Best Songs of 2014

Many great pop songs were released this year and I could not just pick the best 10 of them. Here are my Top 25 (or more?) songs for the year that is about to end. Did your favorite make the list? (Updated: January 9, 2015)

30

Latch

LATCH by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith

2014 is Sam Smith’s year and he made great impressions with the songs that he released via In The Lonely Hour. This spot should have been for Stay With Me, but I thought it would be good to put Latch instead. He first proved to be a force to reckon with when he was featured in this Disclosure club hit. Combining stalker-ish lyrics with head pumping house music, Latch is a great record that hit the top during the year.

“Now I got you in my space, I won’t let go of you

Got you shackled in my embrace, I’m latching onto you.”

 29

Bang Bang

BANG BANG by Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj

A silly shift in its purported good meaning cannot prevent this anthemic song by three great singers, Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, to slip into the list. Hustling all throughout the song with their snappy lines using their big pipes, the three incredibly delivered this decade’s Lady Marmalade.

“See anybody could be bad to you, you need a good girl to blow your mind”

28

BAILANDO by Enrique Iglesias feat. Sean Paul, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno

Enriquebailandocover

This Spanish-tinged dance song (Bailando means dancing) by popular Latino singer, Enrique Iglesias, reminds me of his early hit, Bailamos, that made him very popular. Combining dance beats and sugary lyrics, this song has charmed a lot of music-hungry ears for the past year.

“Girl, I like the way you move

Come and show me what to do”

27

Sarah G

KILOMETRO by Sarah Geronimo

The first single from the pop star princess’ latest album called Perfectly Imperfect, Kilometro is a great pop record with hints of EDM and R&B that is currently rocking the airwaves.

“Gagawin ko ang lahat upang sa huli, sa huli, sa huli ay tayo

Kung kailangan kong hatakin ang kilome-kilome-kilometrong layo”

26

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TRY by Colbie Caillat

Delivering a powerful message about acceptance to oneself and not just try to fit in, Try is only one of the many inspirational songs that were released in 2014. Its edge relies on its simplicity, putting the strength of the empowering ballad’s lyrics into the highlight.

“Wait a second, why should you care what they think of you?

When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you, do you like you?”

25

Rather_Be_single_cover

RATHER BE by Clean Bandit (feat. Jess Glynne)

When I first heard the song being covered in the latest season of The Voice (U.S.), I found it cool to the ears but not ultimately likeable. I was wrong because there is no problem with the song but probably with how the contestant sang it. Thank goodness I searched for the original version because it was very far from what I was expecting: a pop gem that’s so pleasing to the ears. Those beautiful sounds created by violin, bass, keyboard and synths combined perfectly well with Glynne’s crystalline voice. It’s a love song hidden in a dance track.

“When I am with you, there’s no place I’d rather be.”

24

Adam-Levine-Lost-Stars-iTunes

LOST STARS by Adam Levine

Maroon 5 has had strings of mediocre pop hits with Maps and Animals this year. However, their vocalist, Adam Levine, released Lost Stars (via Begin Again soundtrack), a power pop ballad that talks about a forlorn love affair. Strumming guitars and beating percussion and drums blend perfectly with Levine’s high-pitched voice.

“But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?”

23

Taylor_Swift_-_Shake_It_Off

SHAKE IT OFF by Taylor Swift

The song that declares Taylor Swift as the new pop royalty is the first single from her record-smashing album, 1989. This great pop record shuns off all her detractors, some of which said before that she’s a pop star pretending to be a country singer. Now, they did get what they want (and probably, deserve) because Tay’s gone pop all the way!

“Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

22

Thinking_Out_Loud_cover

THINKING OUT LOUD feat. Ed Sheeran

Probably the most mainstream of his songs, Thinking Out Loud is also the best song that British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has released. This made me not just like his music, it also me love it.

“Place your head on my beating heart

I’m thinking out loud, maybe we found love right where we are” 

21

Silent_sanctuary

SA’YO by Silent Sanctuary

The Filipino pop rock band is back on their great form with this charming and beautiful ballad about blossoming love. It’s so great to the ears I can listen to it in a loop for a long time.

“Tumingin sa aking mata, magtapat ng nadarama

Di gustong ika’y mawala dahil handa akong ibigin ka

Kung maging tayo, sa’yo lang ang puso ko”

20

Frozen_2013_soundtrack

LET IT GO by Idina Menzel

I am guessing you are tired of hearing this song all year long but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best songs that popped in 2014.Nobody can deny its greatness; even the kids sing it with their hearts out. Let It Go‘s strong and powerful songwriting about letting go of things that have been holding you back for so long is backed up by great instrumentation. Many people prefer Idina Menzel’s version over Demi Lovato’s because of a good reason: it’s definitely better.

 “It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!” 

19

Katy_Perry_-_Birthday_Single_Cover

BIRTHDAY by Katy Perry

This Katy Perry song would make you want to eat her birthday cake and pop her party balloons! Kidding aside, that’s how party-sounding this song is. Saccharine-filled and induced with silly but fun lyrics, Birthday is a great pop record.

 “But when you are with me, I’ll give you a taste

Make it like your birthday everyday”

18

The_Script_-_Superheroes

SUPERHEROES by The Script

The Script delivers their most inspiring music to date via Superheroes, the first track off their latest album, No Sound Without Silence. The song is about all the unsung heroes of the world and the band has successfully incorporated heart and music with this song.

17

Love_Runs_Out

LOVE RUNS OUT by OneRepublic

Fresh from the success of their chart-topping single, Counting Stars, OneRepublic made waves this year by releasing Love Runs Out, a stomping and head-beating pop rock song about to what extent can one love someone. Their other song called I Lived is making waves as of the moment and let’s see if it’ll pick up and end up on the top list next year.

 “And we’ll start a fire, and we’ll shut it down

Til the love runs out, til the love runs out”

16

Pompeii

POMPEII by Bastille

Just by hearing a lot of eh-oh’s in the intro, you’d know you’re into something interesting. Pompeii is about the Roman town of the same name that met its dreadful fate with the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius hundreds of centuries ago. The song rules with its commanding vocals, plus its piano track is mesmerizing while its beating drums would make you head-banging (See what I did there? Hehe.) The British rock group made a great impression worldwide with this rocking song.

“But if you close your eyes, does it feel like nothing changed at all?” 

15

KrisAllenHorizons

BEAUTIFUL AND WILD by Kris Allen

Kris Allen released his latest album called Horizons this year and chose Prove It to You (feat. Lenachka) as his first single. However, it’s another track from the album called Beautiful and Wild that really showcases Allen’s great skills in songwriting skills and making music. Brimming with uplifting vibe and positive energy, this song is a great addition to musical playlists.

If only we could see the world through the new eyes of a child

If only every boy and girl will just stay beautiful and wild”

14

FallOutBoy-Centuries

CENTURIES by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy’s first single off their upcoming album, American Beauty/American Psycho, Centuries is proving to be better than their second single called Immortals. With lyrics commanding you to remember it, the song reverberates with Patrick Stump’s soaring vocals amidst the profoundly strong punk rock sound. The lyrics of the song are somewhat provocative, and this is another testament that Fall Out Boy has this uncanny ability to write a dark song and make you like it.

“Some legends are told; some turn to dust or to gold,

But you will remember me, remember me for centuries”

13

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TEAM by Lorde

The second single off Pure Heroine, Team edges Royals with its beautiful lyrical content while still maintaining Lorde’s eccentric musical style and oddly charming vocal delivery.

“Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams,

And you know, we’re on each other’s team”

12

Himig Handog

MAHAL KO O MAHAL AKO by KZ Tandingan

Winner of this year’s Himig Handog’s P-Pop Love Songs competition, Mahal Ko O Mahal Ako showcases KZ Tandingan’s incredible vocals into a ruminating ballad about love. Will you choose the person who loves you (but you don’t love) or the one whom you love (but doesn’t love you back)? Such great dilemma is aptly presented in the power ballad.

“Sino ang iibigin ko? Ikaw ba na pangarap ko o siya bang kumakatok sa puso ko?

Anong paiirallin ko, isip ba o ang puso ko? Nalilito, litung-litong-lito.

Sinong pipiliin ko, mahal ko o mahal ako?

11

Weird_al_yankovic_word_crimes_titlecard

WORD CRIMES by “Weird Al” Yankovic

It is ironic that this parody is infinitely better than Robin Thicke’s 2013 single, Blurred Lines. Changing up the humiliatingly sub-par lyrics from the original to a master class of grammar, Word Crimes succeeds in helping Yankovic’s album, Mandatory Fun, to the top of the charts.

“I hate these word crimes, like I could care less

That means you do care, at least a little”

10

Love_me_harder_EP_by_ariana

LOVE ME HARDER by Ariana Grande (feat. The Weeknd)

Probably the best song off Ariana Grande’s second album, My Everything, Love Me Harder is a great collaboration between pop’s current pop princess with PBR&B’s (alternative R&B) The Weeknd. Venturing into something she’s never really delved into before, Grande showcased maturity with use of her sultry vocals, which matches The Weeknd’s sexy masculine voice. With a straightforward message addressed to a lover on how she should be loved, Love Me Harder displays a frisky yet loveable dance music.

“What do I do if I can’t figure it out? You got to try, try and try again.

What do I do if I can’t figure it out? Then I have to leave, leave, leave.”

 9

Love_Never_Felt_So_Good_cover

LOVE NEVER FELT SO GOOD by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson may be dead but his music lives on. If his first posthumous album did not generate a real hit, this one corrected that flaw. Off his second posthumous album called Escape, Love Never Felt So Good shines with lovely beautiful lyrics with a sweet and danceable melody. I prefer MJ’s solo version of the song more than the version with Justin Timberlake.

8

Katy Perry Unconditionally

UNCONDITIONALLY by Katy Perry

A lot of people do not like this song but thankfully, I am not most people. Unconditionally transcends both lyrically and musically because not only does it write about unconditional love in a beautiful form, but Katy Perry also sings it in a way like she’s a force of nature, sweeping off everything that goes in its path. It is unsurprising that I always remember God’s love for us, mankind, whenever I hear this song.

“There is no fear now, let go and just be free

I will love you unconditionally”

7

let her go

LET HER GO by Passenger

A song that can surely turn you up into a dramatic mood is this Passenger (real name: Michael David Rosenburg) track off his third album, All The Little Lights. The wistful lyrics are backed up by a good combination of guitar, violin and drums, turning it up into folk rock/ indie pop genre. The chorus is repeated 5 times in the song and this highlights Passenger’s cold yet searing voice while singing about love lost and gone.

“You only know you love her when you let her go… And you let her go.”

6

Chandelier_by_Sia_coverwork

CHANDELIER by Sia

Dubbed as the YOLO song of the year by some critics, Chandelier rightfully owns a place on the best song list of 2014. Sia’s soaring voice alone already made the song a force to reckon with, but the song’s powerful lyrics that deal with a party girl’s alluring yet self-destructing life in a juxtaposition of electronic, pop and reggae sounds sealed the deal. Seriously, the song’s beats and churns that cover Sia’s unfaltering vocals would make you want to play it more and more.

 “But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes

Keep my glass full until morning light, ‘cos I’m just holding on for tonight”

5

Coldplay_-_A_Sky_Full_of_Stars_(Single)

A SKY FULL OF STARS by Coldplay

A Sky Full Of Stars is like a silver lining in a cloudy sky as it brings a positive sound to a relentlessly dark and melancholic atmosphere brought about by Coldplay’s latest album, Ghost Stories. Exploring new music territories with their latest album, Coldplay teamed up with DJ Avicii to tune a song about great love into EDM, making it so beguilingly catchy and danceable. Coldplay’s first foray into the upbeat electro-pop sound is well worth it.

“You’re such a heavenly view”

4

Carrie_Underwood_-_Something_in_the_Water_(Official_Single_Cover)

SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Carrie Underwood

This back-to-roots song of American country singer, Carrie Underwood, definitely puts her back on the map of a few legitimate artists who give inspiration not just only by their work but also for who they are. A crossover success in country, pop and Christian charts, Something In The Water showcases Underwood’s soaring and stunning vocals that matches the song’s very powerful message.

“And now I’m singing along to Amazing Grace
Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God Almighty, I saw the light”

3

Taylor_Swift_-_Blank_Space_(Official_Single_Cover)

BLANK SPACE by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s biggest single to date, Blank Space boasts great production values with its electronic pop sound. In this song, Tay’s great songwriting skills were put in the fore amidst the fuzzy yet delicious synth sounds. An ear candy to many including me because of it very catchy hooks and poppy beats, the song seems like a satire as to how Swift is presented in the media. Just in the media? Perhaps.

 “It’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames”

2

Ariana_Grande_-_Problem_(Official_single_cover)

PROBLEM by Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea)

One of the biggest summer songs is this bombastic song from singer Ariana Grande and Australian rapper Iggy Azalea. The uptempo song oozes with sexy saxophone sounds, drum conundrum, fascinating vocals by Grande and riveting rap chops by Azalea. The buildup of the song bursts into an anticlimactic whisper (by rapper Big Sean) accompanied by an amazingly catchy saxophone loop. It’s a shame Grammy didn’t recognize this great dance-pop, R & B song!

“I got one less problem without you”

1

I can’t make up my mind about which of these two songs really triumphed the spirit of year 2014.

Might as well list them both down as Number 1!

 John_Legend_by_Sachyn_Mital

ALL OF ME by John Legend

Even before hitting it big, I have predicted early on that this song is going to be phenomenal. Spending 3 weeks at #1 in the US Billboard Hot 100, All Of Me is a great power ballad from American singer-songwriter John Legend. Hitting straight into the heart with its very emotional lyrics backed by a beautiful piano music, All of Me is one of the most romantic love songs that the world has ever heard. Another great song that gives me eargasm, this is rightfully tied with Happy at the #1 spot of the best songs of the year.

“All of me (loves) all of you

(I) love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections”

 

AND

 Pharrell_Williams_-_Happy

HAPPY by Pharrell Williams

Starting up with an energetic beating and soaring high with its great anthemic chorus, Happy deserves to be called the best song of the year 2014. Brimming with positivity, this song will almost always heighten your mood. Lyrically vibrant and deliciously catchy, this song is one great song that gives me what I want to call eargasm (you’re familiar to it by now if you have been reading my best song list for the past few years, hehe). The midtempo soul song gives a funky atmosphere that would likely make you dance happily, and those handclaps, voice blends and Pharrell Williams’ dry but charming falsetto in the chorus are sure to make you like the song more. 

“Clap along if you know what happiness is to you”

Best Movies of 2013

Let’s take a look at the best movies the year 2013 has to offer days before the most prestigious award-giving body for movies airs on the United States. These are my top choices for time-worthy and money-worthy cinema:

TOP 14- BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Before_Midnight_poster

I want to start this yearly countdown with the third installment of the romantic Before trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Thanks to the good word of mouth from people who have watched this movie in theaters I got interested in watching the first two Before movies. And I was flabbergasted by how good they were. The directing was brilliant and the acting done by Hawke and Delpy never seemed be acting at all. And the writing, hmmm, the writing! It was nothing short of great! The last installment, Before Midnight, thankfully did not disappoint either. I was happy and fulfilled about how the characters came to be.

TOP 13- PRISONERS

Prisoners2013Poster

Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in the most thrilling and one of the darkest movies of the past year. The story of child abduction is never light and it wasn’t treated lightly in Prisoners. Apart from the believable acting done by the cast, this movie showed great editing, suspenseful directing and smart writing. Too bad it was one of the most underrated movies of the past year which is why only a small number of people were able to watch it.

TOP 12- FROZEN

Frozen_(2013_film)_poster

Frozen is the best film Disney has produced for a long time. Using their magic formula of putting a princess as a lead character, they made a great change this time in terms of resolving the always predictable conflict. Not to spoil anything but this great change made Frozen one-of-a-kind.

TOP 11- CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Captain_Phillips_Poster

Paul Greengrass is a master of action. I wasn’t convinced at first that a ship and its captain that are being taken over by pirates could make such a very suspenseful narrative. But it could. In more than two hours of scenes involving the captain and his crew protecting the ship, falling for the mean pirates, negotiating with them and finally resolving the conflict, the movie depicted the most astounding hostage-taking drama film. Greengrass, along with his brilliant lead actor, Tom Hanks, presented a very interesting tale about how it is to be taken at sea.

TOP 10- BOY GOLDEN

Boy Golden

Just when I thought no good film would come out last year in the Metro Manila Film Festival come 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.

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 found beauty in each scene no matter how unlikely it was and this gave a much profound effect to what he wanted to convey about his characters or what’s happening in the story.

TOP 9- HER

Her2013Poster

Want to watch a film that will really make you think about human relationships? Watch Her, the latest film from acclaimed director, Spike Jonze, and brilliant actor, Joaquin Phoenix, as they tackle how humans express love with each other now and how it might be in the near future.

Joaquin Phoenix displays his brilliance once again as the lonesome lead character in the movie named Theodore. Every quip, every act he made seemed so natural. But he wouldn’t do it that well without Samantha, which is voiced by Scarlett Johannson. “Her” quirkiness and poignancy as the super smart computer made it believable that a human could really fall in love with a machine.

TOP 8- AMERICAN HUSTLE

American_Hustle_2013_poster

David O. Russell did it again with American Hustle. In comparison to his previous great efforts, this movie is like an organized chaos of ideas. A great chaos, that is. And much like how Russell directs his films, this one seemed blurry at first until one gets over the blurriness and seemingly understands what the whole films is all about. That’s how Russell shows his brilliance. He’ll let you in little by little until you find yourself wanting more. But his directing would be futile if not backed up by a brilliant cast led by Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. None of these actors were seen as themselves in the film. Why? They were not seen because they became their characters. And you just got to be awed by how amazing these talented individuals were when given a smart script that they could toy with. American Hustle is definitely one of the greatest movies of 2013.

TOP 7- THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

TWOWS poster

Martin Scorcese’s latest offering, The Wolf of Wall Street, trumps many a great movie about money-making schemes. Watching it is a blast from start to finish! It’s got that great vibe of helping you understand how people in the stock market do what they do good. I kind of expected Leonardo diCaprio to be great, but I was nicely surprised to see him a lot better than what I was expecting him to be! He would surely given Chiwetel Ejiofor of the brilliant 12 Years a Slave a run for his money in the Oscar race for Best Actor. I actually thought he’s given the best performance of his life in this movie, being really the wolf in the Wall Street.

The movie seems to be an amalgam of deadly sins: greed, gluttony, power andlust. Leonardo diCaprio characterized all of these in his characterization of Jordan Belfort, the notorious stockbroker who owned Stratton Oakmont and made lots of millions swindling investors in the stock market. The way he spoke would seem to persuade even the most skeptical person to invest in his company. He didn’t really care about the investors; he cared about making loads of money. He, together with his friends and employees, drank and partied hard, took drugs as if they’re meals, fornicate anyone even those he is not fond of. He was addicted to power by not just trying to maintain being rich, but doing all he can to become richer and richer. All of these drowned him into the well of immorality, a world where everything seemed to be fun even though they’re not.

Scorcese still has his magic. In three hours, Scorcese showed how such a character like Belfort could have done such outrageous things. It is a testament that he really excels in doing movie that shows a study of character. He effectively showed how a small-time dreamer turned into a great but wild realist in the Wall Street. Belfort had a vision of what he wanted to be, and Scorcese made that evident in his frequent collaborator, Leonardo diCaprio, who’s insanely good in this movie.

TOP 6- THE WAY, WAY BACK

The_Way,_Way_Back_Poster

Probably the most underrated movie in this list, The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age movie that touches the heart, reels up the mind and brings out the good in every viewer’s soul. Yeah, that’s how deep the movie is even though it appears as just one of those teenage movies, which it definitely is not. It is the total opposite of the senselessly “fun” teenage movies as it deeply explores relationships of a child to his family, his friends and his crush. Putting in great performances are Lian James as Duncan, the 14-year-old central character of the film, and Sam Rockwell as Owen, the newly-found childish yet wise friend of Duncan when their family went to a beach house for a vacation. They, along with the rest of the cast, made the brilliant script come really alive. Thanks to its directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for bringing this movie into fruition. Would you believe the movie is their directorial debut? What a great start!

TOP 5- NEBRASKA

Nebraska_Poster

“It’s a long time ago. Why are you bringing that up for?”

This movie is a funny, straight up story about a senior man and his family who went back to their roots in Nebraska. I had reservations before watching this film but after watching, I realized I should have not. I liked it actually. A lot.

I was wondering why the director chose the movie to be filmed in black and white. But while watching, I thought it must have been for a good reason. Reminiscing the old times? Looking for what’s good and what’s bad? We may never know. But what I know is that it was beautiful even only with its black and gray hues. In addition, there were a lot of shots that show a lot of very picturesque sceneries and scenic moments.

It never hurts to watch a good movie. Nebraska is one of those movies that you would really appreciate watching. You won’t only enjoy, you won’t just be entertained. You’d certainly feel good. But not just that, you’d pick up a lesson or two.

I like the movie’s quiet. I like its easygoing feel. I like its soothing music. I like the belongingness and the cheers. I like the confrontations and the bickering. I like its bright and dark contrasts. I like everything about it. In one way or another, every person is going through one of the roads any of the character is experiencing in the movie. Some will rise above the others, some will do just fine. Some will die early, others may grow old yet the may grow old in misery. It’s nice to know, though, that everything seems to be just fine. Believe in something… because it never hurts to believe.

TOP 4- 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.

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.

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.

Amazing visuals. Good musical score. Great directing. This movie seems to have it all!

TOP 3- ON THE JOB

otj-movie-poster

Top-notch directing and editing, very credible acting, excellent production design, great musical score, this movie has it all. To tell you the truth, I already had high expectations before watching because of good word-of-mouth feedback from people and raving reviews from critics. It was that high that I prepared myself to be disappointed. But, no. The movie was worth the hype. On the Job delivered greatly that acclaimed movies of many years past were not able to achieve.

TOP 2- 12 YEARS A SLAVE

12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave is one of the most buzzed films of 2013 and it is deserving to be so for one very good reason: it is a great movie. The way director Steve McQueen touched the topic of racism would truly affect you, inspire you (to do what’s good) and discourage you (from doing what’s bad). It didn’t come off as preachy, but it set the drama for every eye to see what was happening in America almost 200 years ago.

Come to think of it, the movie served as a reminder, too, that it’s much the same today, albeit a different kind of use and abuse are being done to other people. Despite the preaching of good people, awareness and knowledge about what’s right or wrong, some people still enslave other people in more ways than one.

With great directing/ editing, credible acting, impressive writing and brilliant production values, this movie is a great contender for Oscar’s Best Picture. I wouldn’t be surprised if it upsets my 2013 favorite Gravity.

Read the rest of my review here.

TOP 1- GRAVITY

Gravity

A visual spectacle and an emotional masterpiece, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity takes off as one great 3D movie a film enthusiast will definitely love.

It’s an understatement when I say that watching this movie is a great 3D experience. It’s a joy to float with the characters in space and their space shuttles and yet it’s a tragedy to tumble with them unto the unknown. You would be able to grasp that idea of emotion they must be reeling to feel while enduring the idea of being really there in the outer space. Every single move they do with their body, every single twitch of their eye, every word their mouths articulate, you will feel. All of these things are present in the film without lacking in visual aesthetics. The space setting was so real you’ll feel you’re there all those times. The space shuttles, the debris, the stars and the Earth all felt real. Add to that the sometimes subtle, sometimes roaring musical score and you’ll definitely know you’re in a great ride. Because of these and more, the film went beyond spectacular. Gravity seemed like a character study in a display of technically perfect showing. Kudos to all the visual effects people, the sound masters and the meticulously great director of the film, Alfonso Cuaron.

The story might be very simple but it’s got great lessons for everyone. We all go through changes. We all go through sorrows. We all experience alarms and unpleasant surprises. We all sometimes just want to tune out everyone and just be with ourselves and ourselves alone. In the end, you will know that you’re still there with yourself, all changes or not. In the end, you will know that you can’t forever wallow in sorrow. In the end, you will learn to survive any astonishing thing that comes your way. Because in the end, if you have the will to live, you will always make it through.

RUNNERS-UP:

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY

SAVING MR. BANKS

LE PASSE

METRO MANILA

WORLD WAR Z

IRON MAN 3

12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave“Your story is amazing and in no good way.” –Mr. Bass to Solomon Northup

12 Years A Slave is one of the most buzzed films of 2013 and it is deserving to be so for one very good reason: it was a great movie. The way director Steve McQueen touched the topic of racism would truly affect you, inspire you (to do what’s good) and discourage you (from doing what’s bad). It didn’t come off as preachy, but it set the drama for every eye to see what was happening in America almost 200 years ago. Having a black president in the white house would be an impossible dream to the Black Americans then. Why would they ever think of that? Many of them might be free (as in they did what they wanted to do), but more of them were kidnapped or traded off as slaves. The movie served as a reminder of how other people then were used and abused by other people, even though they knew from the heart that what they’re doing was wrong. Come to think of it, the movie served as a reminder, too, that it’s much the same today, albeit a different kind of use and abuse are being done to other people. Despite the preaching of good people, awareness and knowledge about what’s right or wrong, some people still enslave other people in more ways than one.

“If I can’t buy mercy from you, I beg it.” –Patsey

The story about Solomon Northup, a free man who was abducted and sold up as a slave, is superbly told in the movie. My eyes just couldn’t escape the screen while watching. The scenes were amazingly edited to the point that I didn’t anticipate the next scene much more than I want to linger on what I was seeing onscreen. Steve McQueen’s mark as a director could be seen on scenes where the camera stays for a long time on an actor, capturing his emotions and reactions to the situation he is in.

“It would be unspeakable happiness to see my wife and my family again.” – Solomon Northup

Speaking of actors, I didn’t know who the lead actor or even the supporting cast is before watching the movie. I was kind of surprised when I see familiar faces pop up on screen and that’s good, of course. The lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, held his own against the great support his co-actors gave. Paul Giamatti, in his brief appearance as a slave trader, impressed on his scenes. Sarah Paulson, in spite of her small stature and having not that big of a voice, startled as the jealous wife of a slave owner. Michael Fassbender, as the slave owner husband of Paulson’s character, astounded once again with the frenetic ways of his character that he embodied effortlessly. I would give the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor to him in a heartbeat.

The cinematography of the movie was brilliant. In some scenes, the hues that were created by the sky in contrast to the silhouette the light created to trees, houses and other structures were a visual feast. Even the scenes at night or those that happen inside the houses created a beautiful play on the little amount of light present as it fell on the subject or subjects in contrast to the darkness that enveloped them.

The music created for the movie by Hans Zimmer reverberated the sad and tragic fates of many Black Americans back then. It complements the great visualization of the story.

With great directing/ editing, credible acting, impressive writing and brilliant production values, this movie is a great contender for Oscar’s Best Picture. I wouldn’t be surprised if it upsets my 2013 favorite Gravity.

12 Years A Slave’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5

Frozen

Frozen_(2013_film)_posterFrozen is the best film Disney has produced for a long time. Using their magic formula of putting a princess as a lead character, they made a great change this time in terms of resolving the always predictable conflict. Not to spoil anything but this great change made Frozen one-of-a-kind.

As stated on its credits, the movie is loosely based on the story of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. However, they do differ a lot. Frozen is about the two princesses of a fictional kingdom called Arendelle: Elsa and her younger sister, Anna. The two used to be very close, but because Elsa had to hide her ability of creating ice and snow at will, they grew apart. They did not see each other for years until a tragic accident concerning their parents led them to. Elsa is to be crowned the queen and so, a banquet in the castle had to be made. Anna met the prince she wanted to marry and yet Elsa was against it. They argued, which led Elsa to lose control of her powers, making everything in the kingdom covered with ice and everyone freezing with cold. She departed to the mountains where she built her ice castle. What will happen to their kingdom now that they have separated? Will the sisters find their way again to each other? That’s what you have to find out.

The movie boasts itself with great animation and good visual effects. The combination of hand-drawn pictures and computer-generated imagery (CGI) effects made a spectacular display of animated sequences. You’ll be amazed by how some things onscreen are too detailed, with the lighting and the ice crystals and the snow.

What makes Frozen even the more impressive is its music. It’s not a good animated musical film for no good reason at all, right? The songs used are written and composed by Filipino songwriter, Robert Lopez, and his wife, Kirsten Anderson-Lopez. Their songs, incorporated into Christopher Beck’s musical score, made the audience either glee or moved depending on the scene. You’ll never wonder why you’re still smiling or even humming or singing right after watching because of the wonderful music heard in the film. Thanks also in part by the great voice work of its cast (who also sang) led by Kirsten Bell and Idina Menzel.

The movie teaches a number of good messages (e.g. Never marry a man you just marry), but the best for me, though, is how it showed a true act of love. I will not spill, but the movie’s climax pointed out a very strong message to everyone, that love isn’t what people always seem to believe.

Frozen’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

The Wolf of Wall Street

TWOWS posterMartin Scorcese’s latest offering, The Wolf of Wall Street, trumps many a great movie about money-making schemes. Watching it is a blast from start to finish! It’s got that great vibe of helping you understand how people in the stock market do what they do good. I kind of expected Leonardo diCaprio to be great, but I was nicely surprised to see him a lot better than what I was expecting him to be! He would surely given Chiwetel Ejiofor of the brilliant 12 Years a Slave a run for his money in the Oscar race for Best Actor. I actually thought he’s given the best performance of his life in this movie, being really the wolf in the Wall Street.

The movie seems to be an amalgam of deadly sins: greed, gluttony, power and lust. Leonardo diCaprio characterized all of these in his characterization of Jordan Belfort, the notorious stockbroker who owned Stratton Oakmont and made lots of millions swindling investors in the stock market. The way he spoke would seem to persuade even the most skeptical person to invest in his company. He didn’t really care about the investors; he cared about making loads of money. He, together with his friends and employees, drank and partied hard, took drugs as if they’re meals, fornicate anyone even those he is not fond of. He was addicted to power by not just trying to maintain being rich, but doing all he can to become richer and richer. All of these drowned him into the well of immorality, a world where everything seemed to be fun even though they’re not.

Lending Leo their good, convincing performances include the beautiful Margot Robbie as Belfort’s wife, Naomi; the funny Matthew McConaughey as Belfort’s first employer in the Wall Street; the serious Kyle Chandler as the NBI agent who indicted him; the lovely Joanna Lumley as Naomi’s aunt; among many others. Jonah Hill seemed to do just fine, though he still portrays the same old character he’s always been: the obnoxious but caring douche bag of a partner and friend. I am just glad he didn’t put diCaprio down on their scenes. (Hill’s Oscar nomination doesn’t impress me at all.)

Scorcese still has his magic. In three hours, Scorcese showed how such a character like Belfort could have done such outrageous things. It is a testament that he really excels in doing movie that shows a study of character. He effectively showed how a small-time dreamer turned into a great but wild realist in the Wall Street. Belfort had a vision of what he wanted to be, and Scorcese made that evident in his frequent collaborator, Leonardo diCaprio, who’s insanely good in this movie.

Furthermore, this movie is a testament that Scorcese doesn’t hold back in terms of production values. The atrocious, careless spending of the filthy rich stockbrokers lavished on the screen. The megalomaniac attitudes and ways of them filthy rich surely raised envy on the watching eyes of the audiences who are watching. Kudos to the whole production team behind Mr. Scorcese.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, you would only know a movie is great by watching it. However, one percent of the time tells you that if it’s a Martin Scorcese-Leonardo diCaprio movie, it would never be a waste of your precious time.

The Wolf of Wall Street’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

Best TV Shows of 2013

The year 2013 brought out a lot of good TV. For sure more eyes were glued on the television to feast on shows that entertain, amuse, educate or inform. But what I am about to do now is tell you the best of the best on Philippine cable television, which regularly broadcasts American TV shows.

The year that was made me realize that we don’t need a lot of TV. I always knew that, but because I’m a hardcore TV fan, I have stacked up on shows that were deemed good. However, because I have far more important things to do (Not that I’m telling watching TV is not important. Hey, why am I writing this one right now, right?), I was only able to watch a select few in my spare time. I am narrowing down the Best of TV list into 5 (or 6 as you would know why in a while). Did your favorite make the cut?

 Best TV Shows of 2013

TOP 5- MASTERS OF SEX and GAME OF THRONES

MofS

Masters of Sex is the best new American series to debut in the fall season. In addition to very compelling performances from its lead and supporting actors, the series boasts itself with really smart writing and great production values. One might think that this show is too hot for TV just basing on the title. It really is, but the sensual scenes are done in good taste. Moreover, what the show imparts is more than the skin. It looks into the human physiology of sex, and it dwells in the thin line work and relationships and how sex could work for or against it.

Game of Thrones Season 3

Game of Thrones reached a new height this year by surprising everyone (aside from the readers of the books where the series is based) during its The Rains of Castamere episode. That episode alone should be given commendation for being a good display of directing, acting and production skills. Moreover, I think the series is getting better and better one season after another.

TOP 4- AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN

AHSCovenPoster

The top TV show last year still made it to the list of the best this year. Touching the topic of witchcraft, the series remains as campy yet as delightful as ever. The current season may be predictable at times, but it seems like the show’s creators never seem to run out of ideas that would surprise the audience with shocking or jaw-dropping scenes week after week. Not convinced? Watch it.

TOP 3- HANNIBAL

Hannibal

The best new American series to debut last year is Hannibal (it debuted during the first half of the year). Creator Bryan Singer made sure this show sets itself apart from popular versions of the Hannibal Lecter story in both TV and movies. The reimagining he did with Hannibal creates a league on its own: dark, affecting and very beautiful. The powerful performances of the cast and the great directing cap the brilliant production values the series offers.

TOP 2- THE BIG BANG THEORY

The Big Bang Theory Season 7

Even on its 7th season, this comedy series never ever fails to make the audiences laugh with its witty dialogues and smart storylines (I’m looking at you, Modern Family). The characters being portrayed by both lead and supporting cast are still as entertaining as ever.

TOP 1- BREAKING BAD

Breaking Bad- The Final Season

If the year 2013 will be remembered for one television show (yes, one television show only), then it will be remembered because of Breaking Bad, the best among the best this year (or probably the best ever). Ending the series with the final eight episodes of season 5, the team behind the show made it the most suspenseful, the most compelling, the most gripping episodes for the past year. Thanks to the brilliant acting of the cast, the great directing from its roster of directors, the beautiful cinematography, the great and smart writing and good over-all production values, Breaking Bad is the best TV show of 2013.

***

P.S. Three of my favorite reality shows really did great this year. The Voice continues its dominance as the best singing show to grace the golden screen because of the still surprising and entertaining rounds (Audition Round, Battle Round, Knockout Round and Live Shows), great hosting being done by Carson Daly and of course, the great chemistry among its coaches. Survivor has never been as compelling as its last season for a very long time. All the contestants are a hit. Meanwhile, The Amazing Race has never produced a great season for a long time as well and the last season satisfied the fans’ hunger for a great reality racing with its awesome travel destinations and very entertaining contestants.

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