2016 In Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2016


Every January, I list my fourteen favorite songs of the previous year and, every January, I include the same disclaimer.  My fourteen favorite songs are not necessarily the fourteen favorite songs of any of the other writers here at the Shattered Lens.  We are a large and diverse group of people and, as such, we all have our own individual tastes.

If you ever visited the TSL Bunker, you would be shocked by the different music coming out of each office.  You would hear everything from opera to death metal to the best of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  And then, of course, you would reach my office and you would discover that my taste in music pretty much runs the gamut from EDM to More EDM.

Now, usually, I do try to listen to a variety of music.  You can go to my Song of the Day site — Lisa Marie’s Song of the Day — and see that I do occasionally listen to other types of music.  But, I have to be honest.  2016 was not a year that inspired me to really leave me comfort zone.  If anything, music provided me with some much needed consistency in an otherwise chaotic year.  2016 was a year that made me want to dance until it was all over and, for the most part, my favorite songs of the year reflect that fact.

Before I list my 14 songs, I should make something else very clear.  These are my 14 favorite songs of 2016.  I’m not saying that they’re necessarily the best songs of 2016.  I’ll leave that debate for others.  Instead, there are the songs that I found myself listening to over and over again.  These are the songs made me dance.  These are the songs that made me sing.  A few of these songs relaxed me when I needed to be relaxed.  One of the songs made me cry but I’m not going to say which one.

It might make you cry too.

Or it might not.

That’s the beautiful thing about art.  Everyone experiences it in their own individual way.

Here are my 14 favorite songs of 2016:

14) David Bowie — Lazarus

13) Afrojack & Hardwell — Hollywood

12) Cedric Gervais (ft. Juanes) — Este Amor

11) Matoma (ft. Becky Hall) — False Alarm

10) Radiohead — Burn the Witch

9) Gorgon City (feat Vaults) — All Four Walls

8) Penthox — Give It Away

7) Britney Spears — Clumsy

6) Martin Garrix (feat Mesto) — WIEE

5) Tiesto, Oliver Heldens (feat Natalie LaRose) — The Right Song

4) The Weekend (feat Daft Punk) — Starboy

3) Radiohead — Daydreaming

2) Coldplay — Up&Up

1) The Chemical Brothers — C-h-e-m-i-c-a-l

For my previous picks, check out 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015!

Tomorrow, I will be posting some of my favorite things that I saw on television in 2016!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2016:

  1. TFG’s 2016 Comics Year In Review : Top Tens, Worsts, And Everything In Between
  2. Anime of the Year: 2016
  3. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2016
  4. 2016 in Review: The Best of SyFy
  5. 2016 in Review: The Best of Lifetime
  6. 2016 in Review: Lisa Picks the 16 Worst Films of 2016!
  7. Necromoonyeti’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

Music Video of the Day: Let Forever Be by The Chemical Brothers (1999, dir. Michel Gondry)


I recently decided to pin a tweet to my account saying I’ll take requests for music videos to do here. Lisa jumped on it in short order. Of her requests, I decided to go with this one first.

I was originally planning to go back and try to put this music video in some context, but I have a bad habit of biting off more than I can chew. If I were really to do that, then I would probably be going back at least as far as 1978, if not back to the 1960s. Forget that, I’ll get to those music videos in time. You don’t have to know anything about where elements of this music video come from to enjoy it.

The Chemical Brothers were probably my first introduction to this style of music. It never really stuck with me. I remember there being some show on MTV that generated screensaver-like patterns to songs such as Block Rockin’ Beats. That was enjoyable to catch late at night. But like I said, this genre of music never really became a thing for me.

I like the song, but it’s the music video that interests me. I won’t lie. I took one look at the thumbnail for the music video, and thought of Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. Then I hit Michel Gondry’s IMVDb page and a few music videos caught my eye. He has done some for Björk because of course he has. Two other music videos that jumped out at me were Blow Me Down by Mark Curry and Les Jupes by RoBERT.

There’s a constant theme of distortion of reality in Gondry’s work. For example, you can see this in 1995’s Like A Rolling Stone by The Rolling Stones. You can see the spinning of reality to reveal fantasy in his version of Sheryl Crow’s A Change Would Do You Good where it’s a viewfinder rather than something you would expect in a musical. You can see the clock in Feel It by Neneh Cherry. Another interesting one to look at is Hou! Mama Mia by Les Negresses Vertes.

You can go on and on here piecing this music video together from Gondry’s previous work, but I won’t. To really do it justice would require doing a full retrospective of Gondry’s music videos.

You can go through and interpret the video. I’ll leave that to you. Gondry doesn’t make it cryptic. My favorite part is the television test pattern. I like how the clock is normal at the start when she wakes, blank when she goes to sleep, and giant when she buries herself under her covers at the end. The hour hand does a horizontal flip between the way it is shown at the start as opposed to the end. Also, the blank clock has the drum set on top of it that progressively moves from the sidewalk across the street to being in her apartment.

Just enjoy it! I did. Thank you for the recommendation, Lisa. Someday I’ll get around to going through all of Gondry’s work that I can get my hands on.

Georges Bermann and Julie Fong produced the music video. They both worked mainly with Gondry.

K.K. Barrett was the art director. I can only find a couple of credits, but three of them happen to be ones that have already been done here. He was the “Philosophical Consultant” on Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim. I still have no idea what that means. He was the production designer on Elektrobank by The Chemical Brothers. He was also the art director for Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins. That means they hired an art director who is famous for working on a remake of a classic example of Cinema of Spectacle (A Trip To The Moon), would go on to do a Fred Astaire inspired music video, and had already done a music video with The Chemical Brothers. Even more so, he was doing music like this known as electropunk back in the 1970s with a group called The Screamers. You can see him on drums in the video below–assuming it is still up.

He has also worked on famous films like Her (2013) and Lost In Translation (2003).

Music Video of the Day: Elektrobank by The Chemical Brothers (1997, dir by Spike Jonze)


Today’s music video is Elektrobank by The Chemical Brothers and it just happens to go along perfectly with my current series of Back To School reviews!

This video takes place at a high school gymnastics competition and it stars none other than one of my favorite directors, Sofia Coppola!  Well, actually, if you want to get technical, some of the video’s best moments features Sofia’s stunt double.  But still, she gives a great performance.

This video was directed by the great Spike Jonze, Sofia’s future (ex) husband.

2015 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 10 Favorite Songs!


Whenever we have visitors here at Shattered Lens HQ, the first thing that they always seem to notice is the wide variety of music being played.  Considering the number of contributors that we have working here on any given day, it makes sense.  After all, we all have our own individual tastes in music and we’re not afraid to play it loud.

Of course, I’m sure it can be somewhat jarring who is, for the first time, discovering the aural experience of walking down a hallway here at the TSL Building.  As you walk by Necromoonyeti’s office, you hear the sounds of metal thunder.  Across the hallway, Arleigh might very well be listening to The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.  Even further down the hallway, you might hear the blogger known as Jedadiah Leland listening to anything from Nine Inch Nails to Ornette Coleman or maybe you’ll even hear my sister singing along with Beyonce.  Eventually, you’ll reach my office and, nine times out of ten, I will be blasting EDM (or occasionally Britney Spears) and dancing, only turning the music down if Leonard Wilson stops by my office to continue our debate as to whether or not Aaron Sorkin is an overrated misogynist.

(Occasionally, if I’m lucky, I can convince Valerie Troutman to come to my office and sing the Degrassi theme song with me.  Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through….)

Anyway, my point is that every writer at the Shattered Lens is an individual with her or his own taste in music, movies, and … well, everything.  So, when you look at my list of my 10 favorite songs of 2015, you should keep in mind that these are my ten favorite songs and they do not necessarily reflect the musical opinions or tastes of anyone here at the Shattered Lens but me!  And, in fact, if you want to see just how eclectic a group we here at the Shattered Lens, be sure to check out Necromoonyeti’s list of his favorite metal albums of 2015!

Anyway, here are my favorite songs of 2015.  Notice that I didn’t say “best.”  Instead, these are some of the songs that I spent the previous 12 months obsessively listening to.  When I make my autobiographical movie about my life in 2015, these are the songs that will appear on the soundtrack!

Honorable Mention: Elle King — Ex’s and Oh’s

Ex’s and Oh’s has pretty much been my song all through 2015.  However, the song itself was originally released in 2014 and this is a list of the best songs released in 2015.  That said, hardly a day in 2015 went by without my listening to and singing along with this song and there’s no way I can’t include it.

Special Bonus Track Included Because Otherwise There Would Be 11 Songs Listed And Lisa Has A Phobia About Odd Numbers: Ellie Goulding — Love Me Like You Do

And now the list:

10) Adele — When We Were Young

9) Icona Pop — Emergency

8) Kelly Clarkson — Take You High

7) The Chemical Brothers — Sometimes I Feel So Deserted

6) Public Service Broadcasting — Go!

5) Taylor Swift (featuring Kendrick Lamar) — Bad Blood

4) Purity Ring — Bodyache

3) Big Data (featuring Jamie Liddell) — Clean

2) Public Service Broadcasting — Gagarin

1) The Chemical Brothers (featuring St. Vincent) — Under Neon Lights

For my previous picks, check out 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014!

Tomorrow, I will be posting some of my favorite things that I saw on television in 2015!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy
  4. 2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime
  5. 2015 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For The 16 Worst Films of 2015

Lisa’s Editorial Corner: On Tornadoes, Rango, social media, and Charlie Sheen


Well, it had to happen but did it have to happen so soon?

So, here we are.  Just two weeks into doing Lisa’s Editorial corner and already, I’m worrying that I may have nothing to talk about.  Of course, some of that is because I’m a little bit preoccupied.  Somehow — don’t ask how unless you really want the details — I managed to sprain my foot on Saturday morning.  I stayed on the couch for the weekend but then, foolishly, I attempted to both work and dance on Monday.  So, right now, I am home, my foot hurts, and I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else.

(At the same time, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve sprained my foot and/or my ankle.  It sucks right now but I’ll be okay soon.  I’m taking off work on Tuesday, which means that I’ll get to make even more progress in cleaning out the DVR!)

Plus, as I write this at 1:30 in the morning, we are currently under tornado watch!  If a tornado does decide to show up, I am not looking to forward to having to hop my way into the downstairs coat closet.  They say that, if you don’t have a storm bunker like the one Michael Shannon installed in Take Shelter, the downstairs closet is the safest place to get in case of a tornado.  I have never understood why.

This is why I sometime hate social media.

charlie-sheen-5240

Since Monday is always my crazy day, I was not on twitter when the whole “Charlie Sheen Has HIV” story broke.  In fact, I didn’t know a thing about it until someone mentioned it in passing that night and, at that time, I was so busy trying not faint from the pain of my sprained foot that it really didn’t register with me.

So really, it wasn’t until I got home, took a handful of Vicodin, and logged onto twitter that I was really aware of what’s been going on with Sheen.  Apparently, this Tuesday (i.e., today), Sheen is going to be on the Today Show and is going to reveal whether or not he has HIV.  There’s something really ghoulish about how much some people are anticipating Charlie Sheen announcing that he is HIV positive.

It’s also sad that, judging from many of the comments on twitter, a lot of people don’t understand that being HIV positive does not mean that Charlie Sheen has AIDS.  Check out a few of the comments:

Keep in mind that I’m writing this at 1:33 in the morning and Charlie Sheen has yet to officially announce anything.  By the time this post is published and you read it, Sheen will probably have announced whatever it is that he’s going to announce but, for now, nobody knows anything.  There’s just speculation.  For all we know, Sheen is going to announce that he’s HIV negative or that he wants to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

In fact, the only thing we know for sure is that a lot of people seem to be positively gleeful about the possibility of Charlie Sheen having HIV.  I’ve never been a fan of Charlie Sheen’s and I found his whole “winning” thing to be more pathetic than anything else.  But it has always disturbed me that his extremely self-destructive behavior has always been treated as a source of entertainment.  What’s particularly offensive is that many of the same people who loved to watch crazy old Charlie talk about “tiger blood,” are now gloating about how Sheen’s “lifestyle” has caught up with him.  It was a lifestyle that was largely dependent upon and made possible by American’s own twisted love/hate relationship with celebrity.

The blogger known as Jedadiah Leland and I have often debated whether or not social media is worth all the trouble.  Usually, I think I can make a pretty good case that twitter does enough good that it makes all the other bullshit worth it.  But, when I see thousands of strangers competing to come up with the best joke about someone being HIV-positive, I start to think that he may have a point.

And since I’ve just been critical of twitter, I’ll wrap this up with a tweet from my sister:

The best laid plans of Lisa…

Before I got caught up writing about Charlie Sheen, I was going to devote a bit of a space to talking about how much I hate it when people show up late for a movie.  I mean, seriously — we all know that, if a movie is listed as starting at 7:00, the movie isn’t really going to start until 7:20.  That’s a 20 minute grace period right there and there’s really no excuse for arriving at the theater after that grace period has ended.  If you’re going to be more than 20 minutes late, either go to a different showing or go back home.  But for God’s sake, don’t wander into the theater and go, “Oh, the movie’s started,” and then stumble around looking for a seat in the dark.

To be honest, I’d rather be stuck in a theater with a screaming baby than have to deal with people showing up 30 minutes late for the movie.

As long as we’re here, check this out!

The evil clown who pops up to sing ‘Get Yourself High‘ in the Chemical Brothers’ live show has his own Facebook page.  I am so happy right now!  Unfortunately, there’s not much information on the page about the clown but I liked it anyway.  You never know when the clown might decide to open up about his hopes and dreams.

Clown

FLASHBACK TIME!

You know what you should find time to do today?  You should take a trip into the past and read the very first review that Leonard Wilson ever wrote for this site.  I present to you … Leonard’s 2o11 review of Rango!

One Final Thought…

At any given time, I usually have about a week’s worth of blog posts scheduled to publish on the various sites that I write for.  So, if I died tomorrow, my writing would actually outlive me.  Think about it — I could be dead and still giving you my opinion.  And if I am dead and I tell you to see a movie, you better see it!

Ghost Critic

Have a great week!

The Most Underappreciated Film Of The Year: Joe Wright’s Hanna


Sometimes, it seems like it’s easier for me to write about the films I dislike as opposed to the films that I truly love.  Case in point: I had little trouble writing up my thoughts on Anonymous and Straw Dogs but it’s taken me 8 months to write a formal review of my favorite film of 2011: Joe Wright’s pulp fairy tale, Hanna.

Taking place in a world much like our own but definitely not the same, Hanna opens in the frozen wilderness of Finland where 16 year-old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) lives in an isolated cabin with her father, Erik (Eric Bana).  In the film’s electrifying opening montage, we see that Hanna’s life revolves around training for combat, memorizing the encyclopedia, and memorizing several “false” back stories that have been prepared for her by her father.  It also quickly becomes apparent that Erik has never allowed his daughter to be exposed to the real world.  Finally, Erik tells Hanna that she is “now ready” to choose whether or not to open up a box containing an old transmitter that well alert the rest of the world of their existence.  When Hanna finally opens the box, Erik promptly disappears and Hanna is left to fend for herself.

It quickly becomes apparent why Erik has spent years training his daughter because, by opening the box, Hanna has given away her presence to a coolly corrupt and ruthless CIA agent named Marissa (Played by Cate Blanchett and one of the most compelling villains in recent film history).  Marissa has her own reasons for wanting both Erik and Hanna and she quickly sends a team to Erik’s cabin.  Hanna is captured and transported to a memorably sterile CIA safehouse.  In a shocking sudden burst of violence, Hanna escapes from the safehouse and finds herself having to survive in the “real world” while being pursued by Marissa. 

Hanna, Marissa, and Erik eventually meet their fates in a desolate theme park that (in a neat bit of symbolism) is dedicated to the Brothers Grimm.  Along the way, Hanna meets and travels with a likable family of English tourists, allowing her to have her first chance to actually experience a “normal” life and Marissa recruits Issacs, one of the creepiest film henchmen ever.  Seriously. Isaacs is played by Tom Hollander and he was just so exquisitely sleazy that my skin crawled just watching him on-screen. 

In many ways, Hanna may sound like a simple action film but, in the best tradition of the French new wave and the better grindhouse filmmakers, Joe Wright both embraces the conventions of the action film while unexpectedly subverting them and using them to tell a more universal story about the struggle to both establish and maintain identity in an increasingly soulless world.  Much as Godard did before he gave up his artistic soul to political ideology, Joe Wright uses his cinematic talents to create a unique world that, while heavily stylized, also comments on our own existence.  The Chemical Brothers, meanwhile, provide the perfect soundtrack to Wright’s pulp vision.

Hanna may be my favorite film of 2011 but it’s also the most underappreciated of the year, at least as far as Oscar season is concerned.  There’s been so mention of the film’s score and a few critics’ groups have tossed a “young artist” mention or two at Saoirse Ronan but otherwise, the film has pretty much been ignored.  I think part of the problem is that Hanna was released in April and not December.  If the films had been released in December, I think Ronan would, at the very least, be a dark horse for best actress. 

The main complaint that most critics seem to come up with when discussing Hanna is that the film is too much of a genre piece.  Yes, it’s well-made and it’s well-acted and yes, it’s a compelling film with an intelligent script but, in the end, it’s just a genre piece.  A fairly typical response comes from the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw who, after praising all of the film’s virtues, concluded with, “…(I)t ultimately squanders all of them, undone by a lack of subtlety and restraint.” 

To this, I can only respond, “Oh?  Really?”  Seriously.  Amazingly enough, some of the critics who criticized Hanna for a perceived lack of subtlety are the same critics who are now falling over themselves to praise the rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  I suppose the difference here is that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was directed by David Fincher and is the product of the American film establishment whereas Hanna was directed by Joe Wright and was produced by outsiders.

Those who claim that Hanna is too genre are missing the simple fact that Hanna is an insightful film that uses the conventions of the action genre as a metaphor for the sometime painful search for identity that every teenager (and especially every teenage girl) has ever had to go through.  Myself, I never had to flee from government agents or battle assassins when I was 16 but I did have to start discovering how to survive in the real world, away from the security and comfort of home.  As opposed to the pretend feminism of Fincher’s film, Hanna is a film that truly celebrates “girl power” and promotes independence and empowerment.  It’s also, as far as I’m concerned, the best film of 2011.

Songs of the Day: The Devil Is In The Details/Beats from Hanna (by The Chemical Brothers)


To cap off the day I decided to take a lead from my favorite spring and summer past-time (baseball) and give everyone a double-header. The latest song of the day is actually two of them. While they’re really a single melody they’re done in two diverging ways that fit in with Joe Wright’s modern fairy tale action film, Hanna.

Once again these songs are from The Chemical Brothers who everyone by now have heard composed the score for Hanna. They did such a magnificent job scoring this film that I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re asked to do more of it in the future. I will admit that I actually like they’re work on Hanna than what Daft Punk did for Tron: Legacy. The songs I picked are called “The Devil Is In The Details” and “The Devil Is In The Beats” respectively.

The first song is a charming little melody that sounds like it’s being played on a calliope. It really underscores the fairy tale aspect of the film and Hanna’s own Grimm’s fairy tale like journey from the frozen wilderness of Finland to the rundown carnival (looking like something out of Bizarro World Grimm’s fairy tale) to end the film. This melody also becomes a sort of leitmotif for whenever Hanna became endangered from the assassins hired by her nemesis, Marissa Veigler, to chase her down. The leader of this group will begin to whistle this tune when they’ve caught onto Hanna’s trail.

The second song is a more aggressive version of this fairy tale melody done in the only way The Chemical Brothers know how. “The Devil Is In The Beats” is twists, distorts, remixes and adds a funky bassline to the original “The Devil Is In The Details” but without losing the original calliope tone. This version I liken to a fairy tale story seen through the eyes of someone tripping out on acid or LSD.

Both songs fit in well in the scenes they complement and just shows how well both filmmaker Joe Wright and The Chemical Brothers were on the same wavelength when it came to telling the story of Hanna.