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#NowPlaying: Christmas Edition

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The return of the holiday season is always marked by TV networks insisting upon reruns of A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and other cheesy, but inexplicably compelling titles. Likewise, book and game stores push pre-orders of their hottest December releases (will someone please buy me the Wii U so I can play Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on December 5?). Still, nothing beats the often too-early streaming of Christmas music in the malls, on your radio stations, and even on Pandora to get you in the holiday spirits. For this edition of #NowPlaying, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Christmas songs of all time. We hope you enjoy!

10. “Feliz Navidad” – Jose Feliciano
Who doesn’t love a corny classic now and then—especially one that has non-Spanish speakers sounding fluent? Muy bien, readers. Muy bien.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer9. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” – Elmo & Patsy
Grandma should really be more careful; am I right? Some songs are just so bad that they’re good. Case in point.

8. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Bobby Helms
Despite the many re-recordings of this chart-topper, nothing beats the original. There’s just something very charming about Helms’ voice in this classic little jingle.

7. “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” – Brenda LeeRockin Around The Christmas Tree
Can you believe Lee was only 13 when she recorded this song? Her lovely, mature voice and the song’s jolly and light pop-rock feel keep “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” playing year after year.

6. “Santa Baby” – Eartha Kitt
Oh, Ms. Kitt, you’re so darn coy! We love how you use your flirtatious feminine ways to get your ’54 convertible… light blue!

Do They Know Its Christmas5. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid
Feed the world! While depressing, this song definitely makes us look at the holidays from a completely different perspective.

4. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” – John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Sorry to our dear readers for being so depressing. Still, no music list is complete without one or all of The Beatles. John Lennon’s voice is pure velvet as he sings this beautiful and meaningful melody.

3. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Dean MartinBaby Its Cold Outside
While Dean Martin may not have written this song, we can’t help but include his delightful version complete with an all-female chorus. Not only is this an incredible winter tune, it is easily one of the greatest duets of all time. ‘Tis the season for snuggling!

2. “Last Christmas” – Wham
While “Last Christmas” is a fantastic record and a close 2nd on our list, we insist that you hear the Glee version sung by Lea Michele and Cory Monteith (at least our Glee-obsessed Entertainment Director thinks so).

All I Want For Christmas is You1. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey
Do we really need to explain our choice? This diva is no stranger to the top of the billboards and it’s easy to see why. The record is catchy, romantic, and just plain fun to sing after a few glasses of eggnog! Plus it sold over 14 million copies to date. You go, Mariah.

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#NowPlaying

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We have officially fallen into fall! While the idea of Oktoberfest, Halloween, and Thanksgiving will definitely keep us in high spirits, I think it’s important that we expand our horizons beyond booze, candy, and obscene amounts of food. As usual, I’m talking about good tunes, smart reads, fun games, and choice television shows. The days may be getting shorter, but here’s how I plan to make them feel longer.

Listening to: Iggy Azalea
Despite my conscious efforts to despise Miss “The New Classic,” it seems she’s a fad that won’t be dying out any time soon. Whether she’s posing as a “Black Widow” with Rita Ora or getting “Fancy” with Charli XCX, she’s making a huge impact in the music world. Even I have to admit that I can’t stop singing her songs. On top of that, she’s featured on nearly every popular track that’s on the radio right now! Despite the fact that she and Ariana Grande sing about having “one less problem,” Miss Azalea is one femme fatale that’s a real “Problem” for her fellow female rappers.

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Reading: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Even though I read this book as a child, I knew that I would experience it in a different way as an adult. What better time to reread it than following the release of the movie adaptation? While the film was certainly watchable, it lacks a depth that the original storyline masters with an untouched grace. In a society that has taken away all memories to promote a pleasant existence, Jonas questions the value of removing painful memories when happy memories go along with them. With dystopian novels becoming all the rage in recent years (Divergent, The Hunger Games, etc.), The Giver makes a huge comeback as an award-winning fan favorite.

Playing: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for3 Nintendo 3DS
Visually appealing role playing games? I’m all over that. As I not-so-patiently await to see if rumors surrounding a KHIII come to fruition, I thought I’d try the only installment in the franchise that I haven’t played yet: Dream Drop Distance. All I have to say is that Sora, Mickey, and friends have won me over, yet again. As usual, the storyline is both detailed and interesting, and the graphics are breathtaking. For Disney fanatics, this game is a must-have!

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Watching: Dating Naked
Quite possibly the most ridiculous display of human interaction on television since Catfish, VH1’s Dating Naked takes reality dating to a whole new level of O-M-G. Two contestants go on three naked dates (one with each other) in hopes of finding “true love.” This show has become somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. Despite the undeniable discomfort of riding bikes, doing yoga, and flying kites in the nude, I’ve grown to appreciate how honest people become when put in a vulnerable—and not to mention awkward—situation. Tune in for a few laughs and plenty of aww-worthy moments as these contestants literally bare it all.


Be sure to check out our Oct/Nov 2014 issue for #NowPlaying and other articles!

#NowPlaying

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As an impatient summer baby, I’ve been looking for ways to keep myself busy until my favorite time of year finally arrives. I know you guys have been, too. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that the excruciating wait for those beautiful, uninhibited summer nights doesn’t have to be spent twiddling your thumbs. The season for designer sunglasses and sand between your toes might still be a couple of months away, but here’s my “hot list” to keep you guys entertained until then.

Listening To: Louder by Lea Michele

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am obsessed with the insanely talented Lea Michele. After the devastating loss of her boyfriend and Glee co-star, Cory Monteith, I found it hard to imagine her returning to the public eye. But she did, and it was with a bang—not to mention with strength and bravery that millions found inspiring, myself included. In her debut album, she exudes all of her pain and determination in that technically perfect sound that she is so famous for. The ballad entitled “If You Say So” is a stand-out track; Michele shares the very last words that she heard Monteith say, her grief tangible through the pretty lyrics. The album sounds like nothing else, despite it being classified into the pop genre. Her voice is built for classic theatre, but put over an emotional ballad or a fresh dance beat, Lea Michele soars to unexpected heights—even for her. I think this is only the beginning for this destined future diva.

the-fault-in-our-stars-john-green-cover
Reading: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

While I’ve been not-so-patiently awaiting Lea Michele’s debut book, Brunette Ambition (May 20th, 2014), I picked up this popular and already well-received novel. With the film-version already set for release in the summer, I was very eager to see what all the hype was about. In short, I fell in love. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters will absolutely charm you. Aside from the obvious love story, there are themes of inspiration, hope, and the fulfillment of wishes. Still, there is certainly the underlying sense of hopelessness that you have to expect when reading a book about teenagers battling various forms of cancer. You will cry (if you have a soul, at least). What’s pretty incredible about the book, however, is how much you will laugh between your tears. This is an absolute must-read.


Playing: Bravely Default for Nintendo 3DS

Bravely-Default-Box-Art-USA-Canada

Thanks to a certain editor of mine, (cough, cough) Megan Portorreal (cough), I no longer have a social life. My days have been consumed by this game, with its captivating storyline and challenging boss battles. With unlimited character customizations, you’ll find yourself forgetting what your primary objective was in lieu of creating killer attack and magic combinations. If you’re looking to escape your world and jump into one of fantasy—pun intended, as the game is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy IV—then this is definitely the purchase for you. Just be warned, you probably won’t be doing much else once you pop this cartridge in.

Closer_movie_posterWatching: Closer (2004)

I know what you’re thinking. Why revisit a movie that’s already ten-year-old news? Aside from it being one of my all-time favorites, I have two words for you: Natalie Portman. Even if you’re not a fan of this gifted beauty, you cannot deny her absolutely captivating role in this film. Pair it with the likes of Jude Law, Clive Owen, and Julia Roberts, and you have a recipe for brilliance. Two couples have their relationships tested when the man from one couple forms a romance with the woman from another. In a pivotal scene where the adultery is discovered, Larry (Owen) asks Anna (Roberts) all the hard-hitting questions that the victim of infidelity never really wants to know the answers to. It’s powerful, twisted, shocking, and heart-breaking. The writing is so intense that it can be mistaken for poetry: “Where is this love? I can’t see it, I can’t touch it. I can’t feel it. I can hear it. I can hear some words, but I can’t do anything with your easy words.” Add a hauntingly beautiful theme song like “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Damien Rice and you have a solid, albeit under-the-radar film that will seriously blow your mind.

Be sure to check out our April/May issue for #NowPlaying and other articles.