top songs

Top 5 Songs of Every Year (2000-2015)



The Top 5 Songs of Every Year (2000-2015)


Earlier, I was given the task of ranking the top 5 songs of 2015. It was difficult but was also a fun way to reflect on the music of the year. Now, I’m taking it a step further and making a Top 5 list for each year of the 21st Century. Here are the terms:


  1. I’m strictly using the Billboard Year End charts that I found on Wikipedia. If a song did not make the list for a given year, it cannot be on my top 5 list for the year. That helps to narrow down the field significantly.

  2. If a song made the Billboard Year End chart for multiple years and I wanted to add it to one of my lists, then I added it to the year that it charted higher.

  3. I’m ranking the songs retroactively, meaning that I’m ranking them based on what I think of them right now and not what I thought about them in 2000 or 2001, etc. That’s mostly because I can’t exactly go back to the year 2000 and ask the past version of myself what the top 5 pop songs were for the year.

Without further ado, here’s a quick breakdown of the best Top 40/Pop songs of each year.



This is a time period where I was very heavily into rock music like Metallica, Korn and (I’ll admit it) Limp Bizkit. It was hard to look back at 2000 and find 5 songs I liked from the Billboard Year End list.


5. NSYNC- “It’s Gonna Be Me”

Hey, “Nookie” wasn’t a choice, so let’s give Justin and the 4 other guys some love. I liked it better than “Bye Bye Bye” even though that one had the better dance moves.


4. Lonestar- “Amazed”

I had “Country Grammar” here originally, but now Number 4 is just a country ballad.


3. Sisqo- “Thong Song”

Hey, remember Sisqo? No, not Cisco. I kind of believe that this song made thongs more mainstream in America. When’s the last time Cisco did anything to change the world…?


2. Blink 182- “All the Small Things”

Mark, Tom and Travis are near and dear to many fans’ hearts and I’m very familiar with this particular album. This one still stands up as a catchy pop punk hit.


1. Dr. Dre- “The Next Episode”

I like this song more now than I did when it came out. It took me a few more episodes than most. Those Thug Life videos definitely helped me like this song more.



Again, this is a time when I was fully emerged in rock music. Going by the Billboard charts, here’s what I found.


5. Nelly- E.I.

Nelly made the cut with this hit in the middle of his heyday.


4. Fuel- Hemorrhage (In My Hands)

Not even my favorite Fuel song (“Shimmer”) but this bumped 3 Doors Down.


3. Outcast- Ms. Jackson

Didn’t love it when it was out. Looking back now, I like it more. Feel like it got forgotten.


2. Lenny Kravitz- “Again”

Always liked this one and its vintage kind of feel.


1. Faith Hill- “There You’ll Be”

Whether or not you’ve seen Team America, you might think Pearl Harbor sucked, but I don’t mind this song from the film.



Brace yourself: this list features Nickelback AND Puddle of Mudd.


5. Chad Kroeger- “Hero”

The Spiderman 2 song was good back then and it still makes the list.


4. NSYNC- “Gone”

Yes. The song that Justin wrote while Britney was out getting coffee.


3. Usher- “U Got It Bad”

Easy addition to the list. That steel guitar. The lyrics. The guitar solo that I would practice in my room. Easily my favorite Usher hit.


2. Puddle of Mudd- “Blurry”

I’m well aware of the recent stories about Puddle of Mudd and the problems they’ve been having during shows. To me, that doesn’t take away from this song being awesome and one of the better rock crossovers from this era. Always loved the harmonics in the song. I actually played guitar and sang it with some friends at a small show at Fordham Prep way back in the day.


1. Linkin Park- “In The End”

I absolutely loved “Hybrid Theory” back in the day. This might not even be the third or fourth best song on the album, but it was the only Billboard hit, so yeah. Glad I could get some music on there that I actually loved back in 2002.



The year of 8 Mile and 50 Cent…


5. Evanescence- “Bring Me To Life”

This song was cool back in the day. The rap-rock kind of stuff fades in and out of style from time to time. It’s still one of the better charting songs of the year to me.


4. Lil Jon- “Get Low”

Ahh so many Sweet Sixteen memories. We partied from the windows to the walls, and until something dripped off of something, or at least until our parents picked us up.


3. Christina Aguilera- “Beautiful”

She’s an outstanding singer and this song showcased that better than a lot of her other songs. Good song with a good message about self love.


2. Audioslave- “Like a Stone”

I loved RATM and Soundgarden for years, and was lucky enough to see both in separate concerts years later when they reunited: RATM in 2007 and Soundgarden a couple of years back. Glad their temporary merger, Audioslave made the list. Chris Cornell’s vocal ability is top of the line. Tom Morello’s guitar has always been unique and interesting. Good song.


1. Eminem- “Lose Yourself”

I’d guess this would be most people’s number 1. Really good song. The big movie tie-in. Memorable guitar intro. Great message. I wasn’t swept up in the Eminem craze like most were, but I know he’s good.



Long before Pitbull was featured in every three songs on the radio and even before T-Pain auto-tuned his way into collaborations with everyone, a man named Lil Jon had a stranglehold on pop music for a time.


5. Switchfoot- “Meant to Live”

Forgotten band and song. Makes the cut.


4. Mario Winans- “I Don’t Wanna Know”

How could a woman leave Puff Daddy after he offered to give her extra cheese?


3. Usher- “Yeah”

Couldn’t escape this song back in the day but I’ve learned to enjoy it, mostly for the nostalgia.


2. Kevin Little- “Turn Me On”

A fun little dance number that makes me think of school dances. But unlike “Yeah”, I actually liked this song when it was big.


1. Linkin Park- “Numb”

With or without Jay-Z, this song was good.



This was the year I started my solo project, Bellevue, which was basically the last actual band I was in before I made a one man band. The music is on the Matty G the Musician YouTube channel for all to check out.


5. Gwen Stefani- “Cool”

A nice, reminiscent little post-breakup friendship song.


4. Gorillaz- “Feel Good Inc”

A little bit of MJ, a little bit of “Video Killed the Radio Star”… this song is still good even though a huge tractor trailer cut me off on a parkway in Delaware and almost killed me while this song was playing. A lot of a song’s impact can be affected by the moments you have with it- that’s for sure.


3. Ludacris- “Get Back”

Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder can take the credit for bumping this up the ranks.


2. The Killers- “Mr. Brightside”

Powerful song about jealousy and regret with some great instrumentals.


1. Green Day- “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

When I learned about what this song was really about, I appreciated it more.



First Myspace reference awaits you…


5. Chamillionaire- “Ridin Dirty”

I originally had “Goin Down” here, but this song was just too fun to drive to.


4. Rascal Flatts- “What Hurts the Most”

I’ll take this over the Cascada version.


3. Keyshia Cole- “Love”

You can feel the emotion in Cole’s voice as she shreds through the chorus of this one.


2. Cascada- “Everytime We Touch”

Speaking of Cascada, hey, remember Cascada? Couldn’t get away from this infectious pop song back in the day.


1. T.I.- “What You Know”

This was probably the longest-running song to be featured on my Myspace page. That’s right. The more you know… about that. It’s probably still there, but like the rest of the world, I probably haven’t checked my Myspace page in like 10 years.




This was the year I joined Hot 97 as an intern and hustled my way into a job there. It was also the year that the Matty G the Musician YouTube channel was launched.


5. Diddy- “Last Night”

That dulcimer-style piano and Keyshia Cole’s vocals make the song stand out on top of a retro-style beat. I played this for Mr. Iona 2007 on 3 instruments at the same time, along with Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater” and it helped me win the title and 200 bucks. 200 bucks for a college student is big. The memory of winning is even bigger. So I can’t really dislike this song ever.


4. Ne-Yo- “Because of You”

Always thought Ne-Yo was really talented and appreciated that he actually wrote and produced for a lot of artists. Also got to work at a V.I.P. concert he did for Hot 97 back when this song was big.


3. Shop Boyz- “Party Like a Rockstar”

Could’ve put Unk or Mims here, but this one had the rock element to it and I did a cover of it back in the day. I remember hearing it for the first time in Cancun and being like “What is this???”


2. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus- “Face Down”

I always liked this song. Then, these guys actually shared my cover of their song on Myspace and favorited the video on the YouTube channel. Back when YouTube channels displayed favorite videos, it was front and center on their list. Unbelievable. I’ll never dislike this song.


1. Rihanna- “Umbrella”

Of course this song’s Number 1. This song will always be near and dear to my heart. My YouTube cover got featured on and got my YouTube channel on the map back in the day. That first break was SO huge and really made me believe that I could get things done if I kept working hard. I like the song as it is, but on top of that, it always brings me back to 2007 when I was doing well in school, my YouTube channel started taking off and I was starting a new job at Hot 97. Ella Ella Ey-Ey-Ey.




This was a time of economic meltdown, the Michael Phelps show at the Summer Olympics and a presidential election here in the states.


5. Soulja Boy- “Crank That Soulja Boy”

I definitely cranked the Soulja Boy back when this song was big. Before the dougie, and the whip and nene and after the twist, the moonwalk, and the running man. Man, I gotta come up with a dance move song.


4. Flo Rida- “Low”

Like the Ludacris song “Get Back”, this one gets a boost from Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.


3. Madonna- “4 Minutes”

Feel like this song’s forgotten but I really liked it mostly for the instrumentals behind it.


2. Coldplay- “Viva La Vida”

Should I just give this spot to Joe Satriani instead???


1. Finger Eleven- “Paralyzer”

Love the style of this song and definitely was influenced by it. Made me realize that not every rock song needs to be instrumentally overpowering to still have an impact. Actually, pulling back a bit can make the song more acceptable to a wider audience.



This year is very tough to choose a top 5 from. A lot of breakout music from Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift and Pitbull, and many other hit songs that can’t all make the top 5. “Knock You Down”, “I Gotta Feeling” and “My Life Would Suck Without You” almost got in.


5. Lady Gaga- “Just Dance”

The song that introduced us to Lady Gaga and became the title for a video game franchise that I’ve still never played.


4. Jay Sean- “Down”

Very smooth and catchy pop song that I think I always liked. It ages well, too.


3. Jordin Sparks- “Battlefield”

Heavy hitting drums, dramatic piano, epic chorus by a good vocalist. I like when pop songs get on the heavy-sounding side.


2. Beyonce- “Halo”

Years after this song was a hit, I think it was kind of a beautiful song with some great vocals and piano. It will always have a warm spot in my heart because I made a cover of it on three instruments for MTV. Speaking of that…


1. Lady Gaga- “Poker Face”

I remember “Just Dance” came out while I was still in school. For all we knew, Lady Gaga could’ve been another one hit wonder. Then, this song exploded and Lady Gaga became a household name. It will always have a warm place in my heart because I made a cover of it for MTV as part of a pilot they hired me for. Then, they gave me permission to upload the same video on my YouTube channel, where it was later discovered by CBS and put in their 2010 Grammys commercial. Crazy. Can you really blame me for putting it at number 1?





This is the closest Katy Perry got to making a list with “California Gurls”. I found my top 2 of this year way down in the 70s and 80s of the Billboard Year End list, and it was worth it.


5. Taio Cruz- “Dynamite”

I learned to appreciate this song way after 2010. Nice pop hit that I still play from time to time.


4. Lady Gaga- “Bad Romance”

The melody sounds like a holiday song in a weird way. Instead of “Caught in a bad romance” my friend and I once sang “Whoaaaaaaaaa, Christmas time is here” and it totally works. Try it out and sip some eggnog if you’re into that kind of stuff.


3. Alicia Keys- “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”

Probably not a huge hit for the year, but I still play it on Spotify. Like the drums, synth and melody the most.


2. DJ Khaled- “All I Do is Win”

This song just feels too good to not be on the list. It’s hard for me to be in a bad mood after my hands go up and stay there (and they stay there, and they stay there).


1. Selena Gomez- “Naturally”

Another easy “Number 1” pick. Easily Selena Gomez’s best song of her career IMO.



Actually a lot to choose from in 2011. “All of the Lights”, “Stereo Love”, “Pretty Girl Rock” and a few Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Adele songs to choose from. There can only be 5.


5. Wiz Khalifa- “Black and Yellow”

Consult your doctor if you find yourself taking a black and yellow wiz.


4. Pitbull- “Give Me Everything”

Great hook that I didn’t appreciate but grew to like.


3. Foster the People- “Pumped Up Kicks”

I’m not a huge lyrics guy but know that the song was very controversial after certain tragedies. I loved the song in 2011 just because I enjoyed the laid back California vibe of the song AND it happened to be big while I was first visiting L.A.


2. Adele- “Rolling in the Deep”

It’s raw, edgy and sounds like it belongs in a Scorcese film. Can’t help but picture a younger Robert Di Nero overlooking a blackjack table while hearing this song.


1. LMFAO- “Party Rock Anthem”

I saw LMFAO live before they broke up. It was all about being over-the-top, funny and entertaining. This song is just epic fun, has that memorable zippy synth part and makes me want to shuffle every time I hear it when I’m out. I could see this song as a “Shout” type of song that’s played at weddings for years and years.





Soooo, do I want to have Nicki Minaj on my list or Justin Beiber? Oh well…


5. Justin Beiber- “As Long As You Love Me”

I don’t know if this really makes sense, but, you’re my “Alleluia”…


4. Calvin Harris- “Let’s Go”

It was that or Usher’s “Scream”, which kind of sound like the same song.


3. Christina Perri- “A Thousand Years”

I’m not going to blame the song for being a part of Twilight. It’s a pretty beautiful song that will probably age as well as the fictional vampires.


2. Gotye- “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Unlike “All of Me”, the dance version of this song was way better, and that’s the one I’m ranking this high.


1. Big Sean- “Dance”

This is not the real title of this MC Hammer homage… but this is a family-friendly show, after all.




Another year where I had to stretch to find five songs I would listen to on purpose. Therefore, two viral sensations make my list instead. It boggles my mind that Austin Mahone’s “What About Love” didn’t make the Billboard Year End 100… smh.


5. Ylvis- “The Fox”

Such a silly song that I couldn’t stop listening to it. Underneath the ridiculous lyrics is a great dance track.


4. Macklemore- “Can’t Hold Us”

“Thrift Shop” probably could’ve made it but I like this one a bit more.


3. Psy- “Gangnam Style”

I remember this as a 2012 song, but I’m going by the Billboard charts on Wikipedia. Ridiculous dance moves that took the world by storm. I like hearing something different on mainstream radio, even if that means a different language (“Du Hast”, anyone?).


2. Fall Out Boy- “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Emo movement of the early 2000s, but Fall Out Boy won me over with this one. Seems like they’ve transitioned to more rock music and I’ve found myself like more of their music over time.


1. Zedd- “Clarity”

One of the easiest “Number 1” picks I’ll make. I still totally love this song. The vocals, the synth, the choral effect, the melody… awesome.




There were actually a lot of good choices this year. “Stay the Night”, “Happy”, “Fancy”, “Bang Bang” and “Problem” were all worthy contenders.


5. Martin Garrix- “Animals”

Not often that you hear a (mostly) instrumental song become a hit on the radio.


4. Idina Menzel- “Let it Go”

It’s overplayed but it’s still going to be part of the Disney classics next to the likes of “A Part of Your World” and countless others.


3. DJ Snake- “Turn Down for What”

Not many words… just a lot of explosive energy. Might find a spot as a sports event staple for years to come.


2. Ellie Goulding- “Burn”

Just a nice song with catchy lyrics and good instrumentals that I almost immediately liked.


1. John Legend- “All of Me”

Didn’t love the dance version but the regular piano ballad version is legit. Great vocals and piano. Romantic classic in the making.



I originally struggled with this list because there weren’t many 2015 pop songs that I legitimately liked. “Uptown Funk” is a late addition after I got over the fact that it felt like a huge James Brown ripoff.


5. Mark Ronson- “Uptown Funk”

It bumped “See You Again” in my original rankings.


4. Taylor Swift- “Style”

It was originally “Shake It Off” until some of my friends pointed out that “Shake It Off” was more of a 2014 song. The Billboard Year End chart had “Shake It Off” for both years, but it ranked slightly higher in 2014. So, here we are.


3. Adele- “Hello”

The SNL parody got me interested in this song.


2. Pitbull- Fun

Might not be a very unique Pitbull track but there’s a lot that I like about it. The little pan flute part is my favorite.


1. Walk the Moon- “Shut Up and Dance”

Catchy rock song with a 1980s feel and a little cheesy. I’ll take it.




















Top 5 Songs of 2015

Top 5 Songs of 2015

I don’t listen to a ton of new music. I go on Spotify almost every day and listen to songs that I handpicked. Most of the songs on my playlists are songs that I already know. On my regular commute, I choose to listen to podcasts instead of the radio or even Spotify. When I was asked by my friends from Hi-5 Podcast to rank the top 5 songs of 2015, I realized that I knew more than I thought.


Of course, most subjective “top 5” lists can be debated until the end of time if you choose. I tried to go easy on myself and pick 5 songs with one practical question:

Which pop songs from 2015 did I enjoy, and which ones did I only tolerate?


Typically, I don’t dig deep for new music, so all of my list had to be selected from the Top 40. Without further ado, here’s my totally subjective list of the Top 5 Songs of 2015:


5. Wiz Khalifa- See You Again

My toughest choice was at number 5. I found several songs that I liked a decent amount and a few of them could’ve made it to this spot. I debated with songs like “Trap Queen” and “Focus” but chose “See You Again” for a few reasons. I haven’t seen any of the Fast and the Furious movies but realize the significance that it has for fans of Paul Walker. On a musical level, I think it’s a pretty decent pop/hip-hop song with catchy piano and a hook that makes everyone want to sing along. As a keyboard player, I’ve definitely had to play this song on several occasions based on requests of friends, students and coworkers. Because of them, it made the cut. I told you this list would be very subjective. On a piano, I play the chords like this: Gm-Bb-Eb-Gm. 


4. Taylor Swift- Shake It Off

I know Taylor Swift had another huge year. I don’t follow celebrities or careers but I know she’s kind of a big deal in the music world. I also know that songs like “Style” maybe should’ve made my list instead, but I chose “Shake It Off” for a couple of reasons. I think “Shake It Off” kind of felt like the “Happy” of 2015. To me, it’s a fun, simple but highly catchy anthem that makes you want to sing along and dance. I don’t think that all music needs to be deep and poetic, especially in the Pop category. Some songs are just about having a good time, and that’s ok. On a piano, I play Am-C-G.


3. Adele- “Hello”

I first heard this song and thought, “Oh, it’s the four chords from the Axis of Awesome song.” It wasn’t until the SNL Thanksgiving skit that I started to like the song. Now, it sits at number 3 for my list. I enjoy listening to it on Spotify and lip-synching the words just like the cast of SNL. On a piano, you can play the chorus with a Fm-Db-Ab-Eb progression. I teach some of those progressions in my Garageband course.


2. Pitbull feat. Chris Brown- “Fun”

This is a case of separating one’s perception of an artist with one’s enjoyment of a song. This song was probably my favorite radio hit from the summer of 2015 and I don’t even know if it was played that often. It’s got that 1980s-style synth bass to start. During the verse with Chris Brown, the progression switches from minor to a C major and it kind of feels like “Thriller” in a way for just a second. Then the hook comes in and makes you want to dance, and then the flute part comes in and really makes you want to dance. It’s not the deepest of songs, but I don’t care. I’ve lowered my expectations for most pop music and if I can find something I like in what’s being force-fed to me by pop culture, then I’m content. This song has like 4 or 5 musical components that I like, which is enough to make the top 5 this year.


1. Walk the Moon- “Shut Up and Dance”

Wait… what? No “Uptown Funk”? Nope. I bet most people would pick “Uptown Funk”. It’s a nice catchy pop song that feels like a throwback to James Brown and artists similar to James Brown. The thing is: when I first heard “Uptown Funk”, that’s all I could think about. It reminded me of when Bruno Mars basically made a Police song with “Locked Out of Heaven”. From what I’ve read, I’ve heard he actually writes his own songs as well as other people’s songs (like Cee-Lo Green’s hit song). Regardless, I chose “Shut Up and Dance” for a few reasons. I like the guitar effect in the beginning that must’ve been accomplished by some type of Edge-like delay pedal.  The song then progresses to my favorite part of the whole song, which is the build up to the chorus. After that, things open up nicely with the upbeat hook that makes people want to sing along. I like the fun message to the song and I like the intentionally cheesy and dorky 1980s music video. Maybe I’m just a little biased towards bands since, you know, I play instruments and stuff. I enjoy that over-the-top synth solo towards the end of the song, as well. Overall, when I hear this song, I think of summer nights in 2015 and great times out with friends, and that’s what I want to think about during the snowstorm that I’m currently sitting in 🙂


So that’s my list for 2015. I may regret that “Uptown Funk” snub in the future 🙂

What are your picks?






Star Wars Episode 7 Honest Review SPOILER ALERT

Does Episode 7 live up to the hype? Here’s an honest, unbiased review from a casual Star Wars fan.

Background: My friend Seth asked me to be a part of a new podcast he’s creating called Hi Five (the Star Wars episode is now available on that link). I was glad to be invited and after some talks, we agreed to make a first episode about the top five moments in all of the Star Wars movies. Since we were to include Episode 7, I decided to go see it in theaters. It was the first movie I saw in theaters in 2015. I typically don’t get caught up in the hype of the latest big movie and can wait for it to be available on Netflix or Redbox. The last movie I paid to see in theaters was Days of Future Past back in May 2014. I watched episodes 4, 5 and 6 as a kid for the first time when the movies were re-released to theaters in the 90s. I loved the PC game Jedi Knight as a kid and had some of the action figures.


My expectations were for this new movie to be pretty good. I expected that it would be probably be better quality than Episode 1-3.





After just having seen the movie, I’d say it was OK. It had some good things about it, but there were some other things that took me out of the moment.


The good: It was awesome to see the opening credits and realize that I was seeing Episode 7. I remember watching the original trilogy in the 90s and wondering if there would ever be a chapter after those ones. I’d say that the best parts of Episode 7 were basically tributes to the old movies: Han, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, Leia and of course Luke (who has roughly 10 seconds of screen time and says nothing). The story moved pretty well and the performances by Fin and the main female lead were fine. There were middle aged guys in the seats next to me just loving the movie and laughing hysterically at all of the jokes. The crowd had applause breaks when some of the familiar characters were first shown on screen. I can imagine that this movie was a dream come true to most kids who grew up watching Star Wars in the past. I can also imagine that modern day kids absolutely loved the movie. The music is good and John Williams is a living legend. I saw the movie with my buddy Neil and some of his family at Alamo Drafthouse. Never been there before but I liked the spot and made sure to take advantage of the ability to order a burger from my seat.



The not so good: I feel like the whole thing was a ripoff of A New Hope in a lot of ways. You have this evil empire and you have these rebels. There’s a guy dressed in all black who wears a black helmet and has a weird voice box effect when he talks. The guy in the black helmet is hunting certain people down and looking for certain information. He takes orders from a super evil dude who sits on a throne. There’s a bunch of stormtroopers and a big ship that destroys planets. Then, there’s this small town orphan from a desert who finds himself (or herself) on the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo and Chewbacca. They eventually join forces with the rebellion to blow up a huge ship, but not before one of the old characters gets dramatically killed by the bad guy in the black helmet with a lightsaber. That plot works to describe both Episode 4 and 7.


Here are some other thoughts that might be controversial. I’ve seen how fiercely people have defended this movie in other reviews online. I mean no offense to the people that absolutely love the Star Wars franchise. I’m simply opening up discussion for honest thoughts. Perhaps I’m wrong with some of my assessments. I leave it up to you to continue the discussion rationally. In no way am I trying to attack Star Wars or open myself up to hateful responses. That’s not what I’m about.

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1) Wait..What?

You have this one bad guy (I don’t even remember his name, so I’ll call him Ben Solo) who has very strong powers with the Force and has even been trained by Luke Skywalker at some point. Yet, he goes toe-to-toe with Fin, a former soldier who’s literally used a lightsaber for like 2 minutes, and they have an even fight. Unless Fin winds up being some Force prodigy like Luke’s daughter, I’d say that was a stretch. When Fin picked up the lightsaber, people in the theater were actually laughing. The initial reaction from the audience was that the battle was going to be a joke.

2) Acting

Everyone just feels like they know they’re in an action movie. Leia knows that the love of her life was just killed. She appears sad for like 10 seconds on camera. Then, droids come with some good news, and she perks back up and is ready to keep fighting. I know it’s probably silly to point out what’s realistic and what’s not in a sci-fi fantasy, but the acting in the battles felt aloof. People are dying left and right and no one seems to feel like their lives are in any danger. Maybe I’ve just been watching Saving Private Ryan too much.

3) Villains

It’s hard to take Ben Solo seriously as the bad guy, but maybe that’s the point..? Regardless, the comedic part with the stormtroopers turning around when they hear Ben Solo having a temper tantrum kind of weakens the ability for me to take some of the villains seriously. That would be like seeing Darth Vader slipping on a banana peel or hearing Emperor Palpatine fart or something.

4) Teasers

The whole movie seems to just dance around any significant events happening. Ben Solo has that pilot (Poe?) in captivity, but tortures him JUST a little bit and lets him escape by leaving him unattended. Then he has Luke’s daughter (I presume) in captivity, tortures her a little, realizes she has some strong potential with the Force, then leaves her attended by one, yes ONE stormtrooper. That’s kind of like one of the jokes that the Austin Powers movies make about James Bond movies. After the two lightsaber battles at the end, people are wounded JUST a little, but luckily for episodes 8, 9, 10, 11, and 29, no new significant characters die yet. 

5) Dragonball Z Super Saiyan 4

The movie seems to try to elevate the seriousness of the plot by cheaply ramping everything up. Remember when Luke took like 2 movies and a lot of training to use a lightsaber decently in the original trilogy? Well, this time, people can use them well without any prior training at all. Remember when the Death Star blew up a planet with one shot? Well, this time, the bad guys can blow up four planets at the same time. Remember how big the Death Star was? Well, this new evil ship is going to be like ten times as big as the original Death Star. It doesn’t seem to make the story more interesting or important. And when you realize that a Death Star or other type of mother ship for the bad guys has been blown up three times by rebels in episodes 4, 6 and 7, you would think the plan would’ve changed by now. Instead, the story seems a little repetitive and needs to ramp up things (like the size of the ships) to make it seem like the stakes are higher this time.

6) Characters

Let’s talk about the characters. Obviously, the old Star Wars characters are great. The guy who plays Fin does a good job at being kind of a clumsy comedic hero– I guess he’s an upgrade from Jar Jar Binks. Luke’s daughter(?) is fine. But, the bad guys just seem like one-dimensional evil guys besides Ben Solo. Maybe I’ve been watching Game of Thrones for too long, but I like my villains to have some sort of depth. In Game of Thrones, for example, you can see some sort of bright spots even in the most sadistic characters. You can often see their reasoning for their actions whether it be family name, love etc. From what I can gather, these new evil characters (besides Ben Solo) are just typical evil bad guys in a quest for domination, etc. It’s just not as interesting to me.

7) Big Picture Storyline

I fear that the movie kind of undermines the end of the original Star Wars Trilogy. Luke Skywalker was supposed to be the one to restore balance to the Force and end the war with the dark side and all of that. Here, we see that everything Luke accomplished made no difference, because the same events of Episode 4 happen again in a nutshell. If that’s the case, then maybe it suggests that nothing significant is ever going to happen in any of the future movies- it’s just going to be an endless war between rebels and empires. I found myself kind of hoping that Ben Solo would kill his dad so that something huge would actually happen in the movie. Because other than that and the Skywalker reunion, the whole thing is just a setup for countless movies to come.

Final Remarks:

An article on once taught me that Terminator 2 has an alternate ending in which the future war with the robots never happened. It was a true ending to a classic movie and showed that the heroes managed to change the future. I suspect that the peaceful ending was scrapped in order to leave the option for T3 and whatever else comes after it. It makes perfect sense in a business mindset, but it weakens the story. It just set up the sequels which never live up to the classic T1 and T2, and the franchise just continues to live on and be watered down. I fear that that has already happened for Star Wars. It should have probably ended at Episode 6, but that wouldn’t make sense for business purposes. So now, we can look forward to countless Star Wars movies for the rest of our lives. None of us will live to see the last Star Wars movie. I’m sure some of them will be amazing– you would think that Disney has enough chances to strike movie gold over the next hundred years. But in the big picture and for the sake of the story, it just feels like “what’s the point?”


I stopped listening to the radio a couple of years ago. I’m a musician, but I stopped listening to the radio because I was tired of hearing the same 20 pop songs circulated every hour. Most of the time, I only liked maybe 5 of the TOP 40 in a given period. Over time, I heard enough to realize that it’s a lot of the same stuff being repackaged over and over again. I also realized that if a song was big enough or significant in any way, it would find me one way or another. Either I would hear it at a party and take note of it or someone would be talking about it. But most of the songs just didn’t seem to matter and did not stand the test of time. As Star Wars is now owned by Disney and plans to release new record-breaking ticket selling movies until the end of time, I’m starting to think that I’m just better off waiting for the reviews. There have been 7 Star Wars movies so far, and 2 or 3 of them are legendary… the others are mixed bags to say the least.


Perhaps I’m being too logical. I realize that Star Wars has an incredible amount of passionate fans. There have been times where I’ve seen an X-Men movie in theaters and absolutely loved it, mostly because I just love X-Men. Over time, I heard bad reviews and read negative things and started to look out for flaws in the movie that were pointed out by other people. Now, I can’t take some of those movies seriously when I watch them. I’m not trying to ruin a movie for any of you. If Star Wars makes you happy, then I hope you all loved the movie. For me, it was just OK and I don’t plan on seeing Episode 8, 9, etc. in theaters (and nobody cares). The new era of Star Wars will make billions of dollars for years to come.

passive income

How I Made $5000 in Passive Income by Teaching Online

In this post, I will give you a quick background as to how I started teaching online, how it’s helping me make passive money monthly, and how you can start doing the same.


For the past 5 years or so, I’ve tried out a lot of different ways to make money online. I’ve tried online surveys, YouTube videos, creating apps, and even investing in bitcoin (HAHA). A lot of these “experiments” were great because I enjoyed trying them out. They were also very educational because I was given more perspective on what worked for me and more importantly, what didn’t work for me.

Yup. I made a Flappy Bird knockoff. One of the thousands :)
Yup. I made a Flappy Bird knockoff. One of the thousands 🙂
I actually made a few of them.... (I did actually spend hours learning to code original apps, but none of those were ever put on the app store and were really basic).
I actually made a few of them…. (I did spend hours learning to code original apps, but none of those were ever put on the App Store and were really basic).


In the “real” world, I’m a teacher. About six years ago, I started substitute teaching after I graduated from college and couldn’t find a decent job in marketing. When I finally landed my first post-college desk job, I realized that I liked teaching better and went to grad school for education. Flash forward five years from then and I’ve been a teacher’s aide, student teacher, part-time music teacher, personal tutor, camp counselor and full-time Social Studies and Music teacher. In that time, I also worked for a company that taught after-school classes and summer camp courses in subjects like Lego robotics, comic book making and video game design. The company once asked me to write the curriculum for a music class and I did. At the time, I had way more experience using Logic Pro for my home recording, but saw Garageband as a great introduction to recording and wrote the course as a “Music Production with Garageband” course.


One day last year, I discovered a blog post about a site called Udemy. According to the post, some guy made $60000 in a month by being the first to make an online course on what was (at the time) the latest iPhone development software. I was intrigued by Udemy and took note of it, but didn’t look into it much further for a few months. Then, in November of 2014 I started working on a Garageband course using the newest version of Garageband. I made an outline and began recording the lectures with my desktop. Recording the lectures took me very little time because I knew most of the stuff off the top of my head and had been teaching people how to use Garageband for quite some time. When I did mess something up when recording, I would just re-do that one lecture once or twice at the most before I thought it was ready to be published. I also made sure to read all of the rules and suggestions that Udemy had on their blog about course creation and joined the Udemy instructor group on Facebook.


Since my course has been up, I’ve made three other courses on Udemy and also uploaded some of the courses on other sites like Skillfeed (which is actually shut down now). Besides some basic maintenance every now and then, I have not been doing much work on any of the courses. Yet, my online courses are going to net me about $5000 by the end of my first year. The numbers fluctuate from month to month, but over time, the sales have added up. To some people, $5000 in mostly passive income may not seem like much, but to a lot of people like me, it is very encouraging. To me, it opened the doors to new possibilities. When I made an app for the first time, I was hoping to make $30 a month or at least cover the cost of opening up an Apple developer account (I didn’t…LOL). Now, making $300 a month in passive income is not only possible, but it’s been happening on a fairly regular basis, and that’s just on Udemy.


I know a lot of people who are interested in teaching online or are just interested in ways to make some side cash. I would definitely recommend starting with Udemy. In order to give you a head start, here are the steps that I took.


1) Join Udemy and apply to be an instructor.

 2) Once approved, join the Facebook group for Udemy instructors.

 3) Research the Udemy marketplace and start thinking of courses that you may want to teach. If there are already courses on there, check the reviews and see what type of material is being covered in the course outline. Just because there are other courses about the topic doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for you. If anything, it’s a good thing if those courses are selling because it proves that there is some demand for that subject.

 4) Read the Udemy blog about making a course.

 5) I definitely recommend Alun Hill’s course on creating a Udemy course. I took it and it gave me a lot of helpful pointers. I followed all of the advice that it gave me and I’m pretty sure that it helped my course out a ton. You can try to get it while it’s on sale during Black Friday. Definitely a good investment.

 6) Make an outline for your course and start recording it.


That was how I started. There is certainly more to do after that, and a lot of it is covered on the Udemy blog and the Alun Hill course. But, just getting started could be half the battle. Like many of my other online “experiments”, I went in thinking it would be a valuable learning experience with the potential for something more. I’ve never had better results than with teaching online, and I think that you may feel the same way with a little hard work upfront. Then, somewhere down the line, you could be sitting back and collecting passive money, too. 

…And that’s how I made $5000 in passive income by teaching online (with minimal effort). There’s nothing quite like the feeling of traveling, checking your phone, and getting an email from time to time that says “Congratulations. You have a new student!” $5000 certainly isn’t enough to live off of for a long time, but it’s definitely nice. Speaking of traveling, here’s some of the stuff I did this year:  

Got a chance to visit Google Headquarters, but got in trouble when I tried to ride one of the bikes.
Got a chance to visit Google Headquarters, but got in trouble when I tried to ride one of the bikes.
Visited the Bahamas with my gf
Visited the Bahamas with my gf
Made some new friends at Mount Royal in Montreal. Played a bunch of songs with them.
Made some new friends at Mount Royal in Montreal. Played a bunch of songs with them.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. My Udemy courses are available here.

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Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.  Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.


The Worst Blog Post Ever: How Trolls Can Ruin You (If You Let Them)

This week, I’ve been getting a lot of negativity from different places in my life and it’s been challenging. If you get enough negativity at the same time, it can wear you down. I’m going to share one example for you because there’s a crucial lesson to be learned from it.

The Worst Blog Post Ever: How Trolls Can Ruin You (If You Let Them)

Well, first of all, I worked very hard on this Udemy course on Bass Guitar back in December and January. Hours and hours were spent outlining, filming, editing and recording voiceovers. I finally released it in February and sent out a few free coupons to promote the new course. About a week or two later, I received my first review. Here’s what the review said:


If you’ve already been playing more than 5 minutes, you already know more than what’s in this course. Even if you’re a complete beginner i would say don’t do this course unless you want to see a bunch of stuff played badly with virtually no explanation.

You will learn a few ultra basic bass lines with no understanding of what you’re doing. And as an added bonus you will learn really bad technique as well. If you get a coupon to see this for free, do it to see how NOT to play bass. If you don’t have a coupon, do not waste one cent on this course”

Upon reading this review, my mood was changed for the rest of the day. It caught me off guard and stressed me out. My first Udemy course on Garageband had received nothing but 5-star reviews from the get-go, and now this new course was already hit with this 1-star bomb. As soon as I got home from work, I got to work on adding about 15 new lectures to improve the course, which included videos, charts and all sorts of detailed explanations. At the time of the review, my course was basically brand new, and I was hoping that the first batch of students would be able to provide me some useful feedback on how to improve the course, but instead I received this bomb of a review which made me re-think the entire course. I started to panic and even considered deleting the entire course. I didn’t want a bunch of people to have the same reaction.

So time went by and I wound up having very satisfying sales growth in March and April. I noticed that people were signing up for the Bass Guitar course and leaving 5 star reviews. The Garageband course was far and away my biggest hit in those 2 months, but my Bass Guitar course was steadily growing as well. In May, I took a look back at my reviews and decided to reach out to the one bad review guy. I sent him a message that said:

“Hi [name not disclosed],

Thank you for the feedback on my course. I took a lot of what you wrote in your review and used it as motivation to improve. Since your review, I’ve made about 15 new lectures which patch up a lot of the information that may have been missing in the early version of the course- keep in mind that the course was about 3 weeks old when you wrote your review. Anyway, I’ve put a ton of time and work into creating and improving the course and would love if you could re-evaluate my course now that it’s been updated. Student feedback is huge.

Anyway, I hope that you are enjoying the course and that you continue to stay active on Udemy. Best wishes.



That was my attempt at being polite and professional. Within a day, I noticed that my the one bad review was updated:


If you’ve already been playing more than 5 minutes, you already know more than what’s in this course. Even if you’re a complete beginner i would say don’t do this course unless you want to see a bunch of stuff played badly with virtually no explanation.

You will learn a few ultra basic bass lines with no understanding of what you’re doing. And as an added bonus you will learn really bad technique as well. If you get a coupon to see this for free, do it to see how NOT to play bass. If you don’t have a coupon, do not waste one cent on this course


Since my review he has added some new lectures so i thought i’d check some of them out. In lecture 10 he says to “play F on the 3rd fret of the E string”. WRONG, and typical of the standard of this guys “teaching”. In lecture 34, “pentatonic scale explained”, he doesn’t mention even once the vital fact that it’s a MINOR pentatonic scale as opposed to a major pentatonic scale. In fact he never clearly explains what a pentatonic scale actually is at all.

Please buy this course if you want to be “taught” (confused) by a guy who has awful technique and no ability to explain or teach anything with any accuracy or clarity.”

After I received this updated review, I started to realize that maybe my course really wasn’t that bad to begin with and that I might have just been dealing with a troll.

What’s a troll? Well, according to Google, it is “a mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.”

In the modern sense of the word, it’s uglier than that. According to, a troll is “one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”

Trolls can strike at any time. On my YouTube channel, I’d get hit with a troll-like comment every now and again, but the positive comments from people drowned out the trolls pretty quickly. Often, I’d find that my subscribers would come to my defense on certain issues that the trolls would start. It was an amazing feeling. From my experience on YouTube, I should’ve known that the best way to silence the trolls is to simply drown them out with quality content, which will inevitably lead to real humans leaving positive feedback.

The 3 reviews that I received after this one bad review have been gushing 5-star reviews.


“More Than Your Average Lesson

This course is great! It teaches you more than just the basic steps of how to play bass, but it also teaches you how to play scales and popular bass lines. You can tell that he pushes rehearsal and self-taught techniques because he creates background tracks for you to rehearse with that match the new concepts he wants you to learn.”


Great Course for Beginners!

This is a great course for beginners. Easy to understand, and very down to earth, and he breaks it down clearly. I was able to play some songs on the bass after taking this course. I learned alot of the basics quickly and easily!


“Wow, I guess I can play the bass!

I am learning the bass out of necessity to join a friend’s band. I was told that i could just pick it up and figure it out, so I bought a bass and went to my first band practice… boy was my friend wrong! After feeling overwhelmed and discouraged for a while, i found this course and gave it a try. Within minutes i was getting a grasp of concepts my friend had tried (and failed) to show me, and at the next band practice I stunned the rest of the rest of the band with my progress. The course is fast paced, but the instructor is very clear and understandable, and you can always replay any section you had trouble with. The instructor seems generally concerned with the progress and success of his students and is quick to answer any questions. Learning an instrument is hard work, but with this course it is a manageable and rewarding process. Thanks!”

So far, almost 75% of my Udemy sales for this month (May 2015) have been from people signing up for the Bass Guitar course. To this day, the Bass Guitar course is my second best seller on Udemy and NO ONE has requested a refund.

To think that I almost deleted the course because of one startling review is crazy now. At the time, it wasn’t so crazy.

I’m telling you this story because I want to help remind you that you need to have thick skin when it comes to stuff like business or music. There are always going to be people trying to shoot you down when you put yourself out there. I almost gave in, but I’m so thankful that I didn’t because I’m now reaping the rewards of my hard work and tenacity.

If you’d like to check out the course, it’s here.

Do you have a story where you stayed strong even when someone tried to shoot you down?