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10 best albums of 2014 – so far

10 best albums of 2014 – so far

Sam Smith, Beck, YG and more

As we close out the first half of 2014, here's a look back at the albums that have taken up residence in our iTunes so far. While we call them the best, to be honest, "our favorites" would be more appropriate. From the melancholy of Beck's mesmerizing "Morning Phase," to the stories Rosanne Cash shares on "The River & The Thread" and YG's often bracing, chilling tales of inner city life on "My Krazy Life,"  these are some of the best that 2014 has to offer.

Creating such lists is always a subjective exercise, but it's also a reminder of how much music there is to enjoy and embrace. As I made my list, I perused several other lists published today and came across several sets that I haven't had the chance to listen to, but will definitely get to by the time it comes to making the Best of 2014 lists in December. These are in no particular order.

What are your favorite albums of 2014 so far?

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Sony TV exec on 'Community': 'There's no way we're not making the movie now!'

Sony TV exec on “Community”: "There's no way we're not making the movie now!"
Zack Van Amburg, who’s in charge of Sony Pictures Television’s programming and production, recalls the negotiations with Hulu and says the Yahoo deal came out of the blue -- a deal that should pave the way for the ultimate goal of six seasons and a movie. "I'd be lying if I told you that we have not had some very early and preliminary conversations that are very exciting about what a potential movie could be and who might direct it,” he says. "It's early but it's completely in our thought process.” PLUS: Joel McHale got some “Fresh Air” today.

With host Chris Rock, BET Awards were slightly up from last year
About 7.9 million tuned in this year compared to 7.8 million last year, when Samuel L. Jackson hosted.

FX promoting “The Strain” by sending beating hearts to the media
It’s the latest gross-out stunt to promote Guillermo del Toro’s new series.

“True Blood's" gay sex dream was pandering
"Why not just give the fans what they want?” says Joe Reid. "The problem, of course, is that it's monstrously, almost hilariously pandering to its audience of gay men and the women who like the idea of gay men…This isn't a storyline. These aren't real people. There isn't even any expectation that Jason's dreams will ultimately lead him down the road to any kind of sexual awakening. It's just a tossed-off bone (no pun intended) to its audience, in lieu of anything real.” PLUS: Looking back at “True Blood’s” gay legacy, a “True Blood” fashion guide, and Kristin Bauer van Straten on Pam’s Eric issues.

Can “Halt and Catch Fire” be saved by its rich viewers?
Ratings haven’t been great, but the AMC series does boast an advantage in its upscale viewership.

Chris D’Elia to play Jaime Pressly’s baby daddy
He’ll appear on several episodes of “Undateable."

Forbes’ most-powerful celebrities list: Oprah #4, Ellen #5, Jimmy Fallon #45
Ryan Seacrest is #31, Jennifer Lopez #33, Sofia Vergara #54, Gordon Ramsay #58, Jon Stewart #60, Zooey Deschanel #96, Lena Dunham #97 and Kaley Cuoco #99.

On “Californication" set, Heather Graham reminisced with David Duchovny about working on “Twin Peaks”
"I had met him a long time ago, so it’s fun to see people you meet and then, through the years, seeing them again,” she says.

New Orleans’ NBC affiliate refused to air the 4th hour of “Today," featuring a rival anchor
Friday’s fourth hour featured Hoda Kotb co-hosting with the an anchor from New Orleans’ CBS affiliate. That hour was replaced in New Orleans by an episode of “The Queen Latifah Show.”

Where did “The Leftovers” go wrong?
Viewers apparently aren’t interested in being bummed out by a TV show. PLUS: The book vs. the TV series, “Leftovers” star Chris Zylka was once homeless, Amy Brenneman on being silent, and watch the pilot on Yahoo!

How “Seinfeld” paved the way for “The Sopranos”
“Seinfeld,” which turns 25 on Saturday, allowed its lead characters to be portrayed in a negative light, setting the stage for Tony Soprano and TV’s future antiheroes. PLUS: Ranking the Top 50 recurring “Seinfeld” characters.

“House of Cards” creator was advised not to start the series off with a dog-strangling scene
Including that scene turned out to be a triumph of creativity over data and better judgment.

Neil Patrick Harris kissed former “HIMYM” co-star Josh Radnor during “Hedwig” performance
“He came out in the audience during ‘Sugar Daddy’ and planted a big kiss on my forehead, which humiliated me and also made me very happy,” Radnor recalls. PLUS: Check out Neil Patrick Harris on “Blossom."

Watch Jay Leno crack jokes as a Disney XD crystal ball
Leno lent his voice to the Snow White-themed “The 7D,” which premieres on July 7.

“Game of Thrones’” Hodor gets an app
Guess which one word the app says?

Complaint: “Orange is the New Black” isn’t focusing enough on the men
“The show barely, and inadequately, represents” males, says Noah Berlatsky. PLUS: Why this argument is ridiculous.

50 Cent’s next TV show will be on Comedy Central
The rapper announced on Instagram to announce his next TV show will be on Comedy Central.

Kelsey Grammer returns to Twitter to solve its “grammar problem”
Grammer tweeted today: "It has come to my attention that the fine people of @Twitter have an egregious grammar problem. I’m here to help. #KelseyGrammerGrammar”

Ellie Kemper accidentally calls her NBC comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Sh*t”
“I just said ‘sh*t,’ and I haven’t had anything to drink, only coffee,” says the star of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

The Weather Channel sending “Fat Guys in the Woods”
Each episode will feature three “fat guys” who learn survival skills in the snowy Appalachian wilderness.

“Hart of Dixie” adds Ian Anthony Dale
The “Murder in the First” star and “Hawaii Five-0” vet will play “a walking Superman” over several episodes.

“Storage Wars” star Dan Dotson out of the hospital
The auctioneer suffered a double brain aneurysm that didn’t cause any permanent damage.

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<p>&#39;I... Am... Groot!&#39; &#39;Hulk... kill... Groot!&#39;</p>

'I... Am... Groot!' 'Hulk... kill... Groot!'

Credit: Marvel Animation

What Mark Ruffalo's not telling you when he talks about Marvel's 'Planet Hulk' plans

If it's not a stand-alone film, then where will we see the Hulk next?

Now that Mark Ruffalo's giving lots more interviews about his role in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" and he's talking about the possibility of another solo Hulk movie, there are certain questions that are being repeated and rehashed in a  million different ways and places, and watching from the sidelines without comment is becoming impossible for me.

As a result, I may have to delve into spoilers a bit here. I also need to be careful because I visited the London set of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," and anything I saw or learned during that trip is heavily embargoed. So I'll tread lightly, but in order to fully address the rumors that are bouncing around, I'll need to discuss one major event from the final act of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron."

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<p>&quot;The Strain&quot;</p>

"The Strain"

Credit: FX

FX teases 'The Strain' by sending beating hearts to reporters

Latest awesome gross-out tactic follows eyeball/bloodworm billboards

FX doesn't want anybody confused by the adult nature and graphic content of the new vampire drama "The Strain," based on the book series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Already, the cable network has faced some pushback from squeamish drivers over LA billboards featuring the series' nefarious blood worms impinging on the eyes of an unknown victim. 

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American remake of cult-classic shocker 'Audition' in the works for director Richard Gray
Credit: Shout! Factory

American remake of cult-classic shocker 'Audition' in the works for director Richard Gray

This one's going to be tricky to get it right

This was inevitable.

The premise of "Audition" is irresistible as a horror movie set-up. It's not only clever, it also does a tremendous job of commenting on just how casual the misogyny is in many horror films, from concept to execution to the marketing. "Audition," at least in the original Miike film, is about setting those scales right, delivering some magnificent horror to those who have earned it.

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'Better Call Saul' will take place before, during and after 'Breaking Bad' — will Walter White show up?

“Better Call Saul” will take place before, during and after “Breaking Bad” — will Walter White show up?
"That gives us the ability to bring back characters that were killed on ‘Breaking Bad,’” says co-creator Peter Gould.

WGN America’s “Manhattan” will premiere on broadcast channels, too
Tribune stations in 33 markets, including L.A.’s KTLA and New York’s WPIX, will carry the debut of the Atomic Bomb drama on July 27.

All 4 DC Comics-based shows will get a Comic-Con showcase
A three-hour event will feature “The Flash,” “Constantine,” “Arrow” and “Gotham."

"Penny Dreadful” ends the season with 856,000 viewers
That’s slightly down from the 872,000 who watched the season premiere.

HBO officially makes Monday nights the home to documentaries
Nonfiction filming, including tonight’s “112 Weddings,” will be featured on Mondays.

“Under the Dome” returns, still running in circles
CBS tried to “sex up” the Season 2 premiere with a Stephen King-written episode (and a King cameo), but "at this point, attempts to keep the show interesting just bounce right off,” says Brian Lowry. "Part of that has to do with a loose interpretation of the 'limited series' description leading up to last season’s underwhelming cliffhanger, as well as a sense that while the characters remain trapped without an answer, viewers (at least, those who can find something else to occupy them between now and Labor Day) don’t have to be.” PLUS: “Dome” has a villain problem, how to fix “Dome,” and Stephen King says writing his first episode was “exciting."

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<p>Stephen Amell of &quot;Arrow&quot;</p>

Stephen Amell of "Arrow"

Credit: The CW/WBTV

'Gotham,' 'Flash,' 'Arrow' and 'Constantine' unite for Comic-Con Super-Panel

Saturday, July 26 will be a crazy night for DC Comics/WBTV fans

If you're a DC Comics fan and a TV fan and you're planning on being down in San Diego for Comic-Con, I can pretty much guarantee I know where you're going to try to be on the night of Saturday, July 26.

Warner Brothers Television and DC Entertainment announced on Monday (June 30) afternoon that FOX's "Gotham," The CW's "The Flash" and "Arrow" and NBC's "Constantine" will combine forces for a three-hour event on Comic-Con Saturday evening. 

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Yahoo! rescues 'Community'

Yahoo! rescues “Community”
The canceled NBC comedy will get a 13-episode 6th season this fall. The pickup comes on the very last day that the actors' contracts could be picked up. “I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online," said creator Dan Harmon. "I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, 'Big Bang Theory.' Look out, 'Bang Bus'!”

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Bon Iver

Listen to Bon Iver's new song, 'Heavenly Father,' for Zach Braff's 'Wish I Was Here'

The woozy track is first new music from the Best New Artist winners in three years

Zach Braff proved himself quite adept at curating music for his movies, as he proved with 2004’s “Garden State.” So adept that he took home a Grammy for best compilation soundtrack album for a motion picture, television or other visual media.

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French Montana

Kanye West and French Montana working together on tracks

Did the Kardashian connection come into play?

Are the Kardashians responsible for this? Kanye West and French Montana have collaborated on a number of tracks.

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Credit: NBC

'Community' renewed by Yahoo for sixth season; movie to follow?

Yahoo picks up canceled NBC comedy to bolster its original programming push

Holy cow, boys and girls: "Community" has been renewed, after all. The dream of six seasons and a movie is still alive — thanks to Yahoo, of all places, which closed a deal for an additional season of the cult NBC comedy.

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HBO’s 'The Leftovers' debuts to a 'lukewarm' 1.8 million

HBO’s “The Leftovers” debuts to a “lukewarm” 1.8 million
That’s compared to 2.33 million for the launch of “True Detective,” 2.14 million for “The Newsroom” and 2.22 million for “Game of Thrones.”

Travel Channel yanks Adam Richman’s "Man Finds Food” following his Instagram rant
Richman, who recently apologized for calling one of his Instagram followers the C-word, was supposed to star in a new show debuting Wednesday. Instead, Travel Channel has postponed its debut with no details on when it will air.

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