Best Music and Movies of 2017, So Far

Photos courtesy of Google Images.

July 1st marks the halfway point of 2017, which is shaping up to be a memorable year in pop culture. Countless new releases have generated buzz over the past six months, from blockbuster films to chart-topping singles. Q30 Entertainment’s beat reporters give their picks for the best music and movies of the year, as well as what upcoming releases they are looking forward to.

 

Best New Music:

Hannah Cotter:

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Song: FEAR.

2017 has been a great year in the music industry so far, and as someone with a really broad music taste, I’ve been loving every minute of it. But from Vince Staples’ “Big Fish Theory,” to Kodak Black’s “Painting Pictures,” to Migos’ “Culture,” you can’t deny that the rap game has been exceptionally strong. I think it’s safe to say that Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” can be cited as one of the best, if not the best, albums of the year. Though the album as a whole is a masterpiece, I wanted to focus on its twelfth track, “FEAR.” It not only summarizes the album’s message in its eight minute runtime, but also Lamar’s personal struggles as an artist, as seen before in “To Pimp A Butterfly.” The song itself thematically bridges the two albums,  serving as a contemplative self-reflection for Lamar.

In “FEAR,” we can visualize a young Kendrick afraid of his strict mother, a teenaged Kendrick trying to overcome his fears of dying young in a tough neighborhood, and his current lack of confidence and fear of losing everything he’s worked hard to accomplish. If you haven’t had time to sit down and listen to the album in its entirety, take seven minutes and 41 seconds out of your day to listen to “FEAR.”

 

Cullen Ronan:

Artist: Eidola

Album: To Speak, To Listen

In a year with groundbreaking releases from Kendrick Lamar, Solange Knowles, and The Gorillaz, my number one spot falls to Eidola, a small indie label post-hardcore band out of Utah, who put out the artfully crafted, and genre-defying “To Speak, To Listen” this month. The band, known for their sophistication in songwriting and experimental instrumentation, quickly climbed up the ladder of my 2017 favorites. “To Speak, To Listen” is a concept album, chronicling one man’s journey to enlightenment, each song adding a different piece to the puzzle that is the story.  The release showcases frontman Andrew Wells’ unique, gritty clean vocals that mesh perfectly with guitarist Brandon Bascom’s harsh vocals, held nicely by a mathrock backbone of hard-hitting drums and guitar licks that certainly don’t lack in sophistication. Its creative and intellectual approach to the post-hardcore genre will keep you listening…and thinking, throughout.

Track to check out: The Abstract of a Planet In Resolve

 

Most Anticipated Album:

HC:

Artist: Foster The People

Album: Sacred Hearts Club

Foster The People recently made an announcement about a new album along with the release of a five-minute video, “Sacred Hearts Club (the beginning)”, on YouTube, with footage from rehearsals for their upcoming tour. In the mini doc, guitarist Isom Innis calls the new record– aptly named Sacred Hearts Club– “very groove-driven” with a “psychedelic 60s influence”. Three songs from the album have already been released as an EP, called III.

Unlike “Torches,” (the band’s melancholic and lamenting debut album), and “Supermodel,” (inspired by frontman Mark Foster’s travels in Africa, India, and eastern Europe), the tracks on III are more upbeat and exultant.

Foster The People, in my opinion, is an extremely underrated group that has some serious potential.  With the release of each album, they seem to dare their audience to try to define them while continuing to push the envelope with new, creative beats. I seriously cannot wait for the next one.

“Sacred Hearts Club” will be released on July 21.

CR:

Artist: A Perfect Circle

Album: TBA

Legendary rock supergroup, A Perfect Circle featuring vocalist and songwriting mastermind Maynard James Keenan are touring the US for the first time in six years, and teasing fans with new music for the first time since their last release, “Emotive”, in 2004. James Keenan’s often controversial antics have left fans doubting whether another release will ever happen, but after a 13 year gap, the band has begun playing new material on their nationwide tour, and spirits have begun to rise. Before going on hiatus, the band sold over 4 million copies of their first three releases, and fans, much like myself are certainly hoping a new album makes its way to shelves so we can help raise that number.

Although the band has said the release may not make it out by the end of 2017, they have signed a new record deal with BMG, which is certainly a good sign for some new material.

 

Favorite Pop Culture Moment:

HC: “Game of Thrones”

Instead of choosing just one moment that has stood out to me so far, I figured I’d talk about an ongoing topic of conversation: “Game of Thrones.” The hype this year has been so real, with the release of new trailers in May and all the talk about fan theories for the upcoming seventh season. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but if you’re not caught up, you have about two weeks to do so. HBO is doing everything it can to get fans excited, from trivia every Monday to releasing exclusive pictures online. It may only be July, but winter is here! A girl can’t wait.

CR:  John Cena Engagement

World Wrestling Entertainment superstar John Cena and formerly one of America’s most sought after bachelors, is now officially off the market as of Wrestlemania 33 this past April. In a surprising and heartfelt moment following his tag-team match with his girlfriend, fellow WWE superstar and Total Divas star, Nikki Bella, Cena turned his attention from getting the win…to getting a wife. Before a crowd of over 75,000 fans, and millions watching at home, Cena dropped to a knee and asked for Bella’s hand in marriage. Bella said “Yes” and officially sealed this series of events as not only one of pop culture’s biggest moments, but one of wrestling’s as well, giving fans a reason to cheer amidst an otherwise underwhelming Wrestlemania 33.

 

Best Movie:

HC: “Logan”

I’ll admit, I was hesitant when I was sitting in the theater waiting for “Logan” to start because I’m so picky when it comes to superhero movies. Because today they rely so heavily on CGI and visual special effects, the characteristics that make a superhero movie “super” often go unnoticed. However, once the film ended, I was shocked. Not only because “Logan” was “good” for a superhero movie, but because it was “good” in general, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The choreography in the action scenes are realistic (unlike the Kylo Ren vs. Rey lightsaber battle in “The Force Awakens” that physically pains me to watch… but I won’t go there right now) and the action scenes themselves don’t seem forced, like in other superhero movies where they’re sometimes inorganic to the plot. The characters in “Logan” are likeable and relatable, and the film certainly set the bar high for future superhero movies to come.

 

CR:  “Wonder Woman”

“Wonder Woman” has been taking 2017 by storm, and for good reason. Lead actress Gal Gadot has stolen the hearts of America with her brilliant performance as Wonder Woman, which certainly stands up next to Lynda Carter’s classic portrayal from the 1970s television series. “Wonder Woman” proves the DC Universe has put together its first truly fantastic cinematic experience since since the Batman franchise. Gal Gadot wasn’t the only one bringing a terrific performance to the big screen throughout the flick, however, as Chris Pine and Danny Huston’s performances also create a fantastic depth of characters throughout. With that being said, it stands atop my list of the best movies I’ve seen so far in 2017, and for two hours and 21 minutes of entertainment, it’s certainly worth the price of admission.

 

Most Anticipated Movie:

HC: Untitled Han Solo spinoff

There has been a lot of buzz about the new Han Solo movie that’s supposed to be hitting theaters in the near future. Ron Howard has just been set to replace directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who had apparently been fired for their “artistic differences” with only a few weeks left of filming. Howard is best known for directing “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “The Da Vinci Code”, and most recently, “In the Heart of the Sea”. I think Howard will be a good addition to the team because of his versatile directing experience. He has worked with Lucasfilm before, has won several academy awards and has experience as a producer. Because he’s joining the Han Solo party so late, his knowledge on film production will be crucial as he is forced to work with a project that’s nearly finished. A huge Star Wars fan myself, I’m excited to see what this movie’s all about. Plus, with a cast including Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover and Woody Harrelson, I honestly don’t see how it could disappoint.

 

CR:  “Dunkirk”

I know I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting to see if teen heartthrob Harry Styles can not only top the charts, but the box office as well, with 2017’s wartime flick “Dunkirk.” Styles aside, the movie is jam packed with young acting talent, as well as seasoned veterans such as Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy. Directed by Christopher Nolan, known for The Dark Knight Trilogy, this film certainly has all the makings of the best cinematic World War II experience since “Saving Private Ryan.” Hitting the theatres on July 21, fans and critics alike are certainly waiting to see if Christopher Nolan’s newest creation lives up to the hype. One thing is for sure, you can expect to see me in the audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *