Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Want My Music Television vol. XI

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I though I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form so here they are courtesy of YouTube. I advise you to watch them before you read my reviews if you don’t want me to spoil things. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available, if not the link goes to YouTube where you can watch the video in full screen). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Ever Ever After - Carrie Underwood

I wonder if Ever Ever After had any problems with her cartoon version being totally anorexic. Seriously, Cartoon Carrie makes Courtney from Survivor look like defensive lineman in comparison. But anyways. Too bad Carrie didn’t put this on her latest album because it is better than half the songs (see Here’s to You Hairbrush Singers and Dashboard Drummers). Of course knowing record companies, they will release a special edition version of the album in six months with this, three other songs and a DVD, screwing over anyone who actually bought it when it first came out.
Like You'll Never See Me Again - Alicia Keys
For those keeping track at home, this would make the third video where Alicia Keys has cast a rapper to player love interest with Common joining Mos Def (You Don’t Know My Name) and Method Man (If I Ain’t Got You). I hate these time mash-up, granted it is more annoying when television shows and movies pull this, because it takes me a few viewings to piece together the story. Luckily the video didn’t have much to it to figure it out.
Headlines (Friendships Never End) - Spice Girls
There are very few things in this world that we need less than a Spice Girls reunion. Yeah I was heartbroken when Old Spice originally left the group just as they were embarking on a world tour of which I went to anyways despite her absence (have I ever told the story about the time I pissed off Posh Spice at that show?), but in the decade since their demise I have moved on to crappier, more disposable pop like Rihanna and Fall Out Boy. And with their reunion, what do we call Baby Spice now? Do we just refer to them as Old Spice 1, Old Spice 2, Old Spice 3, Old Spice 4, and Extremely Old Spice?
If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart
It is a rarity these days when the local radio station plays anything good. Yeah I am ambivalent to hearing The Sweet Escape as much as the next clinically deaf guy, but do we need to hear it every hour on the hour? One of the few songs that is actually good and they don’t overplay in recent months is this song by Emerson Hart and since the evil empire that is Viacom has successfully deleted ever copy of Kanye West’s Good Morning from every steaming site on all the internets (you know, because low quality embedded videos are destroying the music business, not record companies pushing crappy music on the public) I thought I’d share this video instead of one that will likely be deleted by the time you see it. Now you may not notice Emerson’s name, but if the voice sounds familiar, he is (was?) the lead singer of Tonic.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Big Head Barry and the Indictments

Big Head BarryWell the Feds finally came down on Big Head Barry with four counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice and surprisingly with all my hatred of the oversized dome in recent years; I met the news with apathy. I came to the realization near the end of the past season, a season where I did not watch one game of for the first time possibly ever, that aside for maybe Craig Biggio and David Eckstein, I’m pretty sure everyone else is on something. There is a poll right now on asking what should be done with the home run record with options of nothing, asterisk, almost fifty percent of the almost 100,000 responses said they should be stricken from the record books completely.

Of course that will never happen and the best anyone can ask for is an asterisk which No Back Bone Bud Selig will be happy to comply. For me I think it should go further and after baseball implements an Olympics style drug testing, complete with B samples for future tests that haven’t been invented yet, they stricken the whole steroids era. I am content with thinking the last fifteen to sixteen years haven’t happened. In fact, just contract all the expansion teams during that time too because the watered down talent has hurt the game to. And while we are at it, throw in a salary cap. Maybe then I’ll start caring about baseball again.

Of course another reason why I stopped caring about the indictment was that the story preempted Pardon the Interruption. Couldn’t they let Tony and Mike break the story and have Five Good Minutes with Peter Gammons? Ugg. But anyways. Here are some articles from about the indicted including the actual indictment of Barry Lamar Bond (wait, Big Head Barry’s middle name is Lamar? Of course he was evil, have you ever met a non-evil Lamar?)

Bonds indicted on perjury, obstruction charges
Bonds latest name on sports' infamous legal list
Timeline: Bonds and steroid allegations
Indictment brings Bonds full circle
United States v. Barry Lamar Bonds
Polling the reaction of SportsNation

And in another sport related story, I would like to congratulate the New York Yankees on guaranteeing that they will not win another World Series in the next decade (see A-Rod, Yankees agree on outline of contract).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lyrics Quiz: Mystery Theme vol. II

It has been awhile since I last ran a mystery theme quiz (a year to be exact) so maybe I’ll make November the official mystery theme month. If you guess the theme you will get three extra bonus points and as always you need to put both artist and title in the comments section (along with the theme if you think you know it) and if you are correct I will un-bold it and give you credit. The Lyrics Quiz is for entertainment purposes only so please do not use anything besides your own meandering mind to help you up with the answers. Now onto the quiz:

9. This song also includes the lyric, "Let's get married" which is odd considering the relationship of the two people in this band.
Mystery Theme: I actually thought this would be easier than the last one which was guessed fairly quickly. Oh well. As for a hint, take notice to the individual lyrics specifically.

1. Slip inside the eye of your mind, don’t you might find a better place to play. (Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis; guessed by Dara)
2. Love. I get lost sometimes. (In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel; guessed by Dara)
3. Now if there is smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public. But when it comes down to fooling you, now honey now that is quite a different subject. (Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles; guessed by Dane Bramage)
4. You sit there in your heartache waiting on some beautiful boy to save your old ways. (When You Were Young - The Killers; guessed by Dara)
5. Now here’s a little story I gots to tell about three bad brothers you know so well. (Paul Revere - Beastie Boys; guessed by Angie)
6. Don’t wish it away. Don’t look at it like kids forever. (I Guess that's Why I Call it the Blues - Elton John; guessed by Dara)
7. She calls me Goliath and I wear a David mask. (Cumbersome - Seven Mary Three; guessed by Doug)
8. See the stone set in your eyes. See the thorn twist in your side. (With or Without You - U2; guessed by Dara)
9. I was watching with one eye on the other side. I had fifteen people to move; I had moving on my mind.
10. Something’s in the air tonight, the sky’s alive with the burning light, you can mark my word: something’s about to break. (Nothing Left to Lose - Mat Kearney; guessed by Dara)
11. Base, how low can you go? (Bring the Noise - Public Enemy; guessed by Angie)
12. This is a call to the color blind. This is an I.O.U. (Bigger Than My Body - John Mayer; guessed by Dara)
13. It was the third of December, that day I’ll always remember. (Papa Was a Rollin' Stone - The Temptations; guessed by Angie)
14. Step out the front porch like a ghost into the fog where no one notices the contrast of white on white. (Round Here - Counting Crows; guessed by Dara)
15. There is freedom within, there is freedom without. Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup. (Don't Dream it's Over - Crowded House; guessed by Dara)
16. It doesn’t matter what I say as long as I sing with inflection. (Hook - Blues Traveler; guessed by Dara)
17. Once upon a time not long ago, when people wore pajamas and lived life slow. When laws were stern and justice stood and people were behavin’ like they ought to: good. (Children's Story - Slick Rick; guessed by Angie)
18. She gets too hungry for dinner at eight. She like the theater and never comes late. (Lady Is a Tramp - Frank Sinatra; guessed by Doug)
19. You burden me with your questions; you have me tell me no lies. (Unbelievable - EMF; guessed by Dara)
20. Neon sign through smoky eyes tonight. It’s 2 AM, I’m drunk again, it’s heavy on my mind. (Grace Is Gone - Dave Matthews Band; guessed by Angie)
21. She’ll only come out at night. (Maneater - Hall and Oates; guessed by Dara)
22. I know it sounds funny but I just can’t stand the pain. Girl I’m leaving you tomorrow. (Easy - The Commodores; guessed by Doug)
23. I took a walk around the world to easy my troubled mind. I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time. (Kryptonite - 3 Doors Down; guessed by Dara)
24. I came in the door, I said it before, I never let the mic magnatize me no more. (Eric B. Is President - Eric B. and Rakim; guessed by Angie)
25. She got out of town on a railway New York bound. Took all except my name, another alien on Broadway. (Bright Lights - Matchbox Twenty; guessed by Dara)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Had My Heart Beaten Down but I Always Come Back for More

Taking Chances - Celine Dion

There is no more annoying phrase in the American lexicon than, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” First, the city stole that phase from every spring breaker. Ever since The Real World set up shop on the Strip, more and more reality shows take place there or make a pit stop for an episode or two there. And in today’s world where everyone has a camera phone and the desire of instant celebrity, rarely does anything actually stay in Vegas.

The most egregious example of how things in Vegas don’t necessarily stay in Vegas is the release of Taking Chances from Céline Dion, who, up to recently had been spent the last four years at Caesars Palace entertaining blue-haired woman who needed some rest from pulling the slot machine lever all day. But now she is back to torture the rest of the world outside of Vegas with all her hand waving and weird performance moves.

But really the most annoying thing about Dion is that her songs are, for the most part, catchy. Don’t tell me that late last decade when the Titanic song came on and your windows were up you weren’t singing along. The lead single and title track follows that trend with a catchy vibe that you know you shouldn’t like but can’t help sing along. And don’t hate her for blatantly stealing the “talk with me like lovers do” from Here Comes the Rain Again because the song was actually written by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. Certainly you can hate her because she is Canadian, French Canadian at that, her creepy old husband, the duet with R. Kelly but don’t hate her for stealing that song.

You can also hate her for the extremely bland cover of Alone by Heart which is could have been recorded at a karaoke bar (or on a national karaoke televised competition) because adds nothing to the original. In fact, the title track aside, the album as a whole is pretty bland without any over the top power balled courtesy of Jim Steinman or Diane Warren for Dion to tackle. Instead we get songs written by The-Dream, the guy suggested we all stand underneath Rihanna’s Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh, who wrote the most boring of all, the album closer Skies of LA.

Although there is a song near the end That’s Just the Woman in Me, a song originally recorded by Katrina and the Waves (yes that Katrina and the Waves) that stands out with a weird bluesy vibe to it. Then in the middle of the song without warning Céline starts to sound like Janis Joplin, okay, she actually starts to sound like Melissa Etheridge channeling Joplin, but you get the point. Had she taking more chances (see how I worked in the album title, I’m clever like that) like this on the rest of the album, maybe it would have been more enjoyable.

Song to Download - Taking Chances

Taking Chances gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It’s My Time, Said it’s Time for Me to Shine

As I Am - Alicia Keys

Last year Nas declared Hip-Hop Is Dead. The only problem was that the album was in fact proof that hip-hop wasn’t dead. Yeah ring tone rappers have watered down the art form, but albums from Common and Kanye West this year has kept the genre afloat. On the other hand, R&B has been on its deathbed for a long time and great R&B albums have been few and far in-between this decade. Even the great ones getting little airplay instead radio spent more time to R&B artists who excel more at dancing than singing with tracks that sound more like hip-hop beats than something coming out of Motown or Stax.

One of the few R&B artists that manage to have soul and still have commercial appeal is Alicia Keys. This may be in part that she still infuses the use of hip-hop beats like her contemporaries, but the bases of her music is still primarily the piano which leads to a mix of hip hop and classical with Keys’ heartfelt and introspective lyrics overtop. Her first two albums, which combined to sell ten million records, were just appetizers to what she is truly capable of.

Now at twenty-seven, her third studio album As I Am has a maturity that her first two were lacking. This is most evident with That’s the Thing About Love. The song is definitely not something that a twenty year old could write, and the older Keys lets loose at the crescendo at the end of the song, knowing, even in this world of Pro Tools, it isn’t about hitting every note right if the emotion behind it is there. The song itself is just one of those timeless love songs that should be a requirement at every wedding for the next century.

On the other side of the spectrum is the more subtle Like You’ll Never See Me Again where Keys coos over bells that go up and down the scale throughout the whole song and some well placed finger snaps. The album is bookmarked with two of the strongest track. Go Ahead is a tuba heavy (no seriously) kiss off with Keys in full woman scorned mode. The album closes with Sure Looks Good to Me with its grandeur than transcends R&B and is much closer to a sweeping power balled of the seventies than any contemporary artist of today.

Alicia Keys definitely has a classic album that stands the tests of time in her, but unfortunately As I Am isn’t that album. There is just too much filler on it. The biggest disappointment is the John Mayer (she appeared on his Gravity) assisted Lesson Learned a boring melodrama that isn’t up to par with either artist. Certainly the females out there can appreciate the I Am Woman Here Me Roar esthetic of Superwoman, but as a grown man I just found the song trite and skipable.

Then there is I Need You with lyrics that seem left over from either Karma from the last album or a sophomore poetry assignment. But much like Karma, the song is saved by a killer backing track from Mark Baston (Dr. Dre, Dave Matthews Band), who also produced Go Ahead. Hopefully by the next album, all the filler will be gone and Keys makes the album she was born to make.

Song to Download - Sure Looks Good to Me

As I Am gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Alicia Keys on iTunes

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Best New Shows of 2007

At the beginning of the television season you were bombarded with a bunch of “Best Of” and “Must Watch” shows even though it is a little unfair to judge a show by one episode. For instance last year had you asked me at the beginning of the season, Friday Night Lights wasn’t even on my radar, yet a month later it was my favorite show of the new season. With that in thought I brought together some TV Bloggers to see what are the best new shows of the season now that we are a good month into the new season. Here is the list that I came up with after placing the votes into an algorithm that would make the dudes from The Big Bang Theory blush. You can catch up by streaming the shows, or downloading them on iTunes and/or Amazon Unbox:

1. Pushing Daisies - ABC (8) - Stream
2. Chuck - NBC (2) - Stream - iTunes - Unbox
3. Dirty Sexy Money - ABC - Stream
4. The Big Bang Theory - CBS - Stream - iTunes - Unbox
5. Gossip Girl - CW - Stream - iTunes - Unbox
6. Aliens in America - CW - Stream - iTunes
7. Samantha Who? - ABC - Stream - iTunes
8. Moonlight - CBS (1) - Stream - iTunes - Unbox
9. Reaper - CW - Stream - iTunes
10. Journeyman - NBC - Stream - iTunes - Unbox

(numbers in parentheses denote first place votes)
Also receiving votes: Life, Woman’s Murder Club, Private Practice, Bionic Woman, Cane
Dan, Ducky, Kath, Jo, Liz, Rae, Sandie, Scooter McGavin, Tube Talk Girl, TVFan, Vance

Not surprising that Pushing Daises took the top spot as it lived up to the preseason hype, the show and Chuck were easily the top two shows on the list. On the other hand, the shows 3-10 were fairly bunched together with very little separating them. There was a good mix from all the networks this year (sans Fox who didn’t even have one of their shows get a pity vote) unlike last year (see Best New Shows of 2006) that was dominated by NBC with the top three positions, and ABC taking the next four spots. In a measure of full discloser, here was my ballot:

1. Pushing Daises
2. The Big Bang Theory
3. Chuck
4. Journeyman
5. Bionic Woman

And for all the TV fans out there, you may want to check out your local Best Buy, Target, or store of that ilk because I saw ads in this weekends newspaper for both stores selling many Warner Brothers produced TV on DVD shows like Veronica Mars, Nip/Tuck, and Smallville for around $15.00 per season. So you can get the whole West Wing series for just over $100. In most cases the most recent seasons are not on sale, but with Christmas certainly you can find a show for someone on your list or even yourself.

Scooter Update: It looks like the sale has hit the Amazon store. Below are just some of the select seasons you can get for under $20 (note: if the price is above 20, you are too late):

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It Seems the Wars Will Never End but We’ll Make it Home Again

Typically I take holidays off, but it seemed wrong to just sit on the couch on Veterans Day when future veterans are currently fighting in harms way. What makes thing worse this year was a report that came out earlier this week that, despite only making up eleven percent of the population, one in four homeless people are veterans (source: MSNBC). This is just unacceptable. I guess something like this happens when the past fifteen years our commander in chief was someone who wouldn’t fight, but did everything in their or their dad’s power to get out of fighting (you may want to keep that in mind the next time you choose your president). I am not one to write my representative, but I had to point this figure out to him and I hope you do so with your own.

So I would like to personally thank servicemen and woman past and present for fighting for the security of out. I have featured this song before, but there is no more fitting song for today than John Legend’s Coming Come. Here’s hoping you all come home safely and to homes to live in.