Album of the Year: What a year for music. This award, as well as Concert of the Year, were very hard to pick since there was so much good material to choose from. After thorough consideration, six albums stand out to me as top notch this year: Alabama Shakes' Boys and Girls, Santigold's Master of My Make-Believe, Brandi Carlisle's Bear Creek, Gotye's Making Mirrors, Of Monsters and Men's My Head Is An Animal, and Django Django's self-titled album. I'm tempted to give the award to Alabama Shakes, but their songs are exponentially better live. So I'll pick Santigold for putting together a splendid studio album. In any other year the following albums would easily be in consideration for a top spot, but the competition in 2012 was too tight: Jack White's Blunderbuss, Best Coast's The Only Place, The Corin Tucker Band's Kill My Blues, Metric's Synthetica, Passion Pit's Gossamer, Titus Andronicus' Local Business, Sleigh Bells' Reign of Terror, and Beach House's Bloom.
Music Video of the Year: The clear winner for me this year is the band/art mash-up that Django Django put together for their fab song "Default":
Cover of the Year: The best cover that I saw in person was Ozma taking on The Rental's "Friends of P" during the last show on the Weezer Cruise. As for stuff I didn't see live, I enjoyed The Polyphonic Sprees's take on Neil Young and Trampled by Turtles take on Arcade Fire. But the best cover of the year has to be Grouplove's brilliant take on Andrew W.K.'s "Party Hard."
Cover Album of the Year: It seems unfair to make it compete with the songs above, because some ambitious Weezer fans re-created the infamous lost album Songs from the Black Hole in it's entirety (aka the rock opera that would later get scrapped with some parts making it onto Pinkerton or becoming popular b-sides like "Devotion").
Song That Got Played to Death But Was Truly Spectacular: Sure, you heard Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" a ba-gillion times this year, but it's an amazing song. The whole album is fab and he puts on a great live show. So I won't hold the over-exposure against him (though if we are going to complain for a second -- the context of the use of the song on Glee was criminal).
Concert of the Year: This was even harder to pick that Album of the Year. I finally got to see Garbage and Jeff Mangum live and they didn't disappoint. Gotye's highly technical and stylized album translated surprisingly well to a live show. Alabama Shakes killed their set at Virgin Mobile Free Fest. Corin Tucker and Those Darlins put on high energy shows at small venues. Laura Stevenson and the Cans and their opener The Wild made me instant fans with their show at the Black Cat. Santigold had awesome dancers, as always, but also a dancing horse. But my favorite concert of the year was Ben Gibbard's solo show at 6th and I. His new solo songs sounded much better stripped down to just guitar or piano, he did a ridiculously good (and unexpected cover) of Minor Threat, and jammed through his long and impressive repertoire. It was something very special.
Best Thing Ever: I can't fairly compare the Weezer Cruise to anything else. It was the best. Great concerts. Great people. Great activities and contests. And I got to go snorkeling with Rivers Cuomo. So, forget best whatever of the year...the Weezer Cruise was the Best Thing Ever.
Internet Meme of the Year: Ecce Homo and McKela Isn't Impressed made me chuckle, but Lucille and Mitt made me cry from laughing so hard.
Sports Event of the Year: While I appreciated the humor of a badminton scandal at the Olympics and the arrival of Peyton Manning to my Denver Broncos. But duh, my Chelsea FC won the Champions League in dramatic fashion and that was one of the best sports moments of my life, let alone the year.
Celebrity Moment of the Year: While I love the fact that Flava Flav thought Miley Cyrus was Gwen Stefani, I have to give the award to Tom Hanks for his epic Full House slam poetry:
Movie of the Year: I didn't see a ton of movies this year, but Safety Not Guaranteed was probably my favorite. Moonrise Kingdom was also good.
Best TV of the Year: For my money, Parks and Rec remains the funniest show on TV. As for new shows, I got sucked into Girls and Veep.
2013 Pop Culture Moment that I'm Most Looking Forward to: Could it be anything other than the return of Arrested Development? Of course not. COME ON!