Best of...

Here are my list of favourite songs and albums from 2009. The one thing I realized from making this list is that I didn't listen to many whole albums and more individual songs (damn you Zune!) and that my taste in music has expanded considerably over the course of the year. Also, per usual, my list doesn't match up with any other list I've read this year save for the inclusion of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in my top songs list. And Miike Snow and Franz Ferdinand. Everything else is just proof of how not indie I really am.

Top 15 Songs (In No Particular Order)
Top 5 Albums (In a Kind of Order)**
  1. Miike Snow - Miike Snow
  2. The Boy Who Knew Too Much - Mika
  3. It's Not Me, It's You - Lily Allen
  4. Tonight - Franz Ferdinand
  5. La Roux - La Roux
Honorable Mentions for Top Albums
  • Fortress 'Round My Heart - Ida Maria
  • Ignore the Ignorant - The Cribs
  • Fruit - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Albums I Wish Had Been Better (Or That I Would Have Liked to Have Liked Better)
  • Quicken the Heart - Maximo Park
  • It's Frightening - White Rabbits
  • Humbug - Arctic Monkeys
  • Strict Joy - The Swell Season
  • The Resistance - Muse

And finally an explanation for the album order: As with my choice for my favourite Mika song, I didn't want to be too obvious in picking my #1, so I went with the most consistently really good album. From there I ordered the albums according to a) how consistently good they were and b) how many tracks I consider to be above par. Hence why Franz Ferdinand comes after Lily Allen (the entire end of the album being crap as compared to the one or two tracks being not very good.) As mentioned in my foot note for this section, there are albums that I probably would have included if I had listened to them in their entirety :cough: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Noisettes, Gossip:cough: and some I'm sure I would have included if they had been released in the US this year :cough:VV Brown, Little Boots:cough: So there's the logic for my top 5 albums. There is no logic for my top 15 songs because I basically just picked songs that I listened to a lot that were released in 2009.

*I picked this based on the fact that a) "We Are Golden" is too obvious and b) it's the second most listened to song according to Zune
**The problem with this category is that a lot of the albums I would like to included (I'm sure) haven't been released in the US. That and the fact that I didn't listen to many whole albums from 2009, just individual songs. I plan on emending that for some artists, but again I'm limited by what has and hasn't been released in the US.


Christmas Time is Here Again

I have acquired an irrational fear of the holidays. They always seemed to sneak up on me like a bad dream or crappy grades. One moment every thing's fine and then bam: awkward holiday meals where I'm left talking to relatives who have nothing to say to me and who I have nothing to say to, watching my parents get more and more obnoxious and feeling overly tired. This year, for whatever reason, the holidays haven't been that bad. My cousins are pleasant and talk to people other than themselves and while my parents remain obnoxious, the whole process doesn't seem nearly as taxing as it has in previous years. Of course the spectre of previous Christmas meals still looms, I feel optimistic about today's meal. I sincerely think it won't be as bad as Christmas' past. I also sincerely hope I'm not proven wrong, otherwise I may go back to strongly disliking all family gatherings, just on principle.
On a completely different note, I got some really excellent swag this year (even though I kind of knew about all of the DVDs and books that I received.) I got a lot of "practical" gifts (guide books, maps, UK-style chargers) but possibly the silliest gift was given to me by my sister. Every year she gets me something I didn't ask for and almost never need. I love her to death though because the gift is invariably linked to whatever I'm interested in (hence the bootleg Kaiser Chiefs DVD I still haven't watched). And since I have a really spiff camera, here's a picture of what Sophs got me:
I really do love her. Even if she gets me ridiculous articles of clothing. (And for those of you who are unsure, yes that is a shirt that says "We Are Golden" and is from the official Mika web site.)


2009: Favourite Moments in Chronological Order

This has been a fairly negative year for me. I wouldn't say it's been the worst year I've ever had (that one goes to 2004) but it wasn't exactly a happy-go-lucky/gosh isn't life wonderful year (that would be 2006). Despite the rather devestating event earlier this year, there have been a number of good moments which have made the year not really terrible. There have also been general trends that I'll mention through out this list. Yes, bullet points will be used. So here are the highlights from 2009:
  • The acquirement of a pen-pal (even if it was fairly short lived) who finally got me to listen to Pulp
  • Becoming closer friends with Heather and Ana after the break-up
  • Discovering Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars
  • Becoming an unofficial member of the radio station elite, without even trying very hard
  • Getting to see Franz Ferdinand for the first time and absolutely loving it
  • Discovering music that lies just slightly outside of what I normally listen to and letting those discoveries lead me to even better discoveries
  • Giving Mika a chance
  • Getting into the University of Westminster for the spring semester
  • Becoming more and more fabulous
  • Watching "Bad Romance"
  • This season of NMTB
  • Getting into the practical module I wanted at the University of Westminster
  • All the really great friends I made and solidified over the past year
So that's my favourite moments of 2009. Tomorrow I may or may not post my favourite songs/albums of the year. We shall see. In any event there will be something after the holidays and in the lead up to my leaving for London. Happy Christmas and a good New Year to you if I don't say something before then.


Lengthy Updates Are My Speciality

Well, Westminster let me back into their system, which was awfully nice of them. My ID card is going to be a bit scary, but I now know when my three classes meet, in what buildings, and that British syllabuses are called handbooks are equally boring to American syllabuses. So let's get with the descripting!
Music Radio
This class is the one that confuses me the most in terms of scheduling. We meet twice a week from 10am to 5pm but it's only listed for meeting for the first half of the semester. Which confuses me because I'm getting a full 15 credits for it (4 in the American system). But in terms of content I'm really glad I got into the class because it's going to teach me an invaluable skill: How to incorporate quizzes into my radio show. That and other technical stuff that will be really good to know once I graduate from free form radio to regular programmed radio. Also one of the books we're suppose to read for the course I've already read, so that's nice.
Law and the Music Market
Contracts! We meet once a week for two hours where in I will learn about intellectual property, copyrights and you, and contracts! I'm actually really quite excited about this class because...well because I am. The copyright and intellectual property stuff is actually very pertinent what with illegal downloading and mash-ups and all that good stuff. I don't care what anyone says, it's going to be interesting dammit. Even if I can't explain why.
Principles of Music Marketing
This is the class I'm least excited about largely because I have no plans for going into music marketing. Sure it will be interesting from an intellectual standpoint and in terms of transfer credits it will do quite nicely, but in terms of real life interest...not so much. So yeah.
Well those are my classes. Last night I slept with my older dog (Nikki) who, once she is in position, doesn't move. This was annoying because a) I wasn't expecting to sleep with her and so my door was open and b) meant it was very hard to adjust the number of covers I had over me when it got too hot. So I didn't sleep very well last night.
In other news Rage Against the Machine got the #1 Christmas single this year. The group won over a Simon Cowell creation, so that's nice. But on the other hand Rage Against the Machine aren't a very good band. Yes I'm all for taking down crappy pop acts that do a disservice to the entire genre, but people of the British Isles, think about who you've given this title to: An American metal band that very few people in America like anymore. If you're going to take down the system why not do it with a British band (Franz Ferdinand, the Cribs, etc) who are actually talented (Arctic Monkeys, La Roux, etc) not some crap American band (Rage Against the Machine.) Nonetheless, down with crap manufactured pop music, all hail crap American metal.
Umm...snow. Lot's of snow. 19 inches of snow. And I've been assigned to the morning orientation group which meets at 9:15am. However I get pastries so that's something. And snow. More snow than we've had in years and years and years. And I did really well this semester and brought my GPA up to almost a 3.0. I went to Williamsburg on Thursday and spent 2+hrs looking at wreaths and thinking "dear God I'm bored and cold and bored. Why did I say yes to do this again?" I think that covers everything. I've been having weird dreams, but that's not that bizarre in actuality. So yeah, that's everything. Until next time, don't panic.
Edit: Here's the AV Club's take on the whole British Christmas single. It's an excellent summary for anyone who's either never seen Love, Actually or just wants a more descriptive reason for why RATM's win is a big deal.


And You Won't Let Me In

Before I got locked out of everything at the University of Westminster site (for no reason as far as I can tell) I found out what classes I'm signed up for. I got into one of the practical modules I requested (Music Radio) which means that my portfolio must not have sucked as badly as I thought it did. I'm also taking a class in music marketing (eh) and music law (interesting). After finding this out I almost immediately got locked out which makes me unhappy because I'd really like to be able to login to things, but at least I know what classes I'm taking. And I can complain about not being able to login when I get there since I know the vital information (which classes I'm taking.)
There was something else I wanted to talk about, but now I can't remember what it was. In light of this fact, I'm going to take a nap. Ahh, it's good to be on winter break.


Slightly Related Items of Interest

To make up for a lack of posts, I'm doing double duty tonight. Here are two random, but somewhat related items from Youtube.

*I would just like to say that while I'm mostly a-political* and I do my best to keep this blog neutral** I wanted to post this video because it really brings home what it's like to be gay and not have the right to get married because of that fact. Again I seldom touch on this stuff because I don't feel it's my place to proselytize to my readers, but just think what it would be like if you had to ask over a 300 million people*** if you could get married to the person you love. :shrugs:
*I believe in a democratic system and all and I consider myself a liberal but...after eight years of a douche for president you're either going to be extremely active in politics or shun it all in my opinion
**Two of the closest friends I've had have been deeply conservative. They're good guys and I value my friends, so I had to learn pretty quick how to keep my mouth shut because losing friends over something you don't care about is stupid.
***According to Population Finder the estimated population in the US for 2008 was 304,059,724. The estimated of population of VA (where I am) is 7,769,089. So yeah.

Completely Off Topic

But still amusing to me. I found this tid bit of information at List Universe and was glad to know that what I'm hearing is real. So here's the tid bit:
Intrusive R and Linking R are pronunciations of the letter ‘r’ in English dialects that don’t generally pronounce a final ‘R’ (such as New Zealand English). For example, in these dialects, when saying “don’t go far” – the word “far” has a silent ‘r’ – but the ‘r’ is pronounced in the sentence “he is far away”. This linking ‘r’ smooths out the phrase. Intrusive ‘r’ is when an ‘r’ is added where one doesn’t exist at all – as in the case of “Africa or England” – this would be pronounced “Africar-or-England”.
This principle also applies to "saw" and "idea" but I find "saw" much more amusing because it sounds like they're saying "sawr" which isn't a word and therefore highly amusing. I think this is a strange hold over from the Norman conquests because they French are all about making everything sound really smooth. So yeah, that's my exam week interruption. I'm going to watch Mock the Week and Firefly, completely ignoring the fact that I have a music history exam I probably should be studying for. Until next time, don't panic, like me, and go "oooommmm."


Tired End of the Semester Rambling

I'm going to make something of an admission which, if you look at the entries over the past three months(ish) shouldn't come as much of a shock: This has been the most stressful semester of my college career. The odd thing is that it's been stressful not because of the classes I'm taking but because I've procrastinated on so much of the work I have to do for those classes. And I think the reason I procrastinated more this semester than in previous semesters is twofold but basically comes down to one thing: applying to study abroad. In the first half of the semester I procrastinated* because I was stressed about applying to Westminster. When I found out that I had gotten into Westminster I procrastinated because, as much as I knew I needed to do the work, I just didn't give a damn. Of course I'm a horrible procrastinator to begin with, but this semester has been truly appalling. As an example I finished my Mozart paper about an hour before it was due. For me, that's terrible. I don't like doing that because it causes me to lose sleep, but I just didn't care enough, so I put it off. But just thinking about this semester and looking at entries from the past few months the main theme seems to be stress and when I think about why I was stressed it largely had to do with putting off crap until the last possible second.
With the end of this semester less than a week away (four tests, one project presentation) it's been slowly dawning on me how strange next semester is going to be. And as I tried to explain to my sister it's not just because I'm going to be in a different country. Granted saying "I'm going to be in a different country" kind of covers all the bases, but it's little things that are going to be strange. Not doing my radio show, not having band or chorus at their normal hours. Not seeing a certain group of people every single day, not having breakfast as Seaco. Not playing the clarinet or having a private lesson every week. No more randomly running into friends on college walk or trying to not stare at every one who walks past me (Yes, I'm weird.) Just weird little things that, yes, do get covered by not being at Mary Wash, but whose I'm absences I will feel nonetheless. I've been banking on having some kind of breakdown as my departure date gets closer, but I keep thinking about all the things I'll miss but it's more of a mental exercise than me actually missing them. I guess that will come in time, but I wish I was acting a little more sad than I am right now. I suppose that will come with time as well.
I think either my sleep debt is finally catching up with me or I'm getting sick because I'm just so tired. Ridiculously tired. And if I am getting sick, I'm going to be well pissed because now is not the time to be getting sick. So let's hope it's just my sleep debt.


Big Ball of Stress

So this week has gone from mildly frustrating to "Oh my god, why does the world hate me so very, very much?" in the matter of about five hours. I haven't been updating on Twitter or Facebook because they only way I can describe my current state of mind is by making strangled noises of frustration and then curling up in the fetal position. I just want this week to go away and not come back ever, ever again. Of course all of this means that I've been listening to Mika non-stop since this morning because clearly listening to a strange amalgamation of techno/pop/glam is the best way to deal with the massive amounts of stress I'm under right now. Funny thing though is that my roommate said that I don't worry about anything. Oh how wrong she is about that. I worry, I just don't let people know (thanks Dad!) unless of course they read this blog. Then they get to hear about it all the freakin' time.
First major stresser this week is a paper I have due on Thursday in music history. One of the key resources we need for said paper has been checked out by a mysterious entity who is not in our class. There's a neat little summary on Google books and I can kind of glean some stuff from various reviews of the book, but seriously. I just want to glance over the real thing so I can accurately describe what all the hubbub is about. But no, no luck there. Thankfully it's a not a very long paper and there are other sources I can talk about in more depth, but...I just want the book to come back so I don't have to worry about it.
Second major stresser is that I've been waiting for weeks now to hear about boarding at Westminster. I get a neat little email this morning fro, the housing officer at Westminster saying that they haven't heard from me and that I missed the deadline. However if I can get my paperwork in by Friday all will be well. I didn't get an email. I don't have the paperwork. And the housing officer guy hasn't responded to the email I sent him this morning. Now I realize there's a four hour time difference, but seriously. I sent it at 10am EST which would be 2pm GMT. He had time to respond to my email, or at least in my mind he should have had time to respond to my email. And what if I don't hear from him soon? Will I not get a room because of some clerical error or whatever? Then what will I do? :makes gargled frustrated noise:
I also had a tiff with my mom last night over a power cord I ordered almost a month ago that got delayed. I try not to argue with my mom as much as possible because in her mind she is always right and I am always stupid. So in an effort to not have a fight about the layout of the Dell website (which is frustrating and stupid, like most tech websites) I just tried to move on. She wouldn't let it go, so I had to say, in a loud voice, "anyway" just to get her to let go. It's just...aaargh.
Then of course there was my jury last night. Thankfully I didn't almost cry this time, so in comparison to last year's jury, much better. However I'm very glad I won't be doing this again. Very, very, very, glad.
So that's it. I hate this week almost as much as it hates me and I have my last radio show on Wednesday. Thank god I already made up the play list otherwise the show wouldn't be happening. I'm now going to play solitaire and listen to Mika. Because that's how I roll.

Edit: Westminster rooming situation has righted itself, thank god. And my Mom decided to buy me a copy of the book I need for my paper. Which may or may not get to me in time to be useful. In which case, I have a book on Mozart's Requiem that I really don't need. So yeah, one less stressor is still a good thing.