Top 20 Albums of the Year (6-10)

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Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year’s releases, and each Thursday until the end of ’07 we’ll deliver five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight (WARNER BROTHERS)

06_rilokiley.jpg Indie rock likes to dodge refinement, so there were some grimaces when Rilo Kiley’s rather glossy third disc spilled open. A couple of years ago, singer Jenny Lewis and her buds were underground royalty, but they’ve always wanted their day in the sun, and Blacklight’s motley songs are proud enough of their mainstream aura to carry themselves with an enviable swagger. Like its model, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, this is a disc about craft and breadth. White soul, punk-disco, sunny twang – each new track is just as dapper as it is daring. Believable, too. As Lewis injects coos and come-ons into her sex-centric lyrics, all the genre-jumping feels natural, a flurry of ways to express the feelings at hand, and a cool strategy for dodging stasis.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (ISLAND)

08_amywinehouse.jpg The beehive hairdo, nude lady tattoos and odd fashion sense marked Amy Winehouse an outsider from the get-go, a retro soul-singer who could sing like it was still 1968 and she lived in Detroit, not London. The collection of songs on her second record produced an impressive five singles including “Rehab,” which has our nomination for song of the year, and the album’s title track, a hauntingly recorded lament about love gone wrong—as with Winehouse it so often seems to do. Back to Black garnered her six Grammy Award nominations; her 2003 debut, Frank, earned her a Mercury Prize nomination in the U.K. and the attention of New York DJ and party-boy Mark Ronson. His production work on her second album (not to mention the work he did with the year’s other famous Brit, Lily Allen) ushered Winehouse into the limelight and also created a neo-retro movement in pop. Everyone seems to have gotten the point: Back to Black features the contributions of everyone from Ghostface Killah to Ashford and Simpson.
Coconut Records, Nighttiming (YOUNG BABY)

07_coconut_records.jpgJason Schwartzman is a man of many talents. The former Phantom Planet drummer has enjoyed a successful and offbeat film career, starring in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited this year and appearing as Ringo in Walk Hard. But he never gave up the music, as this latest project attests to. Self-recorded and produced, Schwartzman released Nighttiming on his own record label, so it didn’t get much play in the press. But it is one of the finest collections of pop music released in 2007, from the folksy humor of “The Thanks I Get” to the disco-trills of the title track. “West Coast” is one of the most wistful songs in recent memory, as Schwartzman sings: “For a second there I thought you disappeared/ It rains a lot this time of year/ We both go together if one falls down/ I talk out loud like you’re still around.” It’s a sweet, sad number that recalls sunshine delays in California and New York City in the rain, and if you’re ever in need of an album you can drive to—without having to skip around tracks—Schwartzman’s got you covered.

Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (EPIC)

09_modestmouse.jpgBands break-up and artists go crazy attempting what Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock accomplished by accident. That’s not to say We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is a tossed-off affair — it means only that Brock and his band sacrificed none of the hallmarks of their sound on their way to the top of the charts. After two decades of work, the trailer park philosopher has hit his stride, finally fusing the harsh-quiet extremes he’s spent his career bouncing between. With the addition of former Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr (and help from Shins frontman James Mercer) the band’s fifth album is a nautically themed endeavor — sailors traveling the globe, doomed to die at every port. The songs alternate between spiked guitars and barking vocals (“Florida,” “Dashboard”) and lilting guitars and lisping whispers (“Little Motel,” “Missed the Boat”). The band’s most inclusive, technically impressive album easily drowns out the indie faction’s cries of mainstream foul.

Jay-Z, American Gangster (ROC-A-FELLA)

10_jayz.jpgProving that there is life after, “I’m too old for this s***,” a post-post retirement Jay-Z turns out his most compulsively listenable album with American Gangster. Inspired by the film of the same name, Jay-Z’s chronicle of his life’s work (i.e. the hustle, in its legal and not-so-legal forms) offers a humble sense of nuance that was nowhere to be found in Ridley Scott‘s brutish picture. A slap in the face to hip-hop’s pervasive ageism, it’s the kind of album that could only be released now, at this point in the 38-year-old’s storied career. Maturity, patience, taste and humility are unfortunately not really associated with hip-hop, and yet Jay-Z offers an album rich in those elements. Sadly, the album has pretty much flopped. The kids just don’t get it. Not that they even had a chance in the first place.

HERE ARE OUR FIRST FIVE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR (LAST WEEK’S INSTALLMENT).

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Britney Calls in ‘Sick’ to Court

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britney-121307.jpgOops! Britney bailed on her court-ordered deposition yesterday, after the starlet fell ill with a mysterious sickness. Her creepy babysitter Sam Lufti said, “We got up and got ready to go. Her attorneys came to pick her up, but when she saw the media frenzy outside her house, her anxiety sky rocketed.”

Brit was out and about later that night driving around before she headed to her hotel away from home, The Four Seasons Hotel. Her no-show now might strip her of visits with her kids, so that illness better have been pretty bad! Let’s check out what could have gotten our troubled girl so down.

Frappucinitis
-Too much sugar, whipped cream and caffeine can make a lady lose it.

That sick feeling in your stomach after inhaling the leather interior of a Mercedes
-We’ve never had this exact ailment, but once we rode around in an ’84 Jetta that almost made us puke. Brit’s gotta be suffering in that car!

“Ouch! My extensions are too tight and hurt my head ya’ll!” Syndrome
Her new brown locks say all we need to know. Brit’s in pain. Head pain. She’s also a pain in the ass.

Last Night’s Pics: John Mayer & Ricki Lake Reunite

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Movie premieres, awards shows, benefit concerts, and plain old clubbin’ – even though most of us are at home, the beautiful peeps are living it up somewhere. Last Night’s Pics puts you in touch with all the action.

Though not photographed together, John Mayer and Ricki Lake strolled alongside Hollywood’s stars of comedy at the Premiere of Sony Pictures’ Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The guests included John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, and the cast of The Office (including a preggers Angela Kinsey!).

Thursday: Paris Loves Her Mother Earth

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paris-121307.jpgParis Hilton Saves the Planet
The heiress is helping the earth by buying a hybrid car. Maybe she could stop polluting it with her skanky outfits and cheap perfume, too. [Yahoo]

The Hills Girls Get Boozy
Vogue intern Lauren Conrad got a little too buzzed at The Hills finale party. Is it because the word is out that her Parisian love interest may be a plant? [NYP]

Reese Witherspoon’s a Bossy Co-Star
The actress is letting her Type A attitude flow on the set of her new movie with mellow dude Vince Vaughn. Somewhere her ex-husband is laughing. [NYDN]

Britney’s a Bad Boss
Brit got busted by paps who got her on video showing driving away from a gas station and leaving her assistant behind. [TMZ]

Charlie Sheen’s Psycho About Decorating
We love this picture of Charlie Sheen’s mansion decked out in X-Mas lights almost as much as we love his scandalous past. There’s gotta be something x-rated going on in that wholesome looking house!

Cash Warren Inspires PAs to Reach for the Lady Stars

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jessica-cash.jpgToday’s news that super sexy Hollywood starlet Jessica Alba is pregnant with boyfriend Cash Warren‘s baby has stirred excitement in production departments across the entertainment industry. You see, the pair met when Cash was a production assistant on the set of Alba’s 2005 flick, The Fantastic Four. A couple of our PA’s were inspired and motivated by Warren’s lady-snagging skills, and wanted to get their names and faces out there in case any other female Hollywood players were looking for a hunky, young regular dude to turn into their own personal Mr. Mom (with a sweet Ferarri, K-Fed style). So Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Hayden Panettiere…if you’re out there, we have two fine young production assistants just ready to be the recipients of your sugar-mommying*! Check em out below and if you like what you see, shoot our guys an email at vh1blog@vh1.com. They wanna take you out on a date - your treat, of course.

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*Britney Spears need not apply.

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Fashion WTF: Coco Is Loco – And We Like it

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coco-121207.jpgWe love Ice-T’s Barbie-esque wife CoCo solely because of her outfits alone. Obviously her name is reason enough to be obsessed, but we’re hooked on her flashy fashion choices too. Just like Brooke Hogan rocks some risky looks without fear, CoCo just puts it all out there every time she leaves the house. So maybe it’s not what style icons like Nicole Richie or Jennifer Aniston would throw on, but if CoCo wants to hit up the I Am Legend premiere (like she did last night) in a fuchsia tank top that harnesses around her neck and matching eye makeup, then more power to her! And who can blame her for highlighting that sexy tank with a long white fur coat and completing the look with purple pants covered in puffy pant art? There’s no basic black on this lady, and dear God, that’s the way it should be. Viva la Coco!

Check out more pics below of our girl CoCo working it on the red carpet.

I Love New York Finale Forecast: Who Will Win?

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The I Love New York 2 season finale is Monday, December 17th at 9PM EST. Will New York pick Tailor Made or Buddha? Watch exclusive footage from the entire season, check out photos, and then make your picks. Comment now!

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Hulk Hogan Ain’t Makin’ Sense

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hulkhogan1212.jpgHulk Hogan recently did an interview to promote his new show – a brand new version on the 90′s hit American Gladiators. And while he did offer some insight as to how he’s doing these days – “I just pray that things get better for my family” – most of what he said didn’t make that much sense. Below we try to comprehend what’s going on in Hulk’s head.

On his current state: “I’m just leaning into the wind.”
This is probably not that hard considering his massive size.

On the fallout from his son Nick’s car accident: “…we’re going to be very happy when the truth really comes out of what really (happened), instead of all the speculation and all the mentality that’s going on.”
Last time we checked, mentality couldn’t “go on.” But hey, Hulk can use words in whatever way he wants – if we say otherwise, he’ll kick our ass!

On his new show American Gladiator: “Things are bigger and faster. Now we’ve got water — and I wish it was shark-infested.”
We know this is some sort of metaphor, but we have no idea what it means so we’re just going to take it literally. Sharks!

The Hulk did make some sense when he revealed that he’s staying “very, very positive,” and asserted that “You can never say never” when it comes to a reconciliation with his wife. That’s a start Hulk! Now just work on your mentality, and you’ll be good to go.

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Britney’s Worst Year Ever: February

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving, and the Criss Angel thing. It’s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she’d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We’re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

year_in_britney_2.jpg February 13Beach Blanket Britney – Britney was spotted at a Manhattan nightclub (in the dead of winter, mind you), rocking what the New York Post described as a “bikini and white busboy coat.” Whatever, can’t fault a girl for taking advantage of global warming, right? Anyway, what seemed like one in a growing number of quirks actually was an ominous sign of things to come, for within days, Britney had her first round with…

February 14Rehab, Take 1 – Britney checked in to Eric Clapton’s Crossroads in Antigua, California, and then checked out within 24 hours. It’s not that she didn’t want help, it’s just that she has, like, a really short attention span. [TMZ.com]

February 16A Woman Shorn – That evening, Britney entered a Los Angeles hair salon and asked a beautician to shave her head. When the hairdresser wouldn’t comply, she took matters into her own hands and buzzed herself down to stubble. When asked later what prompted her to do this, she told a paparazzo it was “because of you.” The photogs who undoubtedly made a mint off of shots of the freshly shaved Brit were all, “You shouldn’t have!” [Sky News]

February 20Rehab 2, Electric Boogaloo - If the title of this entry suggests that I’m not taking Brit’s second stint that month in rehab (this time at Promises in Malibu) seriously, it’s becuase, well, I’m not. For you see…[National Enquirer]

February 21Rehab Aborted, Again – …she wasn’t serious about it, again ditching rehab after being there for fewer than 24 hours. It was as though she got dieting and rehabbing confused and decided that yo-yoing was the best method. [FOXNews.com]

February 21 - You Can Stand Under My…Rage – As if a 24-hour turnaround time in rehab wasn’t enough to entertain us, Britney trumped the head shaving of last time by kicking the ass of a photog’s SUV parked outside Kevin Federline’s house. She was reportedly enraged that she couldn’t get inside the pad to see her kids. Undoubtedly, the money made from the shots could have bought about 10 of those vehicles. For all of her hardship and messiness, Britney’s touch is Midas. [X17]

February 22Rehab: Yes, Yes, Yes - Third time turned out to be a charm for Britney, who checked into Promises and would eventually complete the facility’s 30-day in-patient program. Over the course of the time, she learned to sit and stay. So, you know, it just goes to show that she’s still trainable. All is not lost! [TMZ.com]

[Image credit: X17]

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