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Tag: Best of 2013 (1-7 of 7)

Behind the Scenes 2013: Miley Cyrus explains the origin of the singing cat at the AMAs: 'I found it on Tumblr'

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly runs down some of the best performances from all across the music world in 2013. One of the entries on that list was Miley Cyrus’ performance of “Wrecking Ball” at November’s American Music Awards, which found Cyrus singing the power ballad in front of a giant projection of a cat who “sang” along and wept diamonds during the song’s climax.

Like many of the elements of Cyrus’ visual approach, the genesis of that performance began on the Internet. “I found that cat on Tumblr,” Cyrus told EW. “I’m obsessed with cats but I have four dogs so I can’t have a cat. But I am obsessed with cats. So I found this cat and sent it to ['We Can't Stop' video director] Diane Martel, and we turned it into this little GIF. For some reason, when I saw it, I felt like it would be the saddest thing to see this cat sing ‘Wrecking Ball’ with me. I had to track down the dude who made [the original Tumblr post] who lives in Japan. I think a lot of kids knew what that cat was. They had seen that cat online before because it got passed around on Twitter.”

Once they had the basic idea down, it was time to expand. READ FULL STORY

Best and Worst 2013: The 5 best stand-up albums of the year

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Stand-up albums should be a dead concept in 2013. With all the free comedy available via podcasts, the explosion of late night talk shows, and the ever-expanding embrace of singular voices on cable (most notably on Comedy Central and IFC), it seems like there would be way too much material out there for anybody to care about the execution of a well-made album.

Yet plenty of comedians put together records this year, and many of them were excellent. Louis C.K. has a lot to do with this—though he puts more emphasis on video than audio for his specials, he has made the idea of putting together a really killer hour cool again, and lots of comics followed suit.

The albums that make up the list below are all excellent, and they all deliver on presenting each comic’s worldview using wildly different approaches to the work. All but one have podcasts and all are TV regulars, but these albums represent their most surgically sharp work and honed jokes. They’re all worth checking out (as are albums by Moshe Kasher, Mike Lawrence, and Bill Cosby, all of whom just missed the cut), no matter what style of comedy you’re most into.

1. Kumail Nanjiani, Beta Male
Nanjiani is a fantastic regular on Portlandia and co-hosts a video game-based podcast called The Indoor Kids that kills. Both of those outlets have hinted at what Nanjiani was capable of, but Beta Male is his career peak so far. A transcendent raconteur, Nanjiani manages to spin strange, surreal tales from his childhood in Pakistan into charged blasts of whimsy (the long tale about a terrifying birthday party is excellent, and his deep dive into a harrowing experience with a VCR is even better). There’s also stuff that hits closer to home, like a segment centered around Call of Duty and a priceless bit about a cat who tries to deliver him pizza. Nanjiani signed a Comedy Central deal for a show that will debut next year, and if Beta Male is any indication, he’s the network’s next big thing.

2. Jimmy Pardo, Sprezzatura
Pardo is the uncrowned King of Podcasting. READ FULL STORY

Best and Worst 2013: The six best metal albums of the year

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There’s a scene in the also-ran ’90s teen film Empire Records where one of the titular music store’s employees sorts through the CDs snatched by a just-caught shoplifter. The clerk is appalled that said juvenile criminal would only be jacking rap and metal and encourages him to listen to some jazz.

The passive suggestion in that scene is that obsession over those genres is best suited to 14-year-olds who haven’t yet grown out of their age of aggression. If that’s true, then I am undoubtedly regressing, as I spent roughly 79 percent of 2013 listening to fantastically guttural hip-hop and ultra-intense metal.

Luckily, metal’s constant shape-shifting and envelope-pushing provide a multitude of approaches and attitudes. The six albums listed below all fall under the heading of “metal,” but no two are the same. The only thing they share is a fundamental intensity that taps into something pure and primal. This year wasn’t as great a year as 2012, when stalwarts Baroness, Converge, High on Fire, and Gojira all hit remarkable peaks. But there was still plenty of shredding majesty and genuflections before darkness.

So enjoy my picks for the six (the most evil number) best metal albums of 2013. Apologies to Watain, Skeletonwitch, Kvelertak, Tombstoned, Amon Amarth, Ancient VVisdom, and Avatarium, all of whom made metal records I loved and just missed the cut for the top. Try ‘em all, and play ‘em loud.  READ FULL STORY

The five worst singles of 2013, courtesy of the Wanted, Ray J and more

It’s not as easy as you might think to find five truly god-awful songs from one year—then agree on all of them, as the EW music staff recently did. The most terrible songs not only irritate your ears, they invade your cultural space and insult your intelligence. We believe these five very much fit the bill.

1. “Accidental Racist”
Brad Paisley feat. LL Cool J
This schmaltzy loaf of country pop equates slavery’s “iron chains” with rap’s “gold chains,” and the Confederate flag with the “do-rag.” Smarmy gimmicks don’t come any stupider: READ FULL STORY

The 10 Best Country Albums of 2013

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It’s tough to say what constitutes a country album these days. 2013 was a year that saw arena-filling acts feud over pop’s influence in the genre, Nashville stars record with Norwegian pop Svengalis, and a country-rap collaboration become the longest-running No. 1 country hit of all time. Ten gallon hats and Wrangler jeans now feel out of place in a sea of trucker caps and wallet chains.

Plus, the rise of Americana, a somewhat amorphous genre that’s not considered fully folk, fully rock, or fully pop — but one that shares so many roots (and so much instrumentation) with county music — has further blurred the lines. Much of what we call “Americana” or “singer-songwriter” today falls more into the classic “country” category in storytelling and song structure than the pop-infused output of Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, or certainly Taylor Swift.

In short, the genre is something of a mess right now. It’s telling that the country format is both more popular and more criticized than it has been in decades. I spent quite a bit of time this year writing about country’s problems (the aforementioned feuds, the lazy lyrics, the lack of women on the radio) but even so, I’m happy to report that there was great music to be found. A lot of it. Music that has me hopeful for 2014. Some mainstream albums broke the mold, and more than a few shining stars from Nashville’s fringes made a major impression.

So, taking all of that into account — and taking into account that we all might have different definitions of what constitutes a country album — here are my picks for the genre’s ten best discs this year. (Spoiler alert: Luke Bryan, Tyler Farr, Justin Moore, Jake Owen, and Thomas Rhett definitely didn’t make the cut.) READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013: Best and worst lyrics of the year

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This was the year where Justin Timberlake explained (insulted?) Jessica Biel with, “It’s like you’re my mirror/ My mirror staring back at me/ I couldn’t get any bigger/ With anyone else beside of me.” It was the year Miley Cyrus walked us through giving herself an orgasm: “I feel the thirst pouring out of me/The things that I wanna try.” And who could forget that 2013 was the year where we all wondered — thanks to one infectious summertime ditty — what, exactly, rhymes with “hug me”?

Yes, this was a great year for lyrics both memorable and groan-worthy (Really, Justin Timberlake? You never thought to Google “Take Back The Night”?). Below, check out our picks for the best and the worst lyrics of 2013. (You can also read EW critic Nick Catucci’s picks for Albums of the Year.) Let’s all hope this is the last time anyone brings up “Accidental Racist.” READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013: Miley, Beyonce, Gaga, Katy, Lorde, and the pop diva showdown

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Big year for women in pop, turns out! They ruled the VMAs. They ruled the charts. They ruled the internet. They caused controversy. Real, genuine controversy: Not just like “your mom is worried” but like “Rashida Jones is worried.” They released good music and weird music and occasionally very bad music, and it all seemed to speak volumes about something. Gender. Culture. America. Women! They’re all over our Top 10 Albums and Top 10 Singles End of Year lists. But which of the great Pop Divas had the best year in 2013? Forthwith, the case For and Against each one. READ FULL STORY

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