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Posts Tagged ‘2009

Skylar’s Naughty and Nice List 2009

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It’s Christmas Eve, which means one thing for my loyal readers: it’s time for Skylar’s annual Christmas presents! Last year, instead of giving presents, I created a naughty and nice list. People responded so well to it that I’ve decided to once again list my naughty and nice in 2009. So despite the fact that it’s not even noon, I’ve got a cocktail in hand and carols playing in the background. And while Santa has made his list and is currently checking it twice, I’m going to let you know just what you naughty and nice buggers have meant to me this year.

Naughty

5.  Kevin Smiley
Running on a platform of breathing new life into SGA and eliminating the good-ole-boy system, you–in not so many words–blasted Kayla Shelton and myself for corruption and lack of vision.  Upon taking office you appoint your brother as your chief-of-staff, showing the buddy system is stronger than ever, and you proceed to make appointments based on personal friendships and political alliances rather than qualifications.  You were good to me when I resigned, for which I give you credit, and you’ve done some good work, but your lack of judgment in your appointments has earned your position on this list.

4.  Jack Tweed and Jackiey Budden
Your wife and daughter, respectively, passed away and not long after the two of you descended into petty behavior and viscous attacks on one another. Jade loved you both—why, I’ll never know—and instead of honoring her memory you took to the press to publicly eviscerate one another. While we all agree that death was Jade’s finest hour, for the two of you, it was your lowest point.

3.  Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo
Proving that you are still the king of screwing up, you cursed Governor Beshear for not supporting you and, seemingly at every turn, opposed the governor on coal and any other issue you could.  It’s funny, because all you’ve done is ruin your own career.  You began 2009 as the apparent Democratic nominee the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Bunning, but you end 2009 a disgraced man who will not only lose your bid for Senate but has been replaced as Lt. Governor on the next go-round.  Way to go, Dr. Dan.

2.  Senator Joe Lieberman
Dude, seriously?  Where do I even begin?  You started the year on my shit list and you end it as the political equivalent of Satan in my book.  You’ve done everything you can to oppose President Obama and his agenda–from endorsing McCain in last year’s election to single-handedly holding true health care reform hostage–and you’ve done it all with that arrogant smirk of an entitled buffoon.  It is my sincerest hope that, in 2012, the people of Connecticut will have had enough of your smug ego and do what they should have done in 2006–rid themselves and the rest of us of your presence in the Senate.  For good.

1.  Every single Member of Parliament.
One of the good things of being a transatlantic sort is that you are fluent in two cultures: American and British.  The expenses scandal that rocked Westminster and the whole of the UK back in May took everybody by surprise, and I found myself confused.  This was behavior I had come to expect from politicians on the western side of the Atlantic.  But not in Britain.  If anything, this served as a wakeup call to me (and to scores of others) that Westminster was not as incorruptible as perhaps we’d have naively liked to believe.  No party was left unscathed, and even those who didn’t use taxpayer money to clean their moats or claim a second, third, fourth and fifth home undoubtedly knew something was rotton and said nothing.  Disgusting.

Nice

5.  Dan Choi

You sacrificed your career in order to stand up for equality.  In doing that you became a gay rights icon and a leader of our movement.  Having two siblings in the US army, I know the sacrifices you have made and still make, and I appreciate everything you’ve done so much.  You are a true American hero, and you represent what I love about this country.  Thank you for everything you’re doing on behalf of my equality–and the equality of all LGBT Americans.

4.  Meghan McCain
Sure, we don’t agree on everything, but in 2009 you have shown not only a new side to the Republican party but why we Millennials are so amazing and epic.  Meghan, you are an inspiration to millions of twentysomethings around the country who aspire to be as poised, dignified, and informed as you are.  You have stood up for equality, which as a gay man I am eternally grateful for, and you have been a voice of moderation and reason in a party that to many of us seems to be a party of extremism.  You subscribe to the conservatism of Goldwater and  live-and-let-live philosophy of small government and low taxes which anybody can respect.  I look forward to seeing what you do in 2010 and the ensuing decade, and I have a feeling I may one day be voting for you to be my president.  (A boy can hope, anyway.)

3.  Matthew Sephton
Who would have known the boy I started chatting with on Facebook all that time back would go on to be the Tory PPC to challenge Hazel Blears!  I am so intensely proud of you.  You have shown poise and dignity with everything going on in your campaign, and as the head of LGBTory you have managed to raise the stature and presence of the organisation and really set it on course for success.  You are one of the most intelligent and friendly people I know, and the people of Salford and Eccles would be truly blessed to be represented in parliament by someone like you.  Wishing you the best for 2010!

2.   Rachel Maddow
You have been the ONLY voice in the MSM here in the states to consistently bring up progressive points and counter reactionary arguments.  Your coverage of “The Family,” including their role in the Uganda “Kill the Gays” bill, was invaluable and you have helped to raise the status and stature of progressive journalism.  As an out lesbian you have also helped to raise the banner of equality in the way other LGBT people in the public eye (i.e. Ellen and Adam Lambert) have shied away from.  Your keen insight and analysis and synthesis of the day’s events have allowed a progressive voice to be heard, for which I am enternally grateful.

1.  All of my Tweeps, especially Joe (@joemcd), Will (@willswearsprada), Billy (@wchardin), Colin (@icolin), Ashley (@veganindigo), Jason (@jaekay), Pete (@PeteyBennett) Lawrence (@LawrenceMills) and Patrik-Ian Polk (@patrikianpolk)
2009 was the year I began Tweeting, and thank God I did.  You all have made 2009 bearable for me.  Knowing I could come online and rant and rave to you all was such a comfort during the hard times, and you never failed to entertain me.  I’ve connected with so many amazing Tweeps, and I love you all to death.  Joe, you were probably my first Tweep, and I can’t tell you how much your Twitter-friendship has meant to me.  You are the scarecrow to my Dorothy in the Twitterverse, and I really hope we do get to meet in person soon.  Will, you manage to crack me up whenever I’m down, and I won’t soon forget how you cheered me up when I was especially down.  I hope we get to meet soon, too, cos I think we’d have a proper laugh in between sarcastic banter and putdowns.  Billy, you and I bonded over being from Kentucky, being Hilltoppers and being Anglophiles and in you I found a kindred spirit.  I will be meeting you soon and I cannot wait!  Colin, you let me confide a secret in you and I thank you for that.  You, too, make me smile more than you probably know.  Can’t wait to meet you next week, too!  Ashley, it was so great to meet another intellectual and activist.  You have brightened my life more than you can possibly know.  Jae, buddy, I love tweeting with you and I wish we talked more than we do.  You are absolutely brilliant and our banter makes my day.  Pete, I remember watching you on Big Brother 7 and thinking how much I would love to be your friend.  Following you on Twitter is one of the best decisions I made, cos you always crack me up and bring a smile to my face.  You following me back and a tweeting with you from time to time has been a highlight of 2009 for me.  You’re amazing, perfect Pete!  Lawrence, we’ve only just started getting to know one another, but chatting with you brings me so much pleasure.  You’re such a ray of sunshine.  And Patrik-Ian, you have been such an inspiration to me and your support has meant the world to me.   Thank you for everything you’ve done and all the encouragement you’ve given me.  I love you all!

So there you have it: my naughty and nice list for 2009.  There are tons of people who deserve to be on both lists, so coming up with five for each was difficult.

I hope you all have a blessed, joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  Thank you for your continued support and love.  Each of you have meant the world to me.

Merry Christmas.

x. Skylar

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50 songs that defined the noughties (2000s)

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Back in September, the Telegraph published its list of the 100 songs that defined the noughties. Reading through it, I found myself nodding in agreement at times and throwing my arms up in shock and disapproval at others.

A few days ago I tweeted the story to my followers, asking them for the songs that had defined their decade. After a few days work, I’ve come up with 50 of the songs that have defined my decade. These are the songs that, in my opinion, tell the story of the noughties—from 2000 to 2009—and will be remembered for years to come, whether because of their artistry, their controversy, or their relevance.

A few things to remember about my list:

  • I grew up with music from both the US and UK, so the list will reflect that fact.  This means you may not have heard of some of these songs.  If not, I highly suggest you listen to them.
  • This list is by no means authoritative or complete.  Choosing 50 songs of that define a decade is nearly impossible, as everybody’s songs are colored by their own experiences.  I’m no music critic–just a fan–so keep that in mind.
  • The songs are grouped by years, but that’s it; there is no ranking, no rhyme or reason why songs are ordered the way they are.
  • The annotations are accurate, as I have done my research.
  • Not all songs on here are songs I necessarily enjoy, but may be songs that have simply impacted pop culture in general.
  • I tried to only pick one song from an artist–the exception being Justin Timberlake, who appears on the list as a member of *NSync and later as a solo artist.  If I hadn’t, for example, Leona Lewis’s cover of Run would have made the list, as would have Everytime by Britney Spears
  • I tried to keep it to five songs per year, but as you’ll see, this didn’t completely work.
  • I highly encourage you to debate my choices, comment with your own, and compile your own list.  The more music we can remember, the better off all our playlists will be!

With that, I give you my top 50 songs of the 2000s.

2000
“Bye, Bye, Bye” by *Nsync

A catchy song about breaking loose of a no good lover, it garnered the boyband a Grammy nod for Record of the Year and is arguably their most memorable song.

“Wonderful” by Everclear
“Please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now…” sings a boy to his emotionally absent parents. This song got me through the darkest hours of my life.

Britney Spears in her iconic music video for "Oops!... I Did it Again"

“Oops!… I Did it Again” by Britney Spears
The lead single from Britney’s sophomore album, it remains one of the most infectious pop songs of the past 30 years.

“I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack
Still Womack’s only number one hit, “I Hope You Dance” was—and still is—played at high school graduations across America.

 

2001
“Island in the Sun” by Weezer

Though it never cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and only charted at 31 in the UK, “Island in the Sun” proved that Weezer was still “hip, hip” and provided some musical escapism in the aftermath of 9/11.

“Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)?” by Alan Jackson
It’s impossible to discuss 2001 in music with out mentioning Alan Jackson’s moving tribute to the 9/11 attacks. Eight years later, it is still the most poignant song to be written about that day.

“Fallin’” by Alicia Keys
Establishing Keys as the preeminent songwriter of our generation, “Fallin’” captured the 19 year old the Grammy for Song of the Year.

“Ms. Jackson” by OutKast
Not their biggest hit, but for a generation of high school students, “Ms. Jackson” provided a sick beat and a warning about the risks of teenage pregnancy. It also foreshadowed the great work OutKast would produce later in the decade.

 

2002
“I’m With You” by Avil Lavigne
Lavigne’s work leaves much to be desired, but there’s no denying the emotions behind her lyrics and vocals in this piece, which may epitomize the year between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.

“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
Released on Christmas Eve, “Beautiful” is arguably Aguilera’s most artistic moment—and the video doubtlessly her most daring. A song that inspired all those “othered” by society.

“Clocks” by Coldplay
It captured the Record of the Year Grammy for Coldplay. More importantly, it was heard in practically every film trailer and television show for the next two years, and it has one of the most memorable melodies of any song this decade.

“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith

If Alan Jackson penned a moving tribute to 9/11, Toby Keith penned a shameful rallying cry for revenge against… well, he never really figured that part out. Still, even to this day, something about this song compels me to listen.

“Unchained Melody” by Gareth Gates
Admittedly more of a personal choice than anything, for a great number of Millennials (especially those from the UK), Gareth Gates is inexplicably connected with their adolescence.

 

2003
“Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson

The song that established Clarkson—the first
American Idol—as more than a one-hit wonder, she showed the world that she would be around for years to come.

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash
Daring to cross genres and defy stereotypes, “Hurt” introduced Cash—and his amazing collection of songs—to a new generation of fans. It’s also one of the most moving songs of the decade, made all the more jarring because of the parallels with Cash’s own booze-soaked life.

“Mad World” by Gary Jules
Surprising everyone by taking the Christmas number one on the British charts, Jules’ version is arguably the most moving rendition of this song—including the original.

“American Life” by Madonna
Released on the heels of the invasion of Iraq, Madonna coupled it with a video so controversial even she decided to reshoot it. No song defines the Bush years better, proving even in a new century, Madge is still relevant.

“Leave Right Now” by Will Young
The first Idol ever—anywhere—produced one of the most emotional farewell songs in years.

 

2004
“What Became of the Likely Lads” by the Libertines

As Pete Doherty’s life spun out of control, he penned this lament about a friendship lost. (In this case, with fellow Libertine Carl Barat.) Fittingly, though sadly, it was the group’s last single.

“She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5
Not Maroon 5’s biggest hit, though possibly their most memorable, “She Will Be Loved” defined my first year of college.

“Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson
Say what you will about Gretchen Wilson, but “Redneck Woman” introduced Nashville to the Musik Mafia and brought about a renaissance in country music.

Brandon Flowers of The Killers from their video for "Mr. Brightside," one of the biggest hits of 2004

“Mr. Brightside” by the Killers
Las Vegas’ best resurrects glam rock. Enough said. Though not the first single from the Killers, “Mr. Brightside” is the song that cemented their place in the pantheon of noughties rockers.

“If Heartaches Had Wings” by Rhonda Vincent
You’ve probably never heard of this song, about a woman full of regrets, and that’s okay. Still, it is the best bluegrass song of the decade. Plus, the video stars Miley Cyrus before she was Miley Cyrus.

 

2005
“Gold Digger” by Kanye West
Kanye is one of the most controversial artists of the decade (to put it mildly), but “Gold Digger” was one of the biggest songs of the year. And rightly so, as it’s just as catchy as the rest of West’s work.

“Baby Girl” by Sugarland
Though released in 2004, Sugarland’s debut single didn’t climb the charts until early 2005, inaugurating lead vocalist Jennifer Nettles as the newest diva in the country music pantheon. On a personal note, the lyrics to this song was the first text message my grandparents ever received; I sent it to them requesting money.

“I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper)” by T-Pain ft Mike Jones
Admit it—you were singing along with the rest of us.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
A song about the death of Billy Joe Armstrong’s father, the video was yet another slap in the face of the Bush administration by the preeminent rockers of the day. The song struck a nerve with a nation growing weary of war.

“You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt
Blunt’s debut single may have made it hard to believe he is a former soldier, but it introduced him as one of the sappiest crooners of the decade.

2006
“SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake
We didn’t even know sexy had left until Timberlake told us so. With that voice and those beats, though, we believed him.

“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
One of the most romantic songs of the decade, this was the track that finally propelled Snow Patrol to mainstream American success.

“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
Besides resurrecting 1960s soul, Winehouse’s salute to alcoholism and broken hearts established her as one of the most talented—and tragic—stars of the decade.

“I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks
After being shunned—and threatened—by country music fans for speaking out against the Iraq War in 2003, Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks came back with a vengeance, speaking for disgruntled progressives everywhere and nabbing five Grammys in the process.

“Last Request” by Paolo Nutini
The first single released from Nutini’s inaugural effort, this aching plea for one last night with a lover broke hearts across Britain. Though he’s struggled to find mainstream success in the US, “Last Request” has still managed to win over countless Yanks.

 

2007
“Rule the World” by Take That
A perfect song to accompany acclaimed fantasy film Stardust, “Rule the World” helped reestablish Take That as a premier British band—and is the song I will dance to at my wedding.

“Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
The biggest thing to come out of a television talent show on either side of the Atlantic, Leona Lewis scored a massive hit with her debut single, penned by Ryan Tedder and Jesse McCartney. Arguably the most memorable song of the decade, “Bleeding Love” established Lewis as the definitive diva of her generation, thrusting her into the same league as Whitney, Celine, and Mariah. (Note: Yes, it didn’t come out in the US until 2008, but it was a massive hit in the UK in the autumn of 2007—which is when I first heard it.)

“Umbrella” by Rhianna

Rhianna's "Umbrella" was the defining song of summer 2007

An annoying but catchy tribute to unyielding friendship, with this song Rhianna told the world she wasn’t going anywhere. Plus, as the Telegraph pointed out, it provided the perfect soundtrack for a rain-soaked summer.

“Grace Kelly” by Mika
You can’t be faulted if, upon first listen, you thought someone had resurrected Freddie Mercury. With “Grace Kelly,” Mika helped usher in the era of wonky pop.

“With Every Heartbeat” by Robyn
Heartbreaking and infectious, Robyn proved that the Scandinavians are still better at making quality pop records than we are.

“Flourescent Adolescent” by the Arctic Monkeys
Not their biggest hit, and perhaps not even their best song, but “Flourescent Adolescent” still managed to define 2007 for those who rebelled against the previous five songs. Plus, with lyrics like “everything’s in order in a black hole/nothing seems as pretty as the past though/That Bloody Mary’s lacking in Tabasco/Remember when you used to be a rascal?” it was the perfect accompaniment to the onset of the Great Recession.

 

2008
“Love Story” by Taylor Swift
Swift’s biggest single up to that point, “Love Story” helped propel her out of Nashville and introduce her to an international audience. It also proved Swift as one helluva songwriter.

“No Air” by Jordin Sparks ft Chris Brown
The best duet of the decade, hands down. Though Chris Brown is now more infamous for domestic violence than famous for his music, the blended vocals of Sparks and Brown illustrate why they’re both young stars on the rise.

“I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry
Offensive to the gay community or an innocent anthem for bicuriosity? Either way, “I Kissed a Girl” was the song of summer 2008 and propelled Perry to stardom.

“My President” by Young Jeezy
Never a huge hit, but there is something special in remembering the election of America’s first black president—a defining moment not just of the noughties, but of modern history. This song is the celebration of a milestone preceded by centuries of struggle.

“Paper Planes” by MIA
No song better describes Britain’s and America’s irrational fear of brown people than does this anthem for immigrants and oppressed minorities everywhere. The gunshots and ringing cash registers only serve to make the song all the more memorable—and relevant.

Beyonce's video for "Single Ladies" is one of the most iconic of the decade. Just as Kanye West.

“Single Ladies” by Beyonce
God, this song is annoying, but Kanye was right—Beyonce
did have one of the best videos of all time. Besides, you have to admit, it’s catchy as hell.


2009
“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

If the noughties defined Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus defined the noughties. Surprising, well, everybody, Cyrus managed to actually produce a quality pop record that, probably unintentionally, embodied the optimism of youth in the Obama era.

“TikTok” by Ke$ha
If you haven’t heard this song yet, go listen. I don’t know what the future has in store for Ke$ha, but this is one of the best night-out-on-the-town songs to come along in years.

“Never Forget You” by the Noisettes
Sure, Duffy’s throwback to 60’s soul is more successful, but nobody, except maybe Winehouse, can touch the artistry of Shingai Shoniwa.

“Just Dance” by Lady GaGa
When I heard this song on the radio in January, I told my best friend it was the first song that made me feel like it was 2009. Turns out, 2009 was the year of GaGa. If the forecast “Just Dance” provides is any indication, the teens will be dominated by Lady GaGa.

“Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
An understated, underappreciated single from an underrated group, Lady Antebellum proves they are the future of country music with “Need You Now.” An aching song about longing for an old flame, it’s the best song Nashville has had to offer in 2009.