Favourites of 2014

Another year is coming to an end and with that, a list of my favourites in movies, music, and TV. Again, not a “Year-End Best of” list by any means, just things that I loved this past year. Also, due to time constraints, this really is just a list of my favourites – I wish I had the time to fully explain everything but alas, December just flew by me.


  1. Begin Again soundtrack
  2. Kris Allen, Horizons
  3. The Script, No Sound Without Silence
  4. Colbie Caillat, Gypsy Heart
  5. Jason Mraz, Yes!
  6. Lady Antebellum, 747
  7. Pentatonix, PTX Vol. 3
  8. Nikki Yanofsky, Little Secret
  9. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  10. Maroon 5, V


Obviously I loved songs from my favourite albums above, but here are the other stuff that I couldn’t stop listening to this year.

  1. Tyler Hilton, One More Song
  2. Nick Jonas, Jealous
  3. Jessie J, Masterpiece
  4. Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good
  5. Sam Smith, Like I Can


As always, there are still SO many movies that got released this year, that I have yet to get a chance to see. But of what I did manage to see this year, these are absolutely my favourites.

  1. Begin Again
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Snowpiercer
  5. Nightcrawler


There were some REALLY good new shows that came out this year.

  1. The Flash
  2. Jane the Virgin
  3. The Affair
  4. You’re the Worst
  5. How to Get Away With Murder


And of the returning shows, these continued strong all year.

  1. Arrow
  2. Brooklyn Nine Nine
  3. Agents of SHIELD
  4. The Mindy Project
  5. Sleepy Hollow


These are some of the shows that got cancelled this year, which very much hurt.

  1. Selfie
  2. Enlisted
  3. Trophy Wife
  4. Witches of East End
  5. The Tomorrow People

Objectivity and Fandom: When Being a Fan Means Being a Critic

Consider this: You’re a fan of a certain show/band/actor/whatever, you will support them wholeheartedly, try to convince others of their awesomeness, and along the way because of your fervent fandom, you become blind to their faults and refuse to consider their flaws. Ever have that happened, to any degree? See, I’ve always considered myself a different type of fan; I mean, as a fan of MANY things, I don’t go stereotypical crazy fangirl. I’ll get excited but it wouldn’t be like “OH MY GOD! *flailing*” Even when it’s something that I’m a HUGE fan of, it never gets to the point where I’m blind to their faults and imperfections – I pride myself on still being objective. Take for example, Justin Timberlake. I love JT, love his music – there are some songs I love more than others, but for the most part, they’re all good to me. His movie career, on the other hand? Well let’s just say there’s been a lot of more misses than hits.

I ask and preface all this because I’ve had a weird feeling lately. I’ve had a few conversations lately about Maroon 5, plus my ongoing internal dialogue every time I listen to the new album, and every time a different thought/observation comes up. I’ve already given my thoughts on V with my review and I had said that as a whole, it’s a solid pop album. I was talking to a friend, who is a Maroon 5 fan, and she reiterated that she’s not a fan of the new music, which is something I completely understand. Again, I replied by saying that, “It’s nowhere near as good as Songs About Jane or Hands All Over, but it’s a solid pop album.” For some reason, that discussion about V, and then later on about music in general, lingered in my mind. On the one hand, I believe I’m still being objective by saying that V isn’t as good as M5’s old material. On the other hand, I found myself defending the album, still giving it some sort of praise. I mean, generally speaking, I do like the pop-ier side of music – it’s what I grew up on – but I also don’t like the majority of what is on the radio these days; a lot of it is just blah. Point of the matter is, I started to question my ability to be objective (or in other words, my sociology/over-analytical brain started kicking in). By calling it a solid pop album, was I just finding a reason to like it because I’m a big Maroon 5 fan and don’t like the idea of making myself seem like a bad fan if I don’t like the album? Have I already grown accustomed to this new Maroon 5 sound, that at the end of the day I’m essentially now grading them on a curve? Have I been unfair to compare them to their previous work, as opposed to treating each album as a separate entity in the general music landscape? Am I just being too harsh? Am I completely over-thinking things? (Probably, on the last question.)

The stage set-up for Maroon 5's Overexposed tour in 2013. They got pretty fancy with the walk-out bridge.

The stage set-up for Maroon 5’s Overexposed tour in 2013. They got pretty fancy with the walk-out bridge.

The other day while watching the season premiere of The Voice, my brother-in-law asked me about the new M5 album and again, I answered that it was pretty good, much better than their last album. To which he goes, “Yeah? I thought the last album was pretty good” (For the record, he doesn’t really listen to music out of his own volition. It’s pretty much what’s on the radio and then the off-time of whatever my sister’s listening to). Anyways, the conversation led to us talking about the popularity issue. Thanks to Adam being on The Voice, Maroon 5 is way more popular and mainstream than they were previously. And my bro-in-law brought up the point that like a lot of things in entertainment (games, movies, TV shows), once something becomes too popular and they start trying to cater more to the newer fans, but still attempting to appease the old fans, it’s just not the same as it used to be. Which obviously got my brain turning: Have Maroon 5 REALLY gotten too popular for their own good? Not that I hadn’t realized this to some extent already when I bought tickets for their upcoming tour (nearly $150 per ticket, fees included, for lower level tickets?! Really guys? I remember when it used to be HALF that!), but to have it stated in that way just clicked in my head. The guys themselves have said as much that music is really a producers’ game right now, which is more or less why we’ve been getting such pop-ish music from them. All of a sudden, everything made sense; they are catering SO MUCH to mainstream radio that I sometimes don’t even know if I’m listening to the M5 I fell in love with. The one day I went from listening to V in my car to Songs About Jane at the office, and it was such a stark difference between what they used to be and what they are now, that it was almost unsettling.

Maroon 5 kept it fairly simple for their 2007 tour, in support of their second album It Won't Be Soon Before Long

Maroon 5 kept it fairly simple for their 2007 tour, in support of their second album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long

Moving away from Maroon 5, let’s talk about TV. A self-described TV addict, I’ve come to be picky about what shows I watch and spend my time on. Long-running shows are bound to disappoint at some point in time; let’s be real, there’s just no possible way for the staff writers to always keep things new, fresh and deliver in the way that we want as fans. I liken it to a form of Stockholm syndrome – they may think it’s a good idea in the writers’ room but it’s likely that a lot of the writers on staff have been there a long time and there’s no fresh blood or a different set of eyes to be critical. Then there’s the case of new shows. A lot has to be put into place to get a show on the air and to just work so viewers will tune in: cast chemistry, a solid hook, building on that hook with some smart writing whether it be for laughs or dramatic effect. It’s in my belief that almost all new shows deserve a chance because they may surprise you and there’s probably something or someone there that is drawing you in to begin with.

Stalker is a new show by Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, The Following) that premiered Wednesday night and follows the LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit as they deal with various stalking cases. It’s a CBS show, so naturally it’s a procedural, case-of-the-week type show, and it follows the similarly dark/twisted Criminal Minds on the schedule. The majority of TV critics have been pretty much saying “avoid this show like the plague” because it overdoes the violence and how it treats the women in this show is appalling. My comeback line every time I read something that trashes the show? “But, Maggie Q!” Yup, Maggie Q is already back on TV after Nikita, and because of how much I LOVED Nikita, I am going to be watching this show for Maggie, against my better judgment. I don’t typically like procedurals but, Maggie! I once was a fan of The Following, which is more of a serialized show but got similar flack for its use of violence when it premiered, until it got ridiculous, but again, because of Maggie, I’m hoping for something decent. And you know what? It was okay. Is it the best show in the world? No. It went along doing its CBS procedural thing with a Kevin Williamson twist. I can understand why so many critics absolutely hated it, but if you look past the extreme violence (obviously a ploy meant to sell the show in the first place and attempt to hook viewers in), it was alright. The best thing the show has going for it is that there’s an attempt to flesh out the main characters of Beth Davis (Maggie Q) and Jack Larsen (Dylan McDermott) and give them some more personality and depth than your average TV cop. Plus, there’s something interesting about it from a sociological standpoint. I’m probably giving the show more depth than I should be, in my attempt to give reason for watching it, but MAGGIE FREAKIN’ Q you guys!


I read an article recently, which was more or less an essay, written by Talib Kweli defending Lauryn Hill. Lauryn Hill is such a great artist, and ever since the release of the incredible The Miseducation of…, people have been clamoring for more. She hasn’t put an album since then, and hasn’t done very many shows either; there were a couple of times when she showed up extremely late for a show and people were outraged. In the piece, Talib Kweli talks about the relationship between artists and fans, and how it can be misconstrued. At the end of the day, artists have a responsibility to themselves, to do what they want; fans are not owed anything by the artists to do what they want as fans. I really suggest reading the piece because it’s so thoughtful and gives you a different understanding of what it means to be a fan. Reading this piece as I’m going through these thoughts and feelings, it just really brought up the things I’ve been wanting to say. Tying it back to Maroon 5, as a fan of theirs I want them to just do what’s right for them; I don’t want to see them lose who they are as artists, as a band because of this commercial success they’ve been getting.

So what’s the moral of the story/analysis/rant? Sometimes, being a fan means being a critic. You can be supportive of everything your favourites do, but remember you don’t have to like everything. You’re allowed to be objective, have opinions, and make it known. Not liking something by your favourites, doesn’t make you a bad fan – people change, tastes change, maybe the output really does suck and you’re just speaking the hard truth or it’s just not your cup of tea anymore. IT’S OKAY! There’s no need to blindly love something out of habit or just because. We’re all fans of something and with the help of social media we can revel in the successes of our favourites and dish out constructive criticism – let our voices be heard. I’m not saying our faves need to be meeting the wants and needs of all their fans out there, that would just get out of hand very quickly. Instead I say, be critical of your favourites and recognize that they’re not going to live up to all you expect from them. They are human beings too, and are allowed to do what they may feel is right for them at any given time, experiment with their music or acting roles. If you like it, great; if you don’t, whatever.

Sorry if this whole thing came out a little convoluted, I just needed to get all these thoughts in my brain out. But let’s turn things over to you: have you ever had a similar situation, wherein the definition of being a fan gets put into question? Is there such a thing as being a “bad fan”? What’s typically the “breaking point” to when you’re no longer a fan of something?

Album Review: Maroon 5 “V”


Maroon 5 is back with their fifth studio album, appropriately titled V. I’m an unabashed Maroon 5 fan, have supported them from the (almost) beginning, and will defend my love for them when others speak ill about them. Even as a fan though, I wasn’t particularly fond of their last album, Overexposed. My biggest issue with that album was that it was overproduced to the point where you couldn’t tell on some songs that there was a band playing. That and the fact that those same overproduced songs sounded kind of pop generic, like any artist/band could have performed the song – there was little of the signature Maroon 5 sound. To quote Keira Knightley’s character Gretta in Begin Again, “I think you’ve lost the songs to the production” (I nearly let out a huge “HA!” in the middle of the theatre, hearing that line).

With V, the guys took the pop sound of Overexposed and refined it by incorporating the sounds of their first three albums. As Adam put it,

“[This album has] some of the old funk from Songs About Jane, and the rock from Hands All Over mixed with the pop from Overexposed and the sheen from It Won’t Be Soon Before Long.”

The album is obviously no Songs About Jane or even Hands All Over, because the prevalence of pop production is still there. But at the very least, you hear the band and actual instruments in the majority of the songs, even if Jesse, James, Mickey, Matt, and PJ don’t have songwriting credits. Lead single Maps feels like a natural extension of the signature Maroon 5 sound – upbeat fun pop, with a little rock and funk. Animals plays up the radio success of “One More Night,” mixing up that song’s almost hip-hop swagger with the sexiness of “Give A Little More”; In Your Pocket plays up a similar sound, with the inclusion of a rather infectious drum loop. It’s songs like It Was Always You and Coming Back for You that worries me a little, with its synth-heavy sound that somehow reminds me of the music of the 80s. Though whereas some of the Overexposed songs were so overproduced that I couldn’t hear how they could play it live, I feel like I can hear these songs in concert; there’s room there for the band to actually play. Unkiss Me plays like a pop/R&B song (or as I tweeted, I could totally see it as a NappyTabs lyrical hip-hop on SYTYCD) but it has JUST enough of the M5 sound to make it distinctive from anything generic (a somewhat recurring theme with this album). Sugar sounds like it could be a Katy Perry song, which I’m still debating whether or not that is a good thing. There’s a quality to Leaving California that makes it sound almost like “Back At Your Door”/something from IWBSBL mashed-up with a fun. song (which makes a lot of sense considering Nate Ruess co-wrote it). The song that doesn’t really do much for me is New Love; it’s not a bad song per se, but for some reason it just feels like it’s trying too hard to be a sweeping mid-tempo stadium pop song (Does Ryan Tedder being a co-writer on the song explain anything. Maybe.) Feelings is a song that’s hard to pin down – I hear a little 70s disco a la the band’s “Get Back in My Life” from Hands All Over, mixed with a bit of Euro-pop not unlike what Kylie Minogue does, and a new wave Jamiroquai-like sound – but the end result is just a lot of fun. The lone ballad, My Heart is Open, features Gwen Stefani and was co-written by the incomparable Sia; the song comes off as a great emotional vocal showcase for the two Voice coaches, but at the same time understated, never overpowering each other.

The deluxe edition of V also features five bonus songs, two of which are remixes of Maps. The first bonus track is Shoot Love, a pop/hip-hop/funk hybrid that sounds like a cross between Madcon’s “Beggin”, John Newman’s “Love Me Again” and Mark Ronson. It’s the third album in a row that features a cover in the bonus tracks (no complaints here!), this time hearing the band re-work Marcy Playground’s Sex and Candy. The funny part is their arrangement for this song is probably the closest thing you’ll hear to Maroon 5’s SAJ sound, with its slow burn and stripped down appeal. The final bonus track is Lost Stars from Begin Again; I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE THIS SONG and will be incredibly happy if they decide to play this song in concert (Sure, Stereo Hearts I have issues with them performing. Lost Stars, not so much.)

V, for all intents and purposes, is a solid pop album and is a step in the right direction for the band if their hearts continue to be set in the mainstream pop world. By no means do I expect them to recreate the magic of Songs About Jane, but it’s nice every once in a while to hear those sensibilities are still present and embedded in their current sound.

Music Monday: Maroon 5 Edition!

In honour of Maroon 5 releasing their 5th studio album, V, tomorrow, I felt it was only appropriate to do an ultimate Maroon 5 playlist for this Music Monday. 20 songs whittled down from four full albums plus bonus tracks, remixes, unreleased songs, live and/or acoustic versions of songs; this playlist will contain some songs released as singles and some of my personal favourites (sometimes it’s one and the same). From this M5 fan, I don’t know how I’m going to do this (especially considering how much I LOVE Songs About Jane and Hands All Over as full albums), but I am. And just because I wanna say it…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

  1. This Love – It’s the song that really started it all for them and it established their signature sound.
  2. She Will Be Loved
  3. Shiver
  4. Sweetest Goodbye – My absolute favourite song from them!
  5. Take What You Want
  6. Wasted Years – First heard back in 2005, the guys performed this song on tour between their first and second albums. It was a song that was a great transition to what expect to expect in their second album. Funny enough, a full studio version didn’t even appear until Overexposed, which sounded almost entirely different from its original incarnation.
  7. If I Never See Your Face Again – The original version that appeared on It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, before they released it as a single with Rihanna, and then it was labelled as “Rihanna & Maroon 5” not the other way around.
  8. Wake Up Call
  9. Little of Your Time
  10. Won’t Go Home Without You
  11. How
  12. Give A Little More
  13. Hands All Over – The most ‘rock’ the band has ever sounded on a song.
  14. Just A Feeling – I always say this is a great song to drive to. There’s just something about it that feels like it’s good cruising music.
  15. Get Back in My Life
  16. Last Chance – They had already started on their Police sound with this song, featured as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Hands All Over. I really shouldn’t have been surprised when they revisited that sound for Maps.
  17. One More Night
  18. Sad – It’s funny that these days, the more understated the song, the more it stands out. Especially on an album like Overexposed, which I was upset about for being almost too overproduced on a majority of the songs.
  19. Tickets
  20. Maps – First single of their new album, and if this is an indication of what the rest of the album sounds like, well, I already like it more than Overexposed.

Just for good measure, some of my favourite live performances from Maroon 5 of a few songs above.

Music Monday: Current Obsessions

I love the feeling of hearing new music; there’s just something so exciting about it. While there are a lot of songs on the radio I really can’t stand, there are quite a few radio hits and a few songs from recently released albums that I’m currently obsessed about.

  1. Keira Knightley, Lost Stars – It brings me absolute pleasure to see Begin Again (fka Can A Song Save Your Life?) finally get released and people loving it. I saw it at TIFF last year and just fell in love with both the movie and the songs, so it was an excruciating wait to get my hands on the soundtrack. There’s actually two versions of Lost Stars, the other sung by Adam Levine, but surprisingly I love Keira’s version more. There’s a sort of pure quality to the mix and her voice, that I really love.
  2. Nikki Yanofsky, Necessary Evil – Nikki Yanofsky is a Canadian talent, whom you may remember as the voice of the official Olympic song for Vancouver 2010. Regardless of that fact, she just released a new album with the help of the legendary Quincy Jones. This song got me right away when I first heard it because I immediately started picturing an Argentine Tango being choreographed to it. [The barometer of how much I like a song now depends on whether I can picture choreography to it…despite not being a dancer.]
  3. Ed Sheeran, Don’t – You thought I was gonna pick Sing, with all its Justin Timberlake/Justified inflections, which I still love but I’m obsessed with Don’t. It samples a Lucy Pearl (remember them?!) song and just has this awesome R&B groove to it.
  4. Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea, Problem – That 90s R&B throwback sound with the horns? LOVE.
  5. Tessanne Chin, Everything Reminds Me of You – Tessanne’s recently released debut album is actually the first Voice winner album I’ve bought. This song in particular seems made to fit in with Top 40 radio in the same vein as Emeli Sande’s songs, which is part of the reason why I really like it. If you listen to the other songs on her album, you can really hear her Jamaican influences mix well with the pop/R&B sound. Everything feels authentic and doesn’t feel like it was haphazardly put together.
  6. Maroon 5, Maps – I was a little bit wary about the song because I feel like Overexposed (their previous album) was playing too much as mainstream pop. There were still some songs that I really loved, but the album as a whole didn’t do it for me. Maps though, is a little bit more true to form for the band; it has a quality that plays well to Top 40 radio but still feels more decidedly Maroon 5 than most of Overexposed. Jesse Carmichael being back certainly helps, as does the fact that it doesn’t sound so Ryan Tedder-y despite him having a hand in producing/writing the song.
  7. Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good – Let’s be real, this song just feels good.
  8. Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars – Let it be said that even when Coldplay is experimenting with their sound, their songs still sound distinctively theirs. You can tell it’s a Coldplay song and this one’s no exception.
  9. Hayden Panettiere, Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet – OK so this is kinda old but for some reason, I can’t stop listening to it. It’s the right amount of country with a little bit of an edge that I seem to gravitate towards.
  10. John Mayer, XO – John Mayer doing a cover of Beyonce’s XO and it is awesome. After two very folk-ish albums, him doing this cover just made me think: Where has this John Mayer been for the past 5 years?! It sounds like the JM I used to know and love! Will he keep this up for the next album? I don’t know but I hope so!