By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Gravenhurst, The Western Lands: "I discovered them watching The Unit, the TV show about an undercover military group. During the end credits on one of the episodes, I heard this song called 'Black Holes in the Sand.' It just struck me ... instant melancholy. I have to be careful what time of day I put them on, because I could easily find myself in a suicidal state, which is actually saying quite a lot if a band can evoke that much emotion out of you."
kHz, Reality on a Finer Scale: "I played on a track from their next album. They're a metal band from New York with an amazing lead singer named Raiana. She's got this beautiful, operatic voice that goes on top of this real hardcore metal — just a really nice juxtaposition."
The Start, Ciao, Baby: "A great band. I love Aimee Echo's vocal abilities. They're close friends."
Mickey Avalon: "I don't believe he's put anything out this year, but I think he's just an incredible genius. His personality really comes through in his vocals. The music is very simplistic, and there's something to be said for that. It's all about highlighting the personality, and he does that really well."
The Procussions and Mr. J: "Kind of a hip-hop thing. Real emotional. Stripped-down and positive lyrical content. These guys came on my show with a microphone and drum set, and pretty much blew everybody away."
Datarock, Datarock: "Fun. Kind of reminds me of Love and Rockets with the sax and the hokey guitar stuff."
Daniel Johnston: "He's a bipolar schizophrenic who is a really brilliant songwriter [and has] heavily influenced bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth. I would highly recommend looking into this guy and the documentary about him [2005's The Devil and Daniel Johnston]."
Margaret Cho has had her own TV show, a couple of best-selling books, a Grammy-nominated comedy album, and two feature films based on her national tours, but 2007 saw a new conquest for the comic: She became a viral video queen. Cho's sexy, traveling circuslike spectacle, The Sensuous Woman, which melds music, comedy, and burlesque and is performed by herself and a myriad of talented pals, was a critical success in L.A., New York, and Chicago. But when a clip from the show featuring the comedian twirling her ta-tas with awe-inspiring speed, clad in nothing but panties and tasseled pasties, was posted on YouTube and subsequently every blog on the Internet, Cho became not only a national cyber sensation but also a champion for voluptuous women everywhere. "I got really good at twirling those tassels. It was very popular online and quite controversial," she says. "Women loved it and felt empowered, but a few straight guys were furious because I challenge the stripper archetype."
But then challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes is what Cho does. The Korean-American funny lady has always had a strong political and cultural viewpoint, and her work has explored not only her Asian background and upbringing but also her views on homosexuality (currently married, she claims to be bi-sexual) and the government (big shocker: She's anti-Bush).
Perhaps inspired by the hubbub her half-naked gyrations caused on the web (but more likely just another extension of her never-ending quest to challenge the status quo), Cho's next project, titled Beautiful, will be a stand-up show that ponders the age-old question of what real beauty is. It will be her first stand-up show since the Assassin tour in 2005, and her personal blog will play a role.
"Right now I am doing a big list of who I think is beautiful," she says. "People can log on to MargaretCho.com to see if they made the list. It's famous people to friends to anyone who happens to catch my eye."
Surely there'll be some music artists on the list. Cho, who just got tattooed like a rock star on TLC's LA Ink and made a splash MCing Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour this past year, is definitely a music enthusiast and her tastes are diverse. She can be seen in the Dresden Dolls' "Shores of California" video (which parodies David Lee Roth's "California Girls"), and even directed a clip for one of her '07 faves. Here, the sounds she wiggled to this year:
Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger: "The best album of this year. I just listened to it over and over and over and over. It makes me feel like I am one of those girls who can wear a very, very short dress with cowboy boots and I don't have to wear tights because my legs are perfect and tan. I also saw him play with his band the Cardinals at the Wilshire Theatre and I screamed myself sore."
Crowded House, Time on Earth: "The album is amazing. I love Neil Finn and have had a solid crush on him for nearly 23 years. I got to tell him so after their awesome show at the Greek Theatre this Summer. Love them."
The Cliks, Snakehouse: "An incredible record. I went on the True Colors Tour with them and also directed their video 'Eye in the Back of my Head.'"