Category: cream of the crop

best of 2014… finally.

I mean really. It’s 2016, and I am finally getting to this? Listen, this is all because of two things: work and school. Both of which are full time. I wanted to go ahead and do this really quick, and I will be brief, so that I can do 2015 as well. I am THAT behind. BAD BLOGGER! Oh well… as they say, life gets in the way. Here they are, my favorite albums of 2014.

I am only going to say a little bit about my top 5, the rest are just albums that I enjoyed that year, and that’s all we’ll say about that…

1) You + Me – rose ave. – So what do you get when you mesh two of my favorite vocalists together, harmonizing beautifully, playing my favorite type of music? A dream come true. City and Colour + P!nk = You + Me. Heaven. This album is absolutely perfect; scratch that, it would be perfect it had more tracks! Here’s hoping for more from You + Me.

2) Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour – What can I say, this guy is amazing, and really took the music scene by storm in 2014. I expect to hear many more great things from him over his career, which should be long and fruitful. Great album, and tons of single-worthy tracks here.

3) Betty Who – Take Me When You Go – I first heard the single Somebody Loves You, and after that, I was smitten with Betty Who. When her album came out, I was even more mesmerized; it is fantastic. I have high hopes for her getting more airplay and exposure; she is a majorly talented artist, and this is great pop music!

Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear – First and foremost, Chandelier. Killer. Sia can not only write a killer hook and penn some real pop hits, but she can fucking SING. I loved this album, and just when I thought I had heard all of it, a new song would become my favorite of the moment. This is pop, and this is excellent.

Bear’s Den – Islands – I saw them open for Mumford and Sons, and then went to see them again at a local smaller venue because they were so great. This is an incredible album, and one that is very well crafted and plays spectacularly from beginning to end; not a bad track to be found. If you like Mumford and Sons, give them a try; you won’t be sorry!

And now the rest… not really in any particular order.

  • Beyonce – Beyonce (Platinum Edition)
  • Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett – Cheek To Cheek
  • Nina Persson – Animal Heart
  • Robyn & Royksopp – Do It Again
  • Taylor Swift – 1989
  • Trampled By Turtles – Wild Animals
  • Broods – Evergreen
  • Iggy Azalea – The New Classic/Reclassified
  • Ingrid Michaelson – Lights Out
  • Danity Kane – DK3
  • FKA Twigs – LP1
  • Ariana Grande – My Everything
  • Jessie J – Sweet Talker
  • Olly Murs – Never Been Better
  • One Direction – FOUR
  • The Script – No Sound Without Silence
  • Tove Lo – Queen of the Clouds
  • Jessie Ware – Tough Love
  • Bleachers – Strange Desire
  • Nicole Scherzinger – Big Fat Lie
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack: Awesome Mix Vol 1

Why this took me so long? Who knows. Either way, here ya go. Next up, 2015. Geez.

my favorite albums of 2013… finally

I know, I know, I know. For whatever reason, being a nurse has turned me into a bad blogger; honestly, I deal with so much at work, that I don’t really want to deal with doing much on my days off other than just relax. That being said, I have wanted to write this post for nearly 5 months now, and goddammit, I am going to do it. I made a promise to the few of you that still read this old blog, and I promised myself. There were some AMAZING albums released last year, and I wouldn’t feel right not sharing my love for them, like I’ve been doing for several years. So… while this may be late, and it may be way overdue, at least it’s here now… finally.

Just like in 2011, there were two albums that I simply could not get enough of, and honestly those two were so far and above everything else; with one exception… each other! It should be no secret at this point that I LOVE LOVE LOVE both Sara Bareilles and City and Colour; they are both two of my most favorite artists, and last year, they both released amazing albums within about a month of one another.

1. (tie) Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest
Sara’s incredible third full length album did not disappoint. Seeing her live just before this album was released was a real treat; and it turned out to be the show that was recorded for the live album release later that year (the one that I was featured as a photographer on, nonetheless!). She only sang a few new songs, but man, they really built up my expectations for the new release; and per usual, I was not disappointed. Sara has this quality that I think a lot of artists wish they had; she can capture her thoughts, feelings, disappointments, triumphs, frustrations, and most of all, love all within a song. She can transform a thought into a feeling, and turn that feeling into a beautiful piece of music that makes you feel what she wanted you to feel; it takes you right to where she is in that moment. I love that the first song she released from this album, the penultimate Brave, was an ode to her dear gay friend, in hopes that she could help him be brave, and he could come out to his family. This is such a supportive anthem that I really resonate with, and one that is miles beyond a simply catchy chorus and beat. Sara has crafted another beautiful album without a single misstep, and it is apparently getting her more and more attention; it was, after all, nominated for album of the year at the Grammy’s. While she didn’t win, I definitely thought it was the best one of the bunch, and I am appreciative of her talent that she continues to share with us. Song Highlights: Brave, Manhattan, Satellite Call, Islands, December.

1. (tie) City and Colour – The Hurry and The Harm
Just like Sara, City and Colour is an artist that once I heard him for the first time, I knew I was hooked on something amazing. Dallas Green, aka City and Colour, is definitely an old soul. He is so evocative in his song writing, and so prolific in his musicality, that there is no doubt in my mind that he has been through a few life times; even if only through hardship, love, and loss during this one. He writes music that is so emotion-filled, and beautiful, that I honestly get choked up during many of his songs. He weaves this imagery that makes me feel his music, and makes it an experience, rather than just listening to something catchy or beautiful. There are song that he has on this album, just like on his previous three, that I turn on, turn up, close my eyes, and just feel. When he released the first song from the album, Of Space and Time, I was elated. I was not only in love with this amazing track, but I was once again blown away at how someone could be this talented; he continues to up the game at each turn. The entire album followed suit, and while it is a bit more “polished” than his first albums, I think the raw nature of his craft is front and center. Dallas, please keep making such amazing and beautiful music; I know there are many fans like myself will follow you to the end of time. Song Highlights: Of Space and Time, Harder Than Stone, Two Coins, Take Care, Ladies and Gentlemen.

3. Haim – Days Are Gone
These three rock-n-roll sisters came out of nowhere. I first heard The Wire on a video show, and I loved it. After that, I checked out the album, and I was blown away; who are these ladies, and where did this amazing album come from? According to many sources, these girls loved Fleetwood Mac growing up, and that style influenced their musical style. While I only hear subtleties, I think these ladies have created a truly incredible debut. Very rarely do you come across a new group that is this incredibly talented, and able to turn out a practically flawless debut album. This is one album that I listened to over and over again, because each song is incredible, and not like anything else I heard this year. Seeing them live a few weeks ago was the icing on the cake; they are INCREDIBLE live, and totally slayed the concert. I hope this is a start of a long and illustrious career for this talented trio. Song Highlights: The Wire, Honey & I, Go Slow, If I Could Change Your Mind, Forever, Falling.

4. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
I’ve really liked these twin sisters for quite some time, but never so much as I do since this album came out. Embracing a bit more of an electronic sound, added to their tried and true acoustic, guitar driven sound from the start, they tried something different and completely succeeded. In my honest opinion, they have never been stronger, both in their “new” sound as well as lyrically, I have no doubt that they have attracted many new fans with this album. Much more polished, and cohesive, Heartthrob is definitely my favorite Tegan and Sara album thus far. I found myself loving more songs that ever before, and the album in and of it self is cohesive, solid, and very well made. Not saying that haven’t been this strong in the past, as these ladies are incredibly talented; they just have come into something different, and in my opinion, more developed and polished than ever before. Seeing them live recently also made me appreciate their new album even more; they are incredible live, and this show was better than the one I had seen years ago. Song Highlights: Closer, Now I’m All Messed Up, Shock to Your System, I Was a Fool.

5. Lady GaGa – ARTPOP
What can I say? It’s Lady GaGa. I have loved her since the first time I heard Just Dance, which was a good 8 months or so before her debut dropped, and since that time, she has gone from a pop diva to a full-fledged pop phenomenon. While many critics agreed that this was a “weak” album for the superstar, especially when compared to her near-flawless previous releases, I think that this album is merely a minor misstep in an otherwise flawless career thus far. GaGa is hugely talented, and that goes without saying; those that don’t like her can’t deny her level of talent is through the roof, and with this album, she reinvented herself yet again. This time, however, it didn’t blow everyone away like it had before. HOWEVER, I feel like this album is a well-rounded, very strong effort from a massively talented artist. With Applause, the first single off of her new album, GaGa released, what I think, is one of her strongest singles to date; but for whatever reason, I didn’t resonate as strongly as previous efforts. The album release was considered somewhat of a “flop”, because it didn’t blow her previous effort out of the water, but I think that GaGa had insurmountable odds to overcome, and as opposed to trying to best herself, she put her best foot forward, and made a record that she felt comfortable with and loved. It is clear that her passion is still front and center, and while there are a few missteps on the album, this is more GaGa gold that fans can enjoy like before. Song Highlights: Applause, Sexxx Dreams, Venus, Gypsy, Dope, Do What U Want.

6. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
This album fits squarely in the column of, “I really shouldn’t like this, but… it’s just so… dammit, it’s just so darn good!!”, AKA, what most people would label as guilty pleasures. That being said, I would say that nothing should be a guilty pleasure; if you like something, for whatever reason, just enjoy it! This album was so much better than I was expecting, that I was honestly a little blown away by it. Not only is Miley an extremely talented singer (trust me, she slayed live), but her choices on this album show that not only does she know how to pick a hit, but her choice of producers to work with shows the potential making of a star; after all, you’re only as strong as the music you put out. Remember when Britney was seemingly unstoppable? It was largely because of who she was working with, and I can definitely say that Miley has taken note, and is doing something spot on with her “new” career. With this album, and honestly, with one “stripped down” video for Wrecking Ball, she left her purely innocent pop past as Hannah Montana squarely in the past. Couple that with an infamous racy performance at the MTV music awards, and Miley had transformed herself into the most talked about woman in the room. The attention is well deserved, as this is an incredible pop album, and while it isn’t her debut, it might as well be. I’m not ashamed to say that I love the “new” Miley Cyrus, and if she keeps making albums this strong, she’s got a very long career ahead of her for sure. Song Higlights: Wrecking Ball, Adore You, We Don’t Stop, Drive, #GETITRIGHT, Maybe You’re Right.

7. London Grammar – If You Wait
The first time I heard their sleepy hit Strong, I knew I had stumbled onto something incredible. When they released their album, shortly thereafter, I found myself entranced and hypnotized by Hannah Reid’s haunting vocals, which are beautifully paired with saccharine, wispy harmonies and delicate beats. While the album leans towards possibly being a bit monotonous (and I don’t mean this in a negative way… more cohesive), in that a lot of the songs blend so seamlessly together, and nothing stands out as strongly as well, Strong, the album is beautiful, and there is nary a misstep to be found on it. Definitely a great chill out album, reminiscent of, and I have to believe, playing tribute to, gorgeous music from trip-hop artists like Portishead from the past. This is one band that I would love to see play live, as I am sure they are incredible. I love discovering music like this, especially when bands this incredibly talented come out of pretty much nowhere. This is truly an excellent debut, indeed. Song Highlights: Strong, Stay Awake, Hey Now, Wasting My Young Years.

8. Hayden – Us Alone
I’ve loved Hayden for quite some time, and his latest sleepy-rock album is another fantastic addition to an ever-increasingly magnificent music cannon. Hayden is like a very fine wine, he only gets better with each subsequent release. While this is a short album at only 8 songs, he packed in some truly beautiful songs about love and loss, a subject he seems to know all too well. Hayden’s tenderness always shines in his music, and this is another heartfelt album that more people should be listening to. Song Highlights: Almost Everything, Oh Memory, Just Give Me a Name, Motel, Rainy Saturday.

9. One Direction – Midnight Memories (Deluxe Edition)
These lads were a hot point of contention for me at first; they are sort of responsible for the break up of Westlife, my favorite boy band of all time. Once I got past my heartbreak on losing Westlife, I couldn’t help but fall deeply for these guys and their ridiculously catchy pop. This is an album that is far better than it should be; there really isn’t anything on here that’s bad. This being their third album, I can tell that those that are not firmly in the 1D camp need to either wise up or get out of the way; they aren’t going anywhere for a while. After seeing them on SNL, I saw the star power they possess, and their live shows are probably a big reason why their popularity has continued to soar. They are the new incarnation of the boyband, and they are really doing it really, really well. This is another fantastic pop album chock full of singles; which begs the question, why haven’t more singles been released?! Here’s hoping that will be remedied in the coming months; there is enough material on this album to spawn many more hits. Song Highlights: Through the Dark, Best Song Ever, Strong, Story of My Life, Don’t Forget Where You Belong, Little White Lies, Better Than Words.

10. Rosi Golan – Fortuna
This may be an EP, but it is filled with such amazing songs, so I felt compelled to include it in the best albums of 2013 for that very reason. I have loved Rosi Golan ever since I heard her amazing duet with William Fitzsimmons, Hazy. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful, and on this gorgeous EP, she has given fans a beautiful mini-album full of some of her best work. Unfortunately, I discovered her previous album, Lead Balloon many months after its release, and it missed my best of 2011 as a result. Fortunately, I saw this immediately on its release, and was able to give a little love to Rosi this year, as it is so well deserved. This is one of those artists that is so incredibly talented, but for some reason, tends to fly just under the radar. If you still haven’t heard of her yet, this is your notice; check out Rosi Golan and this incredible release. This is a gorgeous record, and as with her previous work, it has me excited for what she puts out next. Song Highlights: Curtain Call, Give Up The Ghost, Your Forgiveness, Churchyard Sleep.

11. Leslie Hall – Songs In The Key Of Gold
With Songs, Mother Gem released a delicious remix album of her hits, along with a couple of new songs (four to be exact!!) to keep the party moving. I was fortunate enough to see her perform this amazing album live earlier this year, and I had such an amazing time (I always do at her shows!!). This is a best of/greatest hits album with the dance knob turned way up, and the lycra extra tight; Titus Jones remixed all of these songs, and made already danceable fun tracks into the ultimate dance party. I always joke that if I could see Leslie perform about once every month, I would never be sad or worry again. I honestly wish it were an option, because this is always the highlight of my week when a Leslie show is on the books. Thanks for another fabulous album, Mother Gem; it is gem-fantabulous!! New Songs: Neon Blood, #1 Cat In America, Happy Birthday, Of Course You Where Glasses.

The rest…

The Postal Service – 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition – a pivotal, influential album gets a remastered re-release; still perfection 10 years later.
30 Seconds To Mars – Love Lust Faith + Dreams – another great 30 seconds album.
Beyonce – Beyonce – secret release, some great singles that I can’t get enough of, some stuff I didn’t love.
CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share – I should have liked this more than I did, even though I really, really did like it.
Ciara – Ciara – a few good songs, mostly, I’m Out and Body Party.
Dawes – Stores Don’t End – great stories tellers, love, love, love, Most People.
Shane Filan – You and Me – so much potential, so much repetition.
Goldfrapp – Tales Of Us – I just didn’t get into this one, shame as I love Goldfrapp.
Selena Gomez – Stars Dance – great guilty pleasure; some real bangers on here.
The Great Gatsby Soundtrack – excellent movie, GREAT soundtrack.
Icona Pop – This is… Icona Pop – love these two; some missteps pull down the album.
Jessie J – Alive – amazing singer, great pop starlet, just not as dynamic as her debut.
Little Mix – DNA (US Deluxe Edition) – this is pop, dammit! If it weren’t for the nose dive on the back end of the album, it may have been in the best of list above…
Lorde – Pure Heroine – loved it, just very, very, very overplayed.
Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady – super talented, super talented, super talented.
MSMR – Secondhand Rapture – some great singles, didn’t get into all of it, unfortunately.
Olly Murs – Right Place, Right Time – honestly, it just missed the best list…
Kate Nash – Girl Talk – a lot darker, a lot more punk, a lot less catchy and fun.
The National – Trouble Will Find Me – another fantastic and amazing album from super talented guys.
Tom Odell – Long Way Down – good stuff, just didn’t take me by storm.
The Paper Kites – States – opened for City and Colour; love finding a new, great band.
Silver Bells – Bitter Rivals – a bit tamer than their debut, but still pretty darn good.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City – always count on them for a great album.
The Wanted – Word of Mouth – not going to lie; a little disappointed given their previous work.
Jessie Ware – Devotion – pretty good, just didn’t blow me away.
Katy Perry – Prism – potential… wasted (Dark Horse is brilliant, though).
The Saturdays – Living For The Weekend – I think they were a little rushed; at least it seems like things were thrown together for this; definitely not as strong as their previous albums. Some AMAZING singles, though.
Britney Spears – Britney Jean – her “most personal”, yet her weakest album to date, with the weakest lead single of her career; very disappointed (Perfume is incredible, though).

Best songs of 2012

Well, I know it’s a bit late, but better late than never, right? And yes, I DO plan on doing a best albums of 2012 post in the comings days/weeks!! Now, I bet you are hanging there with bated breath, right? Well, in the mean time, here’s my top 70 songs from 2012. Did I get it right? What are your picks? Let me know if I missed anything in the comments!

  • 1. Mumford and Son – I Will Wait
  • 2. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
  • 3. Phillip Phillips – Home
  • 4. Adam Lambert – Better Than I Know Myself
  • 5. Karmin – Brokenhearted
  • 6. Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know
  • 7. Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up
  • 8. Drake – Take Care
  • 9. Usher – Climax
  • 10. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Same Love (feat. Mary Lambert)
  • 11. Bat For Lashes – Laura
  • 12. Brandi Carlile – That Wasn’t Me
  • 13. P!nk – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
  • 14. Adele – Skyfall
  • 15. Marina and the Diamonds – Primadonna
  • 16. Ke$ha – Die Young
  • 17. Girls Aloud – Something New
  • 18. Cheryl Cole – Call My Name
  • 19. Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen
  • 20. Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  • 21. Nicki Minaj – Starships
  • 22. Owl City – Good Time (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)
  • 23. Alphabeat – Vacation
  • 24. Azalea Banks – 212
  • 25. Scissor Sisters – Only The Horses
  • 26. Trampled By Turtles – Alone
  • 27. Gossip – Move In the Right Direction
  • 28. Maroon 5 – Payphone
  • 29. Fun. – We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)
  • 30. Loreen – Euphoria
  • 31. Madonna – Girl Gone Wild
  • 32. Angel Taylor – In My Dreams
  • 33. Christina Aguilera – Your Body
  • 34. Joshua Radin – Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better
  • 35. Emeli Sande – My Kind Of Love
  • 36. Stooshe – See My Like This
  • 37. Olly Murs – Troublemaker (feat. Flo Rida
  • 38. Rudimental – Feel The Love (feat. John Newman
  • 39. Passion Pit – Take A Walk
  • 40. The Saturdays – 30 Days
  • 41. The Wanted – Chasing The Sun
  • 42. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
  • 43. Calvin Harris – Sweet Nothing (feat. Florence Welch)
  • 44. Tegan and Sara – Closer
  • 45. One Direction – Live While We’re Young
  • 46. Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
  • 47. and Britney – Scream and Shout
  • 48. Deadmau5 – The Vedlt (feat. Chris James)
  • 49. Agnes – One Last Time
  • 50. Benjamin Gibbard – Bigger Than Love
  • 51. Icona Pop – Good For You
  • 52. Melanie Amaro – Don’t Fail Me Now
  • 53. Rita Ora – R.I.P. (feat. Tiny Tempah)
  • 54. The Shins – Simple Song
  • 55. Kelly Clarkson – Catch My Breath
  • 56. Justin Beiber – As Long As You Love Me
  • 57. Little Boots – Every Night I Say A Prayer
  • 58. Morgan Page – Body Work (feat. Tegan and Sara)
  • 59. Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child
  • 60. Kylie – Timebomb
  • 61. The Script – Hall Of Fame
  • 62. Sara Bareilles – Lie To Me
  • 63. Casey Abrams – Midnight Girl
  • 64. Goldfrapp – Melancholy Sky
  • 65. Patrick Wolf – Overture
  • 66. Brandy – Put It Down
  • 67. Silversun Pickups – Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings
  • 68. Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid
  • 69. The Ting Tings – In Your Life
  • 70. Stars – The Theory of Relativity

EDIT: GLARING OMISSION!!!!! I forgot to put Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks on this list!! EEK! I may go back and edit it in, as it was fairly high on my favorites this year. Ugh.

There it is! Thoughts?!

madonna and me (too)

After reading Rich‘s excellent blog post, Madonna and Me, about his life-long experiences regarding Madonna, I felt compelled to share it (go read it!! It’s excellent!), and say something (well, a lot of somethings) about how it eerily mirrors my own feelings, and the reasons behind those feelings, about her.

I have always had a “thing” against Madonna, which is noticeably strange for someone who loves pop music as much as I do (seriously… two words: Britney Spears). I find it interesting, that it wasn’t until I read his post, that I put two and two together, and realize that I think at least a portion of my history of “hate” for Madonna comes from not wanting to like her because of who she is and what she represents.

For one, Madonna, like it or not, has a strong affiliation with the “idea” of being gay. I remember school when I was younger, and it was pretty much a given that on any day, I was going to be called a faggot/ sissy/ girl/ pussy/ fag at some point by someone; regardless of whether or not I was “queeny”, “faggy”, “girly”, or overtly “homosexual” in the slightest. It was just the way it was. It was my reality from pretty much the first day of elementary school, on up through the end of high school (even though it continued in college, it was noticeably changed). As a result, I tried really, really hard to stay away from anything that would further label me as what I was; and unfortunately, exactly what I didn’t want to be in any way, shape, or form. When those kids were calling me whatever their chosen gay-indicative expletive of the day was, they were labeling me as gay, and at the same time, indicating that being gay was not only “not okay”, but that it was really, really bad. As such, being gay was the last thing on the planet I wanted to be, even though I was; talk about inner conflict.

I remember when I was in middle school, and the song Vogue became popular, and a friend of mine named Nikki did the entire dance routine for our gym class during “dance week” (whoever thought that was a good idea should be tortured, because I got teased incessantly because of my even being preset that week). I remember loving the song, and really liking her performance, but I found myself cowardly wanting to shun Nikki for doing her dance, and in effect, distance myself from liking anything about it. I honestly think that this moment really shaped how I would feel about Madonna up until this very moment.

There is a part of me that definitely, whether I want to admit it or not, STILL has a shred of disdain for the fact that I am gay. Now, that is not to say that I “don’t like who I am”, or that I “hate myself for being gay”, because those vastly overstep the boundary of this disdain of which I speak. I’m saying that there is a part of me that dislikes the fact that I am the very thing that many people out there consider to be bad, wrong, and love to express their hatred for; which comes from growing up with people berating me with this very sentiment day in and day out. When I am riding in my car with the widows down, and I am playing something especially “gay”, I still always turn it down when someone pulls up next to me. There is something in me that will always remain guarded, and as such, I try to hide the fact that I am gay to random strangers sometimes. It sounds completely stupid when I say it out loud, but this is an example of the part of me that wants to hide the fact that I am gay, because of that disdain I have for it; which again, stems from being made fun of and judged as a child. The shitty part, is that I always find myself doing it again, because that disdain (however small it may be) lives on.

I realize now, that I have written off my feelings about Madonna as “hatred”, because other gay men seemingly follow her every foot step, and hang on her every word, and that disdain in me made me want to distance myself from anything that would paint me as so overtly gay. As I read Rich’s post, I found myself back in that auditorium, watching Nikki bravely perform to Vogue, wishing I could be as brave as she, but cowardly wishing that no one would see me enjoying her performance, for fear that I would be further berated for being a fag.

I hate that I let myself think this way, and I hate even more that this disdain exists within me, but at least I realize that I cannot let it make judgments about things such as liking Madonna for the rest of my life. Even though this is a small step towards totally making the aforementioned realization a reality, today I have identified the fact that my disdain for Madonna represents (at least in part) my personal turmoil with being gay, and the conflict I have had with it for as long as I can remember. I disliked her, openly hated her, and even mocked her because of what she represents and who she is. Yet the fact still remainded that Madonna is a woman who can do what she wants, and doesn’t get called a faggot because she takes dance classes, and enjoys extremely “gay”, poptastic music. She is a woman who has constantly put herself out there as a symbol of something “gay”, and while other gay men have lopped up everything she offered, I realize that I have shunned her because of what it would mean if I grabbed my spoon and joined the feast. Instead of hating her music, or disliking her as a person, I have been disliking what “liking her” would mean all of these years.

I have to say, that I didn’t expect a blog post about Madonna to open my eyes to something this deep, but I guess it goes to show that you never know who is going to turn a mirror on you, and show you who you really are inside. I hope that I can work on eliminating all final shreds of disdain for who I am someday; because I think that I would be a much happier person as a result. Now, one thing is for sure, I am going to go and enjoy some fucking Madonna; because save Ray of Light, she made had some great music, and it is high time I get caught up!

Finally, I want to extend a huge thank you to Rich for his post; great work all around.

the 31 best of 2007 – 1: Sara Bareilles – Little Voice

Drum roll please… we have made it to the top of my list of the 31 best CDs of 2007!! I am sure that my number one pick will not come as a surprise to those that know me, and to even those that follow this blog regularly, because I have been screaming like a school girl with excitement about Sara Bareilles ever since I heard her back in 2005 at a Marc Broussard concert. From the first time I saw her in concert, I was mesmerized by her powerful voice, and her amazing ability as both a song writer, as well as a singer. Sara is the real deal, she is an amazing artist who is filled to the brim with talent, and it is refreshing and exciting to see her finally getting her chance to shine.

Little Voiceis one of the most well crafted albums that I own, let alone discovered in 2007. From the first time I listened to this record, I was hooked by the new catchy songs like Love Song and Bottle It Up, which both serve as frustrated anthems from an artist struggling to get the music industry to just let her perform the way in which she does best. I was welcomed by fresh retakes on songs from her “demo” record, Careful Confessions, which I have been clinging to and playing on repeat, since the night I scored it for $5 at the concert I first saw her. What’s so fantastic about each and every one of those re-takes on her already amazing songs, was that she managed to make them better; which is something that I didn’t think was possible, because of how much I liked the “demo” versions. What’s even more amazing, is that songs like Vegas, which I had only been familiar with the live demo cut, quickly became one of my favorite songs from Little Voice,because the new production on this, and others, takes it from a “good live version” of a song to a fantastic one.

There really aren’t enough nice things that I can say about Sara Bareilles, and that is mainly because she deserves all of them. She is a performer who puts her heart into each song, and when you see her perform, you can see that she feels what she is singing. As she says in the song Bottle It Up, she is in this for love; the love of making amazing music. Fortunately, Sara was able to craft an album, despite pressures and set backs from the record company, that is destined to receive the true attention that it deserves. There are very, very few artists that I have discovered, and instantly, I was mesmerized by the sheer amount of talent they possess. If every singer could be as talented, and make records as great as Little Voice,the radio would be a much more listener friendly medium… but I don’t need the radio to hear Sara; I have the record, and trust me, it doesn’t get far from my player.

Little Voice is one of those albums that are really, really few and far between in my music collection. What I mean, is that with every listen, I truly am enthralled and engaged from beginning to end. I don’t like every song, I LOVE every song. That is something that is so rare for an artist, that when one comes along as amazing Sara, I am captivated. Little Voice is my album of the year, because even after getting it at the end of July, I still have it on HIGH rotation; and it gets better with each listen. There isn’t a bad track anywhere near this record, and with Little Voice,Sara Bareilles has made one of the strongest debuts that I have ever been exposed to. My hope, is that this level of talent in one person will truly be seen by everyone, and not just me, because it is my sincere desire to have many, many more records by the amazing Sara Bareilles in my collection in the years to come.

If you were looking for where it is at, and wanting to find the next biggest thing to happen to music, you need look no further than the amazing debut by Sara Bareilles, Little Voice. Seriously, I know I am gushing here, but it really is as good, and even better than I am getting on… and don’t say that you didn’t know it when she is huge; I have been going on, and will continue to go on, about Sara Bareilles for a while now. Sara has solidified her place as the number one album pick of 2007 for me, and she has also found a place amongst my favorite artists as well. If there was only one record that I could own from all of 2007, this would definitely, without a doubt, be the one that I would want; do yourself a favor, and run out and buy it for your collection now.

Favorites from Little Voice:(all of them, seriously)
Between The Lines
One Sweet Love
Love Song, Bottle It Up, and Fairytale. (link for you tube goodness!)


today’s national coming out day…

A day that represents something important that most gay people will go through; the process of putting everything on the line for the purpose of acceptance and belonging. A day where we that are out can appreciate everything that we went through on that faithful day we when first uttered the words “I’m gay” to another person. A day where we stand proud, and realize how strong we are for coming out of the closet in the first place, and understanding how it is so difficult for those that have not and even more for those that cannot. Today is a day that we get to celebrate being “out”, and relish what it means to truly be who you are for the first time, and for every time.

I have written my “first” coming out story before, but I thought I would include it here, with some edits, since it has been a few years since I first blogged it. While my story of coming out is focused on the first person that I came out to, it doesn’t truly highlight the journey that coming out has been for me, as it is for most. Being out to one quickly became being out to many, and eventually, I was out to everyone, including my family. Even though I have been far, to this day, there are people that have not come out to officially. There are still people from my past whom I have not had the opportunity to tell, who I hope will accept me for who I am, if and when they discover the fact that I am gay. Many people struggle to come out, and I was no different. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I could go back and tell my younger self how much better I would feel once I had finally “taken the plunge”. I think that given the opportunity, I would, but I honestly don’t know what good that would do; I came out when it was time for me to do so, and all I can be thankful for today, is that I had the courage to do it in the first place.

Without too much more sappy-ness, here’s my first (of many) coming out experience. In this story, I was almost “forced” to come out to one of my best friends, all thanks to my urge to catch the debut of a little show called Queer as Folk. I hope that it is a story that is both enjoyable, and inspiring, because sometimes, those little curve balls that life throws us are big signs of change; and as with this case, change for the better.

(note: the story is rather long, so I have cut the entry here to keep the mere sight of the entry manageable; I know that some people freak out when they see an extra long entry.)

flashback: first day of 6th grade all over again

I remember starting 6th grade very vividly; it was a new school, and a for me, it meant a whole slew of nervous breakdowns from your not-so typical adolescent. The summer before, I developed an eating disorder because of the level of anxiety I had about going to this new, much bigger school… I was afraid of the future, and unknowingly at the time, afraid of what I would be subjected to within the walls of this new school.

Turns out, the first days would set the stage for what I could come to expect from my fellow peers, which unfortunately remains a vivid memory to this day.

First days of class, teachers go through the roll for the first time, and as with my experience, there was no exception. However, this time, there it was: “Diane Moody. Diane? Is there a Diane in this class?”, the teachers asked, almost as if she were demanding the truth. “Um, that’s Duane.”, I replied, almost muffled by the chuckles from the entire class. “Oh, okay.”, she announced, moving on without a second thought.


Picture me, a pre-teen boy, much less than the “jock” that I clearly needed to be, in order to cover my obvious homosexuality, being called Diane in front of the whole class; naturally, I sunk deep into my chair with a clearly reddened face. I would only hope that this would be the last inference that I was a girl instead of a boy; but sadly I would be wrong. In fact, it sadly set the stage for the rest of my tenure as a student of the public school system. One could wonder if it was that moment that solidified those many taunts into the minds of my fellow classmates. Unfortunately, I would later find out that there was much more than a simple mistake that fueled such a vigorous need, that my classmates continually displayed, to continually tear me down.

Now, cut to this week; arrival in my anatomy lab. The professor announces that the quizzes from the previous week have been graded, and proceeds to call out names of the lucky recipients. And then, just as if time had reversed itself, there it was: “And last but not least: Diane Moody!”.

Lest my ears deceive me? There I was, in the 6th grade again… trying to escape the lifelong battle I have had with others using my homosexuality and lack of “appropriate” masculinity as means to ridicule and demean me; regardless of the fact, that if in this case, it was again, accidental.

Luckily, I am not that 6th grade pre-teen student; I am almost 30 years old now, and I am proud of my sexuality and of who I am.

“That’s actually Duane”, I replied. Quickly apologizing, I silenced his attempts to cover up his mistake, by simply stating, “Don’t worry, it isn’t the first time that I’ve been called Diane.”

With that, I took the power that others had wielded over me for so long, and put it in my back pocket; for good. Something about that really makes me feel better about having gone through what I did; if for no other reason than to finally put it to bed, for good.

pride, biology, orientation, and all things that make us gay

Since this weekend is the 37th annual Atlanta Gay Pride festival, I thought I would reflect a little on pride, and what better way to do that, that with an article a flickr pal of mine sent to me about the biology of homosexuality? The article talks about current studies that are being conducted, many of which are looking at various biological trends in humans that indicate a biological representation of homosexuality. It builds on the studies from the past that looked at things like the differences in the hypothalamus (which was seen to be noticably different in homosexual men), and also looks at other interesting things potentially linked to your propensity to be gay, like being the youngest boy in your family, the length of your fingers, the direction of the whorl in your hair, and many other biological traits. What it goes on to show, is that the representation of these traits are sometimes significantly different for gay men, and even lesbian women, and as such, may prove to be biological markers that can be used to truly say that homosexuality is biologically determined.

While there is a lot covered in the article, and there are a lot of different points made, I thought it was interesting that first of all, we need to prove that homosexuality is somehow biological. I see how this proof would end the discussion that homosexuality was a choice, but it does open up a whole new can of worms, which is best summed up with this statement from the article:

If sexual orientation is biological, and we are learning to identify how it happens inside the uterus, doesn’t it suggest a future in which gay people can be prevented?

It appears that there is also some research looking at the possibility of genetic markers that “cause” homosexuality, and while they aren’t confirmed, it does sound both intriguing, and scary at the same time. I for one can’t imagine what would happen if it turns out that homosexuality is inherently genetic, and they do, then, start searching for a cure. (Additionally, I should note that the conclusion that lesbians are somehow “less homosexual” or even “more fluid” with their sexuality, because they haven’t identified as many markers in women is NOT something I endorse or agree with. Jumping to conclusions without research to back it up is dangerous and stupid.)

The whole notion of “curing homosexuality” is a scary thing, because I for one, don’t think that homosexuality is a disease, and as such, it certainly doesn’t need a “cure”. I am extremely proud of who I am, and being gay is a large part of that. I think that if I were meant to be born straight, I would have been. Plain and simple. I know that everyone doesn’t share my sentiment, especially those that hate themselves because they were born gay, but think about this: being gay, if it is truly biological, is essentially the same as if you were born black, red-haired, blue-eyed, female, or any other non-harmful biologically identifiable trait. The point is, that if it was meant to be, it would be. That is the way nature works.

But what about diseases, and genetically defective biological traits that can be identified and cured? Does this mean that I think that we should just let those diseases that can be prevented with genetic suppression go unchecked? No, I think that is a different argument, mainly because being gay has absolutely no provable detriment to a person’s life; other than, of course, the environmental and external influences that affect us. And we all know that just because you are gay doesn’t mean that you will be subjected to these influences, and just because you are straight, doesn’t mean you will be immune to them.

While being gay may be a “harder” life because of all that we face; discrimination, degradation, violence, hatred, etc, it is a life that we have lived, and because of what we go through, it shapes us into who we are. We are made up of both our biological selves that were given to us at birth, and we grow and are shaped by our experiences, and become who we are by combination of the two.

Now, I know for a fact that my experiences didn’t make me gay, but, they did happen to me because I am gay, and they helped me become who I am today. I am a proud, out, gay man, and I know what I know because of the journey I have been on to this point in my life. It is the journey, and what I have made from it, that I celebrate this weekend, and it is my hope that this important aspect of each gay person’s life is not lost if and when biological determinants are truly, and irrefutably identified.

Unfortunately, I am realistic about the world we live in, and I fear that the hateful, bigoted, religious extremists will force the issue of screening for these biological traits, in an effort to make gay people inferior. Even more, I fear that they will go further, and try to eliminate gay people from being born.

I hope that just because we identify that being gay isn’t because “you took dance instead of playing basketball”, and that it is because “you were born biologically homosexual”; people will NOT seek to eliminate the biological traits that make us special, unique, and wonderful.

Being gay is being different.
Being gay is being who we were born to be.
Being gay is who I am.
Being gay is who many others are as well.
Being gay is normal.

We are no less human, nor any less worthy of our lives as gay people, than anyone who is black, female, blonde haired, or left-handed is worthy of their life as who they were born. I hope that we can continue to live in a diverse world that begins to see these studies as a means of acceptance, and not as a means of elimination.

Given the tone this article has the potential to set, I for one, want to focus on the pride that I have for who I am, the community that I identify myself with, and what it means to sit here, typing this post as a proud gay man. It has been a long journey, but I know that I have a long way to go; and I couldn’t be happier that I get to take the journey myself. This weekend, I will celebrate this with my fellow gays in Atlanta, and it will be a beautiful thing. After the weekend, I will tell you all about it. Come out and see us if you can!

Happy Pride, y’all.

an important note from the editor

I have been giving a lot of thought as to what has been going on here for the past couple of days, as well as what has transpired over the past few weeks, and I have to say, I am getting quite fed up with feeling like I have to constantly defend myself with everything that I say. Point being, that I have made some decisions regarding this blog, as well as decisions regarding what I am willing to put up with in the future. I have made these decisions, because before a couple of months ago, I actually enjoyed blogging, and now it has become a complete and utter nuisance, because I know, that no matter what I say, there will be someone who feels like it is their right to come around here and fuck it all up.

Now, I know that I can ignore those people, and go about my business as usual, but honestly, I don’t think that I should have to. I am the one that pays for the hosting service and the domain name I am the one that uploaded wordpress, and tweaked the style to be how I like it. I am the one that wrote all of the content, including the “non-blog” stuff. So, as far as I can tell, this is my space on the internet. This is my home. And, I am sick and tired of letting people come over to my home and shit on the floor. I am not going to continue yelling at these people for shitting on the floor; I am going to kick them the fuck out of my house, and clean up the shit and move on.

If you don’t like what I have to say, fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. The opinion represented here is mine. It is what I think. It is based on facts that I have discovered, my worldview, and my knowledge. I am fine with people disagreeing with me, and again, I welcome arguments and debate. But, what I will no longer tolerate, is fucking assholes who think that they have the right to just come in my home and do whatever they want, which over the past few weeks, has focused on belittling me, striving to get a rise out of me, and only seeking to piss me off for the sake of fulfilling their own sick pleasure. If you want to debate about something that I have said, debate it. Don’t go round and round talking shit about me and everything that I believe. If you do, you might as well stay outside, and walk to someone else’s house, because you are no longer welcome here. Additionally, along the same vein, it would be in your best interest to focus on debating what I am talking about if you want a response from me, because continually using broad issues and things that aren’t related to what I am talking about as a retort will fall on deaf ears. I will simply point out that you are not talking about the issue, and will move on. If the debate does steer in that direction, fine, but don’t expect me to just listen to constant generalizations and all or nothing arguments. It has gotten old.

I feel I must address this, because I know there are several all or nothing arguers out there, so here it is: While I don’t believe in censorship, I do believe in limits. Since this website is MINE, and only mine, then I don’t have to put up with bullshit anymore. And quite frankly, I can’t believe that I did for so long. Any challenges as to why I have made these decisions, and the subsequent steps mentioned above, will be met with the utmost contempt. If you find any action that I take to prevent something I enjoy doing in my own home from becoming fodder for someone else to attack, belittle, or demean, then you are completely missing the point of this statement, and my actions. I will not silence the voice of anyone that disagrees with me, but I reserve the right to completely eliminate the presence of someone that uses hateful, demeaning, continually negative, and downright inflammatory comments to try and “prove me wrong” or to simply provoke a response from me. If you could actually prove me wrong, I wouldn’t need to retort, because I would be convinced by the facts. Please keep this in mind when commenting in the future. And just to note, I have only deleted 2 comments EVER from this blog, and both were deleted last week. I don’t foresee many more comments being deleted, so long as everyone can abide by my simple principle of treating me with respect, and not being an asshole while you are in my online home.

If you want to continue to be invited into my home, come to play. Come to have a great time. Come to laugh. Come to debate. Come to share your opinions. But don’t come in, shit on my floor, and not expect me to kick your ass to the curb. Because if you are expecting me to look the other way, and yell at your over and over as I have done in the past, you might as well stay away. This is pretty much the only warning I feel to be necessary at this point, so know that this policy is in effect from here on out.

This is the only way that I can see to prevent me from quitting blogging all together, but I honestly wouldn’t want want to give up something I enjoy, just because a few people are assholes to me. I have also noticed that it is those few that tend to drive away other readers and commenters, and that is something that I have taken into consideration in this mandate. I am not going to stand for that anymore, either. I do hope that everyone has a great afternoon, and I hope to see you soon; but please remember the new policy is actively in effect. I appreciate your time and attention on this matter.

Why me? Dammit, Coke, you’ve done it again!

I can’t believe that this is happening again.

Why me?

It is becoming more and more clear, that I must have a target painted on my chest that says, “hey Coca-Cola, feel free to fire at will.”.

Alas, unfortunately, what I speak of is not the first betrayal of my trust in tasty beverages. Coke has forsaken me in the past, and now, they have come back to re-open the wound. Although, it appears that this time, they seek to leave a permanent aching scar. This begs me again to ask, why, Coke, why do you do this to me?

To begin, we should probably reminisce for a moment, to gain a little perspective into the past betrayal I have fallen victim to. Back in November of 2005, I read that Diet Coke Vanilla, the tastiest tasty beverage in the world, was being phased out, to be replaced (as if) by Diet Black Cherry Vanilla. I was so devastated and hurt, that I wrote Coke a letter. My cries went unheard, and my pleas went unanswered. When Coke continued twisting the knife in my gut, I finally conceded defeat, and gave in to their demands; I bid farewell to my faithful friend, Diet Vanilla Coke. Fortunately, the wound healed, as Diet Black Cherry Vanilla proved to be an adequate, although definitely subordinate, replacement. Diet Black Cherry Vanilla was like a bandage on my wound (a second love, if you will), and over the years, it has truly healed, and I finally felt whole again.

I honestly thought, that I was on a plateau again. I could smell the flowers, breathe the air in peace, and enjoy tasty beverages again. I was me again. My faith in Coca-Cola was restored, and it showed me, that they had never truly left me, even though they had to hurt me in the process of showing me. But, I never expected, that again, we would be heading down this dark road. I never thought that Coca-Cola would stoop that low again, especially after I have proven time and again, that yes, I am loyal. Yes. I will stay. Yes. I do love you, Coke.

But I sit here, with a tear in my eye, to tell you, that a dark day has come once again. Three little words that should have meant excitement and the potential return of an old friend have left bitter feelings of betrayal once again: Vanilla Coke Zero. At first, I thought this was a new dawn for my old friend. A new, fresh start, in a place where I could proclaim my love openly and freely again, without fear of retribution. I hoped that I could once again frolic with my long lost tasty pal, Diet Vanilla Coke, but this time, it would have a new name, and a new look; but underneath have the same heart and soul that I had fallen in love with so long ago.

When I first saw the case of Vanilla Coke Zero, I gasped. It was like seeing an old friend after years of being apart. I couldn’t speak. I just stood there, welling up with excitement; this was going to be a good day. I could feel it. It wasn’t even on sale, but that didn’t stop me. I bought a case, put it in my car, and knew I was bringing an old friend home again. When I got there, I unloaded the car, and brought my friend inside, and made it comfortable amongst the other refrigerated items. The anticipation was very high, but I knew it was going to be worth it.

Several hours later, I was finally ready to be reacquainted with my old friend, and anxiously, I reached for a can. This was the time, I thought to myself. This is it. My hand was shaking as I popped the top, and in an instant, a sweet nectar was flowing from the can.

But what I felt wasn’t relief. It wasn’t a sense of togetherness, and reunion. It was a taste I had tasted before; the bitterness of betrayal. Only, this time, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. This “replacement” was no formidable, nor acceptable, equivalent to my new friend, Diet Black Cherry Vanilla. This new stranger was no friend at all. It was all a lie.

I asked myself, where was the vanilla flavor, the flavor that had gotten me through many nights of studying in grad school? Where was the sweet deliciousness that had quenched my thirst on many a hot Atlanta summer’s eve? Where was my desire that I had been longing for all these years? And perhaps most of all, I wondered, why would Coca-Cola give me false hope that they were bringing back a first love, when it was all a lie, and to make it worse, this new “beverage” will take away the new love too? I feel so alone.

The answers I seek are tragically simple. My love is lost. Forgotten. Tossed aside, and buried. Coca-cola has truly shit on our friendship. They have shown me that loyalty does not equal trust. Loyalty will be rewarded with second-rate less-than-tasty beverages that will phase out even your new friends, the friends that helped you recover after last time. Loyalty means nothing. And that truly hurts.

I can only hope, even though it is a small amount of hope, that Coca-Cola is still working towards perfecting this recipe, and that future shipments will contain more deliciously tasty vanilla flavor; because even through the cynical callous that has become my tastebuds, I can tell that there is at least a hint of it there. They want it to be there; even the name suggests that this is so. I, of course, want it to be there too. I can only hope, that it will be in the future.

Coca-Cola, listen to me, I beg you. Please. Please do not disappoint me, after this, your second betrayal. Please, send forth an adequate replacement for my new friend, who tried its best to replace my one true love. Please, for the sake of my tasty beverage enjoyment, think of us, those that provide you with the loyalty and brand recognition you desire, and give us what we need; a tasty, calorie free, truely vanilla coke. I pray my cries will be heard. But alas, at this moment, I am bewildered, lost, and afraid. I can only hope that the future will hold good things, but only time will tell. Only you have the power to truly fix this situation, and I will just have to wait and see if you will.

Yes, only time will tell.