It might seem frivolous to pick out the best in entertainment in a year where real life played such a prominent role in the lives of Joplin residents.
But it's because of that real-life tragedy that made us cherish the entertainment even more.
Epic new event: Joplin Running of the Bulls
The tornado didn't stop residents' drives to push new festivals, features and other fetes, from Oktoberfest to a Glee-style sing-off. But our favorite was a great twist on a Spanish tradition. A group re-enacted Pamplona's Running of the Bulls, using members of a roller derby team as the bulls. More than 100 ran in the fundraiser for St. Mary's Elementary School. Can't wait to see how big this gets in 2012.
Epic breaking big for a local band: LiveWire
This is a good year for the tater-fed band from the Joplin area. Videos for their songs "Tater Fed" and "Miracle of the Human Spirit" are in rotation on CMT. The band has been featured in Billboard magazine, signed with Way Out West in Nashville and were featured in segments on the "Breaking Out" show on The Country Networks.
Epic tornado-related song: "Naked Trees," by Me Like Bees
It's almost unfair to pick a best tornado song — so many artists have poured their heart and soul into music to help Joplin residents deal with the tornado.
Winning post-tornado celebrity visit: Carlos Mencia
Joplin has received a lot of attention from big names, as big as Katy Perry, Barry Manilow and members of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Epic Moment: JHS lip dub video
But for us, we were suckers for a lip dub video on YouTube.
Winning online app: Spotify
Music's large role in our lives is a big reason we love Spotify so much in the newsroom. It makes sharing music between friends so much easier. But Spotify's service goes way beyond letting the world know how great that new "Foster the People" album is.
Epic tribute to longevity: 25th anniversary of the Kitchen Pass
Back when the worst weather-related thing on our minds was snowmageddon, one of Joplin's longest-running nightspots celebrated a milestone.
Epic moment in history captured by locals: Joplin High School students witnessing history in Washington D.C.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. As the Constitution Team celebrated a well-earned trip to nationals in Washington D.C., its trip coincided with the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death, and the crazy, street-filling celebration.
Joe's favorite album of 2011: "The Experiment," Art vs. Science
Ever since its February release, I've listened to "The Experiment" countless times. (I guess I could check my iTunes play count. Meh.) Every song on this album is strong.
Scott's favorite book of 2011: "Ready Player One," Ernest Cline
I enjoyed a number of new books in 2011. I welcomed the look back at Jack Reacher's early days in Lee Child's "The Affair"; got wrapped up in the latest Harry Bosch outing in Michael Connelly's "The Drop"; marveled at Stephen King's ability to sustain a story for nearly 900 pages in "11/22/63"; and cheered on the human resistance in Daniel Wilson's "Robopocalypse."
Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location
For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.
Family affair: Father directs daughter in 'Annie,' a musical about families
The name "Annie" is synonymous with boundless optimism, tough determination and eternal hope. And curly, red hair.
Joe Hadsall: National Geographic Channel helps keep thirst for nonfiction sated
Like the seasons, I periodically enter a phase where fiction doesn't interest me. Thank goodness for National Geographic Channel.
Jeremiah Tucker: Weezer's new apology to fans doesn't sound very genuine
If you're an early Weezer fan, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about "Everything Will Be Alright in the End," the upcoming new album from one of the most iconic bands of the '90s.
Marta Churchwell: Festivals are hard work for artists, but worth it
What we artists and craftsmen will endure to earn a few bucks at a festival.
Overacted on purpose: 'The Boy Friend' is a send-off of '20s-era musicals
The musical is filled with history. It is the third-longest-running musical in British history, and Julie Andrews starred in the Broadway debut of the play in America. The musical is also the first Broadway musical to be performed by Joplin Little Theatre, which first picked up the script in 1960, about 20 years after its formation.
Grammy win has kept zydeco singer Chubby Carrier busy
Since winning a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album in 2011, Chubby Carrier's schedule has filled up. But he is thrilled to be able to return to Joplin.
Livewire's new video debuts on Billboard (w/VIDEO)
The song is currently on Billboard's Top 40 charts for Texas Music and Texas Regional Radio Report. It is the latest release since the band's first full-length album, "Livin'," which was released in 2012 with Way Out West Records.
Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster
A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.
Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday
They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.
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