Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hectic But Eclectic's Top 200 Singles of the Decade (2000-2009)

Here is my final decade list and it was definitely the toughest one to compile. The Internet really exploded this decade which opened myself and millions of others to more music quicker than ever. My list would look completely different if not for the Internet and it's probably the only way that international acts like Girls Aloud, Teddybears STLHM and Destra cracked my list. As with the album and film lists, this is one made of passion. There is little consideration given to what was culturally or commercially significant. It's simply what I connected with and what I felt was great music, which is the way it should be for anyone who loves the arts. Sure, a list based on "important" singles would make for great debate, but it's just not as fun as going with my heart. Also, keep a look out next week for my albums and singles list for 2009.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hectic But Eclectic's Top 70 Films Of The Decade (2000-2009)

Here's another decade list for you. Even moreso than my albums list, I went more with personal connection for ranking. While the quality and achievement of a film plays heavily as well, it's ultimately the impression that the movie left on me that guided this list. Call it a list of passion if you may. As much as I admired and enjoyed Memento, I didn't feel strong enough about to it include it here, even though it's still a good film and I would recommend it to anyone. On the other side, I love to watch Josie & The Pussycats at just about any time, but can acknowledge that it is flawed, thus not giving me the heart to include it here. The reasoning applied for those two films is pretty much why this list is at 70 and not the traditional 100. I couldn't stand to put anything on here that didn't engage me immensely.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hectic But Eclectic's Top 100 Albums of the Decade (2000-20009)

Here is my list of the albums that I dug most during the 2000's. For the longest, I felt that Kid A was my #1 of the decade, but I can't deny how much Kala has been apart of my life, even though it's only a few years old. I seriously don't think there's been a week where a song from that album hasn't been in my head and it's one of the few albums in recent memory that I always have an urge to listen to. Both Kid A and Kala are fine albums and in another ten years, their positions might be easily reversed, but for the moment, Kala, with all it's attitude and dizzying genre-hopping feels like the superior album. The rest of the list follows in the same way, with a mixture of what I felt was high quality and my own personal connection to the albums to decide their ranking.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2010 Grammy Nomination Predictions

Here are my predictions for the 2010 Grammys. I have a more in-depth analysis up on Prefix, but I've posted my picks for the four general categories. I also delved into predicting other categories on Prefix as well. The nominations will be announced Dec. 2 on CBS. All the nominations will be posted on later on tonight.

Album of the Year

Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown
Lady Gaga: The Fame
Maxwell: BLACKsummers'night
Taylor Swift: Fearless
Kanye West: 808s & Heartbreak

Record of the Year

Black Eyed Peas: "I Gotta Feeling"
Jay-Z featuring Kanye West & Rihanna: "Run This Town"
Kings of Leon: "Use Somebody"
Lady Gaga: "Poker Face"
Taylor Swift: "You Belong With Me"

Best New Artist

Keri Hilson
Laura Izibor
The Ting Tings
Zac Brown Band

Song of the Year

Beyonce: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"
The Fray: "You Found Me"
Whitney Houston: "I Didn't Know My Own Strength"
Taylor Swift: "You Belong With Me"
Kanye West: "Heartless"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ten On Tuesdays: Greatest Live Performances of the 2000's

As someone who frequents a lot of concerts, I can tell you that there is nothing like experiencing great music live. The energy is contagious and there's always an air of electricity that resonates through the room. One of the marks of a great live performance is that it can have that same power whether you're there in person or watching from the comfort of your own living room. This edition of Ten on Tuesdays takes a look at the best live performances of the decade in my opinion. I took into account the overall quality, memorability and how well it held up over the years. I've also only included performances that were broadcast to a wide audience, either on TV or online.

These ten performances, all in chronological order, left their mark on me when I first saw them and they still give me chills to this day. Of course, there had to be some omissions. As much as I wanted to include Bruce Springsteen's premiere of "My City of Ruins" for the 9/11 charity telecast because of its importance and how much it struck me at the time, it still stands as only merely a good performance removed from the context. My sentimental favorite was Lauryn Hill breaking down during "Peace of Mind" on MTV Unplugged 2.0 because you rarely get that intimate of a look at a big artist, but I concluded that it probably could have been trimmed by a few minutes, but it's still nonetheless magical. Five years from now, I might also kick myself for not including Lady GaGa's recent performance on Saturday Night Live, but I could go on and on about all the great ones I might have missed on this list.

Mary J. Blige - "No More Drama" (Grammys, 2002)

The nation was still in the healing process from the events of 9/11 and all the additional stress and paranoia that it brought on. Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" took on a whole new meaning in this context and when she belted it out while running back and forth across the stage, you can feel that she understood the newfound weight of the song too. Blige opened her soul for the world to see like few others could do and you can't help but feel all her pain and hope.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best TV Shows of 2008-2009 Season

The Emmys will be handed out soon, so what better time to reflect on the best television shows of the 2008-2009 season? I never understood the logic of most critics discussing their favorite shows at the end of the calendar year instead of after the season has ended in May, but such is the way of life. I've always preferred waiting till the season has run its course.

10. The Game (The CW)

The best soap opera in primetime last season was The Game, hands down. The show, which centered around pro football athletes and the women in their lives, quitely evolved from a standard sitcom with obvious punchlines to a juicy, drama-filled half hour dramedy. The Game hit its stride this season whenever it played down the laughs in favor for more serious moments, which were handled adeptly with simple direction and solid acting. In television's ever-growing quest to deliver the most ambitious and high-concept programming, it's nice to know that good old-fashioned entertainment exists to provide a balance.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adventures at Lollapalooza 2009

Lollapalooza took place from Aug. 7-9 this year in Chicago's Grant Park. I had a great time as always, even if Friday was a bit of a downer with all the constant rain (but oh how I wish I took a picture of this one couple covered in mud, lighting each other's cigarettes with PBRs in their hands). The festival ran pretty smoothly and most of the folks I met were as friendly as all get. Sorry that I didn't get the recap up sooner, but the pressure from my wisdom tooth left me in such pain that I wasn't able to concentrate on much of anything. As usual, I saw a lot of acts. A lot.

Day 1 - Friday

April Smith

She got the festival off to a good start for me. Very bouncy, accesible adult alternative tunes. There was a slight bit of quirk in the songs and the performance, but still pretty smart overall. I'd definitely remember to check out some of her recorded stuff.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why Am I So Happy? Because I Saw Ebony Bones, That's Why

Had the great fortune of seeing U.K. post-punker Ebony Bones at the Wicker Park Fest in Chicago this past Sunday on Jul. 26. I've pretty much been waiting forever to see this woman live and was pleased to even see her here in the States considering that no plans are set as of now for a North American release of her album. Her presence was as wild and colorful as you would expect from the woman who made "Don't Fart On My Heart" and "We Know All About U." There were a few staged sequences that gave the performance a theatrical feel, but it was mostly a spontaenous party.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Michael Jackson: A Selective Look At His Discography

Last week, we lost one of the biggest icons the music world has ever seen. Michael Jackson's discography is one of the most universally loved and trying to choose one simple favorite song can be difficult and is not easily debatable. I've always felt that the mark of a great artist is when they can have their lesser-known works stand up in quality to some of their biggest hits. Jackson was no different. For every "Beat It" or "Thriller," there is an amazing album track or single that didn't quite storm the charts as expected with most MJ songs. Or even some songs that we've simply forgotten due to the multitude of massive hits he's had. This is a selection of some of my personal favorite Michael Jackson songs and moments.

Monday, April 06, 2009

A little update...

Hey all. Just here to give you a few updates about the blog. I've recently started contributing to Prefix and you can even check out the Ida Maria and Keri Hilson reviews I did for them. I will still keep the blog running, but most of my writing focus will be for Prefix. I just have to work really hard at balancing the two. Definitely stay tuned to the blog within the next month or two because I'm in the process of working on one of those big canon genre lists that all the big publications do. All I want to say is that it's a genre I'm very familiar with and I have yet to see anyone do a list of this magnitude the way that I'm planning on approaching it.

I've also added an embedded playlist on the blog so you can check out some of the current stuff that I'm digging. Think of it as an HBE primer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HBE Spotlight: Gilead7

Gilead7 has made a name for himself on the Chicago underground hip hop scene with his sharp wordplay, abstract imagery and fierce delivery. In the midst of prepping for his upcoming album, I had the chance to interview him on Inaugaration Day of all days.

HBE: So did you get a chance to catch the inaugaration?

Gilead7: I did actually. Man, it was a great thing. Watching it, I was taken back. I never been through a lot of what he was talking about, as far as the struggles, of course slavery and things of that nature, but at the same time, just hearing my grandparents talk about it, I'm like, "Wow, we've come a long way." I agree, we haven't gotten that far, but we definitely got somewhere. It's a powerful day

HBE: Yeah, it is pretty momentous. I was at work just going back and forth and I just had to sit back and soak it all in.

G7: Exactly. Yeah, same here.

HBE: I'm just more happy for my mom and other old folks who thought this day would never come.

G7: That's real. Exactly. It's not really him, it's what he symbolizes. I mean, regardless of what you think of him as a politician, I mean it's the fact that a person of darker skin color was in there, and that it shows the way the paradigm has shifted. And now of course as I said there's problems with that, but we have gotten somewhere.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ten Years Gone: The Roots - Things Fall Apart

This entry is part of an ongoing series in where I take a look back at landmark films and albums released 10 years ago.

Before Things Fall Apart, The Roots were merely respected artists that true hip hop heads name dropped to be in the know. Today, they've reached such notoriety and fame that even your mom will probably know who they are now that they'll be Jimmy Fallon's house band when he takes over Late Night on NBC. It all started with the lead single, "You Got Me," featuring neo-soul poster child, Erykah Badu. The track was something uncommon in hip hop, a love song with genuine affection that dealt with more than just bedding someone and even explored the paranoia that often arises in relationships.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ten On Tuesdays: Ten Best Cartoons of the 90's

After a few recent conversations with friends, I thought what better idea for a Ten On Tuesdays then to pick my 10 favorite cartoons of the decade in which I grew up. I don't use the word "cartoon" very lightly. For some reason, cartoons imply something targeted towards children, which is exactly what I'm going for. I'm not dealing with any of the adult-oriented, more distinguished sounding "animated series" for this list. That means no Simpsons, no South Park, no Beavis and Butthead, no King Of The Hill. None of the stuff that aired in prime time initially. I based this list on how much I enjoyed a show as a kid and how well it has stood the test of time.

1. The Tick (FOX, 1994-1997)

Oh, oddball humor. You are sorely missed on Saturday mornings. Filled with absurd plots and nonsensical monologues (courtesy of the title character), The Tick was required viewing every Saturday. Based on Ben Edlund's comic book of the same name, the show centered around a dim but noble superhero and his nebbish sidekick, Arthur, who wore a moth suit that was often confused for a bunny. The villains, who were even weirder, included the Midnight Bomber, who talked to himself all the time, Thrakkorzog, the alien who lived across the hall from The Tick and Arthur's apartment, and Chairface Chippendale, a man, who well, had a chair for a face. I look back at some of the old episodes and I'm sometimes astonished as to how The Tick made it on to children's programming considering how zany it was. This show is probably to blame a little bit for my warped sense of humor.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Live Blogging the 2009 Grammys

6:57 Showtime is near.

7:01 U2 kicking off the Grammys? Were they even nominated? Ugh! Couldn't the Academy wait till next year to shower their eventual love on them?

7:03 First time I'm listening to the new single. It's not bad, but it's such a downer to start the show off with. Would have been better if we got a more familiar song, like say one from 2008.

7:07 Whitney looked decent, but something was real off about her presentation. J-Hud for the win in a pretty weak category. The Al Green and Saadiq albums were better but didn't stand a chance.

7:09 Man, The Rock, ahem Dwayne Johnson, always brings me a smile to my face, but this is just getting awkward. He totally needs to talk smack about a few stars and layeth the smackdown.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Grammy Winner Predictions for 2009

I've always tried my hand at predicting nominees for the Grammys, but I've never done any prognosticating as to who might win. We'll see how everything turns out this Sunday. I'll also be liveblogging the Grammys this year as well.

Record of the Year

Adele-Chasing Pavements
Coldplay-Viva La Vida
Leona Lewis-Bleeding Love
M.I.A-Paper Planes
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss-Please Read The Letter

Will win: Coldplay. This category usually rewards the most popular song and tends to lean toward more current acts.
Should win: M.I.A. The Grammys have yet to really go out on a limb and give this award to a hip and deserving act.
Overlooked: Estelle's "American Boy", Pink's "So What"

Best Movies of 2008

As promised, here is the list for my favorite films of 2008. Why so late, you may ask? Well, as awesome as Chicago is, we still have to wait like the rest of the country for a lot of movies to get wide releases. In order to make the eligibility deadline for the Academy Awards, studios often release films in New York and Los Angeles, where a lot of the voting contingent resides, just so they can qualify. So while a handful of films make critics' year end list all across the board, the rest of the country usually has to wait about a few weeks to a month until they actually see some of those films at a theatre near them. It's an effective strategy for less commercial films that need all the word-of-mouth buzz they can get and to gain that all important momentum during awards season. All this means is that I had to wait a little bit longer to view some of the movies I was looking forward to seeing and why this list comes to you now in early February.

I've been doing year end lists for movies for a few years now, but this is the first time I've done it for my blog. Here are my previous number one movies:

2007: Persepolis
2006: Children Of Men
2005: Good Night, and Good Luck

I can never understand how anyone says that a year is a bad one for movies. Not every year is going to be a canon year like 1999 or 1974 and it's only about once a decade where we get a special year filled with masterpieces and popular works that redefine cinema. The high standards that a lot of us hold for a year in cinema often overshadow the number of terrific films that are released every year. Would I consider 2008 a canon year? Probably not. One thing I will say that might have a lingering effect is the high IQ of some of the year's biggest blockbuster. Wall-E, The Dark Knight and Iron Man proved that you don't have to dumb it down to reach a wide audience. Who knows? Maybe studio execs will take more chances in the future. While I wouldn't consider 2008 a special year, it was still a great one for me at the theatres. Here are the reasons why.

1. Wall-E

No other movie this year amazed me more than Wall-E. The first half of the movie gets most of the attention and deservedly so. It follows a lonely waste management robot in the future longing for company on a deserted Earth, but the way it unfurls is as cinematically beautiful as anything animated or live-action.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

HBE's Most Anticipated Albums of 2009

1. Asobi Seksu - Hush (pictured above)

Early word is that this album promises to be heavier on the shoegaze and the lighter sound is comparable to Cocteau Twins. Their albums have yet to disappoint and you can expect at least a few jaw dropping moments, a la "Thursday" or "Walk On The Moon" as on previous albums.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Top 200 Singles of 2008

1. Goldfrapp - A&E

Powerful. I could say no more than just that word and it would perfectly sum up why "A&E" is my favorite single of the year. It combines a double emotional wallop of romantic longing and self-destruction to a simple electronic folk background. There is no inspirational message here. There is nothing to be gained. Just a beautifully honest and human moment captured with no resolution. It's dramatic territory that's given the right amount of bombast to make the soul swell, but never feels overwhelming or melodramatic.