Monday, March 1, 2021

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2020


The Great, The Good, and The Interesting!


MA RAINEY'S
BLACK BOTTOM




Shortcut links:
BEST MOVIES: 2020
BEST DOCUMENTARIES: 2020
BEST TV: 2020

C R I T E R I O N


Note: This will often spotlight directors for special merit.
But Auteur Theory is a shoebox; films are a collaborative effort with everyone involved.


Because of the pandemic, many films made in 2019 got broad release in streaming formats to fill the product gap, and are included.






"And... Action!"



B E S T
M O V I E S :
2 0 2 0







T H I N K




✭✭✭✭✭
MANK
Did Orson Welles write CITIZEN KANE (1941), or did Herman J. Mankiewicz? Yes.

They both did, but this arresting and shrewd film gives the other guy some needed spotlight. Directing his father's script, David Fincher's labor of love is generally accurate to the facts, while focusing more as an allegory about creativity in an exploitative system than a strict biography. As such, its wry satire is politically right on time, launching acerbic barbs at the Hollywood veneer and its capitalist underbelly, the Rich rigging Right Wing elections for power, and the indomitable punk spirit that guides creatives to battle the corrupt machine with art.

Enjoy it all, and then watch it again just for the craft: its emulation of KANE with layered flashbacks, lush B/W photography, and epic eye; the sterling dialogue, quoting the actual Mank' and his scripts; the sly turns by a perfect cast; and the wave of cameos by important historical figures from Chaplin to Hearst.



✭✭✭✭✭
MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
The heralded August Wilson wrote 9 stage plays about the African-American experience, one for each decade of the 20th Century.
Set during a 1927 Blues recording session, this riveting drama explores the coiling tensions between hope and exploitation, between what's made available and what needs to be possible. Viola Davis and Glynn Turman are marvels of subtlety and slow burn. And the late Chadwick Boseman, in his final role, is on righteous fire as the sideman who demands Front Street.

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
In her directorial debut, noted actor Regina King co-adapts Kemp Powers' play. Activist Malcolm X, boxer Muhammad Ali, singer Sam Cooke, and footballer Jim Brown once met up in a 1964 Florida hotel room, and this imagines what sociopolitical riffs and rifts might have happened in such an amazing get-together.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
The CounterCulture proposed Love to all throughout 1967, and the world spent 1968 trying to destroy them for it. (And still does.).
Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) examines the infamous trial of the activists who disrupted the '68 Democratic Convention, and how their populist ideals still resonate in contemporary politics, as does the corruption of the power elite that continues to assault activism and progress.



SHIRLEY
Josephine Decker's examination of psychological horror scribe Shirley Jackson's home life isn't an accurate bio, but instead an intense thriller in Jackson's own style. [And much more faithful in effect than the cheap shocks of The Haunting Of Hill House (2018).]
Masterful performances by Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg.

THE ASSISTANT (2019)
Kitty Green's slow-fuse shell game styles itself like an office documentary, following Julia Garner in her duties while quietly peeling away the layers of passive sexist degradation that women endure daily in the workplace.



SUMMERLAND (U.K.) ⇧
Jessica Swale's nuanced story of a temperamental writer forced to care for a displaced boy is bittersweet and lovely, driven by the ever-great Gemma Arterton and another radiant turn by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

NOMADLAND
Chloé Zhao's adaption of the non-fiction book about modern nomads follows Frances McDormand in plain-stated documentary fashion, upending conventional perceptions of poverty, community, retirement, and personal change.

BACURAU (Brazil)
Led by natural unknowns along with stalwarts like Sônia Braga and Udo Kier, this Weird Western unwinds through an evolving mystery that's especially effective in the eerie setup of its first half.



MINARI
This engaging and fresh tale of a Korean family trying to make it as farmers in 1980 Arkansas is based on writer/director Lee Isaac Chung's youth. Steven Yeun scores another acting win, while the spunky Grandma and the unaffected kids swipe it.

TIGERTAIL
Alan Yang (Parks and Recreation) explores how a father's disconnect from his daughter is rooted in his troubled past in this moving character drama starring reknowned character actor Tzi Ma and Christine Ko.

THE WILD GOOSE LAKE (China) (2019)
Diao Yinan follows the triumph of his crime thriller BLACK COAL, THIN ICE with this neo-noir journey, mesmerizing in its mood and unexpectedly grand moments.

MOGUL MOWGLI (U.K.) ⇧
Riz Ahmed has done so many varied roles, it's a shock to see him essentially be himself, a British-Pakistani rapper of intimidating skill. But rather than a music success yarn, this tough and occasionally surreal film takes a more challenging and empathic turn.


Interesting:

TESLA
An experiment in form that that benefits most from Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan's performances. A more effective take on the battle bwtween Tesla and Edison is THE CURRENT WAR (2017).

BLACK BEAR
This film also dusrupts narrative form, which is interesting enough, but it's the Cassavetes-esque intensity of Aubrey Plaza's shaded performance that revs the engine.





S M I L E





BORAT Subsequent Moviefilm
Sacha Baron Cohen tops himself in this superior sequel, taking on the worst excesses of current Fascistic politics full-on with a crazed bravery and vicious wit. Amazing newcomer Maria Bakalova is his match the whole way. And the climax has become legend.

THE TRIP TO GREECE
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon trade cheeky snark and more impressions in this fourth and final playful riposte to the Hope and Crosby ROAD pictures.


LUCKY GRANDMA (2019)
Did an NYC Chinatown grandma cross the wrong mob, or did the mobs cross the wrong grandma? Sasie Sealy and her all-female crew hit comedy gold with this savvy charmer starring the hardass Tsai Chin.

THE 40-YEAR-OLD VERSION
What if MANHATTAN thought like DO THE RIGHT THING? Writer/director/producer/rapper Radha Blank's B/W meditation on trying to make it in modern New York just gets more exponentially hilarious and inspired as it goes.


THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD (U.K.) ⇧
Armando Iannucci follows the Python-esque THE DEATH OF STALIN with a zany deconstruction of Charles Dickens as a metatextual farce, starring a cosmopolitan cast of greats, continually upended -of course- by any scene with Peter Capaldi, Tilda Swinton, or Ben Whishaw.

MISS JUNETEENTH
Channing Godfrey Peoples' debut film gives Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow) the star vehicle that truly lets her breathe, with this tender and amaiable yarn about a mother and daughter's differing dreams for the future.

THE HALF OF IT
As an antidote to the vanilla John Hughes coming-of-age formula, writer/director Alice Wu channels her youth as the outsider in a conventional small U.S. town through a sharp and funny rewrite of "Cyrano de Bergerac". Leah Lewis is a winning stand-out leading a fresh and supple cast.

YES, GOD, YES
Karen Maine's merry and sacriligeous slapstick of sexual awakening at an uptight Bible camp is clever, and Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things) is a wide-eyed delight.

EXTRA ORDINARY (Ireland) (2019)
GHOSTBUSTERS meets THE EXORCIST. All the ludicrous and leftfield fun you would want it to be.

VILLAINS (2019)
This demented farce is a whirling curveball, pitting two dumb thieves against married serial killers in the woodlands. Mayhem and bizzarity tumbles.




D R E A M





✭✭✭✭✭
TENET

In his heart of hearts, Christopher Nolan wants to make James Bond films.

In ways, he already has: the skyscraper scene in THE DARK KNIGHT; the plane sequence that opens THE DARK KNIGHT RISES; and the snow fortress sequence in INCEPTION. But here he goes full-tilt with an ultimate James Bond-esque thriller that questions the very nature of the sequential itself. This smart and innovative film works on every level, as a layered mystery, an international intrigue, an action thriller, as speculative fiction, and as a mindwarp.

Anyone who says different doesn't know what time it is.



MULAN
This fine film had the bad luck of being scuttled by the Pandemic (and attendant hysterical bias).
Meanwhile, on the real side, it reinvents the legend and the 1998 animated film much better, with an epic saga loyal in spirit, brave in innovation, and true in its aim.
Yifei Liu shines as the lead in this spectacular fantasy, amid a cast of all-star greats including Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, Rosalind Chao, Gong Li, and Jet Li. Sword up and ride.

THE VAST OF NIGHT
An effective debut, with elaborate Raimi-cam tracking shots zooming through weird goings-on in a '50s desert town. Sierra McCormick steals it as the irrepressible teen telephone operator.





N I G H T M A R E





THE INVISIBLE MAN
This feminist retake on the Wells classic has the perfect star in Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale). Aside from some minor logic gaps, it's a bracing thriller with a lot of wry subtext.

REBECCA
Hitchcock made his 1940 Hollywood debut with his smash adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's gothic romance thriller.
But the strong story is bigger than Hitch, and has been reinterpreted over the years through radio, plays, musicals, and TV mini-series. Here, Ben Wheatley (A FIELD IN ENGLAND, HIGH RISE) eschews moody studios and revivifys it filming on location in the natural settings of Monte Carlo, castles, and shore houses. Lily James and Armie Hammer bring the glamour and mystery.

CORDELIA
A fractured soul finds herself being stalked in this canny thriller. Or.
The layered performance by Antonia Campbell-Hughes, who co-wrote it, galvanizes this metatext about perception, using subliminal traces of three '50s Hitchcock films (and one '60s Polansky film) -and our suppositions from them- to then question our assumptions.

GRETEL AND HANSEL
Oz Perkins reaches peak stylization in this moody decoding of the creepy fable, engaging on its craft alone.

HIS HOUSE (UK) ⇧
A Sudanese refugee couple, haunted by war and secrets, moves to an inhospitable London town and encounters fresh grief and old horrors.

SHE DIES TOMORROW
Amy Seimetz starred in Shane Carruth's surreal mood piece UPSTREAM COLOR (2013), and she refracts it directing this jarring and entrancing film, in which a mysterious compulsion takes over one person after another.

Interesting:
RELIC
Natalie Erika James scores points for macabre style in this gloomy gloss of three women navigating a haunted place.





G R A P H I C
I M A G E S




Original art by Tym Stevens

WONDER WOMAN 1984
Director Patty Jenkins completes the arc, transferring Diana from the dreary hackdom of Snyder's DC films to the bright nobility of Donner's SUPERMAN.

The transition began in WONDER WOMAN (2017) and reaches full fruition here. WW84 is a loving tribute to the beginning of modern superhero films, namely SUPERMAN (1978) and SUPERMAN II (1981), with all the noble action, grand stakes, broad fun, heraldic destiny, romantic night-flights, and bright days intact. But, in rewriting SUPERMAN III into the good film it should have been, this sly homage is informed by all the character beats, complex plotting, metatext, social subtext, and expert craft that contemporary superhero films have evolved into. It is essentially the best superhero film that the '80s never actually made, and right in every way for it. Truth.





A R T F L I X





SOUL
Pete Docter wrote/directed the essential Pixar film INSIDE OUT (2015), a subtle film that understands the 3 levels of emotional perception.
(cheat chart: primary/basic, secondary/mixed, tertiary/abstract).
He expands that profundity in this heady film, as fleet as a bebop solo, as challenging as a Monk recital, as fun as a ballroom dance. Deep, funny, soulful.


TV Animation:


HILDA 2 ⇧
The latest season of Luke Pearson's charismatic adventurer tells bracing modern Fantasy tales, while taking the bold step of letting her have actual emotional growing pains along the way. A fine, fun show.

THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL 1 ⇧
How do you possibly follow up the brilliant candy absurdism of Adventure Time? Creator Pendleton Ward turns conversations from Duncan Trussell's heady podcasts into multiversal mindwarps.
The art is so astounding, you'll want to watch it again at half-speed just to admire and catch everything.



STAR TREK: Lower Decks 1 ⇧
Seth McFarlane initially misstepped by trying to merge frat humor with Star Trek in his parody, The Orville, eventually settling better into gentle spoofing.
Mike McMahan, a writer for Rick and Morty, succeeds better here lobbing Douglas Adams absurdity in rapid-fire gasps. The ballyhooed Easter Eggs of Trek history are seriously deep cut, but the true depth lies in characterization that makes you really care.

STAR WARS: The Clone Wars 7 ⇧
The beloved Clone Wars animated series was cut short from a 10-year goal by a Season 6 cancellation. Thankfully, fan support and the impact of its mythos on live-action films earned a 7th season finale reprieve, wrapping up the events between film Episodes II and III. And proving, quite touchingly, that Ahsoka Tano was the heart of it all.






B E S T
D O C U M E N T A R I E S :
2 0 2 0




MLK/FBI
The best man in America was harassed and threatened by the worst; Dr. King fought for real justice for American citizens, while FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover corroded our nation with corruption and oppression. The same dichotomy remains between populist activism and systemic injustice to this day.

WHO KILLED MALCOLM X?
It's been clear since 1965 that the murder of Civil Rights activism's bravest voice was deeper than the false narrative. Time only reveals more of the collusion.

ASSASSINS
How two women were tricked into murdering the heir to the leader of South Korea.

THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS
What is the legacy of the brutal 1973 Chile coup, and who does the interpretation?

FLINT: WHO CAN YOU TRUST?
The city of Flint, Michigan, poisoned its water supply for profit. The people fought back.
This is everything about how modern corruption causes social collapse in one clear example.


DELIA DERBYSHIRE: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes
As the wizard of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Delia created the classic 1963 Doctor Who theme purely out of tape loops. She has achieved cult status with all the other sonic wonders she created.

MR. SOUL!
From 1968 to 1973, Ellis Haizlip used public access TV to bring real Black culture and social views into the living room, disprupting all the hate narratives with peace, love, and soul.








B E S T
T V :
2 0 2 0





(The season number follows each title.)





N E W S





Feed your mind and your activism will follow.

The Rachel Maddow Show

LAST WEEK with John Oliver

PBS NewsHour

PBS FRONTLINE

THE DAILY SHOW, with Trevor Noah





D R A M A





BETTER CALL SAUL 5 ⇧
If Breaking Bad is THE GODFATHER, then Better Call Saul is THE GODFATHER II; while the first is a linear crime drama, the second is a prequel/sequel simultaneously, telling a wider and deeper story in between those time contrasts about consequences and redemptions. This penultimate season -a lesson in mature television craft- beautifully sets up the Sixth finale season to come.

FARGO 4 ⇧
After a pause, Noah Hawley brings a new dimension to the Fargo-verse, one that the Coens have never entertained in their films: the African American experience on either side of crime. Chris Rock and Jason Schwartzman are good, but Glynn Turman and Ben Whishaw carry the gravity, and Jessie Buckley and E'myri Crutchfield steal it.


BABYLON BERLIN 3
The noir detective series investigates murders at a 1929 movie studio, even as the terrible tide of Nazism begins to rise underneath.

PERRY MASON 1
The untold origin of the world's most famous lawyer, told harsh and hardboiled a la CHINATOWN and Boardwalk Empire.
As a beat-down private detective in brutal 1932 L.A., Mason explores the grime under the gloss as he exposes corrupt cops, clergy, and conspiracies. A fine cast, featuring another unexpected turn by Tatiana Maslaney (Orphan Black), and many surprise twists.

KILLING EVE 3
Another engaging season from a new showrunner, full of shocks and laughs, though maybe running the risk of formula at this point.


M I N I - S E R I E S


"SMALL AXE"
West Indies immigrants tranformed the culture of London from the '60 to the '80s, but found a rough road in the doing. Director Steve McQueen (12 YEARS A SLAVE) dramatizes this in five film stories that examine the tolls paid in their struggles.

THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT
An excellent adaptation of Walter Tevis's (The Hustler, The Man Who Fell To Earth) book which became a cultural phenomenon, winning awards and blowing up chess board sales. Anya Taylor-Joy is fascinating as the troubled chess prodigy who can conquer the world if she can exceed her own stalemates.

THE GOOD LORD BIRD
“There will be no peace in this land until slavery is done for.” -John Brown, 1856

John Brown was the fire to burn bigotry and class to the ground. Slavers and land barons quaked in fear, and still do, that the oppressed might rise up and overrun their tyranny. Under all their bombast, laws, and guns lies the panic that they are on the losing side of history. And they are.

This inversion of Huckleberry Finn, based on James McBride’s awarded book, boils with trenchant wit and righteous fury, by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. Helming an excellent cast, Ethan Hawke gives a career-best performance as the ice-eyed firebrand, while Daveed Diggs slyly preens as Frederick Douglass. Get it on the good foot and watch The Good Lord Bird. Fight for the power that should be.


HOLLYWOOD
What if the '40s Golden Age Of Hollywood had done the right thing by being inclusive and anti-bigoted?
This luminous alternate history story answers that by taking on all forms of bigotry dancing bantam and punching heavyweight. Ryan Murphy's (Glee, Pose) latest vehicle saunters breezy -and sometimes a few steps short of cheesy- with the chipper lilt of a Jacques Demy musical (note the gas station, a la Cherbourg), simmering with the erotic subversion of Kenneth Anger, and burning for better change like Paul Robeson. Patti Lupone is a force, Rob Reiner channels his hilarious dad, Queen Latifah brings the gravity, and the gorgeous Laura Harriel and the comely cast light up the nitrate.
Seeing what might have been clearly reveals how much we've lost for decades under the repressive. Action.

Bella Abzug,
Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan

MRS. AMERICA
For every positive action, there is a negative reactionary.

As soon as Feminists nearly passed the Equal Rights Amendment in the ‘70s, here came the zealot to turn back the clock. Phyllis Schlafly weaponized hick hate and gentry greed for her own power by manipulating the media, templating the next four decades of Right Wing oppression from Ronald to Donald.

This brave maxi-series is required viewing, both as an activist primer and a rallying call against injustice. See how the original Squad - Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, and Bella Abzug- fought the good fight for our future. Written and directed by women, it boasts an excellent A-list cast including fine turns by Sarah Paulson, Rose Byrne, Tracey Ullman, Elizabeth Banks, Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, and the chameleonic Cate Blanchett.

Today, we still fight the battles for equal rights - equal pay, diverse inclusion, sexual identity, political power- that we should have won in the ‘70s. Conservatives may constrict, but Progressives liberate. Raise your bullhorn and a fist.



UTOPIA
A comic book by a madman unlocks the puzzle of a pandemic endangering all life.

The critically acclaimed UK version (2013) was like a ‘90s Vertigo Comic come to life. The prescient series gets a clearly reverent US adaptation by bestselling author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects), which keeps the acidic comedy, some of the color saturation, and the Tarantino theatric sadism (the infamous spoon scene), all slightly streamlined with notable expansions in the second half.

And, unlike the subpar scribbling of the first series, João Ruas’ (Vertigo’s Fables) comic illustrations are glorious art that sells the whole surreal journey.

The original got 2 seasons when it deserved 3, and this one only got 1.* Explore each rabbit hole anyway.

* Maybe Bezos should spend his Plague Profits on worker protections instead of union-busting.


BLACK NARCISSUS
Have Gemma Arterton, will succeed. The Powell-Pressburger film version (1947) is a stone classic, but this worthy 3-part adaptation brings in added elements of the book, enhanced by filming at actual Nepal locations.

DEVS
Alex Garland (EX MACHINA, ANNIHILATION) crafts an 8-part headtrip, mesmeric in tone and provocative in implications. The ever-fluid Sonoya Mizuno plays a software developer at the cusp of a redefinition of existence.

THE OUTSIDER
What if The X-Files was filmed like True Detective? This Stephen King adaptation gains most of its potency from the latter's form, unwinding a gripping procedural into a darkening thriller. Moody atmosphere, impressionistic photography, and a nuanced character script enfold a first-rate cast, all of which is stolen -as usual- by the rising Cynthia Erivo portraying King's answer to Will Graham.

THE STAND
Stephen King's magnum opus gets an effective new interpretation.
The 1978 classic epic, about the lean survivors of a global pandemic, achieved its power from the gradual assembling of its cast and the deep character build in the journey. This maxi-series compresses that by flashing through a then/now shuffle (a la LOST, which the book directly influenced) instead of being sequential, losing much of the depth and gravity in between in the process. But it is still a riveting and effective adaptation that tells a timeless story very well with a worthy cast, albeit becoming a highlights reel strongest in its light than its dark, and King has written an interesting new postscript episode for the end.


S H O R T

WHAT DID JACK DO?
A film noir short film in which tough cop David Lynch interrogates a cagey monkey. 17 minutes of hilarious.





W O N D E R





STAR TREK: DISCOVERY 3 ⇧
'Star Trek: Discovery' is the Ultimate STAR TREK.
After summing up the strengths of all previous shows and films in its first two seasons, the most innovative Trek show in history rebuilt itself from a blank slate this year, defining itself in the unknown in real time in a way not seen since the Original Series itself. The show knows it, and its triumphant culmination at season's end proves it.

Catch up to the new future.

STAR TREK: PICARD 1 ⇧
A brave show that challenges how Star Trek can be told, and what it tells about itself. Taking its cues from the fearless transmutations of Discovery, Picard upgrades The Next Generation into Phase II, with feature film production values, sociopolitical edge, scandalous upheaval, guerilla rebellion, and a ruthless questioning of what Starfleet is and should be. And along the way, some loved and familiar faces take on new life.

Engage.


THE MANDALORIAN 2 ⇧
Everyone loved the first season, which brought STAR WARS feature film values to weekly television, while expanding the depth of its stories with mini-series breadth. But everyone really loved the second season, when aspects from all variations of the canon came to life and together; from the live-action versions of animated characters to the astonishing guest at the end.



OUTLANDER 5
Television's best romance told dual love stories, while balancing history, inclusion, fate, and tragedy.

DOCTOR WHO 12
Jodie Whittaker is wondrous as the current Doctor, and showrunner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch) has totally redefined and expanded the character for the ages in the stunning season finale.

HIS DARK MATERIALS 2 ⇧
An adaptation of the second book in Pullman's Fantasy series, alive with vivid locations, pinioning deception, palpable edge, and the charm of Dafne Keen's puckish hero.

WESTWORLD 3 ⇧
The source film WESTWORD (1973) was followed by the sequel FUTURE WORLD (1976).
The genius of this season was in reinventing itself into cyberpunk territory, while filming in real-world locations that exist because of the future extrapolations which have since come to pass.


ALTERED CARBON 2
Richard K. Morgan's cyberpunk trilogy about body-changing mercenary Takeshi Kovacs lends itself naturally to renewal. This adaptation of the second book rejuvenates the series with a dynamic turn by new lead, Anthony Mackie.

3% 4 (Brazil)
The dystopian allegory reaches its end. Anyone with any casting sense would be building a STAR WARS spin-off series around break-out stars Bianca Comparato and Vaneza Oliveira.

OMNISCIENT (Brazil) 1
In a 'crimeless' utopic surveillance state, her father's murder compels her to investigate a wider conspiracy. A tightly entertaining thought experiment about corporatism, exploitation, and classism, energized by the magnetic Carla Salle.

AWAY 1
A solid show about the first flight to Mars, sometimes basic but more often sublime. Hilary Swank captains an international crew, navigating their inner demons and unexpected disasters as they hurtle through the vacuum. Though it was cancelled after one season, it plays like a maxi-series that tells a satisfying full story. Catch the ride.

[Watching tip: to enjoy the full Martian journey in sequence, watch THE FIRST (2018) series for the pre-flight, then AWAY (2020) for the flight mission, and finally MARS (2016-'18) for the colonization.]






H E R O E S





AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. 7 ⇧
Since the beginning, this show has set the standard for smart adult fun in superhero shows: always funny without descending to crass, ever active while never stooping to hyper-violence, clever in its arcs without overstretching the taffy. Unloved at first for seeming too basic, it stealthily built a hardcore following with sharp stories, Whedon wit, and great characters. This finale season read like a love letter to its supporters, to Marvel history, and to its own admirable accomplishments.

DOOM PATROL 2
Writer Grant Morrison's storied four-year run on the 'Doom Patrol' comic series completely redefined the misfits as lysergic surrealism for adults. This series channels his black comedy into what sometimes veers on madcap camp, still retaining enough of his concepts, arcs, and tone to be a fun translation of his legacy.

UMBRELLA ACADEMY 2
Grant Morrison's acolyte is rock star Gerard Way, who with Brazilian artist Gabriel Bá created his own take on 'Doom Patrol' and 'The X-men' comics with the postpunk piss-take, 'The Umbrella Academy'. This solid series adaption, with its scope and tone, may even capture more of the Morrison style than DOOM PATROL does.
SNOWPIERCER 1 ⇧
Two French graphic novels in the 'Metal Hurlant' style were the basis for Bong Joon-ho's acclaimed cult hit SNOWPIERCER film (2013), a metaphor about classism in a lone train endlessly circling a frozen Earth.
The malleable framework of the concept gets fully expanded here with the time it deserves, wringing the classism parable for all its immediate currency. Daveed Diggs does a dramatic turn here, but the steely star of it all is the multi-faceted Jennifer Connelly.






The Passion Of Joan Of Arc; The Great Dictator;
The Red Shoes; Ugetsu;
Pather Panchali; Nights Of Cabiria


C R I T E R I O N



Netflix is like the flashy dance club of streaming entertainment, but The Criterion Channel is for the deep cuts of real culture.

It needs to be said. Netflix and Amazon Prime and Hulu impress with their glossy New Now, and they do have many current gems, but they completely lack heritage classics. All width and no depth. That's all fun, but how long can you chew gum for supper? At some point, when you crave for a more well-rounded diet of substance that sustains your mind and soul, there's only one place to get serious about learning full-quality cinema... The Canon Of Great Films That Actually Matter.

The Hidden Fortress; Black Orpheus;
The 400 Blows; Purple Noon;
Woman In The Dunes; A Hard Day's Night


While other streaming sites are High School, The Criterion Channel is Oxford.

The Criterion Channel film-streaming site is the best cinema from around the world and every decade since film began, along with new indie films and acclaimed documentaries. Plus, Criterion is the vanguard in restoring great films to a precision standard of picture and sound that matches the present. Restored classics now look better than the day they were struck. If you've watched Mark Cousins' "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" documentary series as a primer >, this site is the true library to expand your enjoyment into the most essential film classics. Every fine film we appreciate now branches directly from the roots of these timeless works of cinematic art, whether it's a romance, period piece, character drama, guerilla handheld, Rock film, style fest, rebel indie, or avant garde. Get the whole picture.

Later for sugar, next for substance. Subscribe today.

Black Girl; Persona;
Solaris; Space Is The Place;
Eraserhead; Brother From Another Planet



(also explore: Fandor, Filmatique, Mubi, Turner Classic Movies, Kanopy, Filmhub, IndiePix, IndieFlix, Ovid, BFI Player (UK), OpenCulture)





THINGS TO CATCH UP ON, Dept.



Hey, who has access (or money) to see everything, even during a lockdown?

Films
DEAD PIGS
DEAR COMRADES!

GAGARINE
THE WOLF HOUSE ('18)


TV
I MIGHT DESTROY YOU

PEN15
AUNTY DONNA’S BIG OL’ HOUSE OF FUN
THE AMBER RUFFIN SHOW

TWILIGHT ZONE 2
RAISED BY WOLVES 1
UPLOAD

MY FAVORITE WAR
STEVEN UNIVERSE FUTURE
ADVENTURE TIME: Distant Lands
INFINITY TRAIN
SOLAR OPPOSITES




© Tym Stevens



See also:

Four Color Films, THE Comic Movies Review Site!


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TWIN PEAKS: Its Influence on 30 Years of Film, TV, and Music!, with 5 Music Players!


The Real History of ROCK AND SOUL!: The Music Player Checklist


"Cut!




Thursday, February 25, 2021

BEST MUSIC: 2020


With 4 Music Players!


B L A C K
P U M A S






ALL THE
REAL MUSIC!


Hard Pass all those trendy-indie
'Best Music' lists that taste like spoons!


These tunes will seance your senses
and woogie your boogie-oogie-oogie!


Shortcut to Music Players:
BEST ALBUMS: 2020
COOL SONGS: 2020
COVER SONGS 2020 NEW +!
BEST REISSUES: 2020





Greyhounds; Les Hay Babies 1;
Bonnie Whitmore 2; Star Feminine Band

Photos: 1- Jim Dupuis, 2- Eryn Brooke


B E S T
N E W
A L B U M S :
2 0 2 0




BEST ALBUMS 2020
by Tym Stevens
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.



This music player has songs from the following albums, in the same order.



Black Pumas, "Black Pumas"
The Album Of The Year.
A Psychedelic Soul tour-de-force.
A truly stunning debut by the Texas duo, with a diverse range of melodies that already sound like classic standards.

(See also: Georgia Ann Muldrow, Curtis Harding, Greyhounds, The Heavy)

Nicole Atkins, "Italian Ice"
Country, Soul, Psyche, +.
Atkins is a mage who shifts effrortlessly through musical moods, with memorable tunes and rewarding turns.
Why do we need plastic idols, when we have someone who deserves all the attention?

(see also: Neko Case, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Jesca Hoop, Lera Lynn)

Autoramas, "Studio Sessions"
Surfabilly New Wave.
Garage sounds with punk angularity, from Brazil with love.

(see also: The Rezillos, The B-52's, Pixies)

Alexandra Savior, "The Archer"
Cinematic soulsearching.
Rising above personal setbacks and turmoil, Savior's second album steps boldly forward, haunting while exorcised.

(see also: Julee Cruise, The Last Shadow Puppets, Kandle, Unloved, Deradoorian)

Greyhounds, "Primates"
Funky Soul Rock cornucopia.
Giving the Black Pumas a serious run for their money are their fellow Texans, swiping the stage with bounding Funk, warm Soul, and crack tunes.

(see also: Black Pumas, The Black Keys, St. Paul And The Broken Bones)

Pottery, "Welcome To Bobby's Motel"
Elastic Dance Punk.
Montreal whips up a mercurial smoothie of Talking Heads twitch, Gang Of Four hustle, Fela polyrhythms, and Zappa's spirit.

(see also: Liquid Liquid, Orange Juice, White Denim)

Chicano Batman, "Invisible People"
Alternative Dance.
With a name like Chicano Batman, they have to be delightful. And this dream disco of alternative sounds will shake your hips while lingering in your ears.

(see also: Kid Creole And The Coconuts, Brazilian Girls, Red Baraat)

Hijyou no Licence, "Black Beauty"
Garage Rock riot.
What, you thought you could just escape Japanese noiseabilly freakouts? Not on my watch.

(see also: The Gories, Guitar Wolf, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, Theee Bat)


Monophonics, "It's Only Us"
Funky Soul Psyche.
The Bay Area groovers shimmy your sacroiliac through lush moodscapes.

(see also: Kelly Finnigan solo record, El Michels Affair, Ghost Funk Orchestra, The Budos Band, Ikebe Shakedown)

Songhoy Blues, "Optimisme"
Desert Blues from Mali.
Their ferocity comes from being political refugees, their joy from optimism for the future.

(see also: Tinariwen, Goat, Imarhan, Bombino)


Bonnie Whitmore, "Last Will And Testement"
Noir Soul.
Recorded in some nexus between Memphis Soul joints and Twin Peaks diners, this confession booth of soulful blues and ballads is killer.

(see also: Nicole Atkins, Jessica Lee Mayfield, Secret Sisters, Hannah Williams)

Loren Oden / Adrian Younge, "My Heart, My Love"
Timeless Soul.
Sweet crooning from Gospel roots, with lovely Classic/Forward arrangements by producer Adrian Younge.

(see also: The Delfonics, Marvin Gaye, Maxwell, D'Angelo)



Lucinda Williams, "Good Souls, Better Angels"
Bruising Blues.
The Alt-Country poet can belt out fuzzy feedback with the best of them, and here she goes off like pissed bottle rockets.

(see also: Patty Griffin, Mr. Airplane Man, The Detroit Cobras)


Bootsy Collins , "The Power Of The One"
Funk Forward.
Another Bootsy record with serious guest stars (George Benson, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Snoop, Branford Marsalis, Larry Graham himself, Dr. Cornel West, etc.), this time more fully wrapped in the classic P-Funk sound.

(see also: James Brown, Parliament, Funkadelic, early Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thundercat)


X, "ALPHABETLAND"
Punkabilly.
The L.A. Punk pioneers return so energized with their early-'80s fire that you'd think not a minute had passed.

(see also: The Cramps, The Damned, Black Flag)


BC Camplight, "Shortly After Taking Off"
Pop Futurism.
Brian Christinzio's bracing blender intoxicates sounding like 10cc melodies, Brian Wilson harmonies, Father John Misty wit, and ELO futurism. Think and dance.

(see also: GUM, La Femme, Django Django, Constant Bop)



Les Hay Babies, "Boite aux Lettres"
Chanson Beatles.
The best Rubber Soul from Canada you didn't know you'd need and love so much.

(see also: Les Lutins, Les Intrigantes, French Boutik)


The Jayhawks , "Xoxo"
Alt-Americana.
Everything right about Roots music, Singer-Songwriter, and Country Rock in one ever-evolving band.

(see also: The White Album, Neil Young, America, Wilco)


Star Feminine Band, "Star Feminine Band"
AfroPop.
A Benin septet of musician girls from 10 to 17, turning daily challenges into sunshine. Go buy it right now.

(see also: Lijadu Sisters, King Sunny Ade)


Bob Dylan, "Rough And Rowdy Ways"
Blues Master Class.
When Bob talks, you listen.

(see also: Howlin' Wolf, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan)




Kyle Lacy, "The Road To Tomorrow"
Actual Heartland.
Lacy and his hickory-smoked cohorts swing this debut record of Rockabilly, Country, and pure Soul with such confident verve, you'd think it was his tenth.

(see also: Sam Cooke, Van Morrison, Brian Setzer, The James Hunter Six, J.D. McPherson)


Jungle Fire , "Jungle Fire"
Latin Funkadelia.
You'll feel like a hundred horses, thundering across the desert into glory.

(see also: Fela, early Budos Band, Ocote Soul Sounds, Brownout, Antibalas)


Death Valley Girls, "Under The Spell Of Joy"
Epic Garage.
Bikini Kill meets Black Sabbath. Get off your butt and get with.

(see also: Cradle, Blackwater Holylight, Heron Oblivion, Las Robertas)


Las Cobras, "Selva"
Lysergic Fuzz.
Like a tryst between Mazzy Star and Guadalupe Plata, their sinister hypnotic psychedelia will enrapt your synaptic paths.

(see also: Jesus And Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tess Parks, The Limananas, L'Epee)



Tami Neilson, "CHICKABOOM!"
Honkytonk Heaven.
Rockabilly, Country, and Soul with the sass of Wanda Jackson and the grand intensity of Shirley Bassey. A great record to offset a lousy year.

(see also: Patsy Cline, Imelda May, Shannon And The Clams)


Osees (Thee Oh Sees) , "Protean Threat"
Prog Punk.
Rip it up and start again. Garage Punk's most frighteningly malleable contortionists always switch names and sounds swifter than ocean currents, this time bashing out manic Motorik on crank.

(see also: Faust, Primus, Ty Segall, Meatbodies, Abjects)


Habibi, "Anywhere But Here"
Beat Music meets Iran.
After a long gestation (and fraught times), the quartet evolves their harmony guitar pop into textural melodicism with lyrical teeth.

(see also: Dum Dum Girls, La Luz, Quilt)


Toots And The Maytals, "Got To Be Tough"
Reggae Soul.
Rest In Power, Toots Hibbert. The man who invented the term 'Reggae' and then defined its sound has left us his lifelong legacy of shining music.


(see also: Otis Redding, Jimmy Cliff, John Holt, Black Uhuru)



Deerhoof, "Future Teenage Cave Artists"
Experimental Pop.
Indie Rock's most fearless band played cut-up with the sonic rules again, turning melody inside out while still being erratically catchy.
And they also dropped a covers album -Love-Lore- of insane medley combinations.

(see also: Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Broadcast, Guerilla Toss)


Don Bryant , "You Make Me Feel"
Stax Soul.
Quality is timeless, and griots know the score. Listen and learn.

(see also: Sam And Dave, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Clarence Carter, Sharon Jones)


Throwing Muses, "Sun Racket"
Classic Indie.
The indie band's second act blazes like it's their first time and they have everything to prove.

(see also: Blake Babies, Belly, Sleater-Kinney)


Here Lies Man, "Ritual Divination"
Afrobeat Rock.
Pounding out an album a year like it was the '70s, sounding like a jam session between Fela and Queens Of The Stone Age.

(see also: Fela Kuti, Antibalas, Golden Dawn Arkestra)




Pretenders, "Hate For Sale"
Punk'n'Roll.
Molten with vigor and resolve, this stunning new rocker from the returning stalwarts plays like 'their great lost record from 1982'. A fist in the face to time, ageism, and conformity.

(see also: The Stranglers, The Smithereens, Ex Hex)


Public Enemy , "What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?"
Conscious Rap.
When Chuck D. raps, you listen.

(see also: The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Consolidated, Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, Kate Tempest)

Caleb Landry Jones, "The Mother Stone"
Baroque Pop Dada.
The famed actor fractures his hypnogogic hallucinations into whiplash symphonies, like Sgt. Pepper pinballing through a maze. Hold onto the handlebars and enjoy the ride.

(see also: Syd Barrett, Alexander "Skip" Spence, Julian Cope, Crispin Glover, Beck)


Nadine Shah, "Kitchen Sink"
Moody Alternative.
The cosmopolitan Shah unscrews the skewed in her mysterious moods.

(see also: Malaria!, The Creatures, Anna Calvi)



Fantastic Negrito, "Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?"
Blues Moderne.
Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz plays the Blues spectrum with his roots in the classics, and his branches into the cosmos.

(see also: The Bones Of J.R. Jones, The Alabama Shakes, Benjamin Booker)

White Denim , "World As A Waiting Room"
GaragePsycheSoulFunkPunkJazzProgBluesPop.
The Austin Texas quartet will throw in some other wrong/rights into the gumbo before you can blink. Plus, you can boogie to it.

(see also: The New Pornographers, Thee Oh Sees, Portugal. The Man, Spoon)

Tomar And The FCs, "Rise Above"
Gutbucket Soul.
Memphis-esque Soul Stew: half-a-pint of Stax, four tablespoons of Hi Records, a pinch of Stones, a dash of Allmans, and a stir of Link Wray. Beat well.

(see also: Little Milton, David Porter, Raphael Saddiq)

Shadow Show, "Silhouettes"
Revolver Redux.
Detroit brings you the catchy, adventurous, Beatlesque popcraft you needed to feel truly complete.

(see also: The Bangles, The Pandoras, The Bristols, Cola Jet Set)



Cupid's Carnival, "Color-Blind"
Beatles '65, with some '69.
The Beatles are a prism, from which new rays continually find their own light. This inspired band guarantees you a splendid time.

(see also: The Spongetones, The Red Button, Groovy Uncle)

Joel Paterson , "Let It Be Acoustic Guitar!: Joel Paterson Plays The Beatles Again"
Beatles acoustic.
Following the success of his electric instrumentals album Let It Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays The Beatles (2019), here's the acoustic follow-up.

(see also: Chet Atkins, early Glen Campbell, Jim Capilongo)

Daniel Romano, "How Ill Thy World Is Ordered"
Mash-ville Skyline.
Minting albums as fast as Prince or Ryan Adams, on this stylistically expansive release the Canadian sounds like '69 Dylan making Abbey Road at Muscle Shoals.
And if that isn't good enough for you, I don't know what else to say.

(see also: The Flying Burrito Brothers, Alan Hull, T-Bone Burnette, Jake Bugg)

Annabelle Chairlegs, "Gotta Be In Love"
Optical Sound.
Psyche-idealic pop for now people.

(see also: The Shivas, LOVEBYRD, Blackwater Holylight, The Lovely Eggs)



The Moons, "Pocket Melodies"
All roads lead to Abbey Road.
Beatlesque bands tend to be crafty clones or spiritual cousins. The Moons are definitely the latter, using their pop chops and sonic experimentation to create exemplary albums, and this magnum opus is their best yet.

(see also: Cotton Mather, Robbers On High Street, Lawrence Arabia)

Joey Molland, "Be True To Yourself"
Badfinger's culmination.
Just as Paul McCartney is a one-man Beatles, Joey Molland is the one-man Badfinger. Here he creates the greatest album you wish they had got to make, a swan song of effortless grace and beauty.

(see also: Sleepy Hollow, We All Together, Chris von Sneidern, The Grays)

Diamond Hands , "III"
Pop-adelic perfection.
Everything immortal about The Beatles, Classic Rock, and Power Pop in one spellbinding kaleidescope.

(see also: Let's Active, Sitcom Neighbor, New Electric Ride)

Paul McCartney, "McCartney III"
The Love he makes.

The Sun doesn't care about your 'fashion-turnover' outlook. It's beyond anyone's simple limits and will continue to illuminate the world. Quality is timeless.
Here, the Master Of Pop gleefully tosses away the Fakebook yet again, with immediately classic tunes alive with lucid knack, elated spark, and fresh perspectives.

Reminder, dept.: You know how you made a solo record, trying all kinds of un-commercial things, going acoustic and eclectic, playing all the instruments in your home studio? Paul invented that with McCartney (1970). Catch up to the rays.

(see also: Emitt Rhodes, Todd Rundgren, Elliott Smith, Sam Phillips, Tara Busch, Mikal Cronin)

Paul McCartney 1

Photo: 1- Mary McCartney







C O O L
S O N G S :
2 0 2 0




All the REAL MUSIC
beyond the box!


Nevermind Gloss Pop, Stepford Idols, Karaoke Choruses ("woh-oo-oh"), Ego Brats, Emo Prats, Plinky Folk, Brittle Bombast, Vegas Country, Smug Thug, Mope Noodling, De-mixed Throb, and Robot-o-Tune schlock! >

Here's the
D R E A M
J U K E B O X !

Shimmy down with more soul
than a fishing wharf!


COOL SONGS 2020
by Tym Stevens

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*(The Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)


This jukebox is sequenced into groups of sound, instead of randomly.
All the songs elasticize their genres.
Get your groove on in this sonic order.:

Rockabilly! Beatlesque! Garage! Psyche!

Glam! Folk! Country! Blues!

Soul! Funk! World! Africana!

Alt Rock! PostPunk! Electro! Riot Grrrl!

TripHop! Soundtracks! RESIST!


Fantastic Negrito; Pottery 1;
Nadine Shah; La Femme

Photo: 1- Luke Orlando


16 hours of synapse-snapping, tushie-twisting music, featuring the following fine folks in this exact order!:

Rockabilly!
The Fangin' Felines, Groovy Uncle, Eva Eastwood, The Neatbeats, and Hijyou no Licence.

The Newbeats; Salome No Kuchibiru;
The Ace Of Cups; Las Cobras


Surf / Beat / Garage!
The Minders, Peggy Sue, Hayley And The Crushers, The Courettes, The Shakers, Cupid's Carnival, Nick Lowe, Habibi, Mr. Waricomets, Tristen, Lips Of Salome, The Fleshtones, Night Beats, Pretenders, Ace of Cups, and Las Cobras.

Psychedelic / Beatlesque!
Autoramas, Destination Lonely, Shadow Show, The Clientele, Miranda And The Beat, Fleur, Joel Paterson, Isobel Campbell, Diamond Hands, El Goodo, Leah Senior, The Flaming Lips, Bananagun, The Moons, The Empty Hearts, BC Camplight, Datura4, Brigid Dawson And The Mothers Network, Dent May, Annabelle Chairlegs, The Jayhawks, Daniel Romano, Caleb Landry Jones, Blues Pills, Bebopalula, Paul McCartney, Joey Molland, King Tuff, Brent Cowles, Nathaniel Rateliff, Les Hay Babies, Throwing Muses, and Death Valley Girls.

Autoramas; Annabelle Chairlegs 1;
The Jayhawks; Joey Molland

Photo: 1- Federico Moreno


Classic Rock / Glam!
Declan McKenna, Gloria, Jane Weaver, Fuzz, Las Historias, Mrs. Piss, Osees, and Nancy.

Folk / Country!
levitation room, Shirley Collins, Sarah Jarosz, Tim Heidecker and Weyes Blood, The Secret Sisters, The Clientele, Adia Victoria, Dana Gavanski, Samantha Crain, Dirty Projectors, Kacy + Clayton and Marlon Williams, Angel Olsen, Laura Marling, Kevin Morby, and Rhiannon Giddens.

The Secret Sisters; Bette Smith;
Bai Kamara Jr; Chris Stapleton;
Don Bryant 1; Nicole Atkins

Photo: 1- C. Matt White


Blues!
Bob Dylan, Bette Smith, Suzanne Santo and Gary Clark Jr, S. G. Goodman, Black Joe Lewis And The Honeybears, Lucinda Williams, Bai Kamara Jr And The Voodoo Sniffers, and Larkin Poe.

Soul!
Early James, Thorbjørn Risager, Native Harrow, Don Bryant, Tami Neilson, The Altons, The James Hunter Six, Dedicated Men of Zion, Nicole Atkins, Black Pumas, Gemma Ray, Thee Sacred Souls, Dan Penn, Chris Stapleton, Greyhounds, Kandle, Los Yesterdays, Marcus King, Lee Fields And The Expressions, Motenko, X, Loren Oden, Paul Weller, Khruangbin and Leon Bridges, Monophonics, Thee Sinseers, SAULT, and Aaron Frazer.

Funk / Mutant Disco!
Fantastic Negrito, Hannah Williams And The Affirmations, Them Vibes, Bastards Of Soul, Jyoti/Georgia Anne Muldrow, Tomar and the Fcs, Pottery, Jungle Fire, Neal Francis, Thundercat, Penza Penza, Childish Gambino, The Du-Rites, Chris Joss, Brownout, Temples, La Femme, Chrysta Bell, and Too Much.

Deerhoof 1; Deradoorian;
White Denim 2; PINS 3;
Zara McFarlane; Osees

Photos: 1- Shervin Lainez, 2- Pooneh Ghana, 3- Debbie Ellis


World!
Toots And The Maytals, The Hempolics, Marcos Valle, Ley Line, Altin Gün, and Bab L'Bluz.

Rock En Espanol!
Los Cogelones, Mint Field, El Shirota, The Limiñanas and Nuria, Sgt. Papers, Los Estanques, Estrogenuinas, Marilyn Monstruo Band, and The Mavericks.

Africana!
Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela, Warsaw Afrobeat Orchestra, Songhoy Blues, Les Amazones d'Afrique and Mamani Keïta, Melt Yourself Down, Farafi, Roy Ayers, Star Feminine Band, Antibalas, Groupe RTD, Michelle David And the Gospel Sessions, and Mdou Moctar.

Toots Hibbert; Tony Allen 1;
Songhoy Blues; Les Amones d'Afrique

Photo: 1- Bernard Benant


Alt Rock!
Here Lies Man, Deerhoof, Spoon, Thao And The Get Down Stay Down, Chicano Batman, Ohmme, Moses Sumney, Deradoorian, White Denim, HAIM, Yves Tumor, Nadine Shah, and Savoy Motel.

Neo Wave / PostPunk!
The Unknowns, Elvis Costello, The Go-Go's, Crack Cloud, Vintage Crop, Kobra, PINS and Leather Party, Ganser, Public Practice, Autoramas, and Girls In Synthesis.

Electro!
GUM, Home Counties, Electrocute, Jehnny Beth, Django Django, Zara McFarlane, Special Interest, Son Lux and William Bell, Osees, and Kate NV.

Alt-Rap!
Kate Tempest, Riz Ahmed, Sa-Roc, Dry Cleaning, Shygirl, Shabazz Palaces, Calibro 35 and MEI, Sneaks, Keleketia! +, Common with Lenny Kravitz and Chuck D., Fiona Apple, Shamekia + Fiona Apple, Hotel Lux, and Run The Jewels with Josh Homme and Mavis Staples.

Riz Ahmed; The Paranoyds;
noranekoguts; Alexandra Savior;
Unloved; Adrian Younge + Ali Shaheed Muhammad


Riot Grrrl!
Mitski, Shilpa Ray, illuminati hotties, Es, Kat Riggins, The Paranoyds, noranekoguts, L.A. WITCH, Concrete Lawn, Sasami, Suzie Stapleton, and Ohmme.

Alt-Jazz!
Jaimie Branch, Artemis, Muriel Grossman, Shabaka And The Ancestors, Nubya Garcia, and Idris Ackamoor And The Pyrimids.

TripHop / Cinerama / Soundtracks!
Kandle, Anna Calvi, Calibro 35, Alexandra Savior, The Third Mind, Sharon Van Etten, The Proper Ornaments, Lera Lynn, El Michels Affair, Unloved, Ghost Funk Orchestra, Au Revoir Simone, The Budos Band, Jackie Lynn, The Dream Syndicate, Bonnie Whitmore, Brownout, El Michels Affair and Piya Malik, Julie Byrne and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Loma, Jon Batiste, Ramin Djawadi, Jeff Russo, and Ludwig Goransson.

Elvis Costello; Public Enemy;
Resistance Revival Chorus; Durand Jones And The Indications

RESIST!!
Artichoke, Ondara, Dion and Paul Simon, Leslie Odom Jr., Thee Sacred Souls, Catholic Action, Elvis Costello, Wire, Dave Hause and Amythyst Kiah and Kam Franklin, Pink Mountaintops, Boca 45 and Hannah Williams, Enemy Radio, Alabama Slim, Earl St. Clair, Public Enemy, Paul Cauthen, Consolidated, Blake Mills, Ohmme, Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, Peaches, Heartless Bastards, Angelo Moore And the Brand New Step, The Magnetic Fields, Resistance Revival Chorus and Rhiannon Giddens, Gabriels, Lera Lynn, Durand Jones And The Indications, Badge Époque Ensemble and James Baley, Mavis Staples, A Certain Ratio, Las Cafeteras, Kyle Lacy, Liz Vice, and Harry Gregson-Williams.

Happy Holidays!
Kelly Finnigan, Black Pumas, and Michelle David And the Gospel Sessions.






C O V E R
S O N G S
2 0 2 0



All the Best
COVER VERSIONS
of the year!



Music is the throughline of the human spirit.

Singing timeless songs in times of uncertainty brings us solace, offers out support, and bonds us in communion.

In a year that separated us from each other, sharing songs reaffirmed us as a people, honored our origins, and lit the way for the young.

There were an abundance of cover songs in 2020. Through them, we sought reflection, revelation, and renewal. Here’s a playlist of our mutual journey.

COVER SONGS 2020
by Tym Stevens
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.



List = Original By / Cover Artist
Songs are sequenced in the chronological order of the Originals.



1920s-'50s Covers

Mahalia Jackson / Sinéad O'ConnorTampa Red / Erin HarpeVera Lynn / Karen ElsonGlenn Miller / Elisa JOWoodie Guthrie / Resistance Revival ChorusBig Mama Thornton / Kyle LacyLittle Willie John / The ShakersScreaming Jay Hawkins / Kandace Springs, and The Kills.

'60s Covers

Ray Charles / Autoramas (riff), and The Flying Horse Big BandSam Cooke / Leslie Odom Jr., and Los Coast and Gary Clark Jr.The Seekers / Dean And BrittaToussant McCall / Robert PlantLos Shakers / Muck and the MiresThe Impressions / The NotationsThe Beatles / Kathleen Grace and Larry GoldingsThe Easybeats / The Weeklings, and The PremonitionsThe Seeds / Nick WaterhouseThe Rolling Stones / Les Hay BabiesThe Beatles / BlossomsFour Tops / Jonathan WilsonTim Hardin / Vagabon + Courtney BarnettNina Simone / Lady BlackbirdThe Beatles / Black Pumas, and Peter ParcekThe Rolling Stones / Molly TuttleThe Kinks / Unloved and Raven VioletJefferson Airplane / The Shivas, and Prince Fatty + Shniece McMenaminThe 13th Floor Elevators / The Third MindStatus Quo / The Colour Collection The Moody Blues / Larkin PoeEnnio Morricone / Ikebe ShakedownBuffalo Springfield / Billy PorterJames Brown / Shawn PittmanBee Gees / The RevivalistsThe Beatles / ArtemisHarry Nilsson / Alyssandra NighswongerThe Turtles / Bella KayeNancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood / Alex Kapranos and Clara LucianiHAIR / Rachelle GarniezMargo Guryan / BedouineThe Beatles / Valentina And The Electric Post, The Midnight CallersTommy James + The Shondells / The Shacks + The Diamond MineDusty Springfield / Meridian BrothersGlen Campbell / The Pen Friend ClubThe Band / Larry Campbell + Teresa Williams, w/ Buddy MillerCreedence Clearwater Revival / Eileen Jewell.

'70s Covers

Creedence Clearwater Revival / Fogerty's FactoryCrosby, Stills, Nash, And Young / Katie PruittKris Kristofferson / Kelsey WaldonNeil Young / Brad MehldauThe Stooges / Destination LonelyThe Beach Boys / Psychic IllsThe Beatles / Joel Paterson, and Joan As Police WomanGeorge Harrison / Jarrod DickensonSimon + Garfunkel / XIXABrook Benton / Los StraitjacketsCat Stevens / Father John MistyEdwin Starr / Vintage TroubleSteppenwolf / Deap Lips (The Flaming Lips + Deap Vally)David Bowie / Ramin DjawadiJohn Lennon / Dirty Projectors, and The Anderson CouncilNeil Young and Crazy Horse / Jeff Russo and Noah HawleyPink Floyd / Nick Mason's Saucerful of SecretsBlack Sabbath / Moon DuoFunkadelic / Brittany HowardGraham Nash / Constant BopMarvin Gaye / Devon Gilfillian, and Delvon Lamarr Organ TrioBlack Sabbath / BSCBR with DeradoorianAnn Peebles / Sister LucilleNilsson / Heather TrostThe Jackson 5 / Dezron DouglasT. Rex / PixiesYes / AllegaeonJohn Denver / Whitney and WaxahatcheeSteely Dan / Eli "Paperboy" Reed, and Julia LoganDr. John / Maceo ParkerAerosmith / Scary Pockets + Judith HillGeorge Harrison / Sunday Someday + Anne McCue + Megan PalmerPink Floyd / Ramin DjawadiThe O’Jays / PJ Morton and YolaBlack Sabbath / EmelBig Star / Bedouine, Hurray For The Riff Raff, WaxahatcheeSly And The Family Stone / Bootsy Collins and Larry GrahamNick Drake / Ben Harper and Rhiannon GiddensKool And The Gang / KhruangbinElton John / The Fearless FlyersFreddy Fender / Al GreenStevie Wonder / Constant BopPaul McCartney And Wings / Tanya Donelly and The Parkington SistersDolly Parton / Robin McKelleStockhausen/Beach Boys/Star Trek/Oliveros/Muppet Movie medley / DeerhoofChris Bell / BeckBob Dylan / Emma SwiftBlack Sabbath / UniformLed Zeppelin / H.C. McEntire“Rocky Horror Picture Show” / T.S.O.L. and Keith MorrisAmerica / Anna AshDavid Bowie / Durand Jones And The IndicationsStevie Wonder / Teddy ThompsonMichael Hurley / Cass McCombs and Steve GunnFleetwood Mac / Elizabeth, and Julia HolterDonna Summer / The OrganautsBob Marley / Toots And The Maytals + Ziggy MarleyKraftwerk / Guga Stroeter, Lucio Agra, Renato SoaresTalking Heads / Order of OperationsRichard Hell And The Voidoids / The Bobby LeesPlastic Bertrand / Whyte HorsesElvis Costello And The Attractions / Los Straitjackets, and Sharon Van Etten and Josh HommeChic / Lydia AinsworthBuzzcocks / Adele And The ChandeliersThe B-52’s / The Medicine DollsThe Clash / Hinds, and MattielWings / Constant Bop.

'80s Covers

John Lennon / Chris CornellX / Hayley and the CrushersGrace Jones / Bacao Rhythm And Steel BandGrover Washington Jr and Bill Withers / Rhiannon Giddens and Sxip ShireyKraftwerk / Resynator + Jon NatchezPhil Collins / Larkin PoeBruce Springsteen / Alison MosshartRamones / Brad MarinoQueen and David Bowie / Karen O and Willie NelsonJoan Jett / L7Prince / Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, and Tashaki MiyakiPrince / Mariachi El BronxThe Cars / Soccer MommyU2 / Sarah JaroszINXS / Dylan LeBlancPixies / Gouge AwayNirvana / BullyBeastie Boys / MattielPublic Enemy / Public Enemy +.

'90s Covers

Concrete Blonde / Puss N BootsChris Isaak / Messer Chups, and Aubrie SellersJulee Cruise / Daniel KnoxPixies / Nation of LanguageJoan Jett / The Venomous PinksSoundgarden / Brandi CarlileBeastie Boys / The Record CompanyRadiohead / Arlo ParksMazzy Star / WhitehorseNirvana / Hannah Williams And The Affirmations, and Shadwick WildePortishead / Amanda Palmer and Rhiannon Giddens, and TorresSoundgarden / Scary Pockets + Maiya SykesGuided By Voices / Mo KenneySoundgarden / SevendustRadiohead / Scary Pockets + Monica MartinJeff Buckley / EmelElliott Smith / Marika Hartman .

'00s and '10s Covers

Hooverphonic / HooverphonicGillian Welch / Kevin Morby David Bowie / Modern NatureGnarls Barkley / Shadow And the ThrillLana Del Rey / Vitamin String Quartet.






B E S T
R E I S S U E S :
2 0 2 0



Quality is timeless.


Fanny



BEST REISSUES 2020
by Tym Stevens
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This music player has songs from the following albums, in the same order.


1950s



Peggy Lee, "Decca Rarities" (1952-’56)
A prolific and important period in the great Torch Singer's history, given center stage.

Sarah Vaughan, "Time After Time" (1950s)
Let's give all the love to Jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Blossom Dearie, Dinah Washington, Julie London, Nancy Wilson, Anita O'Day, and Carmen McCrae that we should.

Various Artists, "The Right To Rock: The Mexicano And Chicano Rock 'n' Roll Rebellion 1955-1963"
Rock'n'Roll was everybody, from the beginning. Learn the important contributions from Latinx pioneers like young Freddie Fender, Chan Romero, Los Xochimilcas, Ritchie Valens, Los Teen Tops, and Los Gibson Boys.

Pérez Prado, "Prez" (1956)
The Mambo master's Top 40 smash and mainstream pinnacle, remastered.

Eddie Cochran, "The Liberty Years" (1957-’64)
A box set of the Rockabilly troubadore's entire output, remastered.

Bessie Jones, "Get In Union" (1959-'66)
Recorded by ALan Lomax, fronting the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Bessie Jones was a walking encyclopeia of folk spirituals. A mainstay on the '60s festival circuit, she sang at the Carter inauguration in '77.


Chicano Rock; Perez Prado;
Ella Fitzgerald; Joni Mitchell


1960s



Various Artists, "Gargano's Garage: Lavender, Magenta, Indigo, and Blue Fin Labels" (1959-’66)
A subterranean history of the mysterious producer Vic Gargano, his myriad record label artists, and a span from Prom Rock to Psychedelia. >

Ella Fitzgerald, "The Lost Berlin Tapes" (rec. 1962)
The live album Ella In Berlin (1960) is an essential classic. Her sequel tour was recorded but lost... until now.

Solomon Burke, "The King Of Rock 'N' Soul: The Atlantic Recordings 1962-1968"
While many know Atlantic Soul giants like Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King, and Aretha Franklin, not enough know the fine catalog of Solomon Burke. This box set corrects that.

Joni Mitchell, "Archives, Vol. 1: The Early years 1963-1967"
A box set of unreleased treasures, such as home demos, live recordings, and radio performances, by the Folk regent before she made albums.



Various Artists, "Girls With Guitars Know Why" (mid-'60s)
The fifth compilation in Ace Records' ongoing series celebrating the women of '60s Beat, Garage, and Psychedelia.

Various Artists, "Lost Nuggets From The 60s: Girls In The Garage 1963-1967"
While the coveted Girls In The Garage series was essentially bootleg, this above-ground parallel helps put these lost classics back into print and history.

Sharhabil Ahmed; Bobbie Gentry;
Elton John; The Pleasure Seekers


The Everly Brothers, "Down In The Bottom: The Country Rock Sessions 1966-1968"
Concurrent with the Country Soul of Stax and Muscle Shoals, and preceding the rise of Swamp Pop, the brothers went to their roots in these overlooked recordings.

Los Brincos, "Todos Sus Exitos y Rarezas" (1964-'70)
A fine overview of "the Spanish Beatles", who made many fine sounds from Merseybeat to Classic Rock.

Sharhabil Ahmed, "The King Of Sudanese Jazz"
The Sleuths at the wonderful label Habibi Funk mine gold again with their anthology of the innovative guitarist, singer, and band leader.

Bobbie Gentry, "The Delta Sweete“ (1968)
Last year, many Alt-Folk artists did a tribute to this entire album. Listening to the original reveals how The Queen Of Swamp Pop was actually a versatile interpreter of all kinds of music. And a darn good guitarist and writer, as well.


Elton John, ”Jewel Box” (1965-2019)
This box set retrospective is a shocking abundance of riches.
Skipping the hits, these 8 discs cover the rare and the deep of Rock's greatest showman: from B-sides and deep cuts, to the motherlode of 65 unreleased demos (!) by Elton and Bernie Taupin from the early days.

The Feminine Complex, ”Livin’ Love” (1969)
The all-female band's debut album is a Pop trove of sunny Soul and groovy Beat music.

Marie Laforêt, ”1969-1970”
More of a supple nightclub chanteuse than a Chanson idol, Laforêt is duly recognized now for her sophistication and bredth.

The Pleasure Seekers, ”What A Way To Die” (1964-’69)
The all-female band, led by sisters Patti and Suzi Quatro, spanned from Beat music to a harder blues that presaged their rebirth as the ultra-Heavy Cradle.


Jimi Hendrix


1970s



Jimi Hendrix, "”Live In Maui” (1970)
A fabulous remaster of the Hawaii concert, in both audio and video form, along with a new feature-length documentary about the event.

The Stooges, ”Live At Goose Lake: August 8th, 1970” (1969)
A startling new discovery, the only soundboard recording of the original line-up of The Stooges roaring their way through all of Fun House, right before they fell apart.

Fanny, ”Fanny” (1970)
Fanny made history as the first all-female Rock band signed to make multiple albums on a major label.
This vinyl reissue of their Rockin' debut -produced by Richard Perry- proves what an excellent and dexterous Rock'n'Soul quartet they were.

John Lennon, ”Gimme Some Truth.” (1970-’80)
A compilation of his greatest hits, in anticipation of a new remastering of all his solo albums. A Punk with wings, before all and like no other.


The Stooges; Marvin Gaye;
The Staple Singers; Brainticket


The Doors, ”Morrison Hotel“ (1970)
A 50th Anniversary remastering of the essential album, with a healthy dose of extra takes.

Marvin Gaye, ”Funky Nation: The Detroit Instrumentals” (1971)
A collection of the funky jams Marvin did with Bohannon in the wake of releasing the essential What's Going On album.

Ennio Morricone, "Morricone Segreto” (late-‘60s to early-‘80s)
Morricone did a frighteningly huge amount of film scores in this socially fertile period. Besides polishing off rarities, this collection displays the incomporable bredth and innovation of his talent.

David Bowie, ”Metrobolist, a.k.a., The Man Who Sold The World” (1970)
The 50th Anniversary rerelease of the classic, remixed by original producer Tony Visconti.

Black Sabbath, ”Paranoid” (1970)
One of the new remasters of the original Sabbath's catalog, this box set also includes live 1970-'71 concerts, a new book, photos, and more.

Oneness Of Juju, "African Rhythms 1970-1982”
An American band who merged African and Afro-Cuban rhythms to Funk and Soul political songs.

The Staple Singers, ”Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection” (1968-1974)
The Staples made many fine Gospel protest albums from the late-'50s up, but when they came to Stax Records, their star took off. Led by the inimitable guitarist Pops and the fiery frontsinger Mavis, they schooled the charts with such Funk classics as "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There".

Iggy And The Stooges, ”You Think You’re Bad, Man? The Road Tapes ’73-’74“
A five-disc bookend to the ”Live At Goose Lake" set (1970 above), this fly/wall document of freefall follows their scorched-earth reunion tour down to its infamous finale of flung bottles and obscenities. Who's your Punk daddy now?

Brainticket, ”Cottonwoodhill”, “Psychonaut” (1971, 1972)
Vinyl reissues of the electrifying German Prog band, with unsung classics like the domme poet of the Funky "Pieces Of Light" and the Sabbath stomp and Shankar fade-out of the intense "Watchin' You".



The Rolling Stones; African Airwaves;
Make Some Noise; Elvis Costello


The Rolling Stones, ”Goats Head Soup” (1974)
Previously considered the fall-off after the Stones' Golden Period, this reissue gives better justice to their eclecticism. Includes extra tracks, a live concert, and an unreleased song with Jimmie Page guesting on guitar, "Scarlet".

Various Artists, "Soul Love Now: The Black Fire Records Story, 1975-1993”
Oneness Of Juju issued their own record label, with a pantheon of spiritual Jazz artists and conscious Soul acts.

Various Artists, "La Locura de Machuca 1975-1980”
In mid-'70s Columbia, a producer named Machuca documented the roiling scene of Columbian/African psychedelic fusion acts. Blow your mind, wag your behind.

Neil Young, ”Homegrown” (1975)
The ever-fluctuating Neil finally unveils this unreleased album, a Country-Rock breakup lullaby.

Various Artists, "African Airways Six: Mile High Funk 1974-1981”
Another funktastic collection of African women soaring.

Iggy Pop, "The Bowie Years“ (1977-’78)
A deluxe box set of the two Berlin albums produced by Bowie, plus outtakes, versions, an interview, a book, and live performances.

Patrick Cowley, ”Some Funkettes” (1975-’77)
The sixth entry in a release campaign of the influential Disco producer's works.

Various Artists, "Make More Noise! Women In Independent Music UK 1977-1987"
Because of Feminism and Punk, more women took control in Rock during this period than ever had before. This 90-song box set and book is an important synopsis covering that wave that lifted our present.

The Toms, "The 1979 Sessions”
Tommy Marolda dubbed himself making memorable Power Pop tunes, and created a cult following.

Elvis Costello And The Attractions, ”Armed Forces” (1979)
A deluxe box set of the remastered album, copious live perfomances, 10" records, lyric books, posters, postcards, and a partridge in a pear tree.


Eve Libertine of Crass


1980s



Use No Hooks, ”The Job” (1979-’83)
The unreleased recordings of an Australian PunkFunk band, with plenty of hooks and workouts to spare.

The Last, ”Look Again“ (1980)
The L.A. Power Pop band's unreleased second album, remastered.

Toyah, ”Sheep Farming In Barnet” (1980)
The beginning of a remastering and reissue campaign of Toyah Wilcox's works, along with other albums from the Safari Records label.

Split Enz, "True Colours” (1980)
A remixed anniversary edition of the New Zealand classic, with added live performances.

Pylon, ”Pylon Box” (1980-’83)
The Art Pop band from Athens, GA, gets the full treatment, with both albums remixed, B-sides and rarities, a demo setlist, and a lavish book.

Red Cross, "Red Cross" (1980)
The Power Punk origins of Red Kross, before they were legally forced to change their name.

Crass, "Catalog Remasters" (1978-’86)
The fiercest AnarchoPunks of all, with a remastering of their six crucial albums, including Penis Envy and Christ: The Album.

Prince And The Revolution, "Prince And The Revolution Live” (1985)
Prince was king of the world in 1985 because of the smash success of Purple Rain (1984), and this live concert -briefly available on VHS then- has been remastered for the ages.

Various Artists, "Sun City: Artist United Against Apartheid“ (1985)
Following the worldwide success of Live Aid, Little Steven (Van Zandt) organized an all-star album to decry oppression in South Africa. It helped bring massive international awareness to overturning Apartheid, which happened in 1990. At last, this pivotal classic gets reissued.

Prince, ”Sign ‘O The Times” (1987)
A staggeringly deluxe box set.
Prince reinvented himself with the solo double album Sign ‘O The Times, but he went through three unreleased albums to get there. This insanely generous set includes all of that and B-sides besides, plus live performances, a DVD concert, and a 120-page book.

Tears For Fears, ”The Seeds Of Love” (1989)
After the monster hits of 1985, the band took their time to make a Beatlesque album that most slept on. Time proves the wiser, with this expanded set.

Neneh Cherry, ”Raw Like Sushi“ (1989)
While Conscious Rap and Native Tongues acts were renovating HipHop, here came the leftfield Swede to ramp up the game, with tough lyrics and bumping tunes.



1990s



L7, ”Smell The Magic” (1990)
The Grunge Grrrls' blistering second album, remastered for a vinyl release.

Various Artists, "Rutles Highway Revisited" (1990)
A tribute album to The Rutles, with covers of their first 1978 album by indie artists like Galaxie 500, Lida Husik, Das Damen, Daniel Johnston, Shonen Knife, and Bongwater.

PJ Harvey, ”Album Demos” (1993-’96)
A reissue campaign of all her albums remastered this year was good enough. But in addition, companion albums of home demos for Dry, To Bring You My Love, and Is This Desire? were released for the first time.

Supergrass, ”The Strange Ones: 1994-2008”
For all the hoopla about the Blur and Oasis feud, the greatest Britpop band was Supergrass, whose relentless run of catchy and inventive Power Punk, Classic Rock, Glam, and Indie anthems was formidable. And now, undeniable.

Paul McCartney, ”Flaming Pie” (1997)
On fire with the adrenalin from The Beatles Anthology, Paul - with help from friends like Jeff Lynne, George Martin, and Ringo- struck up the band as only he can. A classic.


L7; Supergrass;
Gillian Welch; Lips Of Salome

2000s



Gillian Welch, ”Boots No. 1, 2, and 3” (2004)
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings recorded a vault's worth of demos for copyright reasons, and now share them with us to enjoy.

Robert Plant, ”Digging Deep: Subterranea” (1981-2020)
As a companion to his Digging Deep podcast, Robert presents a new solo retrospective with three unreleased songs, focusing more on roots and mood.

The Coathangers, "The Coathangers" (2007)
The debut album of the Punk trio remastered for vinyl.


2010s



Calibro 35, "Calibro 35" (2010)
The debut album of the Milan band, who specialize in funky cinematic Rock in the mode of 1969-'75 Italian soundtracks.

The Kills, ”Little Bastards“ (2003-’20)
This collection of B-sides and cover versions from the Blues Punk duo is basically a blasting new album in itself.

Incredible Tabla Band, Shawn Lee Presents ”Tabla Rock” (2012)
The 1973 classic LP Incredible Bongo Band sold nothing, but became the sonic bedrock for all samples of HipHop to come with songs like "Apache". This loving recreation of it substitutes tablas for bongos.

Lips Of Salome, "Sound Of Salome" (2007-’20)
A summary of the Japanese duo's career, rooted in '60s styles expressed in new ways.

Autoramas, ”B-Sides And Extras, Vol. 1” (2000-’20)
The Brazilian combo surfs on Rockabilly and Garage rhythms with New Wave chops.






© Tym Stevens







"A splendid time is guaranteed for all!"






See also:

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2020
BEST COMICS: 2020

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2019
BEST MUSIC: 2019
BEST COMICS: 2019

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2018
BEST MUSIC: 2018
BEST COMICS: 2018

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2017
BEST MUSIC: 2017
BEST COMICS: 2017

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2016
BEST MUSIC: 2016
BEST COMICS: 2016

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2015
BEST MUSIC: 2015
BEST COMICS: 2015

BEST MUSIC: 2014
BEST MOVIES & TV: 2014
BEST COMICS: 2014

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2013
BEST MUSIC: 2013
BEST COMICS: 2013

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2012
BEST MUSIC: 2012
BEST COMICS: 2012

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST MUSIC: 2011
BEST COMICS: 2011

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2020
BEST COMICS: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010


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