2011 is only hours away now. For some of us, the past year was a reevaluation of priorities, for others a positive sea change. For many, it was a hard 365 days and the departure thereof is itself a blessing. But let’s shake off the heavy stuff. What are the things the Popdose Staffers are looking forward to in the year 2011?

Ken Shane – One of the things I’m looking forward to most in the new year is the long-promised arrival of Spotify in the U.S. To this point, the music streaming software has only been available in a handful of European countries, but I’ve been able to employ a roundabout strategy to use it for the last few months (ssshhhhhhh!!!!!). As a result, I can assure you that Spotify is a game-changer. I think it’s power lies not just in the vast music library, but also in the standalone software that sets it apart from web-based streaming services like MOG and Rdio. As I said, the U.S. introduction has been promised so many times that it’s turned into something of a joke, but if the record companies ever get their heads screwed on straight (I know, no chance), and sign the necessary licensing agreements, Spotify will be a powerful resource for us all.

Matt Springer – Ah, summer. The time when a middle-aged man’s thoughts turn to outsized explosions, superhuman feats of box office strength, and Michael Bay. I don’t get to nearly as many summer movies as I used to, but I still seek out that same gut-punch blockbuster thrill I got from Tim Burton’s Batman, or Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, or even parts of Revenge of the Sith. I love movies period, but I will always have a soft spot for big and often dumb summer flicks. Summer 2011 is going to be seen as the summer of the superhero, with the first two entries in the massive Marvel mega-blockbuster sequence, Thor and Captain America; DC’s bid for a bigger chunk of the popcorn bucket with Green Lantern; and Fox’s reboot of the X-Men franchise with X-Men: First Class. Stir in unexpected sequels to Cars and Pirates, plus the absolute final film in the Harry Potter franchise, AND a J.J. Abrams flick shrouded in his typical secrecy… Where’s the line start anyway?

Molly Marinik – The Book of Mormon: After a ho-hum season and a half of underwhelming Broadway musicals, the South Park guys’ upcoming production, The Book of Mormon, should be a breath of fresh, bawdy air.  In collaboration with some of the Avenue Q creatives, this show is likely to push buttons in the provocatively hilarious manner you’d expect.  Although it no doubt harbors commercial aspirations like all other big Broadway endeavors, you get the sense that this show might be a little bit more about pleasing its audience than earning accolades (like some other superheroic catastrophes that shall go unnamed).

Michael Fortes – Ash Reiter recently posted on Facebook that “11 is my lucky number,” basically predicting that 2011 would be her breakout year. That’s exactly what I’m looking forward to – seeing this bright, positive, effervescent talent from the San Francisco Bay Area release her new album Hola this spring, play at SXSW for the first time, release her next music video for her song “Francais,” and pick up scores of new fans along the way. Good vibes follow this NorCal indie rock girl and her merry band everywhere they go, and soon you all will know exactly what I mean by that.

Check out http://vimeo.com/17514631 for a performance of “Ishi” that was filmed for a local music-based video blog series called “Backseat Beat.” This song will be on the new album (in a more polished version, of course). It was inspired by this dude: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishi

Rob Smith – System of a Down recently announced a handful of reunion shows at festivals in Europe for next June, “simply because we want to play together again as a band and for you, our amazing fans” (Translation: no one wanted to hear Scars on Broadway or Serj Tankian’s solo records). While I cynically scoff at their reasons, I simultaneously hope that the band will record new music, because we have been too long without a follow-up to 2005’s double-barrel blast of Mezmerize and Hypnotize.

Before that, though (mid-January, to be exact), the world will be gifted with the new Decemberists album, The King is Dead. It’s a full-band equivalent of Colin Meloy’s straightforward solo acoustic shows – a rich, crackling collection of great story-songs with nary a clunker in the bunch. They’ve been cranking out hits for years in the parallel dimension that exists only in my head; The King is Dead might actually put them over the top in this dimension’s mainstream, or whatever passes for it these days.

Robert Cashill – Cineastes are jonesing for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life; Me, I’m as interested in the IMAX film he’s said to have made from its dinosaur footage. As it’s a Malick film I imagine it’s ponderous, slow- moving dinosaurs. I kid. New films from Steven Spielberg (War Horse), Martin Scorsese (Hugo Cabret), Jason Reitman (Young Adult, from Juno scribe Diablo Cody), the tireless Steven Soderbergh (Contagion and Haywire), and other notables should pick up the artistic slack elsewhere, with even Pixar idling with Cars 2: The Sequel No One Really Wanted.

David Medsker – Except my son, who’s dying to see it. Sigh.

Robert – Tell him fine, you’ll take him, but no ice cream or treats for a month for obliging Dad to attend.

Dw. Dunphy – The real disappointment is that when Lassiter became the Chief Creative Official of Disney, he railed on against unnecessary sequels, especially ones for their old classics. Since then, there have been Tinkerbell movies, and some others I can’t remember at the moment, and we’re not only getting Cars 2, but another Monsters, Inc.

That Kool Aid sure is sweet.

Rob – Dammit, really? See, I list Monsters, Inc. among my favorite movies of the last decade — the concept is so imaginative, the graphical elements so well done, the voice cast so spot-on.  And one of the things I appreciated most about it was the fact that they never made a fucking sequel. It was a perfect little entity as it was — it told its story, told it well, and left us alone forever and ever thereafter.  There were no pressing issues to address; the thing was done. Finished.  So, what, is Boo going to grow up and get married now?

Jack Feerick – Shit.

And hey, am I the only one who was underwhelmed by Toy Story 3?

Robert – In DVD, 2010 was the year we didn’t make contact, but thanks to Santa I did go Blu, as in Blu-ray. And I will appreciate adding favorites like 48 Hours and Excalibur to my latest (groan) collection in 2011, plus whatever Criterion deems worthy. But for anyone looking for what’s new in old you have to go MOD, as in manufactured-on-demand DVD-Rs, and I will continue to look forward to Tuesdays, when the Warner Archive digs deep into its vaults for forgotten silver. And a shout out to Shout! Factory, which had an eclectic and exemplary year with its Roger Corman collection, Gamera movies, Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind and others–more of the same, please.

Ken – Can’t wait for the Malick film. He hasn’t made many, but he also hasn’t made one that didn’t touch on greatness in my opinion.

Zack Dennis – What I’m looking forward to in 2011?  Season of the Witch, starring Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman.  Why?  Well, first of all because I like the Donovan song “Season of the Witch.”  It won its bout in the popdose Song-Off, despite Jeff Giles’ vociferous objections.  In fact, I think Jeff’s antipathy for the song made me like it even more. (I love everything that Jeff hates, particularly Cupcake Pebbles).  Furthermore, there have already been a pair of movies featuring the name – both of which were beautiful disasters.  And let’s not forget Courtney Love covering this song with Hole on MTV’s Unplugged.  Pretty much everything associated with this turn of phrase has been a failure.  Why should Nicholas Cage’s movie – which was ready for release in December of 2009 but has since been delayed – be any different?  I can’t wait to sit in empty theater, laughing myself half to death at Cage’s attempts at earnestness while keeping my fingers crossed that at some point he shows up in a bear costume and punches someone.

DwD – I was half-hearted about the prospect but, I have to admit it, I’m kind of excited for the reunion of The Cars (not the movie Cars 2, mind you). It will never be the same without Benjamin Orr, but I’m intrigued up to this point.

And with that, we wrap up another Popdose year and hope you’ll be with us again for 2011.