30 September 2011

War of the Months: September

Welcome again folks to the War of the Months. All year long we're examining Month by Month the best trends in Movies, including commercial success (or lack of) as well as critical appreciation (or lack of). Today, being the last day in September, we're looking at the preceding month, and it's pretty terrible. September is all about going back to school or work and getting into the swing of things after that long, pleasant, warm summer. It's a doomed month, no one looks forward to September. Likewise the films released are terrible.

September: Awful Month

No one is going to the movies in September. It's not a place for Studios to debut their greatest accomplishments and it suffers likewise. There are certainly some gems in the rough, though. Generally it's a limbo between Summer Box-Office Season and Oscar Season and there are some films that cross over either from being Summer Stragglers or preemptive Oscar Runners. True Septemberians are so unbelievably bad though. It's a cinematic no-man's land.

September Box-Office: Poison

The Greatest Opening Weekend Ever in September still belongs to Sweet Home Alabama (2002) for some reason at $35,648,740. Rounding out the Top Ten are other surefire hits as Eagle Eye (2008), Flightplan (2005) and the original Rush Hour (1998). Check out the full list over here. The Resident Evil Movies seem to keep cropping up here but there really isn't rhyme or reason to what has success. In essence September is a month with a blank slate. No one really has any expectations so it's fair game for anyone. It would be cooler if any of these films that didn't make any money were actually good.

September 2007 is the Best September Ever at $554,716,620, which is far below any other month of the year by a tremendous margin. It's awful. It's tough to say what fueled this. The only major debuts were 3:10 to Yuma, Shoot 'Em Up, Resident Evil: Extinction and The Game Plan. That one with The Rock. You know the one. None of these were really that big hits but that particular month was helped by some holdover sleeper hits from August 2007, including Superbad and The Bourne Ultimatum.

Top Movies All Time: Are You Joking?

Actually September used to be a premiere month in the early 80s. There are a few Best Picture Winners and Nominees including Ordinary People (1980), Chariots of Fire (1981), Amadeus (1984) and The Big Chill (1983). And there's also Jackass: Number Two (2006). In recent times though all we've really got is The Town (2010) and The American (2010). The Best Ever though, are below:

#10: The Princess Bride - 09/25/1987
#9: Zoolander - 09/28/2001
#8: Ed Wood - 09/30/1994
#7: Dog Day Afternoon - 09/21/1975
#6: Shaun of the Dead - 09/24/2004
#5: Burn After Reading - 09/12/2008
#4: Se7en - 09/22/1995#3: American Beauty - 09/15/1999
#2 Almost Famous - 09/15/2000
#1: Goodfellas - 09/19/1990

Other notables include Remember the Titans (2000), as well as some franchise starters such as Barbershop (2002), Underworld (2003) and even Crocodile Dundee (1986). Other than that September has plenty of cult favourites like Bubba Ho-Tep (2003), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Ronin (1998), Blue Streak (1999) and The Rundown (2003). We've also got one of the Better Nic Cage movies, Lord of War (2005).

So really the Dead September is more of a recent phenomenon. Still none of these films really made any money. September is terrible. Teachers smell.

22 September 2011

Because it was on TV: The Strange Sitcom Reality of Two and a Half Men

I never watch Two and a Half Men. It mostly features simplistic joke and plot structure that fits into Sitcom Tropes far too easily and a general lack of depth or insight into character or story development. Naturally though my interest was peaked last Monday when the star of such landmark films as Valentine's Day (2009) and No Strings Attached (2011), Ashton Kutcher was set to debut in place of the Great Charlie Sheen.

I've been interested in Fictional Realities before but watching this show really got me thinking about the show's Real World. I don't mean to judge what would happen if shows took place in real life (That's for Robot Chicken to sort out), but I am intrigued by how things operate within the confines of a specific Reality. For example, in Superman's Reality, people can fly and giant monsters arrive once a week to attack the same city. That's a very distinct example but the reality of Sitcoms are more subtle. Actually if any of you watched the Emmy Awards this Sunday (apparently none of you did), the Opening Jane Lynch Musical Number touched on this concept. Around 2:18 she walks into a Sitcom full of its own Reality (more specifically a CBS Sitcom Reality, that is). So what defines this and why the hell should we be talking about it?

Unbelievably, his most lasting legacy
is those shirts
What struck me about Two and a Half Men was its opening scene. Charle Harper (Sheen) is dead and it's mostly played for laughs. Now, many Sitcoms equally as cringe-worthy as this have had characters pass on and treated it with much more respect. This happens more often than not when the actor actually dies, as was the case of John Ritter on 8 Simple Rules or Phil Hartman on News Radio. Even on Sheen's old show, Spin City when Michael J. Fox departed to deal with his worsening Parkinson's Disease his character was given a strong, heartfelt goodbye. As recently as last season's The Office which featured Steve Carrell's leave had some very sentimental moments. So why was Charlie Harper's death so simultaneously ridiculous, hysterical and quickly forgotten?

1) The Nature of Charlie Sheen's Departure. This wasn't a long time coming, or a sudden, sympathetic leave. Charlie Sheen, in his own words, told his boss to "fuck off" and was kicked off the show after being the Highest-paid Television Actor Ever. Not only that, after his pink slip he went on a glorious tour both through New Media and live Stand-Up stops so in case anyone was out there still believing that he wasn't crazy they could come around. There's no sympathy here, no reason to give Sheen's Character any decent burial or long afterthought. Ashton is rushed in as soon as possible (literally immediately after some kind words by Alan Harper (Jon Cryer) Ashton appears and startles him, causing him to spill Charlie's ashes everywhere, unceremoniously. He is later sucked into a dustbuster and not mentioned again - true symbolism of Ashton's supplanting Sheen).

Anyone else hope this is all just an
elaborate Punk'D on Charle Sheen?
2) The Nature of the Show's Reality. More to the point of this article, Two and a Half Men just isn't a place for these kinds of intimate moments. There's room for Real Drama on The Office or even How I Met Your Mother, but not here. Those shows have a foot in reality much further than Two and a Half Men does. Even its former lead-in program, Everybody Loves Raymond had room for real emotion, anger and character development in each episode. Two and a Half Men is far more concerned with goofiness, a floating, humming reality of irreverence and stupidity. It's not to say it's not funny, there were certainly some laugh out loud moments Monday Night, but that's all it strives to be. No character within the Reality of the show has any actual feelings or sentiment. Even at death there are jokes to be made. A Funeral like Charlie Harper's exists comfortably within the preceding confines of the show because of its reality. If Steve Carrell had left The Office like Charlie Sheen left Two and a Half Men and the writers decided that Michael Scott had been hit by a train and exploded (like a "balloon full of meat") the Funeral would have a drastically different tone, which is based on that Show's Fictional Reality. Two and a Half Men gets away with it because the characters within the reality accept the absurd as such.

So what's next? Charlie Sheen is off to bigger and worse things, if his last six months are any indication. As for Two and a Half Men, that reality works. It had one of the biggest premieres in recent memory and surely isn't worried about leaving anytime soon, even if they eventually need to change the title to just Three Men, which is really the most basic title for a show ever.

21 September 2011

Undisputed: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star - Worst Movie of All Time


I used to really enjoy Nick Swardson. He was like Dane Cook in the mid-2000s, a stand-up that seemed to have a very clear entertainment career ahead of him. They both had very original acts that were hilarious and seemed to usher in this refreshing new age of Big Stand-Up Comedy. Then of course, they both got those careers that seemed so perfectly laid out for them and turned in crap after crap until everyone worth a squirt hated them.

So we come now to Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (2011). I think these commercials started about a week before the flick hit theaters a dozen days ago. It wasn't long. It's been some of the most bizarre marketing for a terrible film, but also some of the most honest. Actually I've been kind of enjoying it. It's so blatant in its excessive low brow nature. It rolls and glorifies it. Buck Larson: Born to Be a Star may be awful but it's also a movie so devoid of pretension that it comes off as a very genuine experience. Look for yourself:

It's a simple message: "Happy Madison is catering to people who want to get really drunk and watch something really stupid." I don't really understand Happy Madison - it's like the exact opposite of Pixar's Critical and Commercial streak (Cars 2 [2011] aside). There is such an unbelievable conveyor belt of crap that the studio puts out. Bucky Larson is shameful enough not only to not warrant a Sandler cameo, but to not warrant a Schneider cameo. This movie was too awful for Rob Schneider. Holy shit.

But look at these commercials. I've never seen a film so desperate. First of all, how do you pin the marketing of a film on Peter Dante? It's a direct plea to the audience and not only that - it's focuses explicitly on back-to-school kids. It knows its demographics very well and without any other distractions.

So with all this wackiness how has it fared in Theaters? Incredibly with only a $10 million budget it appears as though this will turn into a flop. It has only a $2 million right now, including a second week that included a 71% drop to total $380,000. It seems as if this flick was thrown together at the last second and that's how people are treating it. Still, I will always remember what I was doing when Bucky Larson was in theaters. I was out doing anything else.


19 September 2011

Because it was on TV: Your 2011 - 2012 Season Preview

Alright people, yet another Brand-Spaking New Season of Television is upon us and we here at Norwegian Morning Wood couldn't be more excited. As the leaves fall and footballs get hiked there is finally some new fantastic television programs to watch. Well, there isn't really a whole lot that has captured our interest this year. It will be an interesting season, though. Let's start by highlighting some of the Network's Newest Offerings:


Is Mad Men really that popular? Do producers understand it's successful because it's a well-written, methodical show with very sincere characters that's allowed a bit more freedom because of its existence on the Cable Channel, AMC? Is there any reason at all for Pan Am and The Playboy Club to exist? The answer to all these questions is no. There is some weird obsession with the 1960s going on, but not really the music, the politics or anything important. Instead we're interested in the sex and fashion, neither of which was all that good. I did like the wallpaper though.

There's also a growing trend or show re-makes, which is kind of bizarre. After Hawaii Five-0 really took off last year, virtually the only show to do so, ABC is really pushing Charlie's Angels, which to be fair has some serious Babe Potential going for it. I don't think it will be a Battlestar Galactica, though, the nostalgia is there but there has to be something worth uncovering. The Charlie's Angels movies were pretty popular and I always thought really defined turn-of-the-century action filmmaking. The new show doesn't seem to follow that paradigm though at all, so it's up in the air at this point.

CBS might have the best new show in the wings with Person of Interest, which seems interesting, including Jim Caviezel in a non-Jesus role and likewise Michael Emerson in a non-Benjamin Linus role. Both will take some getting used to. NBC has been pushing the new comedy Whitney harder than most, still seeking to fill out that fourth slot on its Must-See TV Thursday line-up because Tina Fey went and got herself preggers, putting 30 Rock on a hiatus. C'mon, what are NBC's standards on Thursdays anymore? All they're shows are basically commercial failtures, why do they keep pouring money down the toilet? Whitney looks terrible, I think I'll actually be aching for some Outsourced.

Fox actually has three pretty interesting new properties. The first is Simon Cowell's The X Factor, which is such a blatantly arrogant rip-off of American Idol that will also somehow undoubtedly succeed, although it's self-admittedly a risky project for Simon, who is actually rich beyond belief anyway. It will be interesting to see if he's able to overtake his old show. Fox also has Terra Nova, which is propping itself up to be the next big huge thing, and possibly has the biggest Production Values and Budget of any show ever (at $4 million a pop it had better be a runaway hit. Still, it doesn't look all that great). I think the marketing has failed this show already, which is unfortunate. On the comedy side apparently New Girl is getting some good buzz, but I'm sure that's more about Zooey's position as the ultimate dream girl more than anything. Also is anyone paying attention to the quiet Napoleon Dynamite mid-season replacement adaptation coming this year? Are you serious?


There are two really big cast changes this season. After seven seasons on The Office, Steve Carrell left to be replaced by James Spader. Spader's character, Robert California is not nearly as iconic or hilarious as Michael Scott and if The Office lasts another Season after this it wouldn't be for the best. Actually, it wasn't really for the best that The Office has lasted this long.

The much more significant shake-up is Charlie Sheen's departure from Two and a Half Men after eight seasons. Well, he didn't depart so much as went crazy and got fired. His replacement is Ashton Kutcher, which really seems to come out of left field. For the first time since 2004 I'm actually interested in watching Two and a Half Men to see how the hell this is going to work out. Not only that - it's Bearded Ashton. If he's nearly as good as he was in Valentine's Day (2010) this is going to be awful. Man that's weird.

I am looking forward to my two favourite shows, Parks and Recreation and Community to come back for full seasons. Both of these shows might see the chopping block anytime but they've both nabbed a nice cult following somehow. They're also completely ignored by the Emmys, my largest reason for not watching that shitshow anymore.


I've always got my eye on what new shows are syndicated on Cable Networks and there's three big ones this year that are all very emblematic of their parent stations. F/X has acquired How I Met Your Mother, which is exciting. It's a surprisingly good show that is currently only syndicated on very late-nite CW and Oxygen. That's awful. It should find a nice home on F/X, which is all about grabbing popular CBS shows right now. F/X is also playing College Football games, just one more step towards turning it into the most complete Television Channel ever, with a batch of excellent movies, original shows, syndicated shows and sports. What's more mind-boggling is the fact that no other Basic Cable Station is trying this.

The Big Bang Theory is coming to TBS, which proudly adds another terrible show to a line-up that includes Meet the Browns, Family Guy and whatever the hell other crap they have. That one with Terry Crews. Very Funny indeed. I'm more excited for 30 Rock's appearances on Comedy Central, which is kind of a strange move. It should definitely widen that show's audience with tends to be incredibly niche-y. I'm eager for it to become more a staple of Comedy Central's line-up, which includes a lot of cartoons but actually surprisingly little syndicated Network Shows like this, besides Scrubs. But Scrubs is everywhere. All the time.

So that's about it. Will NBC Sunday Night Football again reign supreme for that channel? Will American Idol again kick everyone's ass in the final tally? With Netflix slowly destroying itself does TV have a chance? How can Terra Nova be profitable?! You had better turn on your boxes this Autumn to find out!

11 September 2011

Because it was on TV: Rescue Me and the Role of Post-9/11 Television

Somberly today Norwegian Morning Would acknowledges the Tenth Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. soil of September 11th, 2001. Ten Years later we're finally starting to understand the domestic and global ramifications of this attack. Some of us realise that we have become a society ruled by fear and hostility. Our unquestioned role as a guiding Global Superpower has utterly fallen apart. Despite this, the average American retains faith in his or her country, which in the face of such unrelenting catastrophe is either arrogant or delusional, but all in all a very American concept. The unwavering confidence in our homeland has grown both Global Resentment and National Pride

Amidst all these issues American Television in a Post-9/11 World is certainly changed. Television now seeks to emulate reality - both through explicitly "Reality Programming," a new wave of sitcoms and even a steeply increased Dramatic Production Value that seeks to place viewers as close to the stories as possible. 9/11 popped our innocence virginity. We no longer accept the fanciful, not when we're on guard every day. We've become more comfortable in the shaky-cam reality than artificial sets.

With all these stylistic and genre shifts there remains very little Television, or Pop Culture as a whole, that actually acknowledges the physical effects of 9/11. In the immediate wake of the attacks there were some outlets that dealt with the aftermath, such as the famous Amazing Spider-Man issue. There aren't characters or stories that deal with what happened on a daily basis though. This mirrors our lives really, we don't think about national tragedies every day, it's just impossible. The only show to do this is F/X's Rescue Me, brainchild of Denis Leary and Peter Tolan.

This post in itself is a victim of the 9/11 "celebration" criticism that Rescue Me expunges. The September 11th of every year shouldn't be acknowledged on one anniversary day then forgotten the rest of the year. It's not a holiday where we stop and have a little ceremony. That's how everyone else acts. That's how all other TV acts. Except Rescue Me. Denis Leary through his character, Tommy Gavin has expressed severe frustration with this concept. The problem with treating 9/11 this way is that as soon as September 12th comes around people go back to living their lives. Tommy Gavin can't do that. The consequences of that day continue to haunt him and he deals with that pain every day. Every day is a remembrance. We shouldn't have an excuse to talk about 9/11, it needs to be an ever present topic of conversation.

As I said, this can be difficult. Rescue Me became the only show on TV that deals weekly with the growing personal ramifications of 911 because it concerns the daily lives of a group of NYC firefighters. The emotional scars of these people don't leave so easily. The pain, alcoholism, and in the case of Tommy Gavin, literal ghosts that haunt him are a constant struggle. While he is dealing with family members who died in the towers, along with the other 343 FDNY who perished that day, in recent weeks suddenly everyone is focused on 911, many profiting on books, television shows, Exposés or whatever. He gets pissed. He has also been dealing with his own assholery and inability to construct meaningful personal relationships. It's a combination of such severe pain unconsciously compounding an already temperamental and naturally angry Irishman. Denis Leary emotes all of this in an extremely character-driven show that gains much of its inspiration by the darkest inclinations possible in a post-9/11 World.

Which brings me to a basic point about the show - All the acting has been incredible, as well as virtually ignored by the biggest Award Shows (1 Emmy win in 5 Noms and it wasn't Denis Leary). There is also a large amount of monologues that are very good, genuinely tense and exciting moments (both between characters and each other and between them and live fire) and a heavy amount of symbolism and metaphor between fire, alcohol and the Calling. It's a fantastic show. And now it's over.

So think about the victims of 9/11 today. And think about them tomorrow. And next week. Don't forget the men and women who lost their lives and don't let it be senseless. Rescue Me's Series Finale, which was very good (despite a rushed birth scene) was last Wednesday, so you'll never see a new episode of that again. Remember the deep scar on our national conscious, not only with our growing Society of Fear and Paranoia and its Global Ramifications but the personal struggles of the everyday people who lost people they loved on that day a Decade ago.

08 September 2011

Because it was on TV: Alcoholism, Addiction and Jersey Shore

I could really do a post every week about this show. Everything about it is so simultaneously intriguing and disturbing. It's like a train crash full of Tigers and Anacondas, it's absolute horrifying carnage and mayhem but you can't just look away. You need to see who's going to strangle and maul who. It's a fascinating development. This has been an issue throughout the run of Jersey Shore, but the last few weeks and this season in particular have driven me to this post. The Alcoholism is rampant. I'm not talking about jokey partying "alcoholism." There are some serious issues that the Cast of this show should be dealing with.

This first really came to my attention during "Crime and Punishment" (S4;E4) which featured Cast Member Deena getting typically horribly smashed and pulled "the robbery" (#11)on housemate Vinny's Girl. Getting drunk enough to be a little bi-curious is one thing, there's nothing really wrong with that, but the morning after Deena has a complete breakdown and admits that she changes and can't control herself when intoxicated. It feels like an intervention. All her closest friends are there and Pauly D actually confronts her about changing. The fact that this is happening on Jersey Shore gives it a strange vibe, not least because they're very quickly back to the party.

The Women on the show seem to demonstrate the most of the Alcoholic Behaviour (well, them and Ronnie). The Men also get hammered but they tend to be able to control themselves better when the night gets down to it, likely because they want to stay rational enough to bring home a girl and bang her. Of course, this may have to do with careful editing than anything, but the stories present themselves with increasingly Alcoholic Tendencies from Deena, Snooki, Sammi and Ronnie. JWOWW doesn't often get too plastered; she's more often the sole voice of any reason in the house.

Deena and Snooki tend to earn the most pity. Snooki had her moment in "Where's the Beach?" (S3;E3) when she was arrested for public intoxication (during the day) while wandering around the Jersey Beach (The Episode Title is derived from her drunkenly screaming "WHERE'S THE BEACH?" while literally staring at it). She also did a lot of secret drinking at her place of employment that season, which has carried on to Season 4 in Italy. Hiding wine at work and drinking it on the job because you don't know how else to get through the day isn't funny. On a show purporting to be reality, it's a problem.

But this is all entertainment. It's voyeur. We get pleasure in the self-destruction of these people, facilitated by the fact that watching the show is like looking at a zoo. The characters are really despicable but within their own culture they're heroes, which makes it difficult to empathize with them. These creatures are free to go on and destroy themselves because to much of us they aren't really people. They may deserve their fate (which, to be fair, they carve out for themselves). There emerges an ethics issue when we not only allow their self-destruction but the MTV producers and cameramen also allow it to happen - all for the sake of profit. It's not like Jackass which featured the same kind of pain-for-pleasure entertainment, but I think as that show also demonstrated some real aftermath and reactions to the nuttiness, as well as very real consequences for one of its principal characters. This and the general charm and innocent yet immature vibe that show exuded separates it from other voyeur reality television. There's also the simple fact that we're laughing at the Cast's lives in Jersey Shore, Jackass involved a series of heavily pre-planned stunts, surely not their daily activities.

There is a sickness to Jersey Shore. With The Situation's recent mishap ("And The Wall Won," S4;E5) not allowing him to go out for a week we truly get to see what there is to do in this house without alcohol. Nothing. MTV sets up these situations for the Cast to drink dangerously and make terrible decisions. I'd bet they even cover the bills. It's also interesting that the only visible passage of time is their traditional Sunday Night Dinner, which happens in random episodes. There is no other indication of what day it might be, despite the appearance of constant partying. It's an incredible ability to actually exist without the distinction of days. Can you imagine? For it to really truly not matter what day of the week it is? What pieces of shit. Again, a lot of this occurs through creative editing, but it's certainly an indication of how much of their lives can be dedicated to drinking during this period.

So needless to say, I am far from an anti-drinking advocate. I get a little silly all the time. There exists in this House, however, the inability to survive without Alcohol in a few of the Cast Members. Within this mental realm MTV has poured gallons upon gallons of liquor in the interest of creating interesting television in order to achieve high ratings and make lots of money. There's something fundamentally wrong there, and one of the many reasons why this is one of the worst shows ever created by Humans on Planet Earth.

You can watch for yourself in about 35 minutes.

06 September 2011

Summer Jam 2011: THE FINAL CROWN!

I hate to say it folks, but the Long Summer has finally come to an end. With that we need to award a Victory to a certain song, proclaiming that in Forever Time it will be known as the Champion of the Summer of 2011. That one Singular Summer Smash Hit, the huge Jam that got your feet moving, your lips smiling, maybe even that one track that wouldn't stop playing as you drove home from an ex-lover's mansion crying and sobbing knowing that you will never get that Mansion Money. Thus through tragedy, insanity and the General Fun Times, this one song was with you for it all. Let's start tabulating some shit:

I ended up tracking 29 total songs this Summer. I really wish I had anything better to do, but it's all for you people. Let's start with some tracks who came and went on the Winner's List, usually not lasting more than a week and not climbing higher than the 7th or 6th spot at most. Here are the Bonus Winners, alongside the Week they made it on the list:

#29: "Don't Wanna Go Home" by Jason Derulo - 06/13
#28: "Judas" by Lady GaGa - 05/23
#27: "Where Them Girls At" by David Guetta ft. Flo Rida & Nicki Minaj - 07/04
#26: "Best Thing I Never Had" by Beyoncé - 08/01
#25: "Tonight Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae - 07/25
#24: "Cheers (Drink To That)" by Rihanna - 09/05
#23: "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People - 08/29
#22: "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes ft. Adam Levine - 08/15 & 08/29
#21: "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers - 08/08
#20: "S&M" by Rihanna - 05/16
#19: "Written in the Stars" by Tinie Tempah ft. Eric Turner - 05/16 & 05/23
#18: "Yoü and I" by Lady GaGa - 09/05

Alrighty then. After these mild hits there were a bunch of songs that hung around the middle of the pack for a few more weeks longer but they were definitely still not the biggest hits of the Season. They were all decent songs though and we might be remembering and humming them for a while. In addition to the weeks here, we'll list their Peak Position:

#17: "Down on Me" by Jeremih ft. 50 Cent - 05/16 to 05/30
Peak: #5 on 05/23
#16: "On the Floor" by Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull - 05/15 & 05/30
Peak: #3 on 05/30
#15: "I Wanna Go" by Britney Spears - 07/18, 08/15 to 08/29
Peak: #4 on 08/29
#14: "The Show Goes On" by Lupe Fiasco - 05/23 to 06/13, 06/27
Peak: #4 on 05/23 & 06/13
#13: "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera - 08/22 to 09/05
Peak: #2 on 09/05
#12: "How To Love" by Lil Wayne - 07/18 to 08/15
Peak: #4 on 07/18
#11: "Just Can't Get Enough" by The Black Eyed Peas - 05/23 to 06/27
Peak: #3 on 06/13
#10: "Till the World Ends" by Britney Spears - 05/16 to 06/06
Peak: #3 on 05/16 to 05/23, 06/06
#9: "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars - 05/16, 05/30 to  06/27, 07/11, 07/25
Peak: #5 on 05/16

So now here we are: The Official Top 8 Winners for the Summer. Let's go through these one by one:

#8: "Lighters" by Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars

Weeks on Winners List: 5 (08/08 to 09/05)
Peak: #1 on 09/05

After an impressive late-Summer Run "Lighters" cracks the Top 8. It wasn't as big of a hit as either Bruno Mars or Eminem had last year but it's really just getting warmed up. It should have a nice fall and really earned its spot here through the first part of its time on the Pop Charts instead of its whole life like some of the other tracks here.

#7: "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj

Weeks on Winners List: 12 (06/13 to 08/08, 08/22 to 09/05)
Peak: #3 on 07/11, 07/25 to 08/08

Nicki spent forever on the Weekly List but she never exactly dominated it. Around the End of July / Start of August she was doing very well but there was always a Jam that was a little bit more ubiquitous and beat her. Still, this was a great Summer to get this girl's name out there as a legitimate Pop Star and Contender who can trade blows with Britney and Katy. It is actually still doing well but it isn't a dominating smash just yet. Nicki is set up pretty well as a fun Summer Artist that may come back next year.

#6: "E.T." by Katy Perry ft. Kanye West

Weeks on Winners List: 8 (05/16 to 06/20, 07/04 to 07/11)
Peak: #1 on 05/23 to 05/30

This song really was a holdover from the Spring that still was very popular a ways into Summer. If the timing had been a bit better Katy may have had another Summer Crown but instead her singles tended to split the Summer rather than own it like "California Gurls" did last year. Still, this thing didn't die easy. After battling Adele for a while, then falling out of the race it surged back in mid-July for a few weeks. It is still a cool song although it's made my irritatingly overplayed list, which is regretful.

#5: "The Edge of Glory" by Lady GaGa

Weeks on Winners List: 11 (06/06. 06/20 to 08/22)
Peak: #3 on 08/15

This was a lot like "Super Bass," it was never massively popular but certainly one of the most consistent tracks on the countdown whose lifetime was right in the Heart of Summer. A Crown yet eludes GaGa, who has really almost become the Susan Lucci of Summer Jams at this point after both "Disco Stick" and "Alejandro" have come close but unable to seal to the deal in recent years. I think "Yoü and I" is set up to be really big, which "The Edge of Glory" may have helped, but a Summer Title isn't hers right now. That said, its a fun song although in the long run I'm thinking that considering her discography it won't be as remembered as well as either her more controversial tracks or her much more popular tracks will be. When Ancient GaGa plays the Grammys in twenty years she'll be doing "Poker Face" or "Bad Romance," not "The Edge of Glory."

#4: "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" by Katy Perry

Weeks on Winners List: 10 (07/04 to 09/05)
Peak: #1 on 08/01, 08/15 to 08/29

Almost as soon as "E.T." faded Katy clearly tried even harder for another Summer Jam Crown with her Ode to Fridays. After a very inconsistent July though, she dominated August, fighting with "Party Rock Anthem" for the #1 spot all month just as she had done with Adele earlier in the Season. This song was a lot more radio and Pop friendly than "E.T." I've never seen someone trying for more blatant mass appeal. It worked, she spent her time at #1 again, although she seems to be falling very fast now. In fact it's possible that next week she falls out of the Billboard Hot 100 Top 5 for the first time in over a year. It's really just because the song is terrible.

#3: "Give Me Everything" by Pitbull ft. Nayer, AfroJack & Ne-Yo

Weeks on Winners List: 11 (06/20 to 08/22, 09/05)
Peak: #1 on 06/27 to 07/04

Pitbull debuted at #2 and didn't fall worse than that position for its first Six Weeks. It still had a tough time dying, very consistent in Prime Summer Months, including winning the Independence Day Weekend. Still, this track was terrible as well, although it's certainly a good Summer Jam. It's very light, fluffy and danceable, even if it puts a bad taste in your mouth to Jam to someone as douchey as Pitbull. Man he's terrible. As a consistent High Ranking track though, it earns its spot here.

#2: "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele

Weeks on Winners List: 11 (05/16 to 07/18, 08/01)
Peak: #1 on 05/16, 06/06 to 06/20

I'm not sure I will ever be able to listen to this song again, despite how great it is. It was just overplayed far too much this Summer, it was ridiculous. That was after it was overplayed all Spring. Adele has landed though, as a very humble, talented Pop Starlet and her new track may be even better. She has a charm and integrity that is really lacking in just about everyone else here. It's very difficult to hate Adele. Still it nabbed Four Weeks at #1, which was matched only by two other songs all Summer.

#1: "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock

Weeks on Winners List: 14 (06/06 to 09/05)
Peak: #1 on 07/11 to 07/25, 08/08

This track had a nasty Summer. Fourteen Consecutive weeks on the Winners List, half of which were #2 or better. 189 Million Youtube views. And of course, a brand new Kia Soul Commercial. It's also very Summer Jam Worthy, moreso than "Rolling in the Deep" was. In mid-June this was just a very smooth, funky track that may have had a shot to break out. Since then it hasn't looked back and has started to cave only recently although it's never fallen that dramatically. It may have also made that new Shuffle Dance that those Hamsters do for some reason. It's so wholly infused into the Zeitgeist, the bend towards the Techno Rhythm, the growing DJ presence, the Hipster Sensibility, it's truly a Song for the Moment. I personally don't think LMFAO will ever have another hit or be a band worth listening to, but they can enjoy this one. I don't really think that we'll fondly look back on the Anthem to Party Rocking, either. Despite its success it's not actually a very innovative song at all, which has to do with the fact that it's so entrenched in the Pop Culture right now I think it's easy to lose it.

So that's it, people. Go back to your lives, the Kings of Summer, LMFAO have been chosen. For anyone interested in a week-by-week breakdown you need only to click this Link for the Google Document I used all Summer. Looking back on some of my predictions, there was some correctness there, but ultimately LMFAO blindsided all of us. Good for them. So what's in store for us next year? Who knows.

05 September 2011

Summer Jam 2011: September 5 Winners

Unbelievably we have made it already to the final week of Summer. Labour Day is upon us and so it's time to acknowledge the Musical Hits of Sunshine one last time. Tomorrow we'll tally everything up and figure out finally who wins the Crown and gets the honour of being True Summer Royalty - the Absolute Summer Jam. But for now we've got the Top Tracks of this past week right here:

#8: "Give Me Everything" by Pitbull ft. AfroJack, Nayer & Ne-Yo

Apparently this track wasn't quite dead yet. It roars back this week to barely cracking the List but is otherwise certainly in its death throes. I don't think this song has any future at all really, it's so unspectacular in every way.I did get to thinking of Pitbull's voiceover he does at the beginnings of a lot of songs. Can you imagine him saying "yeah right, picture that with a Kodak" in a booth alone in a studio? Wouldn't you just feel like an idiot saying that? I suppose that's why I'm not a millionaire right now.

#7: "Cheers (Drink To That)" by Rihanna

There's a few things I dig about this track. Somehow Rihanna's Ode to Getting Sloppy comes across as much classier than Katy's (to be seen later). She came out with the video this week that plays like a home movie more than anything, which actually makes her pretty likeable and relatable. I also like her slipping into her Barbados accent from time to time here. And of course we've got to mention Avril Lavigne's vital lyrical contribution saying "yeah yeah" ninety times. Nice work, Av. This actually could be a big Youth Drinking hit as school starts back up in the Fall, I don't know where it was all Summer though.

#6: "Yoü and I" by Lady GaGa

Here is another debut this week that will probably make it pretty big but just had poor timing to be considered a Summer Jam. After an incredible (okay, maybe just unconventional) performance at the MTV VMAs last week "Yoü and I" sprang up everywhere. It's part-rock, part-country ballad and part-Pop, all of which means it should have enormous crossover appeal. She also sings the hell out of it, and the rhythm builds and descends with brilliance. GaGa didn't have a whole lot of hits this Summer but she did put out probably two of its best songs with this and "The Edge of Glory."

#5: "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj

Nicki is tougher to kill than a vampire. This was definitely a consistent Jam this Summer and I think the running for a Crown will reflect that, although absolute ubiquity still eluded her. More on that tomorrow though, for now needless to say Nicki offered up another very strong week with a track that is tough to get sick of.

#4: "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" by Katy Perry

Here is that classless party song. A bit of a surprise tumble this week, the second-worst song about Fridays this year lost its grip on the #1 Spot and probably any chance of really being a serious Contender for another Queen of Summer title for Katy. Unlike "Super Bass" I am very sick of this track by now already, it's really a soulless handful of minutes with no artistic merit or integrity of any kind. Self-congratulatory, indulgent and fruitless. I can't believe anyone can talk about Katy Perry, Adele and GaGa as the same caliber of artists. She's bullshit.

#3: "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock

This song clawed back a bit this week thanks in part to some of the most bizarre blatant selling out of the year. Suddenly my TV is full of these Party Rocking Hamsters driving Kia Souls. What the hell? I guess LMFAO is trying to make good on the fact that they will never be as recognized in the National Consciousness like this again, so they're taking the opportunity to do some really painful selling out. What the hell is wrong with these guys? Anyway, they're the Jam to beat for the Summer so you can't hate on them totally. Yes we can.

#2: "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera

What happened to Dirrty Christina? How is a chick who peaked ten years ago still grabbing hits of far lesser quality? Maroon 5 selling out is fun to watch though, I've never really liked that band, although some of Adam's Other Work is enjoyable. This song is awful though, I'm not sure how it got to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week.

#1: "Lighters" by Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars

Unstoppable this week, the Sixth Song to take the #1 Spot is "Lighters." Thankfully I think I've just gotten sick of listening to it fifty times a week. At this point it's not going to be making a huge dent in the Final Tally for Summer Jam Winners but it's got a decent sized mid-level splash.

So that's it for the Season folks, it's been fun. Make sure to click in tomorrow for the Final Crown! Yippee! Some other tracks that were pretty big this week include The Foo Fighters' "Walk," but Britney and Foster the People had a bit of a dip. No coming back now, the votes are in baby. Put some mittens on!

04 September 2011

The Long Halloween Vol. II: Labour Day

Welcome folks to the final edition of The Long Halloween Vol. II. For the past year, starting with Halloween Norwegian Morning Wood has examined a New Holiday every month and talked about the best movies, food and activities to pair with each. Today is Labour Day, a day that kids dread everywhere and parents love. I mean, you finally get that kid who has been stinking up the house all Summer out of there. That's awesome. If you're that stinky kid though, you've got School this week, so enjoy that ya bastard.

This is also NMW's 300th Post! That is far too many, and naturally this should emulate a lot of the quality you're gonna get around here. Let's take a look:

Labourious Movies:

Labour Day is the end of Summer. So on the one hand you can take this day to try to cram in everything you missed all Summer because you were just too drunk or lazy to do it. In that sense, I would direct you here. But today is more than that - it really should be spent relaxing, having some beer and hot dogs and watching whatever marathon is on TV.

But there is actually a Labour Day movie now! A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011), which premieres this weekend is set during a giant Labour Day Orgy Party! Finally, something concrete to do on Labour Day. Orgy. Like, fucking Jaguar Orgies. Sounds like a great idea to me. At least better than scrounging around watching Office or Dirty Jobs Marathons or something.

Actually I have no idea how this movie did this weekend, its advertising really dropped off and it's not on Box Office Mojo's Results at all. Did Jason Sudeikis again fail to open a movie? I've never known an actor so prepped for stardom fail so consistently. Oh well. We can have our own Jaguar Orgies without him I suppose.

Labour Food:

You should eat seven fucking hot dogs. Somehow Hot Dogs are the traditional food for like eight of these Monthly Holidays. It's a good thing then that Hot Dogs taste awesome.
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