Picking a roommate is a very serious decision, if you’re lucky enough to be in the driver’s seat. Living with other people is not easy. Given how ill-tempered and OCD we can be, matching personalities is a fine art, if not an extinct art. When I coerced my best friend from back home on the east coast to move out and replace my old roommate, who ditched me for Australia on a wild whim in a matter of months, I thought I had won the lottery. I’m not saying I haven’t–we get along just great. It’s awesome to be able to live with your best friend. But sometimes you overlook the cultural differences that aren’t apparent when you don’t live with someone. Now that I’m living full-time with my Puerto Rican nugget, I get to soak in a completely new way of living. This is what happens when you move in with a latina:
Technically, summer isn’t here yet, but when school’s out, it’s 80 degrees and we’re in June, it’s summer. I said so. While laying poolside the past two days and listening to my summer essentials playlist, I got to thinking: “What are my top ten favorite summer songs?” We all know I’m a freakazoid when it comes to lists and I will agonize and spend countless neurotic hours perfecting these lists until I can sleep tight, so I decided to subject myself to such intolerable cruelty to bring to you my top songs of summer:
10. Let’s Run Away / Haley Reinhart
The former “American Idol” contestant hit such a sweet, tropical jackpot with this song from her debut album, Listen Up. If you don’t find yourself smiling at least once during this song, you’re not human. It’s magical.
9. I Like It / Enrique Iglesias Ft. Pitbull
Auto-tune at it’s finest. This song just makes me so happy as soon as the synthy intro drops. And with the assistance of Mr. I-Can-Name-Nearly-Every-Country-In-The-World Pitbull, it’s like a Miami dance party on the beach.
8. Gin & Juice / Snoop Dogg
I don’t even think I need to explain this one. Classics are classics.
7. California Gurls / Katy Perry Ft. Snoop Dogg
Even though this song has only been out for four years, it is already Billboard’s No.1 summer song of all time. It’s fun, it’s flirty, and a diabetic coma ready to happen. And it’s all about sunny California! What more could you want? A whipped-cream dispensing bra? Yeah, it has that too!
6. If It’s Lovin’ That You Want / Rihanna
Awww, how sweet and innocent were Rihanna’s Barbadian princess days? It’s a taste of the tropical and will forever be one of my favorite Riri tracks.
5. Summer of ’69 / Bryan Adams
Just a summer classic. It has this innate nostalgic appeal that makes you so happy without really knowing why. Maybe it’s because it came from a time when a summer jam could be made without referencing sex, naked men/women and alcohol…
4. Summer Love / Justin Timberlake
Just another great track off of the great Future Sex/Love Sounds album. It’s the perfect daytime cruising song with the windows down and swag all the way up. Does anyone actually dislike this song, though?
3. Standing On the Sun / Beyonce
After being used for an H&M ad campaign last summer, the song never made the final setlist for Beyonce, which I still don’t understand. Regardless, the song is cracked out on major summer endorphins and is so relaxing to the ears. You literally feel like you’re standing on the sun–which doesn’t actually sound relaxing, but whatever.
2. Rock the Boat / Aaliyah
Arguably the smoothest artist of all time, Aaliyah dropped major summer dopeness with this island jam. It’s so bittersweet listening to it though, considering the tragedy that unfolded after filming the video, but it’s still one of those songs that puts me in sunny, breezy bliss.
1. Honey / Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is the queen of summer music: Heartbreaker, Touch My Body, #Beautiful, etc. This woman knows how to make a smooth jam for those chill summer vibes. And how amazing does she look in this video? It’s kind of the first time we saw Mariah bust a move too. This was also the song where she turned black and never looked back.
I have found the process of ranking albums particularly difficult because, you know, my life is so hard and this is the apex of my concerns at the moment. There are two ways of looking at an album: it produced a lot of songs I like vs it’s a coherent, focused piece of work. I eventually put emphasis more on albums which were more focused around a certain sound rather than a clusterfuck of catchy tunes. So without further ado, here are my top ten albums (not that you care, but I like lists so I’m going to post it anyway):
10. Teenage Dream / Katy Perry / 2010
This little bundle of sugary pop confectionary damn near gave me diabetes in the fall of 2010. A “dream” is an apt title for this album because it’s so all over the place that no other title would rationalize the A.D.D. on display: peacocks, melting popsicles, aliens, break-ups, fireworks, sad faces, happy faces, etc. But for a diverse album, it sure did give us some solid hits.
Pick three: “Teenage Dream” / “Hummingbird Heartbeat” / “Part of Me”
9. Closer / Josh Groban / 2003
Can classical music be mainstream? Yes. Josh Groban made us all a little classier and worldly with this 5x-platinum sophomore release. Italian, French, Spanish, English–You name it, it’s sung. “Closer” is just such a beautiful album and Groban’s voice is like super dope and can make the hairs on your neck do the Harlem Shake. It’s a great publicity tool for Rosetta Stone too.
Pick three: “All’improvviso Amore” / “Si Volvieras A Mi” / “Remember When It Rained”
8. Confessions / Usher / 2004
One word: YEAH! Not only was THE song of the first decade of the millennium on this album, but it was also the birth of Ur-sher, baby. Soulful R&B and Usher’s falsetto just play so well together. From dancing on table tops to dropping panties in a blink of an eye: that is the magic of “Confessions,” along with some relationship faux-pas. If only everyone could sound so sexy and amazing for being a lowly, cheating douchebag.
Pick three: “Yeah” / “Can U Handle It” / “Burn”
7. Own the Night / Lady Antebellum / 2011
I can just smell the cornfields already. Lady Antebellum does such an amazing job at making country music that has cross-market appeal. This album in particular is so soothing and easy-going. It makes me want to bust out a flannel shirt and sit on a porch swing from dusk to dawn in the middle of October. My descriptions are very specific. So weird to think I saw them open for Carrie Underwood once and was like “Another song? Can they just get off–like, now?” How times have changed.
Pick three: “We Owned the Night” / “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” / “Wanted You More”
6. 4 / Beyonce / 2011
This is perhaps the funniest selection on this list. I vividly remember throwing an epic tantrum after sampling this originally. I. Was. Piiiiissed. “This album is horrible. Who does she think she is now? This ain’t 1960. Who killed Sasha Fierce? Where she at?” And then time passed and mended all of my Beyonce wounds. I can now appreciate the restraint and artistic direction she went with this, it just took some time. I like to go hard to Bey and this was not affording me the chance. “4” is just so unique and a breath of fresh air amid the dance-music revolution that was happening all around it.
Pick three: “Run the World (Girls)” / “End of Time” / “Love on Top”
5. Aaliyah / Aaliyah / 2001
Too many thoughts to write down. I think it’s a known fact–my feelings toward Aaliyah. One of the best ever. The production on this album in conjunction with her smooth chops just slays everything. She pushed the boundaries of soul into the future on this album and it makes for such a cool vibe. Mad swag alert.
Pick three: “Rock the Boat” / “I Care 4 U” / “We Need A Resolution”
4. Hybrid Theory / Linkin Park / 2000
Whodathunk that hip-hop and rock would sound good together for the duration of an entire LP? Linkin Park burst onto the scene in 2000 with this epic debut, pushing the boundaries of musical labels. The sound was different from anything I had heard before and I remember my dad (rock lover) playing this all summer long until the point that I even put my Spice Girls on hold to listen to it instead. It also reminds me of the time when 11-year-old me would listen to “In the End” with a heavy heart because I thought I had AIDS and was going to die. Medical hypochondria set in very early for me, clearly.
Pick three: “In the End” / “Papercut” / “With You”
3. Heal / Loreen / 2013
I have always stood by my claim that no one does pop music better than the Swedes. This album confirms that. But it’s more than just pop; there are shades of R&B and dance interwoven throughout. I have a “thing” for chill, night songs that have dance/trance elements incorporated and this album gave me a big, fat American-restaurant serving of that. It’s just so freaking cool. I also just happen to be obsessed with Loreen, which you can read all about in my #Addicted post dedicated to her. It’s dark, brooding and magical–like Harry Potter, sexed up with a strobe light.
Pick three: “Euphoria” / “Do We Even Matter” / “Crying Out Your Name”
2. Goodbye Lullaby / Avril Lavigne / 2011
I adore this album. Like “We Own the Night,” it’s just an effortless album to listen to. The tracks are all coherent and incredibly cute. And like “4,”this was not one of Avril’s best-selling albums by a long shot. All of the angst and screaming was stripped away and there she was, introspective and sad–I enjoyed it. It’s like Adele, I like you being miserable, because you make good music for my ears. Just a tad selfish?
Pick three: “I Love You” / “Stop Standing There” / “What the Hell”
1. Daydream / Mariah Carey / 1995
Nothing can ever or will ever top this album. I don’t know what it is about it–it’s just an untouchable. I mean, there is the fact that this album produced three MONSTER hits–“Always Be My Baby” being my favorite song of all-time. Mariah’s voice on this album though is just in a class of its own. I also feel like this album was the perfect blending of her pop beginnings and eventual R&B persuasion, which helped push it seven-times platinum in the US (her second best, after her eponymous debut album). I have always longed for her to abandon her routine, Jermaine Dupri R&B productions and revert back to this spirited and lively period in her music, but apparently she likes the declining trend in her record sales. This album is best for sitting out on a summer’s night atop the cool grass gazing up at the stars. Try it. I can’t anymore in L.A. because a) there is no more grass and b) air pollution has killed stargazing abilities.
Pick three: “Always Be My Baby” / “Fantasy” / “One Sweet Day”
I’m a very simple person. I am literal. I am happy-go-lucky and driven towards aesthetics. You mix all of those together and you get a certain taste for music videos. Don’t hand me a highly conceptual music video with allegories upon allegories; I won’t know what the hell to do with it. If I get confused, I’m done. Over it. It’s not fun. It would be like being forced to watch “Inception” over and over again, and I already fell for that once. Never again. Without further ado, here are my favorite music videos of the year!
10. “Blurred Lines”/ Robin Thicke Ft. Pharrell and T.I. / Directed by Diane Martel
The song of the summer had an equally fun-loving video to accompany it. The video itself is pretty simple, reminiscent of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” featuring dapper gents and skimpy supermodels against a warmly-lit white wall. And what is a video without a goat, ginormous dice, a stationary bike, and sausage links? But the real star of this video is not Robin Thicke and his selflessly promoted goods under the hood, rather the cute and endlessly adorable Pharrell Williams.
9. “Carried Away” / Passion Pit / Directed by Ben and Alex Brewer
Sometimes we do indeed get “carried away” in relationships. The video is centered around a quirky couple that I swear is based off of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s characters from “500 Days of Summer.” I mean, could the lead girl NOT resemble Zooey anymore? This video made me smile and feel oddly charmed by their neuroticism.
8. “Shot At the Night” / The Killers / Directed by Roboshobo
Being a maid in Las Vegas would be understandably depressing; you’re cleaning up after a bunch of bimbos living in excess and having the time of their lives. You would also live in Vegas, which is equally just as depressing if you can’t even enjoy The Strip. If JLo’s “Maid in Manhattan” were set in Las Vegas, then you would have this video. It’s a Vegas love story and a pretty good promotional piece for Vegas tourism. We also get to see Brandon Flowers. Win.
7. “Overgrown” / James Blake / Directed by Nabil
It’s kind of creepy, but totally worth it. So it starts out with Harry Potter in bed inside Hagrid’s hut. And then Harry watches the ocean in hyper mode while he is seemingly depressed, or contemplative–I’m not sure. But then he got dizzy and decided to go on a walk to the shore, which might be death, but again, beats me. As he’s walking–BOOM–the dementors show up! They’re chasing him, but he doesn’t see them, and I’m yelling “Expecto Patronum! Expecto Patronum! Bitch, turn around!” Well, he must have said it with his mind because then they disappear and he still looks rather sad. The end.
6. “Stay the Night” / Zedd Ft. Hayley Williams / Directed by Daniel Campos
First off, Hayley, grow your hair back, please. You look like a deranged fiery cuckoo bird. The video features Zedd slamming away on his piano while Hayley sings and dances in a room full of hanging lightbulbs, which look stunning. In the meantime, there is a couple entrenched in a contemporary dance routine that fills the video from beginning to end, along with tornado-like warping effects to mirror the realities of a one night stand, perhaps? I still need more Zedd + Hayley collabos in the future.
5. “Y.A.L.A.” / MIA / Directed by David Sannwald
This is a colorful hot mess, honestly. It was my first seizure I ever experienced, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. In a quasi-“F.U.” to Drake, the “You Always Live Again” video unleashes the colors of the neon rainbow against sick beats which make for one hell of a trippy ride. Words to the wise: start with your eyes half-shut. That should help.
4. “Burn” / Ellie Goulding / Directed by Mike Sharpe
Although it’s not “deep” on any level, I absolutely love this video. The visuals are stunning and there is so much life and energy popping out at you that you wish you were raving it up on an airstrip. It also matches the video really well. Nothing seems out of place or separated. You can naturally listen to the song while watching the video and not feel a disconnect. This is a must for me with videos. An example of the opposite would be Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” video which just obliterated the song badly.
3. “Work Bitch” / Britney Spears / Directed by Ben Mor
I have been obsessed with this video since the day it came out. I was completely mesmerized watching it for the first time in my roommate’s car, and my first words afterward were, “It’s like 2001 Britney was resurrected on your phone.” There’s really not much to the video, just Britney being a beast and dancing again (finally). Again, lots of shameless self-promotion, but whatever, she’s hot and she’s Britney effing Spears. The “doorography” from the “Criminal” video also resurfaced again. It’s just a good ol’ time.
2. “Happy” / Pharrell Williams / Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
If you want to feel so incredibly giddy and happy, watch this video. You cannot physically make it through all four minutes without smiling, clapping along, bobbing your head or even injecting your own swagalicious moves. I am actually contemplating asking Pharrell to marry me…
1. “XO” / Beyoncé / Directed by Terry Richardson
Two words: in love. Yes, there many good videos on Beyoncé’s self-titled sneak surprise, but the simplicity and pure-hearted joy of the video made it stand out even more. It reminds me of Mariah Carey’s video for her 1995 number-one hit, “Fantasy.” Beyoncé finds herself enjoying a day at the pier riding roller coasters and playing games, all while looking genuinely happy. I’m just addicted to the good vibes this video is giving off. Long live Queen Bey.
Here are the ten albums that topped my iPod this year. From UK dance to ATL body grinding, this list has it all.
10. “Heal” / Loreen
Before the 10 of you that actually know who this is starts hollering that it was technically released in October of 2012, hear me out. If you read my #Addicted post about Loreen, you know that I’ve been girl crushing on her for a couple of months now. I first heard of her this past May, and downloaded most of her album on the spot, which is why I’m lumping it in 2013’s list. It is such a chill album. It’s great to put on at night and cruise around town with the windows down. Her husky voice and R&B grooves are soothing to the soul. Plus, she’s just a badass. Dope.
9. “Beautiful” / Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Mauboy, my little Aussie burst of sunshine, released her third album this year and it is just what I expected from her: pure fun. There are plenty of catchy, bubblegum pop songs that I was addicted to for weeks. She also sprinkled in some of her soulful R&B style, which in my opinion, is her sweet spot. There’s not much of a statement being made with this, just a lot of fun, and I like to have fun, so bravo.
8. “Midnight Memories” / One Direction
We all know I have a little weakness (little is debatable) for 1D. I was so intrigued to hear the album’s direction (lame, I know) after they released “Story of My Life,” which is a completely new sound and style for the lads. As it would turn out, they picked up some indie/folk along the way, as well as unleashing their inner rock stars, which oddly sounds like 80’s rock n’ roll. The boys are growing up and the sound on this LP reflects that.
7. “Avril Lavigne” / Avril Lavigne
I can always count on Canada’s punk princess for solid work. Does this measure up to her last album, “Goodbye Lullaby”? Not so much, but it’s still pretty great. She, like One Direction, also hopped on board the country folk train somewhere in rural Tennessee for inspiration. And again, like “Midnight Memories,” incorporated some edgier rock songs, like the creepily seductive “Bad Girl” featuring the king of creep, Marilyn Manson, and radio-friendly “Rock N’ Roll.” Some of the songs I most appreciated were the “Goodbye Lullaby”-esque tracks like “Hush Hush” and “Falling Fast.”
6. “Into the Night” / MDNGHT
OK, this is a bit of a stretch. This is only a four-song EP, BUT it still doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant! This UK group is still on the upswing, but I am loving what they’re producing. It’s another nighttime chill album with a falsetto that is music to your ears, well, technically it is, but whatever, you get what I mean.
5. “Journals” / Justin Bieber
The grand finale of Bieber’s “Music Mondays,” “Journals,” was, to me, a defining moment for the pop star’s career. The set exhibits a matured sound and departure from radio pop to sultry R&B, which is still taking me a bit of time to come to terms with. Standouts are “Roller Coaster,” a funky, summer jam, “One Life,” baby-making sorcery, and “Memphis,” a banger with a chorus that will get stuck in your head for days. Too bad he’s “retired” now; it was just starting to get good!
4. “Ciara” / Ciara
ATL’s hip-hop princess is back and better than ever. It’s been years since “Promise” was the hottest track around, but now we have “Body Party” and “I’m Out” to make up for that. There is something about her silky smooth ways that I love, almost Aaliyah-like–I repeat, “almost.” Another standout is her collaboration with Future, “Where You Go.”
3. “Beyoncé” / Beyoncé
Must I explain? We all know Bey is a beast and she just drops album without notice and puts down the whole competition without really trying. It’s all unfair, it really is. Regardless, her secretive project still has everyone in the world in a daze–and their fourth or fifth pair of underpants by this point. After “4,” I was curious to see where the vision would go. Instead of retro and eerie, she went HAM and HAM-ier. Lots of bass. Lots of anthems. Lots of booty. What more could you want?
2. “Prism” / Katy Perry
I am an unabashed Katy Cat. It’s no secret. At first I was a little underwhelmed by this album, but as time passed, I’m beginning to appreciate it more. Sure it’s not jam-packed with potential number ones, but it’s a cohesive and diverse set. The first half is very “Teenage Dream,” and the second half is very indie pop–Tegan and Sara-ish. There is a little something for everyone. “Birthday” is still a song everyone needs to hear. Mark my words: “Birthday” will be released as a single in May of next year and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 by mid-June.
1. “Settle” / Disclosure
OK. I don’t even know what planet this duo came from, but I’m so thankful they chose Earth for their Sprinkles cupcake run. This British sensation has been spreading throughout the underground networks for months now and you should definitely check it out. It’s rare for me to find an album that I can play start to finish and not want to skip a song. This album is the duo’s first and features a bevy of featured guests to add to their house-music sound. It’s just magical, for lack of better words and description.
Now that it looks like the North Pole threw up in my apartment, it’s time to let the Christmas music blast!
There is nothing more magical than Christmas music. The warmth and joy it builds is so comforting and relaxing. It also makes me like other people and want to be a better person (for this short two-month span only). I smile at everyone on the street to their delight–sometimes horror and skepticism. My usual frustrations and passive-aggressive tendencies morph into “God bless you-s” and “Merry Christmas-s!” You could tell me “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” got canceled and I won’t have an existential breakdown, because I know Santa will make it all better.
Let’s count down, shall we?
10. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”: Brenda Lee
This song evokes memories from my childhood, watching Macaulay Culkin dupe dumb and dumber, and wishing that one day I could be as wise and clever as he–newsflash: still hasn’t happened. It has that vintage Christmas feel that makes you feel at home.
9. “White Christmas”: Michael Bublé
This is the quintessential Christmas song on anyone’s Christmas list, regardless of which rendition you prefer. Yes, there is the classic Bing Crosby version, but I’m as far away from a traditionalist as one can be, and this one just has that warm feeling while still feeling current and cheery. Bing’s is a little…sleepy.
8. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”: Mariah Carey
Obviously, Mariah Carey is like the Queen of Christmas. No one can touch her Christmas swag, or sell a holiday album like she can. There is just something about her voice that just lends itself to the holiday spirit–big, clear and commercial, yet husky and warm.
7. “Cold December Night”: Michael Bublé
If Mariah Carey is the Queen of Christmas, Mr. Bublé is the King. This is one of the original songs crafted for his holiday album, and it’s my favorite. Christmas music depends on my mood: if I’m sitting by the tree or fire being relaxed, I want the softer, homier songs, but if I’m out and about, I want those commercial uplifting songs. This is one of the latter. And the cover art for this album was uh-mazing.
6. “Mistletoe”: Justin Bieber
I know, I know. Don’t even go there with me. I hated this the first time I heard it. As a devout guardian of the Christmas spirit, I was appalled at the use of “shawty” in a CHRISTMAS song. And then those guitar strums got stuck in my head and it was over. Now I love it.
5. “Last Christmas”: Cast of Glee
This is going to be a little extra emotional now. RIP Finn 😦 There aren’t many “Glee” versions that I like better than the original, but I absolutely love this song. It also helps that the video was super festive and cute, shopping for a Christmas tree with hot cocoas in-hand.
4. “What Christmas Means to Me”: Stevie Wonder
Oldie, but goodie. It makes you want to dance and you can’t deny it. One of those songs that just appeals to everyone and puts a big smile on your face.
3. “Underneath the Tree”: Kelly Clarkson
Yes, I realize this just came out. And it’s already no. 3? Yep. It’s that good. I knew instantly this was going into the Pantheon of Christmas songs. Pop Christmas perfection.
2. “Someday at Christmas”: Stevie Wonder
This one hits close to home, literally. I grew up on Stevie’s “Someday at Christmas” album. My mom played it every year when we would decorate the Christmas tree and get the house set for the season. I hated it. And then you get older and then you love it because it’s home. It’s your tradition. This song is the first track on the album so it was always the song to commence the holiday season. ❤
1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You”: Mariah Carey
Must I explain? No.
And just for fun. How about this trip down memory lane?
10. When watching newscasts, you’re judging, hardcore.
9. The AP Stylebook lies on top of the Bible on your nightstand. Ouch.
8. You see some type of event going on and your mind starts racing: “Where’s my camera? OK, who am I going to interview? How’s the lighting? Wait, I’m not on assignment. Go home.
7. You can’t take a picture without audibly saying, “Rule of thirds!”
6. You want to give every solicitor on the sidewalk a hug. “I feel ya, bruh.”
5. It is not uncommon to find you sitting in your closet speaking into a microphone.
4. “Wait, so can I use the past tense? No, that’s for broadcast, right? Or print? Oh, the other way around? No? Whatever.
3. You spend more money on gas and parking then rent, food and other living vitals.
2. You look like an asshole wherever you go: tripod, camera, microphone, headphones, notebooks, pens and a demeanor of utter desperation, verging on suicidal: “Excuse me, do you min–OK, great. Have a nice day…fucker.”
1. Hitler has a better standing in your book than uncooperative sources.
But it’s all worth it because we’re all going to be super rich journalists!