The Friday Final: Favorites Of 2011

I came to a decision this week in reference to this blog: This week there will be no Friday Feature. Instead, this week I have decided to post a Friday Final, as in, the Final Beausic post of 2011. With Christmas coming next weekend and New Year’s Eve the following, I decided that it would be a good time to take a little mini-break from the blog for the last two weeks of the year. I figured this would allow me a little extra time to get the creative juices flowing again, come up with some new ideas, etc. This will also give me some time to plot out and execute my planned and, in my opinion, much needed revamp of the blog. I want to re-work the layout, come up with some new and different themes for the blog, maybe re-think/re-work some of my dedicated weekly posts, (as well as possibly adding some other features on the blog on other days of the week.) Needless to say, I definitely have big plans for Beausic in the new year. This is kind of why I felt like it was time to take a little break to re-group, gather my thoughts, come up with some new ideas and get Beausic ready for a brand new start for 2012.

With this being the final Beausic post for 2012, I had a lot of different thoughts on what this post could be, (a decade by decade recreation of the looks of Cher?) but it all just kept coming back to one thing: My favorites of the year. Every year for the past several, I have had my own sort of awards ceremony at the end of each year; not like an actual ceremony but just collecting my own thoughts on my favorite new albums of each year and, more importantly, my favorite new artist of each year. Since 2004, I have picked a favorite new artist for each year as my sort of “artist to watch” for the following year, and more often than not, they have kind of blown up the following year. In 2004, my favorite new artist was Scissor Sisters, who gained considerable media attention the following year, although they still haven’t reached the level of success they deserve here in the US. In 2005, my favorite new artist was Lily Allen, who really did blow up the following year. In 2006, my favorite new artist was The Veronicas, who did gather much more mainstream attention the following year but also have yet to really blow up in the way they deserve here in the US. In 2007, my favorite new artist was The Weepies, who had songs featured on “Grey’s Anatomy” and in “Sex & The City: The Movie” the following year, which was pretty big for a band who were relative unknowns before that.  In 2008, my favorite new artist was Lady Gaga, who truly exploded the following year. In 2009, my favorite new artist was Owl City, whose single “Fireflies” really blew up the following year. Finally, in 2010, my favorite new artist was The Pretty Reckless, who have had major success with their debut album, “Light Me Up,” in 2011. This has always been my own little way of predicting who was going to be the next big thing in the following year, and my pick for this year fits right into that, I think.

That having been said, my favorite new artist for 2011 is:


NATALIA KILLS

I discovered Natalia Kills in November of 2010 when I saw her as the opening act for Robyn on her Body Talk Tour in Tampa, FL. It was a very small production, with simply Natalia and two dancers, all looking like some sort of glamorous vampires, and a stage set up of just a bunch of mannequins all over the stage. She came out and performed 5 or 6 songs, all of which I completely fell in love with. After seeing her, I went home and hunted for mp3s of any and all music of hers that I could find, which was difficult at the time. Over time, though, stuff started surfacing leading up to the April release of her debut album, “Perfectionist,” although this was a German only release, (but thank God the internet knows no boundaries!) The album didn’t get a release in the US until August of 2011 and has not gotten as much attention as it deserves, being that it is such a brilliant record. Natalia makes pop music but it is, by no means, your average pop music. Her style is very dance-oriented but also really dark, with lyrics rampant with themes of murder, drug use and even themes implying mind control and escape into dissociative fantasy, (for more info on this concept, read the article on Natalia on Vigilant Citizen, although I’d advised being aware that this site can be a bit creepy at times.) Natalia’s record, “Perfectionist” is kind of reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s debut record, “The Fame,” while, lyrically, being it’s polar opposite; “The Fame” was rife with themes of the joys of fame, success and glamour, whereas “Perfectionist” is filled with themes of murder, revenge and generally dark emotions and concepts. I absolutely love this album and I predict that many more people will come to realize the genius of this record in 2012.

As far as my favorite records of 2011, there were obviously a lot to choose from this year. I have narrowed it down to a list of my 10 favorite records released in 2011. Before going into this list, though, I wanted to say that 2011 was kind of an odd year for music. Most years, my favorite albums of the year tend to be more varied in style and genre but this year’s list somehow wound up consisting primarily of pop music. There was a lot of really great music released in other genres this year but the music that seemed to stick out the most, to me, was all some form of pop. Also, before moving into my top 10 list, I wanted to give honorable mention to some other really amazing albums released this year, including Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light,” Beyonce’s “4,” Aqua’s “Megalomania,” Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk,” Alexz Johnson’s “Reloaded,” Charice’s “Infinity,” Jennifer Lopez’ “Love?,” and last, but definitely not least, Barbra Streisand’s “What Matters Most.” Each of these records were amazing and fell just outside of this list. So, on with the actual list; my 10 favorite records of 2011.

10. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale
Favorite Tracks: Til’ The World Ends, I Wanna Go, Inside Out, How I Roll, Trip To Your Heart
While Britney’s 2009 record, “Circus,” is widely considered her big “comeback” from the dark days of her life and career, I really feel like “Femme Fatale” was Britney’s true musical return to form. While “Circus” was an amazing record, “Femme Fatale” is the first time in years that Britney has sounded like the fun, mischievous, sassy, spunky girl she was on records like “In The Zone” and “Britney.”  This record also included songs that have become some of my favorites of Britney’s entire career, like “Til The World Ends” and “I Wanna Go.” With the exception of one track, (“Big Fat Bass,” which I think is kind of ridiculous,) I love every single track on this record. I also love the fact that, while being a return to the girl we once knew through Britney’s music, this record also shows a massive progression for Britney’s music; in terms of lyrics and general sonic presence, this record is probably the most mature work that Britney has ever released, It really feels like a huge step forward for her and I cannot wait to hear what she does next!

 9. Jessie J – Who You Are
Favorite Tracks: Price Tag (featuring B.o.B.,) Nobody’s Perfect, Casualty Of Love, Who’s Laughing Now?
“Who You Are” is the debut record from UK singer/songwriter Jessie J. This record includes production from some of today’s hottest producers, like Dr. Luke and Toby Gad, and is reminiscent of a lot of the pop records of the late 90s/early 2000s, but also has a very unique sound. With throwbacks to classic Motown, as well as hints of urban and bubblegum pop sounds, this record has a truly unique, interesting sound. The debut single from the record, “Do It Like A Dude,” was a great girl-power anthem of the year and the second single “Price Tag,” became a massive hit all over the world. Overall, this is a really fun pop record but it is also a really promising debut. For a pop artist, Jessie J has a really strong voice, not just in terms of her vocal abilities but she offers a really strong, positive perspective for young people today. I am very excited to see what else she is going to do with that voice moving forward.

8. Victoria Justice, and the cast of “Victorious” – Victorious: Music From The Hit TV Show
Favorite Tracks: Finally Falling, Beggin’ On Your Knees, All I Want Is Everything, You’re The Reason, Tell Me That You Love Me
I know that this may seem like kind of an odd inclusion on my list of the best records of the year, being the soundtrack from a children’s television series, but hear me out here. The star of Victorious, Victoria Justice, is a very strong vocalist and performs the lead vocals on all but one track on the album. Also, this record features production from some of pop’s biggest producers, like Brian Kieruf & Josh Schwartz, Dr. Luke, Toby Gad, Shellback, etc. This is a really solid pop record from start to finish and is chock full of fun, catchy tracks. This is definitely bubblegum pop, but with very strong influences of electro-pop and dance styles, and is full of positive themes about empowerment and confidence, as well as your usual light romantic fare. I absolutely love this record and it has been in heavy rotation on my iPod since it came out.

7. Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
Favorite Tracks: What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger,) Dark Side, You Love Me, I Forgive You, Breaking Your Own Heart
“Stronger” is the most appropriate title possible for the fifth studio album from Kelly Clarkson because it is, quite possible, the strongest record she has released. It is also chock full of themes of empowerment, rising above, moving forward and just general strength. It is an amazing record start to finish and I absolutely love it. One of the most notable factors of this record is the fact that Kelly has finally found the happy medium for her music that she was never able to fully before; she has had issues in the past with her record label due to her music being not commercial enough or them pressing her to make music too commercial for her. “Stronger” is the perfect balance between the two. It is still very much a Kelly Clarkson record, with it’s strong lyrics, big vocals and guitar-based pop sound, but also includes elements of dance and R&B, which give the record an altogether more well-rounded sound. The title track for the record, “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger,)” is the perfect example of this. Still, it seems that Kelly has also found ways to make her own intensely personal and emotional style of music fit into a more commercial pop sound on tracks like my “You Love Me” and, one of my two favorites on the record, “I Forgive You.” My very favorite track on the record, though, is the pure Kelly, slightly more downbeat and very intense finale to the album, “Breaking Your Own Heart.”  I couldn’t possibly say enough good things about this record.

6. Natalia Kills – Perfectionist
Favorite Tracks: Wonderland, Free, Mirrors, Love Is A Suicide, Acid Annie, Kill My Boyfriend
“Perfectionist” is the debut record of my favorite new artist of 2011, Natalia Kills. This is an amazing debut record, reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s debut “The Fame,” except replacing that records themes of fame, success, money, etc., with much darker themes of murder, obsession, anger, mind control, bondage, fantasy, etc. This record is absolutely brilliant. Stylistically, this is a very dark, urban-influenced, dance record. There is not a single skip-worthy track on this record, the best of which I would have to say are the singles “Free,” an ode to living the glamorous life while being completely broke, and “Wonderland,” a song about not believing in the fairy tale concepts of love but meeting somebody who makes you want to try. The entire record is amazing and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

5. Kristin Chenoweth – Some Lessons Learned
Favorite Tracks: What Would Dolly Do?, I Want Somebody (Bitch About,) Change, Wreck You, Mine To Love
“Some Lessons Learned” is the lone non-pop record on my top 10 list for 2011. This is the first Country record from Kristin Chenoweth, her three previous records being a collection of Broadway classics, a Christian record and a Christmas album, and is by far the best thing she has released. This is a pure country record, given Kristin’s Oklahoma upbringing, and features beautiful tracks written by some of the greatest songwriters in modern music, including Diane Warren. The tracks range from fun and over-the-top, like “I Want Somebody (Bitch About,)” “What More Do You Want?” and my favorite track on the record, “What Would Dolly Do?,” which asks the age old question of “How would Dolly Parton handle this situation?,” to gorgeous inspirational ballads, like “I Was Here,” “Borrowed Angels,” and the Carrie Underwood cover “Lessons Learned.” The best tracks, in my opinion, are the more emotional, seemingly very personal tracks like “Change,” “Wreck You,” “What If We Never,” and my other favorite track on the record, “Mine To Love.” This has been one of my most frequently listened to records since it was released in September and I couldn’t even begin to recommend it highly enough.

4. Adele – 21
Favorite Tracks: Rolling In The Deep, Rumour Has It, Turning Tables, Don’t You Remember, Set Fire To The Rain, He Won’t Go, Someone Like You
“21” is the sophomore album from UK singer/songwriter Adele and has been one of the biggest records of 2011. This record was such a massive success for a very good reason: It is absolutely breathtaking. From the a cappella opening lines of the opening track, (also the record’s first single,) “Rolling In The Deep,” to the record’s final track and sort of piece de resistance, “Someone Like You,” this record is absolutely stunning. The opening and closing tracks have also served as the records biggest singles, but there are so many gorgeous tracks between the two it is really difficult to pick a favorite or even a few in particular to hone in on. Much like Adele’s first record, “19,” this album has a very soulful, bluesy almost retro sound but is also very current. The entire record is about heartbreak and borders on depressing much of the time but is such an intense and emotional musical experience it is well worth going on the journey of the record, regardless of how dark it may get sometimes. Adele has recently announced that it will probably be a few years before she releases another record and with a record like this I can see why; it has to have taken a lot out of her to write and record each of these tracks. I look forward to that next record and highly recommend everybody check out this one in the meantime.

3. Darren Hayes – Secret Codes & Battleships
Favorite Tracks: Don’t Give Up, Nearly Love, Black Out The Sun, Talk Talk Talk, God Walking Into The Room, Blood-Stained Heart
“Secret Codes & Battleships” is the fourth solo record from former Savage Garden lead singer Darren Hayes, one of my favorite artists of all-time. With this record, Darren stated that he wanted to make a pure pop record, which he definitely did. What he also did, though, is create a sonic journey through a gorgeous, oceanside landscape of emotions. Rife with themes and imagery of water and the ocean, this record is definitely a well-rounded sonic experience. It is also a pure emotional record that has it’s highs, like the joyful, uplifting tracks like “Taken By The Sea,” “Don’t Give Up,” “Talk Talk Talk,” “God Walking Into The Room” and “Roses,” as well as lows, like the heartbreaking, sorrowful tracks like, “Black Out The Sun,” “Blood-Stained Heart,” “Stupid Mistake,” “Hurt” and “Cruel Cruel World.” Most of these tracks, though, kind of straddle the line between this range of emotions, which is what is the most brilliant about this record; every single track is multi-faceted and runs a full range of emotions in it’s 3-4 minute run time. It is definitely a record that I recommend everybody check out.

 2. Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes
Favorite Tracks: Beat Of My Drum, Lucky Day, Yo-yo, Porcelain Heart, I, Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometimes, Take A Bite
My second favorite record of 2011 is the debut record from an artist with a long history in the music industry, Nicola Roberts. Nicola is a member of one of the UK’s biggest selling girl bands of all-time, Girls Aloud, and has had a career for several years now rife with media speculation, criticism and downright cruelty, with name-calling and personal attacks. The reason I bring all of this up is because these issues seem to be what really created the basis for her debut solo record, “Cinderella’s Eyes.” This record is all about finding strength from negative experiences and finding ways to move forward in life with confidence, in spite of being scrutinized and beaten down by the world. These themes are most evident in tracks like “I,” and “Take A Bite.” The most notable thing about this record, though, is it’s truly unique, experimental sound. It is definitely pop but it is pop music like you haven’t heard it before. The album is full of fascinating and unexpected musical elements, most notably on the records first single, “Beat Of My Drum,” which is an infectious, sassy track about marching to the beat of your own drummer. If you are going to check out any record from this list, this is probably the one I recommend the most. I know this may seem odd, considering it is not number 1, but I’m pretty sure everybody has heard plenty of my favorite record of the year/are already well aware of it.

1. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Favorite Tracks: All of them.
My favorite record of 2011, by far, is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” The second full-length album from Lady Gaga has taken things to the next level in terms of her music and, in my opinion, pop music in general. Lady Gaga came at this record with something she didn’t really have on “The Fame” or “The Fame Monster,” which is a mission and a message for the world. The overall message of this record, I would say, is that we are all equal and we are all looking for, and deserving of, the same things out of life; freedom and love. This is a record about expressing one’s self confidently and with pride. It is a record about being and doing and loving exactly what you are, what you do and what you love in life with conviction. There is not a single track on this record that I don’t find moving and inspirational. Every single track has something that reaches out to you and pulls you in. Each track on this album is universally relateable, if you are willing to look a little harder than you might just hearing a song on the radio or something of that nature. It is an absolutely brilliant record and I really cannot wait to see what else Lady Gaga has in store for the world in the year, let alone the decades, to come.




My favorite makeup look from a music video in 2011 is actually a really new one but also one that I fell in love with immediately; The look featured in Kelly Clarkson’s video for her newest single, “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger.)” This is a gorgeous look, featuring heavy contouring, a nude lip and a gorgeous smokey eye combining a gunmetal gray color and a gorgeous warm brown, with an unusual cat eye style. I absolutely love this look, so much so that I decided to recreate it.


For this look I began with my usual base of Revlon Colorstay Foundation in Natural Beige, Clinique Quick Correct Concealer in Light Medium and Coty Airspun Loose Powder in Translucent to set it all. I did a heavy amount of contouring, as featured in the look in the video, as well as some highlighting, using the Sedona Lace Contour & Blush Palette. On the apples of the cheeks, as well as on the high planes of the face, I used Revlon Beyond Natural Blush/Bronzer in Peach, only using the bronzer portion of the product. On the lips I used Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Petal with a touch of Smashbox Lip Enhancing Gloss in Illume. On the eyes, I primarily used the Urban Decay Naked Palette. To begin, though, I applied Stila Matte eye shadow in Illimani in the crease, all the way into the inner corner of the eye and blended into a slight upward, “cat eye” shape at the outer corner. Next, I dipped into the Naked Palette and applied the shade Creep, a black with silver colored glitter in it, to the lower lash line using an angled brush and followed it up from the inner corner of the eye to create a bit of a winged liner effect meeting up with the brown shade at the crease. I also blended this shade over the outer corner of the lid to darken up this area before applying the all over lid shade. For all over the lid, I used the shade Gunmetal from the Naked palette and made sure to blend it well into the black at the outer corner and into the brown in the crease. I lined the waterline and the tight-line with Clinique Quickliner For Eyes in Black Brown and applied plenty of Tarte Lights, Cameras, Lashes! Mascara in black.

Yet another reason for featuring this look is that it incorporates several of the products included in the next portion of this post: My Top 10 Favorite Beauty Products of 2011. I have to say that these are not necessarily products released in 2011 but they are my favorite products that I purchased in 2011 and have been among my most frequently used and most beloved makeup products in 2011.

10. Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder in Translucent
Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder has become my absolute favorite face powder. It is so lightweight and silky smooth, it really feels as if you are not wearing powder on your face at all. It does have a really strange perfumed scent that could bother a lot of people with more sensitive noses but to me it reminds me of my grandmother’s makeup table when I was a child.

9. Smashbox Softbox Lip Gloss Collection
The Smashbox Softbox Lip Gloss Collection consists of four Lip Enhancing Glosses in the shades Afterglow, a shimmery, pale cool-toned pink, Brown Sugar, a shimmery bronze/brown, Glam, a deep pinkish berry and Illume, an irridescent nude shade. It also includes two Limited Longwear SPF 15 Lip Glosses in Infinite, a soft pinkish nude and 24/7, a deep raspberry color. These colors are all gorgeous and very soft and luminous perfect for soft, more natural looks.

8. Tarte for True Blood Eye Shadow Palette
The Tarte for True Blood palette is a collection of 17 gorgeous Tarte shades, ranging from dark dramatic shades to gorgeous neutrals and a wide variety of finishes. Plus, all of the shadows are done in Tarte’s normal formula, which consists of finely milled pigments infused with Amazonian Clay. This means great color payoff and a really smooth, silky texture.

7. MAC Viva Glam Melt Your Heart Lip Bag
The MAC Viva Glam Melt Your Heart Lip Bag came out with MAC’s 2011 Holiday Collections and consists of a limited edition version of their 2011 snowglobe-inspired line of holiday bags that comes in red, (instead of silver, as the rest were,) and included two most recent MAC Viva Glam Lipsticks, Viva Glam Gaga and Viva Glam Gaga II. These are two of my very favorite lipsticks and the bag is gorgeous, which I use all the time.

6. Clinique Quick Correct Concealer in Light/Medium
Clinique Quick Corrector is a product that I initially was not overly impressed with but as time went on and regardless of all the other concealers I purchased, I always come back to this one. It has just the right consistency and is super hydrating on the under eye area. It stays on all day and does a great job of covering redness and blemishes, as well as doing a great job of covering dark under eye circles, etc.

5. Stila Matte Eye Shadows in Champara, Illimani and Nanda Devi
I lump these three eye shadows together as one item simply because I purchased them all together and keep them all in one Stila refillable palette and because I use them all for the same purposes. These are three different shades of brown, Champara, the really soft neutral one, Illimani, the really warm reddish toned one, and Nanda Devi, the very dark, cool-toned one. I use each of these colors to fill in my brows, depending on the look I am going for. I also use these shades frequently to blend out black or navy or even darker purples, etc.  I also will smudge out each of these colors under the lower lash line depending on the look I am going for. They are each really great, multi-purpose brown shades.

4. Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss
My favorite lip gloss that I discovered this year, and one of my favorite lip products in general, is the Revlon Colorburst line of lip glosses. For a drugstore brand lip gloss, these have a surprising amount of pigmentation, are non-sticky and have amazing staying power. I have absolutely loved every one of these that I have tried. My favorite shades are Bordeaux, a deep wine/berry shade, Fire, a bright, cool-toned red, and Peony, a gorgeous peachy pink shade full of golden colored glitter. I could not recommend these glosses enough because they are absolutely gorgeous and look and feel great on the lips.

3. MAC Pro Longwear Foundation
MAC Pro Longwear is definitely my very favorite foundation that I discovered this year. The finish of this foundation is so gorgeous and natural, not entirely matte but not overly shiny or luminous, either. It just gives the natural appearance of your skin, only so much better. One of my favorite things about this foundation, as well, is the fact that it looks better a few hours after it is applied and it doesn’t actually need to be powdered, and actually looks better when it isn’t powdered. It looks amazing on the skin and actually feels amazing on the skin, as well. The price, while being a bit high, is actually not bad for a MAC foundation, either, at $29.00 USD

2. Sedona Lace Contour & Blush Palette
If you have followed this blog at all, you have to have known that this would be pretty high up on this list. I use this product in nearly every look that I do. This palette includes 2 different contour shades, a lighter and a darker one, as well as 2 different highlighters, a white one and a more golden colored one, and 2 different shades of blush, a soft pink and a bright coral shade. The darker colored contour & highlight shades are an absolutely perfect fit for me and both of the blushes are very flattering on my skin.   I have used other contouring kits in the past but have never been able to find a contour or highlight shade that worked quite as well as the ones in this palette do and will definitely be repurchasing this for as long as it is available.

1. Urban Decay Naked Palette
My absolute favorite beauty product for 2011, and pretty much ever, is definitely the Naked Palette from Urban Decay. This palette consists of 12 gorgeous eye shadows all in neutral shades, with varying finishes from matte to satin to the Urban Decay signature style filled with big chunky glitter. The thing that is so great about this palette is that it is filled with endless combinations and styles. You can go from a perfectly natural, barely there makeup look to all types of bold and dramatic looks with this palette and everywhere in between. It includes every type of shade you need to create a full eye look, including a few great shades for highlighting, a few great shades to work as a shadow liner and plenty of all over shades. This palette is perfect for use every day, which is why I would recommend it for anybody who is new to makeup or doesn’t really wear eye shadow because they just wouldn’t know where to begin. This is the perfect place to begin and it can get you by for AGES without really needing any other eye shadows.

There you have it – the final Beausic post for 2011! These past few months writing this blog has been great and I am looking forward to doing considerably bigger and better things with it in the new year! I also am open to any suggestions that anybody may have; not just open to suggestions but outright requesting them. If you read this blog, let me know what you would like to see posted here. I am really excited for what’s coming up next on this blog but I am also really excited to be taking the next couple of weeks off. The holidays will be tons of fun and once the blog returns, I promise some really special stuff. In the meantime, I wish you all a beautiful Christmas, New Year’s Eve, (my favorite holiday!) and rest of the year, and a beautiful life!

Jason

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