Friday, February 1, 2013

Top 10 Songs of 2012

2012 was an interesting year for my type of music.  It wasn't as good as 2010 (the best in my opinion) or 2011, but it had a decent mix of good pop/dance/hip-hop/rap.  At the same time, it had some absolutely abysmal songs that dominated for far too long, such as a song by a Belgian band named Gotye whose name I shudder to mention, or Bruno Mars' uninteresting singles.

However, at the top was a super hard choice between two of my favorite songs from two of my favorite artists, David Guetta and Flo Rida.  What made it even harder was the fact that the Australian singer Sia was a featured artist in both singles, and killed it in both of them.

When all was said and done though it was clear who the winner was.

1. David Guetta - Titanium (Ft. Sia): I actually heard this song for the first time, and listened to it quite a bit in 2011, the summer of which is when Guetta's awesome album "Nothing but the Beat" came out (a bunch of songs from that album made the top list for last year).  It made the 2012 list because that is when it hit American radio and became huge; it was covered by everyone, has some amazing remixes, and was even featured in a movie.

Why does it beat #2 though?  Because it takes a simple lyrical theme that makes it far more universal and emotional than every other song on this list, even "Don't you worry child."  The song, backed by an amazing beat and production by Saint David Guetta, even after listening to it steadily for a year-and-a-half, can still give me chills.  It's simple and complex at the same time.  It's a great pop song and a great dance song.

The key ingredient for this song is Sia.  David Guetta has so many hits that some of his less-better songs start to become familiar and not as exciting, for me that would be "Turn me on," featuring Nicki Minaj.  But Sia's great voice, especially in the chorus, in which she thunders: "Shoot me down, but I won't fall, I am titanium!"puts this song as Guetta's best single as a lead artist, in my humble opinion. 

2. Flo Rida - Wild ones (Ft. Sia): After the hugely entertaining "Club can't handle me," in which Flo Rida teamed up with none other than David Guetta in 2010, Flo Rida sort of struggled to land a hit that I really dug.  The other singles on his 2010 album sort of flopped, with only "Who dat girl" denting Hot 100 in any serious matter.

He came back with "Good feeling," which I liked but did not love.  However, a week before the end of my first semester of law school his facebook page linked the 30 second intro from "Wild ones," and the hairs of my neck stood up, as I had a "good feeling" that the song that I was hoping for, essentially "Club can't handle me Part 2," had finally arrived.  And I was not disappointed.  The piano was awesome, the beat was great, Flo Rida's verses were awesome, and Sia killed the chorus so hard that she became the best thing about the song.  The first line from Flo Rida's opening rap verse kind of encapsulate the type of music that I dig: "I like crazy, foolish, stupid, party going wild fist-pumping music."

3. Ludacris - Rest of my life (Ft. Usher & David Guetta): This song came out of nowhere (for me at least) in November.  It was unapologetically a David Guetta song, even though Ludacris is the lead artist.  The trio make an amazing team as Ludacris raps in his characteristic flow that is sort of addicting (though he could've used another 20-30 seconds in the song IMO), Usher creates an awesome chorus, and Guetta provides the beat and excellent dance breaks.  It's perhaps a better straight-up dance tune than "Titanium" or "Wild Ones," and it's theme is simply: fun.  It didn't catch onto American mainstream radio, but that is kind of fickle anyways so I really don't care.

4.  Jenniffer Lopez - Dance Again (Ft. Pitbull): In 2010 J.Lo made a triumphant track with "On the floor" (and also one of the most-viewed videos on youtube).  The team behind it was her, Pitbull, and the producer RedOne (best known for his work on Lady Gaga's debut album, but works with almost everyone it seems now).  The same team is arrayed here now, and followed the same formula: fun Pitbull verse+J.Lo verse, J.Lo Chorus, J.Lo verse, fun Pitbull verse, J.Lo chorus.  The best part of the song in my opinion is Pitbull's crazy lines that the less enlightened (fun sarcasm, so don't take offense) will make fun of.  Such as "Shimmy Shimmy yah, Shimmer yam Shimmer yay I'm a ol' dirty dog all day," and "Modern day Hugh Hef, uh yes."  I wish it had gotten more radio play but with everyone going momentarily crazy for a song that will not be mentioned from a Belgian band which will not be mentioned, it was destined to fade away fairly quickly.

5. Enrique Iglesias - Finally found you (Ft. Sammy Adams): Enrique was on fire in 2010 in America, "I like it" and "Tonight" were great, but he has been in kind of a slump lately.  This song didn't really hit it big but I still love it for its great pop-ness and dancefloor potential.  The chorus is undoubtedly great, and Sammy Adams, an aspiring American rapper (who happens to be white), plugs in a fun rap verse to top a great track off.

6. Swedish House Mafia - Don't you worry child (Ft. John Martin): I almost missed this song in 2012 (which is when it debuted), but it is just getting its groove on now, having risen to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  It's got awesome lyrics that perhaps eclipse "Titanium's":

Upon the hill across the blue lake,
That's where I had my first heartbreak.
I still remember how it all changed.
My father said,
"Don't you worry, don't you worry, child.
See heaven's got a plan for you."

It combines the good lyrics with amazing production and dance beats/breaks.   Why isn't it higher?  Perhaps because I started listening to it so late in the game, and perhaps its because I like the other artists more.  But it's still awesome.

7. French Montana - Pop that (Ft. Rick Ross, Drake, & Lil Wayne): I had never heard of French Montana before.  In the oversexual pool party music video for the single he wears a towel over his head.  It has very offensive lyrics in almost every way possible.  But like Wacka Flacka Flame's fantastic "No Hands" (which I absolutely love to death), I can't help but love it.  The song's energy comes from the beat and the chorus, "Don't stop, pop that pop that pop that, don't stop," etc., which is much more fun than you would think.  Combine that chorus with three of hip-hop/rap's biggest stars, and you get, much like "No Hands," a veritable anthem of offensiveness and excess.  In our offensive, hyper-sexualized, no-holds-barred society, we are going to get these kind of songs, and even though I don't like it I can't help but love this song.

8.  Pitbull - Get it started (Ft. Shakira): Unfortunately for Mr. Worldwide every song he makes I am going to compare to "Give me everything," because I love that song to death, and since it is unlikely for him to top that I expect him to fall short.  This song was another like those of J.Lo, Ludacris, and Enrique Iglesias, which fell short on the Hot 100 but didn't fall short in my heart.  It has a great chorus by Shakira, an energetic dance beat, and verses by Pitbull.  It's awesome.

9.  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop (Ft. Wanz): This song is a record-holder on the Hot 100 as the first independently produced single to hit Billboard's #1 spot.  It is also the highest charting song on this list.  I first heard it when I was told that the theme of my friend's bachelor party was based on it.  I was blown away by the song.  It has a great chorus featuring a sweet saxophone hook (which is special to me as I played the alto saxophone for many years, and will once I'm done with school), hilarious lyrics, fun verses, and just its off-the-wall zaniness.  The whole premise is that the rapper feels like a baller because he has saved all this money buying sweet things from a thrift shop.  In an age where almost every rap/hip-hop song is about a male who has lots of money and spends to excess, it is great to see the theme turned on its head.

10. B.o.B. - Both of us (Ft. Taylor Swift): The #10 spot was hard-fought.  But when I looked at the year in total I had to pick this song to round out my top ten songs of 2012.  It's a very interesting song, especially when you consider that is on the same album as "Strange Clouds," another B.o.B. song that I dig, that unfortunately (in my opinion) is all about illegal drug use which is saved by its beat and its flow.  This song though has real meaning, with B.o.B. rapping about struggles, pain, and making the world a better place.  You would think that Taylor Swift wouldn't fit here but she does beautifully, helped out by the countryish instruments that back her chorus: "I wish I/ Was strong, enough/ to lift, not one, but both of us."  An unexpectedly beautiful and meaningful song, "Both of us" is my tenth favorite song of 2012.


Kanye West - Clique (Ft. Big Sean & Jay-Z): Irresistible song about Yeze's group of ballers held together by Big Sean's chorus

Juicy J - Banz a make her dance (Ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz): A song much in the same vein as "Pop that," very offensive and outrageous, but once you get over that it's a lot of fun.

Cher Lloyd - Want u back: The Brit X-Factor star who didn't win but became more famous than the actual winner of that season, this is a catchy pop song about a girl who dumps a boy because she thinks she can do better but wants to win him back when she sees him happy with another girl.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  Seriously, look up her X Factor performances, she can sing, she can rap, and she is super cute as well.

Brandy - Put it down (Ft. Chris Brown): Hate on Breezy all you want, but a good beat, great-sounding vocals from Brandy, and fun rhymes from Breezy make this a near-miss. 

Worst of the worst:

Gotye - Somebody I used to know (Ft. Kimbra): This song was the bane of four months of my life.  It's boring, it's boring, the lyrics are horrible, it's boring, it's boring, and it was POPULAR!!!  America, what have you done!  Not the first time you have messed up something big this year.  Did I mention that this song was boring and it was popular?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer 2012 Movie Wrap-up

A couple months ago I noted my top 5 movies I was looking forward to this summer.  They were:

1. Prometheus
2. The Dark Knight Rises
3. The Amazing Spiderman
4. The Avengers
5. Expendables 2

I saw each of those movies, finishing the Expendables sequel about an hour ago.  I was thinking I would do an indepth review of all of them, but really there is nothing more to say.  They were all awesome.

Of the 5, I would have to say I rank them like this:

Dark Knight Rises
Expendables 2

Why?  Batman was sooooo good.  The villain was better than expected.  The pacing was great, and Nolan took some chances with the story and characters that surprised me.  2 hours and 45 minutes flew by for me.  The action was tight.  Anne Hatheway was a surprise hit, I couldn't believe what a great Catwoman she was.

Promtheus was the one I was most looking forward to, mostly because the ground it had tread had been left alone for decades since Aliens came out in the 1980's.  It was a beautiful movie.  Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender were the clear favorites of the film.  I thought the plot was great and it left me wanting the painfully obvious sequel.

Spiderman was surprisingly good, despite the "ok" Spiderman 3 coming out six years ago.  I thought Tobey Maguire was outshone by Andrew Garfield, and I thought Emma Stone was perfect as Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone's natural color is blond, I just learned, she is something else).  The villain, of course, couldn't top Willem Dafoe, but the fight scenes were awesome (the best scene featured a cameo of creator Stan Lee with the hero and protagonist fighting in the background).

Expendables 2 was exactly what I expected.  The first one was more of a "could they redo the classic 80's action movies with 80's action stars in 2010," and after Sylvester Stallone and co. proved that they could of course they made a sequel to it.  With so many toned down PG-13 movies coming out (Live Free or Die Hard, for example) when they should be "Hard" R movies, it is refreshing to see a no-holds-barred action movie pull everything off.

Finally, the Avengers.  I enjoyed it, it was fun and action-packed.  I thought it was amazing that Joss Whedon could pull it off, by having four larger-than-life heroes, all played by top Hollywood talent, share the spotlight.  Perhaps what took the enjoyment a tad down compared to the other films (especially Promtheus) was because there has been so many recent movies featuring the Avengers (Iron Man, Capn' America, Thor, and the Hulk).  I ununderstand that Marvel wanted to set up the fanfare film, but still.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Top 10 Songs of 2011

2010's music hits were still being played on the radio when 2011's smash singles were just getting started.  With Facebook and Youtube anchored firmly in the camps of mainstream music, it was possible to listen to hit singles in the making months before they would later explode due to high radio play and digital singles sales.  Such was the case with several of these hits, including my current #1 favorite song.  Without further ado . . .

1. Pitbull - Give me everything (Ft. Ne-Yo, Nayer, & Afrojack) - I have already given this song its own anniversary post, but I have to highlight it again, as well as the youtube post that tipped me off in March of last year.  The song is just so . . . listenable . . . in almost every situation I can think of.  I want to hear it in the car.  In the gym.  At the club.  At my wedding.  Even at my funeral.  From Pitbull's raspy opening to the wavy synth to the bright piano chords to Ne-Yo's delicious voice to Nayeer's magical chorus break to the fun rap verses to the unstoppable production from Afrojack, to rhyming "Kodak" with "Kodak" to the delightful pre-chorus.  When I first heard it, it reeked of a titanic hit, and it did not disappoint, selling millions of singles and becoming the #1 radio song on Billboard for 2011, and a respectable #5 on the more prestigious Hot 100 list.  Most of my other songs that I have gotten obsessed with slowly make it to lower and lower positions on my ever-growing list of favorite songs, but I can't see it happening with this one.

Now, the list gets VERY tricky.  I loved GME so much that it was hard for me to "rank" songs during most of 2011.

2. David Guetta - Without you (Ft. Usher) - At first I wasn't sold on this song.  I had been bummed that Guetta's first single, "Where them girls at," had kind of bombed in the U.S., peaking its first week on the chart then hovering in the 30's before falling away, but hearing it often on the radio in the fall had it grow on me.  It's got dance, it's got beat, it's got emotion, and it has my men Usher and Guetta tearing it up.

3. Jeniffer Lopez - On the floor (Ft. Pitbull)  - Almost anything with Pitbull is awesome and this track is no exception, with him stealing the show during his verses with hilarious lines such as "back it up like a tonka truck."  J.Lo has a great voice, perfectly suited for pop/club type stuff, and RedOne's production is top notch.  Perfectly suited for clubs or gyms. 

4. David Guetta - Where them girls at? (Ft. Flo Rida & Nicki Minaj) - When I first heard this song, someone had stolen the vocals from Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj and substituted their own production for it . . . and it was still good.  Nevertheless, I predicted it would be a smash hit, and it never happened.  Even if other people didn't appreciate it, I did.  It may sound a little too much like Guetta's "Sexy 'Chick,'" but it is one hell of a good time.

5. David Guetta - Little bad girl (Ft. Taio Cruz & Ludacris) - Another Guetta single that failed to take off in the United States (it was big overseas where they appreciate dance-oriented music more), but it's awesome.  Guetta here has almost old-school nintendo type synths which go along with Taio's sexy British singing voice and Ludacris's fun rap verse.

6.  Katy Perry - E.T. (Ft. Kanye West) - It originally came out in 2010 as a Katy Perry solo track, but for the single they added two verses from Kanye West and made it something special, and became massive on radio.  Nothing really to add, it's awesome wherever you hear it, and it's slow "boom boom clap"

7. Ke$ha - Blow - Perhaps not as good as "Your love is my drug" or "Tik tok" or even "We R who we R," the song is a helluva lot of fun.

8. Gym Class Heroes - Ass back home (Ft. Neon Hitch) - I was predisposed against Gym Class Heroes because they partnered with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, who I don't like, for "Stereo Hearts," but Neon Hitch won my heart in "Ass back home" with the absolutely amazing chorus that blows Travie McCoy's two rap verses out of the water.  This is one of the songs where the chorus makes the song.

9. Kanye West - All of the lights (Ft. Rihanna, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, etc.) - Released in January 2011, it is one of the "oldest" songs of the bunch.  It's an absolutely epic ensemble anthem, featuring so many vocals that I can't list them all.  The most important contributor of the bunch, Rihanna, delivers an awesome chorus, while West's rap verses are delivered in his unique style and somehow makes it more memorable with the matureish content.

10. Adele -Someone like you - After the dreadful "Rolling in the deep," which I was very predisposed against because it kept "Give me everything" from being #1 on the Hot 100 for several weeks and is generally boring, "Someone like you" is an emotional, sad, wrenching, and yes, beautiful.  Adele proves her vocal talent is second to none, even if not all of her songs are in my taste.  I can respect her even while I change the radio dial for the majority of her songs.


LMFAO - Party rock anthem - Okay, it's a fun song, but it's not that good or epic of a song in the way that the other songs on this list are.  Leave my radio alone, and give me more Pitbull.


Roscoe Dash - Good "Good" night - The title is explicit, and so are the lyrics, but this song is killer.  You may recognize Roscoe Dash's distinctive voice from hits like "No Hands," and I really dig it.  He's not for everyone, and I don't like some of his other songs, but the chorus in this song is great and the bass is awesome.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Summertime is great for moviegoers like me because it is the season of the mega-blockbuster.  Think CGI, explosions, beautiful people, action, and a plot that probably won't stimulate those who prefer more intellectually stimulating fare.

Don't get me wrong, I love movies that have tightly paced plots and twists and good acting, but I prefer to see a certain type of movie on the big screen; especially considering today's prices.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 must-watches for this summer.

1. Prometheus - It's a sci-fi/horror genre mixer brought to us from Ridley Scott, whose work and resume are nothing short of genius.  Mixing the words "Ridley Scott" and "sci-fi/horror" are enough to get my wallet out, but consider the speculation that it is going to connect to one of my favorite franchises: the Alien saga.  We do know that there is a loose connection, but Scott is being cagey with us.  If it turns into a full-blown prequel that could be awesome; but not knowing is half the fun.  Oh, and it's rated R, so no concessions were made to make a few extra bucks at the box office.

2. The Dark Knight Rises - This is a no-brainer, both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were perfect movies which finally got Batman right.  Christopher Nolan is one of the rare directors who can concoct a perfect brew of action, acting, plot, and production values that can appeal to almost every single person, and the Batman/Bruce Wayne character is a perfect vehicle on which to unleash such a spectacle.  We know that this is going to be the last movie in this arc, so there are going to be no-compromises.

3. The Amazing Spiderman - You might think The Avengers would go at this spot, but not so fast.  Since the last Spiderman movie we have had Iron Man, IM2, Thor, and Captain America.  In other words, plenty of "Avengers" and not a lot of Spidey.  This is a reboot, Tobey Maguire is nowhere to be seen, and the leads are the super-hot Andrew Garfield and blond Emma Stone.  Damn!  Spidey looks to be taken in an entirely new direction, which I won't get into here, but suffice to say it will not be a remake of Tobey's "Spiderman."

4. The Avengers - It was going to be here anyway, and I just saw it yesterday.  Joss Whedon pulled it off, managing to cram the "Big 4" (Iron Man, the Captain, Thor, and The Hulk) into the movie with plenty of screen-time left over for the impressive supporting cast.  The main reason I wanted to see it was because Paramount and Marvel were doing something very ambitious by setting up this particular movie with 5 other movies (counting Ed Norton's Incredible Hulk, who was replaced by Mark Ruffalo for this film), and the result was most satisfying.

5. Expendables 2 - As the trailer for this played for The Avengers I remarked to my friend, "this is a movie made by men, for men."  The cast is mostly made up of 80's action megastars (including Stallone, Van Damme, Willis, Schwarzenegger, and Chuck Norris), and the "hard R" rating from the first film (which was awesome) will translate into tons of glorious action that will make 80's fanboys cry out in delight.  This might be one to leave the girlfriend at home.

Other movies that may have made the cut if there had not been so much competition:

GI Joe sequel - glorious action, The Rock, and Chatum Tanning.  The first one had brilliant action and pacing so this is going to be good.

Total Recall - a remake of a glorious action vehicle starring Schwarzenegger, it takes place on Mars and is awesome, I won't give anything away.  Colin Ferrel and Jessica Biel are going to rock this one out of the park, no doubt, but with all the competition it might not get the attention it deserves.

Battleship - Hasbro is giving us a "Transformerish" CGI/action fest coming out this weekend, with Liam Neeson, some hot dude, and Rihanna.  It'll have to hold me over until the summer of 2014, when Michael Bay gives us Transformers 4.

Other interesting ones that I probably will rent but not go to the theater for: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Brave, Bourne 4, and Snow White and the Huntsman (Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron, dayum!).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 10 songs of 2010

If 2009's "I gotta feeling" started my spiral into pop/club/dance music, 2010 sealed the deal.  I would call it an embarrassment of riches.  Just when I was getting into the groove at school on going out to the (surprisingly good) local bars/clubs, the new songs that were coming out were amazing.

2010 started with the reign of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok," started the summer with Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," and in my opinion, peaked with Flo Rida's "Club can't handle me."  Such a good year for music, and without further ado:

1. Flo Rida - Club Can't Handle me (Ft. David Guetta) - Wasn't exactly love at first sight, as I was finding my sea legs, but after hearing this on the radio a few times, I ended up performing it at a lip synch contest sponsored by the Student Government Association.  Perhaps because of my needing to learn the lyrics in order to lip synch to it properly, I listened to it more than I probably would have, and I fell in love with Flo Rida's verses, the chorus, and David Guetta's unbeatable production.  I would request it almost every time I would be out in the club.  Unfortunately, it only peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 for a couple of weeks, so it wasn't the absolute behemoth-sized smash that my second pick is, but that doesn't matter, because it is #1 in my heart.

2. Taio Cruz - Dynamite - Billboard magazine's "Hot 100 of the year" song was Dynamite, and for good reason: the song moved continents.  The song perfectly encapsulates everything I like about the pop/club/dance genre: it's simply pleasure, and glorious at that.  The lyrics weren't going to win any awards.  "I came to dance, dance, dance, dance," etc.  But the simplicity and clearness of the lyrics made it one that anyone who listened to it once or twice on the radio could sing along to it, and I wouldn't be surprised if a billion people have fist-pumped to Dynamite.

3. Diddy Dirty Money - I'm Coming Home (Ft. Skylar Grey) - This isn't exactly a dance/club song, but there is another genre of music that I take a liking too: "anthem-type" rap.  Add in 3 sexy verses by Diddy, a super sexy chorus sung by Skylar Grey and Diddy's two better halves, and amazing backing music.  That's "I'm Coming Home."  

4. Enrique Iglesias - I like it (Ft. Pitbull) - This song is just a delight.  Enrique and Pitbull are unstoppable. 

5. Usher - DJ Got us fallin' in love (Ft. Pitbull) - Usher in club style + Pitbull doing his thing is another unstoppable hit.

6. Lupe Fiasco - The show goes on - Another epic "anthem" rap, this time with the controversial Lupe Fiasco sampling Modest Mouse's biggest hit.  I came to like this song later on when it was hitting its stride on radio, and I also hear a clubbed up version in bars.

7. Chris Brown - Yeah 3x - This song was Chris Brown's redemption in my eyes.  As one of my college friend's remarked: it's a happy song about alcohol.  Yes it is, David James, yes it is, and it is one of my "back-up" songs to request when my top ones have already been played. 

8. Ke$ha - Your love is my drug - How I loved this song for a few months in 2010.  If I had written this near the beginning of 2011 it may have rated higher, but the songs that followed were so much better.

9. Jerimeh - Down on me (Ft. 50 Cent) - The song is dirty, the music video is dirtier, but the beat + the chorus + 50 cent was too much for me to resist. 

10. Enrique Iglesias - Tonight I'm 'Loving' You (Ft. Ludacris) - Enrique followed "I like it" with this song, and the uncensored version is a beast.  Even got to use the song in a tango in my dance group in college.  Sexy.

Honorable mention:

Wacka Flacka Flame, "No Hands" (Ft. Wale & Roscoe Dash) - I didn't really start listening to this song until about a year after it came out on youtube, but what makes it a winner in my eyes was the epic backing anthem tracks with the brass/drums/strings and Roscoe Dash's addicting voice and chorus.  "Girl the way you moving, got me in a trance."  Another dirty song, probably the worst of the 2010 list, but I can't not like it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Top 5 Songs of 2009

During the 2009-2010 school year, I, as a junior in college, discovered my current taste in music.  The Black Eyed Peas's "I gotta feeling" was a revelation to me.  Lame?  Shallow?  Maybe, but I don't care.  I only have 5 top songs here because I really wasn't keeping track back then.

Without further ado, here I try to rank my favorite 2009 songs, which is hard as it was 2.5-3 years ago . . .

1. Black Eyed Peas - "I gotta feeling" - No contest here.  Pure club/pop/dance magic.  BeP + David Guetta.  14 weeks on top of the Hot 100.  !!!!!   13+ million singles downloads.  The string/synth line holds it down while the song builds up several times to the verses and the epic chorus.  The song is so good that listing the days of the week actually works, and the call-and-response sections are great.

2. Miley Cyrus - "Party in the USA" - I couldn't resist it.  So catchy, and back then Miley was cute and not a wannabe Lindsay Lohan.

3. Keri Hilson - "Knock you down" (Ft. Ne-Yo & Kanye West) - This song makes it because I became obsessed with a remix on Newgrounds that I randomly stumbled into.  I think the remix is better than the original since it is sped up and more dancey, and though the remix is billed as a "trance" song I don't consider it that.

4. Pitbull - "I know you want me" - Pit rocked that track.  The music video was too "sexy" for me to show my mom, for instance, but the actual song is so delightfully fun.  "One, two, three, four, uno, dos, tres, quatro," (with Pitbull's signature 'whoop' in the building).  So nice.

5. Boys Like Girls - "Love Drunk" - Kind of a throwback to my rock/pop/punk fare that tided me over in high school, I love the song but it's not really what I like anymore.

Honorable mentions:

Jay Sean - "Down" (Ft. Lil Wayne) - A good track, but too hard to rank since I didn't listen to the track until later.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mass Effect 3

Four years ago I played Mass Effect.  Two years ago I played Mass Effect 2.  Twenty minutes ago, I beat Mass Effect 3.

The journey has had mostly ups and a few downs.  Each game has a fantastic cast of characters and a rich universe that, dare I say, nears that of the Star Wars galaxy.  The combat of the game has had significant improvements from the first to second, and second to third.  The third introduced a multiplayer co-op survival mode that is a ton of fun to play.

The best part though, was the story.  I will not give one plot point away other than to say you play a hyper-competent soldier named Shepard, who can either be a male or female, depending on your preference, and can be a "good guy" or a "ruthless goodish guy," and you are tasked with nothing less than saving the galaxy a couple hundred years from now.  With a wide variety of guns, biotic powers, and tech abilities, as well as two squadmates at any one time, you cut a swath through any opposition.

Which brings me to Mass Effect 3.  I was late to the party since I'm in law school and I wanted it at as a birthday present (born mid-March), and since ME3 came out in early March I had to wait almost two weeks while everyone else played it, and so I heard how supposedly "horrible" then ending was in almost every online post about the game.

I managed to avoid spoilers on the ending, other than how bad it was.  I ignored it as much as I could, since I thought the endings for the previous Mass Effect games were solid story-wise, even if not spectacular in the way the gameplay wrapped things up.

Not so with Mass Effect 3.  I feel hollow inside; I feel let down by Bioware.  Everything leading up to the last 15-20 minutes was superb.  The combat was amazing.  My Shepard, a Vanguard since Mass Effect, was a force of nature on the battlefield, teleporting and smashing and throwing and shooting his way through thousands of enemy troops of all varieties.  There were so many good characters, little improvements to how you interact with the world outside of the battlefield, and the dialogue at some parts was good enough to get me laughing, giving me goosebumps, or even a lump in my throat (but never tears, no-no, never happened).

But the ending. 

Bioware attempted something so ambitious: create an epic story, taking place over three games, where you create a character and make choices and interact with the world in a way that changes the future games.  And besides the ending, or should I say endings, they succeeded.

I loved running around my ship, catching seemingly random conversations between my crew, getting to know them and marveling at how skillful Bioware integrated  your input with your character, the other characters, and the other characters relationships with other characters.

And the ending takes it all away.  Three games, 4-5 years, countless hours dedicated to our respective Shepards.  What's so surprising about it is that even though their games' combat can sometimes be clunky, or sequels not living up to the original (like Dragon Age 2), no one can really fault Bioware for their characters or stories.  Even Dragon Age 2 featured a rich cast of characters and an intriguing, focused, political story (though the unbalanced combat took away from that).

The entire Mass Effect series was fan-freaking tastic, up to the last fifteen minutes.

Have I lost faith with Bioware?  Some.  I plan on replaying Mass Effect 3 with my female Shepard, a badass soldier who will do anything to achieve victory for her team, and I have enjoyed the co-op multiplayer a lot.  I will probably invest more time, money, but most importantly, my emotions, with a future Mass Effect game.

After hearing about how bad the ending was from other people, I hoped against hope that all the haters were wrong.  After all, gamers are notoriously picky, and freak out on favorite companies for seemingly little things.  But this is one thing they got right.  Going into the final mission, wondering what could be awaiting my character, speaking to my crewmates for perhaps the last time, I remained hopeful.

To be sure, Bioware had an epic task, to continually top themselves with improvements to combat, and wrap up an epic story in a way that satisfied us but also leaving open the possibility of having games in the Mass Effect universe in the future.  And up to the last 15 minutes of Mass Effect 3, they succeeded.