Favourites of 2015

Getting this in on the last day of the year! I like to take part with my version of the usual best-of lists/year-end recaps, which is basically just a list of my favourites from the past year. It is in no particular order at all. It is what it is.

ALBUMS

  1. PENTATONIX, Pentatonix
  2. KELLY CLARKSON, Piece by Piece
  3. ADELE, 25
  4. MATT NATHANSON, Show Me Your Fangs
  5. TORI KELLY, Unbreakable Smile
  6. JAMES BAY, Chaos and the Calm
  7. JOY WILLIAMS, Venus
  8. HAMILTON Soundtrack
  9. DAVID COOK, Digital Vein
  10. SARA BAREILLES, What’s Inside – Songs from Waitress

Some of my favourites released some truly good albums this year that I haven’t stopped listening to. 2015 also brought on new favourites in Tori Kelly and James Bay, plus Joy Williams’ first solo effort since The Civil Wars ended. And of course, there was Hamilton; how I wish I could witness it in all its glory, but I’ll have to settle for hearing the soundtrack on repeat.

SONGS

  1. JANET JACKSON, BURNITUP! ft. Missy Elliott
  2. MISSY ELLIOTT, WTF (Where They From) ft. Pharrell
  3. JOJO, Save My Soul
  4. ROZZI CRANE, Crazy Ass Bitch
  5. BRITTANY CAIRNS, Everybody’s Got That Something
  6. JUSSIE SMOLLETT & YAZZ, No Apologies
  7. DEMI LOVATO, Confident
  8. SELENA GOMEZ, Same Old Love
  9. NICK JONAS, Levels

Outside of all the songs I loved on my favourite albums this year, there were these songs. First of all, the return of Missy Elliott! I would’ve been fine with just the feature on Janet’s song, but then she released “WTF, which is just so classic Missy. Also, the return of JoJo who was in record label limbo for so long; she came back with an EP that was a nice re-introduction to her and I can’t wait for what’s next. I loved a lot of the songs that came out of Empire, but my favourite of the bunch is definitely “No Apologies” which fuses the rap, hip-hop and R&B so well. I have to say that I’m actually quite impressed with what Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez did this year on their respective albums; they’ve really come into their own as music artists.

NEW TV SHOWS

  1. iZombie
  2. Fresh Off the Boat
  3. Agent Carter
  4. 12 Monkeys
  5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  6. Daredevil
  7. Dark Matter
  8. Killjoys
  9. UnREAL
  10. Empire
  11. Master of None

SO MANY TV SHOWS!!! These were by far my absolute new favourites of the year. There were also shows I enjoyed like Limitless and Quantico, as well as shows I haven’t had time to watch yet like Jessica Jones.

RETURNING TV SHOWS

  1. The Flash
  2. You’re the Worst
  3. Jane the Virgin
  4. Agents of SHIELD
  5. Orphan Black
  6. The Americans
  7. Outlander
  8. Arrow
  9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  10. Survivor

These are the shows that are still tops for me, though there are a whole other bunch that are just below these ones that I still really like to watch.

SHOWS THAT ENDED/GOT CANCELLED

  1. Parks and Recreation
  2. Hart of Dixie
  3. Parenthood
  4. Chasing Life
  5. Graceland
  6. Hindsight

The first three shows came to their natural end, the other three were abruptly cancelled (or in the case of Hindsight, renewed then cancelled – thanks a lot, VH1). Either way, it sucks.

MOVIES

  1. Dope
  2. The Martian
  3. The DUFF
  4. The Last Five Years
  5. Brooklyn
  6. Spotlight
  7. Ex-Machina
  8. Cinderella
  9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  10. Inside Out

Mind you, there are A LOT of other movies I still haven’t seen yet, so this is a very small sampling.

So that’s that, my favourites of the past year! I hope you all had a wonderful pop culture filled year, and here’s to more fun in 2016!

Year in Concerts 2015

I had fun doing a little recap of all my concerts last year, that I wanted to do another one for this year’s many concerts.

1. PENTATONIX – On My Way Home Tour

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When I went to see these guys, I went with an old friend of mine and he said something along the lines of “Isn’t it funny that we’re seeing a group who will sound exactly like the CD?” Legit question because of course, these guys are acapella. What else were we supposed to expect from them at a live concert? And you know what? They delivered a concert, as if they were any other musical act, and just doing their thing. Unfortunately, short people problems so I had a tough time actually SEEING them but still a fun time. I hope next time to come to Toronto, they do the show at Massey Hall, which would be SO PERFECT for them with the acoustics and everything.

2. MAROON 5 – V Tour

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Can you believe this was my 8th time seeing these guys in concert? As always though, the concert never felt long enough, especially considering they are five albums in. I love them dearly, but I’d be happy if they went back to basics on their next album/tour. They put on a great show regardless and makes me a happy fan every time I see them (even if they don’t play my favourite ‘non-M5 but still sung by Adam Levine’ song, “Lost Stars”)

3. JESSIE J – Sweet Talker Tour

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A sign of my skills lacking this year in the concert department, I totally didn’t hear about Jessie J touring. When I finally found out, tickets to the Toronto show was sold out. As luck would have it though, the venue released more tickets a week before the show. DONE! First time seeing Jessie in concert and she did not disappoint at all. I mean, the girl was battling a cold and still KILLED IT with the vocals.

4. THE SCRIPT – No Sound Without Silence Tour

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It has been four years since I last saw The Script in concert. Partially my fault because I didn’t particularly like their #3 album. But in my opinion, No Sound Without Silence was a return to form and I couldn’t miss them coming through Toronto. Great guys, putting on a great show.

5. KELLY CLARKSON – Piece by Piece Tour

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I made it a point to avoid all Toronto traffic this summer because of the PanAm games and knowing that traffic was going to be crazy. My exception was to see Kelly. Not to mention, Pentatonix was opening for her. I thought I was safe heading into the city on the last day of the games but no such luck there. I missed PTX and made it JUST in time to see Kelly. Also, because the show was at the Molson Amphitheater, concerts have to end at a certain time, meaning judging by the setlists of other cities, we got gypped of three songs. Besides all the crummy stuff, it’s effin’ KELLY CLARKSON; she kills it every time. AND she did “Heartbeat Song” with PTX, so I didn’t miss them entirely.

6. KATE VOEGELE & TYLER HILTON

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What’s a year without seeing Tyler Hilton these days? This time, he was joined by another One Tree Hill alum, Kate Voegele! Both very chill music artists and as much as I love the big shows with full band and all that, sometimes all I need is an acoustic show like this one.

7. JANET JACKSON – Unbreakable Tour

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Janet is a complete legend, so who am I to miss out on seeing her perform her greatest hits and new material?

8. MATT NATHANSON

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At this point, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious how much I love seeing Matt Nathanson in concert. Even moreso when he does an acoustic show like this one. For added fun, Matt brought along a Wheel of Songs (see picture)! Songs from all his albums, as voted by fans, were put onto the wheel and fate (sometimes with a little help from Matt lol) decided some of the songs Matt would play. Like I said, fun times!

9. JAMES BAY 

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I got to end off my year going to see one of my favourite new artists this year, James Bay! I once again suffered through going to the Sound Academy (a terrible Toronto concert venue) to see James, only because I had missed him coming through town twice before this year. Again, short people problems, and I couldn’t fully enjoy the concert as a result.

It was once again a great year for concerts; majority of them being relatively inexpensive ones at that! With such a busy concert year, I’m surprised I still got in some travel, two Cons (SDCC and Heroes/Villains Fan Fest), TIFF, and two other shows (Shaping Sound, Cinderella the Musical). Now it’s still too early to call, but I’m guessing that next year won’t be so concert-busy. Trust me though, that’s a good thing, as I’m still planning to do SDCC (even though I didn’t get pre-reg badges) and I’ve got a New York trip on deck as well. So lots of fun times are still to be had in 2016!

Checking In on the 2015 Fall TV Season

We’re nearly three months into the new TV season! With November sweeps now behind us and heading towards winter hiatus, I figured now would be as good time as any to check in. During premiere week, I set out with all the shows I was planning on watching, both old and new. Now, I’m pretty set on what I’m still watching and what I’m dropping. By the looks of it, I’m being pretty picky about what I’m watching, so let’s just recap and take a look shall we?

MONDAY

  • The Voice – Kinda, sorta, not really watching. I hate to say it, but I really do think I’m getting burned out on singing competitions. I want to watch it, but with the other stuff I’m watching, I don’t actually get around to it. So basically, I’m not committed to this season.
  • Dancing With The Stars – Kinda, sorta watching. I may still have some issues with DWTS (namely certain song choices – I’m convinced I can do a better job choosing songs), but I found myself enjoying this season quite a bit. Not to mention, I still love my Pro Dancers.
  • Blindspot (NEW; Full season ordered) – Dropped. I am intrigued in the mystery side of things (Who is Jane Doe? How did she lose all her memories and get all these tattoos that somehow relate to other stuff? etc.) Other than that, there’s something about it that just doesn’t sit well with me. Not in an offensive way, just something just doesn’t work for me. At one point I think I referred to it as ‘Chuck meets Memento’, which is kinda weird to be honest.
  • Minority Report (NEW; Episode order cut to 10) – Dropped. I had high hopes for this show, but again, something about it just didn’t work for me. Doesn’t look like it’s going to make it anyways.
  • Jane the Virgin – Still watching. Still sweet, cute, heartwarming, and funny. I love this show.
  • Supergirl (NEW; Full season ordered) – Watching. It’s without a doubt, one of my faves this season. I love that it kinda took the positivity of The Flash and kicked it up a notch. Plus, the female relationships are absolutely wonderful to see.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (NEW) – Dropped. Watched the pilot and I didn’t like it.
  • Gotham? – Yeah, despite some people saying that this season is better than last, I have yet to bring myself to actually watch any of it.

TUESDAY

  • Fresh Off the Boat – As hilarious as last season.
  • The Flash – I am loving the Earth-1/Earth-2 alt universe storyline, but then again, as a huge Fringe fan, it’s just totally up my alley.
  • Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Still watching it. I was initially a little bit worried about the multiple storylines they were juggling, but then it all connected recently, and I could not be happier with how things have been going.
  • iZombie – The cast and the writers are clearly having a ball making the show, and you can see it in the finished product. Still a lot of fun.
  • Limitless (NEW; Full season ordered) – Watching. It is by no means the greatest show, but it knows what it is doing and incredibly fun/entertaining to watch. My only real nitpicking with the show is that Jake McDorman’s Brian Finch is such a Cappie (McDorman’s character’s frenemy on Greek), and I keep saying “Why is Evan Chambers being like Cappie?” at least once every week.
  • The Mindy Project – Still watching, still funny. Though the switch to Hulu has made it difficult for this Canadian to keep up every week.
  • The Muppets (NEW) – Dropped. I said before that I was never really that into the Muppets growing up, so I didn’t have the same nostalgia factor that a lot of people had coming into the show. I watched a couple of episodes and found it just okay.
  • Grandfathered (NEW; Full Season Ordered) – Watching. I like the chemistry between John Stamos, Josh Peck, and Paget Brewster. The show seems sure of itself and that counts for a lot, especially with a new comedy.
  • The Grinder (NEW; Full Season Ordered) – Watching…for now. Again, I like Rob Lowe and Fred Savage, and it’s got a lot of funny moments. What kind of bothers me is that I’m not really sure what kind of show it is striving to be. I thought they were selling the show as a family comedy of sorts, but turns out it is that mixed with workplace comedy and satire.
  • Scream Queens (NEW) – Dropped. I was already not entirely sold on the show, and as I watched the first two episodes, I couldn’t get over the fact that all the characters were super annoying. I know they’re supposed to be like these caricatures, but I just could not stand it.
  • Wicked City (NEW; Cancelled) – As the reviews came out, it was made clear that the show was terrible. And you know, sometimes I’ll still check out some of it, just to see for myself, but with my Tuesdays as they are I just couldn’t bother.

WEDNESDAY

  • Arrow – I still love watching it. I know there are some people who don’t really like it as much anymore, and I’ll admit that it still does have its flaws, but overall it’s still enjoyable.
  • Survivor – This season has been FANTASTIC! This being Second Chance, the players have come back playing a pretty unique game, and the outcome is just so fascinating.
  • Empire – There’s something about season 2 that feels off to me, compared to the first season. But the show is still incredibly entertaining and great to watch. Also, Cookie Lyon/Taraji P. Henson.
  • Modern Family – I’m not entirely sure why I still watch it because it has been incredibly hit and miss. It’s pretty much background at this point.
  • Black-ish – The show has been on such a roll going into its second season. It’s even more sure of itself than it was before, being consistently funny while tackling issues like gun control and religion, among other things.
  • Nashville – I’ve been sort of keeping up on the show, mainly watching like two episodes at a time, when I remember to watch it. Almost every character, except Rayna (because Connie Britton y’all), maybe Deacon, and Avery, is getting on my nerves. Pair that with some odd storyline decisions and I’m verrrryyyy close to dropping this show altogether.
  • You’re the Worst – How a comedy manages to still be completely funny, while dealing with such a dark and serious subject such as clinical depression is beyond me, but YTW has done just that. It was a risky story decision, but one that has paid off as the show was recently renewed for a third season.
  • Kingdom – I haven’t actually watched this new season. With everything that’s already on, I just figured it’d be best if I wait it out and watch all of season 2 once it’s done.

THURSDAY

  • Sleepy Hollow – I felt that season 2 was a bit off/on, but still enjoyed it. Season 3 has been consistently good, as I feel like it was able to get out of its own way, and do things that weren’t necessarily tied into the Horsemen.
  • How to Get Away With Murder – I’m sure what a lot of people liked about the first season was how twisty the mystery was; that and Viola Davis’ performance. Davis continues to own this show like no other. The twists in season 2 however, have gotten increasingly complicated, and sometimes I honestly just laugh at what’s going on and let it be what it is. Also, let’s be real: how long can the show possibly continue in its current state without the main characters either going to jail, moving/getting away from the entire situation, or getting murdered themselves?
  • Scandal – I’m still watching it, but it just doesn’t interest me in the same way that it used to.
  • Heroes Reborn (NEW) – Dropped. I managed to get through maybe four episodes before I realized that really, nothing had changed from when it went off the air. Too many storylines, undeveloped characters, overall nonsense; even my love of Zachary Levi and Dylan Bruce couldn’t keep me watching.
  • The Big Bang Theory – Another long-running comedy that’s kinda losing steam. I still watch it, it still has its funny moments, but I don’t pay much attention when I’m watching it.

FRIDAY

  • The Amazing Race – Even a so-so season like this one, I always watch Race.
  • Grimm – I find that Grimm is so dependable and consistent. Even with its case-of-the-week stories, they still manage to move the mythology and personal character developments forward.
  • Dr. Ken (NEW; Full Season Ordered) – Dropped. There were some things in the first few episodes I watched that I was amused by (pretty much anything that involved Albert Tsai – I still miss Trophy Wife), but it was just whatever for me, so I stopped watching.

SUNDAY

  • Quantico (NEW; Full Season Ordered) – Watching. For how much I didn’t like Joshua Safran’s previous work (the later seasons of Gossip Girl, Smash season 2), I’m surprised by how much I enjoy watching this show. Some things are a little on the ridiculous side, but I just kinda roll with it because they do move things along at a quick pace. Much like HTGAWM, I’m curious to what its future could possibly look like, seeing as how it is very specific in its storytelling at the moment. At this moment however, I’m sticking by it and worry about the future later.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Still one of my favourites.
  • The Last Man on Earth – The show is still pretty weird, given of course the premise of the show; but it’s still very funny and sure of itself.
  • The Affair – Adding the additional viewpoints of Helen and Cole has elevated the show, I feel. From the beginning, I found the dual viewpoints to be such an intriguing aspect of the show. Now having four (but still two within each episode), adds more depth and dimension to this story and these characters.
  • Once Upon a Time? – I tried watching the premiere and once we found out the whole time jump/characters lost their memories AGAIN(???!!!), I rolled my eyes and stopped watching. I’ve been curious to see how everything has played out, so I randomly read episode recaps, which only makes me happy that I spend the 5 minutes reading, as opposed to the hour watching, because things have only gotten even more ridiculous it seems.
  • Blood and Oil (NEW; Episode order cut)?? – I like the cast but I could not get through the pilot.