December 30, 2009

Best Of 2009: Rock Song/ Album of the Year

2009 was the year of Obama, against Obama, auto-tune, Tiger Wood's sex scandal, Brett Farve not retiring, every rapper went to jail, Kanye vs. Taylor Swift, Rihanna vs. Chris Brown, DJ AM survived a plane crash only to overdose, O.J. got his, the Camaro, and the realization that world was coming to an end. Here's the best of this year, 2009! So who had the best rock song/album? One guess it ain't Coldplay.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and "Lisztomania" from Phoenix of course. Sprung from the same root as Air and Daft Punk, this French rock meets electronica band finally got the attention they deserved after nearly 10 years together. Catchy-as-hell and yet still substantive, "1901" may have gotten the most attention, but "Lisztomania" was more fun. Phoenix showed us the French can rock out just hard as us; "Lisztomania" is full of hard driving riffs and has a funky elecrtonic background. That being said, the entire album is amazing, there's not a bad song; in fact there's not a song on the album that won't have you humming by the end. Plus that might just be the most clever album name this year. "If you have the means I highly suggest picking one up" on your trip to Guestroom.

"Lisztomania" Phoenix [MP3 link]
"Rome" Phoenix [MP3 link]

December 29, 2009

Best of 2009: The Biggest Thing in Music

2009 was the year of Obama, tea parties, auto-tune, Tiger Wood's sex scandal, Brett Farve not retiring, every rapper went to jail, Adam Lambert, Rihanna vs. Chris Brown, Glen Beck, O.J. got his, the Camaro, and the realization that world was coming to an end. Here's the best of this year, 2009! In this crazy year what was the biggest thing in music?.

The Mixtape! Drake and Kid Cudi had huge debuts before they even had albums; mixtapes have long been a way to "get your foot in the door", but Drake and Cudi blew the doors down with their mixtapes. Both rappers had three or four Hot 100 singles and accompanying videos just from the buzz created by their mixtapes. Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi) had one the biggest anthems of the summer "Day N' Nite". Cudi's smooth flow, amazing production, and the saavy to collaborate with the likes of Ratatat and MGMT made him the best new artist of the year.

Close on his heels though, was Drake. Aubrey Graham went from playing wheelchair bound Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi to one of the hottest names in rap; he appeared on everyone's hook (an after an accident on stage was wheelchair again for a while). Drake's ability to spit incredible lyrics and then harmonize on his tracks earns him the second best new artist of the year.

A Kid Named Cudi Kid Cudi [ZIP file link]
So Far Gone Drake [ZIP file link]

The runner-up for the biggest thing is music this year was the mash-up. Greg Grillis aka "Girl Talk" turned the mash-up into an art; The Hood Internet also gained some notoriety from the blogosphere. So here's the top 25 songs of the year in less than 5 minutes.
"The United States of Pop: Blame It On The Pop" DJ Earworm [MP3 link]

December 28, 2009

Best Of 2009: Popular Artists of the Year

2009 was the year of Obama, tea parties, auto-tune, Tiger Wood's sex scandal, Brett Farve not retiring, healthcare rallies, Adam Lambert, gay marriage successes, gay marriage failures, Glen Beck, Lady Gaga's fashion, the Camaro, and the realization that world was coming to an end. Here's the best of this year, 2009!One had the most anticipated album of the year; the other proved to be the biggest pop star in the world.

Jay-Z released the Blueprint III this year to rave reviews. The album has already produced three hits and he's not finished yet. He had the guts to challenge the now rap industry standard "auto-tune" in "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune). "Empire State of Mind" (see this review) just might be one of the most beautiful rap songs ever. I've long thought Jay-Z was the greatest rapper, this year he just proved it.

This year was great for Lady Gaga proved she wasn't just a flash in the pan. After the smash party hit, "Just Dance", that turned into a #1 Billboard song, she released "Poker Face" another #1 Billboard song. After two more dance hits, it was the lead single from The Fame Monster, "Bad Romance" that proved Gaga is a serious artist. The song had a synthy, hard-hitting 80s-inspired base that worked perfectly with the dark, almost Gothic lyrics.

"Forever Young" Jay-Z feat. Mr. Hudson [MP3 link]
Unreleased Tracks
"Kandy Life" Lady Gaga [MP3 link]
"Filthy Pop" Lady Gaga [MP3 link]

December 25, 2009

Tis the Season #7

Its the last "Tis the Season". Rock out; because today IS Christmas. Here's Julian Casablancas of the Strokes with "I Wish It Was Christmas Today"

December 24, 2009

Even More Covers

Blackstreet's "No Diggity" is nearly a classic now. I remember listening to it elementary school. The English electro pop, punk, sci-fi rock group, The Klaxons best known for thier song "Golden Skans", put an interesting new spin on it. You can tell they add a little punk attitude to the song; but they still keep it funky.

The Noisettes, led by Shingai Shoniwa's soulful yet oh-so-perfect-for-punk-rock voice, have long been on my radar. This summer's "Never Forget You" scored rave reviews and recieved 1.5 million views on Youtube. The released an incredible cover of The Killers' "When You Were Young"; Shoniwa tones the song down and adds some soul to cover.

"No Diggity" (Blackstreet Cover) The Klaxons [MP3 link]
"When You Were Young" (The Killers Cover) the Noisettes [MP3 link]

A Picture Is Worth... II

"This Charming Man" The Smiths [MP3 link]

December 23, 2009

Tis the Season #6

Because nothing says Christmas like sexy elf costumes and blatant commercialism, Beyonce's ummm Destiny's Child brings us "8 Days Of Christmas" (why 8, I'm not sure). I don't really know what the point of the song was, other than to make a classic Christmas song "hip and new", but it does better than most. And they do help children or something like that towards the end of the video.

December 22, 2009

OKC's not so boring

Oklahoma City may not be Dallas (or insert large city); but if you look hard enough you can find fun, unique and free things to do. The OKC Underground is one of those things; it is a series of underground tunnels (and skywalks) connecting much of the Central Business District. Originally just one tunnel constructed in 1931, it was expanded and renamed the Conncourse between 1972 and 1984. It became a decrepit relic rarely used. In 2007 Elliott and Associates (headed up by Rand Elliott) refurbished the tunnel by adding new carpets, colorful and interesting fluorescent lights and rehabbing some the walls. The project was approximately $2 million dollars. The result has been numerous awards and an astounding increase in downtown workers using the tunnel and generally curious explorers. The best points of entry is through Leadership Square or the Skirvin Hilton. More info here.

A Picture Is Worth...

A Picture Is Worth... is series of posts that will feature a photograph and a song to help tell the story. If you can, look at the picture while you listen to the song

"Across 110th Street" Bobby Womack [MP3 link]

The Story Continues

Alicia Keys has always been one of my favorite artists; Jay-Z is hands down the greatest rapper alive now. Their collaboration "Empire State of Mind" was an instant classic telling the gritty story of chasing dreams on the New York City streets. Alicia Keys, on her album The
Element of Freedom
, sings the sequel "Empire State of Mind, Pt. II (Broken Down)"; its different, but beautiful take on the same theme. Keys sings the same stirring chorus. Take a listen to both.

"Empire State of Mind, Pt. II (Broken Down)" Alicia Keys [MP3 link]

December 21, 2009

Avatar A Bit Of A Disappointment?

An interesting article from the New York Times about the success of Avatar, which both exceeded and failed to meet expectations

‘Avatar’ Is No. 1 but Without a Record
Published: December 21, 2009
James Cameron’s colossal space adventure opened No. 1 in North American theaters with about $73 million in tickets but fell short of industry expectations.

Read the full story here

This Sounds Terrible on Paper

Some things sound terrible on paper but in fruition are well... amazing. Anyone who's ever been to Fat Sandwich on Campus Corner can attest to that. That being said, I was still a bit skeptical when I heard that Notorious B.I.G.'s "Party and Bullshit" and the mind-numbing song "Party in the U.S.A." by my least favorite person, Miley Cyrus had been mashed-up (literally re-working two separate songs into one song, see Girl Talk). The result, just like a chicken strip sandwich with mozzarella sticks and french fries, is pretty tasty. Tell me what you think.

"Party and Bullshit (in the U.S.A.)" Notorious B.I.G. vs. Miley Cyrus [MP3 link]

So New Moon Doesn't Entirely Suck

The fact that the producers choose to include Lupe Fiasco on the soundtrack proves that they are, in fact, not the worst people in the world. That being said I will never see a vampire movie that manages to get away with less than a R rating. But do take a listen to Lupe's new rock flavored single "Solar Midnite"; it took me a second time but I enjoyed it.

"Solar Midnite" Lupe Fiasco [MP3 link]

December 20, 2009

The Music Video as Art.

Raphael Saadiq is one my favorite artists. He has long been a part of neo-soul a revival of classic soul with a modern twist; he made the transition after leaving Tony, Toni, Tone'. The video for his latest single "Staying In Love" has a beautiful 60s style that perfectly complements his music. The animation adds a nice touch and make the video unique.

Solange, already referenced in an earlier post , is newcomer to the neo-soul game; she's no amateur though. In her debut single as a neo-soul artist "I Decided", she showed not only vocal prowess, but creativity as well. The video features a colorful trip through pop culture and historical moments through the decades, 60s to the present.

Can music videos be art? What do you think?

Take A Listen:
"100 Yard Dash" Raphael Saadiq [MP3 link]
"I Decided" Solange Knowles [MP3 link]

Levis... Go Forth

Levi's Jeans Co. is trying to strike up a new tone with their new Walt Whitman inspired campaign. Using ideas and phrases from his poems the campaign tries, very successfully I'll add, to convey a sense of freedom and the "American Way". Here are a few of the prints by Ryan McGinlay.

P.S. While this post isn't titled "Is It Art?" it falls into the category, as some will disregard the merit of the photos because of a logo. What do you think?

Tis the Season #5

I thought I'd give you Christmas song with a bit more attitude

December 18, 2009

Walt Whitman and his Levi's

Levi's Jeans has one of the best campaigns I've ever seen. I'll be bringing you some of the videos and promotional pictures over the next few days. Levi's, a most American of jean companies choose Walt Whitman, one of America's greatest poets to center their campaign around. The moving black and white footage covering many different parts of America from corporate America to shanty-towns and natural spaces. The result is a powerful, fun, poignant and artful commercial or 60 second piece of art.

the portion of Walt Whitman's "America" used
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

Levi's America (Go Forth) commercial directed by Cary Fukunaga for Wieden+Kennedy, Portland using poem by Walt Whitman. The prints were photographed by Ryan McGinley.

P.S. While this post isn't titled "Is It Art?" it falls into the category, as people don't usually think of commercials as art. What do you think

December 16, 2009

Mixtape Madness!!

Mixtapes are a great way to hear some of the hottest hip hop and R&B artists before they go mainstream, or to hear content their label doesn't want (often better). Mixtapes are often available for download on their websites or fine ones like this.

First up, we have "Heartbreak Drake Part 3" from one of my favorites Drake; he has a nice flow that blends rapping and singing together. The production on his songs are always great. The highlights from this mixtape are "Say Something", "Material Girl" feat. Colin Munroe, and "Darlin", but I'm sure you'll enjoy them all.

Heartbreak Drake Pt. 3 Drake

Cleverly named "Burn After Rolling" is from Wiz Khalifia. Wiz is a Philly rapper whose creative techno-influenced songs have set him apart. "Burn.." features Wiz rapping over some popular songs from artists like Beyonce and even Drake to guys like Empire of the Sun. The "Thrill" is one of my favorites along with "If I Was A Lame" and "One Way". This is by far one of the best mixtapes I've heard, there are so many good songs it was hard to choose just three to mention.

Burn After Rollin Wiz Khalifa

Tis the Season #4

Chestnuts roasting on a open fire....


More Covers!

Its covers time again. Sometimes covers can be better than the orginal; case and point Anya Marina's "Whatever You Like" it only fails to annoy me as the original did. This Irish-Russian DJ turned singer has a voice that not only got the aforementioned cover on Gossip Girl, but also got her a spot on the New Moon Soundtrack.

Solange Knowles no longer wants to be known as Beyonce's little sister. After a mediocre debut she traded in the likes of producers Jermaine Dupri and Timbaland for a more distinct modern-yet retro sound from Cee-Lo Green and Mark Ronson. She covers the obscure Dirty Projectors' "The Stillness Is A Move".

Take A Listen:

"Whatever You Like" (T.I. Cover) Anya Marina [MP3]
"The Stillness Is A Move" (Dirty Projectors Cover) Solange Knowles [MP3]

December 14, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

Fink is a British singer-songwriter, producer and DJ. He has a great chill style that blends R&B and acoustic music. Take a listen.

I really miss your blueberry pancakes
I don't buy maple syrup in Asda no more
Sunday morning cooking em up
wearing my t-shirt, I'm lifting it up

And now I'm in the Holly Bush baby, the Holly Bush
The Holly Bush baby
Sitting at the table where it all began for us...

And everything else is momentary and
Everything else just stops

I'll have another pint of Stella please Brooke
And I remember before this place was so cool and so full and
I remember you wearing a yellow t-shirt
and you had a friend, I was dying to meet her and we did
back in the day

And now I'm in the Holly Bush baby, the Holly Bush
The Holly Bush baby
Sitting at the table where it all began for us...

And everything else is momentary and
Everything else just stops

Everyone else is secondary
Everyone else is temporary
and I read into the letter that is filled with beauty
the beauty of what was, what is, and what won't be

Sitting at the table where it all began for us...

So Pop isn't so bad

I've often had a disdain for "radio-friendly" pop music. As of late I've changed my mind a little. "3" by Britney Spears is a more than catchy pop tune, odd is the song's reference to Peter, Paul, and Mary in relation to a threesome. Another great pop hit is "When Love Takes Over" by Kelly Rowland and David Guetta; it rips off Coldplay, but is so danceable you forget it.

"3" Britney Spears [MP3 link]
"When Loves Takes Over" Kelly Rowland & David Guetta [MP3 link]

for further research visit WAPS Presents The 50 Greatest Pop Songs Of 2009!

Oh just because Ms. Spears is looking good

More Architecture....

Rand Elliott, a native Oklahoman, has created some of the most inspired works in the state.

Is It Art?

Art, in my opinion, can be found in everyday objects. When ever imagination and care is put into mundane objects, beautiful things can be produced.

Eero Saarinen
Produced in 1956, it won the Winner of the 1969 Museum of Modern Art Award. Eero Saarinen is most famous for designing the St. Louis Arch.

Santiago Calatrava
Calatrava is a world-renowned Valencian Spanish architect; his stock began to rise after he designed the Quadracci Pavilion at the the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2001. The building below is a part City of the Arts and the Sciences, a planetarium known as L'Hemisfèric. The project was designed to enhance Valencia's image.

December 12, 2009

They Just Don't...

They just don't make them like they used to. Kid Cudi and DJ Sharam team up to mix some Patsy Cline with Cudi's smooth rapping style. The video is a masterpiece... beautiful women, gun, violence, and a good story. Check out and tell me what you think

Kid Cudi feat. Sharam "When She Came Along"


Often known as the second city. Chicago is finally coming into its own; the White Sox and Cubs are playing better, and the Bears, well they still suck. Speaking of the Bears, who play at the incredible Soldier Field, Chicago's architecture is breathtaking; I'm not just talking about the Willis [Sears] Tower (the Hancock Building is much better looking), but Louis Sullivan buildings and Frank Gehry amphitheaters. Even the neighborhoods are beautiful, "Wrigleyville" has a working class feel full of bars and pubs and the ivy covered namesake; Hyde Park is the historic neighborhood in which the Obamas have their personal mansion; the Gold Coast so named for the wildly expensive mansions overlooking Lake Michigan, where the original Playboy Mansion stands. Enjoy some original pictures and take in a few tunes in tribute to the Windy City.

"Chicago" The Uglysuit [MP3 link]
"Chicago" Sufjan Stevens [MP3 link]
"Homecoming" Kanye West feat. Chris Martin [MP3 link]

December 10, 2009

Oklahoma City University's New President

Robert H. Henry, currently Chief Judge of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, has been selected to serve as OCU's 17th president. He will bring a great deal of philanthropic, foreign relations, judicial and higher education experience to OCU. Henry served as dean of OCU in the early 1990s
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