Things I Loved This Year: Shedding a Tear for Kacey Musgraves

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: feeling some feelings with one of country’s brightest young stars.

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If Christmas makes you cry, “Christmas Makes Me Cry” will make you cry. If Christmas doesn’t make you cry, “Christmas Makes Me Cry” will make you cry, because Christmas makes Kacey Musgraves cry, and when Kacey Musgraves cries, you feel it.

Kacey Musgraves wrote this song with Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark for A Very Kacey Christmas, which came out on Halloween this year. Christmas sets are a dime a dozen, but the whole set is lovely, and this song takes the cake.

That trio of songwriters is also responsible for this and this. They are good.

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Dude Bros, Mad Libs and the State of Mainstream Country

Bros

I tell you a story. Then I tell it again. And again. And again. Never mind that it wasn’t a very exciting story to begin with. Now I’ve told it twelve times, and you’re getting sick of it.

I’m not just talking about my lackluster social skills. This is the story of country radio in 2014. Entertainment Weekly reporter Grady Smith documented as much in his convincing supercut of mainstream country’s laziest clichés, and Vulture critic Jody Rosen illuminated the phenomenon in two pieces questioning the relative obscurity of female voices on country radio.

This isn’t the only story of modern country music. But it’s become the dominant one.

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Grammys 2014: A Review and Three Great Performances

Pharrell

In the immediate aftermath of this year’s Grammy Awards, I churned out a 750-word review for The Eagle. I don’t have much more to say – awards shows like this one are best enjoyed and debated as they happen and immediately afterward – but I want to spotlight three great performances that are worth checking out even if you didn’t see the entire show.

First, a snippet of my review: “Last night’s Grammys proved that some things do change. Robots can win Album of the Year. Thirty-three couples can get married in a hasty ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah. A 17-year-old New Zealander with curly hair and a sultry voice can win Song of the Year for a tune that critiques the very establishment that provided her with the award. The 2014 Grammy Awards were rarely boring, but they were often baffling.”

Read on for three catchup-worthy performances.

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The M&M Report, Episode 14: The Year’s Best Music

Heart

Listen to Episode 14 here.

Welcome to the last 2013 episode of The M&M Report. This week, Devin Mitchell and I talked about some of our favorite albums and songs of the year. Keep in mind that Devin and I are far from comprehensive music consumers, so our musical tastes are limited to the genres we’ve enjoyed in the past. We’re open to tons of suggestions on new music we should try out, so bear with us and feel free to comment.

After we discussed six albums, we had a freewheeling conversation about the year in music, touching on everything from “Blurred Lines” and “Same Love” to Daft Punk and Miley Cyrus.

Here’s a Spotify playlist featuring some of the music we discussed during the show. Feel free to follow along.

Click through for the time breakdown and a bonus video from Local Natives, and we’ll see you in 2014!

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The Year in Review Begins

Breaking Bad

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holidays, though those are nice too. It’s time to recap, review, analyze, dissect, quantify, qualify, discuss, debate, demystify, debunk and debrief the year in pop culture. I’ve fully immersed myself in the spirit of summing up the past 365 days, and I’ll be unveiling a steady stream of blog posts in that spirit over the next couple weeks.

I started my 2013 Nostalgia Tour over at The Eagle. My final Take 5 column of the year briefly summarizes major trends in movies, music and television. I also left room to shine a spotlight on the year’s best performances and had fun using some of the year’s most memorable quotes to tell a little story about what we’ve learned from our entertainment. You can read my “Take 5: 2013 in Review” here.

Keep an eye out for my thoughts on the year’s best movies, TV shows, albums, songs, awards show moments and much more. Read on for a few of my parameters and guidelines for year-end recaps.

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Three More Thoughts on the 2014 Grammy Nominations

Lorde

I’ve already complained about the clunky telecast for the 2014 Grammy nominations in my piece for The Eagle. Nonetheless, I have a few more thoughts (three, in fact) on the nominations in general.

First, to quote from my piece:

“Despite some oversights, the nominations reflected the wide, if scattered, range of excellent pop music in 2013. Rising country star Kacey Musgraves nabbed three well-deserved nominations including one for Best New Artist. The Grammys embraced the anti-establishment alternative hip-hop of Lorde and the irrepressible smooth of Daft Punk. Taylor Swift’s excellent album Red ended up in the Album of the Year category, suggesting that the Grammys have longer memories than they are given credit for.”

Read on for three more thoughts.

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Live-Blogging the 2013 CMA Awards

CMA

I’ll be updating this blog all night long with thoughts and grades on this year’s celebration of country music, the CMA Awards on ABC. Read on for the good, the bad and the ugly.

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