Top 20 Singles of the Year (16-20)

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As 2007 dwindles down, we look back at our favorite tracks. For each of the past three Tuesdays, we’ve sung the praises of the 20 songs that made our year. See what made the cut, and let us know what you think of our choices.

Kanye West, “Stronger” from Graduation (ROC-A-FELLA)

17_kanye.jpgBased around Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” West’s top-charting single from his third album is part dance, part Nietzschean manifesto. Slamming together beats and rhymes in a furious display of his pop-star prowess, the producer-cum-rapper explains in no uncertain terms why he is the best thing to ever happen to music in the history of everything. Yes, some of the references are awkward, but his savvy wit and deep knowledge of the news of the day serves him well; any song that manages to somehow fit Kate Moss, O.J. Simpson, Isotoner gloves, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, A Bathing Ape, Prince and Apollonia into even a loose rhyme scheme is impressive. The video, which stars actors wearing Daft Punk’s robot suits and West’s post-post-modern fashion sense (Jeremy Scott sunglasses, Akira apparel), is the true star here, though, since it manages to both produce a vaguely coherent narrative and look extremely cool. Blame West’s fascination with Japanese art: His love of underground Japanese cultural lodestone Nigo (an artist, musician, clothing designer and all-around cultural kingpin) and artist Takashi Murakami have added up to something new entirely. Where the Wu-Tang were once fascinated by Bruce Lee, West has updated hip-hop’s not-so-latent orientalism. He wears it well.

Spoon, “Finer Feelings,” from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (MERGE)

16_spoon.jpgIt seems Spoon saved the best for almost-last when they placed “Finer Feelings” as the penultimate track on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. While the song traffics in many of the things the Austin quartet have been doing best for over a decade (bright, spiky indie pop with a dollop of barely concealed contempt from too-cool frontman Britt Daniel), it also comes with a few new features. Starting with a sample from Mikey Dread, a collaborator of known Spoon-influence the Clash, Daniel launches into what might be his most personal song to date, a portrait of the artist as a young man: “I was part-time at the Tasty Prawn/ That and moving furniture and cutting lawns/ Covered in newsprint, staying up real late/ Just holding out for some fate.” The band then devolves into a melodic cacophony, an interlude straight out of the “Day In The Life,” playbook, all ricocheting guitar, Motown bassline and what sounds like a moaning, slowed-down harmonica. Daniel resorts to a series of “do do do do,” so as not to detract from the symphony of detail he’s conjured.

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2007′s Craziest: Owen Wilson Hits Rock Bottom

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owenwilson1218.jpgSome gossip stories are too big to forget. We’re counting down the 20 biggest, baddest, and most ridiculous celeb scandals of the year. You’ll get a new one posted every day.

It’s always awkward when someone embraced for their humor goes and does something reallllllllly un-funny, so no one quite knew what to do when Owen Wilson attempted suicide in August. After all, this was the Butterscotch Stallion – that happy go lucky dude with the unsexy nose who had no problem banging Kate Hudson, even if it meant ending her marriage. Following his suicide attempt and a hospital stay, Owen requested privacy and release this statement: “I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time.” As rumors of drug addiction swirled, Wilson dropped out of some movies, traveled to South America with Woody Harrelson and currently seems to be healing alongside a bevy of hot blond models. Recovery always looks better when done in Hollywood.

Hottie of the Year: Who’s It Going to Be?

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It’s been a long, fascinating year filled with all sorts of pulchritudinous people. Now we want to know what you think: Who’s the hottest of them all? We’ve selected a few of your favorites to compete. First up, the ineffable New York. But what about Jes from Rock of Love? Think she can compete with Kim Kardashian? Or, for that matter, Chris Brown? And last but not least, there’s (unfortunately) nudie cutie, Vanessa Hudgens. Who’s the hottest?

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Criss Angel Wooes Another Washed Up Star

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pamcriss.jpgLast week, when Pam Anderson split from her husband – Paris Hilton sex partner Rick Salomon – for two days, it wasn’t just because they got married after only being together for 3 hours. There was another person involved! A man – or rather an illusion of a man, the mysterious monstrous lady-lover, Criss Angel. Apparently Salomon freaked when he caught wind of Pam’s canoodling session with the Angel while he was out of town earning the fam some bread at a poker tournament. It blew up into a huge fight and Pam headed to her lawyer a few days later. A pal of Pam’s said, “It was just another log on the fire. Their relationship is so volatile [that] I’m sure this won’t be the last time she files, but nothing happened with her and Criss; they were just hanging out.”

This is just one of the perks of marrying someone you barely know. One minute they could be all relaxed and mellow and the next second you’re learning they’re totally psycho! But honestly, we’d freak too if our woman was within one hundred feet of that magical idiot, even if he was just trying to pull a quarter from her ear. [NYP]

Dark Comedies & Elevator Cleavage

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SidekickDiego the filmmaker is having big trouble with the star of his movie, Amy. The script is too dark and her hair is too oily. David the agent is smitten with the newly-arrived Troy, a Brit movie star being wooed by David’s enemy, Ruthie. It’s doubly irritating because Ruthie caught David eyeballing her low-cut dress in the elevator and deemed him “Captain Obvious.” Yep, the “Shining Star” episode of our weekly Hollywood tale Connected has dropped.

On the inter-office front, Emily quits in a huff, and filthy rich Tiffany finds herself as David’s new assistant. First thing he hands her? A Sidekick. Gotta stay connected.

The Duff Sisters Kick Some Ass

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We’ve always found the Duff sisters to be pretty bland. Hilary is just like a vanilla version of an Olsen twin, and really the only thing to respect about Haylie is the fact that she’s never seem to give a sh*t about the constant criticism about her looks and sister-mooching. So it was seriously awesome to see them throw down again some asshole photographers who were stalking them at a hearing for their parents’ divorce. The sisters get sassy, and rightfully so. We like looking at them when they’re all drunk and fugly, but when they’re dealing with personal stuff that’s none of our business? No thanks. Leave them and their fashion mistakes alone while they deal with their family BS, please. [Socialite's Life]

Jessica Sierra: Knocked Up & Locked Up

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jessicasierra.jpgLast week it was Hollywood darling Jessica Alba who revealed that she was with child, and this week, as the pregnancy announcements continued, we noticed that they seemed to kinda slip in celebrity caliber. Alba and Lily Allen might be A or B List-ish, but Jamie-Lynn Spears is definitely rocking the D List. And now the Z-List rounds out the celebrity baby train, with the depressing news that drug-addicted American Idol finalist Jessica Sierra is knocked up – while locked up. One of the stars of VH1′s upcoming show Celebrity Rehab, Sierra is currently in the infirmary of her Florida jail on a pregnancy diet. She’s also reportedly “ecstatic” and says the father is “a rapper.”

We guess congratulations are in order, right? Maybe this will be her chance to straighten her shit out and quit that whole ‘getting piss drunk and offering to perform fellatio on her arresting officer’ thing she’s into these days. We just gonna assume that her future kid was not conceived during her sex tape, cause that would just be all sorts of wrong (fingers crossed).

Apatow Addresses Walk Hard Backlash

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It’s been quite the year for funnyman Judd Apatow. He’s the guy responsible for Knocked Up, Superbad and now Walk Hard, not to mention Seth Rogen, the popularity of Canadians in media, and probably had his hand in the mortgage crisis and Ahmadinejad’s performance at Columbia University, too! (We kid, we kid.) Anyhow, in the video above, he addresses the inevitable Apatow-backlash in a meta viral video that’s all about how pandering and silly viral videos are. The levels! It stars Apatow and some of his regulars: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd and Craig Robinson. It’s amazing. Also, in a perfectly twist-y sponsorship treat, it features Rock Band. In case you don’t know, Rock Band is like the fun version of Guitar Hero. (Dear Rock Band: checks are payable to VH1 Digital.) Enjoy!