Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Usually, I pick a Top Five Film Score Albums for the past year.  However, this year I was unable to pick 5 scores that I thought were good enough to put on my Top Five Scores List.  For some reason, many of the scores this year that others lauded, I wasn't very impressed with including The Battle of Five Armies by Howard Shore, Interstellar by Hans Zimmer, Maleficent by James Newton Howard, The Winter Soldier by Henry Jackman, and The Guardians of the Galaxy by Tyler Bates.
So, instead of picking five scores that I liked this year, I thought I would branch out a bit and pick one score album I really liked and five other albums from five different music genres and briefly highlight them, because, believe it or not, I do listen to other types of music other than film scores.
Without Further Ado

The Best Albums of the Year

Best Score Album of the Year
Draft Day - John Debney

John Debney delivers a score that does exactly what it needs to do for this football movie that has no football in it.  He actually overscores the movie with short fanfare-like cues that build the suspense to the final draft scenes.  I thought this was the best score of the year in the best movie of the year.  If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and go rent the DVD.
To hear a bit of the score, I featured Draft Day as my Film Music Cue of the Day right here on this blog right here:

Best Christmas Album of the Year
That's Christmas to Me - Pentatonix

The acapella group Pentatonix (in case you don't know what acapella means - it means singing without any instrumental accompaniment - just vocals) came out with their first official album this last year with That's Christmas to Me (prior to this album, Pentatonix has only released EPs, which, in case you don't know, are half albums with 5 to 7 tracks only).  If you are a fan of Christmas music and acapella music like I am, this album is, simply put, a joy to hear.  Probably the outstanding track on the album for me is the hybrid of Winter Wonderland and Don't Worry Be Happy sung along with Tori Kelly.  The video is below.

Best Contemporary Christian Album of the Year
Sovereign - Michael W. Smith

Not a lot of people know that I am a huge collector of Christian music (maybe a lot of people don't even know that I'm a Christian, but that would be my fault) and Michael W. Smith is one of my all-time favorites.  I have all his albums on cd and he is a cornerstone of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) as we know it.  For his 22nd studio album, Smitty gives us Sovereign which continues the trend in his music, and Christian music in general, toward a more worship-oriented sound (instead of the more pop-flavored music of the 90's).  And that best describes this album - it is a stirring worshipful experience to listen too.
Here is a lyric video of the title track - Sovereign Over Us.

Best Classical Crossover Album of the Year
Wonders  - The Piano Guys

The Piano Guys released their third studio album this last year named Wonders and I must say that this was a "Wonder"ful album.  There is some great stuff on this album including their rendition of "The Mission/How Great Thou Art" to what I think is the most outstanding track which also coincides with my love of film music and that is "Batman Evolution" going through some of the music associated with Batman from the TV series to the Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard music of the movies.  Really good stuff.  If you aren't familiar with The Piano Guys, do yourself a favor and pick up this cd.
Here is a video of "Batman Evolution".

Best Adult Contemporary Album of the Year
Stars - Collabro

If you haven't heard of Collabro, they are an English musical theatre boy group (or boy band) that won the UK's Britain's Got Talent a couple of years ago and this is their first studio album and what an effort this is.  The album begins with two songs from Les Miserables, the title track and then Bring Him Home.  It moves on the Come What May from Moulin Rouge (the only thing good to come from that movie and its a very good song that is being covered by everyone from these guys to Placido Domingo on his 2012 album Songs - the best Classical Crossover Album of 2012).  Then comes a particular highlight of the album in the song With You from the musical version of the movie Ghost.  Next comes the massive hit from the movie Frozen - Let it Go.  Then the standard, Anthem from Chess.  Then Somewhere from West Side Story and rounding the album off with Somewhere Over the Rainbow from Wizard of Oz.  Whew!!!  Now that's a collection of songs.  There are also two covers of pop songs on this album (OneRepublic's Secrets and John Legend's All of Me) for mass appeal and consumption.  This is a standout first recording from a group that has a bright future.

Best Pop Album of the Year
My Everything - Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande hit this last year with her second studio album like the bomb she is with the best pop song of the year -  Problem (w/ Iggy Azalea).  This is a really interesting and incredible pop song (the video I featured here on my blog here:
It is also highly unique as I pointed out in my post above when discussing the video.
This album does feature a lot of collaborations, especially with rap artists but there are also some techno influences (as in the track Break Free featuring DJ Zedd) and some R&B sexiness (as in Love Me Harder featuring Weekend).
Ariana is kind of a cross between Mariah Carey and Britney Spears (perhaps closer to a Christina Aguilara if Christina would calm down and sustain some notes in her songs).  She portrays a demure sexuality that's almost kittenish but is still adult in her image and her music.  This is probably the best pop album by a female artist since Britney Spears' 2011 album Femme Fatale (and much better than Britney's 2013 album Britney Jean) and well worth buying and I must admit to having a little bit of a crush on her (Thank God she's 21 but I still sorta feel like a dirty old man, heh-heh).
Here is the video for the aforementioned Love Me Harder (featuring Weekend):

Well, there you go and that about covers all my musical interests in one post.
2014 wasn't a great year for music but if you search hard enough, there is good stuff out there so Keep Listening!!!

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