- Cullman, Alabama


December 8, 2012

Best of 2012: Pop music

It was a year without masterpieces. Instead, 2012's best pop albums felt more like weird friends. They crashed our parties, passed out on our couches and ate all of our Golden Grahams in the morning. Now we're pals.

Also, I said masterpieces. There was one. It came from Frank Ocean, a 25-year-old R&B rookie whose summer opus, "Channel Orange," exploded the emotional possibilities of contemporary pop music. At his best, Ocean was sharing deep secrets with a universe of strangers — an approach he parabolized with "Bad Religion," a ballad about unloading your spiritual confusion on an anonymous taxi driver.

And while nobody came close to matching Ocean's quiet intensity this year, that doesn't mean 2012's best albums lacked quirk, courage or character.

Best friends forever — maybe. Best friends for now — for sure.

1. Frank Ocean, "Channel Orange"

As a singer, songwriter and storyteller, Ocean is every bit as fluid as he is commanding, delivering songs crammed with moods, memories and detailed characters — all sung by a protagonist who's earned himself a place among the greats.

2. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, "Psychedelic Pill"

There's a big, ugly future coming to bury his generation, and Young is not gonna take it. The latest from the rock legend and his trusty band is jammy and cagey, demanding and rewarding, thick with improvisation and rife with the fury that gushes when you refuse to let a changing world change you.

3. Jessie Ware, "Devotion"

With so many British chanteuses willing to abuse their lungs in the name of American soul music, this 28-year-old stands out by being subtle. Her voluptuous debut — it landed in Britain this year and is expected to see stateside release in 2013 — wisely aspires to match the classiness and confidence of Sade.

Text Only
  • BRIA Pet of the week: Bria needs a forever home

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • HP historic schools 1 Holly Pond’s historic schools

    Anyone who has ever traveled through the countryside in and around Holly Pond knows why a settlement was built there.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • SOUTHERN STYLE: City kid walking

    I may sound like a farm kid, and in truth, I did spend a lot of time on my grandparents’ Landersville farm, but I wasn’t a farm kid — I was a city kid.

    April 13, 2014

  • HUCKABEE Pet of the week: Huckabee needs a forever home

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • VIDEO: CBS taps Colbert as Letterman’s Late Show successor

    Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman reports that CBS has announced Stephen Colbert as its choice to replace the retiring David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” on Bloomberg Television’s “Lunch Money.”


    April 10, 2014

  • 2 pics.jpg Accomplished vocalists to perform at Wallace State April 22

    Two amazing vocalists will perform on Tuesday, April 22 at Wallace State Community College as part of the college’s annual Arts in April celebration.
    Mezzo-soprano Maggie Gill and Tenor Shane Bloemetjie will each sing a selection of operatic and/or musical theater tunes as they perform, accompanied on piano by Mike Sparks, chair of the WSCC’s humanities department and a music instructor at the college. They will be performing arias by Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, and songs by George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim and others.

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Food page EASTER DINING: Decorating for the Easter table

    Easter is just around the corner and just happens to be one of my favorite holidays.

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • WSCC Vest to perform.jpg Award-winning pianist to perform April 15 at Wallace State

    Lovers of classical piano can hear one of the best pianists in the state on Tuesday, April 15, as Katherine Vest is set to perform at Wallace State Community College.
    Vest is a junior piano performance major at Samford University and studies with Ron Shinn. She recently earned first place in the Alabama Federated Music Clubs Auditions and she previously won first prize in the Alabama Music Teacher’s Association and Birmingham Music Club auditions. At Samford, she is a recipient of the Miller-Shepherd scholarship for outstanding piano students.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • CANDYLAND Pet of the week: Candyland needs a forever home

    Cullman County Animal Shelter Adoption hours are 9 – 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the shelter.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo