Favorite Music, Bands, & Artists of 2014

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My Spotify Year in Review for 2014

My Spotify Year in Review for 2014

As someone who loves discovering new music on a regular basis, and as someone who always needs to have music playing in order to work, pass the time, or function on a basic level, figuring out my favorite music of the year is a difficult task. (The only other list that even rivals in difficulty is the Best TV of the Year list.) Thankfully, Spotify does a helpful roundup of what its users have been listening to throughout the year, which made this list a bit easier to compose.

However, I do take issue with some things that came up on my Spotify Year in Review — especially that my most listened to songs are not necessarily my favorite songs of the year — so I’ve made my own lists. These are my top 5 bands/artists of the year and my top 10 favorite songs (I had to make a lot of really difficult cuts down from 20).

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The 4 Best Adaptations of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’

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Photo via NPR

Photo via NPR

Last summer and fall it seemed Hollywood had caught Yellow Brick Fever as many major TV networks — CBS, NBC, CW, and Syfy — were looking to adapt L. Frank Baum’s classic work of literature: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Syfy was developing a post-apocalyptic Oz with Warriors of Oz, NBC began progress on a “dark reimagining” called Emerald City, CBS was working on a medical drama titled Dorothy, and CW was in talks to adapt Danielle Paige’s, at the time, forthcoming novel Dorothy Must Die. Though none of those proposed TV series have made it to the silver screen just yet, they were being discussed around the same time as ABC’s fairy tale series Once Upon A Time announced plans of incorporating the classic good versus wicked standoff into their show.

Photo via Cineplex

Photo via Cineplex

Though fans may not be happy with the quality or quantity of Oz adaptations, the influx is indicative of a persisting love inspired by Baum’s classic tale. Since the book was released over a century ago — it was first published in May of 1900 — the beloved story has spawned numerous sequels, been adapted to film, television, and the stage many times, as well as inspired multiple retellings in literature. Throughout the past 114 years of Oz history, there have been many iconic works based on Baum’s original book, and his stories are set to hit the big screen yet again in the limited release of Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return on May 9. In honor of all the Wicked Witches in popular culture at the moment — Once Upon A Time’s season finale airs on Sunday — it seemed appropriate to talk about the best adaptations from Baum’s original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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10 Best Songs from ‘Nashville’ Season Two

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Photo via CountryMusicRocks.net

Photo via CountryMusicRocks.net

On Dec. 10 ABC’s Nashville and Big Machine Records released the first soundtrack from the show’s second season: The Music of Nashville: Season 2, Volume 1. The season two soundtrack didn’t do as well on the charts–only reaching number four on Billboard’s US Soundtracks–but that might be a result of the show’s diminished focus on music. In season two Nashville has become less concerned with cramming 4-7 songs into a single episode and has paid more attention to the plotlines of the series, which I’m totally okay with.

Photo via EW

Photo via EW

Midway through the first season of ABC’s Nashville, I counted down my top five favorite songs so far in the season. Now that we’re more than halfway through the second season of Nashville, I figured it’s time to take a look back at some of the music from the show. Despite recording and releasing fewer tracks in the second season, I’ve found that I like the music on Nashville just as much–maybe even more.

Photo via Wet Paint

Photo via Wet Paint

As far as trends within my favorite songs, I’ve noticed I really enjoy the younger artists from the show like Will Lexington and Scarlett O’Connor rather than Rayna James–who isn’t on here at all, sorry Rayna fans! The music this season has also been spread out amongst the artists rather than having Rayna and Juliette Barnes sing all the songs. I’ve been disappointed by the lack of duets between Scarlett and Gunnar Scott–though that’s to be expected after they broke up last season. However, I’m excited to see more from Scarlett as she begins working with Liam McGuinnis (Michiel Huisman) on her first album. I’d also like to see more from Scarlett’s on-again, off-again best friend Zoey Dalton, who has had one single this season and a duet with Gunnar. Perhaps in the coming episodes we’ll get even more great music, but for now, these are my ten favorite songs of season two.

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8 Fantastic 8tracks Playlists

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Photo via 8tracks.

Photo via 8tracks.

I have applauded and raved about Songza, but more recently I’ve been getting into 8tracks. (Don’t worry Songza, I’ll never leave you forever.) The trick with 8tracks is finding good playlists to listen to, which can be hard because there are so, so, so, SO many.

The way I got into 8tracks was through people I follow on Tumblr. I started noticing these playlists popping up on my Tumblr dashboard with cool graphically designed cover art that had some really great music. So I began listening to the playlists, which made me start looking for more playlists and before I knew it, I was hooked. I’m still wary of finding good mixes on the 8tracks site, especially since it’s difficult for users to display the song listing. (In fact, it’s impossible without listening to the mix unless the user includes it somehow.) But as long as the people I follow on Tumblr keep reblogging good mixes, I’ll keep discovering new music to love. Here are some of my favorite playlists I’ve found so far.

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The 10 Best Music Moments from ‘My Mad Fat Diary’

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Photo courtesy of Amazon UK.

Photo courtesy of Amazon UK.

Music plays a pretty big part in E4’s series My Mad Fat Diary, though it didn’t quite make it onto my list of Why ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ Is the Best New Show of 2013. Music got lumped in with all the other 90s aspects of the show–like clothes and slang. But after rewatching My Mad Fat Diary again (for the third time,) I realized just how instrumental the soundtrack is to the characters and plot of the show. Rae uses music as an initiation into a new group of friends, she bonds with another character in particular over music, and the soundtrack helps to set the tone of many scenes throughout the series. After finding Tumblr user Cliffpantones’s gifset of the six best music moments from season one, I thought I’d try to come up with my own list.

Have you ever seen a more 90s group of kids? Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Check out all those Oasis shirts. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Although it’s been six months since I declared MMFD would be the best show to premiere in 2013 (and we still haven’t quite gotten through fall premiere season,) I still believe the show has the best television soundtrack of the year, if not of the past five years. You can check out all 113 tracks from the show in my playlist: My Mad Fat Diary MegaPlaylist. From Oasis to Blur, The Cure to Radiohead, whoever picks the music for MMFD should win some kind of award. Not only is the music quality, each song also fits perfectly into whatever scene in which it’s featured. So, while I rewatched MMFD recently, I took note of every scene that was perfectly matched with a 90s tune and narrowed it down to 10–which was difficult–in order to celebrate the best music moments from season one.

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10 All Time Favorite Disney Songs

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'Hercules' premiered in 1997 and starred Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, & Susan Egan. (Photo courtesy of Disney.)

‘Hercules’ premiered in 1997 and starred Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, & Susan Egan. (Photo courtesy of Disney.)

Recently, I re-watched Hercules, which was one of my favorite Disney movies when I was a kid. For those who have Netflix Instant, how great is it that so many Disney movies are available on Instant? I know it’s because the two companies struck a deal back in December, but I’m so glad the viewers are get something as well. Since my family’s collection of Disney movies consists almost exclusively of VHS tapes and we don’t actually own a working VHS player anymore, it’s nice to be able to watch some of my favorites anytime I’d like. Sure, ABC Family or the Disney Channel occasionally decides to play some of the Disney flicks I grew up with, but sometimes it’s nice to come home from a long day of work, have a drink, and sing along to Hercules at top volume.

My rewatch experience got me to remembering all the music from those Disney movies to which I still know all the words. There are plenty of playlists on Pandora, Songza, and Spotify devoted exclusively to those songs, such as “Disney” curated by my friend Monica. I also remember arguing with friends when I was younger over which Disney songs were the best, although movies like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Mulan always made the list–to be honest though, my friends and I still have these discussions. So for a bit of nostalgia, I decided to put together my list of all-time favorite Disney songs.

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