Nothing can create a sense memory quite like a song. "Ignition" comes on at a party and you're suddenly in eighth grade again, awkwardly grinding (eww) at your first middle school dance. Or you hear "Clocks," and find yourself instantly swept back to a stuffy attic bedroom, lying on the rug at your friend's house while rain rattles the window, the two of you listening to A Rush of Blood to the Head all the way through. And now, we will forever after think of the year 2012 when we hear these albums.
The best albums of the year take us back to sweeping moments of cinema, the best kind of sleepless nights and summer bonfire beach parties. Here are the top albums of the year, and why the Hollywood.com staff loved them. (Oh yeah, and there are some miserable ones, too — just because you have a record deal doesn't mean you're, like, an actual musician.)
Port of Morrow, The Shins
The Garden State soundtrack was ingrained in my head for years, and so naturally The Shins were too. Their new album delivers the same sort of emotional yet uplifting beats that make it easy to keep on repeat for hours. —Anna Brand
Le Voyage Dans le Lune, Air
French electronica duo Air have spent over a decade composing grungy soundscapes and alt rock songs with influences from every branch of the music world. In their 2012 album, the band took on a task that was both radical and fitting: re-scoring Georges Méliès' 1902 silent sci-fi film A Trip to the Moon. Air flexes every muscle with Le voyage dans la lune, utilizing an array of instruments and otherworldly noises to convert the 20th century's depictions of the future into sound while making the tracks completely listenable to the modern ear. You won't hear a riskier album this year. —Matt Patches
End of Daze EP, Dum Dum Girls
Technically, End of Daze doesn’t quite qualify as an album, but this EP has enjoyed more plays on my Spotify account than any album from 2012. Its five songs exquisitely capture the sound every Indie pop band in the business is striving to create right now. It’s pure and honest, full of haunting melodies and danceable guitar pop. So yeah, it’s pretty perfect. —Kelsea Stahler
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Music from the Motion Picture), Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin
You can chalk the magic of Beasts of the Southern Wild up to the imagination of writer/director Benh Zeitlin and the immaculate performances of Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry, but another major component in the equation is the powerful, mystifying score. The music helped to paint such a vivid, enchanting picture in the tear-jerking movie. Revisiting the album long after your doubtlessly emotional theatrical experience will transplant you right back into your misty-eyed state of mind. No movie was more powerful in 2012, and the soundtrack that made that possible is easily the most enchanting music you can use to backdrop your own (admittedly less moving) day-to-day. —Michael Arbeiter
Rage Valley, Knife Party
When Australian/British drum-and-bass band Pendulum announced that they were parting ways in June of this year, fans all over the world were in mourning. But right on the heels of this sad news came the announcement that members Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen were instead going to focus on their side project, electro-house/dubstep duo Knife Party (whose second EP had been released May 27), and fans were no longer worried — mostly because Rage Valley was so flippin’ awesome. If Pendulum had to end to make way for more Knife Party amazing-ness, we were all fine with that! —Sydney Bucksbaum
The Lumineers, The Lumineers
While propelled by that oh-so-catchy and sing-a-long friendly "Ho Hey," don't pawn The Lumineers off as a one-hit wonder. Their self-titled debut album is as satisfying musically as it is lyrically. While they may not be as arena-ready as their folksy counterparts Mumford & Sons (though the track "Big Parade" begs to be sung at the top of your lungs with thousands of other fans) they are a force to be reckoned with. Songs like "Submarines" and "Dead Sea" will conjure up comparisons to The Beatles. A rock-solid debut from a band that is just getting started. —Aly Semigran
Reign of Terror, Sleigh Bells
The Brooklyn noise pop duo of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitar player Derek Miller shattered expectations — and eardrums — with their 2010 debut, Treats. If that album sounded like girl-group sunshine filtered through gloomy heavy metal, their follow-up, Reign of Terror, is just the opposite: shred-eriffic guitar jams and stomp-clap percussion in service of taut, earwormy pop. "End of the Line" features stream-of-consciousness lyrics that could be plucked straight out of the diary of a depressed teenage girl, while "Born to Lose" and "Comeback Kid" sound like the sonic love-children of The Shangri-Las and Nirvana. Please shred responsibly. —Christian Blauvelt
Blown Away, Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood never fails to impress, and Blown Away is the next step in the evolution of Underwood as an artist. With this album, she explores more pressing emotions while also producing quality songs that have fun, catchy tunes. If you listen to "Good Girl" and the single "Blown Away," you will totally understand. —Lindsey DiMattina
The Lion's Roar, First Aid Kit
If you're not careful, this Swedish duo made up of sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg could sound like background music. Their lilt never goes to full volume and their subtle folk jingles never create the roar of dance hits or stadium rock. But when you listen close, that is when the magic happens. On a dozen moody tracks that sound like they were made in the American mountains, these two young ladies create textured melodies and velvety harmonies that bely their young age and their national origin. No one will mistake them for background again. —Brian Moylan
The Midsummer Station, Owl City
Everything about this album — as with every Owl City album — just puts me at ease. His melodies are lightheartedly catchy and the lyrics are intriguingly fun. —Leanne Aguilera
Out of the Game, Rufus Wainwright
If the glamorous soul of my being had a soundtrack, it would be Rufus Wainwright. But Rufus Wainwright produced by Mark Ronson? Well now we have the breezy, 70s-feeling music of my fall. The album is full of Wainwright's usual quirks: grandiose arrangements, lyrical quips and dips, but it's held together by this gritty, golden tone that Ronson put together. It's a different beast entirely—and a very, very good one at that. —Alicia Lutes
Bloom, Beach House
Victoria LeGrand and Alex Scally, the Baltimore duo collectively known as Beach House, know a thing or two about making good music. The band's latest album, Bloom, is a dreamy mix of psychedelic vocals and soothing melodies that can only be described as enchanting. With each of its mesmerizing singles, including such standouts as "Myth," "The Hours," and "Lazuli," Bloom succeeds in transporting you to another time and place — a time and place that lacks Earth's gravitational pull. At risk of sounding like a total hippie, listening to Bloom makes you feel like you're floating. —Abbey Stone
Coexist, The xx
Try to find a more ambitious, creative, haunting, and occasionally heartbreaking album from the year of our destruction, 2012. The minimalist background music combined with the achingly beautiful vocals show that less really can be more, and the themes of isolation and intimacy are basically universally relatable — unless you're always happy, in which case you suck. —Shaunna Murphy
The Worst of 2012
Believe, Justin Bieber
While Believe's first single, "Boyfriend," was surprisingly infectious — and hinted that Bieber may have more Timberlake potential than we initially thought — the rest of the album was pretty womp-womp. Mushy inspirational ballads, the worst offender being the album's title track, weigh down Bieber's usual pop effervescence, and the heavy synth and autotune permeating his more club-friendly tracks are something only a Belieber could love.
California 37, Train
Train's music has always been nonsensical mainstream dreck, but the band really hit new lows with this year's California 37. The easy-listening pop easily fades into the background of car commercials and doctor's office waiting rooms alike, which may explain why no one is actually listening to what they're singing about. In the ubiquitous radio hit "Drive By," lead singer Pat Monahan declares he's "Just a shy guy looking for a two ply Hefty bag to hold my love" (he wants to put his love for you in the garbage?) and in "50 Ways To Say Goodbye," rather than come to terms with his breakup, finds a variety of ways to kill off his girlfriend, including "She was caught in a mudslide/ Eaten by a lion/ Got run over by a crappy purple Scion." (How romantic!) But the real horror comes in the form of "You Can Finally Meet My Mom" when, as Funny or Die gloriously pointed out, he actually can't wait for his girlfriend to die, so she can meet his dead mother in Heaven. I would suggest we all start listening a little closer to Train songs, but then we'd all have keep listening to Train songs.
5 (Murder by Numbers), 50 Cent
If your idea of music is a menagerie of gutteral groans and undue threats directed toward an absent second party, set within an atmosphere of incessant percussive clanging, then have we got an album for you: 50 Cent's 5 (Murder by Numbers) delivers all the constituents of a lingering headache, complete with uncessarily violent overtones!
Kiss, Carly Rae Jepsen
After the viral success of "Call Me Maybe," Ms. Jepsen's first single to reach America, we had high hopes for this Canadian pop princess. Unfortunately, no other songs on Jepsen's second studio album come anywhere near replicating the magic of "Call Me Maybe," and the album as a whole is too sugary sweet to leave you with anything other than a sugar hangover.
Fortune, Chris Brown
Chris Brown is the worst and everything he does is the worst.
[Photo Credit: WENN (4)]
Staff Picks: The 14 Best Songs of 2012 (And 5 We'd Like to Forget)
Staff Picks: The 10 Best Books of 2012 (And 5 That Pretty Much Sucked)
2012: Remembering the Year that Was in Pop Culture Via Our Favorite Stories
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Television's depiction of marriage has changed significantly since The Dick Van Dyke Show's Rob and Laura Petrie ruled the small screen. Since you're reading this article, I'll assume your life is as encompassed by television as mine is, so I won't bother explaining what they were like. But in brief, they got along swimmingly. However, today's TV shows don't exactly afford the same luxuries to their wedded couples. Perhaps it's allegorical. Maybe it's a heightened sophistication of art. It could be that we're all just really bitter now. But TV marriages are a lot rockier these days. As such, we've got a few shining (embittered) examples.
The Couple in Question: Walt & Skylar
Relationship Status: Separated
What Went Wrong: I may be just grasping at straws here, but I'd say it was the meth. Beyond that, though, Walter White's Achilles heel is his pride. It's what it's what ruined his friendship with his college roommate Elliot; it's what ate him from the inside out when he had to accept a job at a car wash in order to support his family financially; and it's what kept him from telling anyone about his disease or from pursuing treatment. Further than that, it's what is getting him into a deeper hole with his newest employer. But back to his marriage: Walt seems to place his own self-image above even his love for his family. He refused to accept handouts from in-laws Marie and Hank when they would have been a far saner choice to dealing meth, but he needed to be the man. This has kept him at a distance from Skylar since before the events of the series began. However, it was ultimately his involvement in the drug trade (not to mention his countless lies about it) that broke up his marriage. Although, I'd be remiss if I didn't say how much I truly, adamantly and whole-heartedly hate Skylar.
The Couple in Question: Hank and Marie
Relationship Status: Strained
What Is Going Wrong: Ever since Hank was shot (you can also chalk that one up to Walt), things have turned sour in regard to his relationship with Marie. The recuperating Hank is extremely impatient with his wife's attentive nature, her inability to refer to his prized minerals as such ("Ordering another rock?"), and her zealous encouragement. Marie, at last, seems to be allowing Hank to break her—the final moments of "Thirty-Eight Snub," which aired this past Sunday, showed that her patience with the growling, unkind man her husband has been this season is slipping. I can't predict just yet that their marriage will necessarily face any major catastrophes...but it's not as if Vince Gilligan offers us much in the vein of "light drama."
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Couple in Question: Larry & Cheryl
Relationship Status: Divorced
What Went Wrong: Cheryl David played the impossibly patient Job figure to her husband's endless antics. Devoted boundlessly to their marriage, she even agreed to let Larry have an affair on their tenth wedding anniversary in order to convince him to marry her. So why, after over fifteen years, does their marriage fail? Simply, the same reason it’s difficult to watch more than two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in one sitting. From a distance, and in small doses, Larry David is a phenomenon of entertainment. He could even be described as poignant and philosophic. But being married to this individual (and I’m only talking about the character—I reserve none of these presumptions about the man himself, whom I’ve heard is actually quite the gentleman) for fifteen-plus years, as Cheryl was, would be akin to eating sandpaper with every meal.
The Couple in Question: Celia & Dean
Relationship Status: Loveless
What Went Wrong: What went right? It is tradition in comedy to have a secondary married couple that can never stop bickering: Fred and Ethyl Mertz (I Love Lucy), Gladys and Abner Kravitz (Green Acres), Stanley and Helen Roper (Three's Company), Frank and Marie Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond); something common among all of these pairs is that it is made evident that, despite their hostility, they truly do love one another. Celia and Dean, it seems, do not. They're vindictive, manipulative, spiteful, unfaithful... The reasons they got married in the first place are hardly decipherable, beyond the assumption of entirely superficial reasons: presumably, Celia married Dean for the financial luxury, and Dean married Celia for the sexual luxury.
The Walking Dead
The Couple in Question: Rick & Lori
Relationship Status: In trouble (although Rick may not know it yet)
What Is Going Wrong: Although the Grimes' marriage is not over yet (and doesn't necessarily promise to ever be), the trouble began when Lori assumed Rick was dead. She fell into the arms of Rick's best friend Shane for comfort, and the two became romantically entangled. Once Rick shows up, however, Lori cut things off with Shane. But clearly, as of the Season One finale, this whole matter is far from put to bed. Shane is not okay with this new situation, and it's clear that Lori might not be entirely happy with it either.
The Couple in Question: Louie & Louie's unseen ex-wife
Relationship Status: Divorced
What Went Wrong: It is never made clear; so little do we know about Louie's life that we cannot be sure whether his insuperably negative attitude contributed to his divorce, or if it the ex inspired said bitterness. But we know that Louie is not on particularly good terms with her; we know that Louie's sister Gretchen despised her; and we know—because she told us, and him—that Louie's younger daughter prefers her.
The Big C
The Couple in Question: Cathy and Paul
Relationship Status: All patched up
What Went Wrong: After being diagnosed with cancer, Cathy went nuts. She threw Paul out of the house and started burning furniture. Paul, having no idea why his wife was acting this way, took the opportunity to cheat on her with the Rugby Slut (a former schoolmate who likes to sleep with amateur rugby players: a category into which Paul just makes it). Cathy has her own affair with an alluring-accented painter in the form of Idris Elba. Their affairs and separation don't last a second longer than Cathy's secrecy about her disease, however. Once she reveals that she has cancer, Paul immediately forgives her and vows to make up his own misdeeds to her. Since then, he has been obsessively devoted to Cathy, their marriage, and her illness. So, this is one story that actually ends happily! ...Except for the melanoma.
Parks and Recreation
The Couples in Question: Ron & Tammies
Relationship Status: Divorced, three times total (once from Tammy 1, twice from Tammy 2)
What Went Wrong: Ron Swanson has two ex-wives, which, straight from the moustachioed horse's mouth, are "both named Tammy, both bitches." Ron Swanson enjoys a "strong, salt-of-the-earth, self-possessed woman at the top of her field." One could see how this led him to fall for Tammy 2, who is nothing if not empowered. However, she's also a psychopath. She manipulates Ron even after their marriage...although, it seems as though Ron's second divorce with Tammy 2 (after a week-long, if it even reached that, explosion of passion that involved a wedding ceremony, breaking-and-entering, and a vicious affront to Ron's Swanson Pyramid of Greatness-approved haircut) might have cemented the idea in his head that she is unadulterated evil. She does, after all, work for the library. Tammy 1 is an even scarier situation: we have yet to meet her, but the mere mention that she was in the building sent the seemingly fearless sociopath Tammy 2 running for her life. So what went wrong? Ron married the devil incarnate. Three times.
The Couples in Question: Shirley, Chang, Pierce (sevenfold), and the parents of Jeff, Abed, Annie and possibly Troy
Relationship Statuses: All divorced, though Shirley and her husband have rekindled
What Went Wrong: Either Dan Harmon harbors some kind of resentment towards the institution of marriage, or this is some kind of carefully woven and ingenious interconnecting story point that will eventually encompass each of the characters (I assume the latter, as Community always impresses me beyond my wildest expectations). In any event, here are the specifics:
Shirley's ex-ex was unfaithful, so she left him. However, Christians forgive.Chang was unfaithful to his wife (with Shirley...see? Already there's interconnectivity!); the two were already having problems due to a diminished frequency of salsa dancing.Pierce is a bigoted, narcissistic buffoon (who I really hope rejoins the study group in Season 3 after an immaculately ironic coming-of-age arc).Now for the parents...Jeff's dad was a physical an emotionally abusive "two-bit conman" who ran out on the family when Jeff was still young.Abed's father "has an angry energy, but not like angry at America—just angry at [Abed's] mom for leaving him, although she did leave because he was angry, and he is angry because she's American."It's unknown what caused the divorce between Annie's parents. However, from her anecdotal interjections, one can surmise that neither one was a particularly supportive parent, and therefore they were probably both pretty crappy spouses, too.What happened with Troy's parents is ambiguous. He has never explicitly made mention of a divorce, even when Abed and Annie were sharing stories of their own parents splitting in Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas, but he has spoken about his dad having a girlfriend in the present. Tragically, this could mean that his mother has passed, but Troy does sporadically refer to his mother with a tone suggesting that she is still alive. Let's stay optimistic.
These are just scraping the surface; for better or worse, there are plenty of other examples on TV today. Let's hear what you can come up with, so we can all lament and wallow together.
For a while, I used to believe stars when they said their movie was hilarious, fantastic, bloody brilliant, the greatest thing since the last greatest thing I did, etc. But then I became jaded and cynical and realized they’re trying to build up positive word of mouth for their film. Yay awareness!
To head back to elementary school for a while, they talked the talk. But they couldn’t walk the walk.
Except when Jason Segel talks the talk, I actually think he can walk the walk. And chalk the chalk. And ad-hoc the ad-hoc? Ok, I’ll stop. He recently told EW that he think his next film, Five Year Engagement, could join the romantic comedy ranks of Annie Hall and When Harry Met Sally. At least, that’s his hope. And honestly, I believe him. Forgetting Sarah Marshall showed a redeeming pathos that his next film could build upon to create a romantic comedy classic worthy of Woody Allen and Rob Reiner.
The film’s premise sounds like it has the potential to meet those standards anyway. “(It) dissects relationships and aims to show how complicated they are over a long period of time. This is a five-year period and in that time things change and morph and the power dynamic shifts and people wane and eyes wander and you question everything” he said. That's great and all, but what’s it about exactly? “It’s about that in a funny way, I hope.” Oh, that clears it up. I’m sold. Continue you on your merry way walking the walk Mr. Segel.
Source: EW via Vulture