Top Pop Culture Picks of 2012
Another year has come to an end and so I bring you my Pop culture picks of 2012 as well as my New Year’s Pop Culture Resolutions. My picks in no way come from an exhaustive lists of this year’s TV, movies, books, and music because sadly there is only so much time in my day dedicated to them. Some categories had a little more of a competition in them than others, for some reason I just haven’t been listening to a lot of new music these past few years. Which is why I will close out my picks with my 2013 must-see/hear/read list- let me know what your picks of 2012 and your must list for 2013 are as well in the comments section.
A clip of Robin and Barney from this season's HIMYM.
Last year I listed Revenge as my top pick, sadly this year it is experiencing a sophomore slump- still a great show but not getting the title two years in a row. How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) has been pretty strong this calendar year but it is starting to falter a little or maybe it is just because I am annoyed at the whole mother charade. I want it to finish strong and to do so I feel this should be the last season because I’d hate to see my favorite comedy aimlessly go on and on and just keep putting off meeting the mother. However it was just renewed for another season so I hope we meet the mother at the end of this season and continue the tale from there for what really should be the final season. Anyway my pick this year is AMC’s The Killing. A lot of people gave up on it after the non-reveal of Rosie Larson’s killer in the season one ender, which struck me as odd because people were complaining that the show didn’t follow the cookie-cutter procedural formula- a complaint not often heard and a confirmation that sometimes people just like to complain. I stuck around and I feel that those of us that did were handsomely rewarded. I really can’t remember the last time my jaw literally dropped, not a figure of speech here I could have caught flies when the killer was revealed. Of course along the way pretty much every character on the show was suspected so the surprise wasn’t really in the who it was in the how- the circumstances surrounding Rosie’s actual death. And similar to my thoughts on closing out HIMYM, I think two seasons was just plenty for a concept show like The Killing and I wish it had not be resurrected for a third season. Chances are I’ll still check it out and maybe I’ll be the one complaining this time around.
I think I’m going to go with Survivor this year for my top reality pick. Each season is dependent on the people cast and also the way things shake out during the game- who gets voted out when, how the jury decides to vote- but this calendar year saw two strong seasons. Survivor: One World had the interesting premise of splitting the tribes based on gender; the twist being they all lived at the same camp. Early on the men dominated and made the women look helpless and weak. But ultimately it became a game of wits and an alliance, in this case an all female one, hung tight and saw it through to the end. The second season that aired in 2012, Survivor: Philippines, had the usually annoying (to me anyway) plot-line of including popular returning contestants. This time the twist of these returning players having been medically evacuated from their original season made it ok by me. In addition another already-used plot-line of having famous people vying for the money and title with the ordinary folks was interesting this season from a viewer’s perspective. The audience knows the alter-egos of Jeff Kent, the former MLB player, and Lisa Whelchel, the former teen TV star, going into the first episode but the few ordinary contestants that recognized them keep it the rest of the players. But overall Jeff and Lisa proved to be great players regardless of their real-world status. However, my favorites of this season are the underdogs Denise and Malcolm whose tribe was decimated early on leaving only the two of them, one of each going to the remaining two tribes (another twist this season three returning players- three separate tribes to start out) to fend for themselves. These two are star survivor players excelling at both the physical and social game. In the end only one could take home the money and although I was devasted for Malcolm to not make it to the final three I was so happy Denise was crowned sole survivor.
Project Runway continues to deliver, although I have to say Heidi it is time for you to go. I haven’t asked my television screen ‘What the heck is she wearing?’ this many times since Sex and the City was on the air. I feel like her fashion sense and thus her judging ability is past its prime and I wish she would let an up-and-coming model take over hosting duties. The contestants in the regular season that aired this year were strong; proving last year’s I-just-learned-how-to-sew winner Anya was a fluke. I’m not even mad they are already cranking out a second all-star season, currently on-air, because I feel there is plenty of talent to pull from the 10 seasons; I just wish Jillian from season 4 would come back. I’m still tuning into Top Chef every week but it’s losing its luster to me and I can’t even pin-point why.
As per last year I haven’t read that many books that were published in 2012, Death Comes to Pemberley (2011) Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (2011), and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) were close by no cigar. I think the only 2012 book I got to (but haven’t finished yet) is Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue. Although it is off to a good start and I look forward to reading the rest, even if I was done it wouldn’t get my top rank of the year. So again publication date aside, I think my favorite read of this year was Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex (2002). I love a good multi-generation sprawling family account. I always think I am going to be keener to hear about the current generations and then I end up getting more sucked into the past generations. The book made me think a lot about how immigrants are treated coming into this country. In this book the immigrant grandparents were discriminated against and their only option to make ends was to engage in illegal activities. It made me wonder about all the different immigrant crime families of various nationalities in the US- if we treated them better upon arrival would we have dealt with as much black market business, gambling, and bootlegging? Another major thing I liked about this book is how Eugenides took a scandalous idea- consanguineous marriage and how it can lead to birth defects- and told a full example of how it happened. He took something that from a strictly scientific point of view seems so black and white wrong, and gave it a face or in this case a family and upon hearing the whole tale it provides context to consanguineous marriages.
Ghosts That We Knew-Mumford and Sons
I actually did buy a few new CDs this year but that is still a scandal since my younger self bought new CDs practically every week, but this is not an article about the realities of becoming an adult so I digress. Some Nights by Fun. is a good mix of different styles of songs although I wish they would have cooled it with the auto-tune. As much as I still love the first single ‘We are Young,’ which is impressive since it is ridiculously overplayed, my favorite is the title-track ‘Some Nights.’ When I first heard the song I interpreted it to be about their life as a band on the road. Then to get a quick second hearing, I went to YouTube and saw the video, which added a whole other military angle to the song. Pink’s album The Truth about Love is cute, the first of hers I’ve listened to cover-to-cover. It has a good mix of light stuff ‘Walk of Shame’ and ‘How Come You’re Not Here’ and the emotional endeavors, ‘Try,’ she is known for. I have to go with Mumford & Son’s Babel as my favorite album of the year. Pretty obsessed with these guys right now and I’m still enjoying Sigh no More as well, to get another album that manages to follow the same path but still have a distinct sound from the 2009 album is pretty intriguing.
In most yearly recaps we see an 'In Memoriam' section honoring mostly famous people who has passed in the year coming to an end. Although celebrities and musicians passing away is sad it usually doesn't have a profound effect on me. But this year a member of the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch, passed away on May 4th at the age of 47 and it really hit me. So here is a nice tribute from what some might see as an unusual source, Coldplay. They performed a mellow version of Fight for Your Right at a show the day Yauch passed to pay tribute to him and the surviving members of the Beastie Boys.
A tribute to MCA via Coldplay
Wreck-it Ralph Trailer
The massacre in Colorado during The Dark Knight Rises seriously took the wind out of my sails for going to the movies. There are so many devastating stories in the news everyday but for some reason this one really struck a nerve with me. I think it had to do with the innocence of the movie theater, a place where prior to that night people felt safe and also I hate to hear about these home-grown terror attacks. I still haven’t actually seen this last film in Nolan’s amazing Batman trilogy which was something prior to the incident I had really looked forward to. (I will see it in the safety of my own home now that it is released on DVD). I did manage to see some movies in the theater this year before the Colorado event and then just recently. Happy with most of my theater-seen flicks- Magic Mike, Haywire, (the first largely to do with Channing Tatum’s presence the second was just a happy coincidence he had a role) The Hunger Games, Skyfall, and Wreck-it Ralph-to name a few. It’s a toss-up between Skyfall and Wreck-it Ralph for my favorite of the year. Obviously two entirely different genres so it is tough to make a call. Skyfall was everything I want in an action film, a strong opening scene filmed in cool locations, a plot not just as a means to an end for the action, and an amazing climatic sequence towards the end. It also added to the Bond mythology and kudos to the addition of Naomie Harris. Wreck-It Ralph was another highly anticipated film release for me this year and it did not disappoint. I went into it thinking it’d be a cute plot with a lot of old-school video game references and I came out appreciating all the references and really loving the more-intricate-than-expected plot. Since I’ve previously waxed philosophically about beloved books being made into movies I would be remiss to not at least comment on The Hunger Games. Action-wise I really like it; it was pretty cool seeing it all play out on the big screen. As far as character development it just wasn’t enough and I’m not sure that’s the fault of the movie makers or just that fact that it was a movie adaptation.
- When Hollywood Attacks: Turning Beloved Books into M...
A discussion about books and their onscreen adaptations-including Gone with the Wind and Girl,Interrupted.
2013 Pop Culture Resolutions
In closing my Pop Culture New Year’s Resolutions are to continue on my classics education in the literature department, in 2013 I’d like to tackle Crime and Punishment, Les Misérables, and Anna Karenina. In the non-classics department I’ll continue with installments from Gregory Maguire’s The Wicked Years series and Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad, as well I’d like to read the first from the All Souls Trilogy- A Discovery of Witches. Having read both The Marriage Plot and Middlesex from Eugenides this year I want to read The Virgin Suicides to finish out his résumé. I also want to do some time in Stephen King’s vast canon, finish up 11/22/63 (which is off to a great start), try Under the Dome, and the first in The Dark Tower series. Music-wise I want to get some Black Keys albums, a band Pandora suggested for me based on my love of Queens of the Stone Age. Speaking of QOTSA I’m excited to get their 2013 album as well. My most anticipated movie is hands down the sequel adaptation of Catching Fire. Even though I will probably criticize it to some extent I cannot wait to see it on the big screen. On the TV front, I would like to rent a season of a new hit like Homeland or Boardwalk Empire although the time always seems to escape me seeing as I often have trouble watching a stand-alone movie from Netflix while it sits for weeks at a time atop my DVD player. Some of my New Year’s resolutions involve giving up shows- I didn’t admit to my desire to give up America’s Next Top Model last year but deep down I knew it was time to let go. I did catch the British Invasion season but with the news that both the Jays and Nigel were exiting I took it as my curtain call as well. In addition I’d like to give up on American Idol- don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with last season’s winner Phil Phillips but I enjoyed Steven Tyler and J.Lo and now that they are gone and replaced with artists who mean nothing to me I think I am going to bow out. This should give me time to read all those books I want to read and to actually watch my Netflix in a timely manner.
Happy New Year!
Related Hub-Last year's Year in Review
- 2011 Pop Culture Year in Review
My favorite books, music, movies and TV for the year 2011.