Saturday, December 09, 2006

Well You're Back and Everyone Seems Happy About It

Superman Returns

was the first big blockbuster comic book hero to be turned into a movie turning from a virtual unknown to a cultural icon over four films. Although before the franchise led to other comics leaping to the big screen asides from a spin-off, it crumbled under its own weight (but I have to admit I did enjoy the Richard Pryor starring third installment). In the nineties the same happened to the second biggest hero . But by the late nineties thanks to the success The and , there was a boom of comic book heroes that was so big even the unknown heroes got their own movie. Within the boom, even the Batman franchise got retooled before Superman made another appearance on the big screen.

That’s not that the movie hasn’t been in the works all that time. The resurrection of Superman started way back in 1998 which even had a director (Tim Burton) and a hero (). But those don’t mean much without a script, two of Kevin Smith’s were turned down. McG was in and out as a director while and were both considered for wearing the tights while auditioned for both Jor-El and Lex Luthor. Eventually Brain Singer who helmed the first two X-Men films stabilized the production signing on to direct as well as writing a draft which, unlike Smith’s, was not based on anything from the comic books and was tied into the first two Superman movies.

Singer brought in who he previously worked with on The Usual Suspects. Spacey in tuned suggested his Beyond the Sea co-star to play reporter Lois Lane who does much better than the annoying chick currently player her on Smallville. But the biggest piece of course was casting the Man of Steel and almost every name twenty something actor expressed interest but Singer decided to do the same the original movie did and cast an unknown and you really couldn’t get more unknown that who may be best know for showing up in a video as well as MTV’s Undressed series.

So almost ten years in the making and nineteen years after the last installment, Superman Returns. Not only does he return to the silver screen he has returned to Earth after a five year absence while he searched for the reminisce of his home planet Krypton. Back on his adopted planet, in true Superman fashion, no one puts two and two together realizing that Superman left Metropolis at the same time Clark Kent took a sabbatical from the Daily Planet to “travel the world.” A few thing have happened in the five years including Lois Lane has a five year old son (and it doesn’t take a math major to see that the kid was conceived while Superman was still around), and Lex Luthor has been released from prison after his fifth appeal was overturned when Superman didn’t take the stand.

It doesn’t take long for some things to get back to normal as Luthor is quick to round up his henchmen for his latest idea for world domination, although if you figure out his plan before he spells ii out to Lane in the second act, you are smarter than me. There in lies a problem in that I had absolutely no clue what Lex was up to and it brought down the first act that was already slow to start with. Thing get better when you figure out what is going on although there are still some spacing issues throughout the film. And having the third largest budget ever, some of the CGI is not up to par and they could have thrown in some more money to get Bosworth a better wig.

Superman Returns gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Turns out Not Even Jack Sparrow Can Best the Devil

Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Man's Chest

One of the biggest cinematic surprises in recent years was that didn’t absolutely suck. With most movies that have a built in name recognition, the producers skimp on the writing thinking the name itself is enough to bring in moviegoers, which it usually does. Add to that the name recognition in this case for for an amusement park ride. And not only did The Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t suck, it was thoroughly entertaining and landed an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, the most ambiguously gay pirate since Captain Hook. Come to think of it, with Hook’s obsession with young boys how long until Chris Hansen makes a special visit to Never Neverland? Well that’s something for another post.

Of course with the amount money the first movie raked in, a sequel was inevitable and Disney quickly filmed two of them at the same time. The most recent, saw its DVD hit shelves this week. Also back for another round are and who open the movie with a little bump on their way to the alter as they are arrested for helping Captain Jack to escape at the end of the last movie. But it’s not really the British that the Captain is really worried about right now as Davy Jones is looking to collect on an agreement he made with Sparrow ten years ago while Jack tries to find a way out of it. Jones’ minions are a visual marvel as they have taken on the appearance of sea creatures or started to although not as spectacular are the midnight skeleton scene of the first movie.

Where the first movie was great throughout, the second one falls into your typical Jerry Bruckheimer fair: action to start and end the movie but not much substance in between. But the two action sequences are as good as they come. Surely even if you have yet to see the movie, you have at least seen parts of them in the trailer. The first comes while Sparrow makes a pit stop at the nearest island because Jones can’t walk on land only to run into some cannibals. The escape from the natives is fast and furious and has plenty of comedic elements thrown in thanks to Depp’s performance and we even meet up with some familiar faces from the first movie. The movie end with another dazzling scene that had to take forever to plan which includes and one on one on one sword fight and one on two on an army that go on at the same time. Okay that scene does quite close the movie because the movie officially ends on a cliffhanger (but be sure to fast forward past the credits for one last laugh). I can’t express how much I hate the idea of a cliffhanger for a movie and almost ruins Dead Man’s Chest. But of course that won’t stop me for reserving a seat for At World’s End next summer.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on iTunes

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We on Award Tour: 2006 Grammy Nominations

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not because of the inches of snow that is piling up outside but today saw the release of the nominees for this year’s Grammy awards. We have about two months until the actual awards are handed out (February 11) so I stop caring about them by them and just turn into the show because the Grammy’s always have the best performances none of which have been announced yet. Mary J Blige landed the most nominees with eight. Granted R&B artist always have an advantage because there a bunch more categories. Following close behind with six were the Red Hit Chili Peppers. Here’s an abridged list with my thought (for a full list of all 832 categories check out the page):

Record of the Year

Be Without You - Mary J. Blige
You’re Beautiful - James Blunt
Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks
Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae

Who Will Win: Not Ready to Make Nice
Who Should Win: Crazy
Should Have Been Nominated: God’s Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash

Apparently the Grammy voters are the only people who aren’t completely sick of James Blunt. But I have to give it up to them for putting the most addictive song of the year that never gets old, Crazy, in the category.

Album of the Year
Taking The Long Way - Dixie Chicks
St. Elsewhere - Gnarls Barkley
Continuum - John Mayer
Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers
FutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake

Who Will Win: Taking the Long Way
Who Should Win: Continuum
Should Have Been Nominated: Modern Times - Bob Dylan

I’m not sure what is the bigger shock, the unlistenable Justin Timberlake album getting nominated or Bob Dylan not getting one. I reviewed all but St. Elsewhere and the one I’ve listened to the most this year has been the John Mayer one so it would get my vote.

Song of the Year
Be Without You - Johnta Austin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox & Jason Perry, songwriters
Jesus, Take the Wheel - Brett James, Hillary Lindsey & Gordie Sampson, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
Not Ready to Make Nice - Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison & Dan Wilson, songwriters (Dixie Chicks)
Put Your Records On - John Beck, Steve Chrisanthou & Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriters
You're Beautiful - James Blunt, Amanda Ghost & Sacha Skarbek, songwriters

Who Will Win: You’re Beautiful
Who Should Win: Not Ready to Make Nice
Should Have Been Nominated: Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

Keep in mind this is a songwriting award and sadly I think Blunt will take this one home, but one of my favorite lyrics this year were to the bridge of the Dixie Chicks’ song. This may also be the first year with two country artist up for this award in the same year. Well if you still consider the Dixie Chicks country. And the infectious groove is what makes the song great, but the lyrics to Crazy are overlooked.

Best New Artist
James Blunt
Chris Brown
Imogen Heap
Corinne Bailey Rae
Carrie Underwood

Who Will Win: James Blunt
Who Should Win: Corinne Bailey Rae
Should Have Been Nominated: Gnarls Barkley

Always the hardest to predict and there really aren’t any artists that stand out here. Surprisingly Gnarls Barkley is missing after getting nods for two of the big awards when this is Heap’s only nod and Brown just got some lesser R&B ones.

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
Ain’t No Other Man - Christina Aguilera
Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
You Can Close Your Eyes - Sheryl Crow
Stupid Girls - Pink
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall

Who Will Win: Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
Who Should Win: Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
Should Have Been Nominated: Hurt - Christina Aguilera

Also missing from Best New Artist is Tunstall but may take this home to make up for it. It must have been a bad year for female pop when that horrible Pink song gets a nod. And I may be nit-picking, but I’d take Hurt over the nod here.

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
You're Beautiful - James Blunt
Save Room - John Legend
Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer
Jenny Wren - Paul McCartney
Bad Day - Daniel Powter

Who Will Win: Jenny Wren
Who Should Win: Waiting on the World to Change
Should Have Been Nominated: Nothing Left to Lose - Mat Kearney

Two of the most overplayed songs of the past twelve months but when it comes to the Grammy’s always go with the old dude, even if it wasn’t really the best

Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal
My Humps - The Black Eyed Peas
I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab For Cutie
Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray
Is It Any Wonder? - Keane
Stickwitu - The Pussycat Dolls

Who Will Win: Over My Head (Cable Car)
Who Should Win: I Will Follow You into the Dark
Should Have Been Nominated: The Mixed Tape - Jack’s Manninequin

Here’s a hodgepodge category although I was looking forwards to the Grammy’s for a Pussycat Dolls free awards show yet here they are. Well at least no Paris Hilton.

Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals
For Once in My Life - Tony Bennett & Stevie Wonder
One - Mary J. Blige & U2
Always On Your Side - Sheryl Crow & Sting
Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado & Timbaland
Hips Don't Lie - Shakira & Wyclef Jean

Who Will Win: One
Who Should Win: One

I know other U2 fans would rip me for saying this but I love the Mary J Blige version as much as I do the original. I wouldn’t count the pairing of Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder Out though.

Best Pop Vocal Album

Back To Basics - Christina Aguilera
Back to Bedlam - James Blunt
The River in Reverse - Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Continuum - John Mayer
FutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake

Who Will Win: The River in Reverse
Who Should Win: Continuum
Should Have Been Nominated: Eye to the Telescope - KT Tunstall

Ugg, more Timberlake. Seriously, can someone explain to me how did this guy become a credible artist?

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance
Nausea - Beck
Someday Baby - Bob Dylan
Route 66 - John Mayer
Saving Grace - Tom Petty
Lookin’ For a Leader - Neil Young

Who Will Win: Someday Baby
Who Should Win: Someday Baby
Should Have Been Nominated: Better Way - Ben Harper

Bob Dylan finally show up as well as other of the old guard with Petty and Young. But if I nominating a Young song I’d go with his Let’s Impeach the President song.

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal
Talk - Coldplay
How To Save A Life - The Fray
Steady, As She Goes - The Raconteurs
Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Saints Are Coming - U2 & Green Day

Who Will Win: Dani California
Who Should Win: Steady, as She Goes
Should Have Been Nominated: Boston - Augustana

So let me get this straight, Cable Car is a pop song but How to Save a Life is a rock song. Um, yeah, okay. Gotta love the Grammy’s and all their odd decisions. But with 832 categories you need to fill them out somehow.

Best Rock Song
Chasing Cars - Nathan Connolly, Gary Lightbody, Jonny Quinn, Tom Simpson & Paul Wilson, songwriters (Snow Patrol)
Dani California - Flea, John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis & Chad Smith, songwriters (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Lookin’ For A Leader - Neil Young, songwriter
Someday Baby - Bob Dylan, songwriter
When You Were Young - Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer & Ronnie Vannucci, songwriters (The Killers)

Who Will Win: Lookin’ for a Leader
Who Should Win: When You Were Young
Should Have Been Nominated: Boston - Augustana

Again this goes to the songwriters and another one of my favorite lines of the year goes to the last couple lines from The Killers song. The Grammy’s aren’t as liberal as say the Oscars but I wouldn’t be surprised if the anti-Bush song takes this home.

Best Rock Album
Try! - John Mayer Trio
Highway Companion - Tom Petty
Broken Boy Soldiers - The Raconteurs
Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Living With War - Neil Young

Who Will Win: Stadium Arcadium
Who Should Win: Try!
Should Have Been Nominated: Modern Times - Bob Dylan

Is Dylan not getting an Album of the Award nod is shocking, this is even more so. And more fun with category: John Mayer Trio - Rock; John Mayer Solo - Pop.

Best Alternative Music Album
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys
At War With The Mystisc - The Flaming Lips
St. Elsewhere - Gnarls Barkley
Show Your Bones - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Eraser - Thom Yorke

Who Will Win: St. Elsewhere
Who Should Win: Whatever People Say I Am, That's what I'm Not

It may just be time to eliminate the alternative category. This is becoming more and more a worthless award every year.

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
Ring the Alarm - Beyoncé
Be Without You - Mary J. Blige
Don't Forget About Us - Mariah Carey
Day Dreaming - Natalie Cole
I Am Not My Hair - India.Arie

Who Will Win: I am Not My Hair
Who Should Win: Be Without You
Should Have Been Nominated: S.O.S. - Rihanna

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance
Heaven - John Legend
So Sick - Ne-Yo
Black Sweat - Prince
I Call It Love - Lionel Richie
Got You Home - Luther Vandross

Who Will Win: Got You Home
Who Should Win: I call it Love

More fun with categories: Heaven - R&B; Save Room - Pop. But when it comes to the Grammy’s, never vote against the dead dude.

Best Urban/Alternative Performance
Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
That Heat - Sergio Mendes Featuring Erykah Badu &
Mas Que Nada - Sergio Mendes Featuring The Black Eyed Peas
Idlewild Blue (Don't Chu Worry 'Bout Me) - Outkast
3121 - Prince

Who Will Win: Crazy
Who Should Win: Crazy

I like to refer to this as the Not Ghetto Enough Award for black artist that make music that doesn’t fit into what has become a bland R&B genre.

Best R&B Song
Be Without You - Johnta Austin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox & Jason Perry, songwriters
Black Sweat - Prince, songwriter
Déjà vu - Shawn Carter, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Beyoncé Knowles, Makeba, Keli Nicole Price & Delisha Thomas, songwriters

Don't Forget About Us - Johnta Austin, Mariah Carey, Bryan-Michael Cox & Jermaine Dupri, songwriters
I Am Not My Hair - Drew Ramsey, Shannon Sanders & India Arie Simpson, songwriters

Who Will Win: I Am Not My Hair
Who Should Win: I Am Not My Hair

Like I said before, R&B has gotten bland as none these songs are really that well written but I can’t really think of anything to replace them with except Anthony Hamilton should have gotten a nomination somewhere.

Best R&B Album
The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige
Unpredictable - Jamie Foxx
Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship - India.Arie
3121 - Prince
Coming Home - Lionel Richie

Who Will Win: The Breakthrough
Who Should Win: 3121
Should Have Been Nominated: Ain’t Nobody Worryin’ - Anthony Hamilton

Best Rap Solo Performance
Touch It - Busta Rhymes
We Run This - Missy Elliott
Kick, Push - Lupe Fiasco
Undeniable - Mos Def
What You Know - T.I.

Who Will Win: What You Know
Who Should Win: Kick, Push
Should Have Been Nominated: Dynamite - Rhymefest

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group
Ridin - Chamillionaire Featuring Krayzie Bone
Georgia - Ludacris & Field Mob (Featuring Jamie Foxx)
Grillz - Nelly Featuring Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp
Mighty “O” - Outkast
Don't Feel Right - The Roots

Who Will Win: Ridin
Who Should Win: Don’t Feel Right
Should Have Been Nominated: Brand New - Rhymefest & Kanye West

Chamillionaire has swept every rap award this year so I don’t see why the Grammy’s would be different and ever since the Weird Al send up, I’ve warmed up to the orginal.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Smack That - Akon Featuring Eminem
Déjà vu - Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z
Shake That - Eminem Featuring Nate Dogg
Unpredictable - Jamie Foxx Featuring Ludacris
My Love - Justin Timberlake Featuring T.I.

Who Will Win: Déjà vu
Who Should Win: Déjà vu
Should Have Been Nominated: Work it Out - Jurassic 5 & Dave Matthews Band

Can’t say I really like any of the songs nominated but Work it Out was vastly overlooked. And what's with Eminem and That songs

Best Rap Song
It's Goin' Down - Chadron Moore & Jasiel Robinson, songwriters (Yung Joc)
Kick, Push - Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, songwriter (Lupe Fiasco)
Money Maker - Christopher Bridges & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Ludacris Featuring Pharrell)
Ridin - Anthony Henderson, J. Slainas, O. Salinas & Hakeem Seriki, songwriters(Chamillionaire Featuring Krayzie Bone)
What You Know - A. Davis & Clifford Harris, songwriters; (Donny Hathaway, Leroy Hutson & Curtis Mayfield, songwriters) (T.I.)

Who Will Win: Ridin
Who Should Win: Kick, Push
Should Have Been Nominated: Don’t Feel Right - The Roots

In my review of the song I made fun of Money Maker for a silly lyric like, “Took yo momma nine moths to make you, might as well shake what yo momma gave ya” yet here it is nominated for a songwriting award at the Grammy’s.

Best Rap Album
Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor - Lupe Fiasco
Release Therapy - Ludacris
In My Mind - Pharrell
Game Theory - The Roots
King - T.I.

Who Will Win: Game Theory
Who Should Win: Game Theory
Should Have Been Nominated: Blue Collar - Rhymefest

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Howard Benson
Every Man for Himself (Hoobastank) (A)
Flyleaf (Flyleaf) (A)
In With the Out Crowd (Less than Jake) (A)
One-X (Three Days Grace) (A)
The Paramour Sessions (Papa Roach) (A)
Popaganda (Head Automatica) (A)
Saosin (Saosin) (A)

T Bone Burnett
Thunderbird (Cassandra Wilson) (A)
The True False Identity (T Bone Burnett) (A)
Walk the Line — Soundtrack (Joaquin Phoenix & Various Artists) (A)

Danger Mouse
Pieces Of the People We Love (The Rapture) (T)
St. Elsewhere (Gnarls Barkley) (A)

Rick Rubin
American V: A Hundred Highways (Johnny Cash) (A)
God's Gonna Cut You Down (Johnny Cash) (T)
Stadium Arcadium (Red Hot Chili Peppers) (A)
Taking the Long Way (Dixie Chicks) (A)
12 Songs (Neil Diamond) (A)
About You (Mary J. Blige Featuring (T)
Big Girls Don't Cry (Fergie) (T)
Damn Girl (Justin Timberlake Featuring (T)
I Am Somebody (Santana Featuring (T)
I Love My B**** (Busta Rhymes Featuring Kelis & (T)
Mas Que Nada (Sergio Mendes Featuring the Black Eyed Peas) (T)
Timeless (Sergio Mendes) (A)

Who Will Win: T Bone Burnett
Who Should Win: Rick Rubin

I’m pretty sure “T” is for track and “A” is for album. Odd that Rubin is up for producing just one of Cash’s songs and the whole album.

Best Short Form Music Video
8th of November - Big & Rich
When You Were Young - The Killers
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
Dani California - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Writing on the Walls - Underoath

Who Will Win: Dani California
Who Should Win: OK Go
Should Have Been Nominated: Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

What a way to end the Grammy coverage with a nomination for the treadmill video.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Musings From the Back 9 vol. XII

- Usually after November the music industry stops releasing their big name albums because they want all their potential hits on the shelves by Black Friday. But there are a few things that landed in iTunes yesterday that are worth mentioning. First up, The Killers released their first try at making a Christmas song with A Great Big Sled. The song sounds pretty much like an outtake from Sam’s Town but with lyrics about snow. Portions of the proceeds from sales of the song go to the (Red) Campaign.

Apple iTunes- Now for those that like Christmas songs but feel 99 cents is a little steep for you than check out the Free Single of the Week with James Taylor’s take on the classic Jingle Bells (click graphic at right, if it's not James Taylor, you're too late).

- More free stuff over in the television. For those that watch any show on NBC you surely know by now of its new Thursday comedy block and that will be airing a musical episode soon. Well if you want to check out on of the musical numbers from the upcoming show you can do so for free.

- Also in the television section, The CW has finally jumped on the iTunes bandwagon. Although it looks like they are taking baby steps as the only show currently available is Supernatural and so far only the current season is available. And it's so new my iTunes link maker doesn't even have links up for it yet so you'll have to check it out on your on.

- While you are there you can always catch the latest episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Ever episode you can expect at least one great monologue and The Christmas Show was no exception with Ed Asner refusing to accept Jack’s resignation nor back down to the FCC. I’ve even seen many people say it’s the best episode of the year, personally I’d go with The Wrap Party where Chandler tries to pick up both of the Calico Girls, Jack’s drunken tirade about the UN show, and the blacklisted writer.

- Another great episode this week (although not on iTunes but you can stream at ) was Friday Night Lights mostly because of my second favorite new character this year (next to Parker on Veronica Mars), Landry. First coach Taylor gets his name wrong and then convinces Matt to buy a Member’s Only jacket for his date. Coach’s reaction to the jacket was priceless too.

- Ever want to be as cool as me and talk to Kristen Bell, if yes head over to where you can bid for a ten minute Skype call with Ronnie herself. Oh and as I write this the current bid is $730. She is currently has the highest bid of all the celebrities you can win a call, three of which are video calls) with that also includes Rob Lowe, cast members from and The OC as well of the Fonz who is a steal at $152.50. I feel bad for the cast of (whatever that is) which only reached $25 so far. Oh and 100% of the final sale goes to Young Storytellers Foundation.

- Now for some horrible television news. It will soon be announced that will move to 10:00 when it returns in February. This is a bad idea to end all bad ideas. I rarely watch anything that late in fact just three shows ever (Rescue Me, Love Monkey, Studio 60). So there is a chance that I’ll be cutting that show loose soon. ABC is moving the show so it won’t have to compete with that karaoke show. Even worth, with Lost moving, ABC is placed my second most anticipated show of the new season The Knights of Prosperity (or as I like to call it Let’s Rob Mick Jagger) up against American Karaoke which says to me that ABC wants the show canceled. It’s times like these where I swear that the networks are conspiring against me.

- I’ve mentioned it before, and surely I will again, but I am hoping to put together a 9th Green Reader’s Poll of your favorite songs of year for my Best of 2006 spectacular. So please e-mail me ( your top 10 favorite songs of the past year, in order, sometime before Christmas Eve and if I get enough responses I will post the results the day after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Sounds Like Disco Tetris

The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani

Many of those who enjoy making overly ironic jokes routinely mentioned at the release of the new single, Wind it Up, that she was totally ripping of Fergie’s faux rap style. Of course it was actually Stefani that started the trend that has also been utilized since by Nelly Furtado and Cassie with her Middle School anthems off her debut album. Granted long before Stefani and Fergie, was the first to revolutionize the singing cadence in her cheerleader inspired Mickey. There is a good chance that Basil may have inspired Stefani because it is apparent on Love Angel Music Baby as well as her latest release, , that she loves the 80’s almost as much as VH1.

After going even further back in time with the sampling Wind it Up to open the album, the 80’s influences come fast and often. Early Winter sounds like through the filter circa Simple Kind of Life. The song, produced by the keyboardist from , is easily the standout track, but mostly because there is little competition. The next closest track is 4 in the Morning, produced by No Doubt’s Tony Kanel, which has a mid-eighties R&B feel to it as Stefani sounds like a one woman version of .

Elsewhere on the album the eighties elements fall flat. On Fluorescent the song is about one note away from blatantly ripping of the classic from the decad Human by . The Neptunes continue there downfall with a few weak tracks on the album including Yummy which Stefani herself says, “This sounds like disco Tetris.” I can’t imagine anyone else would think that is a good idea. They also produced the ill-advised Breakin’ Up. No it is not about dumping a boyfriend, it is instead about a dropped phone call. And it even turns out lamer than it sounds. Trying to recreate Hollaback Girl, we get Don’t Get it Twisted chalk full of profanities and a chorus that lift the melody from the Ringling Brothers. The big different is that this song is much less chant worthy than its predecessor. Hopefully some time after this album Stefani realizes she is inching closer to forty and needs to get back together with her band and stop making trite music for thirteen year old girls. Oh yeah, and please don’t ever yodel again, leave that to .

Song to Download - Early Winter

The Sweet Escape gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Gwen Stefani on iTunes

Monday, December 04, 2006

We on Award Tour: Big in 2006 Awards

Back in October, despite two whole months left, VH1 released it’s nominations for their Big in 2006. The nominations came so early then even had to add some nominees later because they deserved to be mentioned when talking about the year that was. Of course the nominations had to come so early because even though December was just a couple days old the channel held the awards ceremony. Well to be technical that’s just when they aired because the actual awards were likely taped days ago. But anyways. Here are some thoughts from the festivities:

- Even though the latest movie in the franchise was just released you really shouldn’t open up a show about 2006 with a James Bond parody. Although dressing D.L. Hughley up like Boret yet looking more like Steve Harvey was funny. And the monologue was great. Now if only Sorkin would let D.L. write some comedy for (which oddly didn’t receive a mention) imagine how the show could actually be better.

Cue up that chessy Winger song- Whoever decided to pair up and the cheerleader from should be charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. They hand out the Big Music Artist to . Yawn, I’m ready for sexy to go away again.

- is your backstage announcer for the night and possibly got more screen time than Hughley. I am now convinced that Flav has some compromising pictures of the president of VH1.

- Umm, should I know who Miley Cyrus is? She along with Lance Bass, who somehow escapes from obscurity just for being outed, are out to announce the performance of . They put this way too early in the show because it’s too soon for a bathroom break. I really hope the Fergie era ends along with 2006 and she takes all the other faux female rappers along with her.

- Wow, Kathy Griffin is looking scarier and scarier by the minute. Give her a wig and five years and she will look exactly like Joan Rivers. Lame segment too.

- Next up are the Dancing with C-Listers losers, the dudes from Blossom and Save by the Bell who give the award for big comeback to another has been who needs a reality show to stay on television, .

- wins Big Mama. Keep in mind most of the voting was done before she started hanging out with and flashing her kootchiepop all over the place. And to think two weeks ago no one thought there was anyway could win custody of their children and now he actually looks like the better parent.

We established that she isn’t really fifteen, right?- Speaking of bad plastic surgery, here comes Jenna Jamison. But this begs the question is it really a bad face lift if no one ever looks at your face? But anyways. , who apparently has a real name, Jessica Rose, and cleans up well from all the pajamas she wears to win the Big Web Hit. Now was I just fantasizing are did Jessica ask to make a video with Jenna?

- are onstage with, like Fergie, the same song they performed at the VMA’s. Oh well, at least it’s the best song off their album. And I really like the last line, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus… But more than you’ll ever know.” (Mmm, I wonder if that line will show up later this month.)

- Two actors from various shows give the award for Big Breakthrough to who despite being on tape is funny as usual as he has a collection of Emmys around. Odd that he pokes fun at the cast of fellow nominee yet they weren’t mentioned in the nominee segment.

Yep Weird Al is Whate and Nerdy- and his trophy wife is out to announce the best performance of the night: . I was a little disappointed that VH1 didn’t take my advice and have Al perform with , but this will have to do.

- The Big Shocker goes North Korea testing the bomb. VH1 really dropped the ball by not staging an acceptance speech by bringing in the puppet from .

- The Big Mistakes was another great bit by Hughley, the best being when talking about Mel Gibson blaming all the wars on the Jews, Hughley said, “I didn’t know George Bush is Jewish.” High comedy right there.

- Next out are the dude from Borat not named Borat and (it’s time to cut your loses Hulk, Brooke’s music career is officially a failure) to give the Big Reality Star to some chick from . Really? There is something ironic (possibly sad) about people who sit around their house watching people sit around a house doing nothing.

- announces the Big It-Girl as Katherine McVeigh. I wonder if she’s related to the dude who blew up the building in Oklahoma City.

- Nothing says 2006 like a performance by the dude from . Um, yeah, okay. Apparently he was out to recognize the woman of reality TV, sadly Casey from the Real World/Road Rules Challenge was missing. Although they made up for her absence by closing out the segment with Ms. Jay, that had me on the floor laughing.

- Umm, should I know who Perez Hilton is? Whoever he is, he really needs to invest in a speech coach. And only Paris Hilton would be so starved for the spotlight that she would actually show up to accept an award like Big Outlaw. I wonder if she realizes that we are laughing at her, not with her.

I never knew Adam Sessler could sing- When did the dude from start singing for ?

- Nice of VH1 to award Big Entertainer to long after most people believed he stopped being funny. The proof was in his acceptance speech where he too a joke that should have been funny (saying he’d meet up with Lindsay, Paris, and Britney then flash his junk while getting out of a car) only to go way overboard. It’s time to learn about subtlety Dane.

- The last award of the night goes to for Big TV Star. Yawn. Possibly the most boring VH1 award show ever.

If you watched the Big show you undoubtedly saw some commercials for upcoming VH1 reality shows because that’s all they show anymore. Here I rank them in order of how excited I am about them.

4) I Love New York - A spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off; that has to be some sort of record. But even though I’m a huge Flavor Flav guy there is no way you can get me to watch this.
3) Tom Sizmore Show - I missed what the exact title of the show was and oddly there is no mention of it on the VH1 website, but it looks exactly like Breaking Bonaduce but without the wife. Granted there is a reason why I don’t watch that show and won’t be watching this.
2) The Surreal Life Game - The Surreal Life was a complete rip off of The Real World so it was inevitable that it would riff its spin-off, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge and just like the RW/RR I’ll watch every minute.
1) The White Rapper Show - It looks like an American Karaoke rip-off with M.C. Search of 3rd Bass as a judge. Seriously, this could be the greatest show in VH1 history. Well maybe not Pop Up Videos good, but close.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pay Strict Attention to What I Say Because I Choose My Words Carefully

Inside Man

Every once in a while you come across a movie that has you on the edge of your seat for parts of the movie. In the case of Inside Man, don’t expect to feel the back of your chair any time between when the bank robbers roll into the lobby and the end credits. Actually you may not even lean back into your seat until long after the credits finish rolling as you sit and try to comprehend what just happened and ponder if you should watch it again. Granted if you listen to the opening soliloquy (the dude even tells you to listen carefully), the ending shouldn’t be at all puzzling.

So what we have here is your basic bank heist. Guys (and a girl) go into a bank with guns waving; soon the cops arrive to make sure they get don’t get away while making sure none of the hostages are harmed. But you quickly realize this isn’t your ordinary game of cops and robbers. On one side you have (Remember the Titans) as a detective and negotiator assigned to the case. Naturally he has some skeletons in his past namely some money that went missing from his previous case. On the other side of the law is (Closer) as the ringleader of the robbers who give a powerful performance despite spending the majority of the movie behind a mask, sunglasses and hooded sweatshirt.

At the peripheral of the case is (Must Love Dogs) who owns the bank yet seems to care less about the money inside the vault than something locked away in a security deposit box. That’s where (Freaky Friday, no not the crappy Lindsay Lohan one, the original) comes in, she’s the person you call when you need something done, and done discretely. Almost a character despite never seen on screen is director turns the bank robbery into a bigger issue that also deals with race, class, and sex and is still able to feature his longtime collaborator, New York City itself even though most of the action takes place in the bank and a police trailer. And Spike had plenty to work with thanks to Russell Gewirtz, who throws in plenty of one-liners in between all the tense scenes leaving you laughing only to then wonder if you should have or not considering the overall tone of the movie. The best of which is Owen’s dislike for a Grand Theft Auto type video game the youngest hostage is playing.

Inside Man gets a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my Terror Alert Scale.