2014 in Popular Culture (Year in Review)

Warning: The following post has been rated PG-13 for mild language, arguably disturbing gifs, and surely offensive memes (I use quickmeme to create). Proceed with caution.

A lot of serious shit happened in 2014. The downfalls of some powerful people, such as former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and Sony Pictures big wigs Amy Pascal/Scott Rudin, showed the less-informed amongst us the possible ramifications of illegal surveillance and hacking. A slew of highly-publicized police/civilian conflicts and the succeeding protests brought some modern racial tensions that had been brewing below the surface all along into the limelight. The general public finally realized what a scumbag Bill Cosby is.

Hell, even everybody’s favorite football league wasn’t bulletproof if you count domestic/child/prescription-drug abuse scandals as bullets.

If you want commentary on all of that depressing stuff, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m here to run through the best and worst of the year in categories like movies, music, television, sports, common slang, trends, fashion, and naked celebrities.

This happened in 2014, god bless HBO
This happened in 2014, god bless HBO

You know how Batman is the hero the city deserves, but not the one it needs? I’m not like that at all, really. You deserve better than me, and you sure as hell don’t need to read anything I say. But if you’re here, you either know me personally or came across this in your internet stumblings. You made the decision to click on a post with Mark Sanchez photoshopped onto Kim Kardashians possibly photoshopped rear end as its featured image. You could be reading about something more important and I could be rambling about something more important. But we’re not because, damnit, we’re Americans and there isn’t anything we love more than year-end lists.

Except for Lorde. I think we’ve all agreed Lorde is better than year-end lists.

As always, these thoughts are just my opinion, maaaan. And they’re meant more for humor than anything. So without further adieu, I bring to you, my cultural review of 2014.

Movies

Best Movie: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Movie you probably haven’t heard of: Stretch (on Netflix)

Worst Movie: Transformers: Age of Extinction

As much as the nerd in me wanted to choose one of the Marvel movies, Birdman was just too good. It’s well-deserving of the praise it’s receiving for every aspect. If you like jazz drumming, go see it. If you like slick camera work, editing, and impressive photography, go see it. If you like great writing and acting, go see it. Just go see it.

Transformers: Age of Extinction seems like an easy and unoriginal pick, because it is. That movie was so bad I almost sent Michael Bay anthrax but I live in the internet era and forget how to actually send things via the mail.

If Michael Bay directed ski videos...
If Michael Bay directed ski videos…

Best Line/Speech: “If I had a blacklight, this place would look like a Jackson Pollock painting” – Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy

Worst Line/Speech: Anne Hathaway’s entire “power of love” speech in Interstellar

James Gunn, no stranger to explicit yet PG-13 rated sexual humor, deserves a fucking Nobel Prize for that line from Guardians. The scene: Gamora finds a pair of panties on Star-Lord’s ship and then he drops that gem.

As for the “power of love” speech in Interstellar; not only did it ruin the entire concept of what was to that point in the movie a really interesting plot/premise, it also just featured some laughable writing and acting. It was so bad that I don’t even think an executive producer at Lifetime would’ve given it a pass. Nolan needs to hire writers not also named Nolan.

Breakout Star (Male): Chris Pratt

Breakout Star (Female): Carrie Coon

Yes, I’m aware Chris Pratt has been around for a minute. But this was the year he starred in Guardians of the Galaxy and lent his voice to The Lego Movie. This was the year that he covered seemingly every magazine in the country and hosted SNL. This was the year he went from lovable loser on TV to bona-fide movie star. He’s not slowing down either.

Carrie Coon spent 2014 stealing scenes in Gone Girl (a smash R-rated hit) and on HBO’s The Leftovers (a really good show if you have the patience to let it develop). Most of her previous work has been in theatre but if she want to make the push into the mainstream, she certainly can.

MVP (Male): Kevin Feige

MVP (Female): Jennifer Lawrence

Kevin Feige is the man behind the curtains at Marvel, Jennifer Lawrence starred in two of the years biggest movies (again). Easy choices. Bonus points to Lawrence for handling her phone hack like a champ.

meme

Music

Best Album: To Be Kind by Swans

Best Album that nobody gave credit to: Cilvia Demo by Isaiah Rashad

Worst Album: Storytone by Neil Young

Honorable mention to The War on Drugs, Run the Jewels, YG, St. Vincent, and Owen Pallett. I’m not usually into experimental rock music, so pardon my elementary jargon when it comes to the genre, but there’s just so much to sink your teeth into on Swans’ To Be Kind. Literally, the album is over two hours long. There’s some exceptional guitar work and contributions from instruments I can’t even put my finger on. It’s also a fairly happy record compared to most music in its genre. It’s certainly an investment, but it’s not really an album that only holds value when played start to finish. I’ve only made it through a few times, but I’m glad I expanded my tastes a bit and gave it a chance.

Isaiah Rashad is the “other guy” in TDE, but after Kendrick Lamar, he may be the labels most talented artist. The southern spitter seems to have created and mastered his own sound despite Cilvia Demo being his first official release. He’s introspective but still finds time to stunt over some impressive instrumentals. Neil Young is obviously a fucking legend but he tried to do too much on Storytone. Despite some impressive songwriting, the big band sound does not suit him at all.

Best Comeback: D’Angelo

Worst Attempted Comeback: Wu-Tang Clan

Even if Black Messiah, the first album from neo-soul king D’Angelo in 14 years, wasn’t any good, he’d still take the cake out of impact alone. Here’s the thing, after listening to Black Messiah religiously for 48 hours I can say…..it’s really good. It finds D at his most political lyrically and expansive musically. There isn’t a more important record, or artist, this year than D’Angelo.

Always remember to diversify y'all bonds
Always remember to diversify y’all bonds

It literally pains me to type this. I’m the biggest Wu-Tang fan around. But A Better Tomorrow was a rather weak attempt at a comeback. Not only was it unbalanced and didn’t feature GZA or Raekwon (Wu’s two best at this point) nearly enough, it also lacks both the classic sound and any new innovation necessary for it to be a great album.

Best Single: “Move That Dope” by Future (feat. Pharrell, Pusha T, & Casino)

This shit bangs so hard. When Mike Will Made It isn’t grinding on Miley Cyrus, he’s capable of making quality beats, and he proves that here. Every artist brings their A-game, but Pharrell steals the show with charismatic lines like “me and 20 bitches doin’ yoga naked”.

Honorable mention to T-Swift’s undeniably catchy “Shake It Off”, Kendrick Lamar’s positive Isley Bros-sampling “i”, and John Legend’s “All of Me”.

Worst Single: “We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa

If I hear this song playing at one more fucking party or sporting event I’m going to lose it. Not only did Wiz essentially borrow the entire aura of Lil Reese, he also tried to put this awful auto-tune crap he’s obsessed with over a trap beat. It’s all over the place.

Chris Brown gets an honorable mention for the dreadful “Loyal”, which can feature different crappy rappers depending on what version you’re hearing. Brown croons “these hoes ain’t loyal” all over the track. That’s what happens when you assault them, Breezy.

Best bars in rap song: “Young enough to still sell dope, but old enough that I knows better / When they sayin’ it’s 42 for that white powder, I knows better / Get it, n***a? I nose better, put a smile on the devils face / Who don’t wanna sell dope forever and flood their Rollie ’til the bezel break? / Woo! Fish scale in the two door that I fish-tail / Fiberglass, Ferrari leather, in designer shit that I misspell”- Pusha T on “Move That Dope

Okay, I lied, Pusha stole the show on “Move That Dope”. Damn.

Worst bars in a rap song: This one is just too close to call so I’m going with a two-way tie between 2 Chainz on “Crib in my Closet” and Nicki Minaj on “Anaconda”…

“Money machine at the bank, I just made me a deposit / Fucked that bitch right on the sink / Is it the pussy or is it the faucet?” – 2 Chainz

Good lord. 2 Chainz, bruh, you gotta get your girl (or maybe your faucet) checked out if you’re running into this problem.

“I let him hit it cause he slang cocaine / He toss my salad like his name Romaine” – Nicki

momNot only does Nicki Minaj literally say she bangs dudes because they have drug money, but then she had thousands of teenage girls googling what “tossing salad” is. This recent fascination in rap with “tossing salad” is rather alarming.

Breakout Band: St. Paul & the Broken Bones

Breakout Star (Male): DJ Mustard

Breakout Star (Female): FKA Twigs

MVP (Male): Pharrell

MVP (Female): Taylor Swift

Another year of Pharrell being everywhere. T-Swift proved that it’s still possible to sell CD’s. St. Paul & the Broken Bones are way more soulful than a group of seven white guys have any right to be. FKA Twigs put out one of the years best records with LP1; her sexual energy, layered production, and incredible voice are something to pay attention too.

Oh, and Mustard on the beat hoe…

 

Television

Best New Show: True Detective

So many great choices for this category. On top of my pick, HBO alone brought Silicon Valley, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Leftovers onto screens. Not to mention FX’s Fargo.

But True Detective, while a boring pick, is the correct choice here. It’s a slow, philosophical, well-acted burn. The people who say this show is boring are the same people who watch crap like CSI and Criminal Minds where everything is explicitly told to them, the answers are wrapped up neatly in a bow at the end, and the last two minutes are always a terrible montage showing the predictable conclusions to whatever poorly-developed character conflicts were explored that episode.

If you like True Detective, check out Galveston, the novel by creator Nic Pizzolatto.

tumblr_n0f9m6o6tQ1rt6u7do1_500

Best Returning Show: Orange is the New Black

Show That Needs to End: American Idol

Show That (thankfully) Ended: Boardwalk Bored-Walk Empire

Bored-Walk Empire might have fancy set designs and costumes and Steve Buscemi but that doesn’t make it a good show. It lost everything that made it so compelling early on and got too ambitious for its own good. The characters were no longer believable. And with that, the tension was gone.

Best TV Moment: Sharknado 2: The Second One

Worst TV Moment: Discovery’s Eaten Alive

Both these shows blew up twitter for very different reasons.

Best Type of Rob Lowe: Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe

Worst Type of Rob Lowe: Skinny Arms Rob Lowe

tbh I prefer going when other people are watching
tbh I prefer going when other people are watching

 

Fashion/Trends/Slang

People need to stop saying: Bae

I’ve made as many “Bae” jokes as anyone. It’s a funny word to describe a significant other. Amongst the “Bae” jokes I’ve made over the last 12 months…

  • If Dexter premiered on TV 5 years later his nickname would’ve been the “Bae Harbor Butcher”.
  • When someone is being nosy I say, “Don’t ask me about my business, Bae.”
  • If you need a gift for your girlfriend I highly suggest getting one of those L.L. Bean backpacks with initials stitched on the back only instead of her actual initials it reads “BAE”

But, this slang term has had its three year run. It’s time to retire it before we remember it for all the wrong reasons.

bae

Best Social Media Trend: Politicians, like Jeb Bush, making announcements via their Facebook pages

Because it’s hilarious.

Worst Social Media Trend: White people posting/tweeting a Martin Luther King Jr. quote as their status in response to racial tensions.

Because they’re only doing it to make themselves look more progressive.

Best Fashion Trend (Male): Bucket Hats

Thanks in part to Schoolboy Q, the bucket hat has become a completely socially acceptable male accessory. This is great for two reasons. 1) Bucket hats are awesome do a nice job keeping the sun out of your face…2) They’re sure as hell better than fedoras and trucker caps.

Best Fashion Trend (Female): Whatever these boots are called.

175064_0_45

These boots have blown up so much that companies like Ralph Lauren and L.L. bean have literally been unable to meet demand this season. Not only do they look classier than Uggs, but they seem much more practical when it comes to trekking through potentially hazardous weather. Also, when you wear these, you don’t look like someone entirely dependent on name brands for everything in your life.

 

Celebrities

Most Graceful Use of Nudity: Keira Knightley

Least Graceful Use of Nudity: Kim Kardashian

You can go find all the pictures for yourself but Knightley and Kardashian used their naked bodies for very different purposes. Also, Keira Knightley is awesome and incredibly talented. Kim Kardashian is, well, her first name and last name start with the same letter, which is sort of cool.

Biggest Douche (Male): Aaron Sorkin (creator/writer The Newsroom)

Biggest Douche (Female): Nancy Grace

Sorkin may be a talented writer but at this point he’s so pompous and disconnected from the common folk that his words are hard to stomach. Also, he’s a douche. Another year, and another instance of Nancy Grace thinking she knows what’s best for everybody. This time she pretending to know everything about the steroid and drug issues surrounding wrestling.

Best Celebrity Couple: Aaron Rodgers (Packers QB) and Olivia Munn (actress/host)

They’re both good-looking people who are great at what they do. They do a pretty good job staying away from the cameras. Recently, Munn stated that the couple do not have sex on gamedays, which possibly explains why Rodgers is having such a historically great season.

Worst Celebrity Couple: Nick Young (Lakers player) and Iggy Azalea (rapper/artist/asshole)

Nick Young, known as Swaggy P to some, is a pretty funny dude and has actually found a role for himself in the NBA but Iggy is just so awful at life she brings him down four pegs.

iggy

Whatever Happened to: Mel Gibson

I mean, I know what happened. He made his own bed. But I expected a comeback. Mel Gibson is probably the only dude on the planet who could’ve made Exodus: Gods and Kings work.

 

Sports/Media

Athlete of the Year (Male): Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

Not only is Gronk dominating the NFL like no tight end in the history of the game due to his sheer physcial power, but he’s also hanging out with Bieber, cracking hilarious jokes, and partying with pornstars in Vegas. He’s battled back from a whole slew of serious injuries. Nothing can stop this guy.

Gronk represents everything we love about sports: physical dominance, mental toughness, and partying with pornstars in Vegas.

Legendary
Legendary

Athlete of the Year (Female): Serena Williams

Maybe another boring pick, but Serena has spent over 200 weeks as the #1 ranked player in the world. She’s just kicking ass and taking names. She won the US Open, made about $10 million in winnings alone, and took home WTA Player of the Year for the 3rd year in a row. Serena is good at tennis, I think.

Best Publication: Deadpsin

Worst Publication: Rolling Stone

Deadspin had another great year of breaking stories nobody else has the balls to even begin to look at (just wait until the Dwight Howard child abuse scandal becomes a big thing, they’ve been on it for months). Not only did Rolling Stone slander an entire fraternity, university, and system based on some bullshit, inconsistent gang rape accusation….when it was discovered that it was inconsistent, the national publication gave a half-assed apology and didn’t even mention the organizations they slandered by name (Phi Kappa Psi, The University of Virginia, Greek system as a whole).

Oh, and Rolling Stone also gave album of the year to U2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Best TV Personality: John Oliver (from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)

Worst TV Personality not named Nancy Grace: Magic Johnson (who even ESPN doesn’t invite back anymore)

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Magic Johnson as a basketball legend and spokesperson for STD education in this country. But good lord, every time he opens his mouth, whether it’s about race or the damn Lakers, he sounds like a complete moron.

Welp. That’s all folks. I look forward to celebrating the new year in style, and by that I mean getting really drunk in somebodies apartment. 2015 gives me a lot to be excited about as we’re getting albums from Kanye West, Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar as well as a new Star Wars movie, Avengers 2, and the Batman vs Superman movie.

Peace!

2 thoughts on “2014 in Popular Culture (Year in Review)”

  1. Cilvia Demo was incredible. He came London a couple of months ago with Schoolboy Q and just killed it. I expect big things from this guy.
    In fact the whole TDE group had a good year with Ab Soul, SZA and Q.

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