BIG RELEASE: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
BIG PICTURE: We know Spidey "spins a web, any size" and "catches thieves just like flies." But this is a sequel, so the webs are necessarily BIGGER and the bad guys have multiplied. Electro (Jamie Foxx) adds some sizzle to the webslinger's life, while the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) tries to trample it. Meanwhile, Peter Parker's classic frenemy Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and his nefarious family enterprise, Oscorp, enter the picture -- which, of course, means the Green Goblin can't be far off. For once, I'd like to see Oscorp cook up some new villains not in the comic books. What about a janitor who gets pecked by a radioactive pigeon? Or Chomper, bitten by a radioactive beaver, who tries to build a giant dam on the Hudson River to flood Manhattan? The evil mastermind Doctor Platypus, anyone?
FORECAST: Comic book gurus will nervously watch to learn the fate of Spidey's girlfriend, Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone). The chemistry between Stone and Andrew Garfield's Spidey/Parker is so palpable, fans are still saying "Mary Jane who?" Director Marc Webb will continue to spin new life into this franchise. But when a cocky Peter Parker says things like, "You know what I love about being Spider-Man? Everything," you know he's tempting the universe to essentially punch him in the face. DeHaan's dark, creepy turn as Osborn is sure to steal scenes throughout (James Franco's take on the character in the original film series is warm and cuddly by comparison).
BIG EVENT: iHeart Radio Music Awards (May 1, NBC, 8 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: Last fall brought us the first-ever YouTube Music Awards. This mighty slow television week brings us the iHeart Radio Music Awards! I'm sure someone is already planning music awards by the likes of MySpace and Soundcloud? Isn't it ironic that every one of these celebrations could also double as a wake for the music industry itself? It's equally strange that a big traditional TV network is airing this ode to our brave new digital age. It's like a horse and buggy company hosting the launch of the Ford Model T. Nonetheless, the show must go on -- and this one promises fan-anointed winners based on more than 13 million votes on Twitter and Facebook. Each category in the three-hour show initially started with 10 nominees (based on results from the iHeartRadio Chart); Fan enthusiasm did the rest. Among the notable contenders: Miley Cyrus is up for Best Lyrics for Wrecking Ball (who knew she was a modern-day Bob Dylan?), and Drake is up for Song of the Year and Hip Hop/R&B Song of the Year.
FORECAST: The star-studded list of performers, including Canadian content from Drake and Arcade Fire, show you how seriously the industry takes these awards (and their marketing power). Additional acts at The Shrine in L.A. will include Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Shakira, Blake Shelton, Ed Sheeran and 30 Seconds to Mars. Presenters include Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Lorde and Chris Martin. Your move, Grammys.
BIG RELEASE ON APRIL 29: Pixies (Indy Cindy)
BIG PICTURE: Frank Black (Black Francis) is like an aging wizard of indy, alternative rock. The middle-aged front man can still deliver songs with heart, courage and brains. This slightly uneven album strings together a number of singles and EPs dating back to June 2013. Assembled together, these tracks form this iconic band's first album of "new material" since 1991, though departed original bassist Kim Deal does not appear on the new effort. The Pixies' magic has lost some of its lustre, but their classic volatile mix of ingredients are still on display. The effort's best tracks are as frantic, raw and vibrant as ever, and should allow the band to cast a familiar spell over fans.
FORECAST: Indy Cindy doesn't soar to new heights, but Pixies still have wings. Am I the only one who'd like to see Black form a spin-off country band called The Centaurs?
HONOURABLE MENTION: Chad VanGaalen (Shrink Dust). The experimental Calgary songwriter emerges from his musical laboratory with another beautiful monster. He toys with rock, folk and country conventions, and takes us down his own rabbit hole of eccentric lyrics. Who else could move you with an stirring, eerie acoustic number titled Cut Off My Hands?