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Showing posts from 2015

TWENTY16: Sounds of the New Year

Here it is, my brand-spankin' new playlist to help you properly kick off 2016. Granted, I'm a little late to the party on some of these. For instance, Rudimental's "Lay It All On Me" featuring Ed Sheeran (track 2) somehow flew past my radar back in September, but this hypnotic collaboration is currently on repeat, a definite shoo-in for January's Song of the Month. *And be sure to check back because I'll be adding more tracks as we move further along into the winter. (Breaking these out into separate volumes is now a thing of the past - why not have all of the season's goodness in one place, right?) @TheFirstEcho

Nerdgasm of the Month: It's Like 'Downton Abbey' Meets 'Scream'

One of my all-time favorite murder mysteries, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, is finally getting a new remake, courtesy of BBC One and co-producer Lifetime. (!!!) I first read the novel back in in middle school at the prodding my mother, a huge Christie fanatic. I was immediately intrigued because it took on the format of a traditional slasher flick. (Ten strangers isolated from the outside world being picked off one by one.) And as a kid raised on countless Friday the 13th s and any other horror movie I could watch, this book seemed like great middle ground, a compromise between a son and a mother who wanted him to read more "classics." And Then There Were None is also the OG when it comes to large ensemble murder mysteries. I guess it's no surprise that movies like Clue and Murder by Death , which lampoon the genre, appear on my Top 10 All-Time Favorite list. Some pop culture pundits have said that Hitchcock's  Psycho is the Original Slashe

The Top 10 Douchiest Instagram Accounts of 2015 (I Could Find)

Narcissism is the name of the game when it comes to most Instagram accounts. And most of us fall for them -- hard. That's why we click "follow." We feed each other's egos, and the result is an endless supply of snapshots, selfies, and sycophantic posts that would make our ancestors collectively bow their heads in shame. (Seriously, someone should do a study on the correlation between the number of followers and the amount of skin one displays in photos.) Here are just some of the ridiculous, over-the-top accounts I've come across this year. You're welcome . 10. @itslavishbitch  / @lavishyabitch Buzzfeed called this 19-year-old prick The Worst Teenager on Instagram . And after scrolling through his posts, you'll see why. "My life is like Louis Vuitton, everyone wants it," says this so-called "entertainer." 9. @albertogestoso How do you promote peace after a horrific terrorist attack makes headlines around the wor

The 2015 Review: A Totally Critical Look Back

Updated 12/18/15 It's hard to resist turning this into a rant about some stuff that went down this past year. But if you ask me, 2015 was like any other year in recent memory. It was also over before you could scream "Kim Davis, give me my marriage license!" There was some bad, there was some good, and there was plenty of same-shit-different-day business that went on. So I'm doing my best to avoid sounding like one of those basics who either declare "I'm so over you, 2015!" or "2015, thanks for the great times!" The year was many different things for many different people, and if I were to distinguish 2015 from other years, I'd say it was the year my tolerance for hypocrisy and bullshit hit an all-time low, both in my personal life and in the world around me. (Ahem, certain presidential candidates and other public figures who don't deserve the attention -- or legislation control -- they've been granted.) Wow, what's n

Song of the Month: December 2015

He made his American television debut last week on The Tonight Show , and his mesmerizing debut album, Blue Neighbourhood , dropped earlier this month. Troye Sivan , the 20-year-old YouTuber-turned-recording artist from Australia, seems poised to dominate 2016, but before radio stations put him in their rotation, you need to sample his smooth electro-R&B sounds in "Wild," a song that is working quite nicely as a closer for 2015. (And once again, Entertainment Weekly agrees with me -- check out their Must List in the current Best & Worst of 2015 issue.) Don't let the boyish looks fool you. And if you want to be totally blown away, be sure to check out the rest of this gorgeously produced music video trilogy. @TheFirstEcho

The Santa Sessions 2015: A Holiday Playlist

It's the most wonderful time of the year. And such a time deserves a most wonderful playlist to go with it.  From me to you. @TheFirstEcho

Another Day in America, Another Mass Shooting

At this rate, I'm assuming every American will eventually, at some point, know someone who's either been injured or killed by a gun. So, what can we do? Seriously, I'd like to know what each and every one of us can actively do. Because a hope-for-the-best status update won't fix it. Tweeting out thoughts and prayers for the victims' families of the 355th mass shooting OF THE YEAR won't fix it. Carelessly blaming a faulty system won't fix it. So I ask again: besides feeling like shit and feeling helpless for a few minutes before resuming our everyday lives (and holiday shopping), what can we do? Wait until each and every one of us becomes a "friend or family member of a victim" to warrant a nationwide rallying cry? What can we do to prevent this sickening "new normal"? I'd like to know. That said, Igor Volsky , take it away: . @igorvolsky : "The NRA pays [lawmakers] to only think and pray about gun violence &

EXIT HERE: The Final Playlist of 2015

This came sooner than I anticipated. To properly close out 2015, I've gathered the following tunes that shall provide a non-holiday soundtrack you can enjoy in between spins of Mariah's "All I Want for Christmas" and other jingles you won't be able to escape once Thanksgiving is done. (Don't worry -- a new holiday playlist is also coming soon.) BTW, that new Sia single (track 5)? I get a sore throat every time I play it. But it's so worth it. @TheFirstEcho

Song of the Month: November 2015

Not since circa-1992 Annie Lennox has there been a song about stepping on glass that has captured my musical imagination. Introducing St. Lucia's fantastic new must-listen, "Dancing on Glass," a synthy piece of pop perfection from the South African-born Jean-Philip Grobler. It's, as the folks at PopWrapped have called it, a "catchy and nostalgic extravaganza of an electro-pop tune." That said, it will keep me occupied throughout the days leading up to the gorgefest we call Thanksgiving. Check it out: @TheFirstEcho

NOCTURNAL: The 2015 Fall Playlist, Vol. 3

Just in time for Halloween weekend, here's a soundtrack to get your tricks and treats in proper order. I've got the new Adele, the new Ariana, the new Bieber...Basically, it's a cornucopia of brand spankin' new tunes that should hold you over until Thanksgiving. And once again, since Spotify doesn't stream all the songs I'd like to include here, you'll have to do with the videos further below. The weave looks like it was made in cotton candy machine, but still, this basicness is enjoyable for a week or so: @TheFirstEcho

Adele vs. Taylor Swift: What's Really Missing From This Debate

When Adele premiered her single and video for "Hello," the lead track from the highly anticipated 25 , music fans who love nothing more than a manufactured competition between pop stars, particularly female ones, took to social media to immediately celebrate that the Brit was about to dethrone Taylor Swift in just about everything. And she did, in a way. The video for "Hello" broke YouTube viewing records, and the song instantly became #1 in, like 5,000 countries or something. But I'm not here to add to the "let's diss Taylor" pile. True, I admit to publicly declaring that most of Swift's music doesn't do much for me. While I appreciate how smart she is in terms of fan engagement and making sure her simple-yet-relatable lyrics ring true for every young, romantic ear out there, she's simply not my preference. (And if you ask me, I think "Style" was the best single to be released from 1989 , despite it being the least su

One of the Best Songs of 2014 Finally Gets a Music Video in 2015

Tove Lo may have excelled with her exquisite debut album, Queen of the Clouds , but when it comes to her music videos, she's proving to be the Queen of Being Fucked-Up. (Not like Ke$ha fucked-up -- more like, I'm-in-a-low-budget-Fincherian-indie-playing-a-drug-addict-who-goes-on-a-murdering-spree fucked-up.) After unabashedly numbing her pain in "Habits (Stay High)" and going on a manhunt in "Talking Body," she finally goes all out in the music video for "Moments," my personal favorite from the hit-filled Clouds . I was blaring this Hot Mess Anthem last fall, and I am beyond ecstatic to see this become an official single with a nifty visual treatment to boot (directed by Tim Erem). Here, our gal gets interrogated by her doppelganger after tripping out in a supermarket late at night and shooting her white-trash-looking the head --  at the altar . Check it out: @TheFirstEcho

#TBT: That Time Huck from 'Scandal' Flirted With Me

I mean, he told me the highlight of his first Comic-Con... was meeting me . (See below video.) Back in 2012, I worked the press line on the red carpet at a Walking Dead party at San Diego Comic-Con, and before I became a Scandal addict, I had an interesting run-in with Guillermo Diaz, who plays the troubled Huck on the ABC drama. Perhaps he was under the influence and just acting silly (or being polite while trying to answer my lame question), but I think he may have hit on me. Damn. I wished I had prepared some better questions that night. @TheFirstEcho

My Great #AutumnInAsia Adventure

Jetlag's a bitch. I just returned from a 10-day excursion through Japan and Singapore, and my mind and body is still 13 hours ahead of L.A. The trip was expectedly awesome. Did a lot of walking. Ate a lot of fish. And possibly lost a couple of pounds in the process. You know how some basic bitches love pumpkin-flavored everything during the fall? Well, THIS basic loves green-tea-flavored everything: ice cream, truffles, candy, you name it. I couldn't get enough of it during my visit. Look out for my travel features on both countries in Bello later this year. My cousin Aki (right) with her husband Takuya. Nijo Castle One of many temples in Kyoto #AutumninAsia #Singapore #latergram A video posted by Hiko Mitsuzuka (@thefirstecho) on Oct 5, 2015 at 1:02pm PDT #Harajuku is INSANE. (Right before we entered a cosplay store that blared J-pop remixes of Disney theme songs) #sensoryoverload #AutumninAsia #Tokyo A video posted by Hiko

Song of the Month: October 2015

I will forever have the awesome memory of hearing this song for the first time while riding a bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo during the Japan portion of my recent #AutumnInAsia adventure. Everything about this track works, from The Weeknd's smooth vocals to the electro-hypnotic production from Britain's dynamic duo Disclosure. The title says it all too -- it's perfect for late-night drives and getting ready for some evening escapades. I cannot get enough of it. Also? It kinda works as a sexy theme song for Halloween night. @TheFirstEcho

THE SINGAPORE SESSIONS: The 2015 Fall Playlist, Vol. 2

The Tokyo Tapes was fun and all, but now it's time for the second volume for the second leg of my upcoming Asian excursion. Lots of travelogue-worthy entries from the likes of Kygo, XOV, and Friendly Fires. But, once again, Spotify isn't up to date with some new releases I'm enjoying from James Morrison (see further below), Duffy (like "Whole Lot of Love" ), and Hurts ( "Slow" ). @TheFirstEcho

Augustus Gloop Was Once My Spirit Animal

Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl was once the bane of my fifth-grade existence. When I was 10, my class at New Rochelle Catholic Elementary performed a stage adaptation of his famous book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . The production was directed by our art teacher (and school librarian) Mrs. Baron, a yellow-toothed, former flower child and Woodstock alumna with a penchant for puffing on Parliament Lights in the teacher’s lounge every afternoon. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine her spending her weekends knocking back shots of whiskey at an underground jazz club somewhere in the West Village, swaying to the tunes of a saxophonist named Johnny K and bopping to the bass in a haze of smoke – of course, back when you could puff on cancer sticks in Manhattan establishments. I liked Mrs. Baron for two reasons. First, during art class, she allowed us to bring in cassette tapes from home, a sort of play-and-tell to stimulate our artistic instincts with every papier-mache scul

THE TOKYO TAPES: The 2015 Fall Playlist, Vol. 1

I leave for Asia in three weeks (as of this post, in case you haven't heard), so naturally I had to collect some tunes that shall accompany me on my travels through Japan and Singapore. Aside from the obvious heavyhitters of the season (as seen in the first few tracks), there are some surprises from the likes of Afrojack and Ella Eyre. Summer, you came and went so fast. But at least Autumn is here to take care of me now. @TheFirstEcho

Jess Glynne's 'I Cry When I Laugh': One of the Best Pop Albums of 2015

2015 should go down in music history as The Year of Jess Glynne. After making a name for herself by vocally appearing on Clean Bandit's Grammy-winning "Rather Be" and "Real Love" and Route 94's "My Love," three of the best tracks to come out of 2014, she's finally releasing her debut album, the magnificent I Cry When I Laugh . (Now avail in the UK, but my fellow Americans, you'll have to wait until September 11.) Early 2015 gave us the airy and shiny house groove of "Hold My Hand" while this past summer delivered the uplifting "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself" and the Tinie Tempah collaboration "Not Letting Go." All three of these tracks appear on the album, and all three sound as if they were born out of a 1995 jam session. (To clarify, that's a very good thing.) Of course, all of this praise could be attributed to 90s nostalgia, which is all the rage as we move further into the 2010s. B