As the sun is setting on what was a massively entertaining summer, it’s time to look back and reflect on the major music albums, record-breaking blockbusters and literary releases that really stood out over the past few months. Consider this your RELEVANT-recommended 2008, in case you missed it list of what made big waves this summer.
The summer music scene did not disappoint, offering breakthrough sounds in more than one genre. One band in particular, however, managed to cast a shadow over every other artist with its fourth studio record, which debuted in June. Hailed for being the No. 1 selling album in more than 30 countries, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends set the all-time record for most downloaded purchases. The band took a risk with a new producer and a slightly different sound, as lead singer Chris Martin doesn’t depend on his trademark falsetto to carry the album. The change was well worth the risk, with Coldplay easily conquering this summer’s music market.
We’d be remiss not to mention the music festivals that brought thousands of fans together to rock out to a variety of performers. Bonnaroo was a great Southern kickoff to the summer festival season, showcasing more than 100 bands over four days in Manchester, Tenn. However, Chicago was once again the summer hot-spot for rock ’n’ roll, as it hosted both the Pitchfork Music Festival and the gem of all music festivals, Lollapalooza. The show proudly boasts its vision on its website as not only a concert, but a musical, cultural and community experience. And that it was, featuring more than 100 bands and providing multiple platforms for nonprofit organizations, social activists and political representation.
There was only one film that completely took the country by storm this summer—in fact, you’ll find it difficult to talk to someone who hasn’t seen it at least once. With no real competition, The Dark Knight was the blockbuster champion of the year, breaking multiple box-office records. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was frightening and unforgettable, well deserving of a posthumous Academy Award. So if you haven’t seen the latest Batman flick, maybe it’s time to check the show times at your local theater.
There was another film that flew under the radar this summer as a limited release. Delving into America’s immigration policy with incredible character development, The Visitor is a story that will keep you thinking about the subject matter long after the credits roll. Consider renting it this fall to use as a catalyst for some intense conversation.
Plenty of great new artists hit the music scene this summer. Jon Foreman has created a bigger name for himself over the past 12 months with the release of four EPs, each themed after one of the four seasons of the year. The latest album in particular showcased the solo talent of the Switchfoot lead singer; Foreman’s Summer EP brings forth an honest and fearless worship album with songs that uniquely and poetically describe God’s love. Much like with his other EPs, Foreman also puts together a song that boldly critiques fellow Christians. “I hate all your show,” he sings, communicating disdain for hypocritical worship. Instead, he calls for “a flood of justice / An endless precession of righteous living.” As a member of a band that has headlined many Christian-affiliated festivals, Foreman clearly has a message he wants to share to those involved incorporate worship.. He may not be new to the music business, but his new acoustic-driven folk sound is catching some attention. We can only hope that he keeps exploring his summer music vibes in his solo work.
Summer is not complete without a good book to sit back and enjoy. There were some incredible works enjoying shelf space this year, including Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, released three months before the author lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. When Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, learned of his fatal prognosis, he decided to give an unforgettable last lecture at Carnegie Mellon titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” (which you can download at iTunes). The novel is an adaptation of the public speech, designed as an avenue for his children to connect with the love he had for them. Full of unique lifestories and an incredibly positive outlook, The Last Lecture is a book to add to your reading list.
True, summer may be coming to a close, but there’s more than enough time to catch up on some of the season’s memorable releases. Watch some flicks, read some books—and before you know it, the new season of The Office will have started.