Top 5 Albums of 2013
Claire's Take: JT brought back the definition of cool with the first half of the extensive "20/20 Experience." While the second half seemed a little contrite and excessive, the first part was a refreshingly nuanced track list of awesome music. Highlights: "Pusher Love Girl" and "Strawberry Bubblegum."
Claire's Take: In 2013, HAIM has spiked in popularity, becoming the coolest girl rockers of the past decade. "Days Are Gone" is an excellent record with spunky riffs and a uniqueness that will hopefully keep them around for a long time. Highlights: "The Wire" and "Don't Save Me."
Claire's Take: Kings of Leon returned to music this year after a few rocky moments among the members, and I am so glad. "Mechanical Bull" is simultaneously rough and smooth, with bass lines that are so cool they can barely be handled. Highlights: "Don't Matter" and "Family Tree."
Claire's Take: One of Baz Luhrman's hallmarks is putting contemporary music in classic stories. With this soundtrack, Luhrman and producer Jay Z excel beyond measure. The songs are interwoven throughout the film, intensifying the characters and storyline. They also remind us that the excess and materialism of the 20s are not so different from today.
Claire's Take: Hands down the best album of the year. Vampire Weekend's third effort succeeds with its highly allegoric songwriting and Paul Simon-esque vocals courtesy of Ezra Koenig. This record is poppy and subdued, all under the contemplative guidance of Koenig. Highlights: "Step," "Ya Hey," and "Diane Young." But really all of them.
Top 5 Movies of 2013
5. "Iron Man 3"
Cortney's Take: In most cases ("Spider-Man 3"), the third installment of a superhero franchise is predictable or overdone. This was not the case for "Iron Man 3." This movie saw Tony Stark break down and ask for help, which developed Stark in a way the viewer had not yet seen. The usuals were still present with just enough exploding and Robert Downey Jr. charm.
Cortney's Take: This movie did something that no other movie has ever done: it put monsters in college. Not only college, but a fraternity. The familiar Mike and Sully took the adventure through college (for them, one year) in a way that children could enjoy and college students could appreciate.
Cortney's Take: This movie was my childhood on the big screen; placing it as No. 3 was tough. It had been too long since a good adaptation of "Superman" had been made, and this was more than good. Also, Henry Cavill wore Clark Kent glasses.
Cortney's Take: This adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel put the viewer into the world of new money that is Jay Gatsby. The music was fantastic, as well as the costumes. Leonardo DiCaprio perfectly captured the character of Gatsby and as usual, died beautifully.
Cortney's Take: It is not often that a sequel is better than the first movie, but that is exactly what "Catching Fire" was. The effects, costuming, music and overall portrayal of the districts and the Capitol were spot on. We're lucky there are two more "Hunger Games" movies remaining.