Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cant You See Me Standing Here I Got My Back Against the Record Machine

1984 - Van Halen

It does not take a math genius or even a calculator to realize that this year is the thirtieth anniversary of 1984, as in the Van Halen, not the book which turns 65 this year. Up until that point, Van Halen was mostly an underground band whose biggest hit up to that point was a cover of a Roy Orbison song that bordered on novelty. Then 1984 arrived with four massive hits on radio and a new music video channel. Unfortunately the band got too big and we did not get a proper follow up to the album by the collaboration of the Van Halen brothers and lead singer David Lee Roth (even then founding member Michael Anthony was let go for a third Van Helen member) and even that turned out to be the underwhelming A Different Kind of Truth.

1984, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was a shock to the fans of the guitar virtuoso of Eddie Van Hanel they came to love as the first single and opening track Jump was very synth heavy, borrowing from the New Wave movement of the time but still was able to sound like a rock song. It was a smooth transition as a short guitar solo does come in at the end of the song. That single was followed up but another synthesizer heavy I’ll Wait which was more menacing than the jukebox anthem that preceded it.

Rock purists finally got the rock heroes they were used to when Panama dropped. A hard driving song with one of the greatest breaks in rock history when the band slows it down, and David Lee Roth purred, “We’re running a little bit hot tonight. I can barely see the road from the heat coming off of it. I reach down in between my legs… ease the seat back.” Before the song comes roaring back for a triumphant finish. Both Van Halen brothers shine on Hot for Teacher, possibly drummer Alex’s best work ever while Roth was never on his friskiest than on the song. Of course who could forget one of the early great music videos on MTV that probably has you wondering right now whatever did happen to Waldo?

After the album Roth embarked on a only memorable because of the music videos solo career while the Van Halen with Michael Anthony dominated the soft rock landscape for the second half of the eighties after recruiting singer Sammy Hager. Neither was able to recapture the hard rock flamboyance magic of 1984. Roth was brought back into the fold when the band was working on a Greatest Hit package which was short lived after the brothers Van Halen were embarrassed by his antics at the MTV Video Music Awards. Of course that was not nearly as embarrassing as the Gary Cherone era.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Best of the Week: 1/31/14

Quote of the Week: Are you a midget because that’s a midget shovel. (Dewey Crowe, Justified)

Song of the Week: The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) - The Tokens (as sung by Sheldon Cooper and James Earl Jones, The Big Bang Theory)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: #DeportBieber: When Barack Obama was elected president he promised a new era of transparency (six years later and an NSA scandal, that is debatable). One initiative he unveiled was a petition site where if you collected 25,000 signatures, the White House would respond to the petition. This led to a bunch of Star Wars geeks to petition the government to make their own Death Star. The White House humorously responded by saying it would not be fiscally responsible to spend on trillions of dollars that "can be exploited by a one-man starship." Everyone got a good laugh and the White House soon raised the signature threshold to 100,000 and had to reach that number within a month of its launch.

Well twice that number this week signed a petition to deport Justin Bieber after his (alleged) drug filled drag race in Miami last week because, "(Bieber) is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth." For comparison, the inevitable do not deport Bieber petition, of which there are already three of as of Friday, the most of which topped out at 3,000 signatures. Of course even though the deport Bieber petition has hit the signature threshold, do not expect much of a response from the White House other than something along the lines of not being able to comment on an ongoing investigation. It certainly will not be as entertaining as their Death Star response.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Along Came a Spider” Ravenswood Winter Finale, Tuesday at 9:00 on ABC Family

Free Download and Deal of the Week: Halftime All-Stars (Google Play): In honor of the big game, Google Play has free songs and discounted album from halftime performers past and present including Bruno Mars and his guests Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as U2, Prince., and many more.

New Album Release of the Week: After the Disco - Broken Bells

New DVD Release of the Week: About Time

Video of the Week: Super Bowl tomorrow which means Super Bowl commercials. Some have already hit the internet (although I refuse to acknowledge any Full House reunion that does not involve Kimmie Gibler) as well as a few that you will not (sorry Scarlett Johansson, you cannot throw other soda brands under the bus). Unfortunately we will not see Anna Kedrick in a beer commercial this year, but we can her Anna Kendrick talk about not being in a Super Bowl beer commercial.

Next Week Pick of the Week: 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Friday at 7:30 on NBC: Forget the football game tomorrow (although the cold weather does make it more intriguing even though it does not look like it will snow tomorrow; but I do have a prediction: Seahawks by 10), the better sporting event will start Friday with the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Okay, the actually Olympics start with Figure Skating (Team Male and Team Pairs short programs) Ladies’ Moguls qualifications, Snowboard Slopestle qualifications. As for the marquee event, hockey starts up Saturday while the United States opens up its Olympic Hockey tournament February 13 against Slovakia (not to be confused with Slovenia which they take on 2/16). Host country Russia is the other team in their pool which will go down 2/15. Unfortunately Curling does not start up until Monday, but be on the lookout for the Norwegian team who will be hard to miss with their zigzag uniforms.

There will more than just sports to watch out for this year, and I am not talking about Figure Skating which not a real sport. Terrorism has hung its head over every Olympics since 9/11 but this is the first Olympics where there is a specific threat and recent attacks in Sochi. And after Vladimir Putin gay propaganda ban, it will be interesting if anyone will have a Tommie Smith / John Carlos type moment.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Around the Tubes: 1/30/13

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Hannibal, Chopped, The Saturday Evening Post, Plan C, Cute Him Up, Mobb Deep, Haven, Saint George, and Fish Bowl.

- PBS and Thirteen's American Masters series present a special in memoriam broadcast of the 2008 documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song beginning tonight at 7:30 nationwide on PBS (check local listings). The film will also stream online

- Hannibal will be returning right after the Olympics are over, February 28 to be exact, and here is a six minute recap of the first season to refresh your memory (or give you a primer for those that want to jump in and do not want to watch the first season in it entirety):

- Pizza maestro Bruno DiFabio will join top chefs Amanda Freitag (Empire Diner) and Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter) to preside over the first-ever pizza episode of Chopped. The chefs have pizza dough as a basket ingredient in every single round. The chefs learn the will be expected to make a pizza perfect meal. In the first round one of the competition, competitors take a loose interpretation of the theme: How will the judges react? Then some unusual toppings must make their way onto the entrée pizzas. And the finalists must make pizza for dessert, with candied mushrooms and salted caramel sauce. The special episode premieres at 9:00 Super Bowl Sunday on the Food Network, with an encore next Tuesday, February 4th at 9:00.
- One of the most highly anticipated flights touched down 50 years ago this February and The Saturday Evening Post reports in its latest cover story that America has never been the same. With the arrival of Pan Am Flight 101 at New York’s Kennedy International Airport, the Beatles landed to the roar of an adoring teenage audience and their parents’ consternation.

- Saturday Night Live cast member Beck Bennett stars in the riotous animated short film, Plan C from Writer Todd Waldman (ABC's "Happy Endings", "Awkward") and Director Joey Boukadakis("Dinner with Raphael", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamond"). The half live-action, half animated comedy explores a "Planned Parenthood" type scenario with an unexpected twist.

- Fujisankei, the production company behind Iron Chef, has just launched their second foray in online programming. The series is called Cute Him Up, and is a short and sweet male makeover show. You can view the series on YouTube.

- Seminal hip hop duo Mobb Deep consisting of artists Havoc and Prodigy, has announced a pre-order campaign for their upcoming double disc album The Infamous Mobb Deep, choosing to work with direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic to better reach their loyal fans with this release. The Double Disc CD set features a brand new full length Mobb Deep album on one disc and a second disc featuring a digitally re-mastered version of the group's classic platinum album The Infamous.

- The series premiere of FX’s newest 10/90 model comedy, Saint George, has been set for Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 9:00. Saint George is a half-hour, multi-camera ensemble comedy that follows the chaotic life of “George Lopez,” a recently divorced working class Mexican-American turned successful entrepreneur caught between two cultures. He struggles to balance the parenting demands of his All-American Anglo ex-wife, “Mackenzie,” and the cultural expectations of his overbearing Mexican-American mother, “Alma.” As George attempts to relate to his 11-year-old son, “Harper,” his life is further complicated by his fun-loving but freeloading uncle “Tio” and cousin “Junior.” As a wealthy businessman, George also gives back by teaching history to a multi-cultural classroom at a night school in downtown Los Angeles, where he’s supervised by tough and sexy Assistant Principal “Concepcion.” Ultimately, Saint George is a celebration of a multi-generational family that humorously wrestles with cultural differences.

- Syfy has greenlit 26 new episodes of its hit series Haven, which posted growth in both Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-49 last year. The first 13 episodes of Season 5 are set to premiere this fall with the remaining 13 episodes scheduled to air in 2015.

- Nat Geo Wild’s newest star, Goldie, welcomes us into her “bowl” for an intimate look at how she is prepping for her debut on Fish Bowl, premiering Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, at 6:00. They sat down with Goldie to get a better idea of what we’ll see, who she’ll be wearing for the red carpet, and how she is preparing for the big day.

Q: What can we expect to see on Fish Bowl?
A: Fans at home will see me take the stage in the first ever Fish Bowl. My special guests include puppies, cats, kids, a scuba diver, crazy red crabs and even a surprise visit from my good friends at Nat Geo WILD, Dr. Pol and Cesar Millan. We’re not holding back, this event will be complete with plenty of salsa, guacamole, pizza and chips for all!

Q: How did you land this role?
A: I auditioned a few months back in Los Angeles. There were so many upcoming goldfish actresses who wanted the part, I was so pleased when I got the call from Geoff Daniels, Nat Geo WILD’s EVP and General Manager. What an honor!

Q: What are you doing to prep for Fish Bowl?
A: I’ve been watching my water intake to ensure I don’t get dehydrated and making multiple laps around the bowl to keep the endurance up.

Q: What do you plan to wear for the red carpet?
A: I’m really excited to wear a new designer called au naturale.

Q: Any tips you can give us on getting ready and staying relaxed?
A: I always get my beauty sleep and make sure I have the best hair and makeup team at my side.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Previewing Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia

Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia

By the time I bought Billy Joel’s Kohuept, his live album that he recorded in Russia, the cold war was all but over. I really never put any thought in to what Joel’s presence in the communist country meant while listening to it, I just enjoyed the music. I was a kid when the concerts happened which was at the end of the cold war, long after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the other events the escalated the feuding countries over the end. As an adult, I can put the almost century old conflict in perspective as we currently wage a war on terrorism that looks to never die down.

Last year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of those Russian concerts and tomorrow Showtime is airing Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia a documentary and retrospective on the first rock act to perform in Mother Russia. Touching down in former Russian state Georgia (not far from the site of this year’s Winter Olympics), where Joel would visit Gregorian chanters who he would then introduce doo-wop to. Joel would bring his three and a half hour show to the capital Moscow and Leningrad (a place we would write about on his next album Storm Front).

But it was a rocky start as he got booed in New Jersey when announcing the trip. Just image what the 24-hour networks would say if they were around like they are today. Might look like how they covered Dennis Rodman going to North Korea, but with less nipple rings. Then there were not enough seating in the venues he played and show promontories had to bring in chairs from local churches and union halls. And in true American rock and roll tradition, some of the concerts featured unplanned stage crashers and smashed instruments.

The documentary also features modern day interviews from Joel himself, ex-wife Christie Brinkley who accompanied him on the trip with their young daughter (who apparently was too young to remember anything because she is absent from the film), band members, Joel’s personal translator on the trip, Wayne Isham who was documenting the trip at the time, and even underground Soviet rock artists from the era. The documentary is a facilitating look at another small ray of sunshine that helped melt the cold war. But still a little depressing to think that anyone born the last time Billy Joel last released an album of new material is now old enough to drink.

Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia premieres Friday at 9:00 on Showtime.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 1/28/14

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Sleeping with a Friend – Neon Trees

I always Neon Trees would have fit in well during the pop-rock band of the late ninties (as signified by having a McG directed music video), but the band went full eighties with their latest video and I am not sure if it make me nostalgic or is giving me bad flashbacks.

Hold On - Colbie Caillat

Who would have guessed the Lilest Lilith Fair music video would be made by Colbie Caillat in 2014. How did Paula Cole not make this video seventeen years ago?

You Sound Good to Me - Lucy Hale

Late last year a video circulated the internets claiming to be every country song of 2013 which features every song which sang about trucks driving down dirt roads, chicks in blue jeans named “Girl,” cold ones and about ten other country clichés. Really the video could have been every country radio hit of the past thirty years. And even though every country song that gets played on the radio sounds the same, Pretty Little LiarsLucy Hale somehow managed to come out with the most bland country song possibly ever. Even the music video looked recycled from some Carrie Underwood outtake. It somehow managed to be the most bland country song possibly ever.

M.A.A.D. City / Radioactive – Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar

I am not the biggest fan of Imagine Dragons or Kendrick Lamar and was weary when it was announced they were going to perform together at the Grammy’s but not only was it was the best performance of the night it also gave up the most GIF-able moments with many cutaways to Taylor Swift dancing and what may have been the first public appearance of Lorde smiling. I got excited when I saw a Kendrick Lamar Remix of Radioactive hit iTunes after the performance. Unfortunately the studio version just sounding like someone cut and pasted a random Kendrick rant that sort of had some time signature and put it in the middle of Radioactive. I never understand why artists do not put their award show performances on iTunes. I would have spent about ten dollars on this year’s Grammy’s alone. Instead I have to debate on whether to hunt down crappy version that someone ripped from their television. It certainly would have been nice to buy a high quality version of this performance without the lengthy bleeps or the Copy of A / My God Is the Sun closer without getting cut off (hey Grammy’s seriously just start at 7:00 and go four hours because that is how long the show overruns every year anyway).

Monday, January 27, 2014

We on Award Tour: 2014 Grammy Awards

After a lackluster 2013, this year's Grammy's was surprisingly not horrible. Only two performances had me reaching to switch to the Pro Bowl. Of course the no defense game had me back on CBS quickly. Here are some quick thought on the show.

- Beyoncé gave me a serious seizure. Not a very good way to start a show. Plus I do not really like the Grammy trend of opening up the show with someone who is not nominated but just promoting an album.

- LL Cool J has to be the most boring host ever. Seriously, can you get a host next year that will make at least one Justin Bieber joke. Why did they not have Anna Kendrick host? She was more more entertaining in two minutes than he was all night. Or at least have her present with Kendrick Lamar?

- Um, Lorde already did Royals at the nomination special. How about let her do something else. At least they did not force her to perform with Madonna.

- Remember how Best New Artist was a joke but last decade they managed to get it right ever year for almost ten straight year from Alicia Keys to Adele? Well it looks to being back to being a joke.

- Should I know who Hunter Hayes is, that performance was not very good. If that was The Voice, no one would have turned their chairs.

- Oscar winner Juicy J should be brought up at every award show. Katy Perry, not so much.

- Was Pharrell Williams the first interpreter at the Grammy's? I guess it should not be a surprise they did not speak, they are French.  He certainly was the first real life human to wear an oversized Dudley Do Right hat.

- Kevin Hart was in the house and still they had LL Cool J hosted?

- So Robin Thicke sings blurred Lines with Earth, Wind & Fire on the nomination special and with Chicago on the big show. Hey Grammy's how about stop double dipping. At least they were both an upgrade over Miley Cyrus.

- Having YouTube performances during the Pop categories was stupid.

- After Steve Hyden of Grantland suggested that a potential Lorde acceptance speech could be a mix between Pearl Jam circa 1996 and Fiona Apple on MTV, her acceptance speeches were a bit disappointing. But she definitely deserved it.

- I have a feeling one day we are going to learn the last twenty years or so of Ozzy Osbourne's life was a Weekend at Bernie's situation.

- Jamie Fox was only a little bit awkward focusing on Beyonce.

- I feel bad for Kacey Musgraves for having to follow the Imagine Dragons / Kendrick Lamar song. Whoever sequenced that did a really bad job. I still would have had Kendrick perform a mash up with Anna Kendrick instead. But I did love how Imagine Dragons did not bother to clean up after their performance. And Kacey's boots were awesome.

- Why does Taylor Swift not have her own dedicated dance cam stream? It is 2014 people.

- Mike Ditka on a wrecking ball during the "halftime show": something I will not be able to unsee.

- Where was Taylor Swift during the massive Daft Punk dance party? She could not have been pouting over losing the Best Country Album. Not only was Kacey Musgraves' better, it was an actual country album.

- Does Lars Ulrich really have a mullet?

- Same Love needed more Trombone Shorty and less Madonna.

- It is interesting that Miranda Lambert performed The Everly Brothers song with Billie Joe Armstrong instead of Norah Jones considering they just recorded an Everly's cover album together. Come to think of it I do not even remember them performing together to promote the album.

- Get Lucky is a great song but not great enough to get an otherwise underwhelming rest of the album worthy of Album of the Year. But then again it was a weak category this year.

- A solid closing performance, I really enjoy the Lindsey Buckingham enhanced version of Copy of A better than the original. Get that version on iTunes soon before I have to get a copy through nefarious means.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 1/26/14

Shameless: Of course Frank has an as to known unseen daughter. But this begs the question just how many kids does Frank have. Really the paternity of all the Gallagher’s is in question obviously Liam is not his) and who knows how many other kids out there he had out of wedlock? He may have to hunt down all of them this season looking for a donor.

Revenge: Coldblooded that Emily would bring in Sara’s mother to win her battle. But a bit of a dissatisfying ending because it was not full takedown. Has she even completely ruined anyone lately (I guess Lydia could count)? Maybe we will get a takedown when Takeda’s daughter puts two and two together and realize Aiden was the that killed her father and puts that practice of separating skin from flesh to good use. We two cliff hangers, Emily suffers her second blackout, the second of which results in her waking up in Conrad’s bed. Then we are left with a fist look at Conrad’s first wife. Hopefully she is the one to finally kick the show out of the rut it has been in for about a season and a half.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Revenge on iTunes.

House of Lies: Monica getting stabbed was all sorts of awesome. I am guessing she will be fired, but I kind of hope they find a way to bring the stabber back. Certainly Marty may not have much of a problem hiring someone who would stab his ex-wife. Oh well, they at least still play the stabber's AT&T commercial in heavy rotation.

The Blacklist: The promo monkeys pulled a quick one on me this week. I actually thought that the chick in the black wig was Lizzie but just turned out to be a victim of The Alchemist. But why exactly did Red need The Alchemist to uncover the mole. Does this mean Meera changed her DNA and is not who she says she is?
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.

Castle: The reason why Justified is the best crime drama on television is that the criminals on the shows are idiots. So I got a good laugh this week when killer got caught because she did not bother to “burn” her burner phone. And is there any chance they keep the starlet around to be Alexis’ new best friend? Or even better have a spin off where the starlet starts imitating her art and becomes a optically challenged P.I. at night with Alexis as her sidekick. They can air it on ABC Family. I would watch that.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Castle on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: Are there really places you can go to throw plates at walls? That cannot be cheap.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

Justified: I am glad Rachel brought up the theory that Raylan’s booty call just may have been working with the baseball bat guy. It certainly crossed my mind because that scenario has happened to Raylan before with the waitress and the UFC fighter which ended hilariously with a bean bag shotgun. Speaking of non lethal projectiles, it was seeing Wynn getting back to his psychotic ways. It seems like after Robert Quarels show up as the obligatory psycho, Wynn let him to all the evil stuff.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Justified on iTunes.

Nashville: That Zac Brown Band segment was really awkward. But Scarlett calling out Raina for having a co-dependent relationship with her exes was awkwardly awesome.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Nashville on iTunes.

Community: Despite being another paintball-type episode, the lava floor episode was still thoroughly entertaining. At least it was until Annie went out way too soon and Britta got her way and got Troy and Abed to talk about their feelings.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Community on iTunes.

Parenthood: After a yawn fest of a first half of the season with boring storyline (Camille in Italy) after boring storyline (Drew’s bootie calls) after excruciating storyline (Joel and Julie long and played out separation), I finally got excited for one of the rare times this season for a potential storyline: Kristina starting her own school. Hopefully this pulls the show out of its doldrums.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Parenthood on iTunes.