Category Archives: Top Ten

The Best Albums Of 1997


1997. The year yours truly graduated high school. The year of the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. The year Bill Clinton began his second term as president. A loose cross between the calm and the chaotic.

1997 was pretty great cinematically, an improvement over 1996, the weakest year of the 1990s. Musically though, it was a step-down. If in 1996, there was still a sense of possibility that the “alternative rock revolution” might lead somewhere, 1997 offered definitive proof that the moment had passed and all the possibilities that had leapt forth following the early 90s breakthrough had reached an impasse or petered out totally.

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The Best Albums of 1987


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What if I told you the two biggest hit songs of 1987 were by Gregory Abbot and Billy Vera & the Beaters?

Well they were. The songs in question are “Shake You Down” and “At This Moment,” two tunes I haven’t given a second thought to in the intervening thirty years. If you had asked me to name the top hits of the year without doing any research I never would have thought of these two. Go a little further down the list and you’ll start to find artists you may associate more with the era, like Madonna, Michael Jackson, U2, George Michael, Whitney Houston, and Bon Jovi. If you know me well, you probably know that not many of those folks are likely to make my list of the best albums of the year from thirty years ago. If you don’t know me well, check out last year’s article about the Best Albums of 1986 and the previous year’s highlight of the top long-form recordings of 1985. That should drive the point home. Since I turned 17 in 1987, I not only developed some intense attachment to the popular art forms of the time, but I also learned a bit of distaste for the stuff that I found less appealing. I’m sure most people who take art seriously go through this at some point in time and over the next few years it would develop for me pretty significantly.

Despite this, you should find some of my choices for the best of 1987 to be accessible enough.

Take a deep breath and dive in!
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Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder/LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Dan Hill


You might have noticed that the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” parade has slowed down a little since its introductory burst onto the LeBlog scene a couple of years ago. Between Jeff the Wildman and I, we’ve covered more than twenty artists who common perception might have, through forgetfulness or some other whim of fate, inaccurately labeled as one with just a single claim to fame. While I’m hoping we’ll continue to cover these artists as the fancy strikes us, I also want to start up a new series that might help to soften the landing as Lebeau’s long-running analysis of the Golden Raspberries catches up with the current day in just a couple of weeks.

The schadenfreude associated with watching someone aim high (or very low) and somehow end up the target of derision is both personally shameful and undeniably delicious. What I’m hoping to do is to take that same experience, as is often delivered by Razzie winning movies, and apply it to popular music forms. This will manifest itself as “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics,” which will attempt to aim somewhere near that delectable spot that a movie like Mommie Dearest inhabits. A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.”

The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese. This is almost certainly the case with our first case study, an artist who manages to fulfill the requirements to take a place in both the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” and “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics” canons, thereby becoming the ideal introduction to the new series through connection to the prior one. Here comes Dan Hill.
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10 Things at Universal Orlando That Could Have Been Better


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Okay, let’s get two things out of the way right off the top. Number one: My family and I had a really good time at the Universal theme parks in Orlando this spring. Take a look at my article 10 Things I Loved about Universal Orlando’s Theme Parks for a little bit about that. Number two: Despite the top photo, I’m not here to moan about how it rains a lot in central Florida. I’ve been to Disney World and Universal enough times to be over that. It rains there. That’s not the fault of the folks at the theme parks. I was just looking for a less cheery top photo and thought that one would suffice.

Even though my recent trip to Universal Orlando was great, things can almost always be better, can’t they? Well that’s what I’m here to discuss. I’ll rank them backwards from 10 (the least offensive thing) to 1 (the thing I disliked the most). Come along if you like!
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10 Things I Loved about Universal Orlando’s Theme Parks


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My family and I recently spent a few days in Orlando at Universal’s theme park and entertainment complex, and there is plenty to like when a large company puts so much effort into drawing big crowds in with lively, exciting, and immersive attractions and environments. There are some obvious examples that people who have only thought about visiting Universal are probably already aware of. First and Foremost, there’s the twin Harry Potter lands. Also, there’s the expanded Simpsons area of the original Universal park. With a truly impressive group of properties like Shrek, Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Men in Black, and their legendary set of classic monsters to choose from, Universal has created a crowd-pleasing destination. This list will mostly avoid the more obvious examples of the attractions which pull people into the parks by the millions each year. Mostly. There will be little to no coverage of the new Diagon Alley area here and we’ll be sticking to the theme parks exclusively, so that means nothing about CityWalk or the resort where we stayed. You’ll have to wait for information on those topics in later posts.
Got it? Let’s begin!
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Completing Oscar: The Missing Nominees of the Last 5 Years


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Back in 2009 the people who run the Academy Awards decided that in the interest of widening their net and drawing in a greater variety of nominees and television audience members they would increase the number of motion pictures nominated for the Best Picture category. For sixty-five years the Academy had been nominating exactly five movies for this greatest of all film awards, but there had been complaints about the accessibility of the nominees from laypeople. And let’s face it, studio executives had no problem with the idea of promoting a few more films or having a better chance of getting their names attached to something as prestigious as an Oscar nominated film. So it was all systems go.
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The 10 Best Albums Of 1996


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1996. On the surface, one of the more relatively calm years of the chaotic 1990s. There was an election, an Olympics, a plane crash in the Everglades, the Unabomber was captured, Dolly The Sheep was cloned and so on. So 1996 may look calm compared to the previous year and the following ones. But it was just as chaotic as any other.

Music? On one hand, if you look solely at the top 40, it would seem pretty dire. 1996 was the year of Hootie And The Blowfish, numerous one-hit wonders (Duncan Sheik and Donna Lewis) and a little ditty you may remember called The Macarena. But if you look beyond the mainstream, you’d find some pretty damn good stuff.

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The Best Albums of 1986


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1986 was a real mixed bag overall. There was plenty of bad news, including the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the continued proliferation of the AIDS virus, the Iran-Contra affair coming to light, and racial tensions made worse at Howard Beach. Icons appeared for the first time, including Oprah Winfery’s show entering syndication,  the video game Legend of Zelda being released, and Pixar Animation Studios opening. Oddities such as “Hands Across America” and Geraldo Rivera’s embarrassing live opening of Al Capone’s “vaults” helped inject curiosity and bemusement. Platoon, Aliens, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were among the top box office hits of the year, but so were Karate Kid Part II and The Golden Child.

The Billboard singles charts were pretty uneven too. The well-meaning, but saccharine remake of Burt Bacharach’s “That’s What Friends are For” was the biggest hit of the year and bizarre recordings like Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” and Madonna’s pean to unwed teen mothers “Papa Don’t Preach” also hit the top spot. Despite the steadily mediocre quality of much mainstream music as the ’80s progressed, I have steadfastly believed 1986 to be one of the greatest years in my lifetime for pop and rock albums. For this reason, this year’s look back of thirty years will include twice as many honorees as last year’s look at the best of 1985.

Join me, won’t you?
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Top Ten Bond Girls


Bond Girls

A great James Bond movie is composed of several crucial elements.  There’s the main villain, henchmen, gadgets, exotic locations, a kicking theme song, amazing stunts and of course beautiful women.  Today, I’m counting down the top ten Bond girls in the series.

What makes for a great Bond girl is debatable.  You will find lists that rank the characters purely by how the look.  But I’m looking for something more in my Bond girl.  For me, the characters that stand out are the ones that either have a meaningful relationship with 007 or are in some way his equal.  With those criteria in mind, these are my picks for the top ten Bond girls.

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Top 10 Horror Films Of The 1970s


 

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In focusing on the Networks, Chinatowns and  Raging Bulls of the 70s, it’s easy to overlook another great aspect of 70’s filmmaking: the horror genre. The decade is frequently cited as one of the best in cinematic history. That doesn’t just apply to prestigious dramas like The Godfather.  The seventies were also one of the best decades for horror. The films listed here are proof of that.

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Top 10 Cinematic Depictions Of The 70s.


70s Movies

The 70’s. Considered by many to be the best decade in cinematic history and its hard to argue with that point of view. It was the decade in which Hollywood became dominated by young mavericks who would change American cinema and the way many people thought about it as well as many foreign ones as well.

Trying to think of what to write for 70’s month, I thought about doing a top ten movies of the 70’s. But that’s cliched, not to mention narrowing it down to 10 is damn near impossible. Then I got to thinking about one of my all-time favorite films, one that was made in the mid-late 90’s but it’s set between 1977 and 1984.  Then an idea came to me: Top Ten Movies Set in the 70’s.

I can’t vouch for how accurate these depictions of the decade are, speaking as one who was born in 1978. But these are the best ones, the ones that stand out.

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Worst to First: Ranking the Disney Princesses


In celebration of the release of Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella, I’m ranking the Disney princesses from worst to first!

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12. Pocahontas

It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with Pocahontas.  But we’re ranking princesses here.  And as princesses go, Pocahontas isn’t one.  Despite her role in history, she was never in any way royalty which is kind of an important factor in being a princess.  Disney uses the word “princess” loosely especially where marketing is concerned.  Since Pocahontas sometimes gets included in Disney’s princess merchandise, she makes the cut here.  But since merchandise is really the only thing that qualifies her, I’m putting her at the bottom of the list.  It doesn’t help that she starred in the movie that signaled the end of Disney’s Little Mermaid – Lion King Golden Age.

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The 10 Best Albums Of 1995


Best Of 1995

1995 was a standout year for film. But musically it wasn’t quite on the same level. In some ways, it was the beginning of the end of the 90s from a musical standpoint. The grunge era was on its way out and the post-grunge era would eventually devolve into a parody of what it once was. This would later snowball into the rise of boy band pop, modern adult and “mook” rock.  Fortunately, none of that had happened yet in 1995.

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