Best Songs of 2013

The yearly countdown of the pondering movie, TV and music fan begins. And I want to start with the best music my ears were able to listen to for the past 12 months. I may be biased towards my favorite artists, but the songs listed here are songs that I think were great lyrically and/or musically. If you agree or disagree about what I post here, please write down on the comments section. Thank you and enjoy reading!

BEST SONGS OF 2013

Top 10- BRAVE by Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles- Brave

Rumored to be the song that both musically and lyrically inspired Katy Perry’s Roar, this single off the pop singer’s latest album, Blessed Unrest, is brimming with positivity. Brave puts off a strong message about speaking up and being honest about oneself in mainstream, pop-friendly music

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Top 9- MY SONGS KNOW WHAT YOU DID IN THE DARK (LIGHT ‘EM UP) by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy- My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark

This single that resurrected the pop rock band’s musical career is not only pleasing to the ears, it is also deceivingly hard to sing! The song’s got a lot of aggressive attitude and over-all dark anthem vibe. Without dwelling too much to its meaning, I chose this song as one of the best this year for its eargasmic vibe especially when one is put to the test or just about to punch someone. Haha, kidding.

My songs know what you did in the dark!

So light ‘em up, up, up!

So light ‘em up, up, up!

So light ‘em up, up, up!

 I’m on fire!

Top 8- WRECKING BALL by Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus- Wrecking Ball

She seems like a girl who’s lost the goodness in her cause but let not that personality fool you. She still can make good music. This power ballad showcases the former teen superstar’s vocal chops in the captivating rhythm of the song.

Don’t you ever say I just walked away
I will always want you
I can’t live a lie, running for my life
I will always want you

I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was wreck me
Yeah, you, you wreck me

Top 7- WAKE ME UP by Avicii

Wake Me Up by Avicii

The Swedish DJ who keeps on creating poppy EDM for everyone to hear succeeds with Wake Me Up, a chart-topping single that features Aloe Blacc for vocals and guitar from Incubus’ Mike Eizenger.

Wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is the prize

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost

Top 6- JUST GIVE ME A REASON by Pink feat. Nate Ruess

Pink- Just Give Me A Reason

This power ballad features two of the most distinct and beautiful voices of this generation: Pink and Nate Ruess of the band, fun. Featuring solo parts that both showcase the two singers’ excellent vocals, the song undoubtedly transcends when they sing together. Eargasm results when their voices blend. Moreover, I won’t be surprised if the song wins for Song of the Year in the Grammys. Two lovers yearning to mend their relationship is clearly felt and understood through and through when the song is being played.

Now you’ve been talking in your sleep, oh, oh
Things you never say to me, oh, oh
Tell me that you’ve had enough
Of our love, our love

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

Top 5- MIRRORS by Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake- Mirrors

Easily the best track off Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience album, this emotional ballad keeps it very interesting and pleasing to the ears with a length of 8 minutes and 5 seconds that features a grand production of instrumentation, catchy yet very meaningful lyrics and of course, the artist’s soaring vocals and pleasing falsetto.

‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now
I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now
And I’ll tell you, baby, it was easy
Comin’ back here to you once I figured it out
You were right here all along

It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn’t get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it’s clear as this promise
That we’re making two reflections into one
‘Cause it’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me

Top 4- ROAR by Katy Perry

Katy Perry- Roar

Continuing the feel-good anthem of her songs, Katy Perry does it great with Roar, her first single off her latest album, Prism. Roar soars with Perry’s strong vocals immersed in booming instrumentations of piano and drums.

 You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Top 3- CAN’T HOLD US by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

M and RL- Can't Hold Us

If there’s one song that is the most infectious among all infectious songs this year, this is it. I’ve never liked a hip hop song as much as this before but because of the American hip-hop duo, I’m beginning to like hip hop more. This anthemic song defines the summer of the year by featuring a lashing of raps, a very catchy chorus and over-all a vibrant, upbeat and uplifting music.

Can we go back?

This is the moment

Tonight is the night

We’ll fight ‘til it’s over

So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us

Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Top 2- IKOT-IKOT by Sarah Geronimo

Sarah Geronimo- Expressions

The Philippine music for the year 2013 thrived with pop singers- old (resilient ones) and new (via reality shows), alternative rock bands and a number of indie artists. But the one who stood out the most is none other than Sarah Geronimo, claimed to be the country’s pop princess. The lead single off her latest album, Ikot-ikot represents the more mature Sarah as she croons about a tiring affair with a lover, perfected with its incredibly very catchy hook plunged in an upbeat yet dramatic music production. But, as a good friend mentioned in his blog, it is Sarah who made the song really her own. And I quote what my friend said: “Sarah Geronimo gives the lyrics a brooding, adult contemporary spin: heavy on grit and rage. [Her] delivery is all it takes to tell the story, rough and manic.”

Heto na naman tayo
Parang kelan lang ang huli
Gaano man kalayo
Tayo’y pinagtatagpong muli
Ilang ulit nagkasakitan
Ngunit paulit na gumagaling
Ilang ulit balak na iwan
Ngunit patuloy na bumabalik

Kay rami nang sakit
Na nilimot napabayaan
‘Di maiwasang isipin
Na tayo’y para bang tumatakbo

Sa walang hanggan na kalye, tumatakbo
Ang pag-ibig na tila ba ‘sang biyaheng
Ikot-ikot lang, ikot-ikot-ikot lang
Ikot-ikot lang, ikot-ikot-ikot
Ikot-ikot lang, ikot-ikot-ikot lang
Ikot-ikot lang, ikot-ikot-ikot

Top 1- COUNTING STARS by OneRepublic

One Republic- Counting Stars

The band’s latest single, Counting Stars, is also the most commercially successful off their third album, Native. Featuring poetic and reflective yet puzzling and ambiguous lyrics entrenched in pop rock with hints of indie and folk music, this song bursts with constant tempo changes, head-banging rhythms and Ryan Tedder’s excellent vocals. In the surface, the song teaches us to dream big, pray hard and do what we can to reach those stars. Deeply, though, this may mean another thing.

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

I see this life
Like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
In my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye shall find

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

I feel something so right
By doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Runners-up:

PLAY HARD by David Guetta feat. Ne-Yo & Akon

THRIFT SHOP and SAME LOVE by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

SAY SOMETHING by A Great Big World feat. Christina Aguilera

CLARITY by Zedd

AFTER ALL THIS TIME by Itchyworms

I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE by Taylor Swift

FEEL AGAIN and IF I LOSE MYSELF by OneRepublic

IN A WORLD LIKE THIS by Backstreet Boys

ATLAS by Coldplay

HONEYMOON AVENUE by Ariana Grande

WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN by Bruno Mars

INCREDIBLE by Celine Dion and Ne-Yo

SCARED TO DEATH by KZ Tandingan

NOT A BAD THING by Justin Timberlake

RADIOACTIVE by Imagine Dragons

THE ONLY ONE by James Blunt

LET ME GO by Avril Lavigne

SAFE AND SOUND by Capital Cities

Boy Golden

Boy GoldenJust when I thought no good film would come out this year in the Metro Manila Film Festival comes the little promoted Chito Rono film called Boy Golden. The title must have a premonitory effect as this is gold compared to the other MMFF entries.

Boy Golden (Jeorge E.R. Estregan) is based on the life of Arturo “Boy Ginto” Porcuna, a notorious gangster in Manila during the 1960s. His quest to avenge his sister who was killed because of a shootout led him to hunt down the mastermind of the killing: Razon (John Estrada), another notorious gangster. With the help of a lawyer (Eddie Garcia) and a love interest (KC Concepcion), he is set to face him and his gang members (Baron Geisler, Gloria Sevilla, Leo Martinez, Joem Bascon, among others). Will he be successful or will the police force led by a colonel (Tonton Gutierrez) bring them down?

The film started with that Western film feel to it. Right from the first scene, the angst of the antagonists, the great vibe of the setting, the power the protagonist of a Western film (usually a gunslinger or an outlaw) exudes are immediately felt. After that first sequence, the director made the audience know that they’re in for a great ride. That scene on the street when Boy Golden went out of the bar via a classic car presented a throwback in time: the 1960s. The world transformed into that decade when gangsters rule Manila, a haven for patrons of alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex. The film’s cinematographer and production designers made sure that decade is really represented not just with the houses or the establishments but also that feel of going back in time. I am sure the audience surely saw that all throughout.

Scene after scene after scene, the audience is treated with polished and interesting scenes. Some funny, a dash of drama and lots of action scenes define how fascinating this movie is. The fast pacing is just right to keep the audience entertained all throughout its 130 minutes of showing. The story is cohesive and the dialogues not too plain and simple yet not too complex for the ordinary moviegoer to understand.

I love how Chito Rono took care of the movie. He tied up all the scenes without lose threads. He did not allow mediocrity sip into his actors’ performances. And I just really like how he works with colors in the film’s scenes. He finds beauty in each scene no matter how unlikely it is and this gives a much profound effect to what he wanted to convey about his characters or what’s happening in the story.

Jeorge E.R. Estragan did better in this movie than his last two MMFF films. He is more relaxed now without being too reserved while doing his scenes. He did not appear trying too hard to please whoever is watching. And the great supporting cast may have helped him to do his job well. KC Concepcion is a revelation in the movie. She is great on her role as a dancer who turned into a life of a gangster to avenge the atrocity done to her. Meanwhile, this movie is another testament that Eddie Garcia and Baron Geisler are on a league of their own. They own every scene they are in. And when these two fine actors share the screen, so much vivacity is felt. Tonton Gutierrez and Gloria Sevilla played important roles and they played them out really, really well. John Estrada started out with weak acting, almost mumbling his lines and seeming to be intimidated by the other supporting actors. But he did fine after some time as the main villain.

It comes as a big surprise to know that this film is not included in the original lineup of the MMFF entries. If other movies did not back out, the audience might have been deprived of a good film during this season when moviegoers of all ages really rush to go into the movie theaters and watch Filipino films. If it ever happened that serious films are excluded just because of the mature content they contain, then shame to the people who are responsible for it. What they should they be looking at is the continuous outpouring of senseless entertaining movies being shown in the said film fest.

If only producers would go out of their way and find notable stories from the vast pool of talented Filipino writers while leaving behind their quest of earning too much money, then the country will be given good, good commercial movies. Thanks to Jeorge Estregan and the rest of his crew because they made this wish still possible to come true via Boy Golden.

Boy Golden‘s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel

Kimmy_Dora_Ang_Kiyemeng_PrequelAfter watching Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel, the third Kimmy Dora film, I said to myself that I have chosen wrongly on which MMFF entry to watch first this year.  The film seemed to be okay based on the reports from the media. I’ve read that the film’s producers and stars have been saying that this film is not only good but also is the best among the three Kimmy Dora films, which, as you already know by now, is not true. For me, it just might be the worst.

Filled with humorless dialogues and uninspired delivery of these unfunny lines, Kimmy Dora 3 fails to make the audience laugh or even smile for a very long time. I caught myself trying to force a laugh after a good joke gone wrong in the delivery or a poorly written dialogue caught up in a mediocre act by the actors. It ultimately fails to recapture the charm of the original film or even the surprising quips found on the second. Eugene Domingo may have tried her best to save the film from its senseless scenes but her antics as both the utterly smart yet mean Kimmy and the somewhat slow yet kind Dora did not give any anticipatory sense to the audience. Even the good support made by Ariel Ureta (as Kimmy and Dora’s father), Angel Aquino and Joel Torre (as board members in their father’s company) did not help save the film.

What could have led the film into its own destruction? The answer: its very thin storyline. The original film, Kimmy Dora: Ang Kambal na Kiyeme, is wonderful because it introduced us to the two fascinating characters who happened to be twins in the form of Kimmy and Dora. The actors involved then were really good and the screenplay was filled with funny wisecracks and clever dialogues. The sequel, Kimmy Dora 2: The Temple of Kiyeme was a misstep because it did not make anything in the story of the twins better. It was just all flash with its heftier production values but with only just a little substance in the story department. This prequel, on the other hand, was a major mistake because it did not correct what the second film failed to do. Instead of making it big in production values while enriching the story of the twins, it made the mistake of thinning the story some more while showing its big budget with only flash once again. And what’s with the action scenes? Not that they only failed to convince the audience who was expecting to laugh because of the jokes. It made matters worse because it made the audience laugh because of the comedy behind the film trying to be an action film and ultimately failing.

May this film be a lesson to every producer out there who has made a good comedy film. Don’t make a sequel or a prequel if utterly unnecessary. Don’t make films just for the money. Make them worthwhile for the audience to see.

Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 1 out of 5

Catching Fire

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Catching Fire is one of those rare occurrences  that a sequel of a movie is much, much better than its predecessor. Whether it’s because of the bigger budget or a better director, the movie is certain to give the moviegoer a great film experience upon watching.

Faithful adaptation. I have read the book where the movie is based and I can say that this movie version is much more faithful than The Hunger Games. It’s been roughly two years since I’ve read it but after watching one scene after another, glimpses of what I have read suddenly came back. It seemed like it was only recently when I have read the Suzanne Collins book. Bulk of what really happened in the book came alive on the big screen. Thanks to the movie’s screenwriters, Michael deBruyn and Simon Beaufoy, the story in the movie is as faithful as the one in the book.

Great acting. Ten minutes into the film, I was already feeling the drama and the heaviness of its themes. Jennifer Lawrence (as Katniss) and Josh Hutcherson (as Peeta) are, without a doubt, two of the best actors in this generation. They make small scenes seem big and important with the way they act: their nuances, their delivery of lines, their movements. They made me believe once again in their characters. Meanwhile, I like the supporting cast much more in this movie than the last one. They were more into their elements. Just look out for Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch and Doland Sutherland as President Snow who were among the stand-outs. The main villain (Sutherland) was more menacing in this movie. Few of his dialogues might just give you the creeps.

Amazing visuals. The visual effects are made so well they effectively blended on their scenes. It’s certain they will still catch your attention when they do appear. I am especially impressed during the Quarter Quell wherein the effects used are much, much more believable than the ones used during the first movie.

Good musical score. The sounds used for the entire movie are not just appropriate to the scenes: they served to amplify the movie’s take on fear, dwelling on hope and touch on bravery.

It will keep you glued. For me to stay focused on the movie for more than two hours is a great feat. It has caught my attention early on and stayed that way all throughout. Such great directing by Francis Lawrence made me so curious scene after scene about how the movie’s going to play out. And I am impressed by how the movie turned out.

Hope conquers fear. Hoping amidst fear is immensely presented in this movie. Katniss, being the new beacon of hope for the people, is initially afraid to bear the torch of rebellion. But with the help of her friends and allies, she’s able to carry on and continue the fire that aims to overturn the wretched form of government that they have.

 

Catching Fire’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out  of 5