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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review - The Television

How is it that we are at the last day of 2017?  And to be honest with you, now that it is almost over...I'M GLAD!  It has really been a very difficult year, and I am really looking forward to a brand new year of hope, dreams, and opportunities.

I just wish that it wasn't so blustery cold outside!  It's said that in New York City, it's going to be the second coldest New Year's Eve in the history of the Times Square ball drop!  That could make for one frosty Rockin' New Year's Eve party!  I hope Ryan Seacrest has packed his Underarmor long johns!  And I hope that Mariah Carey actually wears clothes this time around when she sings for her redemption performance after the trainwreck last year because otherwise she might turn into a diva-sicle.

Yeah, Mariah's horrendous performance at Rockin' New Years Eve '17 was just one of the many events that happened in the world of television in 2017.  We've seen some television series debut to much fanfare, and we've seen some of our favourite television shows end after many years of stories.  And while Netflix, Hulu, and CraveTV have won over a lot of viewers, don't count network television out just yet.

So grab a bag of Doritos, pop open a Dr. Pepper, and figure out the difference between Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner because this is the best and worst of television in 2017.

So, a lot of television shows debuted this year, but before we get to that, let's have a look at some of the shows that we said farewell to.

Girl Meets World (January 20)
The Odd Couple (January 30)
The Apprentice (February 13)
The Vampire Diaries (March 10)
Liv and Maddie (March 24)
Bones (March 28)
Duck Dynasty (March 29)
Dr. Ken (March 31)
Grimm (March 31)
Sleepy Hollow (March 31)
Last Man Standing (March 31)
Switched at Birth (April 11)
Girls (April 16)
2 Broke Girls (April 17)
24: Legacy (April 17)
The O'Reilly Factor (April 21)
Bates Motel (April 24)
Rosewood (April 28)
The Great Outdoors (May 8)
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (May 17)
Baby Daddy (May 22)
Reign (June 16)
Pretty Little Liars (June 27)
Orphan Black (August 12)
The Insider (September 8)
The Strain (September 17)
Episodes (October 8)
Me, Myself, & I (October 30)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (November 12)
The Mindy Project (November 14)
Longmire (November 17)
Charlie Rose (November 17)
Fashion Police (November 27)
Tavis Smiley (December 13)
Chelsea (December 15)

A few notes:

It's interesting that with "Fuller House" and "Raven's Home" currently airing, "Will & Grace" coming back after a decade long hiatus, and "Roseanne" set to return in 2018 that "Girl Meets World" didn't last longer.  The sequel to "Boy Meets World" was quite the popular show on the Disney Channel and made stars out of Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter.  But as decent an effort as it was, perhaps the fact that it was on the Disney Channel might have harmed its success.

But hey, at least it lasted longer than "Me, Myself, & I", which lasted a grand total of one month on the air. 

On the flipside, lots of television series ended after a long run.  Perhaps the one that I am most brokenhearted about is "Bones".  I've been a fan since the first episode aired in 2005, and the cast chemistry and riveting storylines kept me a fan for twelve years.  While I will miss everyone there, at least David Boreanaz is continuing to act in his new show "Seal Team".

"Last Man Standing" also ended its run in 2017 after six seasons, and many fans of the series cried foul, accusing ABC of canceling it due to political reasons.  I don't quite understand that, but given that Tim Allen's previous series "Home Improvement" ran two years longer, I suppose I can understand his disappointment.

Also ending after six seasons is "2 Broke Girls"...and honestly it was about time.  No offense to Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, but the show was never my cup of tea.

We also said farewell to "Bates Motel" and Freddie Highmore's brilliant, but frightening take on a young Norman Bates.  But don't worry, you can catch him on "The Good Doctor", which has gotten mixed reviews, but I find myself liking it.

And some of these shows ended on their own accord.  I suppose Mindy Kaling expecting a baby could be one reason why "The Mindy Project" wrapped up.  But in the case of Tavis Smiley, Bill O'Reilly, and Charlie Rose...well, let's just say that when you have men behaving badly, they find themselves on the unemployment line really quickly.

I mean, just ask Matt Lauer about that one, right?

All right.  Now let's talk about some of the successes of 2017.  We'll begin with the smash success of the NBC drama "This Is Us".  Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, and Sterling K. Brown, the series is a rather unique one, using flashbacks and flash forwards to tell the tale of one family.  It's had viewers on their seats and has caused a nationwide shortage of Kleenex!  And good news for's reportedly been renewed until at least 2020!  After years of struggles, NBC is slowly winning back their former "Must See TV" title.

On Netflix, "Stranger Things" has aired two seasons, and in those two seasons, fans have been clamoring for more.  It's also been a great career renaissance for Winona Ryder, who has been largely hit and miss since the 2001 shoplifting scandal she was involved in.  Her role in "Stranger Things" was definitely worth the wait.

Netflix also took a gamble with a reboot of the 1970s sitcom "One Day at a Time".  With Norman Lear once again contributing to the show, this version features a Cuban-American female veteran with PTSD struggling to balance a career with motherhood.  Justina Machado and Rita Moreno have a fantastic chemistry with each other, and although the show is told from a 2017 perspective, it has all the charm and the punch of the 1975 original.  And good news...season two debuts January 26, 2018!

On January 26, 2017, the CW took a chance with the show "Riverdale", a darker look at the teenagers that have starred in Archie Comics since 1941.  What the end result became was a surprise hit for the network.  While you haven't seen Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead quite like this before, it's a show that you just get caught up in and you crave more each week.

(Okay, that's how I feel anyway.  I love "Riverdale" and make no apology for it.)

Oh, and the "Santa Clarita Diet" starring Drew Barrymore?  Extremely disgusting, but surprisingly satisfying.

Now for the shows that have debuted this fall and winter, I think some have the potential to be hits.  We already saw a preview of Ellen DeGeneres' "Game of Games" in December and it already received major buzz.  I am looking forward to the official premiere on January 2, 2018. 

Hitching a ride on the success of "The Big Bang Theory", "Young Sheldon" debuted on CBS in September, and I think the early buzz is that it is a winner, as is "Seal Team", "The Good Doctor", and "The Gifted".  Again, it's hard to predict what will be a hit, but early indication is that all of these series will likely get a second season at least.

And now for some miscellaneous pieces of television trivia from 2017.

Congratulations to "The Bold and the Beautiful" for celebrating thirty years on the air.  It is also the television series that has been seen in more countries than any other American soap opera.  The show still boasts two of its original stars in Katherine Kelly Lang and John McCook!  Outstanding, no?

And just to mention a show from across the pond, I want to commend "Emmerdale" for concluding a year long storyline featuring the character of Ashley Thomas battling dementia.  The storyline played out beautifully and educated the public over what living with dementia is like and how painful it is for the loved ones they leave behind.  John Middleton (Ashley) and Charlotte Bellamy (Laurel, Ashley's wife) were outstanding and both were rewarded with acting accolades courtesy of the British Soap Awards.

Megyn Kelly left FOX News to join NBC's "Today", and while the switch was jarring at first, she is starting to come into her own.  Meanwhile, with the departure of Matt Lauer amidst his sex scandals, Hoda Kotb has temporarily joined Savannah Guthrie, and the girl power seems to be working - ratings are actually up for the morning show since Lauer was fired.

"13 Reasons Why" might have been accused of glorifying suicide, but in actuality, I found it to be incredibly haunting and well acted.  It's not for everybody, but if you can sit through it, it's well worth it.

Jimmy Kimmel also had a rough 2017, as his newborn son was born with heart issues - but Kimmel used the opportunity to talk about affordable health care for everyone in America.  While some found his remarks to fall on deaf ears, for others he became the voice for millions who were stuck in medical debt.

Can Michael Phelps win a swimming race against a Great White Shark?  Apparently, nobody really knows.  The shark was actually computer generated, meaning that the whole race was just a clever edit.  Insert shark week comments on Twitter.  Who would have thought that "Sharknado 5" would have been more realistic?

And finally, Scott Pelley left the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News after serving in the position for six years.  While it took some time for a replacement to be found, Jeff Glor took on the position in December 2017.  All the best to him.

That appears to be a wrap for the television flashback.  Join us tomorrow for the first entry of 2018 with a look back on the news events that shaped 2017 for better or for worse.  Happy new year, everyone!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 In Review - The Movies

Before I go ahead with today's entry, I wanted to add something to yesterday's entry.  I had a photo of Glen Campbell in my collage, but forgot to talk about him in the blog entry for 2017 in music!  So, I wanted to mention that like Gord Downie, Glen Campbell released a final album simply entitled "Adios" as a farewell to his fans before his death from Alzheimer's. 

Okay, now that I have cleared that up, let's move ahead to Part 3 of this 2017 retrospective!

Today, we're going to be taking a look at the box office hits as well as the Golden Raspberries of 2017.  The movie industry certainly had a lot of hits and misses this year, and we'll talk about the movies that made 2017 a standout in a moment.  But first, we need to address something.  It was one of the most used hashtags on social media this year and it was not only linked to the movie industry, but helped completely change it.


Those two simple words held so much meaning this year.   And while the ball started rolling with the exposing of Harvey Weinstein, there were instances before Harvey and after Harvey.  By the close of 2017, many men were outed as sexual predators within the confines of Hollywood.  Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Mario Batali, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Jeffrey Tambor, and so many others were exposed for their inappropriate behaviour towards women, and many have since lost their jobs because of it.  The #MeToo movement gave women who had been frightened to speak out a voice, and as a result, the movie industry is slowly being cleaned up.  There is still a lot of work to be done, I'm sure...and by the time 2018 rolls around, I'm sure that more will be exposed.

Now, let's talk about the movies that dominated the box office.  Here's the list of the top 10 movies of 2017 by box office gross as of December 30, 2017.

1.  Beauty and the Beast - $1,263,521,126
2.  The Fate of the Furious - $1,235,761,498
3.  Despicable Me 3 - $1,033,508,147
4.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi - $953,362,228
5.  Spider-Man: Homecoming - $880,166,924
6.  Wolf Warrior 2 - $870,325,439
7.  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 - $863,565,527
8.  Thor: Ragnarok - $847,321,310
9.  Wonder Woman - $821,847,012
10.  Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - $791,861,794

So, no surprise here that most of these are sequels to original films - or if they aren't sequels they are remakes.  Originality, 2017 you ain't.

That being said, I completely agree with the placement of most of these films (though I will state right now that I will NEVER understand how the Fast and the Furious series ever got to be so popular).  I mean, the #1 film, "Beauty and the Beast" was a visual spectacle that pleased both the eyes and the ears.  Emma Watson made a fantastic Belle, and she played off the other cast members beautifully.  In comparison to the 1991 animated film, the original only made $347 million at the box office.  But, I suppose part of that could be that it was a heck of a lot cheaper to go to the movies twenty-six years ago.

Of course, superhero movies were once again all the rage in 2017, with Thor, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman all boasting huge opening weekends.  Perhaps in 2017, Wonder Woman could be the symbol of the #MeToo movement.  Strong and confident women speaking out against injustice and inequality.  I don't think Gal Gadot would mind that comparison at all.

Those minions are back at it again with "Despicable Me 3", and while I personally didn't find it as charming as the first two, it was still a hilarious view from start to finish.

As well, we had the ninth installment of the "Star Wars" series, which featured Carrie Fisher playing the role of Leia for the last time.  Her death in December 2016 still shocks many fans today, but I think that the film did her justice and gave her a beautiful send-off.  I don't THINK I'm spoiling too much with that remark.  If I am, I am sorry. 

Oh, and don't forget about the interesting case of "Wolf Warrior 2".  It happens to be a rarity in the box office records, as it is the only non-Hollywood film to be listed within the 100 Top Worldwide Box Office Of All-Time!

Okay...we've talked a bit about the Top 10 Films of 2017.  Now let's see what films were honoured at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony.  Granted, these films were all released in 2016, but hey...the ceremony was in 2017, so we're talking about it anyway.

The winners are...

BEST PICTURE:  La La Land Moonlight
BEST DIRECTOR:  Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
BEST ACTOR:  Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
BEST ACTRESS:  Emma Stone (La La Land)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
BEST DOCUMENTARY:  O.J.: Made in America
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:  "City of Stars" (La La Land)

Yeah, you saw what I did there, eh?  With the whole Best Picture thing?  Yeah, that was a nod to when they accidentally announced "La La Land" as Best Picture when in actuality it was supposed to be "Moonlight".  How absolutely awkward!  But don't feel too bad for La La Land, because as you can see, they won enough awards.  Not a bad film, might I add.

Again, I am thrilled to see "Zootopia" win best animated feature, as it was a cute movie - though I was torn as I also loved "Moana" as well.  And Viola Davis absolutely deserved the award as her role in "Fences" was superb.  Of course, anything Viola Davis has done has been great.  For the first time in a long time, I've actually heard of most of these films, so that's a plus in my eyes!

I wonder what films we'll see nominated this year.  I'm seeing good reviews for "I, Tonya", and I have to say that Margot Robbie portrays the fallen figure skating star flawlessly.  Whether you are pro-Tonya or pro-Nancy, you can't argue that Robbie was great.

Also, I can see "All The Money in the World" being an Oscar contender.  I mean, Christopher Plummer has already bagged a Golden Globe nomination for his role - which was originally Kevin Spacey's, but since the sex scandal broke out, he was edited out and replaced with Plummer which only took a few days of reshooting.  I don't care what anyone says - that takes talent.

I kind of wish that the film "Get Out" was at least nominated for an award, because it was a thrilling, haunting tale that showcased racism in a chilling light - seemingly appropriate considering what's happened in the news lately.

Of course, not every film of 2017 was stellar.  Take it from the 37th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards!  The winners...or I guess the losers are...

WORST PICTURE:  Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
WORST DIRECTOR:  Dinesh D'Souza (Hillary's America)
WORST ACTOR:  Dinest D'Souza (Hillary's America)
WORST ACTRESS:  Rebekah Turner (Hillary's America)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2) surprise that in a Trump America, a film about Hillary Clinton would score so many Razzies.  Actually, if the film were about Donald Trump, he'd probably score the same amount.  Really, any political documentary needs to be on this list as a courtesy call.  Again, not surprised by these awards.

Now, I think I'm going to tempt fate and end this here, as I've already had to rewrite this article four times because of computer problems and power outages.  But tune in on New Year's Eve, where we will have a good old chat about television in 2017!  Ta ta for now!

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 IN REVIEW: The Music

Yesterday, we started our look back at 2017 with a piece on some of the various fads and trends of the year.  And today the retrospective of 2017 continues with Part 2.

Today we're going to have a look through the Billboard charts, album covers, and compact disc liner notes to listen to the best and worst of music from the year gone by.

I'll have to admit that from my own perspective, the 2010s overall have been very much hit and miss.  I really liked the stuff from 2010 and 2011, was soured on 2012-2014, really enjoyed 2015, and was somewhat impressed by 2016 as well.  Unfortunately, 2017 is considered to be a miss year for me.  I wasn't overly wowed by the stuff on the charts this year, and to me most of it sounded exactly the same.  But there were some standouts of the year, and certainly some sad moments as so many music legends passed away this year. 

So, let's get this party started with the top hits of 2017.  A total of twelve songs topped the charts in 2017 (one of which actually tied a record!)

Those twelve songs are...

Bad and Boujee - MIGOS f. LIL UZI VERT
Shape of You - ED SHEERAN
That's What I Like - BRUNO MARS
Look What You Made Me Do - TAYLOR SWIFT
Bodak Yellow (Money Moves) - CARDI B
Rockstar - POST MALONE f. 21 SAVAGE

Now, clearly 2017 was the year of Ed Sheeran, and honestly with his talent, he certainly deserves it.  Though his 2017 ended on a bad note, musically speaking his album "Divide" was certainly a bright spot.  The single "Shape of You" lasted an impressive twelve weeks at the top of the chart in 2017 - and under normal circumstances it would have been a major achievement.

However, nobody expected the Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee/Justin Bieber collaboration "Despacito" to do so well.  Not only was it the song for the summer of 2017, but it tied the record set by Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey back in 1996 when it stayed on top of the charts for sixteen consecutive weeks!  How is that for impressive?  I only wish I could speak Spanish so I could actually understand what the song meant!

2017 also saw Bruno Mars performing a smidgen of 24K Magic on the charts with "That's What I Like".  And Kendrick Lamar was still on his Grammy high when he released the single "Humble", which also topped the charts for one week in 2017.

But perhaps the one single that seemed to be the most anticipated was that of Taylor Swift's first single from "Reputation".  The song "Look What You Made Me Do" seemed to be a song that told a story - don't mess with T-Swift.  All sixteen of them apparently.  Just watch the end of the video and you'll know what I mean.  I can't say that the album is going to be as huge of a smash as her 2014 album "1989", but her fans will definitely appreciate it.

Now, 2017 was also a pretty lackluster year for the Grammy Awards as well.  It wasn't exactly that exciting to watch (though Bruno Mars' tribute to Prince was absolutely outstanding to watch), and let's face it - the winners were absolutely predictable.

Still, let's have a look at the big winners of the 59th Grammy Awards.

RECORD OF THE YEAR:  Hello - Adele
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:  25 - Adele
SONG OF THE YEAR:  Hello - Adele
BEST NEW ARTIST:  Chance the Rapper
BEST POP ALBUM:  25 - Adele
BEST ROCK SONG:  Blackstar - David Bowie
BEST ROCK ALBUM:  Tell Me I'm Pretty - Cage the Elephant
BEST R & B ALBUM:  Lalah Hathaway Live - Lalah Hathaway
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM:  A Sailor's Guide to Earth - Sturgill Simpson

So, yeah, can we just say that 2017 was Adele's year?  It's kind of sad knowing that she won't be touring at all this year...or next year...or the year after that.  But needless to say that her first album in four years certainly made a huge impact.

Sadly, 2017 marked the year in which we lost so much talent.  I'll be going over the full list of stars that we lost when I do the News of 2017 retrospective in a couple of days.  For now, I just want to thank Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Gord Downie, David Cassidy, Della Reese, Malcolm Young, Chris Cornell, and Chester Bennington (among many others) for the wonderful musical gifts they left behind.  Believe me when I say that they will be sorely missed.

Now for a few extra odds and ends about the year.

New Zealand teen singer Lorde took the world by storm a couple of years ago with the release of "Pure Heroine", and this year she came back with a new style and sound with the album "Melodrama".  Though it wasn't as well received as her previous efforts, I do appreciate her as an artist, and I happen to think that her single "Green Light" was one of the better tunes of 2017.

Katy Perry also had a bit of success in 2017 (though nothing really surpassing the huge success that her "Teenage Dream" album achieved).  Her single "Chained to the Rhythm" was a catchy tune that got a bit of airplay early in the year, but it seems as though while Taylor Swift seemed to target Katy in the lyrics for "Look What You Made Me Do", Katy got the ball rolling first as she seemingly targeted Taylor in her single "Swish Swish".  Settle down, ladies!

Miley Cyrus has also had a rather eventful 2017.  Her latest album "Younger Now" has been critically well received and I have to admit that I love the single "Malibu".  I don't know what it is about 2017, but I found that female singers have released some really great stuff this year.  Add to the fact that Miley has served as a judge on "The Voice" this year, and it's safe to say that she's bounced back quite well from the foam finger scandal of a few years ago. 

Who knew that 2017 would be the year that the songs and artists of 1987 would become huge again?  It all started off with Rick Astley, who appeared to be "Rickrolling" us with a new album, "50".  But what ended up happening was that we were the ones Rickrolled, as the songs were his most mature sounding tunes to date.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I really liked it.

And who would have thought that Bananarama would have gotten back together to tour the UK for the first time in twenty-nine years?  To be fair, Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin had always stuck together, but the last time Siobhan Fahey was with the group, "I Heard a Rumour" was charting in the United States!  The unexpected reunion of the group in the fall of 2017 was a surprise smash, with every date of their tour being sold out!

I'll be discussing this more in detail when we get to the News of 2017, but I am sure that the world mourned the deaths of the twenty-two people killed when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb inside of Manchester Arena following the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert.  Though not only did Manchester bounce back, but Ariana returned with a few other bands to put on the One Love Manchester concert event.  Again, I'll talk more about that in the news portion of the retrospective, but as far as I'm concerned, that event actually made me respect her more as an artist and as a person.  Well done, Ariana!

And also, continued thoughts go out to the families of the fifty-eight who were killed in the October 1 shootings at the conclusion of the Route 91 country music festival in Las Vegas - and I will also talk more about that in the News section.

Finally, I'll just mention that I talked about Gord Downie's passing earlier in this blog, but much like David Bowie did last year, Downie had one final gift for his fans upon his October 17 death.  His solo album "Introduce Yerself" was released ten days after he died, and essentially it's a brilliant collection of his thoughts leading up to his passing, and was certainly the album in which he was at his most honest.  Not long after that, Gord's band, "The Tragically Hip" was honoured with the Order of Canada.  Well done, guys.

Well, that's a wrap of some of the most important stories from the world of music in 2017.  If you have any more to add, please let me know here or through the social media accounts that I maintain.

Coming up tomorrow, you'd better pop yourself some popcorn and put on those 3D glasses because we'll be looking at the best and worst of 2017 in the box office.

(Actually, you don't need 3D glasses.  Your regular eyes will suffice.)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 In Review: Fads

Depending on what experiences you may have had, 2017 could have been a very good year, or a very bad year.  For myself, it was probably one of the bad ones.  Here's hoping that 2018 is a LOT better.

But before we stick a fork in 2017, we have to do our annual look back at the year gone by in this retrospective.  If anything, it will allow me to have a little fun before I say hasta la vista to 2017.

So, I've divided this retrospective up into six different parts.  And as it so happens, part one will be dedicated to the fads that made 2017 stand out from any other year. 

Keep in mind that when I say fads, I am including toys, games, fashion trends, and food trends in there.  It's sort of a fancy way of saying that this is my hodge podge category.

2017 was definitely a year in which the trends definitely stood out.  But what ones did you partake in? 

We shall begin the list with the one thing that I know I took part in.


These things were everywhere in 2017 - well, at least the first half of the year anyway.  A simple toy that let you spin it around in a circle, it was better than a top and certainly was a wonderful stress reliever!  Believe me, I still use mine when I have a stressful day.

Of course, the fidget spinners didn't come without some controversy - mainly from parents who reported that their children broke their spinners apart and ate the metal circles within them!


Ugh...this was a trend I happily let bypass me.  The last time I remember wearing a romper I was probably three years old and riding my little rocking horse across the living room floor of my home.  For me to try that look at 36 years of age now would get me laughed out of town.  Yet this trend seemed to be the hottest fashion trend for guys this past summer.  Here's hoping it stays there and that nobody EVER RESURRECTS THEM!


These cute little critters were one of the hottest toys on the market this year, and honestly I can see why.  Designed to hang off of your finger, these little guys proved to be the perfect fashion accessory/toy for girls of all ages. 


Okay, so technically they made their debut at the 2016 Toy Fair in New York...but in 2017, these stuffed animals were the perfect gift to give out - on Halloween.  They might look nice and sweet and huggable at first.  But if you squeeze them the wrong way, they turn on you with the most evil scowl you have ever seen. 

And yes.  I want one.


The bad news about 2017 was saying goodbye to the dandelion crayon.  After all, it was one of eight new colours that was introduced in 1990 and served its purpose for twenty-seven years.  But replacing dandelion was a new shade of blue inspired by the discovery of the new blue colour known as YInMn.  Of course, most people wouldn't know how to pronounce that word, so Crayola held a contest to name the new colour.  And as a result, Blue-tiful made its debut in 2017.


Nintendo has kind of kept a low profile in the gaming industry the last few years, but 2017 looks like the year that may bring the company back up on top.  The success of the NES and SNES Classic Minis certainly paved the way to what would become the company's crowning achievement of 2017 - the Nintendo Switch.  Early reports show nothing but positive reviews for the console, and with "Super Mario Odyssey" becoming a huge hit, it's interesting to see what surprises are in store for 2018.


Back in 1996, the PlayStation released the game "Crash Bandicoot", and over the next few years, Crash would become the official mascot for the console.  Over twenty years later, the entire trilogy was re-released and re-mastered for the PlayStation 4.  Needless to say, it was a huge success.  There are also talks of re-mastering "Final Fantasy 7" as well, making 2017 the year in which everything old in gaming seemed to be new again. 


You know what I mean...the hairstyles that make it look like you dipped your hair in four different colours of paint?  This was one colourful trend that seemed to dominate in 2017, and likely it will remain the same in 2018 as well.  Makes you wonder if they'll start making coffee drinks with the same colour palette.


Oh...they did.  I can't say that I've ever tried one of these as I don't like coffee and can't afford Starbucks.  Anyone want to tell me if these are good?


A few years back, it was Bratz dolls and Monster High dolls that dominated the marketplace.  In 2017, it was L.O.L. Surprise Dolls.  I think the L.O.L. was from the manufacturers who were surprised by how much money parents were willing to pay for these dolls.  Apparently the dolls come in a container that you unwrap, and each layer (there's six or seven in total) has a surprise inside. 

That's all the fads I have to talk about in today's blog.  Are there any more that I missed that you would like to add?  Definitely use the comments section to let me know.

Tune in to this blog on Friday, December 29 where we look at the hit singles and massive flops of the music industry in 2017.  See you then!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My 750 Favourite Songs EVER!

I am looking forward to bringing you the very best and the absolute worst of 2017 in my annual retrospective of the year gone by, and the fun starts tomorrow.  But before I do that, I want to explain why I took a bit of a breather from the blog this year.

Well, aside from the incident that happened in October, anyway.  I'm sure I briefly touched upon that a bit earlier in this space, but yeah, helping an injured family member recover from a fall definitely took up a lot of my time.

But another reason that ended up being a lot more fun was the project that I took on with seven of my friends as we compiled our lists of favourite songs.

Our Top 750 Songs of ALL TIME!

(Yeah, sorry about the watermark on the collage.  I didn't want to pay the fee to have it removed).  But the thirty photos on this logo represent thirty of the 750 songs on my list!

And now that it's all done and over with, I want to share my list with you all!

Now, perhaps you will agree with my list.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps this will encourage you to start your own list...though I'd probably start off small with a hundred songs at first.  Ordering 750 songs took a very long time - but it was well worth it, and I certainly added new songs to my collection as other people shared songs that I had forgotten about.

Now, how I'll do this is that I'll post my list in 50 songs increments from 750-11 at first, and then I'll go into further discussion with my Top 10.  How does that sound?

Okay, here we go...

And now for my Top 10.

No sense denying it, I LOVED this tune when it first came out. I think I must have played this one about a couple of hundred times when I first heard it. I recorded it from the stereo using that old thing known as a cassette, and played it until my stereo finally ate the tape for lunch!

There's a certain vulnerability in Mick Hucknall's voice that makes this song even more wonderful. And yes, the music video does show him with a ruby in one of his front teeth. He had one implanted in his tooth years ago and kept it in...well, until he swapped it out for a less noticeable diamond a few years after "Stars" came out!

Yoko Ono was for many years known as a sort of scarlet woman that many blamed for the break-up of the Beatles, and her singing voice is...well...unique. But one thing you can't argue is how much love and devotion her husband gave her. John Lennon legally changed his name to John Ono Lennon, for heaven's sake!

"Woman" is essentially a love letter to his wife, and it is easily my favourite solo Lennon song. It was not intended to be released as a single at first, but upon his death in December 1980, this single was released weeks later in January 1981 and became a massive hit.

I always liked to say that I would love to have a wedding dance to this song - but I'd have to find a wife who loves Lennon, of course.
The Spinners (or The Detroit Spinners as they were known in the UK as there was already a group by that name there) were one of the top selling R&B/soul groups of the 1970s. Part of the reason why was because of songs like the one I have at #8. "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" is a brilliant production from the slow beat to the crescendo of brass instruments midway through. It's definitely my favourite Spinners song.

When Prince died in April 2016, it was a huge shock and a crushing blow to the music industry. How does one pay tribute to him? Well, in 2017, Bruno Mars performed a near flawless rendition of "Let's Go Crazy" - which was awesome because it is my favourite Prince tune - but the fact that he played the guitar solo with absolute perfection? Genius! This song always gets me in a great mood, and I find it hard not to tap my toes along to the beat!

And yes, the placing of this song at 7 was deliberate. The song "7" was a hit for him in the 90s, and almost made my list.

"Penny Lane" is my highest ranked Beatles tune on this chart, and it is easily my favourite of their vast works. It was also the band's thirteenth number one hit on the Billboard charts for a week before it was dethroned by the Turtles' "Happy Together". In the UK, it was a different story, as it was one of the few singles of theirs that did NOT top the charts. Though, given that its peak position was #2, I don't think it mattered THAT much. 

My number five song is Billy Joel's "Leave a Tender Moment Alone", and my highest ranked song by him. It seems an unusual choice given that it was the last single released from "An Innocent Man" and it was also one of the worst performing singles from the album. But I have loved this song since I was a little boy. The harmonica solo by guest musician Toots Thielemans just makes this slow tune pop even more. Sadly, Toots passed away last year, so I paused the video at this fitting screenshot in tribute.

Nobody could ever accuse Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops as being monotone or having a lack of passion when he sang. I mean, the way he belted out the lyrics to this song was nothing short of powerful. I mean, at some points in the song, I was worried that he would pop a vocal chord! But that was just the reason why the Four Tops made such an incredible impact in the world of music, and why this upbeat and positive song is my fourth favourite of all time.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell were two individual singers that made beautiful music together. And of all the songs they did together, my favourite has to be "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". How can one not be in a good mood after hearing this piece of pop goodness? I actually almost had this at #1 when I was first doing fact choosing my Top 3 was the hardest part of all!

Sadly, both singers met an untimely end. Tammi Terrell died of cancer not long after this song was released, and Marvin was shot by his own father during an argument in 1984. 

My second favourite song of all time is my highest ranked song from the 1980s, and it features Michael Jackson singing what could be considered one of his signature tunes. But who knew that it would lead to one of his signature dance moves? At the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown, he did the dance step called the "Moonwalk" during his performance of this song and the crowd went wild. Throughout the remainder of the 1980s, people tried to copy it. Of course, we all know who did it best. The dance craze even inspired the video game "Michael Jackson's Moonwalker" in the late 1980's

My favourite era of music is 1960s Motown, so that was one indicator that my #1 would be from that time. And the Temptations were a great group and one of the best from that era.

But the reason why this song is #1 is because it is the earliest song that I can remember hearing and liking. I don't remember where I was, but I do remember when I heard it, I fell in love with everything that had to do with music. And when the song was used in the 1991 film "My Girl", it cemented my love of the song even more.

Mind you, that movie had a really sad plot twist when Macaulay Culkin's character was stung to death by a swarm of angry bees. But the reason why he was stung was so he could retrieve a mood ring that Vada dropped. At the end of the movie, the mood ring was returned and it changed colour to a happy blue. I always liked that scene because it showed that even in the darkest times, you could still find happiness. And as this song played in the final scene, I remember thinking that whenever I heard that song through tough times (and believe me, I played the song a LOT), I knew that happiness could be found soon after.

And that's why "My Girl" is my top song of all time.