Follow us on Twitter:
Follow us on Facebook:
<p>Our No. 1 album artists: Pearl Jam and Grizzly Bear</p>

HitFix's Top 10 Albums of 2009

Posted Dec 22, 2009 12:31 AM By Katie Hasty and Melinda Newman


Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" and Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest" came out on top of HitFix critics Melinda Newman's and Katie Hasty's top 10 albums of 2009 lists, respectively. Between the two, only a pair of titles had crossover: "Veckatimest" and Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix."

While rock seems to reign our lists, there's a smattering of pop, hip-hop, singer-songwriters, hard rock and more included. We discussed the personal -- and sometimes incomplete -- nature of list-making in our earlier article on "Why lists?", which is why you should check back in for a gallery of other media outlets' top 10s, too: we at HitFix want you to hear out the full spectrum of best albums from this year.

Stay tuned for other great moments from 2009 and the decade, including the best and worst in music news, top singles, most influential artists and more.

What were the year's best movies? Check in with HitFix blogger Drew McWeeny's list.

Melinda Newman, Music Blogger, "The Beat Goes On"

1.    Pearl Jam – Backspacer
2.    Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
3.    Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
4.    Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
5.    Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
6.    Rosanne Cash – The List
7.    Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk
8.    Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 -  White Lies for Dark Times
9.    Ingrid Michaelson – Everybody
10.    Diane Birch – Bible Belt

Click here to follow Melinda Newman on Twitter.

Katie Hasty, Managing Editor

1.    Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
I can’t think of an album that’s pleased me more this year, nor that I listened to more.
2.    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
It’s bliss!

3.    Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3
There wasn't a moment wasted on this set.
4.    Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
One of the most stylistically creative and sophisticated albums this year.
5.    Vetiver – Tight Knit
This just makes me feel, y'know?
6.    Major Lazer – Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do
Every time one of these songs came up on random, I was like what the hell, this is amaz… ah, I see.
7.    Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Very nearly their best album.
8.    Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
9.    Future of the Left – Travels with Myself and Another
I feel so satisfyingly entertained by the end of this.
10.    Visqueen – Message to Garcia
Not a newcomer by a long shot, but the perfect entry point.

Click here to follow Katie Hasty on Twitter.

Select how you want to comment

  • Jesus_talkback_profile
    Still no love for Muse? Get rid of Greenday because their new album was awful and replace it with Muse's new album which was brilliant.
    December 28, 2009 at 7:11AM EST
    Login & reply

Miley Cyrus just got really honest about the hellscape that was 'Hannah Montana'

Posted Aug 14, 2015 1:18 PM By  

Miley Cyrus got "some body dysmorphia" from her "Hannah Montana" days. Are we surprised by this? (We aren't.)

"I was told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show," said Cyrus in a new interview with Marie Claire. "I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, Who the fuck am I?"

We should all be thankful that those soul-sucking days are over, not only for Miley's sake ("It was like Toddlers & Tiaras'," she went on) but for our own: who knew she was such an off-the-cuff, freewheeling spirit underneath those pounds and pounds of Disney pageant makeup?

A few other choice quotes from the interview:

On the nightmare that was "Hannah Montana," Part 2: "Every morning, I was getting coffee jammed down my throat to wake me up. I just had to keep going, be tough, be strong. Everything happened to me on that set."

On the nightmare that was "Hannah Montana," Part 3: "I would have anxiety attacks. I'd get hot flashes, feel like I was about to pass up or throw up. It would happen a lot before shows, and I'd have to cancel. Then the anxiety started coming from anxiety. I would be with my friends, thinking, I should be having so much fun. You get in this hole that seems like you're never going to be able to get out of."

On wanting to get it on with Joan Jett: "When [I] introduced Joan Jett into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I said, 'The reason I'm here tonight is because I want to fuck Joan,' everyone laughed because they thought it was a joke. It wasn't." (I believe you, Miley.)

On unrealistic beauty standards: "I'm probably never going to be the face of a traditional beauty company unless they want a weed-smoking, liberal-ass freak. But my dream was never to sell lip gloss. My dream is to save the world."

After you're finished pre-ordering your copy of Marie Claire's August issue (out August 18!), be sure to check out their damning expose on "The Coolest New Beauty Products to Have on Your Radar." ("From Louboutin lipsticks to micellar face wipes"). Marie Claire: fighting body dysmorphia one $300 bottle of Olaplex Hair Perfector at a time.

[via The Wrap]

Looking for something to watch?
Let Streaming Genie help you.

'I was concerned about Dolph': 9 harrowing behind-the-scenes stories from 'Masters of the Universe'

Posted Aug 29, 2015 9:00 AM By  

On August 7, 1987, "Masters of the Universe" stank up movie theaters across the country and killed any hopes of kicking off a live-action franchise for He-Man and his merry band of heroes (the property is currently in the process of being rebooted with the help of "Thor" screenwriter Christopher Yost). As I wrote earlier this week, "MotU" actually wasn't all bad, with standouts like Frank Langella's Skeletor and Bill Conti's excellent score keeping the film just this side of unwatchable.

Glory be! A happy byproduct of my online research arose in the form of a YouTube recommendation for a video entitled "The Making of Masters of the Universe the Motion Picture," which is not, as it turns out, an extra ripped from the film's DVD release but rather a segment from a 2012 documentary entitled "Toy Masters," which boasts the following synopsis on IMDB:

"Filmmakers Roger Lay, Jr. and Corey Landis set out to document the origin of He-Man--the central character in a billion-dollar multi-media franchise--and along the way, they begin to realize that the truth may not be as simple as they'd hoped. Join them as they go from interview to interview of conflicting stories about how it all began--and try to figure out who's lying and who's telling the truth--in this fun, informative doc that plays like the 'King Of Kong' of the toy world."

Do with that what you will! The clip in question is what we're interested in here, and it features some pretty wild behind-the-scenes trivia courtesy of "Masters of the Universe" director Gary "I Had To Direct This Picture Under The Most Extreme Circumstances You Could Imagine" Goddard, production designer William Stout, executive John Weems and more folks involved in creating a film that would ultimately go down as one of the most notorious flops of that year. See below for a list of highlights from the clip (which you can watch in full at the bottom of the page).

1. Director Gary Goddard was "concerned" about Dolph Lundgren's ability to carry a film.

Goddard was so nervous about Lundgren (who came pre-packaged with the project) that he was forced to make a rather unconventional narrative choice to salvage the movie:

"I was concerned that Dolph would be able to carry the scenes. ...[so] I did my best to restructure the story almost through the eyes of Skeletor."

That's right: Goddard had so little faith in his lead actor that he structured the plot of his summer fantasy-action movie around the villain. Allow that to sink in for a second.

2. He-Man wasn't allowed to kill another living being in the movie.

The Darth Vader-looking robot goons that made up Skeletor's army left the film open to charges of being a "Star Wars" rip-off, but according to Goddard they were a necessity after Mattel -- which exercised strict control over the way the characters were portrayed -- told him that He-Man could not inflict physical injury on a flesh-and-blood being:

"Everyone says, 'oh, they copied 'Star Wars.'' No, we created generic robot warriors so that He-Man could smash and fight and blast them, because he couldn't actually do that to anyone living."

Uh-huh. About that...

3. Panicked Mattel executives -- who were counting on the success of the film to boost sales of their action figures --  gave Goddard free reign to break the rules they had set up after "He-Man" toy sales declined precipitously during production.

"'We don't care what you do,'" Goddard recounted of the conversation. "'Have him kill people. Blood, guts, gore, sex, do whatever you have to. Just make sure this movie's a hit.'"

Kill one of your actors for real! Whatever you have to do, Gary.

4. Mattel executive Paul Cleveland was horrified when he saw a rough cut of the film.

"I saw the rough cuts, I listened to Dolph Lundgren's voice, and I just about had a heart attack," said Cleveland, adding later: "I wanted to re-dub his voice, get someone else to speak for him. In his contract, he had the right to [dub] it two or three more times, and he finally got it to where it wasn't too bad. I said it's okay if He-Man has a little bit of an accent, but you gotta be able to understand him."

That is a low bar, sir.

5. Goddard still wishes they had brought in another actor to dub over Lundgren's voice.

And the Dolph Lundgren anecdotes keep coming...

"To this day I wish we'd have done it," said Goddard, who actually brought in a few other actors to perform the task before being shot down. "But [producer] Menaham [Golan] was like, 'nope, we're gonna stick with Dolph.'"

"Nope, we're gonna stick with Dolph" is certainly one form of integrity.

6. Goddard wasn't initially sold on Courteney Cox.

I don't understand it either. Let us try and wrap our heads around this shocking confession:

"Courteney Cox had just done the Springsteen video. In fact, that was how she was -- this is the girl who's in the Springsteen video. That's how it was sold to me. ...She was good, but I just didn't feel that she fit the part. Cause she had actually done what a lot of actresses do. She had put on a lot of makeup, she wanted to look very sexy. but this role was more of an all-American girl. But my casting director [Vickie Thomas] actually was the one who said 'I wanna bring her back in one more time, I want you to look at her one more time.' ...She called Courteney and said 'ditch the makeup, come in in jeans, just be yourself.' Courteney came in the next day in jeans, no makeup, as herself. ...she just nailed it that day. And I knew right then, okay, she's the one. ...She had great natural ability and I think she did a great job."

7. Mattel had to bankroll the entire production after Cannon Films, which was suffering through financial difficulties, reneged on the agreement to put up half the budget.

"Cannon worked out this deal with Mattel. The deal was that Cannon would put up half the money, and Mattel would put up half the money," said production designer William Stout. "And Cannon told Mattel, 'okay, you put up the first half.' So Mattel put up the first half, and we very quickly burned thrugh that money. And so Mattel said 'okay, time for you to kick in the second half.' And Cannon said, 'no.' So Mattel had to pony up the rest of the money if they wanted to see their film made."

Thank goodness it all worked out.

8. The studio put the kibosh on the production in the middle of filming the climactic battle sequence.

"They shut me down on the set in the middle of the battle," said Goddard. "Literally with someone picking up a card and putting it in front of the camera and saying 'You're done.' In the middle of a shot."

The powers-that-be ultimately allowed Goddard to film the sequence with limited crew, leading to the rather underwhelming final result.

"Even though we shut down the set, I kept [Frank Langella] and Dolph and [director of photography Hanania Baer] and I got them to let me shoot some footage of them battling. It wasn't very well choreographed. It was a very quick choreographic job."

9. Double Tony winner Frank Langella was very, very invested in his role, god love him.

"Frank was very particular about what he thought would work, what he thought wouldn't work," said production designer William Stout. "His ideas were very right on. ...The cloak, for example, it had to move just right. We kept designing and building different cloaks until he got one that just moved perfectly. And it was really Frank Langella who made that character come to life."

Too late to give the man an Oscar for this?

Here's the clip:

Looking for something to watch?
Let Streaming Genie help you.

Jared Leto's journey to becoming The Joker continues...

Posted Mar 6, 2015 11:10 AM By Brendan O'Brien

UPDATE: August 26th, 2015

And just like that, Jared Leto says goodbye and his Joker journey has come to an end. 



A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

UPDATE: April 24th, 2015

Here he is... no more out of focus teases, or paparazzi shots.

UPDATE: April 20th, 2015

Some tricksy sneaky snooping snapshots are showing more of Jared Leto's Joker.

UPDATE: April 16th, 2015

WHOA! Jared Leto shared this via Snapchat.


UPDATE: April 10th, 2015

Suicide Squad Writer/Director David Ayer Tweeted out a look at Leto as The Joker.

A clear homage to this:

UPDATE: April 7th, 2015

Jared Leto jumped in the makeup chair and teased "Transformation begins." on Instagram


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

UPDATE: April 3rd, 2015 

Is he practicing?


A video posted by @echemarrya on

UPDATE: March 23rd, 2015

This could be Jared Leto giving us a sneak peek at his "Joker Voice"

Or it could just be Jared Leto being a good showman... or both! 

UPDATE: March 18th, 2015

Jared Leto just Snapchatted a video of himself being very Joker-y with a Batman score playing in the background.


He also posted a close up of those eyebrows. I think he is digging his new look.



Jared Leto's Joker journey continues as he colors his hair and takes his eyebrows... 

It was just a short while ago when we were all gazing at Jared Leto's amazing mane


Yes this happened. Me and the incredibly talented @benedictcumberbatch

A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

Then he did this.


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

Which made him look like this.


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

And now he's done this.


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

But wait, what is under those glasses? NOTHING! 


A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

While it might look like he is going for his old Fight Club look, he is probably going for this.


Looking for something to watch?
Let Streaming Genie help you.

Did 'Fear the Walking Dead' really just kill that character?

Posted Aug 23, 2015 11:15 PM By  

Warning: Full spoilers for the premiere episode of “Fear the Walking Dead” follow…

Two of the biggest questions that audiences asked themselves ahead of the debut of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” companion series “Fear the Walking Dead” were: How will it distinguish itself from its parent series? And will “Fear” learn from “The Walking Dead”’s mistakes?

The former remains to be seen, though we did speak with “Fear the Walking Dead” showrunner Dave Erickson about his long-term plans for the series. As to the latter, there are multiple interpretations of the exact nature of “The Walking Dead”’s mistakes. The audience does tend to make their thoughts on the matter known, though. Often in the form of memes.

As one example, “The Walking Dead” has come under fire in the past for what many felt was a pattern of introducing male African American characters only to either quickly dispatch them or give the character a minimal storyline until just before they were set to die on the series. For some, it seemed as if the show would only have one central male African American character at a time.

Take a look at one of the aforementioned memes capturing this sentiment below:

I was legitimately surprised when I watched the premiere episode of “Fear” and realized that they’d introduced two young, male, African American characters -- Maestro Harrell as Matt and Keith Powers as Calvin -- only to kill Calvin off by the close of the entry and leave Matt in what appears to be imminent danger.

Read Alan's review of the "Fear the Walking Dead" premiere here

It’s a fairly stereotypical failing of the horror genre, and one that I’d thought that the “Fear the Walking Dead” team would be sensitive to. When I sat down with Erickson, I asked him if he’d thought about the potential response from viewers.

“I would start from this place,” Erickson reflected. “The show is set in Los Angles, primarily in East LA, so we wanted to make sure that the background of our characters and the ethnicity of our characters mirrored the environment they’re living in. Really with the exception of Madison (Kim Dickens) and her kids. So, it is a tricky thing, because the reality is that if you’re going to do a show that is multiethnic and diverse, and you’re doing a zombie show, then ancillary characters are going to die.

Here's how "Fear the Walking Dead" is like "Apocalypse Now"

“There have been times where there were characters that were scripted one way and then we found an actor we loved and so we cast that actor. The thing about Calvin is that Keith is such a good actor, so it’s always that thing when someone dies on the show where I would love to hold onto them because I would love to see where the character would go. I understand that it’s delicate, and I know there have been conversations about the original show. I would say this: there is nobody who is safe. I’m not thinking of anybody in particular when I say that."

“We’re going to continue to live in an urban environment for the indefinite future," the showrunner continued. "And what I don’t want to do is get into a situation where I’m casting people or writing people specifically because I’m thinking, ‘If that character dies in six episodes is it going to be…[problematic].’ I know I can’t speak for [‘The Walking Dead’ showrunner] Scott Gimple and I’m sure he’s responded to this. But we have a predominately Latino cast so I’m sure over the course of these episodes, this season, and beyond, there are going to be people of color who die, there’s going to be…Everyone is going to die. Honestly in the pilot stage I didn’t even think about it. It didn’t come up in conversation.”

I find it interesting, and in some ways fairly problematic, that the creative team didn't think about these decisions ahead of time. And that raises a few questions for discussion: Is the ethnicity of the characters something that he and the other “Fear the Walking Dead” producers should have thoughtfully considered in pre-production? Particularly in regards to the characters who will be quickly killed and therefore read as of lesser value to the story?

Now to be fair, “Fear the Walking Dead” is -- as Erickson points out -- a diverse cast and it's not yet clear who will come to the forefront as a central player. Nor can we be sure of Matt’s fate. It certainly doesn’t look good for him, though, and Calvin’s introduction and immediate death is indisputable. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as noticeable if there were a larger/more significant presence of male African American characters. Or if audiences hadn’t already been having a similar conversation about “The Walking Dead.” 

I’m not sure that getting into “outrage” mode is really helpful, here. Nor is dismissing the question as “PC nonsense.” In fact, I’m sure neither is. I can’t really stop anyone if that’s what they want to do, of course. I do think this is something that warrants examination. It's almost shocking that the "Fear the Walking Dead" producers didn't consider the implications. First, because it is by-in-large the same creative team that’s behind “The Walking Dead.” Second, the deaths of young African American men in our very real world is so much at the forefront of our cultural discourse right now. Perhaps these are two entirely separate issues.

Certainly, people are going to die on a zombie series and if – as Erickson says – it’s a diverse cast, then people of color are going to die. The very last thing anyone would want is for either of those actors to lose out on the roles. Yet, it’s hard not to notice that only two young African American male characters were introduced and one is now gone. It's subtle, but in the language of media that can say, "These characters are less important than the others." So, I suppose it does feel like some thought should be put into who dies and when - even on a zombie series.

Let me us know what you think in the comments below. Are these questions that we should ask ourselves as viewers? I certainly feel they are. Should producers also put the onus on themselves to think about the message they are delivering when it comes to the treatment of certain characters as disposable -- or not  -- in media.

Take a look at Alan and I give our initial thoughts on the series in the video below:

Looking for something to watch?
Let Streaming Genie help you.