Best albums of 2016 (#11 - #20)

This Unruly Mess I've Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 
Pop Rap. It's become cool to hate on these guys because they probably shouldn't have won the Grammy for their debut which many thought Kendrick Lamar ought to have won for Good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012) . Their sophomore effort This Unruly Mess I've Made received mixed reviews and not every song is good. The writing is often self-indulgent(Light Tunnels, Buckshot, Bolo Tie), and not as catchy as their debut.
So why am I still including the album in my top 20? Mainly because I admire the introspection, honesty, and also the variety of topics explored. I rate tracks such as White Privilege II(racial issues from various perspectives), Growing Up(about parenthood), St Ides (about family and the non-commercial life) very highly.  The Train(about detachment and departure) and Kevin(about the loss of a friend to drugs) may grow on me.

E·MO·TION: Side B by Carly Rae Jepsen
Synthpop. Throughout the process of her last album, it was revealed that 250 songs were composed and now we get a bunch of the unreleased tracks. Side B is arguably among the best EPs of 2016 and some of the material is equally as good, if not better, than her album E•MO•TION.
I especially enjoyed Fever and The One, both very retro 80s, as is most of the 8-track EP. It's front-loaded, yet so were many of the byegone albums she was influenced by.

Hella Personal Film Festival by Open Mike Eagle + Paul White
Hip hop. Written in a humorous manner, the delivery doesn't become overly self-righteous.
The album title is a bit misleading though, as it isn't specifically about a film festival.
They confront contemporary issues such as cursing(the song Insecurity), how we are slaves to technology and daily responsibilities(the song Check To Check), news coverage and political involvement(the song Leave People Alone), gun violence(the song A Short About A Guy That Dies Every Night), and racism(the song Smiling).
Favorite lyric:
"But maybe everlasting life is a curse though
Eternity is drama making life the commercial"

Freetown Sound by Blood Orange
Alternative R&B. Consistently good, with pop hooks and political awareness, but a bit too much reverb and none of the tracks I’d label classics. Highlights include Augustine and E.V.P.

Lemonade by Beyoncé
R&B. An interesting concept album concerned with, among other things, infidelity, accompanied by a film aired on HBO. You could say it's self-indulgent, but if you have experienced any kind of injustice in your life you could feel empowered by her ability to soldier on. I liked the tracks Daddy Lessons and Hold Up, but the quality of the music doesn't quite match the ambition of the excellent one-hour visual film.

A Seat at the Table by Solange
R&B./neo-soul. Beyoncé's sister Solange Knowles also put out an album this year. Pleasant, easy-listening music, yet not memorable enough to be a classic. The single Cranes in the Sky is great and feels timeless. Junie is another stand out and the most fun and upbeat track. If I'm honest, the interludes are more compelling to me than the majority of the songs.

You Want It Darker Leonard Cohen 
Sing-Songwriter. Third leg of a trilogy, along with Old Ideas (2012) and Popular Problems (2014). He turned 82 this year and his vocal performance is simply not as powerful as it used to be. His delivery is lacking in variety.
The good thing is he still has a way with words and the poetic lyrics tell you where he is at, coming to terms with god, love and death. While it isn't a requirement to be elderly and frail to identify, the material does seem geared towards the experienced adult. He also mused about similar themes on his previous two albums, so You Want It Darker could feel slightly redundant if you listen to the trilogy back-to-back-to-back.
I would label it a minor Cohen album. The first two tracks You Want It Darker and Treaty are memorable with best of the year potential, but unfortunately the record loses steam after that early promise with too many dull moments. I'm a longtime fan, so I hate to give a middling review. RIP Leonard Cohen. We lost a legend.

Woman by Justice
Nu-Disco. The groups third album. An undemanding, easy listen, which is sometimes all we need. You could argue the tracks are too long, and on first listen I didn't care for the album, but give it time and may grow on you. Highlights: Safe & Sound, Randy, Fire, and the live YouTube version of Alakazam! Justice could easily have used a super model to feature in Fire music video. Kudos to them for the choice of 70-year-old Susan Sarandon.

Braver Than We Are by Meat Loaf
Rock Opera. What the album has going for it is the epic production which sounds like nothing else in contemporary music. Meat Loaf's vocal is not what it once was (which he openly admits in the opener) and that is the albums weakness, but the guest singers do a fine job of supporting.
There's quite a bit of variety. More and Godz have elements of hard rock. Souvenirs has an enjoyable saxophone solo. Who Needs the Young is a blend of country and cabaret. Most memorable is Going All the Way Is Just the Start (A Song in 6 movements). The worst is Skull of Your Country, which annoyingly reuses parts of the 80s classic Total Eclipse of the Heart.

22, a Million by Bon Iver
Folktronica. Some of the vocal distortions I'm on the fence about. I like the melodies in 22 (OVER SOON) ,33 GOD, and 8 (circle) is especially memorable. The album is good to have on as peaceful background music.

Agree or disagree? What do you think about these albums/artists? I'll share my top 10 albums of 2016 soon.

Question: Which classic or new TV shows are on your watch-list?

Here are a few on my list:

Spaced (1999-2001)
I'm Alan Partridge (1997-)
Porridge (1974–1977)
The Young Ones (1982-84)
Little Britain (2003–2006)
Yes Minister (1980–1984)
The Hollow Crown (2012–)
I, Claudius (1976)
Buried (2003)
Travel Man (2015–)

Miami Vice (season 1) (1984) (currently watching)
Twin Peaks (season 3) (2017)
The Wire (Season 2) (2003)
Firefly (2002-2003)
Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-69) (selected episodes)
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) (selected episodes)
The Honeymooners (1955-1956) (thanks to Dell for the recommendation)
Mr. Robot (2015-)
Dinner For Five (2001–)
Behind the Music (1997-)
What's In My Bag? (2006-)

Matador (1978-1982) (currently watching)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)

I prefer UK comedy. For drama I like a story (like Twin Peaks or The Wire) that progresses.

Have you seen any of these? Which TV shows are at the top of your queue? What TV-series should I watch next, any suggestions?

Older song discoveries from soundtracks during 2016

What's this?  by Danny Elfman / Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
For Halloween or Christmas. Or any other time of year.

Exit by Tangerine Dream / Album: Exit (1981) / Stranger Things, Season 1 (2016)
I  already knew a lot of the 80s music from Stranger Things. I should listen to TD's 80s albums.

Watermelon in Easter Hay by Frank Zappa /Album: Joe's Garage (1979) / Y tu mamá también (2001)
I love how calming Zappa's song is, even if it isn't his usual style. Epic guitar solo

Voices by Russ Ballard   / Miami Vice episode "Calderone's Return" (1984)
Continuing my voyage discovering the 80s, the series has 80s music in abundance. Or you can cheat and just go through the list. I'll have things to say about the show in my TV watched in 2016 post.

Mother Sky by Can  / Deep End (1970) 
You can understand the young man's infatuation with his co-worker Susan (Jane Asher). Hilarious when he walks around in public with the cardboard cut-out of the woman, accompanied by this hypnotizing krautrock song

The Meaning of Life by Monty Python   / The Meaning of Life (1983)
A few of the songs from the soundtrack are Monty Python classics, which elevate good sequences into great sequences

L'arena by Ennio Morricone   / The Mercenary (1968)
The best composer of westerns

Betty et Zorg by Gabriel Yared   / Betty Blue (1986)
Haunting harmonica, very soothing

Sentimental Walk by Vladimir Cosma /  Diva (1981)
The walk taken by Jules and Cynthia across the city includes this beautiful piano piece

The Glory Of Love by DeVol   / Guess Whos Coming to Dinner (1967)
Timeless song about love. The film is a bit dated.

When I Go by Minimal Compact  /Album: Raging Souls (1985) /  Wings of Desire (1987)
Wasn't convinced if the vocal was good or bad. Grew on me. Very atmospheric, like the film is.

If There Was a Man by The Pretenders   / The Living Daylights (1987)
From end credits, in contention to be the title track, but lost out. So different to the bombastic and pop-friendly The Living Daylights by A-ha.

747 by Kent  (1997) / Career Opportunities (1991)
I'm cheating a little, as the song is 6 years older than the film. A random YouTube user put the song together with the John Hughes movie.

Death Proof (2007)
You can generally trust Tarantino's soundtracks will deliver obscure gems, and Death Proof is no exception.
Hold Tight! by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (1966)  
It's So Easy by Willy DeVille (1980)

Take Your Tiime (Do It Right) by SOS Band (1980) / Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Catchy and danceable disco, from The Sound Machine scene. The soundtrack is arguably the best thing about Richard Linklater's latest.

Hope you enjoy the selections. What do you think about the music from these films and tv shows? Which discoveries from soundtracks did YOU make this year?

Question: How do you get bloggers to comment again when you return from a hiatus?

I hinted earlier in the year I would return to the blog to post year-end lists. But it’s tough to stay positive when people aren’t commenting on the new posts. It’s easy to get a little down on yourself and wonder whether my blog is appreciated anymore?  Does anybody want to read blogs with so much noise on the internet? I got 1 comment and 0 comments(2x) on my latest three posts. What am I doing wrong? Maybe my posting style of sharing multiple videos is too overwhelming and time-consuming for visitors. It could also be my erratic posting schedule is confusing. Feel free to make suggestions of posts you would like to see me write.
I feel I have done everything in my power to hint to my old readers that my blog is semi active again, by commenting on almost all of their sites. I always attempt to be friendly and non-offensive, and try and leave a comment of value. I always reply to comments here on the blog. I always share my blogposts on twitter. Those who know me online are aware I am a loyal friend and you should be allowed to take a hiatus, right?
But as they say, you can’t force others to be your friend and you have to let these things develop naturally. Perhaps it’s naive of me to expect loyalty after a seven month break. People change and maybe blog friendships are only temporary. Perhaps I am overthinking it. It used to be simple to attract comments, you visited their blog and they would comment back. That is not working for me anymore in 2016 the way it once did. I spent many hours commenting on the blogs I know during November, so I’m not sure what else I can do to promote my blog? To be honest I don't care about stats and numbers. Maybe I just have to be patient and they will eventually notice I’m posting again. It's possible I need to reach out to new corners of the web who might have more time to comment than my exsisting followers do.
Perhaps my content is not compatible with the communities I frequent. But I feel I should only write about what genuinely interests me. I often share music and don’t watch the latest popular TV shows such as Westworld or Game of Thrones. I will be queuing up for Arrival (2016) which isn’t out over here until December.
Getting people back into the routine of visiting your blog after a hiatus apparently is tricky, and I may have hurt commenting around here by stopping regular features like Monthly Recap and saying in March that blogging no longer fulfils me. The goodbye post I wrote seems to have given readers the impression that I’m not serious about visiting other blogs and not serious about this blog. All I can say is I’m still here with a desire to interact, and I still enjoy visiting your blogs. But I don’t know how to get my readership to notice I’m back. Maybe that old readership has simply no time for commenting anymore except those blogs that are 100% compatible with their interests.
I’d like to know what I have to do to attract readers again. When I’m only posting part-time due to other things happening in my life now, it seems difficult to maintain a readership. Perhaps going over to wordpress is the answer, is commenting on blogspot fading out?

I appreciate those who did comment recently and please don’t take this as a personal attack. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about not commenting enough, and I’m not trying to control other people. A famous quote from The Great Gatsby goes that “you can’t repeat the past” and maybe I’m trying to repeat a sense of community with people who have different priorities today. If you don''t want to read my blog that's okay. As I said before you can't force others to be friendly. I’m just curious what am I doing wrong and why am I getting very little response on my recent posts? Is commenting on other sites and expecting them to return the favour a thing of the distant past?

It’s frustrating when you want comments but don’t know how to get them anymore. It can be hurtful when people don't visit your blog and you can see they are active on other blogs. I love blogging but I don't love it when my blog is ignored. I just needed to put that out there. What can I do to make people care and comment on a regular basis again? 

Scheduled posts for December 2016 and January 2017. 
Older soundtrack discoveries of 2016
1970s song discoveries of 2016
Older film discoveries during 2016
1980s song discoveries of 2016
Top 10 albums of 2016
TV watched in 2016
Older album discoveries of 2016
Top 10 songs of 2016
Top 10 films of 2016 so far

Favorite viral videos of 2016 (part 3 of 3)

Intertextuality: Hollywood's New Currency
Nostalgia and familiarity sell tickets. But we need originality in film.

Drop the Mic w/ Anne Hathaway and James Corden
No idea if was partly scripted/prepared? A fun rap battle

The Internet is Down - THE MUSICAL 
Funny and relatable. What would you miss if the internet was no longer available?

World's 5 greatest MAGIC TRICKS revealed
If you want to keep the mystery intact, you should skip

Toddler Proves A Hug Is All We Need To Shake Off A Bad Mood

10 Things You've Been Doing Wrong Your Whole Life
Now I have an excuse to not shower as often!

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Favorite viral videos of 2016 (part 2 of 3)

Watly: the next BIG THING
I hope the invention helps people in need

The Mad Hatter Surprise
That would have made my day

How to Get Creatively Unstuck: A Lesson from Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer
Definitely food for thought if you are a creative person

Murder One (music video) by Metallica and Robert Valley
A tribute to Motörhead's Lemmy
I feel bad for sharing, I can't stop laughing at this video. The two elderly men became accidental internet stars, struggling as they make their way the wrong way up an escalator

What do you think about one (or all) of these videos? As always, comments are welcome!


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