Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top 5 Songs With Animal References in the Title

In continuation with our ongoing theme of musical titles... songs with references to animals in the title. Must actually be the name of a general animal, and not a proper name (e.g. if someone were to write a song called "Free Willy," it would not be accepted. Thank god no one has, though.)

Dan's Top 5:

1. The Beatles - Blackbird - Probably one of the best acoustic ditties ever.

2. Duran Duran - Hungry Like the Wolf - The best pop song I've ever heard, hands down.

3. Peter Gabriel - Shock the Monkey - One of my other favorite pop songs ever, it gets more and more points because Peter says "monkey" so many times.

4. The Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven - I don't know why, but I really like this one. It also pays to show you like something by the Pixies besides "Where is My Mind?"

5. Cake - Sheep Go To Heaven, Goats Go To Hell - I like the metaphor in this one, as it's effective, yet straightforward enough that any idiot can work it out.

Ryan's Top Five

Some prefacing is in order. You really could do a Top 5 with only Beatles songs and be pretty fine. That said, that would be a bit boring, and there's loads of other worthy songs. Once again, the "honorable mentions" for this list are aptly named.

1. Badly Drawn Boy - Year of the Rat - I don't want to oversell Badly Drawn Boy, but I'll do so anyway: he is a musical genius. This is one of his best; he re-energizes a definitively tired theme--this is, basically, a peace-is-the-answer song that even features a children's chorus. And yet, this song still kicks ass, and manages to sound completely original. His instrumentation is amazing.

2. The Beatles - I Am The Walrus - Even in a list that avoids a lot of Beatles classics, this one deserves special mention. One of those "epic" songs that The Beatles excelled at (A Day In The Life comes to mind). Earns bonus points because Lennon wrote some lyrics intentionally to mess with the minds of English teachers, which is the musical equivalent of Edgerrin James telling a reporter, "You know, I had to score that last touchdown, for the fantasy players."

3. Harry Nilsson - The Puppy Song - A lovely pop song that not everyone has heard. Comes with standard feel-good lyrics, but not too-feel-good--basically, the lyrical attitude that characterized most of Nilsson's masterful career. "I'd take my puppy anywhere / La la la la, I wouldn't care / And we would stay away from crowds / And signs that said 'No Dogs Allowed.'" He repeats this first verse in the second and subs 'friend' for 'puppy.' Did I mention I love Harry Nilsson?

4. The Who - Boris the Spider - One of my favorite The Who songs. Try listening to it and not having "Creeepy, craaawly, creepy, crawly, creepy-creepy crawly-crawly creepy-creepy crawly-crawly..." in your head for the rest of the week.

5. Cake - Sheep Go To Heaven - "Goats go to hell." What can I say, I love Cake, and this is one of their best, maybe their best.

Honorable mentions: The Beatles - Hey Bulldog, Octopus's Garden, Blackbird, Rocky Raccoon, Blue Jay Way, And Your Bird Can Sing (almost made it), Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf (also almost made it), John Lennon - Cold Turkey (the guitar in this is awesome), Led Zeppelin - Black Dog, Rage Against The Machine - Bulls on Parade.

Tim's Top 5:
A very underrepresented animal tops my list...

1. Cobra Starship - Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) - When I hear this song, I remember the sheer mania that surrounded SoaP in my own mind and apparently in the minds of only a handful of other people when it came to actually seeing the movie. It's the ideal soundtrack song, it's memorable enough to be played on the radio, but it also is so ridiculously transparent that you can't help but think of the movie it's associated with. The rest of Cobra Starship's work is pretty middling to poor, but for one brief moment they got it right...and it'll never be August 18, 2006 anywhere else but in my heart.

2. I Am a Walrus - The Beatles - For many years, this was my favorite song. Now, it's at best my third favorite Beatles song (Rain and It's All Too Much are both superior to me now), but it's still a great one. I've still yet to see Magical Mystery Tour, and I'm not sure how I ever reached such a fate.

3. Three Little Birds - Bob Marley - Don't get me wrong, my reggae phase began and ended in the era of Big Mountain (real reggae band) and Inner Circle (not a real reggae band), but Bob Marley is an intriguing musician if you can get into him for reasons other than your frat brother's poster/your interest in smoking pot and needing to find a kindred spirit in this oh-so-rare desire and are unable to meet any living human beings.

4. Blackbird - The Beatles - For some reason, I keep buying Paul McCartney live albums, as if he was in some way getting better as a musician. Most of the songs sound mediocre at best, but Blackbird is still a masterpiece. It is extremely simple, but it's flawless.

5. Bulldog Skin - Guided by Voices - This spot was handed to Norwegian Wood, but I think the Beatles need to be displaced here. Bulldog Skin was one of the closest things Guided by Voices ever had to a hit, since it had a video that was played on MTV during 120 minutes -- the one time I saw it, it was immediately followed by Paranoid Android. But it was from their greatest album, one that's instantly overlooked because it bridged a period between the lo-fi they're really known for and the move to TVT records with Do the Collapse that offered the world Teenage FBI and little else.

Honorable mention: Hey Bulldog, And Your Bird Can Sing, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide But Me and My Monkey - The Beatles; Bird in a Cage – Old 97’s
Slow Cheetah – Red Hot Chili Peppers; Red Dragon Tattoo – Fountains of Wayne; Eagle Eye – Heatmiser; Red Mosquito – Pearl Jam; Sheep Go to Heaven - Cake

Tory's Top Five

1. Beatles - Rocky Raccoon - This makes the number one as it is by the beatles so it is deserved, as well as being my overall favorite song by the beatles. Yet it is one song that we do not have on our iTunes.

2. Elvis - Hound Dog - I don't know why this wasn't even honorably mentioned by anyone. It is definitely a trademark song of Elvis' and may be his most famous. It's at least also in the top 5 Elvis songs in addition to this list.

3. Flight of the Conchords - Albi the Racist Dragon - A dragon is an animal, let's not forget.

4. Pink Floyd - Sheep - This song is so bad ass. It goes through so many tempo changes and singing styles. When it hits "Did you hear, the dogs are dead" it is so utterly sweet.

5. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon - How did you guys miss this awesome eighties staple.

Honorable Mentions: Once again there are a lot of these. Ben Folds - Rock this Bitch (not necissarily a reference to the animal;) Bright Eyes - Down in a Rabbit Hole and Stray Dog Freedom, they didn't make it as they are not my favorite of Bright Eyes, despite his spot as favorite artist; Primus - Tommy the Cat and Fish On, Sailing the Seas of Cheese was an incredibly album; Damien Rice - Elephant, as with Bright Eyes its not one of my favorite songs by Rice; Pink Floyd - When The Tigers Broke Free, this also isn't a reference to the animal, but to tanks, but the name of the tanks are a reference to the animal, so it could've worked; Samuel L. Jackson - Black Snake Moan, amazing but not his original song and its from a movie and so on; Blink 182 - Mutt (see Ryan's upcoming guilty pleasure list.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Top 5 Songs Containing the Word "World" in the Title

This is an even better idea than the "Sun" list, as there is an abundance of songs for consideration, and they're all usually good. Behold.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Duran Duran - Ordinary World - The most-liked Duran Duran song, apparently. I prefer to listen to most anything off Rio, but this is an amazing song. Probably the first song the group ever did that had some real meaning behind it, too.

2. Oasis - All Around The World - Probably the most infectious pop rock song I know, i would blast this at high volume when driving around, singing along with the "la la la's." Loses it's #1 spot, though, because of AT&T commercials.

3. Peter Gabriel - Secret World - Gradually becoming one of my favorite Peter Gabriel songs ever, it's fairly minimalist but still pretty powerful. Also appeals to me as a bass player. I can't really explain it, just listen to it.

4. David Bowie - The Man Who Sold the World - Our band almost covered this song. I love it's mix of a good guitar track with an awesome bass line.

5. Weezer - The World Has Turned and Left Me Here - For a while, this was my favorite track off the Blue Album. Of course, that's gradually fallen down a few notches, but really an oft-overlooked song.

Very honorable mentions: Cat Stevens - Wild World, R.E.M. - It's the End of the World As We Know It, Tears For Fears - Mad World, Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule The World, Van Halen - Top of the World

Ryan's Top 5

Like Dan, the honorable mentions for this Top 5 will be VERY honorable. Namely "Ordinary World," which in the end I had to bump for The Old 97's (safe in my knowledge that Dan would include it)...If I'm being honest I really prefer "Come Undone" to "Ordinary World." In any event...

1. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World - I gave some thought to putting this at a spot other than #1, but this has been one of my favorite songs for almost a decade now, so I'd be lying if I slotted it anywhere but here. Anyone else notice that this Listing Things leads to run-on sentences?

2. David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World - I almost put this third, but, again, I'd be lying. It's easy to forget how awesome this song is, but as soon as you play it, you hear the guitar, and you're reminded.

3. The Kinks - Nothin' In This World Can Stop Me Worrin' Bout That Girl - Another song from the excellent Rushmore soundtrack. The Kinks are a band I need to devote more attention to.

4. Cat Stevens - Wild World - I also need to devote more attention to Cat Stevens, because I love this song, Into White, Tea for the Tillerman, Here Comes My Baby (another Rushmore great).

5. The Old 97's - King Of All The World - Yet another band that deserves more of my attention, as I've heard roughly ten of their songs, and I've loved them all. This song is good enough to supplant Ordinary World for the five-spot.

Insanely honorable mentions: Duran Duran - Ordinary World, Tears for Fears - Mad World, Gary Jules - Mad World (TFF cover), Mark Mothersbaugh - Hardest Geometry Problem In The World (this would be cheating, I figured), Weezer - The World Has Turned And Left Me Here, Oasis - All Around The World, Daft Punk - Around the World, REM - It's The End Of The World As We Know It, Collective Soul - The World I Know, Paul Simon - All Around The World Or The Myth Of Fingerprints.

Tim's Top 5:
1. Wreckless Eric - Whole Wide World - The true test of any song's intrinsic greatness is how well it stands up to covers, particularly by lesser artists. In this case, the lesser artist was Will Ferrell in the movie Stranger Than Fiction...and it was still stunning. It's a deceptively simple song, but it has a real duality to it, starting very quietly and growing into a late 70s' Undertones-esque pop-punk masterpiece.

2. Neil Young - Rockin' in the Free World - The true test of any song's intrinsic greatness...sounds familiar. Anyway, Pearl Jam is not a lesser artist, but their versions of Rockin' in the Free World can't match Neil's own. It's revolutionary that he can put together this track and Harvest Moon in the span of a few years, but it speaks volumes about Neil Young's ability to play into any number of musical camps. The lyrics of this song are among the best I've ever encountered, and it has a real revolutionary ethos that appeals to me.

3. Old 97's - King of All the World - My recent period of listening to nothing but the Old 97's has indicated to me that I could easily go the rest of my life listening to nothing else, and I wouldn't feel my life was particularly empty because of it. This song is pure pop, more so than even most of the tracks on Satellite Rides, but it's a simple joy. It's a great kickoff to one of the best albums I own. What is it about the Old 97's that makes the first track on every album a masterpiece? Victoria, Time Bomb, Jagged, King of All the World, and Won't Be Home would be the best tracks 99.9% of all bands would ever put out...but they're just the first tracks on the five albums I've got.

4. Paul Simon - All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints - The fact that this song would fall fourth on nearly any list seems absurd to me, given that there was an entire month where it was the song set as my wakeup song on my alarm clock -- although given my insomnia, that means I likely woke up to it 10 times. It's my favorite track off Graceland, which is one of my favorite albums through and through, so it pains me to put it fourth...but honesty must prevail -- and it doesn't even come close to third.

5. Cat Stevens - Wild World - Another frequent appearance in my alarm clock, it's one of Cat Stevens' best, as proven by the Mr. Big cover that's not even bad (compare with Rod Stewart ruining The First Cut Is the Deepest and Sheryl Crow giving its ashes a golden shower).

Honorable mention - R.E.M. - World Leader Pretend -- an embarrassingly underappreciated song from Green; Sam Cooke - (What a) Wonderful World -- this was soiled by its association with Urkel; Pearl Jam - World Wide Suicide -- a song I didn't even care for until I actually figured out what the lyrics were...and instantly loved; Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' Bout That Girl - an understated classic from the Kinks that singlehandedly makes Rushmore a great movie. Ok...the line "O.R. they?" did that...but the song is awesome.; The World Is Not Enough - Garbage -- a song I enjoy more than I should because of its association with a James Bond movie (albeit a poor one), that just missed the female singer list.

Top 5 Songs Containing the Word "Sun" in the Title

I figure, pop songs with a female singer, political pundits..."sun" songs is the next logical step, right? Anyway, this was an idea I thought of on the drive to Virginia, but I didn't have my iTunes handy when I got there. In the end there wasn't as much to choose from as I had hoped, so I resorted to lyrics websites.

Unnecessarily strict rule: it has to be "sun"--not sunshine, sunday, sunny, etc. Without further ado...

Ryan's Top 5

1. "Who Loves the Sun" - Velvet Underground - I really think this is one of the best pop songs of all-time. And, frankly, it was the impetus for this top 5.

2. "Here Comes the Sun" - The Beatles - The fact that this used to be my favorite song illustrates how much I've come to love song #1. That being said, this is definitely one of my favorite songs, still, so it's a close second on this list. This was George Harrison's best.

3. "House of the Rising Sun" - The Animals - I'd be remiss not to include this track. I'll admit it's not one of my all-time favorites, but it is damn good, and I wouldn't switch away from it on the radio. I'm also a sucker for the British Invasion.

4. "Blister in the Sun" - Violent Femmes - This narrowly defeats "Black Hole Sun" for the 4-spot.

5. "Black Hole Sun" - Soundgarden - I really could never get into Soundgarden past this song. This song, however, is great.

Honorable mentions: The Beatles - Sun King, Jimi Hendrix - Third Stone from the Sun, The Polyphonic Spree - It's the Sun, The Beatles - I'll Follow the Sun.

OK people, blow me away, show me the fantastic songs I'm forgetting.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Pink Floyd - Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - One of Pink Floyd's first songs that was truly "out there." In my opinion, it paved the way for stuff like "Echoes," which would come right before the released Dark Side of the Moon. Still a good listen, and one of my favorites.

2. The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun - I have an automatic affinity for Harrison songs, and this was arguably his best song.

3. The Animals - House of the Rising Sun - A classic, it's got an instantly recognizable chord progression and I don't know of anyone who doesn't like it. Catchy, yet haunting. You'd probably get a very good response if your band decided to do a live cover of this one.

4. Violent Femmes - Blister in the Sun - Listen to this in the morning and I challenge you to keep it out of your head the rest of the day. It was one of those songs I had heard before countless times but never figured out what it was until I stumbled across the album. Most Beatles hits have the same story.

5. Elton John - Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me - OK, honestly not the best I Could have come up with, since it's one of Elton John's weaker hits. I mean, the verse is forgettable, so the only notable part of the song is the chorus. Still, I haven't expressed my appreciation for Elton John much, so here's his first shout-out.

Tim's Top 5:
1. Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles - There simply is no comparison here, it's the second best individual song on the best album of all time (the first greatest is a song most people barely recall, but I think Polythene Pam is amazing). Fact. It's a song that's totally cool-free, listening to it will get you no street cred whatsoever, but it's still a great song and one of the best expressions of optimism in music.

2. Holidays in the Sun - The Sex Pistols - Then again, as good as Abbey Road is, Never Mind the Bollocks isn't exactly a Matchbox 20 album either. This song was all it took to hook me on the idea that I could indeed become a punk music fan, no matter how many people wearing Operation Ivy patches on their clothes I hated. The whole band is in rare form for this, the guitar and bass are flawless, the drumming is exciting, and Johnny Rotten is sufficiently unintelligible to fit the frantic pace and relatively thin lyrics that never really get much beyond the fact that the Berlin Wall is somehow involved.

3. Turn Up the Sun - Oasis - This list is pretty poor, I can tell you flat out. This song is really good, but the main reason it's the most listened to "sun" song on ITunes is that it's the first track on Don't Believe The Truth, falling within three tracks of "Love Like A Bomb". But it's a good opener for the album,

4. The Sun - Maroon 5 - That's right, I'm a defender. Had "This Love" and "She Will Be Loved" never made it onto the radio, people could still speak with praise about this album as being an inspiring turn towards old-school pseudo-funk Stevie Wonder. Instead, now every 14 year old girl has grown out of Maroon 5, leaving aesthetes like myself the job of defending our taste in blogs that no one besides the four of us will ever read. It's a tough life. The stairstep vocals where Adam Levine is almost just putting scales to lyrics are a great hook for me, and this song was spared the radio play that ruined so much of this album for me.

5. Walk in the Sun - Bruce Hornsby - Have I somehow managed to conceal that I'm a total pussy thus far? Because I think that if Maroon 5 had not yet done so, this blows my cover entirely. I really enjoy Bruce Hornsby, and can't even pretend it's his association with The Grateful Dead that does it for me. I will point out that this list is pretty skimpy on sufficient songs and that's certainly the only reason that this makes the list, since it's not among my favorites -- it's no "Set Me In Motion", let alone "The Valley Road", but the fact is that I do like it. I'm so adult contemporary somedays that I want to kick my own ass. If only John Tesh had some intelligence for my life...

Honorable mention: Walking in the Sun - Travis -- seriously, this is all I can muster; Blame It on the Sun - Stevie Wonder. I have another dozen "sun" songs on my Ipod, but none of them warrant mention. Except in retrospect, the songs on both Dan and Ryan's lists really ought to be slotted into #5's spot...but since I went through the emotional trauma of admitting that I like Bruce Hornsby, I'll just leave it at that and pretend I've never heard of The Violent Femmes or Eric Burdon, because I was too busy buying albums from Windham Hill artists.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top 5 Worst Talking Heads

You know, talking heads. Politicos. Pundits. The scum of the earth.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Ann Coulter - The ice queen. She deserves whatever sick circle of hell she lands in. It takes a lot of insane courage to accuse 9/11 widows of profiteering. And arguing we should invade the Middle East and impose Christianity? Brilliance.

2. Bill O'Reilly - There are times when he's so ludicrous, and seemingly on the verge of laughing, that you think that maybe, just maybe, this is all one big joke he's playing on all of us. But, no, I'm afraid he's not. Which really makes him even more evil, when you think about it. Thus, he narrowly beats out the rest of the pack for second place. Bonus Evil Points for penning "The O'Reilly Factor For Kids," which I'm assuming didn't have a chapter on incorporating loofahs into shower sex with coworkers who aren't interested.

3. Tucker Carlson - This was a tough call, between Tucker and Sean Hannity. Tucker Carlson is one of those jackasses you knew in college who loved to debate anything--anything on earth, ever--just so that they could sound intelligent in some vague alternate universe where the bow-tie'ed people lead the hip set. In many ways I hate him more than O'Reilly. But, you know. Tomato, toh-mah-toe.

4. Sean Hannity - He's probably ranked this low because I've never had the appropriately masochistic attention span to leave his show on for longer than five minutes. But, what I have seen, is, wow.

5. Glenn Beck - This guy loses the style points requisite for a higher ranking by the fact that he's just plain dumb. Dumber than the previous four. I'm being painfully honest when I say I've not heard him say one thing that makes any kind of remote sense.

Dishonorable mentions: Rush Limbaugh (I'm sure, worse than some of my five, but I never encounter him, so he lucks out), Michael Savage, Nancy Grace. Anyone on Fox News, which is in no way affiliated with Ryan Fox.

Tim's Top 5
I have eschewed television and terrestrial radio for quite some time now, so I really have little to no basis to respond to this question. Hence, I will do so now.

1. Ann Coulter - Definitely difficult since she's not really given her own mouthpiece, so you just have to wait for the four or five times a year she says something so annoying, so obnoxious, that you are intimately aware that at some level even she thinks she's a blowhard.

2. Rush Limbaugh - While Ryan might have successfully avoided Limbaugh, I can make no such claims. But he scores this high on the list for three primary reasons: 1) blatant hypocrisy, 2) attempting to ruin ESPN, and 3) self-definition. Obviously he and Glenn Beck are both guilty of #1, given that they both have serious issues with drug abuse while condemning anyone more pigmented for dealing drugs that aren't oxycontin. #2 is obvious, I can't believe I left it off my list before on the curses of ESPN, but the fact that football after Sunday at 7 p.m. is meant for gamblers and obsessives who have no jobs really limited my encounters on that token. But, like the Republican Party (GOP, my ass) and Fox News (where we can copyright "fair and balanced"), I loathe Rush Limbaugh for his attempt to define himself into greatness through the "EIB Network". EIB = excellence in broadcasting. BULLSHIT (no acronym necessary).

3. Dr. James Dobson - He doesn't have a TV show, but he's just as bad. He scores extra bonus points for referring to my work on a personal level. Thanks, Dr. Dobson...that really made my day when I was stuck driving through rural eastern Pennsylvania and was desperate to find any radio station...and managed to hear you talking about it. Seriously, well done. Focus on being less retarded -- then start thinking about starting a family. Just a thought.

4. Sean Hannity - I've tried, over and over, to listen to this guy and see if I can do so without becoming furious. I can't. He is the master of the specious argument and rarely dabbles in anything else. My favorite case in point was in 2004 when a teenager called in to praise John Kerry, leaving Hannity to respond that John Kerry flies to his campaign appearances in a private jet that he bought...but President Bush does not own a private jet...clearly Bush cares more about the environment because he wouldn't use a private jet for those purposes. Seriously. This was an argument he made. Anyone who couldn't recall the name of the Harrison Ford action film that rendered this argument utterly pathetic...well, they ought not have the right to vote. But hey, if Kerry cared about the environment, he'd have already been elected in 2000 so he too could fly on Air Force One...not on a private jet.

5. Bill O'Reilly - I can let Keith Olbermann fight this battle for me, he does a better job than I would. O'Reilly still pretends to be a political independent, which is such a fraud that it really inspires some serious hatred on my part. O'Reilly is evil and resolves arguments by just talking over people, but without him, The Colbert Report would never have come into existence, which really puts him on the list of great American heroes. Apparently we had to destroy the village to save it.

Also in the running: Michael Savage for claiming to be non-partisan. Glenn Beck, Randi Rhoades, and Janeane Garofalo. Beck is a jackass, Rhoades and Garofalo emphasize just why Air America is such a bad idea -- because pundits who are always in one camp are bad, regardless of whether I agree with them 80% of the time or 10% of the time. Oh, and dating Ben Stiller doesn't imbue one with a sense of political brilliance.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Bill O'Reilly - Fuck this douchebag.

2. Ann Coulter - Fuck this douchebag.

3. Rush Limbaugh - Fuck this douchebag.

4. Sean Hannity - Fuck this douchebag.

5. Michael Savage - Fuck this douchebag.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Top 5 Songs Featuring a Female Lead Singer

Dan's Top 5:

1. Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man - Thanks, Tarantino, for making me remember this one.

2. The Cranberries - Linger - I just recently got introduced to this song, and I'm surprised it wasn't one of the first songs I had ever heard, like Weezer's good stuff.

3. 4 Non Blondes - What's Up? - I was introduced to this song in Ireland of all places. You'd think it would have been the Cranberries song.

4. Zero 7 - In The Waiting Line - Most people know this from Garden State. If not, check it out anyway, since it's a damn good song.

5. The Primitives - Crash - One of the many good things to come off the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack.

Honorable mentions: Eurythmics - Here Comes The Rain Again, Massive Attack - Teardrop, pretty much anything by Garbage

Tim's Top 5
1. 10,000 Maniacs - Because the Night (unpluged) - This is one of my all-time favorite tracks. For years it was the only track I possessed that was sung by a woman, prior to the brief Michelle Branch enchantation. It's preposterous when it's done by Springsteen, Patti Smith is just not a voice I can gravitate toward, but Natalie Merchant does a great job with the track and turns it into an incredibly powerful sounding song, even with nothing but acoustics backing her.

2. Magnapop - Slowly, Slowly - A great track, but one I discovered entirely by accident. It's included on the Do Something compilation that was briefly sold at Taco Bells around this great nation. I've always thought I should see if I'd enjoy any of their other work, but I've yet to do so. You can find a live performance that's adequate on youtube, though turn your speakers all the way down before accessing it.

3. Garbage - Push It - Give all the credit to NHL 2000, which had this as the song during the opening of the game. It invokes the Beach Boys "Don't Worry Baby" tastefully, while putting it into one of the most openly sexual songs in recent memory. It's slickly-produced, and was largely responsible for Absolute Garbage being the third album with a female lead singer that I own (after the two by #4's.

4. Everywhere - Michelle Branch - I'm not sure how Michelle Branch slipped through the cracks so that she became the first (and up until last week) only woman in my record collection, but she did and this song has everything to do with it. It's particularly impressive just because she was 19 when she put this whole album together, but she's done her best to torpedo a once-promising career.

5. Crazy in Love - Beyonce - I can't understand for a second why I enjoy this song, except for the casual presence of Jay-Z that really made me stop to listen to it the first time. But I heard it this weekend, after pondering this list for some time, and it had to get included, because it's got such a good loop behind it. Beyonce is completely unnecessary, she adds nothing to the production, but if I had to confess under torture, she isn't bad. Not that I regret getting so drunk that I can't remember a second of the Destiny's Child concert I attended under career duress.

Honorable mention: I have to give serious credit to the other lists here, they pretty much gutted what I had to put on mine, though the only likely change would be to put Wise Up at #5. "What's Up" by 4 non blondes, "Celebrity Skin" by Hole, "All You Wanted" by Michelle Branch, "Save Me" and "Momentum" from Aimee Mann and the Magnolia soundtrack, "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman...

Tory's Top Five

1. Natalie Imbruglia - Torn - This is one of the catchiest and best pop songs ever recorded. I sing it with gusto still whenever it comes on the radio.

2. Christina Aguilera - A Voice Within - Christina has definitely set herself apart from the other female pop stars nowadays, and this is one song that exemplifies her most discerning quality: a good singing voice.

3. Jewel - You Were Meant For Me - Now, women aren't the best lyricists as we all know. That being said, out of those lyricists I think that Jewel is perhaps the most talented. This song isn't amazing for its lyrics but the "It was happy and I was sad / It made me mis you oh so bad" line is killer for me.

4. Kelly Clarkson - Because of You - She is definitely one of the most promising singers right now, and consistent. This song is her best to date and a continuation of her so far amazing career.

5. Jewel - Foolish Games - If only it weren't in that one batman movie.

Honorable Mentions: There usually aren't a lot of these for me, but this time there are: Lisa Loeb - You Say; Cranberries - Ode to my Family; Shakira - Wherever, Whenever; Britney Spears - Slave 4 U; Vanessa Carlton - Greensleeves cover and A Thousand Miles; Michelle Branch - Everywhere and All You Wanted.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Top 5 Most Overrated Bands

Everyone knows that there are bands out there that are good, but that quite a few people put far too much stock into them. This is what this list is all about, those bands that we know don't deserve the praise they get. You can take it as you like, but this list is different than one such as worst bands. That is why you won't see someone like Britney Spears in here; while she is overrated, she has no musical ability to speak of so it is a travesty that she is even rated.

Tory's Top 5:

1. Nirvana - As I said, these bands are good. But come on, is Nirvana really that good. Yes, they inspired or pioneered the grunge genre, but just because they were the first doesn't mean that they are the greatest. See some lyrics such as Polly and Lake of Fire to see what I am talking about. I feel that their popularity was helped by the apparent suicide of Cobain, but alas, so was the musical community as the true musician (Grohl) was able to come about and form Foo Fighters, a far superior band.

2. Aerosmith - Joe Perry is an excellent guitarist. Steven Tyler is not an equally good singer. There are songs that I think really thrive, but then there are songs when Tyler does his rap-rock type singing that make me want to vomit ie Sweet Emotion.

3. U2 - I do not like this band that is on my list. They are trite. The Joshua Tree was not an epiphany in history of music. Plus their recent music has been some of the best

4. Green Day - Since Dookie, and really up til Dookie, they offered nothing close to the praise they earn. I suppose Insomniac had a decent playlist, and Nimrod had one good song, but with the recent pointless release of American Idiot, some of the worst political satire or commentary or whatever it is supposed to be, they have shown that the days in which they were a relatively accessible band are gone.

5. RHCP - Probably the best band that is on this list. I understand the majority of people liking them, but there are those that seem to equate this band to a modern day Zeppelin (perhaps not that high of quality, but within a nearby echelon at least.) Their music has seemed to get incredibly boring and repetitive; they did have their days though with Blood Sugar Sex Magic and One Hot Minute.

Dan's (Altered) Top 5:

1. Metallica - Pretty much nothing by this band is good. And they have the audacity to call themselves "metal?" I'm not as much of a metal fan as some friends of mine, but I do know that Metallica sucks when compared to some of the bands I've heard them play on their car stereos.

2. The Grateful Dead - I really haven't heard anything I like from them, and I have a predisposition to not liking "jam" bands (Dispatch excluded). How they got one of the biggest followings ever is beyond me. In essence, I guess they're not bad, but they're also not as spectacular as countless bumper stickers lead me to believe.

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Everything since Blood Sugar Sex Magik has been bland and mediocre at best. Their career is the ultimate fade-away, going from songs like "Catholic School Girls Rule" and "Stone Cold Bush" to a rip-off of Tom Petty in the form of "Dani California." Interestingly enough, as the uniqueness of the music decreases, the popularity grows.

4. Pearl Jam - I haven't really heard anything by this band that I really like, and they're being equated with Nirvana? Vedder's voice is too caustic, and the music itself seems fairly bland and uninspiring. Speaking of Nirvana, though...

5. Nirvana - I do like a few of their songs, and Nevermind was damn good. But many people call them the best band of the 90's, which is simply wrong. Bonus artistic merit points for a suicide ending, but you lose points tenfold for the fact that Courtney Love is still around.

Honorable mentions: Bob Dylan (not a band - the only reason he didn't make the list), Aerosmith, Nickelback, My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy (these last four are all overrated, but unfortunately they all suck too much for inclusion.)

Ryan's Top Five

This will be a quick one for me because I'm tired--of course, though, bad bands inspire me.

1. Metallica - They've had a few good songs. Get over it. Does anyone else have trouble meeting a Metallica fan who doesn't think they're not better than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who combined? Also, Lars Ulrich is one of the biggest douches in the music industry.

2. The Doors/Jim Morrison - I like some their singles all right, has anyone else heard anything mindblowing? "When You're Strange" is a forgettable "classic." I once saw a poster that had Jim Morrison next to Hendrix and Lennon, billed as the "gods of rock." Give me a break.

3. Green Day - I agree with everything Tory said. I hated American Idiot, and their album before that was wretched.

4. Aerosmith - Am I the only person (I might actually be, I'm not sure) who hates the "Walk This Way" hip-hop crossover? I'd much rather hear just hip-hop, or a better rock band. Anyway, they're an all right band, I just think they're a good deal overhyped.

5. Kiss - Here's a band that is kind of all right (I guess) to begin with, but when you're fronted by Gene "I created Kiss and therefore am a musical god" Simmons, you make me want to hate you. Sorry Kiss. But thank you for bumping No Doubt from the list, as I knew at heart they violated Tory's rule of bands that are just plain bad.

Tim's Top 5:
I think Metallica has been given enough credit, as has Aerosmith, although "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" is really worthy of an entry all its own -- if you consider yourself a rock band, you don't play Diane Warren songs. PERIOD.

1) Dave Matthews Band - This is difficult for me, because I don't really know if anyone considers them good anymore, so they might just fall into the category of bands that are just awful...but every white college-aged male who enjoys recreational drug use (i.e. every white college-aged male who besides me, back in those days) thinks going to a Dave Matthews Band concert is their idea of frat boy paradise. No thanks. They haven't recorded anything but pablum since their first album, which is itself not good, so far as I can tell, but not the most contemptible thing of my lifetime. And everyone seems to at least sort of like them. Screw that. I hate Dave Matthews Band and all its works.

2) Radiohead - Radiohead inspires hatred in me unmatched by any other band. It's not because they're bad, but it's because they are so universally admired by critics for putting together tracks with incomprehensible lyrics and shit like "big fish eat the little ones". Thom Yorke has a great voice, their music was interesting on OK Computer, but the gooey mess on rock critics' face after Kid A and Amnesiac is inexcusable. Their willingness to be so utterly un-pop reminds me just why pop music has value...because at least it's honest.

3) The Doors - Again, like Radiohead, they're not a bad band. I own their greatest hits album, having bought it when I was 15. Other albums I bought when I was 15? Lord knows, but they have to be better than this. People who listened to FM radio in the 1980s and 1990s delightfully forgot that The Doors had songs with three minute keyboard solos for no apparent reason. Every once in a while I will voluntarily not skip by The Doors on the radio...but that's not to say they deserve the acclaim they've given themselves.

4) Led Zeppelin - I really just don't get it. And I will be honest, I don't get it so much that unlike Pink Floyd (who I could have put here, concededly), I've never tried to force myself to listen to Led Zeppelin. I'm not a heavy metal guy and I guess Led Zeppelin leaned in that direction, but I just don't find their music interesting. And people who listen to it I find even less interesting...because they're like self-parodies. Having watched half a season of Freaks and Geeks, it reminded me of why Led Zeppelin is still so revered -- because the people who really love Zeppelin are also the people that didn't ever get jobs, and therefore have more time to tell people about Plant & Page. I think the value of each individual in Led Zeppelin would add up to something around 500% of the value of Led Zeppelin to me. I like Fool in the Rain, but I think by liking Fool in the Rain, I really only underscore just how much I dislike Led Zeppelin. Whole Lotta Love, Stairway to Heaven...these are songs that I shan't miss.

5) ZZ Top - It's hard to not just list "The 1970s" in this list...Journey, Boston, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Rush...they could all go here. But in trying to distill a list of pure overrated via the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, I don't think it gets any more obvious to me than this one. ZZ Top is in the rock 'n' roll hall of fame. My only question is..."Lord almighty, how?" I know they've been around a long time, but this isn't the baseball hall of fame, I thought that you had to actually have more than two tracks people knew and at least one that people liked. They're not really trendsetters either, but here you have it. I'm not sure what world puts ZZ Top in the Rock 'n' Roll of Fame while excluding ... well, anyone.

Also of note: Rod Stewart warrants mention for having never done anything of significance by himself yet still attaining substantial fame/acclaim.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Top 5 TV Shows, 1990-1999

Defined however you wish--you can include dramas if you want, but, meh on this end. I'm going with shows that had their prominent run in the 90s--so, though The Simpsons debuted in the 80s, it was 90s show. By that same token, I don't consider Cheers a 90s show, but you may disagree.

Ryan's Top 5:

1. The Simpsons - The greatest TV show ever made, bar none.

2. Seinfeld - The early seasons were a bit sketchy, but you accept it because after season 2 the series was perfection.

3. The Critic - I wish the series were longer than it is, but it's still excellent. Really the only non-kid-centric animated show that has truly achieved what every show aspires to: a funny show that is similar to, but not a complete ripoff of, The Simpsons.

4. Frasier - Excellent writing and a cast that gelled. David Hyde Pierce is hilarious. (If you don't believe me, rent Wet Hot American Summer. Or, you know, Frasier.)

5. Friends - I'm not sure how comfortable I feel putting this here, because I like 1-4 a lot more, but it really was better than most TV shows. Unless I'm forgetting something obvious.

5. Saturday Night Live, 1990-1996 - OK, maybe I'm breaking my rules here a bit. SNL has become so bad that it's easy to forget a time when it had some of the best comedy on TV. There were occasional funny moments after 1996, but I figure that's the season where it ceased being better than most other shows on TV. From 91-95, SNL was the TV event I most looked forward to week to week, aside from Seinfeld and Simpsons.

Honorable mentions: The Wonder Years (I count it an 80s show), Northern Exposure, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Doug, Pete & Pete. If I'm going solely for personal favorites I'd put Doug at about #2-3, but, you know. Occasionally I try to be objective.

Dan's Top 5:

I should note that my list, if I were truly being accurate, would be a carbon copy of Ryan's. Well, with possible exception of #5, as I didn't really like "Friends" too much, though it probably belongs there just out of sheer cultural relevance. With that in mind, I am going to refrain from using any of his shows in my list for the sake of diversity. Now that that's out of the way...

1. The X-Files - I should say that I never watched this show regularly, but it always interested me. Obviously it interested a lot of people, as they released a movie before the series was even over. Another fairly unique concept, though - a paranormal mystery show. If you really think about it, the success of this show really coincided with the anti-government sentiment and conspiracy theory mentality of the time. A real zeitgeist show. My first encounter with the show was season 2, episode 2 - "The Host," which is apparently a classic.

2. The Wonder Years - I love the concept: a middle-to-high-school comedy/drama set twenty years prior and not in front of a studio audience. The show was accessible to all while still addressing the events and issues of the time depicted. Also features Daniel stern in his only respectable role as the protagonist narrator.

3. Dinosaurs - The show that everyone forgets about. Another sitcom, this one was remarkable in that it was made with a cast of nothing but Jim Henson creatures. When you look back at it, it really was a fairly good parody of modern human society, with a number of topical issues arising, as in every good sitcom. Nonetheless, it was pretty fun to watch.

4. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? - I would watch this religiously every afternoon, and really, this show, when coupled with the Carmen Sandiego board game I had, is responsible for 90% of my knowledge of geography. Also features probably the best damn theme song ever, and is the second-longest-running kid's game show on record (Double Dare being the longest).

5. Family Matters - Probably one of the better sitcoms of the decade. For better or worse, this was the show responsible for the Steve Urkel sensation, which got annoying after a while, especially as the series became more and more dependent on the character. By the end, it was a comedy not about an African-American family's daily life, but about a mad scientist teenager's latest invention. Nonetheless, it comes in second only to The Jeffersons as one of the longest-running sitcoms with a predominantly black cast.

Tory's Top 5:

1. Frasier - This is my personal favorite. Everything about this show is perfect.

2. The Simpsons - Number 1 and 2 are so hard to differentiate between. They're almost neck and neck, but I just love Frasier.

3. Seinfeld - Though I am not the biggest fan of this how, I understand its brilliance.

4. Everybody Loves Raymond - Every single show was a hit. There were no misses.

5. Boy Meets World - I think this show gets overlooked because of its beginning seasons that weren't quite as good as its latter years. People seem to see it as a younger more family oriented show in the vein of Full House, where it is actually surprisingly smart.

Honorable mentions: The Critic, it's bad when you haven't seen all of the episodes of a show with 20-something episodes; Friends; 3rd Rock from the sun, which seems commonly forgotten about.

Tim's Top 5:
1) The Simpsons - No argument with Ryan here, as much as I may love the others on the list, this was great for an entire decade, and I'm learning as they release more DVD seasons that it's hard to not be wistful even for mediocre things like Season 11, just because it's been so long since I've seen them.

2) Mystery Science Theater 3000 - This was really revolutionarily awesome and got me into movies, comedy, and lack of a social life -- three passions I continue to this day.

3) Seinfeld - It took me a couple years to get into it, but every season is essential owning.

4) Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist - Yeah, it turns out that my habit of watching only two channels is not so new after all.

5) NewsRadio - Ok, forget the post-Phil Hartman stuff, yes, Andy Dick is annoying, but NewsRadio was a really high-quality show.

Honorable mention: Picket Fences, The Critic (its greatness has been partly ruined by the fact that I saw every episode 40 times during its reruns on Comedy Central), SportsCenter, The Awful Truth (half the show was in 2000, but half the show wasn't very much).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Top 5 Comedy Central Shows (past and present)

Tim's Top 5:
Note: This list does not include shows that Comedy Central simply re-runs, for all you people who love Scrubs so much that you think it excuses Comedy Central from their God-given duty to broadcast The Colbert Report 8 times a day, so it's actually on when I'm there to watch TV.

1) Mystery Science Theater 3000 - This was a struggle, but I gave many years of my life to this show and have now spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars acquiring its episodes, many sight unseen. It was the best concept on television and it was the best writing on television and it was utterly incomprehensible television. The fact that it ever aired in any format is astounding, given that episodes run two hours and aren't readily abridged (the Mystery Science Theater Hour in syndication tried, but it was just a dumb idea as a practical matter). Without this show, most people would never have encountered anything more than Gigli in the world of bad movies...but now one can invoke Manos, The Hands of Fate and actually find discussion partners.

2) The Colbert Report - Where the Daily Show failed by being boringly political -- it doesn't take satire to make President Bush look incompetent, it takes accurate reporting -- the Colbert Report succeeded. It's had its downsides, the special reports are usually not particularly special, but every episode of this show is guaranteed to have something funny in it. It's second on this list -- the fightin' second! -- but it's second to none. Barry Manilow should really return his ill-gotten Emmy.

3) Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist - This is, all told, one of the lamest concepts for a television show ever created. Described in the abstract, you just have to wonder how it ever aired, before realizing the mess that Comedy Central was ten years ago when its primary show was SNL re-runs (sure beats Mad TV reruns, all told). So you take a comedian and have him ask questions as if he were a therapist and all his clients are stand-up comedians who use the questions to do their material. It sounds awful, but it's amazing and never had any chance to jump the shark before it got yanked. It had its weaker episodes -- Dom Irrera is not funny and he's on half a dozen, Joy Behar is annoying, Garry Shandling's not particularly funny -- but it introduced much of the world to people like Todd Barry, Steven Wright, Louie C.K., and so on.

4) South Park - The last two seasons may have undone all the goodwill that Trey Parker and Matt Stone had gotten from surprising me with adequacy for seasons 2-8. I had given up on the show early -- the Mr. Hankey episode was, and is, inane. It's less dreadful now than it was at the time, but it gave me good cause to stop watching. Then DVD solved that problem, and I found out it was pretty funny most of the way through. But Cartoon Wars was pretty damn lame, Manbearpig was the dumbest 22 minutes of my lifetime, and the specter of Timmy is in the distant past.

5) The Daily Show - It was not that good at first, great for a while, and then faded into mediocrity after Stephen Colbert left, joining Steve Carell in the list of people who have gone on to better things. Still, for a channel that was an afterthought, The Daily Show was probably the show that really vaulted it into the ordinary tier on cable packages. Back in my MST3K days, it wasn't uncommon to encounter cable systems without Comedy Central. Thankfully, I did not suffer through that strife for long.

There are no honorable mentions, all that's left is awful, awful, awful. No matter how many people tell me Strangers With Candy was awesome (see, no doubt, Dan's Top 5), I have never been able to force myself to watch more than thirty seconds and I need not reconsider my position. AWFUL.

Ryan's Top 5:

I have a feeling I'd be putting MST3K in here somewhere, as the few I've seen have been brilliant--but I haven't really seen enough to feel good about slotting it in the Top 5. What I have seen I saw about 15 years ago, no less. And also, after looking at this helpful list from what should have been my #1-rated website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_programs_broadcast_by_Comedy_Central), I see that you are absolutely right, Tim, in having no honorable mentions. Mind of Mencia is bad, but obviously so--I had forgotten about the countless terrible shows of yore. That's My Bush! - shudder.

1. The Colbert Report - In my mind, definitely the finest show Comedy Central has ever had a part in. Tim pretty much nails my sentiments, but I'll add that Stephen Colbert gets extra cool points from me for his ability to make conservatives think he's actually on their side. And unlike almost any other talk show, I actually don't change the channel during the guest segments. And the Threatdown, oh man, the Threatdown...brilliance.

2. Chappelle's Show - I don't think this is as brilliant as a lot of its devout fans make it out to be, but when this show's good it's really good. (It can also miss occasionally.) The Wayne Brady episode was classic, and the black white supremacist was pretty good. Negative cool points for inspiring Mind of Mencia, possibly the worst show in Comedy Central history.

3. The Daily Show - If I'm being honest I'd probably rate this #2, but it's really slipped the past few years. It's still one of the better shows on TV, but I mean...it's lazily funny. Guess what, if a show has a liberal viewpoint and a decent sense of humor it will get me to watch it. Colbert does the same thing TDS tries to do but with real humor. That being said, some of the newer correspondents are really promising: John Oliver, Demetri Martin, ... that's all that comes to mind.

4. South Park - Used to be a lot better than it is now. I mean, wow--the Oprah episode was 30 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. I'd like to see more Butters, Timmy, and Jimmy.

5. The Sarah Silverman Program - Sure I've only seen a few episodes, but they were really, really good. And it's either this or Win Ben Stein's Money, the last show in which Jimmy Kimmel didn't inspire strangling.

Honorable mentions: Beat the Geeks, VS., Ben Stein's Money. Not Top 5 material but not bad.

Tory's Top 5:

1. Chappelle's Show - As good as my number 2 is, I am not completely politically charged so Colbert isn't able to pull me in quite as much as Chappelle was. I also feel that the two seasons (and a couple of segments from the lost episodes) were the two funniest seasons of any sketch comedy show.

2. Colbert Report - Despite claiming to not have a political charge, I still do love Colbert. Steven vs. Steven I wish was on it more, as well as the threat down... or that they were on whenever I remembered to watch.

3. Crossballs - It is a true shame that this wasn't watched by too many people, because it was just as poignant as Colbert, and shared a lot of the same themes ie getting others to believe that a comedian was actually a professional on whatever subject. The episode about marijuana was one of the funniest things I've ever seen when you take into account the comment ticker going throughout the show.

4. Man Show - I am a huge Adam Carolla fan, even if Jimmy Kimmel is not that funny, this show survived on the antics of the two together; specifically the episode when Adam takes his mother out on a date under the guise that every man wants a woman like his mother.

5. Insomniac - Dave Attell is hilarious. This show starts out with a very short stand up from him. The remainder of the show isn't extremely comical, but it does succeed in being one of the most interesting/intriguing show on comedy central.

Honorable mentions: Daily Show, Jon Stewart kept this from being on my list; South Park.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Everything Tim said is correct. I had actually forgotten that this had switched over to Comedy Central before making the jump to the SciFi channel (to date the only reason I'd ever watch the latter.) The only reason I'd ever not love an episode of this program is if the movie in question was just too painful to watch (Manos, the Hands of Fate was the only one to pass my movie pain threshold and still remain enjoyable due to good comedy). Notable favorite episodes include: Pumaman, Manos the Hands of Fate, Jack Frost, Space Mutiny, and The Sinister Urge. Of course, a majority of these aired on SciFi, but hey, it's the same series.

2. Strangers with Candy - I'll admit that for the longest time, the commercials for this program just struck a sour note with me - it just didn't seem like something I'd want to watch at all. However, after recently watching the series on DVD and learning that both Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert are geniuses, I love this show. The humor isn't the best in the world, but I feel the highlight is the delivery, primarily by Colbert and Greg Hollimon. Sorry, Tim, but I like this one.

3. The Colbert Report - Whenever I visit home, I use my laptop in the den, where the TV is, and for a while I'd be forced to watch the O'Riley Factor. Having to actually watch that shit really made me appreciate Colbert so much more.

4. Win Ben Stein's Money - A nice, moderately hard television quiz show. The series was full of things that I like: a face-off round with isolation booths, pop song references at the top of the show, innuendo in category titles, and Jimmy Kimmel getting the boot and being replaced with a hot chick.

5. Insomniac with Dave Attell - Thanks, Tory. I was about to consider The Daily Show as #5, but this is a better choice. This wasn't a side-splitting show, but it was unique and entertaining enough.

And now a variation of honorable mentions: Good shows that have declined too much for inclusion - The Daily Show, South Park.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Top 5 Worst Crimes Perpetrated by ESPN

Straightforward. It's reaching a boiling point.

Ryan's Top 5:

1. Who's Now? - Offensive because it's a ridiculous premise to begin with, and also because they drag it out to last about 40 weeks. The absolute worst part of this is the panel discussing it. Who cares??? In all seriousness, what panel of human beings greenlighted this? What test audience gave thumbs up?

2. John Kruk - "Hm, I really admire your insight there Kruk." If you ever hear me say that in a serious tone, smother me with a pillow, please.

3. Stephen A. Smith - "The Patriots are a really good team with really good players and a really good coach who have won three Super Bowls recently. And quite frankly, that's all you need." Wow. Thanks.

4. Poker, Poker, Poker - THIS IS NOT A SPORT. THIS IS NOT EVEN AN INTERESTING NON-SPORT. Can we watch spelling bee reruns instead?

5. Playmakers - No. No, no, no. No. No original entertainment. No.

Tim's Top 5:
See Ryan's Top 5. It's actually ironic that Ryan posted this now of all times, because this morning on the treadmill, ESPN was on, and I saw the Who's Now garbage and thought about starting "Top 5 Shows That Used to Be Great But Have Jumped All Available Sharks" -- a list Sportscenter would really just about have to make. Instead, I comply.

1. Poker - Poker is not a sport. The spelling bee's not a sport, but it's a one-off. You decided you could broadcast seven nights of poker in lieu of sports like, say, hockey. The ratings support it. But the ratings would also support you broadcasting Meerkat Manor, that doesn't make it a fucking sport. Oh, and by the way, who is so goddamn boring and friendless that they watch this garbage? If you want to experience real poker action, make three or more friends and play. Or just go to the internet, gamble away your life savings of $18 (you are watching poker on TV, after all), lose your wife and kids to a white slaver, and take a new job answering phones at 1-800-BETS-OFF. At least it'd make for an inspirational made for TV movie...that ESPN would then broadcast in lieu of sports.

2. Red Sox/Yankees - To be fair, technically the Red Sox and Yankees existed before ESPN, but it wasn't until ESPN turned it into the Ohio State/Michigan of major league baseball that it became insufferable. Frankly, was this really a meaningful rivalry to anyone pre-2000? If you were a Red Sox or Yankees fan, then probably. But if you're a Red Sox or Yankees fan, you should be denied the right to vote, thrown in the dankest prison on earth, and left to feed off the scraps of the damned.

3. New England Bias - Try watching ESPN for a second and telling me that they're not rooting for the Red Sox and Patriots. Try. You will inevitably fail. You'll be able to say "There's no way that ESPN is ..." and before the word "biased" leaves your lips, you're going to find yourself with Maura Tierney playing your ex-wife and
discover that your mop-topped boy-girl child has made a birthday wish that you would be unable to lie for a day. (That's how long it took to set up the reference to Liar Liar, you're welcome.)

4. Around the Horn - So you have a show that has sportswriters giving their opinions? Well, that's called The Sports Reporters, it's the sports equivalent of Meet the Press, except hurtfully slow and dull. Oh, wait, you're going to have King Douche sit around and award them points based on whether he agrees with their opinions, regardless of whether they're supported? And you're going to have the same lame reporters day after day and expect people to watch Max Kellerman on TV? Oh lord. So wrong. Max Kellerman is gone, incidentally, the show still sucks.

5. Mohr Sports - This show lasted about twenty seconds, but it was pretty much where ESPN went wrong. I like comedy, I like sports, I need them to be not merged, lest I be left with only one joy in my life. It was a hackneyed show, it only aired once a week, rendering it not timely with respect to the sports references, given that sports are the most fly-by-night of news events, but not funny because the jokes had already been made by the time it aired.

Honorable mention to Joe Morgan (I let the folks at firejoemorgan.com take this one. I hadn't really noticed how awful he was, but they do a good job of pointing out that there's little to separate him from Tim McCarver, Satan, or the indistinguishable combination of Tim McCarver/Satan known interchangably as Tim McCarver or Satan) and Mel Kiper - a man who created the world's greatest job, but, astoundingly, has no real track record of being good at his job. To be fair, I can't include Playmakers, 3, Hustle, or any of the ESPN original movies because no matter how bad an idea they were, they were so transparently bad ideas that I was never in danger of watching.

Dan's Top 5:
1. The ESPYs - I'm not entirely against sports awards, but Jesus. "The ESPYs?" I'd show much more respect for something with a more "official" sounding name. For example, the "Academy Awards." I'd take those much less seriously if they were called the "ABCsies." Also, Jimmy Kimmel should be executed. Preferably by LeBron James.

2. NFL Programming in the Offseason - With the possible exception of the draft or various criminal trials, there is absolutely no reason to cover any aspect of the NFL from February through August, it being the most boring and pointless of the big three professional sports leagues (the others being the MLB and the NBA). I would go to eat lunch and see a half-hour program about current NFL news in May. That's just got to stop.

3. Around The Horn - This is why I know who Woody Paige is. Need I say more? The answer is, "no."

4. Pardon the Interruption - Another excuse for people to make chat about sports news which just isn't worth talking about, much less by two of the most unentertaining individuals on ESPN. I do guess it's better than watching CNN or something on a down day, though.

5. Chris Moneymaker and the 2003 WSOP - I love poker. I'm glad I have to opportunity to watch professionals play it on television. I watched the 1999 World Series on ESPN, and it was amazing. If it has no other home than ESPN, then so be it. But the continuous hype over the 2003 WSOP and Chris Moneymaker's rookie win of the main event opened a flood gate of WSOP coverage. Just air the main event, please, and keep the repeats in the bowels of the ESPN2 programming schedule, so I can still download exciting episodes.

Tory's Top 5:

1. Human Interest - This is the pinnacle of no sports news when sportscenter has to revert to boring crap about people with some sort of disability - like a fat female football player. Whiners.

2. Not Enough Football - A. There is actually a point in which they don't air episodes of NFL live. B. When NFL starts coming on, it's still only thirty minutes, and with sportscenter you generally have to wait a while for the roughly two minutes of football news (at least in non-football season.) Despite Daniel's list, we all know that football is in actuality the best sport (and highest rated sport) that exists, much better than basketcrap.

3. Chris Brrr, it's cold, man - His puns are not funny. He is in no way entertaining. I hate him.

4. Female sports reporters - What do women know about sports?

5. Original Programming - I have never watched any and I'm sure there's a reason.

Honorable mentions - essentially every show that isn't NFL live or sportscenter. And most reporters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Top 5 Months

Kind of an odd one, but why not? We continue our march to ranking everything...

Ryan's Top 5:

1. December - This summer did it for me. I used to cheer for summer in the winter and vice versa; fuck it. I am sick of heat. I want cold and I want it all the time. Also you get Christmas season and Christmas break.

2. November - You know what's weird, Thanksgiving used to be one of my least favorite holidays and now it's my second favorite. Man, do I enjoy breaks from work and eating food. Omaha around Thanksgiving is frigid but not too cold to be unbearable (we spent one Thanksgiving in North Dakota about five years ago--ugh).

3. April - A sports decision. You've got Baseball Opening Day, the NCAA Final Four, and the NFL Draft--the three best times of their respective sports.

4. October - Kind of a cheap response, but this is my birthday month (nicely-located on the First) and it's one month closer to Christmas break. Downside: I hate Halloween.

5. July - Well, summer break isn't all bad. I enjoy barbecues and watching baseball, usu. in an air-conditioned room.

Tim's Top 5:
1) December - This one looks like a consensus. It has Christmas, the best movies of the year are all in theaters, snow, and is in the middle of a string of holidays where I don't work. Yay holidays I don't work.

2) April - Opening day and the NFL Draft, April is the month where sports fanaticism reaches its apex. And for at least one month, I can be optimistic about both football and baseball. As of May 1, the pessimism (e.g., accurate perception) returns.

3) September - Happy birthday to me. The weather's pretty close to ideal, and in Ithaca, you had the smell of fall in the air. Alas, I don't think such smells are native to Delaware, but I'll give it a second chance this year. We also watch the wrap up of the MLB and the beginning of the football season. Mmmm...college football.

4) November - Ohio State-Michigan, snow, Thanksgiving is a good holiday, particularly since Charlie arrived.

5) October - One of these years, there'll be a major league baseball playoff game worth watching. The weather's not bad, the days aren't ludicrously brief, and I've run out of reasons for any of these months.

Dan's Top 5:

1) December - Christmas and New Year's Eve obviously make this one good, but Virginia Tech also doesn't have a Fall break. Well, technically we do now, but it's just a Monday off in October or something. Not only is it lame, but it messes up the schedule. But that means that Thanksgiving Break is our true fall break, and there is only a week or two in December before exams. If you're like me, then you treat this as some of the most laid-back school ever. December is also the temporal home of 982 college football bowls.

2) March - Spring Break and March Madness. Occasionally Easter happens in March, but even if it does, the resurrection of Jesus comes in a distant third. I think I'm also the only one on this blog who's also still single, so I get to also make the claim that I love when the girls around campus start wearing their springtime clothes after months of nothing but jeans and sweatshirts.

3) October - College football is in full swing, having moved beyond most boring games in the first few weeks of the season, so you're going to see a few good conference games. Also the last month that there's a really good chance there won't be any snow in Blacksburg. Also, for some reason, a lot of cool stuff ends up happening to me personally around this time of year, like that one time I briefly got a girlfriend.

4) April - Also another Easter candidate, but more importantly the start of baseball season coming straight off the heels of the NCAA Championship game. The NFL draft is overhyped as all hell, but overall it's a great month, with weather becoming increasingly nice before you really start to feel the heat.

5) January - The month of my birthday, so I get a chance to get drunk as all hell. Also the month of Martin Luther King, Jr. day. I notice that holiday didn't count much for any of you others... you racist bastards, you.

I was going to include November because of Thanksgiving, but because our football team always tends to be susceptible to loss during this month, it is on my blacklist.

Tory's Top 5:

1. November - Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as my favorite past times include eating, resting and watching football, all of which happen on this day. Another thing is that many good movies seem to come out in November (06 - Tenacious D and the Fountain; 07 - There Will Be Blood and I believe the wider release of the Darjeeling Limited.) Also, cold weather starts coming.

2) July - My birthday month. Fantasy football sign ups and practice drafts.

3) September - Football begins. I love football and this month is when I am still hopeful about my fantasy team, as well as the Jags. The only time I can really feel secure in my premonition of a 12-4 season.

4) April - The draft is all that goes on in april. Other than that is' hot, and doesn't really deserve a spot on this list.

5) December - It's cold. There's Christmas. Vacations and time off also come packaged together with the holiday season, which makes good time for relaxing.

Honorable Mentions: January - the last bit of cold that is to come.

Top 5 Web Sites for Use at Work

Tim's Top 5:
Since today has neared a post-less day, I feel an obligation to push forward.
1) ESPN.com - What one did at work before the Internet boggles my mind. I would be utterly unable to acquire sports information -- the sports radio in the area is poor at best, obviously the TV and newspaper aren't viable options at my desk. But oh, lucky me, I became a professional at an ideal time. The only thing better would have been to do it five years earlier, when the idea of a "search engine" was dazzling and I could spend days looking at people's lists of Steven Wright jokes on Yahoo. Those were the days.

2) Onion.com - What one did in college when the Onion only updated once a week, I don't know...except I do know, because every Tuesday I would go home from class and check it as soon as I got back. It was a highlight of the week, even if it was only to gloat and point out that they still hadn't topped my own masterpiece "Dumpster Preserves Sanctity of Life". Now that they update it daily and there's sports stuff...gold mine. It's not always good, let alone great, but it's useful.

3) Amazon.com - Apparently I am in the whole "job" thing for the money. What better way to prove it than to buy things I don't need? Amazon has all the things I don't need, whether it's The Avent Isis Manual Breast Pump -- great fun at bachelor parties or the latest book from Lyndon LaRouche, and everything in between. Including sex toys. Seriously. Amazon.com sells sex toys. I find this hilarious.

4) Wikipedia.org - God bless Wikipedia. It's the world's greatest learning source, with the only drawback being that I'm learning from people who probably aren't any smarter than I am, they're just more committed to gathering information about John Stamos than I am. Still, it fills in as an IMDb for everything in the world that's not movies. And god bless them for that. Like Stephen Colbert said, anything that has a longer entry about his show than about Lutherans has its priorities right.

5) m.facebook.com - Aha! The biggest drawback to doing things at work is that it limits my ability to be secretive. I can't live my secret public life there. But that's where the blackberry comes in. And facebook is kind enough to provide a mobile version for people exactly like me -- fiercely guarding their at-work privacy by instead relying upon an item intended solely for work use that is probably as not secure as anything on the Internet could possibly hope to be. But it lets me know who's adding me as a friend based on the fact that I once encountered them...somewhere. Maybe.

Honorable mention - NYTimes.com, cnn.com, firejoemorgan.com. This blog is left off solely because of the aforementioned privacy obsession.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Protrade.com - Like fantasy sports, but with the added excitement of capitalist gain. Easily 50% or more of my internet time at work is spend checking this site and making trades. One of these days, I'll be getting myself an Amazon.com gift card as a reward for all my diligence.

2. Youtube.com - If you can't find a video on this site, then it's probably not worth watching. There's a lot of crap on the site, like people talking to their webcams or something, but bide your time and you'll quickly come across a funny video put together by college students. Two friends of mine put together a Youtube video, and it ended up beating student films at a UVA film festival. Also a site that is frequented by everyone else in my office.

3. Wikipedia.org - I've repeatedly called this site "The Oracle" or "The Source of All Knowledge." If you want to find something out, go here first. I use this to find mathematical equations and properties of physics. Within minutes, because nearly anything in the text is clickable, I'll find myself looking at anything from how to make a dry martini to what was the #1 song in 1977.

4. Google.com - Given that I use iGoogle as my web page and have a Gmail account, I feel obligated to put Google here. Google Scholar actually may be the most helpful thing on Earth while I'm trying to research other technical papers. I also have a feeling that Google will soon assume control over the entire internet, so best to start sucking up to them now.

5. Amazon.com - These guys sell everything, right? The cheapest prices I can find for stuff that I may want to buy, but oddly enough I'm less of an impulse shopper here than at Barnes & Noble. Maybe it's because I factor in the mental cost of having to wait for shipping.

Honorable mentions - Addictinggames.com, ESPN.com, BBC.co.uk, TheOnion.com, Blogger.com (hey...)

Ryan's Top 5:

1. sports.yahoo.com - I can type that faster than most of my passwords. I prefer yahoo to ESPN ; I developed this because past computers (and occasionally current computers) couldn't tolerate the better graphics of ESPN, so it'd take forever to load.

2. fantasysports.yahoo.com - This is not a cop-out; two different websites for two different needs. This, too, I can type remarkably fast.

3. google.com - I won't use this twice as a cop-out. First, I've finally weaned myself off yahoo and now use this as my search tool. Second, it is my primary email now, and for the foreseeable future. (I also still have my bakeru address, my pitt state address, my yahoo address, I'll soon have my kckps address, etc.)

4. wikipedia.org - I really want to put this one higher because wiki means so much to me; it got me through Russian history in college. But, let's be honest, first comes sport, then comes email, then comes... useless information. The best time for pointlessness is when you're getting paid.

5. facebook.com - Nuts to people who disparaged the news feed--it saves me time having to check other people's profiles, and it also makes me feel less creepy by eliminating said chore. I hate myspace but I pretty much check it regularly now, because a lot of my friends use it as their primary networking site. Facebook is a lot cleaner and much easier to use, and uploading photos is easy.

Honorable mentions - theonion.com, bbc.co.uk, ljworld.com (a bit Ryan-centered, this one--the website for the Lawrence Journal-World and links to kusports.com), kcroyals.com (another one I can type faster than my passwords), kansascity.com (The KC-Star website, which largely blows), livejournal.com. That about covers all the sites I need. Wait, except for THE TOP FIVE OF ALL-TIME, which frankly lately I should put at #...4. (It'll be a while before it supplants sports.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Top 5 Various Artists Soundtracks

This was Tory's idea, but I have his permission to post after he went to bed. Obviously, the inclusion of "various artists" is meant to combat having to consider soundtracks like Magical Mystery Tour, The Wall, etc. (and, more recently for myself, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, About a Boy). Let me also preface this list by saying that I am completely content with my list, but I have a vague feeling I've left stuff out. I've shied away from movies specifically about music (High Fidelity, Almost Famous) for varying reasons--one, I feel this is kind of cheating; and two, they often don't live up to it. High Fidelity, for instance, has some excellent tracks but also some boring ones. (On a sidenote, I've recently decided that "Who Loves the Sun?" by The Velvet Underground may be the most perfect pop song ever recorded.) Anyway...

1. Rushmore - I feel like I'm betraying my biases to Wes Anderson and Ben Folds (unrelatedly) with all these lists, but here's one where I truly feel objective in including Anderson's work: he is a master of soundtracks, and Rushmore is his best work. Everything works perfectly: "Making Time" during Max Fischer's clubs montage; "A Quick One While He's Away" during the Max Fischer-Herman Bloom battles; "The Wind" during the kite-flying scene; "Concrete and Clay" and "Oh Yoko" during Max Fischer-Rosemary Cross-Herman Bloom love triangle scenes; etc. He went with all British invasion music, which couldn't have been an obvious choice, and Mark Mothersbaugh seals the deal with more excellent work. I have listened to this soundtrack more than probably anyone on earth, and I can't say enough good things about it so I'll stop myself now.

2. Snatch - Remember when Guy Ritchie was talented before Madonna ruined everything? It's getting harder with each passing year, but listening to this soundtrack helps. Ritchie too is adept at matching songs (like Anderson, often obscure songs) with the right scenes. Gorgeous George on the ground after being knocked out by Mickey, set to "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers? Good stuff. And "Fucking in the Bushes" by Oasis seems like it was written for a bare-knuckle boxing scene. I could go on but I'll stop.

3. Pulp Fiction - I had this soundtrack memorized a good five years before I finally saw the movie, because my dad had the tape in 1995. I have my problems with Quentin Tarentino, but the dude knows how to use music effectively. (I'm not going to, but it would be very easy to include Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs in this list.) High marks for "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Jungle Boogie," and all the surf music.

4. Royal Tenenbaums - See above. Here I think he uses Nico's "These Days" and Elliott Smith's "Needle in the Hay" brilliantly, among many others (including, notably, a great employment of the Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Christmastime is Here" instrumental from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

5. Wonder Boys - It's almost tough to include this because often the really good music is quietly in the background. That said, it's used damn well when it is--I don't know why, but I always think of the scene with Tripp and Crabtree in the car going to James with Lennon's "Watching the Wheels" playing on the car radio. Bob Dylan has three new (well, 2000) songs, all good, especially "Not Dark Yet," and Neil Young's "Old Man" is perfect in this movie--in that they use the first minute and a half or so, cutting the song before it goes from brilliant to middling when backup singers are brought in for no reason.

Honorable mentions--Bottle Rocket, Life Aquatic, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, High Fidelity, Office Space, Shaun of the Dead (an excellent use of Queen).

Dan's Top 5:

1. Jackie Brown - What I consider Tarantino's best soundtrack. I think the songs here are better suited and more consisted that what was on Pulp Fiction, a masterpiece in its own right. A lot of great 70's music that you'd never be exposed to otherwise. "Across 110th Street" has got to be one of my all-time favorites.

2. Snatch - I really can't do this any justice, and fortunately for me, Ryan's comments already explain my opinion on this awesome soundtrack.

3. Rushmore - "Making Time" and "Quick One While He's Away" steal the show here, but my other favorites are "Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl" and "I Am Waiting."

4. Garden State - I think one of the best collections of songs around, with Coldplay's "Don't Panic," "New Slang" by the Shins, and of course, "In the Waiting Line" by Zero 7, which would go on to be featured in the House, M.D. Season 3 soundtrack. It even has some Simon and Garfunkel. Loses major points, however, for having a cover version of Such Great Heights.

5. Almost Famous - The movie features a scene based around Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." This is also the film that got Zeppelin to release some songs for a soundtrack, and these two facts alone warrant inclusion. Also has "Sparks" by the Who, which is pretty much the first time I've ever heard it featured while not on the Tommy album. The only reason it's at the bottom is it's a cop-out, as Ryan suggested.

Honorable mentions - everything else from a Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino film

Tim's Top 5:
Well, if we were actually counting the soundtracks from the movies, I'd be hard pressed to include something not by Scorsese on the list. But since we're talking soundtrack albums, every one of those is pathetic compared to the importance of the songs to the film itself. Frankly, I have little input...but this calls for a snap judgment and I'm that kind of person. You may notice something of a theme...

1) Good Will Hunting - Aha! It's not a one-person soundtrack...it's just almost a one person soundtrack. Elliott Smith chips in the best 2/5 of the soundtrack, with a couple tracks not found on Either/Or, which helps greatly, though makes this a galling must-own album for me. Thankfully, the Al Green, Luscious Jackson, and Dandy Warhols tracks are worth owning...and it does include "Baker Street", a song that you really want to not like, but deep down, you do. Or you don't, but then who are you fooling?

2) Wonder Boys - I concur with Ryan about the suitability of everything here in the film, it made "Not Dark Yet" one of my favorite Dylan tracks and forced me to own Time Out of Mind. "Old Man," "Watching the Wheels" and "Things Have Changed". It even has Tim Hardin, though I would swear I'd not heard the track in the album.

3) The Big Lebowski - You had me from "The Man In Me", though you sealed the deal with the best mariachi version of "Hotel California" money can buy. And who could forget that Kenny Rogers was once a pop star for use in Busby Berkeley sequences involving bowling -- now I need to own "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. As for the rest of the album...yeah, well, this is why this list is bad for me.

4) American Wedding - Yawn. Now my pop sensibilities come out, and I'm clearly a teenage girl. Really the soundtrack gets credit for sparing me the need of owning another Blue October album by including "Calling You", which is the only tolerable Blue October song I've ever found, including "Swing Swing", having "Forget Everything" from A New Found Glory, and above all a cover much beloved by me of the Van Morrison song "Into the Mystic" by the Wallflowers. As much as I'd like to hate both "Times Like These" and "Anthem", I suck and cannot pull it off. "Give Up the Grudge" even evokes happy memories of playing Madden whatever year that was. Yes, I still like the Wallflowers. Yes, I'm the guy who keeps them in the charts at #198. Yes, I do apologize. And yes, this slot could just as easily have gone to Can't Hardly Wait, which is essentially the same catalog of pop sensibilities or American Pie, which only gets consideration because it has "Good Morning Baby" from Dan Wilson and Bic Runga.

5) Stranger Than Fiction - I know, I know, I ought to learn my own lesson that the lessons of history must be taught before something can fall into a top 5, but frankly, this is the level of desperation I've reached. The Spoon tracks are great, "The Book I Write" is one of my current favorite songs by any artist and is directly responsible for my purchase of Ga Ga Ga Ga, which is well worth owning. "Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric is another favorite, without the soundtrack, I'd never have discovered it. "Going Missing" is pop magic. Well done, guy who mistakenly was nominated for an awful superficial dreckfest (Finding Neverland), but got snubbed for a great film (Stranger Than Fiction). The soundtrack is woefully uneven, but its high points are worth it.

Honorable mention goes to Rushmore, which is sufficiently praised by others and unowned by me (much like #2 and #3 on this list). Others? Reservoir Dogs, Permanent Midnight, Reality Bites, and Snakes on a Plane -- and now I've listed every film soundtrack I own. I now hang my head in shame.

Tory's Top 5:

1) Black Snake Moan - I never listened to blues music before I heard this album, but it has turned me onto it completely. The Black Keys are a band that must be heard, and hearing Sam Jackson sing "motherfucker" is a completely different experience than him just plainly saying it.

2) Hustle n Flow - As good as people think Tarantino or Crowe are at making soundtracks, they are quickly being eclipsed by Craig Brewer who has the sense to string together genres perfectly. Simply the best collection of rap, not to mention the amazing original songs from the movie. Craig Brewer earns the number one and two spots.

3) Rushmore - A great soundtrack. It has my favorite songs by the Who and Cat Stevens on it.

4) The Wedding Singer - The best collection of 80s music.

5) Clerks - This is the movie that made me want to make movies. It's soundtrack has a few kinks in it, but overall it has amazing songs - so much so that he spent 25k of his 26k budget on it.

Top 5 Current Talk Show Hosts

Current because I didn't feel like doing all-time. (Carson? Dick Cavett? etc.)

Ryan's Top 5:

1. Conan O'Brien - The most consistently funny talk show that I've ever seen. He doesn't have off-nights like Letterman, Jon Stewart, and certainly Jay Leno (who doesn't have on-nights). Great and original recurring characters (see: Masturbating Bear, PimpBots). He has more than one funny sketch a night, whereas SNL can go entire seasons without funny sketches.

2. Stephen Colbert - I decided after seeing about two episodes of The Colbert Report that it was better than The Daily Show, and hey, I was right. Bring out the dead to me board.

3. David Letterman - Letterman is to funny as Leno is to boring. Letterman's show is worth watching, and he's good with guests.

4. Jon Stewart - The Daily Show is really not as good as it used to be, but it's still a lot better than most shows on television.

5. Carson Daly - Just kidding. The real number five is...

5. Graham Norton - His show is on BBC America so I don't get to see it all too often. It is, however, really funny.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Stephen Colbert - Probably tied with Conan as the funniest talk show host on air today. I give him the slight edge because of his uncanny ability to stay in character and not laugh at himself. If you want a real treat, watch him alongside Amy Sedaris in "Strangers With Candy," which regularly had me in stitches.

2. Conan O'Brien - Two words - Walker Lever. The skits and characters on Late Night are hit or miss, but if they miss, you can always count on Conan wallowing in self-pity, citing the horrible Late Night budget and getting laughs that way. I agree that SNL is rarely funny anymore, but the last really good episode I remember was the one hosted by Conan.

3. David Letterman - Give me Letterman over Leno any night. He especially deserves a spot in the Top 5 having trademarked his own nightly Top 10. Tends to miss on a few jokes, but pretty funny otherwise, and I agree that he's good with his guests.

4. Jonathan Ross - That's right, I've never seen his talk show, but I imagine that, given his performance in the final episode of "Extras," he's one of the best personalities on British television. I can't say for sure, though.

5. Jon Stewart - Really, I don't watch The Daily Show anymore. It seemed dead to me after I discovered the Colbert Report. Nonetheless, I'm giving props to Stewart here due to his appearance on CNN's "Crossfire" a while back, and the tireless effort he's put forth in the past to ensure that we don't take politics and the media seriously.

I guess I could consider more serious talk show hosts such as Larry King... but seriously, why put forth the effort and perhaps revise my list?

Tim's Top 5:
This is absurdly hard given the amount of television I watch.

1) Stephen Colbert - I don't think there's anything even remotely close to this good on television. The Daily Show is just not as funny as it once was and really does just seem like Jon Stewart's personal agenda. Stephen Colbert is so astoundingly hilarious that I wish they'd release his show on DVD, because I would gladly watch reruns of a show based on current events years in the future.

2) Conan O'Brien - If I had to be any celebrity, there's little to no doubt that I'd choose to be Conan O'Brien. He's funny and he's at his funniest when the material isn't funny at all.

3) Keith Olbermann - Wikipedia lists Countdown as a "talk show", and everytime I've watched Countdown, it's been intriguing. Keith Olbermann is one of the smartest people on TV, and it comes across well, even if he does get in too many bouts with O'Reilly, lending credence to his idiocy.

4) Jon Stewart - Ok, I really do think the Daily Show is lame anymore, but I have already pretty much run out of shows I'll ever watch.

5) Jay Leno - Because he's going to stop doing the Tonight Show and turn it over to Conan O'Brien, I feel obligated to give him credit. Headlines are funny. The rest of the Tonight Show sucks and Jay Leno's not funny. But Letterman's no better.

Tory's Top 5:

1) Conan - Going on fourteen years and still as funny as ever. Not to mention he wrote for SNL and Simpsons. Right?

2) Stephen Colbert - He is very funny.

3) Henry Rollins - A hilarious man with an excellent taste in movies. His show is on IFC if you ever attempt to watch it. I think it only has one episode per month.

4) Letterman - I suppose it's just from watching him so much when I was young.

5) Charlie Rose - I never really watch his show, but I always want to watch his show. It's good when it's on a special edition DVD.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Top 5 Debut Albums...

Tim's Top 5:
Sure, eventually your favorite band figured it out, but what about their first album? We'll count solo debuts, so Ryan can slot Rockin' The Suburbs in his list right at the outset. We're also talking about the first album, so R.E.M.'s debut is Murmur, not Chronic Town.

1) Big Star - #1 Record - It's almost disingenuous to call this a fantastic debut album, because it constitutes such a high percentage of their work and Alex Chilton was a grizzled veteran of The Box Tops before he joined up with Bell, Hummel, and Stephens for this, but it remains one of my all-time top five albums. The India Song is bad. Downright bad. Everything else on this album is an absolute essential. I couldn't possibly listen to this album enough.

2) The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols - There's something about punk that makes the first album the best, whether it's the Ramones, the Dead Kennedys or here, The Sex Pistols only real album (I refuse to recognize the disastrous Great Rock n' Roll Swindle, which might be the most aptly titled album I own. Pretty Vacant is a top 100 track, Holidays in the Sun, God Save the Queen, Anarchy in the UK, No Feelings, all of the songs are so good as to almost rid them of their punk sensibility. The fact is, anger isn't supposed to sound this good.

3) The Black Crowes - Shake Your Moneymaker - A great album. Period.

4) Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand - Darts of Pleasure, Michael, and 40' are awesome. I didn't mention those before.

5) The Killers - Hot Fuss - It's easy to dismiss this as just an over-produced album that spawned a couple of hits, but its best stuff barely even got noticed until Sam's Town was on the horizon and Brandon Flowers had his bigger than Jesus moment. Mr. Brightside is the kind of endorphin releaser that this world needed to reintroduce synthesizers into the collective consciousness, Jenny Was a Friend of Mine is the best police interrogation set to music, and All These Things I've Done is a sprawling orchestra of what's left of the shambles of rock music. Change Your Mind and On Top beat almost anything that any other active band's ever done, and they're barely even worth mentioning. It needs time to age before I christen it a masterpiece, but it's getting there.

*I'm so tired of almost mentioning this album that I'm just mentioning it...6) Kanye West - The College Dropout - "If this is your first time hearing this, you are about to experience something so cold, man." Kanye is an egomaniac whose second album was disappointing, but the debut was top-notch when it took the time to break away from guest appearance after guest appearance. "We Don't Care" is one of my favorite songs period, regardless of genre, and the rest of the album is almost as good. Whether you think Bush cares about black people or not, this is a rap album that is literary, authentic, and identifiable. The fact is, college students can see where he's coming from a lot more than Dr. Dre on The Chronic. And what's more, his live performance was just as good.

Others that warrant mention: Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, The Clash - The Clash, R.E.M. - Murmur, Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters

Dan's Top 5:

1. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin: "Good Times Bad Times," "Dazed and Confused," "Your Time is Gonna Come," "How Many More Times"... Not only is every song good, but the album was not that of a one hit wonder, but rather that of a band with true staying power.

2. Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album): Easily the best this band ever achieved, with trace remains of greatness on their follow-up, Pinkerton (see "El Scorcho," "The Good Life".) After hailing this as one of the best ever 90's albums, there's no way I can exclude it here.

3. The Killers - Hot Fuss: Singlehandedly made people remember what was cool about music before it sucked. Not really a bad song on here, and if you disagree, just look at how bad Sam's Town was. I fear this band is destined for the "One Hit Wonder" bin, but damn, this was a great album.

4. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere: Pretty much hip hop that is so good it has to be classified as alternative. The downside is that it's much too short, and some songs are hit and miss. We need more "Boogie Monster" and "Transformer," less "Online."

5. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike: I only rank this so low because the band have yet to release a second album, making me a bit uncertain as to their future. Anyway, the most original band in the modern era, which is ironic, since half of their music is based on samples.

(Very Honorable mentions: Boston - Boston, Duran Duran - Duran Duran, Keane - Hopes and Fears, Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn.)

Ryan's Top 5:

Let me preface my list with, I hope I make sense, I've had 3 hours of sleep in the last two days and I've been up for 23 hours now.

1. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? - I wouldn't put this at the top of my personal favorites, but it's impossible to top the level of rocking in this album: Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Are You Experienced?, Hey Joe, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Fire. It's like they started out with a Best Of.

2. John Lennon - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - Not his best solo album, but this one really set him apart from The Beatles--in very specific terms in the song "God": "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." This one really set the tone for his ensuing solo career which, I'll admit, I have a predilection for. John Lennon was pretty good at music. Notable songs (they're all good): God, Working Class Hero, Mother, Love, Look At Me.

3. Weezer - Weezer (blue) - For all the reasons listed in this entry by others, in previous entries by myself and others, etc. It's just a really fucking good album from start to finish.

4. Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five - After Whatever and Ever Amen, this is their best album--and it actually comes close to WAEA. Notable songs: Jackson Cannery, Alice Childress, Boxing, Philosophy, Underground (the live version not on this album is superior. It's also superior live).

5. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere - As Jack Black would say, "Kind of a new one..." that I've slipped in with some old safe ones and Ben Folds. It was either this or The Clash for me--I like The Clash more, obviously, but I like their later stuff more than this specific album. So I have to go with GB, who I really think have done something special with this debut.

Honorable mentions: The Clash - The Clash, Coldplay - Parachutes, Simon and Garfunkel - Wednesday Morning, 3am, Ben Folds - Rockin' the Suburbs, Postal Service - Give Up, OKGo - OKGo, Beach Boys - Surfin' Safari (you know, kind of).

Tory's Top 5:

1) Damien Rice - O - Before this album he was in the band I believe called Juniper or Juniper Tree or something. A band in which he didn't sing. Once he left and began singing he threw everything he had at this little ten song album. Transcendent. There are no notable songs as I would consider every song brilliant.

2) Tenacious D - Tenacious D - Once again, everything I've said about this album before. All notable songs.

3) Bright Eyes - A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-97 - Not every song on here is a definite keeper, however it is definitely not a failure and it shows the roots of his ingenious writing and raspy/whiny singing. Notable songs: Saturday as Usual, A Celebration Upon Completion.

4) Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash - One of the greatest musicians of all time. He proves he never had a down note in his whole career beginning with this debut album that features such notable songs as Cry, Cry, Cry, Folsom Prison Blues and Walk the Line.

5) Belle and Sebastian - Tigermilk - Excellent. They are as good now as they ever were, and this album is proof. Notable Songs: State that I am in and Baby Girl.