Friday, June 25, 2010

Why I Love...

... Michael Jackson's Off the Wall!

I feel bad for Off the Wall. Off the Wall is like the neglected younger sibling of Michael Jackson's (adult era) solo album family. Thriller is the annoyingly lovable eldest brother who everybody knows and adores. Bad is the cool, chill older brother who gets laid every weekend. HIStory is the moody, angry brother who you like sometimes but hate others., I don't have any clever family metaphors for Dangerous or Invincible but that's ok because I think you get the idea. Invincible aside, I think Off the Wall is one of Mike's most forgotten solo works. Which is a shame because I think it's one of his finest pieces.

Maybe I shouldn't say forgotten: Of course, no one can forget "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You" but, most casual fans wouldn't be familiar with the other ear morsels (!) that the album has to offer.

Nugget of Knowledge: Off the Wall may be the first in the mind of some but, it is actually MJ's fifth solo studio album. (His first four solo albums were released under the Motown label back in the day.)

This little nugget of knowledge brings me to my first point of love: Off the Wall was when we got to see Mikey forreals. At this point in time, his creativity was no longer being confined by Berry Gordy & Co. Although Mike and his brothers had left Motown a while ago and had had more say in their music for some time, audiences could now enjoy MJ's freedom without having to expend extra effort trying to ignore his brothers in the background. (Except for Jackie who was, and still is, hot. And Marlon who was, and still is, ROCKIN' that mustache.) OtW was the first indication that Michael Jackson was not to be a child star that would fade into oblivion. He had [song]writing and composing chops in addition to his already proven singing chops. And he was serious about the music business - Off the Wall was MJ's first solo assault on the music industry. It should be renamed I'm HERE: You Bitches Best Get Used to Me.

Off the Wall was also a good plot foreshadowing of the happier times in the life of Michael Joesph Jackson, especially his musical success. It happened to be the first collaboration between him and Quincy Jones, a power duo that would churn out the subsequent mega-albums Thriller and Bad. It was also the first combination of MJ and British singer/songwriter, Rod Temperton. Rod wrote "Rock with You" for Off the Wall and would later go on to write the song "Thriller." OtW was a nice precursor to Thriller. It laid the groundwork for the collaborations that would bring Mikey big time success.

What I love most about Off the Wall though, is that we get young, happy Michael Jackson. The album was released in August of 1979, a couple weeks before his 21st birthday. I'm not sure how far back in history you have to go to find a carefree MJ, but I think if you stop at 1979 then you probably don't need to bother to go back much further. Yes, Mike was probably one of the most popular people in the world by then and yes, he was probably already a bit jaded by fame. But I don't think you ever again see the confident, carefree, happy Micheal that you see on Off the Wall; not musically at least. Michael Jackson was definitely an artist who could tell his audience where he was at with his music so you can tell there's a difference between Off the Wall-MJ and Thriller-MJ, a mere 3 years down the line.

A nice example of young, carefree, fraking adorable Michael Jackson (bow-tie!):

Besides all the implications of the album, the music itself is what really rocks my boat. Besides being a nice wrap-up to the disco era, Off the Wall is also pretty damn timeless. "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," written and composed by Mike himself, is an absolute masterpiece. (Really, DSTYGE is saturated in awesome.) "Off the Wall" is a really fun and light "just chilax" tune. "Workin' Day and Night" has to be one of the happiest laments of a whipped boy who ain't gettin' any AND it's funky to boot.* And the unbridled joy of "Get on the Floor" (in addition to that killer bass line) makes it one of my favorite new MJ discoveries.

If you haven't heard the other stuff on Off the Wall than I highly suggest you hop on over to Wikipedia, look up them songs and then get your butt over to YouTube because you're seriously missing out.**

RIP Michael Jackson!

*I promise I will never use the phrase "to boot" ever again
**Also, I'd highly suggest the special edition of Off the Wall. It has some fun interviews with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton. It also has two demos ("Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" & "Workin' Day and Night") featuring Janet & Randy banter and MJ's obnoxious/endearing laugh.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Random Suggestion of the Day

I honestly think Drake would sell more records, earn more street cred and get laid more often if he changed his stage name to Wheelchair Jimmy. The internet seems to think so and I agree.

I mean, I'm just saying.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

'American Idiot' on Broadway

It can't be on Broadway if it doesn't have rainbows and glitter, right?

I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, but I just don't understand this. I like the album (it's not the greatest ever made, or anything), but this? I just don't get it. Congratulations on winning Best Scenic Design for a Musical and Best Lighting Design for a Musical, and for getting a nomination for Best Musical, but I don't think I'll be off to watch it any time soon.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why Don't Networks Ever Know What's Good for Them?

Seriously, it's annoying.

OK, so ABC Family is the latest to screw the pooch. Now it may seem silly that I'm harping on the quality of this channel, simply for the fact that they aim for mindless teenage drama. Pretty much everything they touch is a big steaming pile that manages to garner a whole mess of viewers simply because 14-year-old girls haven't figured out what the meaning of good television is.

Then there was 10 Thing I Hate About You, the TV series. Great, another ABC Family crap pile ruining a great movie, I thought to myself. But nonetheless, I watched it because Lindsey Shaw is a smart girl and doesn't do crap jobs. I figured if she approves then I probably would too. And boy howdy did I!

10 Things was surprisingly clever and funny. The new plot -- The Stratfords moving from Ohio to California -- gave way for some character changes that worked, like Bianca's burning desire to be a popular cheerleader. And despite the same old premise, it was still new. I didn't hate Bianca despite her superficial ways, and I didn't hate her for wanting to be friends with Cameron instead acting as his match maker. Kat and Patrick's non-relationship was adorable and frustrating all at once, as well as funny. I even liked Joey, who was dumb and sweet in this version which worked so well. (My roommate adored him. I could keep going about the other characters but this blog is already getting lengthy. It can't hold my love for this show!)

It was even self aware, which is something I like in TV (See iCarly). Case in point the very very very making-me-keep-interest-in-dudes-hot Ethan Peck who takes on Heath Ledger's first iconic role. That man, who happens to be the grandson of Gregory Peck, has a deep voice and that bad boy face everyone wants in their line of sight at all times. As such, Dr. Stratford (a role Larry miller reprises from the original) describes Patrick as a "deep voiced man-boy." Pretty self aware, and a hilarious line to boot when delivered properly. It wasn't a high brow show, but it was still more clever and well written than anything else ABC Family has done to date. I was so proud of the network, even if they made that stupid movie starring Hilary Duff and that guy from Kyle XY.

And then they didn't renew it for a second season. They didn't even give enough warning to give it a proper ending. We have a cliffhanger of Kat and Patrick finally sleeping together and Larry Miller walking in on them. The last line of the series is "I'm not leaving." You can't leave us with that (quite funny, and ironic) last line and expect me to be OK with the fact that The Secret Life of the American Teenager was picked up for a THIRD season. How many teenage pregnancy scares can they have on that damn show? And don't even get me started on Pretty Little Liars. I refuse to even describe that piece-crap-to-be.

(Sorry, started to get really ranty, rather than mildly ranty.)

Back to the point, it's not even just that the show was canceled. The end of 10 Things marks another great show starring Shaw that get's canceled with a terrible ending. Is TV land out to ruin this actually enjoyable and funny actress' promising career? Not only that, Meghan Jette Martin, who plays Bianca, has had to go to the dark side. That's right, the blonde girl in the Camp Suck 2 video (which Ms. K.I.A wonderfully dissected for us) is the one and only Bianca.* You see what you're doing ABC Family? You're ruining careers AND my brain.

But alas, much like Conan (minus the drama) and Ned's DeClassified** there's just no justice for good shows with less than stellar ratings. The underrated shows always get the short end of the stick. It's a sad year for television. At least Community and Parenthood were renewed for a second season. Even NBC is getting better at this "being a good network" thing. ABC Family it's time to catch up. If you didn't catch the series while it was around, well I blame you for it's cancellation (Not really. OK only a little.) but don't fret. The series is on Hulu so watch and be sad you missed out.

And just so I don't leave you all on a sad note, here's a picture of Ethan Peck and Lindsey Shaw, one of the most attractive couples in a long while. That's one hot man/lady pair with glorious eyebrows. Micheal K would be proud.

*I'm not dumb, I know Disney owns ABC Family, so the transition isn't totally surprising but it still makes me sad. She could do better (not moneywise, but dignitywise).

**As far as I know it had good ratings, but it still didn't get a good ending.
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Video Vomit: "Blessed Virgins Unite" Edition

I have two sickly videos for your enjoyment (read: ridicule) today. Hope you're ready!

"Can't be Tamed" by the Blessed Virgin Miley

Y'all know I couldn't go without commenting on my girl Miley's latest attempt to conquer the music world.

So, I'm not sure if we'll be seeing this one on the Disney channel. Miley thought her booty shorts and butt popping weren't enough to christen the new, sexy Miley so she took it a step further by ditching the pants completely and attaching feathers to her arms. Yes, I know, HOTT.

As I'm sure you expected, there was "controversy" over Miley's "sexy" new look. I don't know why though. This is pretty tame if you consider Britney and Christina's  foray into the world of sexy. All she's doing is giving herself some rub downs and pretending she's maybe about to kiss another girl. Miley's attempt is only decent. She needs to know that if there's no oil, midriff or heavy breathing then it ain't sexy. (Ass-less chaps help too.) But it's ok that Miley's getting it wrong because her attempts at "sexiness" just makes me uncomfortable. I wish she would've regarded Senorita McTree's advice and put her under-age boobies away because I really don't need to see that. (Oh yeah, and our Blessed Virgin Miley said "hell." *gasp* Miley's a regular BAMF, no?)

I'm gonna have to go ahead and admit the video isn't that bad. The "sexy" bird thing is...different. Not terrible just...different. But those CGI wings? Pretty cool. Also, Miley tries her hand at dancing again and it's...different. Thank god for editing, right?

As for the song? Well, let me make a quick confession. *sigh* Here it goes. "Party in the USA" is a guilty pleasure of mine. I know, I know. Please don't judge me. (This cover's pretty cool though) This song though? Eh, not so much. It's not as catchy (thank god). That won't stop it from getting stuck in my head but at least I won't like it.

Anyway, I told Miley a while ago to hold off on the sexy but she didn't listen to my advice. So, lets try this again: I know you're itching to get away from Disney but you need to hold on until your (18th) birthday this year! Then, buy yourself a big vat of baby oil, get yourself a tramp stamp, buy an ill-fitting sports bra and some booty shorts, and rent out an abandoned warehouse for a night of grinding, body rolls and writhing. Mickey will drop you like a hot potato and then you'll be forever free to slut it up.

If you're interested in even more Miley Vomit, you can check out the video from RadarOnline where she's giving Adam Shankman a 'lap dance.' [insert dramatic eye roll here] Puh-lease. Miley's just doing what we all did at 16 - grinding up on our gay, middle-aged friends. Prudes.
"It's On" by the cast of Camp Rock 2 

So, next up we have a music video from Disney's latest audio/visual abomination Camp Rock 2. What to tackle first?

Well, let's get this part out of the way: the song sucks.
Cool; moving on.

Ok, so the Jonas Brothers are back again. I've kinda been missing them (read: Kevin). In an ironic turn of events, Kevin steals the show by hardly being in the music video. This is the way you do things. It's true that Disney's cheap cameras can hardly handle the man that is Kevin Jonas but we know Kevin also demanded that his image not be tarnished by excessive association with the aforementioned A/V abomination. Mickey knew what was good for him and respected his wishes. As for Nick, what I love about this kid is his talent for looking 1) really bored no matter the circumstance, 2) constipated or 3) both. I know he tried to look like he was really into playing the drums but we all know that Nick Jonas is never excited about anything. Annnnnd, I refuse to comment on Joe Jonas.

In typical Disney fashion, Mickey has waved his magical wand and now our little break dancing wonder and former co-host of Mike's Super-Short Show, Alyson Stoner is also a singer. When did this happen?!? Oh, yes, I forgot I already answered my own question: magic. Also, in typical Disney fashion being a black dude = rapper and urban. Duh.

Now on to Demi. I think she's turning into a vampire. She's so pale the light is reflecting off her face at some points. (Major fail lighting guy!) I bet it's the Jonas kid's fault. Run, Demi! He's sucking the life out of you!*

As for the video itself - it's very anti-climatic. They're just in a big, black room with lots of lights. It's not interesting. If they were going for a dance battle couldn't we get some bright colours and cool dancing? No, because this is Disney and their recent mission is to suck as hard as humanly possible. Anywayssss, the beginning, though only a couple seconds long, is warning me against watching this movie. It's screaming: CAUTION: BAD ACTING AHEAD! Also, I'm no fashionista but aren't their clothes weird? me they are. It's like the wardrobe person brought in a box of random clothes 5 minutes before shooting and told everyone to grab something quick. And I'm also not a dancer but their dancing is weird to look at. It's not pleasing to my eyes. They're like popping and stuff and it's awkward. Where's Michael Peters when you need him?

Basically, I have nothing particularly nice to say about this music video. Sorry guys. Better luck next time? JK. Please, don't try it again. Two is actually two times too many.

In other news, I will totally be watching this mess.


P.S. - Welcome to our tags, The Disney Machine. We've been expecting you.
P.P.S. - I just noticed that Brit Brit is wearing her underwear on the outside of her pants in the "Slave 4 U" music video. Weird...
P.P.P.S. - Michael Peter's is in heaven when you need him - in case you were wondering. (RIP)
*So the romance of the century has already ended. That was fast. 
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