Saturday, September 02, 2006

We on Award Tour - 2006 Video Music Awards

Jack Black trying to be funnyThere were high hopes for this year’s MTV Music Video Awards after two years of well below sub-par shows. But in the end this year’s VMA’s were just as bad as the previous one with somehow finding a way to be unfunny (and this may be a tipping point for Black after being universally panned for Nacho Libre). What was worse was for a show that has built itself of big stage productions and surprised guest, the performances seemed extremely low-budgets compared to years past and the surprised guests this year were Montel Williams, the little kid from the movie no one but movie snobs saw, and and the dude from who were most likely only there because invited them. Here are more disappointing moments from the five hours of my life that I’ll never get back:

- Just as worthless as the big show was the hour and a half pre-show this basically was a vehicle for people to promote upcoming albums. Usually they have a world premiere video or exclusive interview, but nothing but two horrible performances.

- The show starts out with the chick from Kids Incorporated performing London Bridge, a song easily a lock for the Worst Songs of 2006 list. Blatant guided vocal track here as she didn’t even bother to even lip-sync half the time.

- Kurt Loder and John Norris must have something on the higher ups at the network because as MTV tries to distance itself from what it used to be (even refusing to even acknowledge it’s 25th anniversary) these two still show up every year at the VMA’s.

- Does the world really need a rock opera from ? Really the world doesn’t need another album from them let along a concept album. But with the goth Sergeant Pepper garb, the creepy skeleton children’s choir, and the lead singer actually trying to sing with a fake British accent maybe the musical version of Jumping the Shark. Oh as for the premiere of their new song, it is easily a lock for the Worst Songs of 2006 list.

- Can we please end the era? The dude is now walking around with his own spokesman because he’s too elf important to talk. Really no one has capitalized on the death of someone else. Well except for all the Elvis impersonators.

- We start off the big show with welcoming the show back to New York City from a top of a building. This would have been a lot cooler had they not had the My Chemical Romance performance there earlier.

- Who ever decided the show should start off with a performance of a song that no one has ever heard should be fired. Worst show opening ever. When then switched to Worst Song of 2006 nominee SexyBack and brought out Big Head Timberland and a blatant guided vocal track, things didn’t get much better. What’s worse is it seems that the phrase Sexyback is going to overtake the go to phase for the corny old dudes replacing Fiddy (as in Fiddy Cent) after corny old dudes Al Gore and Jared Leto both used it.

- I kept waiting and waiting for the opening Jack Black skit to get funny, but sadly it never did. I think that it may have been the goal with the “everything going wrong” theme, but that’s just too high brow for me. Although I like how the MTV execs were the Douches. And what was with Black kissing everyone’s butt all evening? MTV really need to bring back.

- The first presenter is the straight from jail . Seeing her makes me wonder should you lose all the street cred you receive for going to jail but by getting released early for good behavior?

- The first shocker of the night was for winning Best Male Video. I have a suspicion that this was a last minute decision to give him the award just to give his girlfriend some airtime.

- The least hip-hop song nominated wins Best Hip-Hop award. And up the irony quotient one of the talked about how there is a place for positive rap as he picks up an award for a song about a woman’s naughty bits.

Shakira - I'd hit that- and her Indian themed performance for Hips Don't Lie was probably the best of the night, but that’s not really saying much.

- Can someone please explain the allure of Jackass to me? Am I the moron for not finding naked midgets and dudes hitting each other in the testicles funny?

- Lil’ John is up next and tells everyone to get on the feet, but as the camera scans the place, everyone is as slow to get up as if a hymn started to play at church. But I can’t blame them considering it was just for whose set looked like it was on a lower budget than most high school plays. Not a good sign for a song called Moneymaker. And had Ludacris not namedropped them, I would have never known that it was the Pussycat Dolls that came on stage at the end of the song.

- Speaking of the , it’s sad tat we live in a world where they actually won a music award. But it’s nice that they thanked God for winning an award that tells dudes to loosen up their buttons. Classy.

- actually used the phrase “Push My Tush” while presenting the awards. I actually can feel my IQ dropping. Oh, and to follow up a story I broke here a couple days ago about her hooking up with , just days later, Mayer posted on his blog that he really like the song Don’t Believe the Hype.

- redid their Here it Goes Again video with the treadmills step for step. What a waste of time. I could see the same exact routine on YouTube whenever I want, why would I want to see it live. The least they could have done was to screw p somewhere to make this performance memorable. Complete waste of time.

I'm not sure I even want to know what's on Paris Hilton's head- What was on ’s head? But something has to be said that her album has been out more than a week and she has yet to perform a song live once. Even ’s people trusted her enough to lip-sync, it’s not a good sign that Paris cannot even be trusted to do that. Luckily she didn’t try doing it tonight instead she was just relegated to present the dude from Smallville and his band.

- Did some backstage dude grab Nicole Richie’s butt as she went onstage? I wonder if Nicole realized that was making fun of her during her acceptance speech. I wonder if Pink realized that no one knew she was trying to be ironic.

- Did anyone else start to feel old when was talking about how all the new rappers were in diapers when he started? He then presents the Best Rap Video to who said the best advice he ever got was to stay humble. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy who then named himself Chamillionaire.

- Guided Vocal Alert! gets no introduction and performs her second single off her new album. It’s never a good sign when a label has to rush out a second single before the album is never a good sign. Maybe we can expect that Destiny’s Child reunion sooner than later.

- is out next to perform a medley of songs I’ve never heard before and hope to never hear again.

- How funny was it that the dude who won Ringtone of the Year actually brought a list of people to thank? Apparently he didn’t get the memo that’s this was a joke award.

- It’s official, I am now totally sick of . And what was with the dude with the cape? The band is out to present , or as I like to call it, a bathroom break. The performance would have been much better had the lead singer would have gotten hit with a bottle early in the song. If you want to see that happen, check out . Now that was entertaining.

- What's with bringing out the ten-year-old girl to the sounds of Rick James Superfreak. That is just totally wrong.

- I know that people like to make fun of past scandals but when your scandal is that you are horrible parents, it’s not a good idea to parody that sediment like Britney and her baby daddy did. Someone please send that tape to child services.

- for some reason to performed a balled. The massive guns she was showing off didn’t help with those drag queen comparisons.

- I thought they took out Michael Jackson from the Video Vangard award. Granted they have been sporatic giving it out lately. Hype Williams wins. It's sad that the rap cliches his videos created over a decade ago are still being used today.

- So wins Best Rock Video and they were the only one all night who brings up the voting. This was something I was really wondering about, in the press release for the nominees, it mentioned that there was voting on the website, but I never heard anything about it after that. Nor did anything mention what the votes meant or if they meant why there was still a Viewer’s Choice Award. This is really bugging me.

- During one of their many mini-songs The Raconteurs changed the lyrics of historic song to “internet killed the video star.” Clever. Although this is about a year after I declared Podcasts Killed the Video Star.

What exactly is J-Lo wearing?- Worst Dressed of the night goes to and her gypsy outfit. Seriously, who brought her out of obscurity? Can we quickly send her back there before she makes more crappy music? She appropriately presents Video of the Year to Panic! at the Disco, a crappy song to top off the crappy year.

- The night ends with . As the song ends they go to the nosebleed camera and just when you think they are setting up for something special, they cut back to Jack Black who ends the show.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Sublime Style's Still Straight from Long Beach

Sublime - Sublime

I fully believe that had Brian Wilson would have been gunned down in New York back in 1980 instead of John Lennon and Eddie Vedder had put the shotgun in his mouth instead of Kurt Cobain, The Beach Boys would have been regarded as the most influential band ever while The Beatles would be arguing over the name throughout the nineties and Vedder would have been the voice of a generation while Nirvana would be putting out it’s comeback record this year. Yes, there is no better marketing strategy than dieing before your time from James Dean to Tupac (although that doesn’t seem work anymore as Aaliyah and TLC have wondered into obscurity).

We may never know if that was is the case for this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, with their self-titled break out album that was released just weeks after lead singer’s Bradley Nowell fatal overdose. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a hit without the sob story surrounding the release, but then again, maybe the ska tinged band would have had continued success like fellow So-Cal band that made similar music, granted I would like to think that Nowell wouldn’t have recorded a solo album featuring a song that made every girl in Middle School across the nation curse while singing along. But anyways.

The album is anchored by the three big hits from the album starting with the one that started it all for those who did have a radio station cool enough to play the Date Rape song off their previous album was the life is good anthem What I Got. There were two versions of the song on the album, and actually I’ll even take the Reprise version over the original. Then there was Santeria, a great sing-a-long for when you’re drunk. Then there was Wrong Way, which is the most similar track on the disk to Date Rape with it’s upbeat sound and sarcastic lyrics about a guy who can’t get any but in this case decides to pay for it as opposed to forcing himself on a girl.

But as great as the singles were, by no means was this album top heavy. Each song intertwines between ska, reggae, dub, and punk without watering down that genre. Even April 29, 1992 (Miami) has a twinge of hip-hop in it. Under My Voodoo is more of a straight ahead rock song with obvious shades of Jimi Hendrix. Paddle Out could have been a mosh pit anthem had it had a chance to be played live and Pawn Shop could have been a great live staple too with its jam band like groove to it.

I also had a chance to listen to the two disk tenth anniversary version of this album. The first disk is essentially the same album but it starts off with a cover of Trenchtown Rock and has a different sequencing than the orginal. Before any purist start complaining, my sources tell me that the new track list is closer to the one that Bradly Nowell wanted before his death. The second disk is just a hodgepodge of remixes (including five different ones of Doin’ Time) as well as a few other rarities. For those who enjoyed the short career of Sublime, may I suggest checking out the comprised of the surviving members of Sublime as well as some other artists the band regularly collaborated with.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

If You Want to Impress a Hick Then Make it Go Tick

A Public Affair - Jessica Simpson

Among the reality shows, movies, variety shows, and gossip columns, it is sometimes easy to forget is first and foremost a singer. Granted when she started back in the late nineties she was a third string blond pop princess (maybe fourth depending on where you rank ). Now just a couple months after her ex-husband released his first post-break up album, Jessica has released her own, the appropriately titled A Public Affair. But unlike , isn’t solely about dealing with the break-up, this is most likely because Jessica can’t formulate two remotely intelligent sentences in a row let along write a whole song.

The album starts off with the title track, a disco send up the catchy in a “it will get old by the time Jessica is linked to her latest beau.” (Oh, she’s been linked to ? Yeah this song has started to get stale already now that I think about it.) From there the album sinks into the absurd with the next song You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). “Oh is that a cover” you may ask. Well yes and no. It’s very similar to last year’s These Boots Were Made for Walking where the chorus is the same, the music is similar, but for some inexplicable reason they changed the chorus. And lets face it, the endearing quality of the song is how every line starts “I, I, I” and at the end “I want your loooooove” which are both missing from the Simpson version

Next on the absurd train is B.O.Y. which features a misplaced sample of Just What I Needed. Granted Simpson’s fan base will probably wonder what she stole the riff from the Circuit City commercials. But anyways. While If You Were Mine isn’t a cover, it sounds like a bunch of songs mixed into one. Also a complete rip-off is Between You & I which is basically Unchained Melody with different lyrics and worse singing. The Lover in Me also has the “I’ve heard it before” vibe to it. Possible trying to keep pace with Christina Aguilera’s new retro approach, Jessica has Swing with Me, but the song just comes off as cheesy while Christina did a much better job at the era. Then for some incomprehensible she tries her hand at being a rap hype-man in Fired Up, and she is not. But easily the worst song on the disk is Push Your Tush. Very much in the mold of Boots but somehow worse, the song is too pop for country fans yet too country for pop fans (for a sample lyric, check the title of this post, yeah, it’s that lame).

But unlike her ex, there are some actual good songs on the album. Walkin’ Round in a Circle is a soothing romp and shows she shouldn’t try to out the dirrty girl herself because she just doesn’t have the vocal range because this laid back song is possible her best song to date. Along that same approach, Back to You (not to be confused with the John Mayer song) is equally relaxing. The album closes with an actual faithful cover of the Let Him Fly, a novel attempt, but lacks the harmonies of the original. Maybe if she would have stuck to the structure of these songs and not have been all over the place like the rest of the album, the album would be much more listenable.

Song to Download - Walkin’ Round in a Circle

A Public Affair gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Jessica Simpson on iTunes

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This Day These Deepened Wounds Don't Heal so Fast

The crewIf there is one complaint about Rescue Me is that thirteen episodes just isn’t enough and now we have to wait nine months until fourth season after the third, and by far the best season ended last night. When we last left the boys of the firehouse, Tommy was ready to take the life of the drunk driver that killed his boy until his uncle Teddy decided he would do the deed himself, Lou got conned out of his life savings by a porn star, Franco screwed up yet another relationship, this time with fellow firefighter Laura, and the Chief said goodbye to his wife who he had to put in a home because of her advancing Alzheimer’s. Garrity and the Probie were still just happy go lucky morons, but that would soon change.

Tommy and Janet in happier timesAnd change could be the theme of season three. Some had to hit rock bottom like Lou and Tommy, whose wife took the kids and shacked up with his brother after the death of his son. Lou was seconds away from touching the third rail until somehow a hobo talked him out of it prompting Lou to clean up and even took up yoga. Apparently amongst all the chi he realized that hooking up with a nun was a good idea. But anyways. But the biggest change went to Probie who decided all the sudden he would start playing for the other team even though he was in denial which led to hilarious exchanges with his “partner” on who was less gay.

Would you like to be left alone in a firehouse with GarrityFranco and the Chief, did have the weaker storylines that had some holes in them. It seemed odd that Franco would decide to take the Chief’s test to better provide for his daughter but then gave up pretty easily when the chick from Bull Durham took her. Of course all these changes planted seeds in each individual about moving on from Ladder 46 whether it is by transfer, promotion, or just leaving, which made Tommy consider leaving himself, because why would he want to be left with only his future brother-n-law. Then there was the Chief who decided he needed to pick up a second job in able to keep his wife at the home she was at only to quite only to not worry about money after that. But the Chief should have a much better storyline next season after what transpired in the last three episodes.

Speaking of the last three episodes, from the final scene of the eleventh episode of this season to the final seconds of the last episode were some of the best scenes in all of television history. Having two characters going down simultaneously, the opening of the twelfth episode without any speech, to the shocking final scene, heightened with the odd choice of David Gray’s The One I Love as a soundtrack (which I later realized that since the scene was seen through Sheila’s eyes, it made more sense). Now we only have to wait nine months to see the outcome. Only nine months. By that time, hopefully Denis Leary will get another well deserved Emmy nomination (and maybe a win next time) as well as supporting nomination for some of the other actors.

Rescue Me 3.x gets a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I’ll Make it Hotter than Shaft in Africa

Game Theory - The Roots

If are the only band that matters, are the only rap group that matters. Such a novel approach to rap, having live instrumentation, took a while to find an audience, myself not discovering them until around Illadelph Halflife, and are now the go to band for any rapper who want to put on a great live such as ’s legendary Unplugged, ’s performance at the Grammy’s for Lose Yourself and they were the house band for last year’s Hip Hop Honors. But as good as the band is at reinterpreting other’s music, the band is at its best making their own music with Black Thought, possible the most underrated MC in the game today, handling the mike and The Roots are back to save hip-hop once again with .

There was a lot of hoopla when The Roots signed with Def Jam with fans fearing that the group would be a watered down version of its former self. That complaint just never made sense because the group came from Geffin Records, not really an indie label. Now they move to a label deeply rooted in hip-hop with their new boss an old friend and collaborator, Jay-Z. At first listen, Game Theory is definitely a Roots album, in fact they may have went the other way from commercial success with more overtly political songs then previous album. If anything, Def Jam may have helped trim some of the fat. Let’s face it, as great as their previous albums were, the back half of many of their albums were filled with eccentricities and could have been helped by trimming down to around forty-five minutes which is what Game Theory clocks in at.

As usual, the album starts of with a short keyboard heavy intro to set the mood before going before ?uestlove, quite possible this generation’s greatest drummer, brings the sick beat as the anti-news outlets theme False Media. The song definitely sets the tone for the darker and angrier album. There are a few upbeat tracks with the party starter Don’t Feel Right and the Big Daddy Kane feeling Here I Come. There is also cool, almost bohemian track Livin’ in a New World which features a like chorus. The album is capped off with a touching tribute with sometime producer , who produced two songs on this album, who succumbed to lupus after a three year battle. The tribute being on this album will ensure Dilla will never be forgotten.

Song to Download - Don’t Feel Right

Game Theory gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

The Roots on iTunes

Monday, August 28, 2006

We on Award Tour: 2006 Emmy Awards

The Emmys have come and gone. Yawn. It’s never a good sign while watching an award show you start to wonder just how much weight the dude from The Love Boat has lost. The opening bit was funny, but I couldn’t help think I’ve seen it before. Well that was until Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC shows up, easily the funniest part of the opening montage although the start was a little queasy with the recent plane crash. They could have started the montage with on the beach. But it was nice that Conan got the prerequisite joke out of the way early. Now we only have to wait a couple days to hear what Jack Black has to say about Mad Max. But anyways. Usually for award shows I joy down some thoughts, but considering beforehand I really didn’t care about them and I would undoubtedly be turning into eventually to see if anyone did their business on Flav’s carpet this week. So here are some of the things that stood out off the top of my head:

Eva Longoria - I'd hit that- I guess I’ll get this out of the first because it seems that it is all that matters to award show watchers, but my award to chick from the red carpet I’d must like to have dirty, dirty sex with goes to . As for the worst, that goes to the chick from Grey’s Anatomy for looking like circa the Girl Don’t Go Away Mad (Girl Just Go Away) era.

- Not only did get more nominations than the networks that make up the new CW but they even had more presenters than them. And had Aaron Spelling not have died, the CW would have gotten no face time at all. There also something to say about how not Will nor Grace were asked to present but the two “supporting” actors did. And of course I’ve asked this the past five years but is Will & Grace seriously still on the air?

- Speaking of Spelling, after watching the montage of his shows I came to the realization that I did not watch one of his shows. Maybe the critics were right about him. Now Dick Clark, there’s a guy who deserved a tribute although they could have done better than the dude from the kareoke show and Emmy award winner . Even when I went out on New Years Eve, I still tape his Rock n Eve every year.

- The gag throughout the night always got a good laugh, but it was a little disappointing that they let him out before the end of the show, fake-killing Newhart would have been funnier than the telephone banter they had after they left him out.

Kareem hasn't been this funny since Airplane- I’m sure the Tivo gag was funny, but when less than five percent of the population, me included, doesn’t own one, it really ended up being less funny then the Sheens. Now for a bit that was funny, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar coming out with Ernst and Young accounting team. Classic.

- It was nice to see the pilot win for Best Director and Best Script, because I really can’t remember laughing harder at any half hour on television then the first episode of that show. Plus the writer gave the best acceptance speech of the night declaring who he wasn’t going to thank. I don’t know what is more disturbing, that Two and a Half Men got nominated over Earl in the Best Comedy category or that Two and a Half Men was the most watch category last season.

Back together again- As for the funniest presenters, that easily goes to and . Too bad the audience didn't realize that Colbert was making fun of them. And it was funny when he complained about losing to Barry Manilow; when Craig Ferguson did, not so much.

- This isn’t Emmy related but a chick on Flavor of Love just referred to Flav’s manhood as “pee-pee.” How endearing. How this show didn’t get nominated for best reality show is beyond me. And really why give out the award if you are just going to hand it to every year?

- Is it wrong that I was happy that won for Best Drama solely for the reason that it meant the overrated General Hospital in primetime rip-off didn’t win?

- As for the other big winner, I would really like an Emmy voter to a line up and side by side and explain exactly how The Office is funnier. But on the bright side, at least they didn’t declared the funniest show on television (stupid foreign press).

Well that was a waste of three hours especially if the best parts end up on YouTube. Just some programming notes as it will be a busy week as a bunch of great artists (and ) released albums this week, so I hope to get most of those reviewed as well as my thoughts on the upcoming Video Music Awards which should be out by Friday if not Thursday.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

First Impressions: Survivor: Cook Islands

Survivor Cook Islands Cast

I usually wait to comment on a show until I give my first impressions after the first episode airs but I was taken aback on all the negative feedback with the announcement of tribe on the new season of (click to see the cast for yourself), oddly enough the thirteenth installment, that I better do it now while everyone else is talking about. For those that are unaware, this season, they are dividing the contestants into four equal tribe divided by race: Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. This change was a blatant attempt to drum up free publicity and as I peruse the internet, everyone seemed to bite on it.

What was really surprising was how negative everyone was about race change. Most everyone I read disliked the idea to full blown hatred, to downfall of the civilization bad, how they could make that claim when released her album the exact same is beyond me, but I guess we all look at Revelations different ways. I just can’t see why everyone is so up in arms when the show has already divided tribal lines by sex multiple times and by age in their last installment. In fact dividing by those two lines are worse than race because it causes an unfair advantage for certain tribes.

But again the outrage is so insane, I read one person suggest that this upcoming season could be called Survivor: Jim Crowe. C’mon, it’s not like they are going to give fire to the White tribe right off the bat and not the Black tribe, or instead of a boat, they make the Hispanic tribe travel around in a low-rider. Although I wonder if they will give the Asian tribe mash potatoes mix instead of rice to avoid looking even more racist. Since, I’m assuming, all the tribes will start off exactly the same with none receiving an advantage unless they win it.

Here’s another reason not to hate the new tribal lines, all the previous were all at least seventy-five percent white, even the All-Star edition only had two non-whites, and now only twenty-five percent are this season. That leads to a record number of black contestants, and no season so far has had more than one Asian per season and now there are five, I don’t think there have been a total of five Asians in all the previous Survivors combined. Now I’m sure when all the other people have suggested it were using sarcasm, but I’m being truthful, I think next season the should divide along religious denominations: Christians, Muslims, Jews, with the fourth tribe being a hodgepodge of a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Hare Krishna, an atheist, and a Branch Davidian. And don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch that.

Parvati ShallowNow usually I give out prediction on who is going to win as well as other predictions with past First Impressions of previous Survivor shows, but that is usually after I watched the first episode. I may do another write-up after the first episode and post them there, but just a quick eyeball, I’ll go with Becky as my preseason pick (go Asians!!!). But one category I can go ahead pick now because, well, I’m shallow, is the Survivor I Would Most Like to Have Sex with even if They Hadn’t Showered in a Month. Now a quick look over the chicks, I was going to pick Candice Woodcock (no comment on her last name), but after looking at their profiles, I’m instead going to give that award to Parvati Shallow (appropriate last name for this award at right) because of her profession as a boxer/waitress, just really intrigued me, plus you can never go wrong with someone who lists under favorite music.

Survivor: Jim Crowe Cook Islands airs Thursday September 14 at 8:00 EST on CBS. You will also be able to stream the show on CBS's broadband player after each episode airs.