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Music in 2011 was fun. More fun that it’s been for me in years. Not really serious – just fun pop music. So I felt compelled to list my personal Top 10 tracks of the year. Well, maybe not exactly my Top 10 – I chose not to duplicate artists, so this is more of a representative sample. Enjoy! What tracks were you feeling this year?

In no particular order:

Shame, Jill Scott. This was my theme song, y’all. For real. I absolutely love this lady! And if this album, the Light of the Sun, is not on your iPod right now, shame on you! It is my absolute favorite of the year. And Mary J. put out a crazy album (see below), so that is saying something! (Honorable mentions: Quick and All Cried Out).

Over You, Raphael Saadiq. I was in love with soulful retro sounds this year. No one did it better than Raphael Saadiq. His whole album was the business, and this was my favorite track. (Honorable mentions: Stone Rollin’ and Heart Attack)

Stay Too Long, Plan B. I probably played this album, the Defamation of Strickland Banks, more than any other this year. It’s a crazy sick mix of retro soul and hip hop. All from a white dude from England. Madness. This is my favorite track (very honorable mentions to Love Goes Down and I Know a Song)

Miss Me With That, Mary J. Blige. Ok, if y’all don’t know how I feel about the album My Life II…, you betta ask somebody. This is my favorite track, because it’s full of that No-More-Drama sensibility I love Mary for. Who else can effectively croon: “I know just what your ass gon’ say, so save it!”? Love her! (Honorable mentions: 25/8 and Love a Woman)

Party, Beyoncé. I am not a big fan of Bey’s music. Sorry. I’m much more likely to be listening to her hubby (see below). But this…was…my…JAM this year! Love love love it!

Yoü and I, Lady Gaga. I love Gaga. I do. When her album came out I secretly wished that she would not release this song as a single, because it was my favorite and I didn’t want to get sick of it. Oh well. Still love it.

Ni**as in Paris, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Kanye may be the most annoying individual on the planet. But he kills it on every track. Add Jay, my favorite rapper ever, and you know I’d be hooked. This whole album is just redic.

Fool For You, Cee Lo. If the only Cee Lo song you know is F*ck You, then forget you. Buy the whole album. It’s crazy.

On The Floor, Jennifer Lopez. Ok, I love this song, ok? There, I said it. I’m a J.Lo fan. Sue me. I like her. Forget Marc, girl – go get your 24-year-old! Do it, Mami!

Take It All, Adele. Ok, I only started listening to this album a few weeks ago, even though I bought it when it first came out. It wasn’t her fault that I had just fallen in love, and almost as quickly had my heart smashed into a million pieces at the beginning of the year. So listening to 21 was like rubbing gasoline-soaked gravel into an open wound. But I’m feeling much better now, and this track is my favorite. But maybe a happy album next time, huh, girl? Thanks.

Want to read more about music from me and people who know much more about music than me? Then check out I’ve Been Meaning To Listen To… – a blog where a bunch of cool, knowledgeable, music-loving folks like me review an album a week. See you over there!

Hiatus

Life is crazy now. Trying to run a business in addition to my day job, other professional commitments and trying to have a semblance of a social life is taking up 150 percent of my time right now. So I have to put my beloved COE on indefinite hiatus.

I’m not closing the blog. I have a dream I’ll be able to come back to it one day. But for now I have to say,

So long.

I talk a lot about music that makes you happy or cheers you up. But sometimes you don’t want that. Sometimes you feel down, and you just want to own that feeling for a while. This playlist is for those times.

“Everything’s Changing,” Keane.

“I’m trying to make a move just to stay in the game. I try to stay awake and remember my name. But everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.”

“Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” Annie Lennox

[How can Neil Young’s words coming from Annie Lenox’s mouth not move you?]

“Don’t let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning. Find someone who’s turning, and you will come around.”

“Help,” Tina Turner

[John Lennon’s words coming from Tina Turner’s mouth. Even more moving than Neil and Annie.]

“And now my life has changed in oh so many ways. My independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then, when I feel so insecure. I know I need you like I never did before.”

“Holding Back The Years,” Simply Red

“I’ve wasted all my tears; wasted all those years. Nothing had the chance to be good; nothing ever could.”

“You Could Make A Killing,” Aimee Mann

“I could follow you and search the rubble. Or stay right here and save myself some trouble. Or try to keep myself from seeing double.”

“Long Hard Road,” Sade

“And when in this life, in this life, when I can only turn my chin. I know it’s gonna be alright.”

“Dark Truths,” Joan Armatrading

“It’s so nice that someone thinks you’re special. Treat them right, that trust in you is precious. All the same, we make mistakes. I’ve used up a few lives, now I’m afraid of dying. Cuz one day I’ll find you’re not forgiving.”

“Till the Sun Turns Black,” Ray LaMontagne

“Can you see the corporate man – he’s winning on the telephone; his possessions are his throne – till the sun turns black/ Can you see him in his lounger watching TV in the dark, waiting for a spark, till the sun turns black?”

“Color,” Mary J. Blige

The lyrics to this track are actually very happy and uplifting – yet every time I hear it, I bawl. Maybe it’s just Mary’s voice. Maybe I’m just still waiting to get to that place.

“Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?),” Diana Ross

I know I’ve mentioned this song about a billion times on this blog. I hope I’m not entering into ad nauseam territory, because I really do love it that much. Seeing Diana Ross live (from the second row!) this past spring was a highlight of my life, and when she sang this track I pretended she was singing directly to me. I was moved to tears.

Dear Sec. Clinton,

As someone who is immensely proud that you – a strong, smart, kick-ass woman – are at the helm of one of the most important federal executive departments in our country, I absolutely hate it when people criticize your hair or wardrobe. It really irks me, because no one criticizes Robert Gates’ haircut or Eric Holder’s suits. People should not get away with that foolishness just because you are a woman. The Secretary of State has more important things to worry about than accessorizing, people! Dang!

But – and don’t get me wrong, everything I just said is true – I have to ask you, Sec. Clinton, what in the name of holy hell is this?!?

The only time my head looks like this is first thing in the morning when I’m only halfway done with the flatiron!

Sec. Clinton, I implore you – please do not ever attend a UN meeting looking like this. You represent the United States of America! Sheesh! Even Condi knew better than that!

Yours truly,

-Elleen

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve given y’all a playlist, which is a shame. Those who know me know that this has been a CRAZY summer for me. It’s a summer I may not have sanely survived but for my loved ones and music. So let’s give a nod to the latter, and take a look at what’s been burning up my iPod during the dog days. This is a good one, so I recommend you throw these tracks on your player too – it’s way better than that ubiquitous Katy Perry crap:

Cee Lo, “F*¢k You”

Dear Grammys: Go ahead and give this man the prize for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Performance, Best Country Track – all of ‘em. Because this is the most brilliant joint that has come out in YEARS! Bravo! NSFW language, obviously.

Janet Jackson, “Nasty”

I absolutely love it when I hear a song from my childhood, and it acquires a whole new level of brilliance when you hear it as an adult. This song is a prime example. Go’on, Miss Jackson.

Kanye West, “Power”

Yep, I’m still blasting this. I’m not exactly Kanye’s biggest fan, but this is my favorite Hip Hop joint since Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” dropped. This song is directly responsible for my 10K training progress. Never run before? Put this track on repeat and see if you don’t put four miles behind you before you know it. Try it.

Mary J. Blige, “The One”

I didn’t like this song at all when it was first released. Not at ALL – mainly because the thought of a talent like the incomparable Miss Mary J. Blige using autotune offended me deeply. Then this summer happened. And suddenly – this became my theme song! It literally plays when I walk down the street. That’s right. Yeah, I’m that. Yeah, I’m that. Yeah, I’m her.

Destiny’s Child, “Soldier”

I posted this on my Facebook page after a couple of my friends, in completely unrelated conversations, told me they didn’t think I like a certain type of guy. Just FYI: I am the Rainbow Coalition of dating. Just sayin’.

Missy Elliot, “Work It”

Same point as above – in response to one friend, I quoted Missy Elliot: “Boys, boys, all type of boys. Black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese boys.” Oh yeah, and I like to pretend that I look like a Halle Berry poster as well.

Sugerland, “Stuck Like Glue”

Ok, just so y’all don’t think I’ve become too single-minded and jaded, I’ll throw this little sweet diddy in. Love this track. So fun and happy. It’s a love song! Imagine that!

Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Hit ‘Em Up Style”

And… we’re back to jaded. But really, this is the bomb. It kicks Blu Cantrell’s version in the teeth. Thanks, Emma, for turning me on to this band!

Much, much more good stuff after the jump, y’all! => Continue Reading »

I know the Emmys are no Oscars. Not even close. But I love a red carpet event. So let’s deconstruct, shall we?

The Good

To my dismay, this is a thin category this year. There was a lot of fug happening on that red carpet, let me tell ya! But a few ladies stood out beautifully. Here are my favorites.

Tina Fey

My favorite look of the night! Tina Fey killed it!! She worked this dress like the rent was due last Thursday!! GORGEOUS!! She usually likes black, but she ventured out a bit with this amazing overlay print. And the dress fits like she was born in it. I think I jumped up and down and squealed a little when she walked out, because she was that fabulous!

Claire Danes

It is really, really hard for me to say something nice about some trick who once stole a pregnant woman’s man. But I give credit where it is due: Claire’s dress was a close, close second to Tina’s as my favorite of the night.

Jayma Mays

OK, ladies – take note. THIS is how you do a frilly detail right! Jayma looked GORGEOUS! The gown fit her perfectly, the navy color is beautiful, the hair and makeup are flawless and don’t compete with the dress. This is glamour done right!

Much, much more after the jump =>

Continue Reading »

Sorry Rihanna

Rihanna, I know you probably thought you were being innovative when you performed in this light-up gown:

I know you may be a bit young to remember this, though, but a fab fashionista already beat you to this look. Years ago. Her name is Jane. Check it at about 00:39:

Better luck next time, RiRi!!

Smooches,

-Kim

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