Pop Cultured Summer 2015 – May

Summer is upon us! Which means its that special time of year where a lot of things happen, but also don’t happen. The movie blockbusters are coming in at full force, while TV takes it easy (sorta). There will also be plenty of concerts and events to fill up those wonderful summer days and nights. So here are some of the things I’m looking forward to!

MAY

Obviously the first thing we have to talk about are the MOVIES! Because as is tradition now, the first May weekend kicks off the summer blockbuster season, and this year, we start off with The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)!! To say I’m excited would be an understatement (this also applies to just about anyone who cares about the Marvel movies). I’m fairly certain I’ll be watching it a couple of times in theatres, even facing the crowds opening weekend to watch it, so I can continue with my Agents of SHIELD watching. It bugged me so much that I couldn’t keep watching AoS last April because my siblings and I hadn’t found time to watch Winter Soldier, so I’m going solo and watching it this weekend, before going again with them (which will probably be like 3 weeks later lol.) More acapella fun is to be had with the release of Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15). I absolutely loved the first movie and am so looking forward to more riff-offs and mash-ups, plus Pentatonix! Even though everything just seems like a sequel or reboot, we do tend to get some new original movies coming out – one of those is Tomorrowland (May 22), based somewhat on the Disney parks land. Not much is REALLY known about the movie, but its written/directed by Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof co-wrote the script, and the cast includes George Clooney, Britt Robertson, and Hugh Laurie, among others, so I’m pretty much in! Cameron Crowe’s latest, Aloha (May 29), stars Bradley Cooper as a military contractor who returns to work with the US Space program in Honolulu and attempts to reconnect with his ex played by Rachel McAdams, as he falls for Emma Stone’s Air Force pilot. I’ve always enjoyed Crowe’s films, so I’m hoping for the best; plus, Crowe has assembled a wonderful supporting cast as well, with John Krasinski, Bill Murray, and Alec Baldwin.

On the TV front, we’ll be seeing the end of the regular TV season, where cliffhangers, twists, shockers, deaths, and the occasional happy moments abound. I don’t particularly like seeing my shows end for the season, but ya know, such is TV life. Somewhere amidst all the finales though, there will be some shows premiering but frankly, nothing is standing out. I MIGHT give Wayward Pines (May 14) a look, just to see if Shyamalan can come back from his string of movie bombs, but I’m being cautious with my expectations on this one. One show I can’t believe I’m saying I’m looking forward to? The second season of Girl Meets World (May 11). So I’m not part of the actual demographic, but hey, I was a Boy Meets World fan back in the day, and I’m here for the nostalgia of it all. This season will see appearances from Mr. Feeny, Eric AND Mr. Turner! (So yeah, nostalgia.) I don’t keep up with the show regularly, but I’ll watch it when I have time and don’t feel like getting into anything else; it’s a good 20 minute mindless escape.

Music has been a little slow for me. In terms of albums, the last one I bought was Kelly Clarkson’s Piece by Piece back in March; since then, there hasn’t been much for me to get excited about. And even so, there are no new albums (that I know of at this very moment) that I’m really excited about. On another note, I don’t even have any concerts lined up! The one possibility is The Script at the end of the month, and I may be doing that one solo, which is why I’m on the fence about it, even though I love them.

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Favourites of 2012

Another year has come and gone, and with that, a look back on some of my personal favourites in music, movies, and television.

FAVOURITES IN MUSIC

  • Maroon 5 – Overexposed: Not gonna lie, M5 is kind of here by default. There was no way that I wasn’t going to include them, even though I have made it known that this album wasn’t exactly my favourite of theirs. However, with songs like One More Night, Lady Killer, and Tickets being standouts on the album, I can sort of justify picking it among my favourites of the year.
  • Tyler Hilton – Forget the Storm: It was a long-running thing between my friend and I, complaining that Tyler (alongside Justin Timberlake and Michelle Branch) was taking TOO DAMN LONG to release his sophomore album (his debut was released in 2004). This year, Tyler FINALLY made good on his promise to release new music, with him independently releasing the album. The outcome was a great mix of several musical influences.
  • Delta Goodrem – Child of the Universe: I’m still including this album, despite the fact that it hasn’t been officially released in North America. Delta returns with her fourth album, that plays with some different sounds for the singer-songwriter. The album features some piano-driven songs that Delta has been known for, but she also has some songs that very much play up the pop sound.
  • Kris Allen – Thank You Camellia: I kind of loved this album, and I find it a damn shame that Kris hasn’t found bigger success. I enjoyed his self-titled debut after his Idol win back in 2009, but Kris was able to really take his time with this record and personalize it. Camellia ended up being a very solid collection of songs, that found him collaborating with Jason Reeves on the first track “Better With You”, as well as rocking it out a little with “Monster.”
  • Dia Frampton – Red: Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here. Dia’s album came out in December of last year, but because of my travels, I didn’t get a chance to listen to it until the beginning of the year. That being said, I think Dia made such a great album, really showing off all her musical tastes, with touches in everything from pop to dance to hip-hop to country.

FAVOURITES IN MOVIES

For the record, I am ridiculously behind on movies, particularly the movies with awards buzz, so this list is kind of lacking.

  • Pitch Perfect: When the movie was initially released, I didn’t think much of it, even though it has music and singing and I am such a sucker for it – but after watching it, I totally get it. The movie was fresh and funny, and the soundtrack (consisting of all the movie’s performances) was fantastic. And seriously, the riff-off in the movie was pure perfection (says the music geek who loves a good mash-up or…10)
  • The Hunger Games: I finished the entire series of books before watching this first adaptation, and it completely lived up to the books. Don’t dismiss it as a tween/teen thing, because fluff it is not.
  • The Avengers: I have never been a comic book geek, but I myself have to admit that I have a soft-spot for superhero movies. Give me a superhero that’s at least cool, with a decent storyline for a movie, and some cool looking special effects, and I am in. The Avengers is the culmination of several years’ worth of Marvel movies, featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, as well as Black Widow and Hawkeye. With Joss Whedon at the helm, Avengers turned out to be every fanboy’s dream and a good time for all movie viewers.
  • 21 Jump Street: I was barely alive when the original TV series initially aired, but with most people, I knew this was the show that jump-started Johnny Depp’s career. This year, the show was adapted for the big screen starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, swapping the crime drama of the series for a buddy comedy movie. The result was pure hilariousness, and a great role for Channing to show off his comedic chops.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: Horror movies aren’t my thing, because for the most part, they kind of suck (I’m talking movies from the past decade). The more buzz that I heard about Cabin, the more intrigued I was by it. When I finally got around to watching it, as a movie fan, I must say I really liked it. It is not your atypical horror movie, at times playing up those cliches, and at times surprising you in its direction.

FAVOURITES IN TV

  • Let’s get this out of the way first – shows that I have loved/been a fan of and have continued to love over the past year: Nikita, Fringe, Happy Endings, So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice, How I Met Your Mother, Community, Hart of Dixie, Once Upon A Time
  • Arrow: Action, drama, good looking people, a little bit of humour. I’ve said it before and I will say it again until it becomes reality, this show is the perfect schedule companion to Nikita.
  • Nashville: I’ve said it before, I’m kind of a sucker for anything that includes music. Despite the fact that this is settled in the world of country music (granted, my tastes have been widening over the years), all involved have put together a great show that welcomes you in, regardless of whether you are a country music fan or not.
  • Suits: This year, in its second season, Suits really stepped up in their story-telling. Not to knock down the first season, which was good, but this year, they turned it up a whole other level. Gripping drama, with a great deal of charm, charisma, and humour, the show surpassed White Collar and Covert Affairs as my favourite show on the USA Network.
  • Parks and Recreation: I really hate to admit this, but this was the year I caught up with Parks. I had watched the first season when it aired, and wasn’t particularly impressed with it, so I didn’t continue on. Man, was that a mistake. After watching season 2 during my travels, I continued catching up on the show every chance I got, until I caught up to what was airing in S4. I am so happy I gave the show a second shot, because no other comedy on the air can be simultaneously so hilarious and so endearing.
  • Homeland: The plot about a war veteran suspected of being a terrorist, sparked very negative/eye-rolling responses in me. However, after hearing such great buzz about the first season, I sat down and watched it over the summer. When the show came back for its second season, I was committed to it. Fantastic writing, and without a doubt, award-worthy acting from Claire Danes, Damien Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin, the show breaks all the TV rules of you should tell a story. What most shows would’ve done in 5+ seasons, Homeland did it in under 2.

DISAPPOINTMENTS IN 2012

Just for a little bit of a change, I thought I would include some music, movies, and shows that disappointed me over the year.

  • Music in general has disappointed me this year. Looking back at the music I’ve collected this year, I bought a lot less than previous years. I’m almost certain that half of this year’s music that I have is all from The Voice (U.S., U.K., Australia).
  • Glee: The show continued its descent into ridiculousness and lazy writing/creative music ideas. What I’ve come to finally realize is that I much prefer when Glee covers older songs and when they re-arrange the songs. Over the past year (maybe even 2), Glee continues to cover songs that are currently on the radio, which irks me to no end because I already don’t like 3/4 of the stuff on the radio, and they don’t even do anything different to the songs. I feel like the final straw was them doing Gangnam Style for “Regionals” and that this was the song they gave lead vocal to Jenna Ushkowitz’s Tina – can you say racist much?
  • Smash: Continuing with the music theme, Smash did not remotely live up to its fantastic pilot. The plus that it had was that it featured original music for its musical. After that, it was just ridiculous. Characters like Ellis and Leo were downright annoying. We’re supposed to like Debra Messing’s character Julia, but she did some really stupid things (and wore a lot of scarves). Don’t even get me started on Uma Thurman’s arc on the show. There’s an overhaul for season 2, with a bunch of dispensable characters gone, and some fresh blood in both newcomers (Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mientus) and familiar faces (Jennifer Hudson, Sean Hayes). However with Joshua Safran (previous showrunner of Gossip Girl) taking over for Teresa Rebeck as showrunner, I still have my reservations.
  • True Blood: Speaking of ridiculous, season 5 of TB was pretty frickin’ bad. All that religion, cult, Lilith stuff that went down was terrible. I can’t even bring myself to remember anything else about that season.
  • Prometheus: Straight up, I didn’t like it, didn’t get it. For being scientists and stuff, these people were pretty stupid, doing the typical movie things you should never do (ex. NEVER split up from the group!) There was also, for me at least, a complete lack of character development – we never fully understand why any of these characters are doing what they’re doing.
  • Rock of Ages: I had VERY low expectations for this movie and somehow they managed to make it even worse than I thought. I watched the movie because I’m a fan of Julianne Hough, but you have to admit, the rest of the cast was so incredibly random – Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones? Random. The movie was just all over-the-place.

So there you have it, some of my pop culture favourites and disappointments of the past year.