By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
The Futureheads, "Worry About It Later.""I know this came out last summer, but I listened to it so much this year that it may as well have come out this year . . . again. It's so simple, but super-good. It's what I say to my co-workers every day, so why wouldn't it be my favorite song? Catchy and punchy: two great tastes that taste great together."
Arcade Fire, "Antichrist Television Blues.""This song is so gnarly. I can't really explain it, but as lead singer Win [Butler] sings in the guise of a down-on-his-luck dad praying for a child so he can raise her up to put on television and sing the gospel so he can make money, well . . . it's complex, layered with all these weird emotions, and so very American that you can't help but get swept away by it. When he sings, 'My lips are near/My heart is far away/Now the war is won/How come nothing tastes good?' and then the 'angel bird' background singers start to sing, 'WAAAA AAOOOO WAAAA AHHAOO!'—I get the chills every time. This song is about as anti-American Idol as it gets, and it's about time! Brilliant."
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Margaret Cho's Sensuous Sides
Margaret Cho has had her own TV show, a couple of best-selling books, a Grammy-nominated comedy album and two feature films based on her national tours, but 2007 saw a new conquest for the comic: She became a viral video queen. Cho's sexy, traveling-circus-like spectacle, The Sensuous Woman, which melds music, comedy and burlesque and is performed by herself and several of her talented pals, was a critical success in LA, New York and Chicago. But when a clip from the show showing the comedienne twirling her ta-tas with awe-inspiring speed, clad in nothing but panties and tasseled pasties, was posted on YouTube and subsequently every blog on the net, Cho became not only a national cyber-sensation, but also a champion for voluptuous women everywhere. "I got really good at twirling those tassels. It was very popular online and quite controversial," she says. "Women loved it and felt empowered, but a few straight guys were furious because I challenge the stripper archetype."
But then, challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes is what Cho does. The Korean-American funny lady has always had a strong political and cultural viewpoint, and her work has explored not only her Asian background and upbringing, but also her views on homosexuality (currently married, she claims to be bisexual) and the government (big shocker: she's anti-Bush).
Perhaps inspired by the hubbub her half-naked gyrations caused on the web (but more likely just another extension of her never-ending quest to challenge the status quo), Cho's next project, titled Beautiful, will be a standup show that ponders the age-old question of what real beauty is. It will be her first standup show since the Assassin tour in 2005, and her personal blog will play a role.
"Right now, I am doing a big list of who I think is beautiful," she says. "People can log on to margaretcho.com to see if they made the list. It's famous people to friends to anyone who happens to catch my eye."
Surely, there'll be some musicians on the list. Cho, who just got tattooed like a rock star on TLC's LA Ink and made a splash emceeing Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour this past year, is definitely a music enthusiast with diverse tastes. She can be seen in the Dresden Dolls' "Shores of California" video (which parodies David Lee Roth's "California Girls"), and even directed a clip for one of her '07 faves. Here are the sounds she wiggled to this year.
Ryan Adams,Easy Tiger."The best album of this year. I just listened to it over and over and over and over. It makes me feel like I am one of those girls who can wear a very, very short dress with cowboy boots, and I don't have to wear tights because my legs are perfect and tan. I also saw him play with his band the Cardinals at the Wilshire Theatre, and I screamed myself sore."
Crowded House,Time on Earth."It's amazing. I love Neil Finn and have had a solid crush on him for nearly 23 years. I got to tell him so after their awesome show at the Greek Theatre this summer. Love them."
The Cliks,Snakehouse."An incredible record. I went on the True Colors Tour with them and also directed their video 'Eye In the Back of My Head.'"
BjÃ¶rk,Volta."This was in heavy rotation. I love her, and she is insanely cute. On the cover, she looks really Super Mario Bros. or Donkey Kong. Her fashion sense is crazy. So cool."
Antony Hegarty."When he's singing, he sounds like he is clutching the pearls around his neck and spilling a gin and tonic all over the place."
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Dave Navarro's Instant Gratifications
Looks like Dave Navarro is going to be all about instant gratification next year. The LA-born and -bred guitarist, who launched his own Internet TV show and directed his first porno in 2007, has obviously become inspired by both the immediacy the web provides and the quick turnaround of the adult-film industry.