The 2013 Jeff Malone Academy Awards

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If I were in charge of unilaterally selecting the nominees and winners for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – and let’s be honest, we all know that is eventually going to happen – then here are what and who the recognized films and filmmakers would be for this year’s ceremony (winners are in bold and ALL CAPS):

Best Picture
American Hustle
Philomena
Prisoners
12 Years a Slave
YOU’RE NEXT

Lead Actor
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Lead Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
JUDI DENCH, PHILOMENA
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
Mia Wasikowska, Stoker

Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
JAMES FRANCO, SPRING BREAKERS
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jude Law, Side Effects

Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Brie Larson, Don Jon
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
June Squibb, Nebraska
LILI TAYLOR, THE CONJURING

Animated Feature
Despicable Me 2
FROZEN
Monsters University

Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Ben Sarasin, Pain & Gain
ROGER DEAKINS, PRISONERS
Benoît Debie, Spring Breakers

Costume Design
MICHAEL WILKINSON, AMERICAN HUSTLE
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Trish Summerville, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave
Guy Speranza, The World’s End

Director
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
DAVID O. RUSSELL, AMERICAN HUSTLE
Denis Villeneuve, Prisoners
Adam Wingard, You’re Next
Edgar Wright, The World’s End

Film Editing
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
Kirk Morri, The Conjuring
DOUGLAS CRISE, SPRING BREAKERS
Paul Machliss, The World’s End

Makeup and Hairstyling
AMERICAN HUSTLE
Evil Dead
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Prisoners

Original Score
STEVEN PRICE, GRAVITY
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Mark Orton, Nebraska
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
Thomas Newman, Side Effects

Original Song
“Happy,” written by Pharrell Williams, Despicable Me 2
“Ordinary Love,” written by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“PLEASE MR. KENNEDY,” WRITTEN BY ED RUSH, GEORGE CROMARTY, T BONE BURNETT, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, JOEL & ETHAN COEN, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Production Design
The Conjuring
GRAVITY
The Great Gatsby
Her
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Sound Editing
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
GLENN FREEMANTLE, GRAVITY
Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor
Scott Martin Gershin, Pacific Rim
Smokey Cloud and Scott Weintraub, Stoker

Sound Mixing
Skip Livesay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro, Gravity
Skip Livesay, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor
Glen Gauthier and Tim Le Blanc, Pacific Rim
GLEN TREW AND JIM BOLT, STOKER

Visual Effects
GRAVITY
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Pacific Rim

Adapted Screenplay
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
STEVE COOGAN AND JEFF POPE, PHILOMENA
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terrence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

Original Screenplay
ERIC WARREN SINGER AND DAVID O. RUSSELL, AMERICAN HUSTLE
Spike Jonze, Her
Aaron Guzikowski, Prisoners
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, The World’s End
Simon Barret, You’re Next

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Best Movie Scenes of 2013

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(WARNING: SPECIFIC SPOILERS FOLLOW)

1. The Counselor – Telling the Catfish Story – The greatness of the notorious “catfish” scene is not about the prurient pleasures of watching Cameron Diaz hump a car.  It is about the bizarre joy of hearing Javier Bardem tell this story.  He is absolutely stunned.  He can’t believe that this really happened, nor does he understand why it would happen.  The whole inexplicableness of it all is thrilling.
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2. Stoker – Shower masturbation – It seemed like just another working through stress while cleaning oneself scene, but then it was revealed what was really going on…
Mia Wasikowska in Park Chan-wook's Stoker
3. Prisoners – Driving to the hospital – The tension nearly caused me to pass out.

4. The Wolf of Wall St. – Lemmon Quaaludes – Leonardo DiCaprio debuted his comedy skills in a bravura display of physicality.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis – “Please Mr. Kennedy” – Endearing innocuousness; also Adam Driver pushing his unique vocalization to its fullest potential.

6. Captain Phillips – Shock – A dramatization of the aftermath of trauma unlike just about anything that has ever been filmed.

7. Spring Breakers – “Everytime” – It wasn’t until Spring Breakers that I realized how beautiful this song is.  And of course that’s the scary part.

8. Despicable Me 2 – “I Swear” – Can we have the minions cover every 90’s one-hit wonder boy band?  Or would the charm eventually wear off?

9. The World’s End – Bathroom fight – When a beheading leaves behind blue ink on a toilet, you know you’re in for a treat.

10. 12 Years a Slave – Hanging – An ugly moment grotesquely dragged out over time representing the precarious balance of Solomon Northup’s life.
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Best Films of 2013

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(WARNING: GENERAL SPOILERS FOLLOW)
You're Next Alamo Drafthouse
1. You’re Next
– If you like The Strangers, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like your home-invasion movies a little more self-aware like Funny Games, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like your home-invasion movies violently slapsticky like Home Alone, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like the criminals in a crime movie to have a plan that is ultimately their undoing like in Double Indemnity, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like your movie criminals to have bleakly witty banter as in a Coen brothers movie, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like John Carpenter films primarily for their music, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like Sharni Vinson’s physicality in Step Up 3D but wish her acting were also up to that level, then you’ll like You’re Next.  If you like all of this, chances are You’re Next is at number 1.
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2. 12 Years a Slave – Maybe it’s because I’ve become desensitized, or maybe it was due to my high pain tolerance, but I did not find 12 Years a Slave to be the torturous viewing experience that many described it as.  True, 12 Years was not shy about showing the most destructive elements of human bondage, but I had already accepted the historical truth of this ugliness.  But accepting it and confronting it are two different things.  Steve McQueen took full advantage of the visual nature of this medium, creating indelible images – asking the audience to really look at what it is when the enslaved are completely beaten down.  The visuals are put to profound effect also in the uniquely expressive eyes of Chiwetel Ejiofor.  As Solomon Northup, in the final scene, his face is total wariness, indicating a change similar to that of the hero’s journey.  After the decade-plus stolen from him, he is aware of not only how unnatural it was for him to be enslaved, but how equally true that it is for anyone who has ever been enslaved.
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3. American Hustle – For the third time in four years, a David O. Russell film is third on my list.  And once again, Russell offers a humanistic perspective on a subject that could easily display the ugliness of people.  No character is judged in this morass of scams and dirty dealing.  Everyone has something to offer the world, no matter what side of the law they are operating on.  But what really sells American Hustle is what seemed at first to be its most superficial appeal: the relentlessly 70’s fashion choices of several of the main characters seem patently wrong, but they commit to them so thoroughly, fashioning themselves into whatever they want to be.  Similarly, Russell goes crazy with his handheld camera moves, and foggy lenses, and surplus of whispered dialogue, and whatever other filmmaking techniques he can come up with, making Hustle the most vibrant cinematic experience of the year.
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4. Philomena – It’s your classic young/old, male/female, atheist/believer odd couple road trip movie, but you had better believe that with Steve Coogan and Judi Dench in these roles, the characterization is going to be a lot more nuanced than that.  A story with a clear end goal set up right from the start is always setting itself up to be disappointing.  Philomena’s reunion with her son almost definitely could never have lived up to expectations.  So it was brilliant that the story focused on discovering his life after knowing that he was already dead.  Ultimately, Philomena Lee’s tenacity and faith in the goodness of others despite all those who stood in her way make her a model of Catholic morality.
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5. Prisoners – One of my friends who I saw Prisoners with figured out who the kidnapper was as soon as that character was introduced.  This did not produce a sense of inadequacy in me at not also being able to figure it out right away.  I wasn’t even trying to figure out the mystery!  Well, that’s stretching the truth a bit.  It was not until after it was over and I had time to think about it (and Prisoners has stuck in my brain more than any other movie of 2013) that I fully realized that figuring out the mystery was not a big deal.  But I could still tell while watching that there was plenty besides the case – or just figuring out the case – that needed to be paid attention to.  The whole milieu was just unsettling enough to set every character at least a little bit on edge – snakes crawling out of crates, the circle maze serving red herring, and the cast of people that were only tangentially related to the disappearance of the two little girls.  Everyone was imprisoned by the illusion of a safe life being destroyed, and that did not change once the case was solved and the girls were rescued, and I think that is why this story really sticks with you – even when good wins out, you can’t quite shake what disturbs you.
World-End
6. The World’s End – It’s becoming clear to me that the part of my soul that makes me love Community so much is the same part that makes me so receptive to the shared filmography of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost.  Like that show, the genre pastiches of the Cornetto Trilogy may seem like silly larks, but they are actually the means of really digging into the emotional truth of its characters.  Gary King finds a way out of his rock bottom as the world goes through an apocalypse.  In rising up as a hero, he makes a surprising, and surprisingly profound, case for personal agency: life perfected from without is worse than one screwed up from within.  Also, the action is well-staged, and the gags are hilarious.
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7. Blue is the Warmest Color – The Jeff Malone record for most hunger-inducing movie of all time was set in 2013 by Blue is the Warmest Color.  If you haven’t seen it, you probably think I mean hungry for sex, and that was the case to a certain extent.  The long lovemaking scenes were indeed memorable in their passionate matter-of-factness.  But if you have seen it, you know that what I am really talking about is pasta.  There was a lot of spaghetti, and I was unfortunately nowhere near a bot of boiling water while watching.  With all that in mind, the story of Adele reminded me to really bite down on the pleasures in life and make them last.
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8. Captain Phillips – For the most part, the narrative structure of Captain Phillips is rather mundane for such a high-stakes situation.  The story beats unfold with a matter-of-fact succinctness: the pirates targeted the boat.  Captain Phillips almost got rid of them.  The pirates got onto the boat.  They kidnapped Captain Phillips.  They headed back to the shore.  The Navy started following them.  A deal was worked out.  Then this happened.  Then that happened.  Then something else happened.  The point is made that even the most stressful scenarios in life simply happen as they happen.  Then the ending, which serves no necessary narrative purpose, breaks up that simplicity, and it is devastating, delivering the full weight of the ordeal of this film.
nebraska1
9. Nebraska – Woody Grant is not ready to go quietly, nor will he give up on a dream of success in which everyone can look at him and go, “Wow, that guy made it.”  This despite looking he has been worn down by life more than most.  Maybe there was a moment that Woody did not really believe that he won a million dollars, or at least considered the possibility.  But he so wanted some great big tangible, positive development to be true that any reasonable argument to the contrary never had any chance.  The point is, he wanted a win.  In that sense, Nebraska is a sort of unassuming buddy movie, in which Woody’s son David is the one most able to understand what his dad really wants and the one most willing to believe that he is worth indulging.
frozen
10. FrozenFrozen really sneaks up you in revealing how awesome it is.  This may be the most socially progressive movie Disney has ever made, which is no mean feat for a company that has often been associated with promoting antiquated gender roles.  Frozen subverts the typical Disney style by first pretending like it is going to plow headlong into that old-school style.  One of the princesses is all set to marry a man on the day she meets him, and then … she is firmly told what a fool she is being.  Ultimately, she ends up with a much better man for her, but also – that isn’t the point.  Characters in Frozen are free to love, but love doesn’t exclusively define any of them, and it also makes clear to say that whatever you go on to do in your own life, you ought to remain cool with the family that you began your life with.  And it also helps that some great singing voices belong to Idina Menzel (which a lot of people already knew) and Kristen Bell (which not enough people already knew).

Best Performance of the Year:
James Franco, Spring Breakers

And the Rest of the Best Performances of the Year, in alphabetical order:
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Daniel Brühl, Rush
Steve Coogan, Philomena
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Sharlto Copley, Oldboy
Judi Dench, Philomena
Robert De Niro, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Chris Hemsworth, Rush
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Hugh Jackman, Prisoners
Brie Larson, Don Jon and Short Term 12
Jude Law, Side Effects
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Matthew McConaughey, Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street (and presumably Dallas Buyers Club)
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Simon Pegg, The World’s End
June Squibb, Nebraska
Lily Taylor, The Conjuring
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Sharni Vinson, You’re Next
Mia Wasikowska, Stoker
Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Best Music Videos of 2013

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1. Pharrell – “Happy” [Creative Director: Woodkid] – The full video for “Happy” is a day-long experience that plays on a loop on 24hoursofhappy.com.  I haven’t watched every last minute of the 24 hours, but I am impressed by it nonetheless.  I have seen the four-minute edited version, and it is pretty cool, too.  A menagerie of people dance however they want to dance as they walk through streets and hallways, gladly taking heed of the commands in Pharrell’s lyrics.  Everyone indeed looks happy.  Rarely has such an earnest effort calling for positivity been successful on such a gargantuan scale.

2. Haim – “The Wire” [Director: Jonathan Lia] – The music video with the best short narrative of the year is “The Wire,” in which the Haim sisters break up with some guys, but remain awesome.  Also awesome, hilariously so: Jorma Taccone’s cry-face.

3. Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors” [Director: Floria Sigismondi] – JT’s tribute to his grandparents is a tearjerking testament to a love that decades later remains as strong as it was the day it began.

4. Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop” [Director: Diane Martel] – A year in which a Miley Cyrus video is reminiscent of Zardoz (re: talking, floating heads) is a pretty good year.

5. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege” [Director: Megaforce] – Slut shaming: the music video.  The sex is thrilling, but in this crazy mixed-up world, it’s still too much for some people to handle.

6. Bat for Lashes – “Lilies” [Director: Peter Sluszka] – “Lilies” captures the magic of the musical performances from The Muppet Show, specifically the ones in which the musical guest was accompanied by the more monstrous puppets.  Natasha Khan is equal parts thrilled and freaked out by the imposing, yet fascinating creatures on this spacey seascape.

7. A-Trak & Tommy Trash – “Tuna Melt” [Director: Ryan Staake] – There have been other Rube Goldberg-style music videos, but no others that ultimately merely opened a door to a closet in which a sandwich is on a plate.

8. Tegan and Sara – “Closer” [Director: Issac Rentz] – The Quin twins have the most enthusiastic karaoke party ever, but what really sells this clip is the casual tossing aside of the microphone at the end.

9. Disclosure – “When a Fire Starts to Burn” [Director: Bo Mirosseni] – The “When a Fire Starts to Burn” clip appears to be one of those religious revival meetings in which people become so possessed by the spirit that their bodies start shaking and their minds get lost.  But what’s being preached here is the possession itself: let yourself be overcome by the sensation of being overcome.

10. Avicii – “You Make Me” [Director: Sebastian Ringler] – Is everyone finally ready to admit how awesome roller skating rinks are?  Or at least how awesome roller skating love stories are?

The Best Albums of 2013 That I Listened To

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Random_Access_Memories
1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories – The last days of disco are no longer the end, as the duo that foresaw the future a decade before EDM took over the musical mainstream looked to the past to stay ahead of the game.  Despite hiding behind the robot masks, Daft Punk have always been about finding the humanity in an increasingly digitized world.  RAM served as a manifesto about how the sensational wonders of analog still exist and can be streamlined into a landscape of bleeps and bloops.
Key Tracks: “Contact,” “Get Lucky,” “Giorgio By Moroder,” “Touch”
Lorde_Pure_Heroine
2. Lorde – Pure Heroine – The best debut album in a good long while.  Lorde is a true individual: a definite pop star with a real rockin’ attitude and heavy hip-hop and R&B influences.
Key Tracks: “Royals,” “A World Alone,” “White Teeth Teens”
Haim_-_Days_Are_Gone
3. HAIM – Days Are Gone – With the way they play their guitars like percussion instruments, the HAIM sisters know from HARD rock.  Their melodies may conjure a mellow California sunset, but they are by no means softies.
Key Tracks: “Falling,” “The Wire,” “My Song 5”
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4. Kanye West – Yeezus – This is like Kanye’s primal scream therapy.
Key Tracks: “Black Skinhead,” “Bound 2,” “On Sight”
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5. David Bowie – The Next Day – Bowie proves that it is not the age of the individual but the individual himself that determines the urgency of a creative output.  He sounds more reinvigorated than he has in decades, with the songs themselves conveying that invigorating theme.
Key Tracks: “The Next Day,” “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” “Love Is Lost”
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6. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork – Josh Homme is a craftsman.  Every note on …Like Clockwork sounds like it is played and produced to as fine a specification as possible.  Add to that Homme’s passionate tenor and playful lyrics (“gitchy gitchy ooh la la”), and you’ve got a band that understands the sonic experience unlike any other.
Key Tracks: “If I Had a Tail,” “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” “I Sat by the Ocean”
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7. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time – In the portion of her career before her debut album, Sky Ferreira seemed like one of those New Age-y, self-employed, entrepreneurial types (I’m not sure if I’m picking the right words exactly, but hopefully you catch my drift) who was always looking for “her sound.”  Her non-album singles kept presenting a new identity, and now the end result is Night Time, My Time: a mix of sounds, from a more confident singer who has finally learned that diversity can define a singular identity.
Key Tracks: “You’re Not the One,” “Omanko,” “Heavy Metal Heart,” “I Blame Myself”
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8. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob – This bubbly confection sounds like the pop breakthrough Tegan and Sara have always wanted to have – they were just waiting for the right budget, or the right career moment, or the right whatever, to make it happen.
Key Tracks: “Closer,” “I Was a Fool,” “Drove Me Wild”
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9. Avicii – True – While Daft Punk got EDM in touch with its roots, Avicii explored every permutation of its present.
Key Tracks: “Wake Me Up!”, “You Make Me,” “Dear Boy”
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10. Arcade Fire – Reflektor – With this unwieldy, hard-to-pin-down double album, Arcade Fire certainly didn’t make it easy for their casual fans and guaranteed that their detractors would not be won over.  But Reflektor becomes a good bit of plain old fun once you stop trying to figure out “what it is.”
Key Tracks: “Reflektor,” “Joan of Arc,” “Here Comes the Night Time”

Honorable Mention: I haven’t listened to all of Disclosure’s Settle, but based on what I have heard from it, I think it would have made this list had I listened to all of it.

Best Songs of 2013

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(All songs on this list were released as singles in 2013 [or late 2012?])

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1. Daft Punk ft. Pharrell and Nile Rodgers – “Get Lucky” – I have heard “Get Lucky” described multiple times as a future wedding song staple. If this forecast is to be, then that must mean its appeal cuts across generations. I am inclined to believe that, from ages 9 to 99, the only sensible reaction to “Get Lucky” is delight. It took 35 years, but now disco isn’t just mainstream – it’s also cool. That opening synth riff is a secret smile-making recipe, while the voices of Pharrell and robots are equally sexy.
2. Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop” – I was talking with a friend who was saying she would respect Miley Cyrus more if she sang about weightier subjects. I understood her point, and I certainly wouldn’t be against Miley trying out such material. But fun anthem bangers like “We Can’t Stop” have their place, and that place shouldn’t be discounted or looked down upon. The world’s a pretty heavy place, both for personal and social reasons, so it is kind of awesome if you can manage to keep it kicking amidst all that. After all, why would we bother fighting to right the world’s wrongs if it weren’t for the sake of ensuring fun?
3. Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up!” – The best bluegrass EDM soul song of the year, and, of course, of all time. As we go through life, it is useful to have the pace set by that opening galloping riff and an internal voice that sounds like Aloe Blacc’s. When you believe that things are going to turn around and truly become better, it is time to bust out this buoyant blast of optimism.
4. Lorde – “Royals” – Lorde’s hit has made her a star and has kept getting airplay for nearly a year because it is not so easily defined. Not only is Lorde an electo-rocker with heavy hip-hop and R&B influences, she is also a hard-to-pin-down mix of irony and earnestness. She’s kind of fed up with the platinum lifestyle promoted by the songs she’s been listening to, but those are the songs she and her friends party to. She’s not ashamed to admit it; she just wants something more. It’s that message of “we’re not bad, but we can be better” that really clicks.
5. Zedd ft. Foxes – “Clarity” – “Clarity” captures the thrilling, scary nature of any sort of love. Good love, bad love, promising love, suspicious love – this song ponders committing to love, and it is frightening, but potentially awesome. The crescendo into the chorus is like a heart becoming filled to bursting, and the booming percussion sounds like things crashing into each other, which is ideal for dancing.
6. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” – Kanye’s most guttural burst from his most guttural album.
7. Haim – “Falling” – Haim pull off the trick of capturing the heaviness of life and creating a sublime respite that exists outside the constraints of time and space.
8. Janelle Monáe ft. Erykah Badu – “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Ms. Monáe breaks out her manifesto: all social proscriptions of identity are cast right out.
9. Sky Ferreira – “You’re Not the One” – Sky Ferreira perfects her sound (one of many sounds): a synthy gloss on the nighttime and the power of waiting for something better.
10. Haim – “The Wire” – These SoCal ladies are fierce, but they’re not insensitive; you may not want them to break up with you, but you’ll be happy to sing along with their harmonies and rock out with their percussive guitar-playing as they do so.
11. Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors” – A deeply felt ode to love lasting decades and decades – it’s excruciatingly awesome how the melding of two souls can be so satisfying.
12. Tegan and Sara – “Closer” – This is what a crush sounds like. Love doesn’t have to be existentially terrifying – it might make you anxious, but it can still be FUN.
13. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know” – A garage rock stomper of raw heartburn – gotta love alternating between the falsetto and the tempo on the bridge.
14. David Bowie – “The Next Day” – It’s not only veterans like Bowie who don’t want to die before their time is up. Here’s the anthem for whenever you declare that you shan’t be counted out.
15. Chvrches – “The Mother We Share” – These are some heavy interpersonal issues, but they’re not hard to deal when accompanied with synchronized “oh, oh, oh oh oh, oh oh’s.”
16. Lady GaGa ft. R. Kelly – “Do What U Want” – An unabashedly sleazy club stomper that will make you totally unashamed to explore your lover.
17. Kanye West ft. Charlie Wilson – “Bound 2” – A true oddity, even by Kanye’s standards, but it apparently came from a place of love, and it shows.
18. Britney Spears – “Work Bitch” – It’s time to admit that we all love Britney – she certainly won’t accept any other answer. She’s too focused to care, anyway.
19. Pharrell – “Happy” – It’s all there in the title.
20. Robin Thicke ft. 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar – “Give it 2 U” – Pure R&B has always been this baldly sexual. It’s the language of love. We’re human beings; if you’re feeling it, go for it.
21. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege” – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are at their best when they really get under your skin, that riff just tingles up your arm, and Karen O really explores your ears as she gets into every sound of the title word.
22. Janelle Monáe – “Dance Apocalyptic” – I don’t think I’ve ever heard any truer words spoken than “smash smash, bang bang, don’t stop, cha-lang-a-lang-a-lang.”
23. Major Lazer ft. Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga, and Mystic – “Bubble Butt” – The hypnotic hit of the year.
24. David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” – The Thin White Duke has been around for a while, and he knows from stars, as he hums along through this spacy jam.
25. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young” – I’m mostly interested in that manipulated “baby, baby, baby” breakdown.

Honorable Mention/Reminder That Rihanna Keeps Tirelessly Releasing New Music: Rihanna ft. David Guetta – “Right Now”

The Best Son-Single of the Year: Queens of the Stone Age – “If I Had a Tail” – Josh Homme’s idiosyncratic brand of poetry is still as “gitchy gitchy, ooh la la” as ever.

Best Album Openers:
1. David Bowie – “The Next Day”
2. Kanye West – “On Sight”
3. Daft Punk – “Give Music Back to Life”

The Best Songs of 2012 I Didn’t Hear Until 2013:
-Tame Impala – “Elephant” – Psychedelic rock takes a huge step forward after taking a few decades off.
-Major Lazer ft. Amber Coffman – “Get Free” – Big dreams and big hopes come to life in this five-minute slice of heaven.

Best of The Chris Gethard Show 2013

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Best Episodes
1. #109 – “The Beef Off 2” – “The Beef Off 2” holds a special place in my heart because it was the first episode that I brought friends along to.  And it was probably the best possible introductory episode, as this celebration of the lathered-up, beefy male form in all its glory had them instantly hooked.  I may be a bit biased here, as my brother is the two-time Beef Off champion, but I am also a fan of bizarre physical contests (as long as all the participants are fully committed to the ridiculousness).  What was up with Hot Dog’s hesitation at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge?  Oh, the mysteries of Andrew Parrish.

2. #112 – “TCGS Half-Hour and Saddle-Bee Neigh-t Hive” – Comedy that makes fun of comedy is one of the best forms of comedy, even if the comedy being made fun of is already pretty funny.  I love SNL, but it can get annoyingly hacky.  Interestingly enough, its transformation into full-hacky mode by TCGS looked good.

3. #99 – “Lookin’ at Dicks in the Dark: A New Low” – This episode also holds a special place in my heart as it was the first one I attended live at MNN.  A celebration about sexual openness and plowing on through technical difficulties – a couple of Gethard hallmarks.

4. #95 – “The Hour Long Song” – The John Coltrane of TCGS episodes, with perhaps the best “it was all a dream” ending in entertainment history.

5. #115 – “Open for Delivery” – If surprise is the most essential element of comedy, then how about a whole night of surprises?  It is all wrapped up with some b-boying, and surprise b-boying is the best form of b-boying.

Best Musical Guests
1. Zs – Described as “post-no wave, death prog” (apparently Zane the music booker was joking, but that is a perfect description), Zs deserved the praise from Gethard having “literally never seen anything like that in [his] entire life.”  A wild, but beautifully contained, free jazz fusion, the music of Zs is impossible not to get affected by.  No surprise that Rob Malone, the World’s Greatest Dancer, was inspired by them unlike anything else in a while.
What did Bananaman think of them? “Spiritual!”

2. Quitzow – Quitzow’s first song was “Cats Are People Too,” and her brand of synthpop is probably what the cat pictures of the Internet would be if they were to turn into a musician.
What did Bananaman think of her? “Equal rights message!”

3. Ceramic Dog – Perhaps the most lyrically thoughtful of TCGS’ 2013 musical lineup, Ceramic Dog provided a headbanger that got you thinking about copyright law, as well as an instrumental piece perfectly tuned for getting you into a groove.
What did Bananaman think of them? “I’ll admit I haven’t heard them before.  They’re amazing, I’m gonna buy all their stuff.”

4. The World/Inferno Friendship Society – Wikipedia genre-izes The World/Inferno Friendship Society as “punk cabaret,” “circus punk,” and “anarcho-punk.”  Indeed, their brand of fancy, fiddling rocking is a carnival of the high and the low.
What did Bananaman think of them? “FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!”

5. Ghost & Goblin – The most elaborate act of 2013, Ghost & Goblin was the first musical guest to die on The Chris Gethard Show.
What did Bananaman think of them? “The shit that Gimghoul will play at their castle, but in a good way.”

6. Crazy & the Brains – The most playfully demanding band of the year, insisting that the audience take a nice nap break in the middle of the song.
What did Bananaman think of them? “The best episode of Saturday Night Live I’m gonna watch!”

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