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Top 20 Albums of the Year (16-20)

Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year?s releases, and for the past three Thursdays, we?ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

Britney Spears, Blackout (JIVE)

16_britney.jpg The weirdest chapter in Britney Spears‘ incredibly weird year was that amid the rehab(s), the head-shaving, the VMAs bombing, the pole-dancing video that made Lindsay Lohan‘s I Know Who Killed Me look like actual art, the paparazzi run-ins, the child endangerment and the actual blackouts, Britney was able to turn out the album of her career. The 12-song Blackout isn’t art, per se, but it reflects what pop music in 2007 is so well that you wouldn’t be faulted for mistaking it as such. How much does its achievement have to do with Brit? Who knows. It could be that she sleepwalked through the making of it, showing up at the studio inebriated and letting producers like Danja, Bloodshy & Avant and the Neptunes do their progressive thing while she essentially rubber-stamped the stomping dance tracks with her notoriously unremarkable larynx. But it matters not: if on Blackout, she’s just the puppet she’s always been accused of being, she’s puppeting remarkably well. In the end, it’s reasonable to assume that she had a hand in selecting what made Blackout‘s final cut, and if that’s the case, she made up for a year of bad decisions with 12 fabulous ones.

Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (MERGE)

17_spoon.jpg With a title so dadaist, it?s ironic that Spoon?s sixth album is their most clear. But maybe it isn?t so ironic: the album?s title is taken from the onomatopoetic piano line that courses through the album?s second track ?The Ghost of You Lingers.? Rather than sail over the heads of their fans with the prickly, oblique lyrics frontman Britt Daniel has become famous for, the band seems to have gotten down to the bedrock elements of music ? sounds and feelings. Examples of the band?s movement toward sincerity riddle the record: Daniel tells his own genesis story on ?Finer Feelings,? empathizes with the long shot on ?The Underdog,? and even allows listeners behind the curtain on ?Don?t You Evah,? which begins with a studio joke between band members. The band get deeper into their influences, following in the foot steps of their punk-pop forefathers the Clash and experimenting on the down-beat reggae ode to a femme fatale ?Eddie?s Ragga.? ?You Got Yr Cherry Bomb? recalls Phil Spector?s production, filled with heavy reverb and horns. Breezing by in just 36 minutes, the band prove there?s no genre they can?t deftly maneuver.

Kanye West, Graduation (DEF JAM)

18_kanye.jpg Haughty is as haughty does. Hip-hop?s most reliable MC hasn?t given up on positioning himself as hip-hop?s most successful MC ? you know, hitting the club with all that fresh sh*t on and something crazy on his arm. But his bluster (?I always had a passion for flashing?) has oodles of creativity behind it, and it?s been a long time since any mic fiend dropped three home runs in a row. The rhymes may not be as perfect as those on College Dropout or Late Registration, and subject matter may be a tad monolithic, but with the striver-speak of ?Good Life? and ?Stronger,? the Luis Vuitton don can definitely lay claim to his hat trick.

Feist, The Reminder (INTERSCOPE)

19_feist.jpg As has been pointed out several times over, Feist once sang ?It may be years until the day my dreams will match up with my pay.? It only took about three years. The former punk-screecher turned filth-rap posse member turned Canadian musical collective member has worn many hats during her career, but it turned out Feist?s solo songs would spawn the most success. From the now ubiquitous revival-type feel goodery of ?1 2 3 4? (you know?the iPod song), to her vamping ?My Moon My Man,? to her update of the Nina Simone?s ?Sea Lion Woman,? Feist appears to have assembled the type of self-revelations (?I?ll be the one to break my heart,? ?There?s so much present inside my present,? ?You?re changing your heart, you know who you are?) that take people thousands of dollars and years in analysis to come to.

Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad (DEF JAM)

20_rihanna.jpg If Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer were to spend their time writing music as opposed to blowing up tractor trailers in movies, this is the kind of record they?d make — a big-budget splashy blockbuster, all done up in vibrant Technicolor with the audio to match. Rihanna, a Barbados-born teen, had shown earlier promise with infectious hits like ?SOS? and ?Pon de Replay,? but nothing on the size and scale of Good Girl, which continues to spawn hits long after its release (and that was only last May, if you can believe it). First, of course, there was ?Umbrella,? where she stretches the syllables of the word in the chorus to fit the melody — ?Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-oh-oh.? Genius. With its non-threatening, vaguely maternal offer of shelter from the rain, Rihanna welcomed fans by the dozen. She quickly followed that up with the Michael Jackson-inflected ?Don?t Stop the Music,? the sweet soul of ?Hate That I Love You,? the sad strains of ?Cry? and the tough stuff of ?Shut Up and Drive,? a song so powerfully poppy that they should probably seal it in a jar and bury it in the Nevada weapons-testing zone lest it get out and inspire generations to skip school and head straight for the studio. Who knew it was possible to craft pop so expertly in 2007?

by (@katespencer)

Kanye West Wants to be Black & White

kanyewest-1220.jpgHere’s a wonderful quote from that talented guy who’s really self-obsessed, Kanye West. He shared some insight in a recent interview with Spin Magazine on how he’s a “tastemaker” (check out those glasses he’s wearing and judge his taste for yourself) because he finds the best of what he thinks white people and black people have to offer. To Kanye, this means that black folk cook up some damn good food and white folk rock some solid credit. Hurray for stereotypes!

?I?m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold?s for fried chicken. It?s all these things at once, because, as a tastemaker, I find the best of everything. There?s certain things that black people are the best at and certain things that white people are the best at. Whatever we as black people are the best at, I?m a go get that. Like, on Christmas I don?t want any food that tastes white. And when I go to purchase a house, I don?t want my credit to look black.?

[Bossip]

by (@katespencer)

Tony’s Teammate Bashes Jessica Simpson

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We hopped on the anti-Jess boat a long time ago and paddled far far away into the sea so we could resist the temptation to buy her shoes, envy her hair or laugh at her pathetic movie career. But now Dallas Cowboy player Terrell Owens has joined party, trash-talking Jessica after her boy-toy Tony Romo played his worst game ever with her in the stands. He said:

“Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite ? in this locker room or in Texas Stadium. With everything that has happened, obviously with the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel she has taken his focus away. Other than that, she was high on my list until last week.”

But just as we were falling in love with Terrell, he goes and takes back his original diss! Because Jess presumably has the same sense of humor as a rock, Owens is now all like “I tried to get (Romo) to call her so I can explain to her that she doesn’t really know me and that I can be funny. And that everything I say, the media will take it and run with it. It’s not a big deal. I will try to rectify the situation between her and I.” Why is it that the second these dumb waste-of-hair-extensions pout about something, people feel the need to backtrack? Terrell was just about to be granted genius status in our book.

by (@katespencer)

Jamie-Lynn Still Pregnant, 6 Months To Go!

jamielynn_britney.jpgYou better not claim to be sick of the Jamie-Lynn baby drama yet! We’re only 2 days in and there’s so much to get caught up on. Let’s make it quick and painless (unlike that ol’ thing called birth that J-L’s gonna tackle in the Spring).

  1. Jamie-Lynn and her baby-daddy aren’t dating anymore. Girl’s going at it alone in the delivery room with her mom by her side! Brit will have to stay in the waiting room.
  2. Hey ex Casey Aldridge may be guilty of statutory rape, depending on where the baby was conceived. Someone steal J-L’s diary!
  3. K-Fed knew about the pregnancy before Britney. Telling the stable one first is always a wise plan.
  4. Papa Spears is allegedly “devastated” and thinks that Jamie-Lynn “ruined her life.” Give her a chance to at least ruin the kid before you say that, Dad!
  5. Finally, Brit has already sent her lil’ sister a gift basket of goodies – like this super-cheesy sequined tank top – though a more appropriate gift would have been a handwritten list of mothering advice. Then J-L would know what not to do.

Related Content
Brit’s 16-Year-Old Sister Pregnant (HOT Photos Inside)

by (@katespencer)

Britney’s Worst Year Ever: August

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving, and the Criss Angel thing. It?s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she?d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We?re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

August 1Mom of the Year - The Britney backlash chugged on full steam ahead when numerous tabloids published disturbing details about B’s mothering skills. Teeth whitening for her tots! Feeding her babies juice! Just typical stuff in Britney’s Bizarre House of Horrors! [Us]

August 7 - I’m a Brainiac – Britney fortified her “crappy driver” status in August, when she hit a parked car while trying to pull into a parking spot. After declaring “I’m a brainiac” and asking the paps “what should I do?” Britney gets back to focusing on the important matter at hand, wailing, “Did I hurt my car?” Nope – just your reputation! [IDLYITW]

August 15Photoshopped much? – Britney appeared on the cover of Allure magazine, but damn, it sure didn’t look like Britney! Clean, sexy, not driving or chugging Starbucks – it was nice to see her looking so put together, even if it was a result of fabulous photo editing. [ONTD]

August 17 - Angel Eyes – BritBrit continued her quest to date every fugly dude in Hollywood when she took a liking to lame illusionist Criss Angel. The two were spotted carousing around Las Vegas, heightening the rumors that Britney would indeed perform at the VMAs. While Angel claimed they were pals with a mutal manager, working on a project together, the hours they spent holed up in hotel rooms seemed to signal otherwise. In the end, Criss was nowhere to be seen come the VMAs and as we know, Brit bombed. Maybe his magic tricks would have helped? [People, TMZ]

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Top 20 Albums of the Year (11-15)

Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year?s releases, and for the past two Thursdays, we?ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

LCD Soundsystem, Sounds of Silver (DFA)

11_lcdsoundsystem.jpgJames Murphy is the patron saint of downtown cool, and anything he or his record label touches instantly becomes an indie treasure. What?s most extraordinary about his sophomore release is its accessibility — at its heart, this is a bubblegum pop record, and not the salty organic kind of gum you buy at the health food co-op, either. We?re talking Bubblicious here, people. Long renowned for long-playing dance-floor remixes and shoe-shopping house beats — his other record this year, 45:33, provides an excellent example of that — Murphy?s work on Sounds of Silver is discreet, short and frequently to the point. ?North American Scum? is precisely the kind of song you want with you at the gym, a self-deprecating slice of upbeat funk with lyrics that?ll never make the Republicans happy: ?New York?s the greatest if you get someone to pay the rent . . . and it?s the furthest you can live from the government.? Then there?s the new wavy ?Someone Great? and ?All My Friends,? a song so suffused with nostalgia and desire it sounds like it belongs in a John Hughes movie. It?s excellent, easy to listen to and innately underground, and it?s been a long time since those three elements intersected in a pop album. Yes, there?s a sense of unrequited longing here, but so much the better for Murphy if he keeps producing work like this.

M.I.A., Kala (INTERSCOPE)

12_mia.jpg For her second album, thinking-liberal’s pop star M.I.A. traded political sloganeering and an abundance of hooks for something much simpler: an album of bangers, bamboo and otherwise. Compared to her 2005 debut, Arular, Kala‘s beats are more propulsive, its messages are more opaque and its cultural mining is even stronger. The resulting album is all prowess and ire and recontextualized sound. It is, at heart, a hip-hop record, and because it’s so effective and singular and forward-thinking, it’s the heart of hip-hop in ’07, period. As always, M.I.A.’s speak-singy vocals turn charisma into a fine art. Her personality is so huge, she’d have Rihanna‘s career if the world were fair. But then, her whole point seems to lie in reminding us that it isn’t.

Band of Horses, Cease To Begin (SUB POP)

13_bandofhorses.jpg Let?s forgive them the fact that their songs are all about mood and aura, rather than ?feelings? or the problems that bring those ?feelings? about. And let?s forgive them the fact that the singer veers into Supertramp territory now and again. Let?s just bathe in the eerie pomp of the chiming guitars and the rhythm section?s splashy forward motion. Like U2 sleeping over at the Jayhawks? house, these guys make melancholy anthems that love to reverberate everywhere before they slink home with the echoes dissipating in the distance. Maybe it?s their recent move to North Carolina, but for a grandiose outfit there sure are quite a few moments where twang takes over. Dream pop disc of the year.

Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO RECORDS)

14_radiohead.jpgIt was a David & Goliath tale, if David were a band of insanely talented mope rockers and Goliath was the desperately floundering record industry. In short, the band revolutionized the music industry in 42 minutes and 34 seconds, with 10 songs: The band would offer its newest effort, In Rainbows, and whatever folks felt fit to pay, well, that?s the price of the album. It would be considered an impressive move by a lesser band. That the band was one of the most popular, and simultaneously respected, outfits in music today only compounds the coup. But to concentrate solely on marketing techniques, the implications of morality and the free market economic discussions this generates would miss the point: the band has made a gorgeous album. From the glitchy snares and waltzing jazz guitar of ?15 Steps? to the stark, maker-meeting ?Videotape? that seems to take its percussion from a funeral march, the album shows a marked change in the four years its been since Hail to the Thief. Gone is the politically tinged rock invective, and the verse-chorus-verse songs. Radiohead has made an opus, difficult to splice into song, and utterly captivating throughout.

The Shins, Wincing the Night Away (SUB POP)

15_theshins.jpg It?s amazing James Mercer can get a word out, let alone an album, without choking altogether. Following the release of Oh, Inverted World, indie director Zach Braff latched on to it, using the majority of the album as the soundtrack to his movie, and even having his protagonist Natalie Portman utter the phrase: ?This band will change your life.? That the band went on to make two records improving on the home-recording-honed formulae James Mercer devised for their debut is a feat. With their melodic base well-established, the band appeared to move outward from that point; experimenting with sound (?Sea Legs,? with its plastic bags popping as percussion) as well as perspective (?Phantom Limb? tells the story of two teenage lesbians alienated at their school).

by (@katespencer)

Thursday: Don’t Call Her Katie

katieholmes1220.jpgNo Baby for Fantasia
The singer has not hopped back on the baby train, she just missed a bunch of her Color Purple performances because she was sick. [Us]

Katie Holmes Called ?Mom? by Tom?s Kids
And Isabella and Connor Cruise call their real mom, Nicole Kidman, “scary plastic-faced lady.” [People]

Larry Birkhead Wants Britney, Her Money
Anna Nicole’s ex is hot for another vulnerable crazy blond to mooch money from. Swoon! [In Touch]

Tony Parker Suing the Sh*t Out of Paps
Eva’s man is defending his name and suing x17 photo agency, who claimed that he was doing it with a French model. [TMZ]

Paris? Pizza Boy: Modeling Career Falls Flat

Everything Paris Hilton touches turns to failure, after her pizza boy boyfriend gets dumped by his modeling agency. [TMZ]

by (@katespencer)

Lindsay: Living with her Lesbian Lover?

lindsaylohan-1219.jpgFirst La Lohan was linked to DJ/BFF Samantha Ronson, and now she has a new gal pal that is starting rumors. Forget Riley Giles or her new mystery boyfriend, Linds has been spending all her quality time with some chick named Courtenay Semel, daughter of Yahoo’s former CEO. Well, at least Court can help Lindsay out in her time of financial strife, right? The pair were spotted at a party hosted by “Power Lesbian” Jeanette Longoria (who is so powerful that we have no idea who she is) and “held hands and were with each other the whole time,” said a source. While we aren’t so sure these things necessarily indicate that they’re in a full on committed and sexual partnership, it is kind of hetero dude/Maxim fantasy hot. But maybe Lindsay just needed a little support being out on the town again. Another party-goer revealed that, “It was the first time she’s seen a lot of people from her past life and she seemed socially awkward – like she was sticking by Courtenay for support.”

Looks like Lindsay’s new friend’s got the ill nay-nay! Eh, that doesn’t really work. [NY Post]

by (@katespencer)

Britney’s Worst Year Ever: July

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving, and the Criss Angel thing. It?s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she?d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We?re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

July 5 - I’m Sorry Ya’ll – Britney gets her pen busy again and writes an apology to X17 for attacking them with an umbrella back in February. She was just practicing for a role, ya’ll! Whoops. [Radar]

July 12 - Just A Client – Rumors spread like bad acne that Britney was getting busy with her hunky bodyguard and manny, Daimon Shippen. Sadly for our girl Brit, there was nothing sexy going on – besides Daimon’s chiseled good looks. [People]

July 20Gimme Morbid - Hot damn! Britney finally went to work on the first video from her album for the single Gimme More, and she looked more like a widow than a video ho. Decked out in all black (including her fake hair) the singer allegedly spent most of the shoot grinding on the on-set stripper poles and pissing everyone off. She is Britney, bitches. [The Blemish]

July 23Not OK! – Melt downs! Frequent bathroom visits! Mounds of dog poop on designer dresses! Those were the rumors swirling around Britney’s infamous OK! Magazine cover shoot, that infamously ended when she walked out with thousands of clothing owned by the rag. OK! even sold Britney out in the end, dishing on the disastrous shoot to sell the story. [TMZ]

July 26What Happens in Vegas – Whoops! Britney accidentally took off for Vegas with her kids in tow, even though legally she was not permitted to leave the state with the babies without K-Fed’s consent. The bonehead move also set the ball rolling for K-Fed’s custody fight against his ex, who just loves to get into trouble behind the wheel. [AccessHollywood]

by (@katespencer)

2007′s Craziest: Lindsay Goes Loco

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Some gossip stories are too big to forget. We?re counting down the 20 biggest, baddest, and most ridiculous celeb scandals of the year. You?ll get a new one posted every day.

It was a rough year for our favorite firecrotch. She spent about half of it in and out of rehab, and hit rock bottom a few times through out 2007, like her coke-fueled car crash, for starters. But her worst moment of all came just weeks after being released from Promises treatment center in Malibu. After proudly flaunting an alcohol-sensing ankle bracelet around LA, Lohan hopped off the wagon at a party and went into a rage after her assistant abruptly quit. The actress stole a car belonging to the assistant’s boyfriend (with three guys already in it) and then chased down her former employee, who was driving in a different vehicle with her mother. The girl got so scared she called the cops on Linds, who tried to blame the spectacle on her innocent cohorts, claiming, “I wasn’t driving. The black kid was driving.

We all know what happened next – cops found coke in her pants pocket, she got arrested, and Linds eventually hustled her ass to another rehab facility – where she stayed for months in an attempt to heal. So far she seems to be back on track – though her fake tan and cheesy hair are back, the booze seems to be gone for now. You go, LiLo!