The Cadenzites: 2011 edition

Cadenza loves award shows, so we decided we should make our own awards. Here are the first round of the Cadenzites, offering you our favorite pop culture items from the past year.

Best Summer Movies

1. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”: The last Harry Potter movie absolutely belongs at the top of this list. Daniel Radcliffe’s much-
improved acting, Voldemort’s ridiculous Avada Kedavra yell and that tear-jerking dive into Snape’s memories make this film bloody brilliant.

2. “X-Men: First Class”: This was a surprisingly good superhero back story movie, charting the relationship between Charles Xavier (the fantastic James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (rising star Michael Fassbender), who will become two major players in the X-Men universe. Their bromance is engaging and adds depth to what could’ve been a special-effects-ridden popcorn flick.

3. “Bridesmaids”: Hooray for putting women-driven comedies on the map! Kristen Wiig leads a cast of talented female comics that, coupled with some clever writing, allows room for both expected rom-com gags and truly original humor.

Best New TV Shows

1. “Once Upon a Time”: Created by “Lost” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, “Once Upon a Time” is filling an important role in the TV lineup. It offers two narratively complex universes and a wonderful cast of characters, as well as “Lost”-style flashbacks to Storybrooke in each episode. It’s just fantastical to watch.

2. “Suburgatory”: Though new comedy “Suburgatory” has no idea what a tri-state suburban town is actually like, it portrays life in the suburbs hilariously. It centers on Tessa, a NYC-raised teen whose dad moved her out to a suburban New York town after finding condoms in her drawer. The people she meets are incredibly inane, but that’s why it’s so fun to watch them.

3. “Boss”: Imagining Frasier Crane as a politician is a fun hypothetical, but Kelsey Grammer does a great job playing the mayor of Chicago on Starz’s “Boss.” He gets diagnosed with a neurological disorder but works to keep it a secret, and the drama that follows is scintillating.

Best Returning TV Shows

1. “Modern Family”: This hilarious comedy follows one of the funniest families known to mankind. The combination of witty writing and fantastic acting makes us wish we lived near one of the Pritchett families.

2. “Glee”: Finn, Rachel, Kurt and Mike are graduating, the glee club is going through dramatic changes, Rachel’s biological mom is in charge of a rival show choir at McKinley, Blaine transferred to McKinley, Sue is going all the way to end the arts, and that’s what you missed on Glee! This season has certainly improved on the last.

3. “Breaking Bad”: In this show’s fourth season, which premiered over the summer, Walter finished his transition from decent to bad. Next season will probably be the last, so it’s good this one went out on a bang.

Best Singles

1. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele: No one can deny the brilliant singing ability of Adele, which is reflected in the immense popularity of her first single from “21.” Since its release at the end of 2010, “Rolling in the Deep” has gone Platinum five times over and achieved an impressive seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

2. “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO: Whether you’re a hardcore party rocker or not, LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” has a definite appeal at any party scene thanks to its intense techno beat and infectious dance-ability.

3. “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga: Although initially met with some criticism for its different style and implications of Madonna plagiarism, “Born This Way” has become a defining song of 2011. Reaching number one in 19 countries and giving Lady gaga her third number one song on the Billboard Hot 100, the song has been a source of inspiration and motivation for her Little Monsters.

Best Books

1. “Bossypants,” Tina Fey: Tina Fey, arguably the most down-to-earth and genuinely funny celebrity of modern times, again proves how awesome she is with this fantastic memoir. Fey reveals all with witty, thoughtful sarcasm, taking readers from her childhood under the roof of fearsome Don Fey to her complicated, busy lifestyle as a working mother (It’s hard to play Sarah Palin on “SNL,” get Oprah on your primetime sitcom, and prepare for your daughter’s Peter Pan party all at the same time.)

2. “The Marriage Plot,” Jeffrey Eugenides: In this earnest, clever exploration of what it means to be on the brink of adulthood, Eugenides captures the lives of three graduating students at Brown University in the 1980s. English major Madeleine’s senior thesis on Jane Austen, coupled with her involvement in a complicated love triangle, spurs questions of love and what it all means.

3. “11/22/63,” Steven King: In his latest novel, Steven King ponders what would happen if someone went back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. The novel follows Jake Epping, an English teacher, who finds a portal back to 1958 to spend five years changing the present and future. The book is a drastic departure from King’s usual works, but all the critics love it.

Best Celebrity Celebrations

1. The Royal Wedding: Prince William married longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on Apr. 29, 2011, as the whole world watched.

2. The wedding—then divorce—of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries: Kim’s lavish, over-the-top, fairytale wedding, broadcasted by E! Entertainment Television may have been in vain, as Kim filed for divorce from Kris after only 72 days of marriage.

3. Melissa McCarthy’s Emmy win: After starring in the box office hit “Bridesmaids,” McCarthy capped off her superb year with an Emmy win for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “Mike and Molly.”

Best New Artists

1. Foster the People: Foster the People debuted its first studio album, “Torches,” in May, and the band has been hanging steadily around the iTunes top album charts ever since. The band’s first single, “Pumped Up Kicks”—a catchy and irresistible retro-tinged pop tune—received lots of buzz and radio play. The rest of Foster the People’s first album contains much of the same laid-back appeal, making it clear that the band will not just be a one-hit wonder this year.

2. Mumford & Sons: Admittedly, Mumford & Sons released their debut studio album, “Sigh No More,” in 2010, but it was only after their Grammy appearance in November 2010 that this band gained real visibility in the United States. The album has sold more than a million copies this year, and “Little Lion Man” is now a classic go-to sing-a-long song.

3. Jessie J: With the February release of her debut studio album “Who You Are,” UK-based artist Jessie J has grown exponentially here in the states. From her catchy, popular single “Price Tag” to her fantastic “Saturday Night Live” performance in March, it’s clear that although Jessie J may be a breakout star for 2011, the only way to go from here is up.

Best Albums

1. “The Smile Sessions” by The Beach Boys: This is a wonderful album, and despite the unfinished, skeletal nature of many of the songs, it’s not just a collection of unreleased studio sessions. “The Smile Sessions” is a fully realized album. The progression of “Look (Song for Children)” into “Child Is Father of the Man” into “Surf’s Up” is so good that it makes the 45 years between recording and release irrelevant. It stands beside every other new release this year to really be an album of 2011.

2. “Parallax” by Atlas Sound: “Parallax” is among the most consistent albums of the year, relying on swirling synth lines and ambience to balance out the usual rock noise of Deerhunter. This is the first Atlas Sound solo album that rejects being designated a mere Deerhunter offshoot, and Atlas Sound instead forms its own autonomous sound.

3. “Slave Ambient” by The War on Drugs: “Slave Ambient” not only throws a sparkling new coat of paint on many of the tracks off 2010’s “Future Weather EP,” but it also introduces a number of killer tracks, most notably the opener, “Best Night.”

Best Celebrity Scandals

1. Lindsay Lohan, in general: In jail one day, out a few hours later; a missed court appearance; on house arrest: This is the sad but true story of Lohan’s year.

2. Charlie Sheen’s meltdown: As much as he may want us to believe it was, Sheen’s meltdown, which led to him being fired from “Two and a Half Men,” was definitely not #winning.

3. Anthony Weiner’s sexual no-nos: Eventually admitting to posting inappropriate photos of himself on Twitter, Weiner resigned from his position as a New York congressman, providing plenty of material for late night comedians in the process.

Best Fads

1. Non-prescription hipster glasses: To the dismay of hipsters everywhere, it seems they’ve finally started something mainstream. Everyone from Jay-Z to kids shopping at Claire’s tried to pull off these thick-rimmed plastic specs at least once this year, and most of the time they served no purpose other than to make them look smarter and more edgy.

2. “Words with Friends”: Zynga released its version of Scrabble in 2009 for the iPhone, but in 2011 the company made the game available to Android users. This summer Zynga also created “Hanging with Friends,” an interactive version of Hangman in which players try to keep their own characters safely floating above a volcano with the help of a handful of balloons. Hooray for even more ways to waste time.

3. Rebecca Black’s “Friday”: In mid-March, “Friday” took America by storm. Rebecca Black literally became a star overnight. Even after Ark Music Factory pulled the original video from YouTube, the song is still famous. One critic even attributed its success to the fact that it’s basically a parody of itself.

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