All posts by antoinevanderbilt

Best of 2014: Top 10 T.V. Shows

The best/worst thing about being alive in the year 2014 is the plethora of entertainment here to distract you from existential dread enrich your life. No where is this more true than in the world of television. Here is the best from the past year.

Scandal (ABC), Blackish (ABC), Girls (HBO), True Detective (HBO), Brooklyn 99 (Fox), Parks and Recreation (NBC), The Mindy Project (Fox), New Girl (Fox), Nathan For You (Comedy Central), Nurse Jackie (Showtime), Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central), Louie (FX) Silicon Valley (HBO), Bo Jack Horseman (Netflix)

10. Homeland (Showtime)

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Can’t stay mad at you forever, baby!

9. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

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Loses the novelty of season one ( because you can’t catch everyone off guard twice). But the writing is just as sharp.

8. You’re the Worst (FX)

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Two assholes on a romantic quest for true love.

7. Mad Men (AMC)

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After years of swirling around the drain, Don Draper finally hits rock bottom and starts to pick himself up.

6. The Honorable Woman (BBC/Sundance)

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Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.

5. Broad City (Comedy Central)

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Friendship is rare.

4. Transparent (Amazon)

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You don’t choose your family.

3. Game of Thrones (HBO)

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Hard to top the masterpiece that was season three, but somehow it does.

2. Veep (HBO)

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The West Wing was idealistic. House of Cards is a cynical nightmare. But nothing nails the absurdity of politics and ambition as (hilariously) well as Veep.

1. The Americans (FX)

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This spy drama is the best show on TV about family and responsibility since The Sopranos and Friday Night Lights went off the air. But not as sentimental as FNL because Eric Taylor never left someone’s bullet-ridden body in a West Texas ditch.

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Best of 2014: Top 10 Albums

These are the top 10 albums of 2014. Collect them all, while the recording industry still makes them! Also click on the album art for a link to the Spotify Stream.

*Honorable Mentions: Seeds (TV on the Radio), Nikki Nack (tUnE-yArDs), Broke with Expensive Taste (Azealia Banks), Run the Jewels 2 (Run the Jewels), Oxymoron (Schoolboy Q), Honest (Future), No Labels 2 (Migos), Tough Love (Jessie Ware), Hell Can Wait EP (Vince Staples) White Women (Chromeo)

10. They Want My Soul / Spoon / Loma Vista

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I have run out of interesting ways to say “minimalist.”

9. My Krazy Life / YG / Def Jam

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This album functions almost as a companion piece to Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012). But where Kendrick’s protagonist plays the observer and reluctant participant in the carnage around him, YG plays the charming asshole, gleefully telling you step-by-step how to properly execute a home invasion.

8. 1989 / Taylor Swift / Big Machine

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I think I’ve said all I have to say.

7. Paperwork / T.I. / Grand Hustle

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T.I. skirts the pratfalls typical of rappers, who have an annoying habit of making terrible “sequels” to their most successful albums.

6. St. Vincent / St. Vincent / Loma Vista

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Artsy progger who actually remembers to write actual songs.

5. My Everything / Ariana Grande / Republic

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Disney princess whispering over slick and catchy production.

4. Aquarius / Tinashe / RCA

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No one is driving in her lane right now.

3. Cadillactica / Big K.R.I.T. / Def Jam

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K.R.I.T. has always worn his influences on his sleeves (OutKast, 8 Ball & MJG, UGK, Three 6 Mafia). But he’s finally synthesized the all into something distinctly his, declaring himself “King of the South” in the process.

2. LP1 / FKA twigs / Young Turks

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Lots of slow burning sensual beats on display here. It’s a wonder that they manage to keep up with the sexually vulnerable (“when I trust you we can do it with the lights on”) and aggressive (“I can fuck you better than her”) lyrics wrapped around them.

1. Beyonce / Beyonce / Columbia

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No one, not even Taylor Swift, owned the last year like Beyonce. She made $112M, became the most famous brand ambassador for feminism, and released the dopest album of her career. She even had the best response to her most embarrassing public moment: Sometimes shit goes down when it’s a billion dollars on an elevator.

Here, she runs the gamut of human emotion: love, lust, jealously, ***flawlessness. All while not forgetting that pop music is supposed to be fun. I can only pray that no one has filmed me listening to this album while I think I’m alone.

Best of 2014: Top 50 Singles (#25-1)

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Welcome to the 50 Best Songs of 2014. After listening to every single sound recording released this year, without bias, I have determined the 50 catchiest, provocative and just plain best songs of the year.

Catch up on part 1 here and check out the complete list on Spotify.

25. “Prince Johnny” / St. Vincent

What Instagram filter would you call this song?

24. “Heavy Metal and Reflective” / Azealia Banks

The Ice Princess closes her Twitter app long enough to make a hot song.

23. “Money Baby” / K Camp (feat. Kwony Ca$h)

So disrespectful SMDH.

22. “Lazerray” / TV on the Radio

This is as close to the majesty of Dear Science as you will get.

21. “West Coast” / Lana Del Rey

Not quite “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” but more like “stoned Bette Midler.”

20. “Move That Dope” / Future (feat. Pharrell WIlliams & Pusha T)

This may finally be the rap song that convinces me to start selling drugs.

19. “Bet” / Tinashe

Slow builder that Tinashe wrecks.

18. “Shake it Off” / Taylor Swift

PUMPKIN SPICE PUMPKIN SPICE PUMPK

17. “Sanctified” / Rick Ross (feat. Kanye West & Big Sean)

(Prayer Hands emoji)

16. “Ain’t it Fun” / Paramore

#NoRegrets.

15. “About the Money” / T.I. (feat. Young Thug)

T.I. hasn’t sounded this interested in making hot music in years.

14. “Seen it All” / Young Jeezy (feat. JAY Z)

According to Jeezy, Jay Z cried while recording this song. I don’t believe it for one second but I want to.

13. “Do You” / Spoon

Dad Rock for dudes without kids.

12. “Drunk in Love” / Beyonce (feat. JAY Z)

Jay Z rhymes “foyer” with “foreplay.” Respek.

11. “Cadillactica” / Big K.R.I.T.

O-U-T-K-A-S-T.

10. “Your Love Will Blow Me Away When My Heart Aches” / Son Little

I got tha blooze.

9. “Turtles All the Way Down” / Sturgill Simpson

All ya need is love. And maybe some LSD.

8. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” / Future Islands

Let this hypnotize you.

7. “Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland by Lloyd”)” / Childish Gambino

Weirdo finally finds perfect combination to the rapper/singer formula.

6. “Water Fountain” / tUnE-yArDs

I wish this song came out when I was four. I would probably be a rock star by now.

5. “Flawless (Remix) [Live in Paris]” / Beyonce (feat. Nicki Minaj)

I still have no idea what happened at this concert after this performance.

4. “0 to 100 – The Catch Up” / Drake

Yep.

3. “Two Weeks” / FKA Twigs

Absolutely filthy.

2. “Who Do You Love” / YG (feat. Drake)

DJ Mustard, YG and Drake ride in on their noble steeds to set The West ablaze.

1. “2 On” / Tinashe (feat. Schoolboy Q)

I once made a list of the best songs from the 2000s. About 60 percent of them were produced by Lil Jon, Timbaland and the Neptunes (a full 100 would include Kanye and Just Blaze). I have no doubt that when I put together a list a decade from now DJ Mustard will be dominating it. No producer owns the pop music zeitgeist like him right now.  He is ruler of all that he surveys. (And somehow he still got snubbed for a Producer of the Year Grammy nod!)

This ode to getting drunk and hashtag turnt is his slickest work yet. Tinashe slinks all across the track. Schoolboy Q comes in with a nasty rap that doesn’t even dirty the track. The perfect party anthem.

Best of 2014: Top 50 Singles (#50-26)

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Welcome to the 50 Best Songs of 2014. After listening to every single sound recording released this year, without bias, I have determined the 50 catchiest, provocative and just plain best songs of the year.

50. “Man of the Year” / Schoolboy Q

Jackie Treehorn treats objects like women.

49. “Doses and Mimosas” / Cherub

I tried to put this song on a playlist for my friend’s birthday. He removed it and said he didn’t want to attract what he calls the “Molly element.”

48. “Easy Rider” / Action Bronson

“I heard ya bitch still wears Ecko.” Well-played, Bronson.

47. “Lost on the Way Home” / Chromeo (feat. Solange)

Not the greatest lyricists but these boys work a groove nearly as hard as their forefathers Hall & Oates and Steely Dan.

46. “Blue Suede” / Vince Staples

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.

Continue reading Best of 2014: Top 50 Singles (#50-26)

Taylor Swift’s New York Sanitation

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This week 24-year old pop superstar and New York Global Ambassador Taylor Swift dropped 1989, her highly anticipated fifth studio album. I like it. It is a great album. Catchy, polished, well-crafted song writing. I’ve been listening to it a lot.

There’s a ton of good stuff here. “Blank Space,” “Style,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” are the best kind of earworms. Even “Shake it Off” is infectious (like Ebola, according to one friend). And “New Romantics” ends the record on a strong note. Nearly every song is a pop music banger.

But really I just want to talk about this album opener, “Welcome to New York.”

This song is absolutely grating.

It is but one more addition to a long list of paeans to the Big Apple. It instantly recalls New York’s last great anthem (which is already a half-decade old). Of course I’m talking about Jay Z’s 2009 hit, “Empire State of Mind.” The first time I heard it I detested it. It was mawkish and cloying, faux-inspirational. Grantland’s Alex Pappademas put it best:

It’s Jay’s sentimental streak teaming up with his bottomless cynicism to beat you over the head with a foam Yankees no. 1 finger full of silver dollars. It’s not a song, it’s a Statue of Liberty keychain, a double-decker bus tour of famous crack spots that ends at Magnolia Cupcakes, a silver shovel throwing dirt on a mass grave full of poor people.

It’s almost as if he knew he’d be performing it at the World Series as he wrote it. But somehow I came around on “Empire.” Maybe because it’s catchy. And maybe because even though this song is basically a tourism board approved jingle, it does have subversive references to stash spots, drug dealing and at least acknowledges that everything isn’t all good in the city and hey, McDonald’s!

And while Jay hits you with a cynical radio jab, Taylor commits her own act of violence here. Though her weapon of choice is a sledgehammer of naive optimism whacking you flush on your right temple. No one doubts Taylor’s sincerity. It’s not hard to imagine Swift fresh off her plane from Nashville, hopping in her cab limo and finishing writing this song before the end of her ride from JFK to her new apartment down in TriBeCa.

And melody-wise, the song isn’t half bad. But really, the rub comes at the chorus:

Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you!

This is a lie. New York most certainly has not been waiting for you. In fact, New York City does not give a single solitary fuck if you come there or not. New York does not care about you. It was there (and great) hundreds of years before you and it will likely be there (and great) long after your bones are resting in the cold hard ground. I moved from New York 18 months ago and so far I haven’t received one phone call from New York asking me to come back because it misses me.

Presuming that New York has been waiting for you is like me crashing a party at Beyonce’s house and then apologizing to everyone there for being late.

This song is practically unrecognizable to a rapidly increasing size of New York’s population. It certainly isn’t recognizable to me. This is not Chinatown Bus music. This is not broken radiator music. This is not fifth floor walk-up music. This is not rent court music. It’s not even empty out your savings account to cover your broker fee because your student loan money hasn’t come in yet music. No, this is post-Sex and the City, pre-Great Recession music.

It’s not the New York of the overeducated and underemployed. If that’s the New York you’re looking for, you want Awkwafina’s “NYC Bitche$,” the anti- “Welcome to New York.”

No, “Welcome to New York” is a romantic song devoid of any allusion to struggle. Since its release last week a lot of writers and creative types have panned it, which isn’t surprising. Because if anyone knows what it’s like to struggle in New York City, it’s a writer or creative type. But this song isn’t for them. It was penned by someone who’s moved there after already experiencing wild success; someone who’s sold over 30 million albums worldwide and stands to earn $64 million in 2014, alone.

But no matter how much I hate this song, we all know how this ends. In ten years, you’ll hear it playing over a montage from Central Park West, the 100 million dollar grossing rom-com starring a rehabilitated Amanda Bynes. And then Swift plays it to a sold out Citi Field when the Mets make the World Series.

Of course I’m kidding. The Mets will never make the World Series. Then again, anything is possible in Taylor Swift’s New York.