Latest Blog Posts

<p>Frank Ocean</p>

Frank Ocean

Grammy Awards 2013: Handicapping the Best New Artist race

Frank Ocean and fun. lead a strong field

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards are Feb. 10 and this year there will be some hotly contested races. Unlike last year when Adele was the presumptive (and actual) winner in many categories, there are few clear frontrunners.

As we lead up to the ceremony, we’ll take a different category every day and evaluate the nominees. Today, we look at Best New Artist.

Best New Artist nominees:

Alabama Shakes
Fun.
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Frank Ocean


WHO’S MISSING: First off, let’s look at who’s not here: While the field is strong, leaving out One Direction seems like a major oversight. Though she hasn’t had the same success here as she has in the U.K., Emeli Sande was also a strong contender and while she’s looking a little like a one-hit wonder right now, Carly Rae Jepsen had the pop culture hit of the year with “Call Me Maybe.”

THE PLAYERS: Instead, based on Alabama Shakes and The Lumineers, it’s clear the Grammy voters leaned toward authentic, roots-oriented rock. Both groups are known for their rambunctious, free-flowing live shows and reliance on acoustic instruments as much as for their radio hits: The Shakes with “Hold On,” and the Lumineers with the seemingly omnipresent “Ho Hey.” Both look like solid bets for artists who will have good, long careers regardless of radio support.

Neither fun. nor Frank Ocean are roots-oriented, but they represent a new standard bearer for the Grammys: Fun.’s brand of pop is commercial and wildly successful, but is also well-crafted, intelligent, well-sung and well-played. R&B artist Ocean, whose “Channel Orange” topped many best-of lists for 2012 (including mine) was a fresh voice that arrived fully formed.  

Hunter Hayes may be unknown outside of his country base, but he’s a budding star within the format and Nashville’s collective voting power helped seal his nomination over some more likely pop contenders.

THE ODDS:
This is a race between fun. and Ocean. In addition to best new artist, fun. ran the board: receiving nominations in the other three general categories: record, song and album of the year. Only a handful of artists, such as Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse, and Christopher Cross have ever achieved that feat. Ocean almost scored as well, landing album and record of the year nods (both artists also have nominations in other fields).

It’s almost too close to call this year. If only music critics were voting, Ocean would be the clear winner. Both acts have had great years and show tremendous promise, the question will come down to whether fun’s greater dominance at pop radio will get them more votes. It’s the first year in many that I’ve wished for a tie.

WINNER: Frank Ocean

Read Full Post

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 167

Dan and Alan talk 'House of Cards,' 'The Americans' and much more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
 
After taking last week off, we're back for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We didn't miss any new shows in our absence, but we did miss the series finale of "Fringe" and the season (hopefully not series) finale of "Parenthood." So we talked about those. We also reviewed FX's "The Americans," NBC's "Do No Harm" and the first two episodes of Netflix's "House of Cards." We also pre-eulogize NBC's "30 Rock" on the eve of its series finale. We may check back in on "30 Rock" next week after Thursday's finale, so if there's anything retrospective you want from us, feel free to ask.
 
It's a full podcast and next week's podcast also seems likely to be busy!
 
Today's breakdown:
Sundance (00:00:50 - 00:4:30)
"The Americans" (00:04:40 - 00:15:55)
"Do No Harm" (00:15:55 - 00:29:20)
"House of Cards" (00:29:25 - 00:51:30)
"30 Rock" Pre-Finale Retrospective (00:51:35 - 01:10:25)
"Fringe" Finale (01:10:50 - 01:21:20)
"Parenthood" Finale" (01:21:25 - 01:35:25)
"The Office" (01:35:30 - 01:41:50)
 

 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

Read Full Post
Watch: Grizzly Bear's 'gun-shy' video is a minor medical drama

Watch: Grizzly Bear's 'gun-shy' video is a minor medical drama

Latest clip to arrive from 'Shields'

File under "Do Not Try This At Home." Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear work their way through various minor medical experiments, with their hair, skin, bllod, tears, sweat and nails in the latest video to arrive from their album "Shields."

"gun-shy" was directed by Kris Moyes, who helmed that Sia video you really, really liked, for "Buttons." I like his use of stop motion here, like a series of coordinated animated gifs, to a beat. The theme of renewel is there too, if you can shake the heeby-jeebies of acupunture and skin-shaving.

Read Full Post
<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Justin Bieber's heart breaks over Selena Gomez in new song 'Nothing Like Us'

Piano track leads 'Believe Acoustic' album

Justin Bieber spills pieces of his broken heart in his new song, “Nothing Like Us.”

The piano ballad, featured on “Believe Acoustic,”  is an anguished tale of his break-up with Selena Gomez.

The spare track, which Billboard.com premiered today, features a subdued Bieber plaintively telling Gomez,  “I wish I could give you what you deserve because nothing can ever, ever replace you... you know there’s no one I can relate to/you know we won’t find a love that’s so true.”

He later sings, “I gave you everything/everything I had to give/Girl, why would you push me away?” It’s a raw, simple song delivered at points in a near whisper by Bieber as he goes through the five stages of grief over their parting.

While Bieber seems to blame the break-up on Gomez, asking her “was it worth it,” he finally comes to the acceptance stage, resigned to the fact that they are truly over: “That is the past now/we didn’t last now.”

[More after the jump...]

Bieber told Billboard he wrote the song while staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. “They have a piano in the room. I sat down and it was something that came out and I recorded it on my iPhone. Then I went to the studio and I really recorded it and sang it better.”

He added “I want people to hear what’s coming from my heart, and this is definitely the most that I’ve been sharing what I’m actually feeling.”

While the song doesn’t have the bite of Justin Timberlake's  “Cry Me A River,” which Gomez performed at a Unicef benefit on Jan. 19, it does have the authentic ring of a young man dealing with heartache. “Believe Acoustic” comes out Jan. 29 and featues acoustic versions of songs from “Believe,” as well as a few new tracks in addition to “Nothing Like Us.”

Bieber, who has more than 33 million followers on Twitter,  will host and perform on “Saturday Night Live” on Feb. 9.

What do you think of “Nothing Like Us?”

 

Read Full Post
<p>Paul Giamatti, seen here at the Sundance Film Festival, is in talks to join the cast of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'</p>

Paul Giamatti, seen here at the Sundance Film Festival, is in talks to join the cast of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'

Credit: AP Photo/Victoria Will

Paul Giamatti may be The Rhino for 'Amazing Spider-Man' sequel

And Felicity Jones is also preparing to join the cast for part two

Paul Giamatti as The Rhino?

I'll say this for Marc Webb.  He's got one hell of a cast put together for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."  At this point, it seems like actors have all decided that everyone does a superhero movie at some point, so why not pick a side (good or evil) and just have fun with it?

Giamatti is a real-deal genre nerd.  The first time I was introduced to him was on the set of "Shoot 'Em Up," and it was obvious after a half-hour of conversation that this was a guy with a voracious genre appetite.  He's joining a great cast.  Obviously you've got Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Sally Field all returning from the first film, and two of the darlings of this year's Sundance Film Festival are joining the cast, since Shailene Woodley has been added as Mary Jane Watson and Dane DeHaan is going to play Harry Osborne.

Read Full Post
<p>Norah Jones</p>

Norah Jones

Norah Jones to perform Oscar-nominated song during 85th Academy Awards

Grammy winner will sing 'Everybody Needs A Best Friend'

Add Norah Jones to the list of pop singers performing at Feb. 24’s Academy Awards.

Jones will sing “Everybody Needs A Best Friend,” the theme song to “Ted,” the comedy directed by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane. The tune, written by MacFarlane and Walter Murphy, is nominated for best original song, alongside “Before My Time” (“Chasing Ice”), “Pi’s Lullaby” (“Life of Pi”), “Suddenly” (“Les Miserables”)  and “Skyfall” (“Skyfall”)

Adele, who co-wrote and performs “Skyfall” has already been announced as a performer.

Jones recently released “Little Broken Hearts Remix EP,”  a digital EP of seven songs from “Little Broken Hearts” re-envisioned by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Jose Padilla, and Peter, Bjorn & John.  Jones also put out “Covers,” a 10-song compilation of songs made famous by artists such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Wilco, reinterpreted by Jones over the first decade of her career. The set is available exclusively at Target.

Read Full Post
<p>Ang Lee on the set of &quot;Life of Pi&quot;</p>

Ang Lee on the set of "Life of Pi"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Off the Carpet: Ang Lee's position in all of this

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

I have to say, it was nice to spend a week or so away from the Oscar fray, and for its part, the Oscar fray seemed to be very content with putting things on hold while the Sundance Film Festival did its thing in the mountains of Utah. I guess maybe that's one good thing about this season's scheduling change: room to breathe in January.

But the festival is over and now it's back to our regularly scheduled programming, with the deep dive happening this weekend as the guild awards got going. And the question rises once again: What's going to win Best Picture? Though that would seem to have been answered by the events of the last two days, it's still a question for some.

But I'll leave that for now. Lately I've been curious about the Best Director race. With an "Argo" win would obviously come a split director decision (unless that write-in stuff finds traction). My instinct has been Steven Spielberg, because "Lincoln" is a hell of an accomplishment and even if I'm betting "Argo" will reap the benefits of the preferential ballot system (born out by its victory Saturday), it still makes sense for Spielberg to get some love.

Read Full Post
<p>Josh Charles as Will in &quot;The Good Wife.&quot;</p>

Josh Charles as Will in "The Good Wife."

Credit: CBS

Review: 'The Good Wife' - 'The Seven Day Rule'

Alicia gets an offer, Louis Canning goes after his money and the firm battles Neil Gross again

A quick review of last night's "The Good Wife" coming up just as soon as I insist our children be raised Jewish...

Read Full Post
<p>Susanne Bier at the 2010 Academy Awards.</p>

Susanne Bier at the 2010 Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: Tim Robbins and Susanne Bier on Berlinale jury

Also: Soderbergh talks not-quite-retirement, and Foster champions Wallis

With the exhausting thrill of Sundance still in my bones, I'm not quite ready yet to think about diving into the Berlin Film Festival -- but there it is, less than two weeks away. The programme has been revealed in drips and drabs, and today we learned who'll serve alongside present Wong Kar-wai on the competition jury. As usual, it's an interesting group, and one that includes two Oscar winners: Tim Robbins and Danish writer-director Susanne Bier. Meanwhile, the addition presence of the superb cinematographer Ellen Kuras ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). Iranian video artist turned filmmaker Shirin Neshat and Greek New Wave talent Athina Rachel Tsangrai (director of "Attenberg," but also a producer on Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight") makes for a mostly female jury this year. [Berlinale]  

Read Full Post
"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' recap: 'Make an Ass Out of a Donkey'

The situation between Phaedra and Kenya just gets stickier

 

So, we kick things off with further progress in the Stallion Booty vs. Donkey Booty video throw down. Kenya goes to the gym and discusses her video venture with her trainer, while Phaedra dons an seizure-inducing neon-green unitard for some possible DVD packaging snaps and promotional materials. I would like to say, for the record, I would not buy a workout video with Phaedra on the cover looking like a bloated radioactive lima bean. I'm sure she is fit, but man, that outfit does her no favors. 

Read Full Post
Chris Brown and Frank Ocean fight at Los Angeles recording studio

Chris Brown and Frank Ocean fight at Los Angeles recording studio

Both sides dispute who threw the first punch

Chris Brown and Frank Ocean got into a brawl at a Los Angeles recording studio on Sunday night.

TMZ first reported the fight around 9 p.m., saying that both artists were at Westlake Studios. When Brown went to leave, a source told TMZ that Ocean and his entourage blocked Brown from leaving. “We’re told Chris went to shake Frank’s hand...and that’s when one of Frank’s people attacked Chris,” TMZ reported. “Sources connected with Chris say one of Chris’s friends jumped in front and hit Frank’s friend." Brown sources also told TMZ that Ocean then "came at" Brown and the two started fighting.

Police arrived at the scene, but Brown had already departed. According to TMZ, no arrests have been made and no one has pressed charges.

Shortly after the altercation, Ocean tweeted, “got jumped by chris and a couple guys. lol. I only wish everest was there,” then adding, “cut my finger now I can’t play w two hands at the grammys.” Everest, according to Ocean's tumblr, is his dog.

Brown has not tweeted since Jan. 25.

Read Full Post
Best and Worst of the 2013 SAG Awards: Bryan Cranston, 'Argo,''Downton Abbey'

Best and Worst of the 2013 SAG Awards: Bryan Cranston, 'Argo,''Downton Abbey'

Is it time for SAG to shake-up the show?

Remember how everyone used to complain about the Golden Globes? "It's not legit." "It doesn't mean anything for Oscar." "Unless someone gets drunk it's a bore." Well, the first two complaints still hold a lot of merit, but the latter? No way. Ricky Gervais and the combo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the past four telecasts have made the Globes arguably more entertaining than Oscar.  That brings us to Sunday night's 19th Annual SAG Awards.

Remember how the SAG awards were deemed the legitimate acting honors?  Actors voting for actors? An award that meant more because it came from your peers?  A few years of embarrassing Betty White overload and blander TV nominees than the Emmys and the SAG Awards are stuck in a rut. Oh, and we haven't even gotten to the formulaic telecasts.  Did TNT, the show's producers and SAG turn things around Sunday night?  No, no they didn't.  But, there were some diamonds in the rough during the two-hour ordeal.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME