Top 100 Songs of 2015 (Part I: 100-79)

drake-10-bands-electric-bodega-remix-stream

Part 1 of 4

100. Jill Scott “Closure”

For Jill Scott, closure means one last fling, but don’t let that fool you, she’ll go no further than that. With a humorous outro, Scott lists all the food her ex-lover will no longer be able to consume because she doesn’t care enough about him to give him breakfast.

99. Drake “10 Bands”

98. Pusha T “Untouchable”

Pusha kills it here, rapping  about “Netflix Narcos” over a sick beat and Biggie sample.

97. Major Lazer, MO, DJ Snake “Lean On”

96. Speedy Ortiz “My Dead Girl”

95. Future “No Basic”

94. Lady Lamb “Milk Duds”

93. Beach House “Sparks”

92. Sia “Alive”

In the ranking of wannabe Adele songs, this one places 2nd (ahead of Adele’s “Hello” and behind a song to come). It’s an emotional ballad that was actually written for Adele, but Sia, being the queen of taking songs meant for other folks and making them her own came through with quite the emotionally packed song here.

91. Lady Lamb “Violet Clementine”

I didn’t think Lady Lamb’s (formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper)  latest lived up to her debut album, but here we hear everything that makes her great: the passionate vocal delivery, the oddly poetic lyrics, and the long musical interludes.

90. Titus Andronicus “Dimed Out”

This is Titus Andronicus at their most punk, a 3-minute rager that both stands alone and fits into their 90-minute rock opera.

89. Vince Staples “Norf Norf”

88. Julien Baker “Good News”

87. Sufjan Stevens “Fourth of July”

86. Titus Andronicus “No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant”

85. Kanye West w/Theophilus London “All Day”

84. Miguel “coffee”

Miguel fits perfectly into sensual R&B, which at times can near disgusting in his overtly explicit expressions. However with “coffee”, he becomes almost sweet in his declaration that he will make “coffee in the morning” for his amour. It’s the opposite of the aforementioned “Closure”.

83. Natalie Prass “It is You”

Prass straddles several unique lines with her music: modern folk artist, 50s darling, and Disney princess. It’s a strange combo, but is so unexpected that it totally works. As a fan of all three of those lines, Prass totally works for me. Here she sounds like something out of a musical and boy is it great.

82. Disclosure “Jaded”

81. Drake “Star67”

80. Florence + the Machine “Ship to Wreck”

79. Colleen Green “Deeper Than Love”

Green is interesting because she at times gives out a Best Coast minimalist folk/punk vibe, but then something like “Deeper Than Love” will come out which is a 6-minute lonesome and slightly creepy almost new wave-ish track showing just how talented and unique she can be. It’s a subtly gripping track that will eat at you for days.

 

Check out the rest of the best of the year stuff here

Best of 2015: A Schedule

My first best of the year piece will be released tomorrow morning, but for now a placeholder for all of the content I hope to deliver over the next month. I usually try to wait until the year is mostly over before declaring the year’s best, but gee is it too much fun. Here’s what I’ve got coming your way this end of the year season*.

*All dates are tentative, dependent on my personal work ethic.

Dec. 1 – Top 10 Pop Hits

Dec. 8 – Top 100 Songs (Part I: 100-76)

Dec. 12 – Top 100 Songs (Part II: 75-51)

Dec. 16 – Top 100 Songs (Part III: 50-26)

Dec. 20 – Top 100 Songs (Part IV: 25-1)

Dec. 21 – Top 10 Podcast Episodes

Dec. 23 – Top 10 TV Episodes

Dec. 29 – Top 10 Essays

Dec. 30 – Top 10 Podcasts

Dec. 31 – 2015 Pop Culture Goal Recap

Jan. 1 – 2016 Pop Culture Goals

Jan. 3 – Top 10 Albums

Jan. 5 – Top 10 TV Shows

Jan. 7 – Top 25 Films

The Home Alone Booby Traps Ranked

I have a strange and probably incorrect memory of the first time I saw Home Alone. I remember it being Thanksgiving and my parents being excited to show me something, they asked me if I had ever seen it before, describing it as a movie where a boy’s parents leave him by himself (makes sense). For some reason my little child brain could only think of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, so yeah I imagined Home Alone would be Ace Ventura for some strange reason.

Since then I’ve watched it just about every year and it’s become a tradition to watch it on Thanksgiving night as everything winds down as a way to welcome in the Christmas season.

This week the movie turns 25 years old and in celebration of this, I decided to rank my favorite Kevin McCallister booby traps. Kevin has always been an inspiration to me, what kid does not dream of having the agency to survive on one’s own and also fend off two fairly successful burglars (no wonder we have such hero complexes…)? Kevin showcases a brilliant mind and his booby traps are clever and incredible in the way he forces Marv and Harry to bend to his will.

Feel free to comment with your favorites below.

11. Door handle – Kevin places some sort of heating device on the door handle, so that when they grab it it will burn their hands. This booby trap is way too straight forward, just a simple pain causing device.

03-hot-doorknob

10. Zipline – While Kevin choosing to end his plan with a long zip-line ride from the house to the tree house is inspiring, the plan to wait for them to climb out onto the line and then cut it feels ill-advised. It does spark some humor, but the act seems to only help Marv and Harry get closer to Kevin than further away.

2mr5cv9

9. Christmas Ornaments – Altogether kind of boring, Kevin’s ability to predict Harry and Marv’s behavior is always incredible, but placing Christmas ornaments next to the window seal lacks that typical McCallister charm.

Facts-You-Didnt-Know-About-Home-Alone-EMGN9

8. Trip Wire – Kevin places a line of rope low to the ground and gets Harry to trip on it while running after him. The only ingenious part about this is that it actually was successful.

12-backflip

7. Sticky + Feathers – Again Kevin’s foresight pays off brilliantly, getting Harry to run into some sort of sticky paper, which in itself is somewhat funny, but he pays it off by shooting feathers into his face. It’s a classic cartoon bit, one that Kevin employs simply to mess with the robbers as it has no real practical robbery prevention capabilities whatsoever.

screen-shot-2013-04-22-at-2-43-16-pm

6. Torch in the door – This trap that causes fire to blow onto the face of the person who enters it is a little too dangerous to be all that funny, but the fact that Kevin was able to rig up a machine that causes fire to blow onto the face of the person who enters it downright brilliant.

home-alone-torch

5. Tar + Nail – The stickiness of the stairway and the nail should not work. Most times it probably wouldn’t if we’re being honest, but here the tarred up stairs cause Marv to strip off his shoes and socks and in probably the most cringe-inducing moment of the entire movie, Marv steps unknowingly onto a nail.

anigif_enhanced-12404-1419289491-13

4. Toy Cars – I do have quite the bias here, as a kid I would frequently put cars around the house hoping that people would slip on them just like Marv and Harry did. It was a pretty jerk move, but anytime you can be more like Kevin McCallister you’re gonna do it right?

anigif_enhanced-28520-1419289511-7

3. Paint Cans – This is the most iconic booby trap in the whole film, probably because this idea came completely out of nowhere. Who had ever thought of attaching paint cans to a string and then throwing them down onto people trying to walk up them? It lands where it does because though it is really cool, it is just so impractical. Anyone could dodge those right?

44386_article_full

2. The Iron – Kevin puts a false light pull chain in place that, instead of having lights connected to it, has an iron that falls down onto the unsuspecting light desiree below. Marv pulls on the chain, waits a few seconds in confusion before looking up to see an iron  falling toward him. The brilliance of this is of course amplified by Marv’s face having the perfect imprint of an iron for the following scenes.

all-85-potential-injuries-in-home-alone-assessed-by-a-real-doctor

1. Icy Stairs – I may love this booby trap because I’ve never lived in an area with a true winter, but the moment I saw that by simply throwing water onto an outside area, you could cause chaos for hours to come I was blown away. Not to mention such a simple act works brilliantly–it takes Harry like an hour to get up a 5-stair stairway. I also tried this one a few times during the winter, but unfortunately it never worked. Nevertheless, Kevin’s plan to make the stairs too icy for the criminals to get up is my favorite booby trap of the holiday classic.

anigif_enhanced-18094-1419289474-35

Ranking the Survivor Seasons

survivor-logo

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but have never gotten around to it. Now that Rob Has a Podcast is doing an official fan poll and that there is a nice even 30 seasons, it feels right to give them a good ranking. Arguments are welcome, but please don’t hate.

30. Redemption Island

survivor-redemption-island-02

There is something kinda neat about watching Boston Rob roll all over a group of mostly incompetent Survivor players, but boy most of it is awfully boring. There is an alternate version of this season where Phillip is out first and Mike Chiesl becomes an all time great, perhaps that would be more interesting. Add in the awful Redemption Island twist and yeah, this is the worst season.

29. All-Stars

I don’t hate Boston Rob, I really don’t–in fact he is usually the most interesting person in his seasons, but the way (when he is successful) he shuts down the rest of his competitors makes for awful television. This season is hurt by how personal it gets and the way the meta-game causes all of the interesting players (Tina, Rudy, Rob C., Richard) to go early while Jenna Lewis and Amber dominate.

28. One World

Kim is probably the best person to ever play Survivor, but this season is filled with duds–yes even upon their return Colton, Kat, and Monica remained duds. Even the slight opposition Kim faces is done in the most annoying form possible in “this is my island!” Troy Robertson. Sorry Kim, but I have no desire to rewatch this season at all.

27. South Pacific

Seasons 21-24 were the low point of Survivor history and season 23 showcased just how out of touch the producers were, bringing back the awful Redemption Island twist with two returning players we were less than slightly excited to see. Unlike Redemption Island there were a couple of bright spots in John Cochran’s wit and the huge turning point his flip caused, as well as the slayer of the dragonslayer herself in Sophie Clarke. But Coach’s cult, Brandon Hantz 1.0, and Rick just don’t do it for me.

26. Thailand

It’s hurt by so many of its people getting ignored throughout the future of Survivor, if Brian or Helen had had the chance to come back (as they should have) it probably gets remembered better. I think Brian is super entertaining and talented, but again the genius who runs over everyone doesn’t make for great TV.

25. Nicaragua

survivor_chasesash_featured_photo_gallery

Unlike most of the ones that have been ranked below it, this season is not dominated by one person, featuring quite a few twists and turns leading up to the ultimate surprise in a Fabio win (it is so scary that Chase comes within one vote of winning this thing). It’s a hard season to rate because it’s filled with good crazy (Holly and the shoes! Benry’s strange confessionals! Fabio’s slapstick moments) and annoying crazy (Naonka and Jane). Ultimately it rates lower, just because other seasons are just better.

24. Marquesas

Some people love this season, I guess that depends on having some sort of interest in people like Paschal, The General, Tammy, and Zoe; sorry but I find most of those people pretty boring to watch. While the downfall of John Carroll is epic, Kathy’s redemption arc is good, Sean is a legend, and Vecepia is fine as a winner, those people in between do a bad job of filling in the gaps.

23. Cook Islands

I’m back and forth on this season, I loved it at first because of Yul vs. Ozzy and Jonathan Penner. But on a further rewatch it didn’t do as much–Ozzy is great at challenges this first time, but he is awful socially. The weird early merge leaves a bad taste and Rebecca is probably the least memorable person to ever make jury. The twist was saved by the multicultural finals, but there is a moment where Jonathan Penner is saved twice over two people who were not white, despite nobody liking or trusting him–this could be because he was an original tribe member, but debating back and forth is the reason this twist probably should not have happened.

22. Africa

This season is pretty boring and would be even lower if the whole cast weren’t so likable. T-Bird and the two Kims are all worth rooting for and have their own level of skills. Ethan, Big Tom, and Lex are Survivor legends. Brandon and Frank’s relationship is a hilarious pairing that exemplifies the magic of the odd-couple that was at the heart of early reality TV. These people’s interactions were interesting and the gameplay is there, despite probably living in the worst conditions in Survivor history.

21. Palau

I always thought this season would be better had they not allowed Ulong to be decimated down to the final person. Sure it makes for an interesting factoid, but it essentially splits the season in two, with Stephanie as the winner of one season and Tom as the winner of the other. This is why we need tribe swaps and why the three tribe format has become a current fixture. Other than this the season is filled with people that are fun to watch: if Ian doesn’t jump off that pole in that way he 100% comes back, Gregg is an underrated player, Katie is an underrated character, and Tom is one of the best players in the show.

20. Caramoan

I don’t really have any desire to go back and watch all the girls get voted off the fans, Brandon Hantz 2.0’s meltdown, or Shamar yelling–but the second half is really good. Malcolm and Corinne leading a failed uprising, Malcolm again leading a failed bro-rising, and Cochran completely owning a season was a lot of fun. Give Erik and Brenda a better edit, take out the taking out of Dawn’s teeth and it’s probably top 15 or 10.

19. Gabon

There are a lot of interesting things at play here, the season’s multiple swaps probably ended up giving us the worst final 3 ever (Sugar, Bob, Susie) but also prevented us from Marcus just sweeping up everyone in a really straightforward way. I am thankful that we got to see Kenny the underdog turn into Kenny the mastermind turn into Kenny the fallen god in one of the more unexpected character story arcs. Randy and Corinne are forever great, but I can’t ignore that awful final 3.

18. Guatemala

There are so many fun people here and it’s disappointing some had to leave so early (Brian, Amy), while Cindy and Lydia made it to final 5. Stephanie and Bobby Jon’s return worked out okay, but it’s people like Judd that really make the season. Danni recognizing Gary was one of the more random shocking moments in the show’s history; Danni could secretly be as good as Kim Spradlin, it’s a shame we will likely never get to find out.

17. Worlds Apart

Hard to rank because of recency and the way the last half of the season was filled with so much Dan, both in and out of the show, and Will’s pretty despicable thrashing of Shirin. Mike is one of the more interesting winner’s, combining Tony’s scrappiness with Colby’s challenge wins and love of Texas–I think he’s a good player, but didn’t really play that well here. I’m still not sure what I think of Rodney and how I remember him will have a huge effect on how I view this season going forward.

16. Australia

This is a good season with lots of classic moments and characters. I agree with the reputation that it slows down after the merge and though Colby and Tina are great, for me they are not that great. That being said, those first 6 or so episodes are classic due to Alicia’s finger, Mike’s craziness, and Jeff Varner being amazing.

15. Panama

ciriesurvivor1

I keep moving this season up and I think it’s because of how great that Casaya tribe is: Aras, Cirie, Danielle, Courtney, Shane, and Bruce are the least likely bunch of people to ever stick together under the guise of tribe loyalty, but they sure did it, defining the term dysfunctional in the process. Terry made it interesting playing the near-spoiler to Casaya and Cirie made one of the best plays of all time in splitting people’s votes to get Courtney out.

14. San Juan del Sur

Surprised it’s this high, but the more I think about it the more I love it. The first three episodes are average (depending on how much you like John Rocker’s storyline), but the fourth episode features Drew Christy making a buffoon of himself and similar to the Roger in Amazon episode makes no bones about who is going home. After the worst episode (Julie’s quit) we get Josh vs. Jeremy, Jeremy’s blindside (with Natalie’s “what the f*** Missy?”), the near blindside of Jon only negated by Keith’s “stick to the plan”, Jon and Jaclyn’s fight, and Natalie turning into a Survivor goddess by “accidentally” voting out Alec, blindsiding Jon, and idol-ing out Baylor.

13. Heroes vs. Villains

This is probably the most overrated of all seasons for me. It was great seeing all the big characters battling it out with one another – Russell vs. Rob is amazing – but the big moments rely way too much on the hidden immunity idol. I am a fan of hidden idols, but having 5 in a 2 tribe season was overkill (though JT’s letter is still great). This is the point where Russell started to get annoying and by the time the final 7 comes around the season feels tiresome.

12. Micronesia

One of my favorites upon my first watch, but trying to think of watching it again feels exhausting considering that we have to watch episodes with the boring fans in the pre-merge. I have no desire to watch the Chet, Kathy, and Joel drama; this is probably a fundamental problem with the fans vs. favorites format, the fans are never interesting enough when compared to the favorites. The post-merge however, with blindside after blindside, is incredible and that is why it still remains high. I’ll never forget watching Eliza play the stick, Ozzy get blindsided, or Erik giving up immunity.

11. Samoa

This might be the worst edited season of all time and though it was entertaining to see Russell shoved down our throats so much at the time, it does not hold up anymore. A more moderately edited season with a bit more Galu (Brett anyone?) and Natalie might enter into top 5 territory, because Russell is entertaining and the Foa Foa comeback is fantastic.

10. Blood vs. Water

survivor-blood-vs-water-vytas-tribe-shakeup

This was a mighty gamble for Survivor to do and it is one that actually paid off. Seeing players compete with their loved-ones was fascinating, adding extra layers of emotion, drama, and strategy. There were huge moments (the rock draw) and small ones (the coconut bandits) leading to a great season, one in which the new players actually competed with the old – both in strategy and air time.

9. Fiji

I suppose this season gets some heat for its have and have not twist, as it should, but the fall of the four horseman, as well as everything Earl/Yau Man do is mightily entertaining on all levels. Even the “Rocky” pre-merge is fun to watch in my opinion–loved it then and I love it now.

8. Borneo

This season might be quite boring to watch at certain moments but I argue that it is the best cast of them all. Nearly every person lives in memory and helped to define not only the show but television over the last 14 years. On rewatch it is fascinating to watch the lightbulbs go off one by one as they figure out the format and the game. Richard Hatch will always be a top 10 best character of the show.

7. Philippines

This might be the best edited season of them all, the opening of episode 4 showing the decimated Matsing tribe is cinematic. This season cemented that a three tribe format leads to great unpredictability with the final 10 tribal council leading to potentially the most last minute tribal council scrambling ever. Malcolm and Denise are both top 20 players of all time, Abi-Maria is a great character, Lisa was intermittently interesting, and Penner lived up to all that we wanted him to be.

6. Vanuatu

The ultimate underdog story, Chris coming back from being down 6 to 1 is only lifted by how funny and entertaining of a character he is. The final 7 blindside is one of my favorite moments in the shows history – the glances between Ami and Eliza are priceless. Rory, Chad, and Sarge are all underrated characters, while Ami and Leann were fierce before their downfall. And Twila never coming back was an absolute shame!

5. Tocantins

survivor-tocantins58

It might be the best final 2 ever, even if Stephen gets absolutely torn apart, JT played up his Southern charms, Tyson brought people to tears and laughed in their faces, and Coach was Coach, leading to a season full of great characters and gameplay.

4. Pearl Islands

960x540

Has three of the biggest icons in the show’s history and is also wildly unpredictable. The pirate theme is a lot of fun and it made Rupert really fun to watch, His nemesis Jonny Fairplay brought in his professional wrestling style storytelling and did some of the most unique manipulation in the shows history (the famous Grandma lie) while also playing a legitimately good game. Outcasts aside, this is one of the best.

3. Cagayan

Episode after episode proved to be wild, it might be the best cast since the show’s original season. Tony vs. Spencer was one of the best showdown’s ever and it ended with such a satisfying conclusion. Let’s not forget those moments when we were all convinced LJ was the winner either, this whole thing kept us on our toes.

2. China

survivor-china10217

An excellently cast season featuring characters to cheer for (James) and against (Jean-Robert). Watching superfan Todd truly become the first major fan to win the show is so satisfying and makes up for all the other gamers doomed to 3rd place before him (Rafe, Rob C, Fairplay). Plus, even those who should be forgettable (like a Jaime or a Peih-Gee) are pretty fun to watch and pretty decent at the game. Courtney is one of the funniest people to ever be on the show and Denise is unintentionally up there too.

1. Amazon

robsurvivor1

Picking a number one is forever difficult, so it is easiest to revert to the season that I first watched/fell in love with. Rob Cesternino essentially introduced the flip-flopping strategy which always makes for the most compelling version of Survivor. The other characters are great, but all is elevated by Rob’s ability to play strategically and to come up with golden observations in his confessionals (“the only way Roger is gonna win immunity is if it’s a contest like “name that Perry Como song” or perhaps “what type of prune is this?”‘)

Ranking the Sounds of Summer

soundsofsummer

The Beach Boys are the greatest summer band of all time and their greatest hits album “The Sounds of Summer” is probably their greatest collection of songs. It’s a 30 track album spanning what seems to be a wide variety of their career and musical choices. It’s actually the primary place I’ve heard them and my go-to choice for their music which is pretty typically only in the summer time. Combining early rock and R&B with surf rock, doo wop, and a cappella (with some more experimental vibes coming later in their careers) The Beach Boys have a fun and vast catalog of songs to listen to, but I don’t need to tell you that, let’s get to ranking!

30. “Be True To Your School” – I don’t know what’s worse the singer’s aggressiveness to some guy bragging about his school, the cheerleader type person that appears, or that commercial that Kidz Bob-bed this song to advertise for school supplies. I never have had much school spirit though…

29. “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” – There are some good melodies in this song, but everything else is sooo bad, most of which is the guy in the background singing numbers meant to indicate growing older. Oh please.

28. “In My Room” – A love ballad, an ode to… a room. I get why some may see this as a good idea, a person’s room can be a place of great comfort and solitude, but here it’s just absolutely terrible.

27. “Dance, Dance, Dance” – It feels like a cover of an old rock song (as we will soon see the Boys are wont to do) but it is indeed a Beach Boys original and a sub par one at that.

26. “Rock and Roll Music” – I am all for The Beach Boys covering every song, in fact there should probably be an app like that old T-Pain one that Beach Boys-izes anything you record on it, but here they don’t do much to change Chuck Berry’s original, which is pretty disappointing.

25. “Heroes and Villains” – I understand why its here, but it’s never stuck with me. It’s pretty good and fairly avant-garde but doesn’t reach any level that I want a Beach Boys song to.

24. “Do It Again” – It opens with a distorted beat, again a part of that experimental phase that doesn’t quite do it for me as I stated above.

23. “Darlin'” – Really an odd piece of the Beach Boys history, it sorta has that classic sound while mostly presenting itself as a more straightforward rock ‘n roll or R&B song. Not bad by any means.

22. “Do You Wanna Dance?” – I think The Ramones’ version is better, which probably biases me against this a little bit, but it’s a perfectly fine song, with a great surf rock solo toward the end.

21. “I Can Hear Music” – This is one that feels like it comes a lot later in the catalog than ’69, maybe it’s Carl Wilson’s vocals or the focus on the acoustic guitar? Love the little a capella breakdown it goes into with 40 seconds left.

20. “Shut Down” – This is pretty standard Beach Boys here–another song about cars and of course, it’s really good, but doesn’t match up with other greats listed here because the chorus is a little lackluster comparatively.

19. “Wild Honey” – Another song from the Beach Boys more experimental phase of the late 60s–the focus here is more on psychedelia over the classic harmonies–it’s a good song with interesting instrumentation.

18. “Good Timin'” – A few songs below I will talk about how great a love ballad “Surfer Girl” is within the beach context. This song almost lives up to that one, but it does get bonus points for being able to be slow-danced to outside of the beach.

17. “Kokomo” – One of the more unique songs in the Beach Boys catolog, part of their 80s sort of rebranding, it still works even though it has so many levels of cheesiness to it.

16. “California Girls” – This is the track that opens Sounds and it’s no question why–it’s the musical equivalent of a sunrise, slowly rising making way for the day before unleashing the rest of the day that comes out with it. Lyrically it opens with an almost Dr. Seuss-like categorization of all the girls that exist (one girl two girl, red girl green girl) before getting into the reasons why California is the best, thus making California girls the best. People from other states must envy or hate the Boys for making such beautiful music about such a wonderful place, right?

15. “Surfer Girl” – This is the ballad that absolutely corrects everything that “In My Room” was. It combines an old doo-wop ballad with the Boys knack for surfing to make a really sweet song that serves as the perfect beach slow-dance throwback.

14. “Getcha Back” – Here are the Beach Boys in full 80s mode. The song was released in 1985 which makes it a part of all the other great stuff celebrating its 30 year anniversary this year (Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club). Although essentially a legacy act at the time, the song perfectly blends the Boys harmonies with an 80s beat that can only make you wonder why we haven’t seen them do anything with dub step backing music.

13. “Surfin’ Safari” – This is a really good song, but it’s one that doesn’t quite have the pedigree of that other surf song (apparently not even in my own rankings either). The highlight of the song has got to be the singing though–Mike Love really does deserve more songs where he is on lead vocals, his unique voice really nails it here. The 1:29 mark where he throws extra emphasis into his vocals (I tell ya surfins mighty wild…) just blows everything else out of the park.

12. “Come Go With Me” – The Beach Boys are a perfect match for the doo-wop songs that came just before them and here, their cover of The Dell Vikings track is just as great as the original. They certainly add their own vibe to it, taking it from the very 50s doo-wop style and giving it that Beach Boys’ feel.

11. “Surfin’ USA” – This is the obvious pick for a number one, right? It’s the most quintessential Beach Boys song–about their love of surfing, featuring multiple vocalist harmonies, and has an early-rock ‘n roll/surf rock driving guitar, plus it’s still really good. But I have a theory about certain songs–songs that have become so popular that they become a meme rather than a piece of art. It’s not the songs fault and it probably isn’t the artists fault, it’s due to being played a ridiculous amount of times, becoming commercialized in some fashion, and/or being involved prominently in another artistic medium (usually movies or TV). Ever since its release “Surfin’ USA” (and “Wipeout”) have been used to background every sort of surfing thing possible, draining it of the joy the song brings upon the first few listens. It’s not your fault “Surfin’ USA”, really it’s not.

10. “Sloop John B” – Apparently it’s a traditional folk song, but most of the world knows it from The Beach Boys’ classic album Pet Sounds. The song tells of the happenings upon a boat (where things do not seem to be going so well) and slowly builds into a very Beach Boys track. The pessimist in me loves that the most memorable part of it is the singer repeating “let me go home, I wanna go home” leading to “this is the worst trip I’ve ever been on”, it’s the perfect soundtrack to any vacation.

9. “I Get Around” – This is one of the most solid summer songs ever written and is one that hasn’t lost its shine like some of the other Beach Boys surfing focused songs have. It showcases the layers of harmony that they’re known for, some surf rock guitar, and is a pure two minute jolt of joy.

8. “Help Me, Rhonda”- There have been plenty of songs with conflicted singers singing about a love of two simultaneous people. There have been songs about not being able to get over someone. But has there ever been a song encouraging someone to help them get over someone? I’m not sure. There are so many fun parts to this song–the opening bass, accompanying guitar, the barbershop melodies of the chorus–one cannot help cheer for Rhonda to do her duty and “get her out of [his] heart”.

7. “Barbara Ann” – Forget Pentatonix, forget Pitch Perfect, forget those fancy Germans in Pitch Perfect 2, this is the best a capella would ever get. Yes, that’s right a capella peaked in 1965, with The Beach Boys. That point where they kind of mess up and almost start laughing is probably the best part of the song, everyone else wishes they could get away with a guffaw like this.

6. “Little Deuce Coupe” – I don’t really care for cars, there’s nothing about their twisted metal that inspires me, but this Beach Boys ode to a deuce coupe (one moment, googling “deuce coupe” now… ahhh yes one of those old looking Fords) almost makes me fall in love with it. I imagine listening to this song in any sort of convertible or hot rod, grows its bubbly harmonic vibe exponentially. Sure there’s a moment in the song where the music completely stops and the vocalist says “I got the big slip daddy”, but that doesn’t even matter because of how fun this song is.

5. “Don’t Worry Baby” – The harmonies of the Beach Boys can be used for the most surf rock of experiences, car cruisin’, and pickin’ up dates; but at times their vocal arrangements come together for something that cuts straight to the soul. The situation here seems to be that the singer has been talking big about how great his car is and now is forced to race against some sort of rival racing crew, which he’s pretty nervous about (is this a plotline to 2 Fast 2 Furious?). His girl instills his confidence by repeating “don’t worry baby, everything will turn out all right”. Though I’ve never been put into that sort of situation, I like to replace it with other situations, like when I feel discouraged after trying to cut open an avocado that’s not quite ready or I lose to the AI in Madden even though the setting is only on Pro; “don’t worry baby…”

4. “Fun, Fun, Fun” – This is one that has stuck with me ever since I was a kid. For some reason the tale of a girl who disobeys her parents in order to go out with some friends, with a central focus on a T-Bird struck something in my little memory, perhaps getting grounded was such an imminent threat that it really did something to my core. The Chuck Berry-like opening riff is great, the repeating chorus, and content make it a quintessential song about the early 60s.

3. “God Only Knows” – I’ve made several background music playlists for weddings in my day and I every time I try to throw this song in there even though it technically starts with the words “I may not always love you…” The song is so good that most people forget its opening and so it’s worth throwing in there. It’s a deep song covering devotion, consequences of heartbreak, and of course theology (it does talk about God after all). It’s the best slow song the Boys have and definitely the most romantic, though I’m not sure you can say it’s the best love song, because that belongs to these next two…

2. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – The protagonist dreams of being married to a girl in the future, but he’s too young to act, his dreams are only a prospect shut down by his youth. This dream of what could be is one of the happiest songs ever written. From its opening guitar to Wilson’s vocals to the “we could be married” line, the Boys lead us into a dreamlike state of romantic bliss. Perhaps the song has lulled me into its vision of the future, but it’s one of the all time greats.

1. “Good Vibrations” – Wait a second. If you’re doing this right you’ve pulled out your copy of “Sounds of Summer” (because if you’re doing life right, you have a copy) and as I bring out a song you listen to it; it doesn’t have to be the whole thing–maybe just to the chorus or so. This means that by this point you’ve probably reached the 23 second mark of “Good Vibrations”, which is just about when the song picks up–do me a favor, hit the back button and start it over. Have you done it? When it hits that point do it again. And again. What an intro right? It’s beautiful. The light percussion. The bassline. Wilson’s voice. It’s all perfect. And then it picks up taking it to another level, one that is entirely different, yet complementary. And right when you think it’s gonna explode, it goes right back to the beginning again! This song ends the album, which only makes sense because it is the best work by The Beach Boys (though it’s close)–it’s a track entirely dedicated to feeling good (but one that actually makes you feel good), plus it was used in one of the heartbreaking moments in television history! (Lost spoilers there). It’s essential Beach Boys, it’s essential summertime listening, it’s essential to life.

What are your favorites from this album? Can you do a full 30 song ranking?

Survivor San Juan Del Sur Rankings

Apparently I never clicked publish on these last week, well, here they are for your records.

Post-Episode 5

These rankings are done BCS style with each player ranked according to the following three categories. Their points for each ranking (which will vary week to week depending on how many contestants there are, eg. with ten people remaining the person ranked first will get ten points, the person ranked tenth will get one) will be added up in a final tally similar to that of the old NCAA BCS rankings (yes I know that was terrible, but it’s fun here).

The three categories:

Position in the Game: This calculates what their position currently seems to be, are they in the middle of an alliance or are they on the outside?

Capability: This is the most subjective of the three, but is based in who I feel has the best skills as a Survivor player. Some of these people may be in a bad position, but with their skills can find a way out of it.

Edit: Survivor is a highly edited show where footage is selected in order to create episodic and full season storylines. The way a person is edited can help to predict how well they will do in the game. If a player is in a very bad position, but is getting a good edit, it is conceivable they will find a way out of it at some point.

The Rankings:

Last week #6 in the rankings (and my pregame winner pick), Kelley, went home.

13. Dale (last week: 13th) (Position: 13th, Capabilities: 13th, Edit: 12th Total: 4 points)

dale

It turns out Dale doesn’t really get along with other people, now he’s once again at the bottom and he’s probably to blame for the downfall of his daughter, who I had picked to win and think actually came across as decent the last couple weeks. One of the few capable players is gone and Dale remains.

12. Reed (last week: 14th) (Position: 10th, Capabilities: 8th, Edit: 13th Total: 11 points)

reed

Reed could be good, we still really don’t know, but we do know that he is irrelevant.

11. Alec (last week: 12th) (Position: 4th, Capabilities: 12th, Edit: 11th Total: 15 points)

alec

Alec is the swing vote which puts him in a good spot, but he’s not that good at playing Survivor. He’s Drew-lite, which is better than Drew, but is still not that great.

10. Julie (last week: 4th) (Position: 6th, Capabilities: 9th, Edit: 10th Total: 17 points)

julie

Julie has given just enough to make her seem like someone who will be around for a while, she’s basically Morgan from last season.

9. Missy (last week: 2nd) (Position: 7th, Capabilities: 11th, Edit: 7th Total: 17 points)

missy

Missy drops way down because of the way she seemed to treat everybody as soon as she had her daughter with her. Yes she was able to get Jon and Jaclyn to her side and this alliance could prove to be very fruitful, but what she showed otherwise was not impressive.

8. Jaclyn (last week: 11th) (Position: 2nd, Capabilities: 10th, Edit: 9th Total: 21 points)

jaclyn

Jaclyn again is slowly rising and now that she resides in the main alliance she could be someone who makes the top 7. I think she has basically been disqualified from winning though.

7. Natalie (last week: 5th) (Position: 11th, Capabilities: 4th, Edit: 6th Total: 21 points)

natalie

I think Natalie is an early post-merge boot. She will be on the bottom and be seen as a threat and will be taken out. And I think that this will be really bad for the season, but this season is bad anyways, so we’ll see.

6. Jeremy (last week: 7th) (Position: 12th, Capabilities: 2nd, Edit: 4th Total: 24 points)

jeremy

It doesn’t seem like Jeremy is going to be able to pull off his “surround and drown” strategy, but good on him for attempting something that seems so capable in a season that’s main highlight has been bartering with Jeff.

5. Baylor (last week: 1st) (Position: 8th, Capabilities: 5th, Edit: 3rd Total: 26 points)

baylor

She drops because she too did not look as good as she had before. I think she’s important, but her winner status is in question for now.

4. Wes (last week: 8th) (Position: 3rd, Capabilities: 3rd, Edit: 8th Total: 28 points)

wes

Wes only ends up here because I like his spot in the game and I thought his social relationships were impressive on the other tribe.

3. Jon (last week: 10th) (Position: 5th, Capabilities: 7th, Edit: 2nd Total: 28 points)

jon

How I feel about Jon is the same as I feel about this season: mildly interesting, slightly entertaining, and not good at gameplay. Jon’s recovery after seeing his ally go was pretty good and he ended up in a good spot off of the swap, but I still don’t see anything I really like out of him. Maybe this season is so ‘blah’ because he is our winner and they can’t really give us anything else.

2. Keith (last week: 9th) (Position: 1st, Capabilities: 6th, Edit: 5th Total: 29 points)

keith

Keith is by far in the best spot, the couples won’t turn against him ahead of getting out Dale and if Dale does get voted out the couples will use him as the swing vote. Plus he had an idol in his pocket to keep him safe. I don’t really think he’s our winner or particularly good at Survivor, but if he were to win his edit likely would not be too different.

1. Josh (last week: 3rd) (Position: 9th, Capabilities: 1st, Edit: 1st Total: 31 points)

josh

Josh reclaims the top spot as the most (only?) competent player in this season of Survivor. If he doesn’t win I do not see a way for this season to be redeemed (maybe Jeremy can take that too). His tribe is strong and if they don’t have to give up immunity in a rice trade, they should be set until the merge.

Survivor San Juan Del Sur Rankings

Post-Episode 4

These rankings are done BCS style with each player ranked according to the following three categories. Their points for each ranking (which will vary week to week depending on how many contestants there are, eg. with ten people remaining the person ranked first will get ten points, the person ranked tenth will get one) will be added up in a final tally similar to that of the old NCAA BCS rankings (yes I know that was terrible, but it’s fun here).

The three categories:

Position in the Game: This calculates what their position currently seems to be, are they in the middle of an alliance or are they on the outside?

Capability: This is the most subjective of the three, but is based in who I feel has the best skills as a Survivor player. Some of these people may be in a bad position, but with their skills can find a way out of it.

Edit: Survivor is a highly edited show where footage is selected in order to create episodic and full season storylines. The way a person is edited can help to predict how well they will do in the game. If a player is in a very bad position, but is getting a good edit, it is conceivable they will find a way out of it at some point.

The Rankings:

Last week #15 in the rankings, Drew, went home.

NOTE: This week’s rankings in Position were based in the post-swap tribe dynamic.

Sorry I didn’t do a write-up, I got lazy and waited too long to do this.

14. Reed (last week: 9th) (Position: 13th, Capabilities: 9th, Edit: 14th Total: 9 points)

reed

13. Dale (last week: 13th) (Position: 14th, Capabilities: 11th, Edit: 11th Total: 9 points)

dale

12. Alec (last week: 10th) (Position: 5th, Capabilities: 13th, Edit: 12th Total: 15 points)

alec

11. Jaclyn (last week: 14th) (Position: 2nd, Capabilities: 14th, Edit: 13th Total: 16 points)

jaclyn

10. Jon (last week: 12th) (Position: 10th, Capabilities: 9th, Edit: 9th Total: 16 points)

jon

9. Keith (last week: 7th) (Position: 7th, Capabilities: 12th, Edit: 7th Total: 20 points)

keith

8. Wes (last week: 5th) (Position: 6th, Capabilities: 8th, Edit: 10th Total: 21 points)

wes

7. Jeremy (last week: 2nd) (Position: 12th, Capabilities: 6th, Edit: 3rd Total: 24 points)

jeremy

6. Kelly (last week: 8th) (Position: 8th, Capabilities: 3rd, Edit: 7th Total: 27 points)

kelly

5. Natalie (last week: 6th) (Position: 9th, Capabilities: 4th, Edit: 4th Total: 28 points)

natalie

4. Julie (last week: 11th) (Position: 1st, Capabilities: 7th, Edit: 8th Total: 29 points)

julie

3. Josh (last week: 1st) (Position: 11th, Capabilities: 1st, Edit: 2nd Total: 31 points)

josh

2. Missy (last week: 4th) (Position: 4th, Capabilities: 2nd, Edit: 5th Total: 34 points)

missy

1. Baylor (last week: 3rd) (Position: 3rd, Capabilities: 5th, Edit: 1st Total: 36 points)

baylor

Survivor San Juan Del Sur Rankings

Post-Episode 2

These rankings are done BCS style with each player ranked according to the following three categories. Their points for each ranking (which will vary week to week depending on how many contestants there are, eg. with ten people remaining the person ranked first will get ten points, the person ranked tenth will get one) will be added up in a final tally similar to that of the old NCAA BCS rankings (yes I know that was terrible, but it’s fun here).

The three categories:

Position in the Game: This calculates what their position currently seems to be, are they in the middle of an alliance or are they on the outside?

Capability: This is the most subjective of the three, but is based in who I feel has the best skills as a Survivor player. Some of these people may be in a bad position, but with their skills can find a way out of it.

Edit: Survivor is a highly edited show where footage is selected in order to create episodic and full season storylines. The way a person is edited can help to predict how well they will do in the game. If a player is in a very bad position, but is getting a good edit, it is conceivable they will find a way out of it at some point.

The Rankings:

Last week #13 in the rankings, Val, went home.

16. Jaclyn (last week: 17th) (Position: 16th, Capabilities: 15th, Edit: 16th Total: 4 points )

jaclyn

Sorry Jaclyn what we have seen from you hasn’t been great and the editors aren’t showing us much!

15. Drew (last week: 16th) (Position: 15th, Capabilities: 14th, Edit:  15th Total: 7 points)

drew

You are continually thrown under the bus by the editors and Jeremy for some reason has his targets set on you with the most social capacity.

14. Jon (last week: 10th) (Position: 12th, Capabilities: 13th, Edit: 10th Total: 16 points )

jon

This may be where people disagree with me most, but I really felt as if he was supposed to look stupid rather than smart when he lost the flint. He may have won against Rocker, but Julie was given more than he was for doing so. Add to it that he seems on the bottom and it’s not a good week for him.

13. John (last week: 11th) (Position: 3rd , Capabilities: 13th, Edit: 14th Total: 18 points )

rocker

Things are continuing to spiral out of control for the controversial ex-pitcher, but he still has a spot within the majority, is conceivably strong in challenges, and has that Hidden Immunity Idol. Without the idol he might be in last place, but with echoes of so many people wanting to take him to the end, 13th is where he ends up.

12. Julie (last week: 15th) (Position: 14th, Capabilities: 11th, Edit: 7th Total: 20 points)

julie

She is rising up the rankings one positive confessional at a time, what hurts her is that Jeremy might consider going after her because of her bf’s broken deal with him. Need to see more from her.

11. Wes (last week: 14th) (Position: 5th, Capabilities: 12th, Edit: 13th  Total: 21 points)

wes

Was made to look dumb from the beginning, getting few confessionals here doesn’t help, but he is in the majority for now.

10. Reed (last week: 12th) (Position: 10th, Capabilities: 7th, Edit: 11th Total: 23 points)

reed

Can’t really rate him until his tribe goes to tribal, his boyfriend is eating up all of his edit for now.

9. Dale (last week: 5th) (Position: 13th, Capabilities: 8th, Edit: 5th Total: 25 points)

dale

He seemed really high strung this episode which is never the sign of a good Survivor player. Add to it that he continually looks weaker in a losing tribe and it could hurt. The edit has been solid though.

8. Missy (last week: 9th) (Position: 9th, Capabilities: 6th, Edit: 9th Total: 27 points)

missy

Her daughter is the stronger player and winner candidate, but the edit seems to tie them together, so Missy could do something. One of those middle players for the winning tribe.

7. Keith (last week: 4th) (Position: 7th, Capabilities: 6th, Edit: 9th Total: 29 points)

keith

Not much for him on the 2nd episode, maybe he lasts a long while, but as a potential 4th or 5th placer.

6. Kelly (last week: 8th) (Position: 8th, Capabilities: 5th, Edit: 8th Total: 30 points)

kelly

Goes up by default, consistently shown in a slightly positive context. I still believe that she can be a solid player, but all of that is yet to be proven.

5. Alec (last week: 7th) (Position: 4th, Capabilities: 4th, Edit: 12th Total: 31 points)

alec

Being athletic and keeping your mouth shut may lead to Alec being a potential contender, he’s only 5th because there is really NO ONE ELSE!

4. Natalie (last week: 6th) (Position: 6th, Capabilities: 10th, Edit: 3rd Total: 32 points)

natalie

Her twinnie leaving perhaps gave her a more positive edit, but we’ll take it at this point. Everything she has done has been positive, though if she was the winner you’d have to think she would be shown a bit more.

3. Baylor (last week: 3rd) (Position: 11th, Capabilities: 3rd, Edit: 4th Total: 33 points)

baylor

The youngin’ stays in the spotlight for a 2nd episode which continues to make me think that there is something to her. She is a capable person on a tribe with John Rocker, so she could last.

2. Josh (last week: 2nd) (Position: 2nd, Capabilities: 2nd, Edit: 2nd Total: 45 points)

josh

I don’t think Josh is a great player, but the editors are making him out to be the focal point of his tribe. I suppose he could explain away his decisions and make everything right, it’s hard to judge.

1. Jeremy (last week: 1st) (Position:1st , Capabilities: 1st, Edit: 1st Total: 48 points)

jeremy

Jeremy sweeps this week in a season full of nonchalant characters. Nothing is really happening and Jeremy has been shown to be smart, anti-John Rocker, and to have a heart, so he’s got to be number 1, at least amongst this crowd.