning the list of nominees for the 82nd Oscars were revealed. Leading at the front of the pack is mega blockbuster Avatar with 9 nominations, followed closely by Quentin Tarantino’s magnificent film Inglorious Basterds with 8. The Hurt Locker, District 9 and Up were also best picture noms with a surprise twist added by The Blind Side coming in to ten picks. Normally animated features and sci-fi flicks never the get the attention they deserve so it’s nice to see not one but two on the list.

The complete list of nominees is below.

Best Picture

Avatar
The Blind Side

District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

Best Director

James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow,
The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino,
Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels,
Precious
Jason Reitman,
Up in the Air

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney,
Up in the Air
Colin Firth,
A Single Man
Morgan Freeman,
Invictus
Jeremy Renner,
The Hurt Locker

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren,
The Last Station
Carey Mulligan,
An Education
Gabourey Sidibe,
Precious
Meryl Streep,
Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson,
The Messenger
Christopher Plummer,
The Last Station
Stanley Tucci,
The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz,
Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga,
Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal,
Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick,
Up in the Air
Mo’nique,
Precious

Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino,
Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman,
The Messenger
Joel & Ethan Coen,
A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, & Thomas McCarthy,
Up

Adapted Screenplay

Neil Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Nick Hornby,
An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci, & Tony Roche,
In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher,
Precious
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner,
Up in the Air

Best Cinematography

Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

Animated Film

Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Up

Best Art Direction

Avatar
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Best Costume Design

Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
The Young Victoria

Best Documentary

Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

Best Editing

Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious

Best Makeup

Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

Best Score

Avatar
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes
Up

Best Sound Editing

Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Up


Best Sound Mixing

Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Best Visual Effects

Avatar
District 9
Star Trek

Best Documentary Short

China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Music by Prudence
Rabbit à la Berlin


Best Animated Short

French Roast
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
Logorama
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best Live-Action Short

The Door
Instead of Abracadabra
Kavi
Miracle Fish
The New Tenants

Foreign Language Film

Ajami (Israel)


El secreto de sus ojos (Argentina)


The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)


Un Prophete (France)

The White Ribbon (Germany)

Best Song

“Almost There,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans,” The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname,” Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner & Frank Thomas
“Take It All,” Nine, Maury Weston
“The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham

Feb
01

Editorial: Ke$ha, All But Good

Ke$ha, the newest pop sensation with major daddy issues has slowly started dominating iPods with her hit song “Tik Tok”. Rhyming about brushing her teeth with a bottle of jager, feeling like P. Diddy and her man’s wienerschnitzel she comes across as nothing more than another prepackaged dim witted pop tart. Trying to pass herself off as edgy (because, as she admitted in a recent  Rolling Stone Interview pissing in people’s champagne bottles “is living life”) as comments on the article show, a majority think she came right from an area with no class. Every statement she utters either is meant to provoke or goes to show how vapid she is.

How can you blame them though, with the music industry’s choice of product already under a lot of scrutiny this artist (used about as loosely as possible) just adds more fuel to the fire. It opens up the debate as to just how far the music scene has spiraled downwards when major labels push someone like this as a hot new singer, even worse that so many people lap it up. Without a shred of creativity to her name, this high-school dropout has already managed to have the fastest selling single of the year. Her music mainly consists of nothing more then talking over a keyboard beat with juvenile lyrics focused on partying and going wild. Young girls used to look up to well spoken singers and celebrity figures, it’s disappointing to wonder if there’s any left that haven’t done their way up the industry ladder for profit.

It begs the question, just what is a hit song in today’s climate? Forty years ago millions of people screamed for the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, four lads whose success will probably never be topped. They played all of their instruments, wrote all of their tunes and created hit after hit. Today, music is more then ever about money and a product. Ke$ha’s success is based off of a projected partying image, of videos and debatable music talent. Nothing was more evident of that then her performance on Conan O’Brien which was so awful it was pulled off of her official Youtube fanpage.

Probably the biggest gripe of all is the little known fact that independent musician Uffie did it all first and much better. The similarities between the style of the two go far beyond genre and in even in today’s unoriginal climate, the main beat of Tik-Tok was lifted off of a Kylie Minogue track. It’s more then evident with the numerous usage of auto-tune, samples and other audio trickery that music (the most mainstream at least) is getting progressively dumbed down and worse as the years go by. Ke$ha isn’t even rapping, she’s merely speaking over a beat that she didn’t create, with a song a producer helped her write and whom the mass public bought. The people who complain about the downfall of the industry need to not point their fingers just at the musicians themselves but the public who buy into it. Speak with your wallets and maybe those 15 minutes will be shortened to ten.

Written By: Kyle Bulai

Uffie

Jan
28

Today Apple unveiled their long rumoured, eagerly anticipated tablet that managed to spark about as much debate about its abilities as its shortcomings.

With the appearance of an enlarged iPhone, the iPad is a sleek new device targeted at capturing the attention of e-book, portable internet and gadget fans alike. But how much marketshare will it capture, especially with its hefty price tag?

Starting at $499 for the 16GB “basic” Wi-Fi enabled device, the cost goes as high as $829 for the 3G, 64GB model. On top of that a $30 per month data plan needs to be set-up, which begs the question, why not just stick with your iPhone?

Already tech and gadget sites are discussing the many problems with this first generation device, from the name (Tampax jokes galore!) to the pricing and lack of features. Sure it plays movies from iTunes, but it doesn’t do widescreen! Sure you can surf the net and use hundreds of apps but there’s no multi-tasking. Another deal breaker is that there’s no support for Flash, which may be okay for the iPhone but on a gadget marketed towards people who want portable internet, not having flash will bring down the quality of the surfing experience.

In typical Apple fashion the device looks as sleek and well designed as ever (though the surrounding bezel could do with a little more thinning) and many fans of the company will probably scoop up the device. It maintains the simplistic design they’re known for and appears to be heavily inspired by the iPhone’s look. It also has the nice ability to sync up with a Bluetooth keyboard to make typing a lot easier.

At the end of the day after the hype has settled, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. With no e-ink, shorter battery life due to screen size and no USB ports either, it’d be difficult choosing this over an Amazon Kindle (for reading) or a $250 netbook for the internet and word programs. There’s a lot of good tech in play here, it just seems underwhelming. Apple always improves upon their products every year and time will tell if this can have the standing power of an iconic device like the iPod or the iPhone.

Written By: Kyle Bulai

Jan
19

Interview with Melissa Trinchere

A few months back I had the opportunity to ask the talented independent musician Melissa Trinchere a few questions. It was the first time I’d done something like this and my questions were mainly focused around how songs are crafted and the way a songwriters state of mind is throughout the recording period. Whether you like pop pianists or rock, there’s many insightful answers about the creative process behind making music here.
Written By: Kyle Bulai
Q: For your music, how do you visualize or create a song?

Melissa:
It really does differ. Most of the time, I see things in colors. Every song I hear, whether it’s mine or not, I see a color. And colors make me feel things. Red=passion, Blue=sorrow or serenity – etc.

Sometimes it’s about a story, or just an idea that popped into my head.

Q: In your head do you hear yourself playing the piano and the way you want it to be?

Melissa:
Again, this differs from song to song. Sometimes I hear a piano or vocal melody in my head, then I play it out…but since I don’t play by ear flawlessly (don’t have perfect pitch) – I don’t do it that way often. Usually for the piano, I’ll just sit down and if the MUSE is with me, I just play something, and I repeat it. I learn by muscle memory.

I’m untrained on the piano. Not trained by voice either, but I know how to use proper techniques.

Q: After an album is completed do you think about the direction the songs should go in for it?

Melissa:
Yes. But I do this LONG before I even start recording/creating an album. My imagination runs away with me and I think about concepts and groupings. They never make any logical sense either, I don’t think. It’s more how I feel it should go.

Q: When you write your songs down on paper do you start playing chords and think about how they’ll go with what you’ve already composed?

Melissa:
The only things I write on paper are lyrics, and the first few notes (in letter form) of a song I just came up with. I will remember the rest by muscle memory…as I mentioned before.
I don’t read sheet music fluently. I’m crap at it. So I don’t use scales and jot down notes like Mozart. Haha.

Q: How do you craft songs that appeal to people?

Melissa:
I can’t think about that when I’m writing songs. I think it’s unwise to do that…unless you’re a songwriter for big pop acts. I can’t expertly craft a song. I just write what I feel and if I think it’s good, I’ll play it for people and record it and just put it out there. I’m surprised when anyone likes anything I do.

Q: Do you know that your songs are good in the process or do you just make what you want to listen to?

Melissa:
I don’t think I make what I want to listen to…because I’m a huge Rock music fan and I just can’t write that stuff. I listen to a lot of singer/songwriter junk, of course….I’m a big Regina Spektor fan, but she does stuff I would never even think of doing. I don’t know if anyone else will think what I write is good, but if I like it – I’ll put it out there.

Q: With the recent release of your new album Seasons, what kind of promotion and tour do you have planned to support it?

Melissa:
I’d like to start out with a small tour. Only 6 to 8 dates in California & Oregon, then hopefully do around 10 shows across the U.S. I’m not so great with doing promotions on my own, so I’m hoping to work with an affordable P.R. firm.

Q: A lot of your songs have a cryptic and brooding sound to them, “She Gets What She Wants” comes to mind. Lyrically, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Melissa:
Lyrical inspiration comes in many forms. For the most part, it comes from Poetry, Films, Books, Art and sometimes other song lyrics! In the case of that song, I was inspired by a combination of celebrity gossip and my own experiences. Haha.

Q: “Christmas on the Emerald Isle”, while being your shortest song, seems to be different melodically then most of the other tracks. You have a few songs that are just under two minutes in length, do you feel that shorter songs allow you to experiment more with different ideas?

Melissa:
Perhaps that’s true, I’ve never thought of it that way. I think I end up with short songs because that is all that comes to me. It’s like a half-cocked idea. I would imagine people don’t usually set their half-cocked ideas out into the world, but they always seem finished to me.

Q: Who have been the biggest influences on your music?

Melissa:
Well, the very first influence was Tori Amos. After listening to her third album “Boys For Pele” a million times, I thought to myself “I can do this, I want to do this!”. Then the second largest influence for me has been Fiona Apple and most recently, Regina Spektor. Regina’s music has really forced me to think outside the box with my songwriting. Since listening to her records, I’ve been able to write about subjects other than love and heartache.

Q: How long after the release of a new album do you start work on new material?

Melissa:
I begin forming concepts for the next album even while I’m currently working on an album! I have loads and loads of lyrics (and poetry that gets turned into lyrics) already waiting for me, so the usual process is to form a melody and come up with music for the piano (and recently guitar and bass).

Q: With the many channels to promote and distribute music available today compared to the past, what is your opinion on the ease or difficulty on “breaking into the biz”?

Melissa:
I think it’s harder now. Everyone and their brother wants to be a musician. It’s easier for people to record decent sounding music and get it out there. So the market is flooded with music that isn’t so hot. I find that really talented people get buried under this muck of noise, and it’s becoming more difficult to rise above that noise. But I think it’s always been about “who you know”. And I don’t know anyone, so I remain undiscovered.

Q: After performing your material repeatedly for shows, does there ever come a point where you are tired of playing some of your songs?

Melissa:
Absolutely. Something I learned from my original inspiration Tori Amos: reinvent the songs. If I get sick of playing a song and feel like I’d rather go to the dentist than sing it – I sing it differently. I add in something, or I take something away. And sometimes I just refuse to play it for a while, then it becomes sort of fresh and new again.

The original link to the interview can be found here.

Jan
09

Catwoman Leaps Line At Airport

Proving yet again that Hollywood stars do get preferential treatment, Halle Berry and her partner Gabriel Aubry got a nice jump ahead of the line at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport. While others had to worry about customs and stop points, Berry had an officer escort her from the back to the front. Inspector Jimmy Cacchione, who heads the 36-member airport unit said the officer in question will be reprimanded.

via The Star

Dec
31

2009: The Best of the Year

2009 marks the end of a decade filled with a cultural shift in terms of music, film and technology. Like other best of lists, this one compiles what TMC feels are the best releases in every category. Picks are selected on craftsmanship, ability and the potential they have to stand the test of time. All releases came out this year.

Best Films:

Inglorious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is a French cinema film masquerading as an American war picture. Its two and a half hour run time flies by with performances that are some of the best of the year. Christoph Waltz’s turn as “the Jew Hunter” Hans Landa is certainly a contender for a Best Supporting Actor nom at the next Academy Awards in addition to the screenplay. Relying on his ability to write some of the most unique and captivating dialogue on the screen, Tarantino crafted a movie that works with lots of tension, slow building sequences and panning camera shots. Who knew a WWII pic with very little action could be so fun to watch?

UP

Pixar proves once again that they are ahead of the pack in the animation industry with a moving film about a widowed man who wants to live out his dreams. The nearly silent 10 minutes near the beginning showed that if done right, computer imagery can provide as large an emotional response to viewers as human actors can. Much more than what it initially seems, Pixar adds another classic to its growing list with superb direction and animation.

District 9

Director Neil Blomkamp’s and Producer Peter Jackson’s failed attempt at bringing a Halo movie to the screen gave way to this future sci-fi classic. Immediately separating itself from others in the genre with its documentary style presentation, D9 is gritty, futuristic and real look at an alien race told to move off its residence. The things that set the movie apart from others in its genre is the way it cleverly deals with xenophobia and social segregation; it manages to not only provide an entertaining and action packed thrill ride, but deliver it with a message that isn’t thrown in your face.

Best Music:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It’s Blitz

On the follow-up to 2006’s Show Your Bones, frontwoman Karen-O wanted to take the bands sound in a new direction. While adding sythns and pop hooks added a new flavor, it still retained that YYY’s sound. “Zero”, “Dull Life” and “Heads Will Roll” are the band at its finest.

Bob Dylan: Together Through Life

At 68 years old, it’s a wonder how Bob Dylan can still crank out albums like this, especially considering it’s his 33’rd studio release. His voice as harsh as ever with the lyrics just as sharp as in the past, Dylan rolls along with ten more bluesy songs that hook you right from the beginning.

Franz Ferdinand: Tonight Franz Ferdinand

Opening with foot thumper “Ulysses”, it seems as though Franz are still going for their main goal, “Making you dance”. While they shake things up a bit with more electronic bits than days past, they still deliver a focused and engaging effort. “No You Girls” may be a de facto dance song for years.

Others: U2: No Line on the Horizon, Joel Plaskett: Three!, Julian Casablancas: Phrazes For The Young

Best On Television:

Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston’s performance as High-School chemistry teacher/meth dealer Walter White earned him his second consecutive Emmy win for best actor. Truly deserved, he revealed this season that he may not be as nice as initially assumed. Covering up the bodies of dead drug dealers, allowing someone to overdose who was getting in the way of his partner’s work, he showed new sides of himself while the never ending tension and drama grew through these twelve episodes.

Dexter

Will Dexter ever again get to face such an opponent as the Trinity Killer? Maybe it’s just because John Lithgow plays him so believably well that there can be no other to match his cunning and wit, or maybe it’s because no, he can’t be matched. Arguably the best season yet, Dexter’s hunt for the biggest serial killer of his career provided viewers with nail biting suspense, huge twists and a shocking payoff. The most exhilarating show of 2009? Possibly. Lithgow should be a shoe in for awards at the next Emmy’s.

Others: Mad Men, 30 Rock

Best Video Games:

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Naughty Dog delivered a more than worthy sequel that has now placed the series as the Playstation 3’s killer app to beat. Gamers trekked across vast locations in search of the Cintamani stone, an ancient treasure hinted at by explorer Marco Polo. Playing out much like the virtual equivalent of a summer blockbuster, Uncharted 2 was a testament to how far games have come. Great writing, visuals, voice work, pacing and exciting action and design make U2 not only one of the best games of the year, but one of the best of all time.

COD: Modern Warfare 2

The juggernaut that grossed $550 million in just five days arrived with a thundering boom that had game companies clearing their release schedules for the entire month. Even with some of the controversies the game arose to be a massive critical and commercial success, moving 4.7 million units in its first 24 hours. With addictive multiplayer and a Michael Bay-esque campaign that involved Russia invading the USA, developer Infinity Ward delivered on their promise to one up everything from the first title.

The Beatles Rock Band

Finally the fab four’s music is available to play with plastic instruments. Spanning across their entire career, the game brings the music of the Beatles to a new generation of ears. Inciting a modern day Beatlemania upon release (it coincided with their album remasters) the game provided players with great visuals and art that complemented the timeless music of the band it was paying tribute to.

Others: grand theft auto: Episodes From Liberty City, grand theft auto: Chinatown Wars (DS), Assassins Creed II, Batman: Arkham Asylum

Best Gadgets:

The iPhone

The iPhone, as the advertisements always claim, is not just a phone but an iPod, an internet device, game player and a mini-PDA loaded with a seemingly endless stream of apps. Though some users gripe about the price, coverage and ATT’s service, it’s hard to deny just how capable and functional this device is. It’s ahead of the pack by quite a bit.

Playstation 3

Finally getting its much needed price cut and redesign this year, the Playstation 3 provides users with a multi-media device/mini-computer that functions on multiple levels. The ads weren’t kidding when they said it could do anything. Want to plug in your digital camera and save/play your photos off the hard drive? Check. Want to rent movies and tv shows or stream video? Check. Rip CD’s, have access to an internet browser and play Blu-ray’s? Check. It also plays games, but at this point its resume is so large that can be seen as an afterthought.

Other Categories:

Hottest Celebrity: Megan Fox

Best New Television Series: Modern Family

What will come in the new decade is just ahead, but for now, this is it for TMC’s list. Have a great New Year’s and feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section below.

Written By: Kyle Bulai
Dec
18

Music Corner: Melissa Trinchere’s “Seasons”

On her new album Seasons, Los Angeles based musician Melissa Trinchere crafts ten songs that fans of Fiona Apple and Tori Amos (among other talented ladies of the piano based singer/songwriting movement) can easily get into. Described as an album of love songs, cautionary tales and deeply personal character stories filled with an ethereal, brooding sound, Ms. Trinchere creates music that is both lyrically engaging and sonically pleasing.

Unlike the instant ear candy that pop represents, the songs here are catchy in their own fashion. This is music for thought as much as it is entertainment. (She Gets What She Wants comes to mind.) The songs are building, clever and demanding of repeated listens, like on album opener Slow and Broken which has the piano following along and settling on a rhythm that you’ll want to hear again. Album closer Dark November is another standout.

Starting with January, the album transports the listener through a personal journey of love, loss and relationships over a year’s time. It is the concept and central theme of the album which shifts between dates (Christmas on the Emerald Isle) and layout. Not just sticking to piano backed songs, a few have an almost alternative rock vibe to them.

With three EP’s and one previous album already under her belt, Seasons is a strong effort that shows Ms. Trinchere to be a talented and creative singer/songwriter. Her music brings to mind the earlier sessions of Amy Lee, Fiona Apple and other acts who went on to build more onto their sound with bigger backing. Her voice has a nice, relaxing and serious tone to it that completely fits with this type of music and that is unique enough to distinguish from her other contemporaries.

Seasons was released on December 7’th and is available for purchase (among her other releases) on iTunes. It is also available for order at her website melissatrinchere.com where you can hear a stream of the album. You can also get a sampling of a few of her tracks at her Myspace page here: http://www.myspace.com/melissatrinchere

Support Independent music!

Written By: Kyle Bulai

Nov
18

With the early 00’s closing out in just two months, it felt like reason to go back over the last nine years of music and select what The Media Crunch feels are several of the decades best albums. The LP’s that were chosen were based on the potential to be classics or not, their perceived longevity and the influence and impact their sound had on the music scene.

THE FIVE

the Strokes: Is This It?

Amidst the 2001 garage rock revival scene the Strokes came out of a relative nowhere to deliver this 35 minute, lighting in a bottle album. Frontman Julian Casablancas wrote 11 songs that perfectly captured the hipster youth’s attention and delivered it with a swagger matched only by Nick Valensi’s and Albert Hammond Jr.’s guitar playing. the Strokes didn’t even sound like they were making an album, they were just having a good time and you were along for the ride.

The White Stripes: Elephant

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP

Kanye West: Late Registration

Say what you will about the man and his ego but when he promised to deliver big on his follow-up the multiplatinum College Dropout, he did. Kanye’s sampling ability mixed with Jon Brion’s arrangements made for one hell of an album. With hits like “Golddigger” “Touch the Sky” and the slow burning “Gone”, he upped his game while retaining what his fans (and music critics) liked him for. With orchestral chords, Adam Levine from Maroon 5 guesting and Jamie Foxx in his Ray Charles schtick, Kanye crafted a near perfect flowing pop/soul/hip-hop album. He clamoured for those pop hooks and in that regard he exceeded expectations. Time will tell if his other releases will hold up as well as this one (or if any will for that matter) but for now, he changed the way Hip-Hop was presented.

Amy Winehouse: Back to Black

Channelling her inner Ronnie Spector, Amy Winehouse followed up her mostly unknown first release Frank with an album that brought back a sixties soul revival. Producer Mark Ronson’s clever combination of a classic soul vibe intertwined with a modern day sound presented Amy as a towering vocal force that had to be reckoned with. At first the novelty of Rehab grabs your attention, but it isn’t until you dig deeper into cuts like You Know I’m No Good, Some Unholy War and the Marvin Gaye tinged Tears Dry On Their Own that you realize her anguish about losing her Blake is all real…and entertaining at the same time. Standing out above her peers, Ms. Winehouse managed to carve out her own sound while showcasing everything that inspired her.

Written By: Kyle Bulai