Category Archives: Lists

The Ten Best Soundtrack Cues from The Americans

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

When The Americans premiered back in January 2013, it had all the makings of a fun throwback. ’80s fashion! ’80s politics! Felicity gracing our screens again! It quickly revealed itself to be a much more serious exploration of the crisscrossing allegiances to family and country than its sexy logline implied, albeit with plenty of time for bone-breaking and tooth-extracting, and with some of the most complex (and perplexingly under-awarded) performances on television. And in hindsight its granular exploration of the old Cold War was remarkably prescient of our current quagmires, constantly forcing the audience to question just how much it should be sympathizing with characters that want to undermine our very way of life, antiheroes whose destructive reach extends beyond even Heisenberg. What the show’s ultimate legacy will be after its May 30th finale remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: it had some of the most artful era-appropriate music cues this side of Mad Men. In honor of its six masterful seasons, here are the 10 best cuts from the entirety of the series (up until the eighth episode of season six, that is), presented in the order they first appeared. Also, though The Americans has its favorites like everyone, I limited this to one soundtrack cut per artist out of fairness. Otherwise this list might be mostly Fleetwood Mac. Speaking of…

Continue reading The Ten Best Soundtrack Cues from The Americans

They Might Be Giants Week!

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Latest posts by Marisa (see all)

Hey, you might’ve noticed, but the team here at SportsAlcohol.com sure likes They Might Be Giants a whole lot! Let’s nerd out.

We re-listened, voted, cried, ranked, and re-ranked until we had compiled a collective list of The Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants Songs of All Time (For Now).

To ease our sour grapes, we also put together a post of Outliers—TMBG songs that received one and only one vote for our master ranking.

Then four of us got together to record a podcast about the band, and how they’ve changed and haven’t changed—and ho we’ve changed and haven’t changed—in the decades they’ve been making music.

Is there a Spotify playlist? Of course there’s a Spotify playlist. (It’s missing two songs though—see if you can figure out which ones!)

And remember: Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful.

Our Favorite They Might Be Giants Songs: The Outliers

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

These aren’t runners-up in our list of the Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants songs. Far from it; these are all found much further down the full ranking of 160 or so tunes, because they all received exactly one (1) vote from one (1) participant. In some ways, especially with a band as original and idiosyncratic as TMBG, these outliers will tell you more about the artist than the stuff that nearly made the official list. These were the choices that inspired passionate devotion that, in turn, was not enough. Some of them are from the band’s best-selling record; others are newer songs that may not have had time to gain popular traction; one was chosen by a two-year-old who didn’t get to vote yet. What they have in common is that peculiar, wonderful connection between prolific band and attentive listener. Consider this an alternate top ten (er, eleven).
Continue reading Our Favorite They Might Be Giants Songs: The Outliers

The Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants Songs of All Time (For Now)

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

We here at SportsAlcohol.com love indie rock, love lists, and love (with reservations) our teenager selves from years ago. So it’s a little bit strange to us that though we’ve tackled artists like David Bowie, Sleater-Kinney, Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, and The Hold Steady, we have yet to make our definitive list of the best They Might Be Giants songs. It’s especially strange because of our founders’ history: Rob and Jesse went to see TMBG together on September 27th 1996, the night before Rob turned 17 and a few days before Jesse turned 16. There were TMBG t-shirts all over our high school for the next year-plus. One of the first times Jesse and Marisa met was at a TMBG show during college, and it was one of their most obvious initial common interests. Yet somehow it took us until 2018 to pull together a proper list.

This is probably because there never seems like a perfect time to make a They Might Be Giants list, because they’re almost always making music. I remember the gap between proper studio discs in 1996 and 2001 felt epic to me back in the day, but I didn’t realize how good I had it; the band released something— a compilation, a live album, an internet-only album, EPs, demos—literally every year of that “gap.” They have a new album called I Like Fun out right now, just a few months old, but still we’re not safe to make our definitive lists, because they’re going to be releasing more tracks through their Dial-a-Song service throughout the year, just as they did in 2015 alongside their album Glean.

So eventually you just have to put your head down and get to work and not worry about whether the next Dial-a-Song would have become your new favorite if you just waited another week or two. There will always be more songs, or at least that’s what it feels like when you’re a TMBG fan. I’ve been a fan of a lot of bands and I don’t know that I’ve ever found loving any of them as rewarding as it is to love They Might Be Giants. There are hits, obscurities, arcana, and everything in between. They have a reputation as a band that attracts nerds, and while that’s probably somewhat true, I think they’re also a band that kinda teaches you how to be a nerd. The good kind: curious, offbeat, and joyfully obsessive rather than sour or myopic.

A dozen-plus such nerds submitted lists of their 30 favorite TMBG songs, a wonderful and impossible task that resulted in this list of 40. If this seems like a lot, consider that it’s only the top twenty-five percent of the 160 songs that received votes, and only the top ten (or less) percent of the 400-plus songs (probably closer to 500+; I had to stop counting) that were eligible. Almost everyone who participated complained that this was too hard; that it wasn’t enough. Because we really, really love They Might Be Giants. So think of this list less as an exercise in leaving some songs off than as an extended thank-you to a band who means a whole lot to a whole lot of people.

Speaking of which: You’re familiar with Jesse, Marisa, and Rob. Here are your other voting nerds and TMBG experts for this rock-solid list:

Jeremy Bent is a writer, comedian, and UCB performer and teacher.
Trillion Grams loves TMBG and does IT for HR in DFW, TX, USA.
Karen Han writes on film, TV, music, and games, and is based in NYC. She loves Tintin and TMBG.
Andrew Hassenger is a musician and artist from Upstate New York.
Matt Koff is a comedian and Daily Show writer.
Randy Locklair is a Brooklyn-based dad and software architect, who likes to play the cello, fly planes and race bikes for fun. If you can’t find him doing any of those things, you can probably find him at a concert.
Demitri Muna is an astronomer at large in NYC who is reasonably obsessed with indiepop and is in love with a too-tall girl.
Michelle Paul is Managing Director of PatronManager.
Dennis Perkins is a freelance film and TV writer for the A.V. Club and elsewhere, and lives in Portland, Maine.
Alan Scherstuhl is the film editor at the Village Voice.
Rayme Shore is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (yes, really) who occasionally enjoys geeking out.

Let’s get this over with:
Continue reading The Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants Songs of All Time (For Now)

Best of 2017!

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Latest posts by Marisa (see all)

The year 2017 was 10,000 years long, and so its bests must be placed into the annals of history, to be reviewed and re-evaluated for the millennia that 2018 will last.

Movies

List: The 20 Best Movies of 2017

Podcast: The Best Movies of 2017

Television

List: The 12 Best TV Shows of 2017

Podcast: Best TV of 2017

Music

Podcast: Best Music of 2017

Songs: “Kattena Seishungeki,” “Green Light,” “MICHUUL,” “Love Galore,” “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” “Younger Now,” “Up in Hudson

See you next year, suckers.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Best Movies of 2017

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Hopefully you’ve gone through our list of the 20 best movies of 2017, and maybe if you did, you had some questions, such as: Where was this or that movie? Did everyone like every movie on this list a near-equal amount? Is there a way I could listen to Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse talk about the movies of 2017 for a feature-length amount of time? Luckily, we have a podcast for that.

Nathaniel defends The Shape of Water! Sara expresses frustration with Dunkirk! Jesse compares Call Me By Your Name to Brawl in Cell Block 99! Marisa talks about watching The Florida Project with a stranger! It’s all here.

I should note that because some of these movies have been covered extensively on other podcasts, we tried to steer conversations away from some of them. Here’s a quick list of supplemental podcasts you may have missed that also feature movies from our best movies of 2017 list (you know, in case two hours isn’t enough):

T2: Trainspotting is featured on our Danny Boyle episode.
Logan Lucky is featured on our Steven Soderbergh episode.
We talk about A Ghost Story, The Beguiled and Columbus on our summer indies ’17 episode.
We talk about Lady Bird and The Meyerowitz Stories on our Baumbach/Gerwig episode.
And yes, for more Star Wars talk, there’s always an episode for that.

Anyway, check it totally out:

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The Top 20 Best Movies of 2017

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

As Marisa will mention in an upcoming podcast, last year felt like it was about seventeen goddamn years long, but that doesn’t mean we shied away from the challenge of combing through the approximately one million 2017 releases to determine which, of this year’s many fine offerings (finer than what the year had to offer in general, for sure) constituted the 20 best movies of the year. Regular SportsAlcohol.com Film Gang Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse each submitted individual Top 20 lists which were aggregated into a single Top 20 which featured relatively few movies with four-for-four list support (about 25%, I believe) but plenty of movies that got two or three of us way on board (unlike past years, no single-vote wonders made the list). Now that the mechanics are out of the way, let’s get to the movies themselves. A podcast, as always, will follow.

The 20 Best Movies of 2017

Continue reading The Top 20 Best Movies of 2017

The Top 12 Best TV Shows of 2017

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

It’s been a rough year, but there’s always television. So much television! It’s really a wonder that even a small group of SportsAlcohol.com editors and contributors — your usual pals Nathaniel, Marisa, Jesse, and Sara, plus novelist Maggie Lehrman and playwright/actual TV professional Jon Kern — was able to reach any kind of consensus over what we liked best. And in some ways, we didn’t; I’m not sure if there’s a single show mentioned on this list that all six of us have seen in full. (Maybe number three.) But it’s an eclectic and often electrifying group of shows we really love. In other words, a twelve-part miracle. Let’s get to miracle-in’ then!
Continue reading The Top 12 Best TV Shows of 2017

Happy Holidays-ish: The Top Six Best Christmas-Adjacent Movies

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

First, a confession, which may not seem immediately related to the subject at hand: until December 3rd, I had never seen a Batman movie in full. Not a Nolan, not a Keaton, only dim memories of Val Kilmer clips interrupting Seal in the “Kiss From a Rose” video. But that night I gathered with some fellow SportsAlcohol-ics to watch Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, in a thinly-veiled attempt on Jesse’s part to (a) get me to finally watch one of these things and (b) put forth the argument that Returns is part of one of my favorite genres: not unequivocally holiday-themed films like A Christmas Story or Elf, but what I’ll call the Christmas-Adjacent. These are films whose plots do not revolve around, say, getting the family together for a big dinner, taking over for Santa after accidentally killing him, or having your marital infidelities exposed with poorly hidden gifts intended for your mistress. Rather, they use the holiday, or holiday season, as a motif or backdrop for other stories, variously invoking the warmth, loneliness, and occasional homicidal rage the season brings. You can also watch them any time of year and it doesn’t feel too weird. Having now seen Batman Returns myself (Ed. note), I absolutely agree that it fits the genre, and is fun to contemplate as one of the strangest studio tentpoles to exist. But the following, in my opinion, are the best, and the ones that most often end up in my holiday-watching rotation.
Continue reading Happy Holidays-ish: The Top Six Best Christmas-Adjacent Movies

Every Steven Soderbergh Movie Ranked

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

As you might recall if you listen to our exhaustive recent podcast episode on Steven Soderbergh, we here at SportsAlcohol.com are, by and large, pretty big fans of his work. On the occasion of that podcast and the release of Logan Lucky, his first new feature in four years, here are Soderbergh’s 25 fiction films ranked from worst all the way up to best. The rankings were determined only by me, Jesse, but I enlisted some help in talking about certain entries. Cue the David Holmes music:
Continue reading Every Steven Soderbergh Movie Ranked