The best of Summer


Credit: Jason Hall

Best Movie: Little Miss Sunshine

With characters such as a cocaine-addict grandfather, a suicidal gay uncle, an awkward child with dreams of becoming a beauty pageant queen and a dysfunctional married couple, Little Miss Sunshine could’ve easily blended in with the rest of the bland films this summer. But by utilizing great performances by actors Greg Kinnear (As Good As It GetsThe 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) and creating fully developed characters, Little Miss Sunshine becomes a comedy that delivers laughs, emotion and depth.

Best Album: Gnarls Barkley

St. Elsewhere

This is what R&B should sound like – risky, joyous, nuanced and soulful. All of these things singer Cee-Lo Green and Gorillaz producer Danger Mouse bring to the board on this debut record. Blending styles from doo-wop (“Smiley Faces”) to electronica (“Storm Coming”), Gnarls is one of the few bands to successfully be retro and modern without being forced and pretentious.

Best Summer Concert: Warped Tour

Although it was not one of its better years, Warped Tour didn’t fail to deliver when it came to variety and fun. From pop-punk (Cartel, Motion City Soundtrack) to politically-charged music (Rise Against, Against Me!) to hip-hop (Gym Class Heroes, Talib Kweli) to screamo (Armor for Sleep, Aiden) audiences were almost guaranteed to find a niche genre they enjoyed. There was also a lot of free stuff, and that’s never a bad thing.

– Andrew Gaug

Best Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Although the first installment of Pirates of the Caribbean set the bar high, this movie was a good example of mindless summer entertainment that audiences treasure. Sword fights, shipside battles and a touch of romance all added up to an enjoyable film for a day that was too hot to spend outside.

Best Album: Dashboard Confessional

Dusk and Summer

As the title suggests, this is a disc full of summer romance and memories. Lead singer Chris Carrabba’s voice soars on the title track and the rest is a mellow soundtrack for a warm night.

Best Concert: Dick Dale

It was an exhilarating experience. The king of surf guitar played favorites such as “Miserlou” – known for its sample in the Black Eyed Peas’ song “Pump It”- and “Mr. Peppermint Man,” which told stories of when the Beach Boys used to open up for him. He plays the Cleveland area annually in May, so don’t miss the next time around!

– Madelyn Otcasek

Best Movie: V for Vendetta (DVD)

Don’t be misled by the idea of explosions and fight scenes, this movie is much more than an action film. It is deep with a significant theme of the power of ideas. The combination of a talented cast of actors, a well-written script and a great theme to back up its story line makes the movie worthy of high praise.

Best Album: Panic! At The Disco

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

Although it was released last fall, Panic! At the Disco’s debut album was the most musically-pleasant surprise of my summer. The band is not just a group of pretty looking boys in trendy outfits with instruments; they are talented musicians.Far from typical pop-punk music, the band took elements from different musical styles and blended them all together. The first half of the CD has a techno influence and the second half has piano and strings instruments scattered throughout each of the songs. This split in styles on the same album gives the guarantee of not having an album full of songs that sound alike. The poetic lyrics mix with catchy choruses and the contrasting layers of musical styles take this band to the next different level of their genre.

Best Concert: Mindless Self Indulgence

The Mindless Self Indulgence concert is probably not No. 1 on most people’s concert lists. However, if you give the band a chance, you may be surprised. Mindless Self Indulgence’s politically incorrect and frequently incomprehensible lyrics as well as wild techno-influenced music draw a surprisingly large crowd of all different types of people. The high energy band members act wild from beginning to end. The band’s show does not fail to induce a great deal of fun and dancing along with an entertaining performance.

– Alicia Boulton

Best Album: Muse

Black Holes and Revelations

English power-trio Muse released their funky fifth album, Black Holes and Revelations. The album is on par with the band’s 2003 release Absolution, but is not as good as the band’s 2001 release Origins of Symmetry. Black Holes and Revelations will not fail to satisfy Muse fans, and the four-part vocal harmonies, and funkified bass grooves won’t fail to attract new fans.

Best Movie: X-Men: the Last Stand

Arguably the best X-Men movie yet, maybe even the best third film in a series since Return of the Jedi in the original Star Wars trilogy. X-Men 3 has something for everyone, not just comic fans. When does the fourth X-Men come out?

Best Concert: Endfest 15

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mars Volta, Nine Black Alps and Wolfmother all at one show! Yes, it really happened in Seattle, Washington at Endfest 15 Aug. 12. Catch these bands when they come to the area next. They all put on amazing shows.

– Gabe Gott

Best Movie: The Descent

For thrill-seekers looking for some late-summer screams, Neil Marshall’s The Descent was the best choice. This fright flick followed a group of strong-willed women on a cave exploration around the Appalachian Mountains.

As they make their descent further into the monstrous cave, the women realize they aren’t alone because hungry human-like creatures dwell within.

Unlike many horror films, this one had characters that audiences could relate to, care about and distinguish from the others. The Descent is a fresh idea with current cinema that seems to be nothing but remakes or sequels.

Best Television Show: Big Brother: All-Stars

Summer’s guiltiest pleasure returned for a seventh season as “Big Brother: All-Stars” premiered in late June.

With memorable people like Will Kirby, James Rhine and Janelle Pierzina returning, this season started off with a bang.

Watching as the houseguests made their return to get revenge or to seek solace with another contestant has made this season stand out from others.

As the September finale nears, only six houseguests remain. With the remaining contestants unaware, two more players will be evicted tonight instead of the usual one.

Get ready for some fireworks.

Best Free Outdoor Entertainment: Rockin’ on the River

Rockin’ on the River in Cuyahoga Falls provided the best free outdoor entertainment during the summer.

Different tribute bands were brought here from those singing songs by Jimmy Buffet, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and many more. There were also food staples of summer such as hot dogs, pizza and beer.

This outdoor theater creates a unique and fun atmosphere for everybody.

– Ryan Haidet

Best Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

In an otherwise soggy-movie summer, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was a breath of fresh sea air. Here is a rollicking action-adventure movie that knows exactly what it is and what expectations the audience has for it. Even though I wasn’t too fond of the first Pirates, I loved this sequel unabashedly. It would not be a stretch to compare it to The Empire Strikes Back as far as sequels that surpass the original.

Best Album: Christina Aguilera

Back to Basics

What can one say about this shrewd songstress who is reinventing herself without really changing who she is and what she represents? Back to Basics is a phenomenal double-disc success that perfectly meshes yesterday’s standards with the flavor of today. From the endlessly listenable “Ain’t No Other Man” and “Candyman” to the touchingly emotional “Oh Mother” and “The Right Man,” you can waste hours jamming to this Baby Jane without feeling guilty at all!

Best TV Show: Who Wants To Be A Superhero?

Every now and then a pleasure comes along so guilty that you just can’t look away and Sci Fi’s newest reality series about creating a classic superhero is just that. How can you not love a show featuring such characters as Fat Momma, whose arch-nemesis is Skinny Bitch? Or a show that has the characters attacked by rabid attack dogs? Super, indeed.

– Robert Taylor

Best Movie: Clerks II

Director Kevin Smith updates the lives of slackers Dante and Randall as they continue to revel in immaturity and laziness. The raunchy jokes and sex talk are still there. Smith holds nothing back as he gives the characters that made him famous a proper send off in an ode to friendship and growing up.

Best Album: Tool 10,000 Days

A new Tool album is like a visit from your favorite relative who lives in a different state. It only happens every four to five years and it is always a memorable experience. Tool return to what they do best, which are seven to eight minute jams accompanied by Maynard Keenan’s dark, personal lyrics. Tool seems to age like fine wine, and while each album sounds similar, Tool continues to grow far beyond any other band on the planet.

Best Concert: Nine Inch Nails,

June 28, Blossom Music Center

Trent Reznor and his band showed why they are one of the best live bands around. In an almost two-hour set, Reznor touched on every album, including The Fragile. The only mistake was the omission of “Reptile,” but Reznor and company put on an intense show that sent the audience home pumping their fists.

– Ben Plassard