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CARLTON FLETCHER: 2013 predates entertainments new world order

OPINION: Old-school gems exist in dawning digital age

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

These are the good old days.

Carly Simon

“Experts” have been foretelling some pending “new world order” in the entertainment industry for years now, warning us of monumental changes to come in such staples as music, television, movies and literature.

Umm … guys … you can stop with the soothsaying now. The future is here.

With the purchasers of actual CDs — except for a mini niche market in vinyl, the only way to get physical copies of music — now down to me, Andy Gaydos, my buddy Levine, the guy I saw in line at Target with a copy of Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” and the folks who stock up for each inevitable nostalgia boom, the age of pretty much all digital music is here. Most really good TV is on pay cable, everyone’s abandoning terrestrial radio for satellite so they can hear Howard Stern’s fart jokes and listen to the versions of rap, metal and an increasing number of pop songs with all the swear words unedited, movies are so costly only the wealthy can afford to watch them and books are now killing so few trees we’re in danger of being overrun by them. The long-predicted entertainment sea change is upon us.

Still, in one of the waning years of the pre-digital age, there were some pretty impressive works of art unleashed on us during 2013. Here are some of the best:


Perhaps it’s telling that the best album released this year was by a 71-year-old guy who first crashed the pop charts with his mates a half-century ago. Former Beatle/Wings-man Paul McCartney proved that he still has that magic that made him part of the best musical group ever, and one of his later contemporaries — Elton John — also released one of his best albums in decades. Pearl Jam got back to basics with a classic; newcomers Vampire Weekend proved up to all the hype that surrounded their emergence, and it was the other white rapper — Macklemore — who had the biggest impact of 2013. As for surprises, Florida native Damon Fowler came out of nowhere with an amazing album that, if all were right with the world, would catapult him to stardom.

  1. New — Paul McCartney

  2. Lightning Bolt — Pearl Jam

  3. Modern Vampires of the City — Vampire Weekend

  4. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 — Eminem

  5. The Diving Board — Elton John

  6. Like Clockwork — Queens of the Stone Age

  7. Wrote a Song for Everyone — John Fogerty

  8. The Heist — Macklemore

  9. Songs of Home — Damon Fowler

  10. Yeezus — Kanye West


No one was prepared for the impact Imagine Dragons would have on the music world, but their biggest hit (of three during the year) “Radioactive” became one of those monsters that topped every chart imaginable (except maybe hip-hop, and only because they were late to the party). A dance music guy came up with an amazing Mumford-inspired country/folk hit; a rapper not named Jay-Z’s social commentary was inspirational; a 16-year-old chick brought snark to a new level, and a former Disney Princess did strange things with construction tools and made it way more wonderful than anything her mullet-headed dad ever did.

  1. Radioactive — Imagine dragons

  2. Wake Me Up — Avicii

  3. Same Love — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

  4. Sirens — Pearl Jam

  5. Early Days/Everybody Out There — Paul McCartney

  6. Royals — Lorde

  7. Wrecking Ball — Miley Cyrus

  8. Mother — Natalie Maines

  9. Blurred Lines — Robin Thicke

  10. Roar — Katy Perry


Television — at least quality television — has been taken over by pay and basic cable. The big four networks continue to put out cheap faux reality shows, appealing to our most base levels (sorry, Heather, “Duck Dynasty” still sucks), while Showtime, HBO, FX and AMC go for quality. There are exceptions, though, such as NBC’s exciting “The Black List” — and who doesn’t like James Spader? — and the way underrated “Parenthood.” Smartest move of the year: getting the great Liev Shreiber and Jon Voigt (who had the best off-color priest jokes ever) as leads for the crazy-good “Ray Donovan.” And, we mustn’t forget, 2013 was the year Danny McBride’s Kenny Powers went out in style and Michael C. Hall’s Dexter kinda didn’t.

  1. Ray Donovan — Showtime

  2. Parenthood — NBC

  3. Eastbown & Down — HBO

  4. Shameless — Showtime

  5. The Black List — NBC

  6. The Newsroom — HBO

  7. Parks and Recreation — NBC

  8. The Voice — NBC

  9. Masters of Sex — Showtime

  10. Veep — HBO


Everyone may read by Nook or whatever device now, but I still love honest-to-God books. The crew at the library (Ms. Cheryl’s my favorite) loaded me down with plenty of good stuff in 2013. And how wonderful was it to have the old master Stephen King back in true form with his “The Shining” sequel? (His son Owen’s first book was a shout-out for genetics.) Another sequel, John Grisham’s follow-up to “A Time to Kill,” was equally brilliant. And any year that brings us new James Lee Burke/Dave Robicheaux, Lee Child/Jack Reacher and Michael Connelly/Mickey Haller novels is a good one.

  1. Doctor Sleep — Stephen King

  2. Light of the World — James Lee Burke

  3. Inferno — Dan Brown

  4. Sycamore Row — John Grisham

  5. The Gods of Guilt — Michael Connolly

  6. The Hit — David Baldacci

  7. Never Go Back — Lee Child

  8. The Ninth Girl — Tami Hoag

  9. Double Feature — Owen King

  10. The Prince of Risk — Christopher Reich

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at