The year 2014 was a great one for media. From Taylor Swift’s “1989” and Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence,” to Coldplay’s “Ghost Stories,” The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue” and Alt+J’s “This Is All Yours,” quality music took charge in the last year. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Lions Gate’s “Mockingjay: Part One,” Universal’s “The Theory of Everything” Paramount/Chris Nolan’s “Interstellar” and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” were some of the best films of the previous year. With these titles behind us, let’s have a look at what the next few months have in store for music and movies.
“Title” by Meghan Trainor
Already, Meghan Trainor has released her first full-length feature album, titled “Title,” on Jan. 9. Following behind her two singles “All About That Bass” and “Lips are Moving,” the album has no surprises about style or content. Trainor’s voice shines through her bass-heavy but light, vanilla melodies. Pop-y, soul-y and a little bit cheesy, it’s a strong breakthrough album with several fun tracks — so long as they don’t get repeated too much.
“What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World” by The Decemberists
Coming out Jan. 20, The Decemberists’ seventh studio album will continue in their indie rock basis as a follow-up to their 2011 “The King is Dead,” according to Pitchfork. Late last year, lead vocalist Colin Meloy performed on the street in Brooklyn beside a painted mural of the upcoming album’s artwork as a way of announcement. Soothing, folky and with an emphasis on lyrics, the remainder of the album should be just as enjoyable as its singles.
“Strangers to Ourselves” by Modest Mouse
Their first album since 2007, Modest Mouse’s “Strangers to Ourselves” is set for release on March 3. “Lampshades on Fire,” the only single released from the album thus far, is upbeat, angry without being unsettling, and a borderline jam. Isaac Brock yowls politically-charged lyrics in his signature manner, creating a fresh and welcome sound to end their long-awaited return.
“Kintsugi” by Death Cab for Cutie
Since Chris Walla’s departure from Death Cab in 2014, no new music has come from the group. In fact, Death Cab hasn’t released a studio album since 2011. “Kintsugi,” however, will come out March 31. According to Ben Gibbard, the new album should return to their earlier roots: “I do think from start to finish it’s a much better record than ‘Codes And Keys.’ If that record turned anybody off, I feel pretty strongly that this one could win them back. There are threads in this one that connect back to our earliest stuff that people love.”
“Carrie & Lowell” by Sufjan Stevens
This release will likely be the highlight of my year. Coming out March 31, Sufjan Stevens’ “Carrie & Lowell” — named after his mother and stepfather — will be his first real album since the bizarre, electronic, experimental “Age of Adz” in 2010. A trailer for the album reveals that it will be a return to his older, minimalist originals, seemingly similar to “Michigan” or “Illinois.”
“The Wedding Ringer”
Supposedly one of the funniest films of the year, “The Wedding Ringer” stars Kevin Hart as Jimmy Callahan, CEO of Best Man, Inc. When Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is two weeks away from his wedding to the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), he realizes he has no one to stand with him on his big day. Hart’s character then becomes responsible for making his dream wedding a reality, with what’s sure to include a lot of misadventure along the way. “The Wedding Ringer” premieres Jan. 16.
Lucasfilm’s first release since their Disney buyout is “Strange Magic,” premiering Jan. 23. An animated feature loosely based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” it features an all-star cast — Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph — and centers around goblins, elves, fairies and imps. This film is guaranteed to be heart-warming and laugh-inducing.
Billed as a “space opera” (whatever that means), “Jupiter Ascending” was written, produced and directed by the creators of the “The Matrix” trilogy, and marks The Wachowskis return to sci-fi screenwriting. Although the plot at first glance may seem muddled, the film basically follows the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) and Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) as Jupiter rescues Earth from alien infiltration and rule while also becoming the heir of the planet. “Jupiter Ascending” releases Feb. 6.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Scheduled for release on Feb. 27, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is the sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Featuring an ensemble cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Richard Gere, this is a true continuation of the first film. Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) opens up a new hotel — the “second best” — and the opening is taking up too much of his time, considering his upcoming marriage to Sunaina (Tena Desae). As such, Sonny places Muriel (Maggie Smith) in a co-managerial position. Throughout the film, romance unfolds and friendships blossom, as in the first installment.
One of the many films Disney has set to release in 2015 is a live-action version of their original animated adaptation in 1950 — with a few twists. First, Cinderella (Lily James) meets the Prince (Richard Madden, aka the dreamy and deceased Robb Stark from “Game of Thrones”) prior to the ball. Second, the Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) has a larger, more eccentric role in this version of the film. Cate Blanchett plays the Wicked Stepmother in a film that looks to be a promising update of the animated version. “Cinderella” will be in theatres March 13.
Joslyn Sandlin is a reporter for the Rockwall and Royse City Herald-Banner. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.