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<p>Hal David</p>

Hal David

Credit: AP Photo

What made lyricist Hal David so special?

Plus, his 10 best lyrics

Hal David, one of the best lyricists of the 20th century, died on Sept. 1. Other than John Lennon and Paul McCartney, David and his songwriting partner Burt Bacharach were the preeminent purveyors of pop song craft in the ‘60s.

Bacharach’s melodies were often complicated, but David’s lyrics never were and therein rests their beauty. His words were simple, but never obvious: The line “one less egg to fry” in “One Less Bell To Answer” spoke volumes about despair and loneliness. He expressed vulnerabilities that would have sounded hyperbolic coming from a less-skilled pen, but from him, sounded like truths:  When Herb Alpert sang, “Say you’re in  love, in love with this guy, If not, I’ll just die,” in “This Guy’s In Love With You,” who didn’t believe that he would perish into thin air without her love?

There was also a specificity to David’s lyrics. They were spare and direct. Think about “I Say A Little Prayer,” one of his best from start to finish (which is why I left it out of the selections below): The protagonist very deliberately is putting on her make-up, combing her hair, running for the bus... the actions are mundane and serve as a contrast to the drama of the thought of not being together with her beloved forever and ever.  In “A House Is Not A Home,” he doesn’t just yearn for her to return, he needs for her to still be in love with him as well.  He knew heartbreak didn’t need a lot of explanation, it needed precision.

Even the lyrics that seem dated now, like “Wishin’ & Hopin’s” “Wash your hair just for him,” capture a moment and thought in time. Though there are hundreds to choose from, below are what I consider to be 10 of David’s finest lyrics.

"Foolish pride, that's all that I have left/So let me hide the tears and the sadness you gave me/When you said goodbye"— “Walk On By”

"One less bell to answer/One less egg to fry/One less man to pick up after/I should be happy/But all I do is cry" —”One Less Bell To Answer”

"I need your love/I want your love/Say you're in love, in love/With this guy/If not I'll just die" —-”This Guy’s in Love With You”

"The moment I wake up/Before I put on my makeup/I say a little prayer for you” — “I Say A Little Prayer”

"Anyone who had a heart would take me in his arms and love me too/Why won’t you?”—”Anyone Who Had a Heart”

“Darling, have a heart/Don’t let one mistake keep us apart/I’m not meant to live along/Turn this house into a home/When I climb the stair and turn the key/Oh, please be there still in love with me.” —”A House Is Not A Home”

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of"— “What the World Needs Now”

"On the day that you were born the angels got together/And decided to create a dream come true" —”Close To You”

“And if the way I hold you/Can’t compare to his caress/No words of consolation/Will make me miss you less”— “Make It Easy On Yourself”

"What do you get when you fall in love? You only get lies and pain and sorry/ So for at least until tomorrow/I’ll never fall in love again" —”I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

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<p>Matchbox Twenty's &quot;North&quot;</p>

Matchbox Twenty's "North"

Album Revew: Matchbox Twenty moves in right direction on 'North'

FIrst studio album in 10 years from pop stalwarts delivers some twists

It’s been 10 years since an album of all new Matchbox Twenty material, although the pop-rock band’s legion of hits remains in such heavy rotation on many adult contemporary stations that their absence hasn’t been felt. Also, a greatest hits package with six new songs and two solo albums from lead singer Rob helped fill the void.

Having said that, “North,” out today, feels like a welcome return from an old friend who has kept all of the qualities that made you like him in the first place, but picked up some new tricks to keep things from getting stale. Matchbox Twenty’s strength has always been its strong grasp of the basic pop dynamic where catchy choruses are bookended by verses that propel a story and mood. Early hits like “Push,” “3AM,” “Bent” and “If You’re Gone” all carried a certain darkness with the lyrics, no matter how bright the melody. 

The band’s writing dynamic shifted for “North,” and it’s a move that suits them well: Instead of writing everything primarily himself, the gifted Thomas shared the wealth with his bandmates and collaborations rule the day. That allows for more textures and nuances to the songs, such as on “English Town,” which starts out delicately before exploding into a swirl of guitars.

So it goes on much of the album: the band isn’t breaking its mold, so much as flexing some muscles in a way they haven’t before: On “Put Your Hands Up,” a dance-flavored track whose lively beat defies the dark lyrics,  MB20 veers into Cobra Starship or Fall Out Boy territory. On first single “She’s So Mean,” which deserved a much better shot from radio than it received, handclaps bolster a power pop tune about a girl that just gets the better of every man who’s drawn into her web.

When Matchbox Twenty first hit  in 1996, the members were in their early 20s. Now, more than 15 years later, they’ve grown up, gotten married, and had families. There’s a maturity to some of the material that couldn’t have occurred until they got some more life under their belt.  The gem on the album, the understated “I Will,” beautifully reflects how time passes at a startlingly rate of speed: “Tonight looking back on all this life, it’s funny how the time goes by and how, sometimes, it slides away,” Thomas sings, as half of a  couple who will figure out life’s foibles together, filling in each other’s gaps. The simple arrangement adds to the song’s beauty. Current single “Overjoyed” uncynically looks at love in a fresh, inviting way, well aware that the chance for true happiness doesn’t come along every day. Conversely, “Like Sugar” addresses a temptation that comes on like the sweetest, most addictive, yet toxic, substance.

Not every song is a winner: “How Long” starts of nimbly, but loses its way;  “Radio” sounds like the band is pandering for airplay, but there are far more plusses on “North” than negatives from a band that continues to move in the right direction.

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Black Keys get intimate in 'Little Black Submarines' video

Black Keys get intimate in 'Little Black Submarines' video

Concert clip was filmed at Nashville's Springwater Supper Club

The Black Keys are popular enough to headline arenas now, but core members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney know that their crunchy blues rock is best appreciated in a too-hot, too-crowded dive bar. 

The duo's latest video, for the single "Little Black Submarines," attempts to capture that sort of live rawness.

Nashville's tiny Springwater Supper Club is the setting for the blistering song, with a few dozen onlookers witnessing the performance by one of the best live acts in the current rock landscape.

Watch the video here:

Originally slated to be a video combining live footage with a narrative, the Keys instead opted for a simple, straightforward performance video. For the live portion, a small number of local fans were allowed into the tiny bar, and the scheduled performance of one song eventually grew into an impromptu complete set.

"We all just sort of kind of mutually agreed that it should probably just be the performance and not any of the other extra stuff," Auerbach told told Rolling Stone. “Luckily we had live footage so we turned it into a live video. We just sort of said 'You know, it was fun kind of performing here at a small club with the fans. Why don't we just have it be that?'"

It also gives some screen time to the Black Keys' expanded live lineup. 

What do you think of the video? Grade it at the top of the story.

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<p>Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner almost managed to keep straight faces in this scene from 'Hansel &amp;&nbsp;Gretel:&nbsp;Witch Hunter'</p>

Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner almost managed to keep straight faces in this scene from 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunter'

Credit: Paramount Pictures/MGM Studios

Want to see Jeremy Renner in 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" and if so, why?

Calling this trailer 'remarkable' might not be a compliment

I think I'm over the whole "so ridiculous it's fun" thing.

Either that, or I'm waiting until someone actually creates something that genuinely looks like fun before I say that again.  Today, the trailer for "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" finally arrives online and I can't help but feel like I'm looking at a parody of a "cool" movie trailer.

Jeremy Renner is so decidedly modern and he and Gemma Arterton appear to have so little chemistry that I'm feeling like even before you get to the film's ridiculous premise, the movie is already hobbled.   Sure, it's hard to judge the end result from a trailer, but part of me feels like I'm looking at the new version of "The Brothers Grimm," and if Terry Gilliam failed to make that premise work, I'm not sure Tommy Wirkola (whose "Dead Snow" was fun) is the man for the job.

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<p>You know something serious is going down in Rian Johnson's 'Looper'&nbsp; if Bruce Willis is making that face</p>

You know something serious is going down in Rian Johnson's 'Looper'  if Bruce Willis is making that face

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Looper' needs your help, and we've got a mission for you

Is it viral marketing or a cry for help from the future?

One of the things I'll be doing at the Toronto Film Festival this year is catching up with "Looper," the Rian Johnson film I first saw last year in a rough state.  I'm excited to see the finished movie and to sit down with the cast for some interviews.

Today, though, came a firm reminder that my vacation is over.  As much as I've loved having time off with my kids as I recharged the battery for what is going to be a very busy month ahead, I was aware that the flurry of work was going to begin the moment I returned.  Sure enough, there was a knock on the door this morning and a guy who looked suspiciously like a young Bruce Willis was standing there.  He handed me an envelope and said, "You've got a mission.  Get to it."

Oddly, he hopped on what looked like a NY bike messenger's bike and took off down my driveway, leaving me to head back inside and look to see what it was he'd brought me and what explanation there was for his actions.

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Cote de Pablo

 Cote de Pablo, "NCIS"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Cote de Pablo hints at what's to come on 'NCIS'

The star talks about what's ahead for Ziva and Tony

"NCIS" returns for its tenth season in just a few weeks (Tues. Sept. 25, 8:00 p.m.), but the premiere promises to be worth the wait. In last season's finale, Dr. Ryan (Jamie Lee Curtis) went into hiding, Ducky (David McCallum) had an apparent heart attack, and a bomb tore apart NCIS headquarters. That explosive ending killed Jonathan Cole (Scott Wolf), while Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Tony (Michael Weatherly) were trapped in an elevator. While I was only able to talk to de Pablo for a few minutes at the CBS TCA party, I (very quickly) asked her about what's ahead for Ziva and Tony, a pair who've sparked even from the acrimonious beginning of their relationship. Here's what the Chilean-born actress had to say. Very quickly. 

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'American Idol's' Scotty McCreery celebrates the season on Christmas set
Credit: 19/Mercury Nashville

'American Idol's' Scotty McCreery celebrates the season on Christmas set

Collection includes standards and two new originals

After he posted a photo of himself wearing a Santa hat in the studio, there was little doubt that Scotty McCreery was working on a holiday album, although his label declined to reveal any further details.

Now we know “Christmas With Scotty McCreery” will arrive Oct. 16. The stocking stuffer from the “American Idol” winner contains two new songs in addition to a platter-ful of standards, such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells, “Let It Snow,” “The Christmas Song,” “O Holy Night,”  and “The First Noel.”

The new tracks are “Christmas In Heaven” and “Christmas Is Coming Around.” Of the latter, McCreery says, “That’s just a great story about Christmas time and really just lifting people’s spirits. Times may be tough, but during Christmas, it needs to be a happy time.”

McCreery, who just started his freshman year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, will make Christmas calls to 100 random fans who purchase the album via his website,

Fellow country star Blake Shelton will also release a holiday this season.


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<p>Jean-Louis Trintignant in &quot;Amour.&quot;</p>

Jean-Louis Trintignant in "Amour."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Austria enters Haneke's 'Amour' in the foreign Oscar race

A foreign-language nod is likely, but can it cross over into the general race?

I'll make this relatively quick, partly because I have a screening to run to, and partly because we've covered this ground in a previous post. But thanks to Austrian reader Norman Shetler for informing us that his country has selected their entry for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race -- and, as we suspected, it's Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Amour." 

"But it's a French film!" I hear some of you cry. Well, no: this is a global industry, after all, and a film isn't defined by the country it's set in or the language it speaks. As a French-Austrian-German co-production, any one of those three countries would have been entitled to submit it. Tidily enough, it's the director's home country that gets the privilege this time.

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<p>Green Day</p>

Green Day

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong hospitalized in Italy

Undisclosed illness forces cancellation of festival gig

Green Day abruptly cancelled a headlining performance in Bologna, Italy. Sunday night after lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was taken to the hospital Saturday night for treatment for an undisclosed illness.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Mindy Kaling in &quot;The Mindy Project.&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling in "The Mindy Project."

Credit: FOX

Mindy Kaling on 'The Mindy Project,' 'The Office' and more

Kaling created and stars in the new FOX sitcom
Mindy Kaling is not exactly Kelly Kapoor, the character she's played for the last eight seasons of "The Office" (where she also served as a writer over that time). She's much smarter and more articulate and, at first glance, less vindictive. Nor is Kaling exactly Mindy Lahiri, the OB/GYN character she plays on the upcoming FOX sitcom "The Mindy Project," which she created and stars in. (It debuts on September 25, but the pilot is already streaming on Hulu.) But Kaling shares with her two alter egos an obsession with pop culture in general and romantic comedy in particular — she spends much of "The Mindy Project" pilot getting into trouble for assuming that life works exactly like a Meg Ryan movie — and an enthusiastic, fast-talking style.
I spoke with Kaling at the TV critics press tour about the new show, the old show, how "The Mindy Project" evolved from a "Bridget Jones"-style love triangle in the pilot to something else, being an Indian-American woman fronting (and producing) her own sitcom, and more.
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<p>A scene from Olivier Assayas's &quot;Something in the Air.&quot;</p>

A scene from Olivier Assayas's "Something in the Air."

Credit: IFC Films

Venice: 'Something in the Air' and 'Fill the Void'

Moving away from the American contingent of this year's Venice lineup

VENICE - Almost a week into the Venice Film Festival, the Lido has fallen rather quiet. After a cinephile's superbowl of a weekend that saw the fest's two most generally anticipated films, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder," premiere on consecutive days, many journalists are already either heading home or preparing for the exodus to Toronto -- where they'll be able to catch "Passion" and "The Company You Keep," the two high-profile commercial films left in the lineup.

What surprise gems and potential Golden Lion winners lie ahead, of course, is anyone's guess. The smart money right now is on "The Master," still the dominant topic of conversation around the Venice grounds, appealing to jury president Michael Mann's robust sensibilities and taking home the big one. Others think Marco "Vincere" Bellocchio's latest (which premieres later this week) is, on paper, the one to beat. I, meanwhile, wouldn't be surprised to see Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov's dazzling romantic puzzler "Betrayal" (more on that in a later post) take home some major hardware -- nor either of the films reviewed below, though one is from a celebrated French major and the other from an Israeli novice.

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<p>The cast of NBC's &quot;Infamous.&quot; Or some of it.</p>

The cast of NBC's "Infamous." Or some of it.

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'

NBC tries to do an upscale ABC-style soap with so-so returns

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Infamous" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: It's "Dirty Sexy Revenge"
Quick Response: No. Really. "Dirty Sexy Revenge." What if "Dirty Sexy Money" had begun with the murder of Samaire Armstrong's character? [No loss there.] And what if Peter Krause's character were a cop instead of a lawyer and an African-American woman instead of a man? And what if that interloper returned to the family not to keep them out of trouble, but to get one of them in very deep trouble indeed? What you'd get would be "Infamous." NBC's attempt to get in on the Eat the Rich zeitgeist is derivative at every turn, but it's also yet another midseason drama that introduces plot twists at an almost astounding pace, with characters reversing course and changing their colors two or three times in the opening 44 minutes. Hmm... I used a "but" there as if being twisty were a compensation for being derivative. This is the kind of show that you instantly find yourself distrusting every frame because you know that the truth is like a bet on a roulette wheel: You might get a dose of adrenaline each time your number comes around, but until the ball stops bouncing, *nothing* is going to be the truth, so there's no point in investing. Everybody lies and they do it all the time, so what's the point in rooting for the truth? It's the problem "Damages" has always had in its weaker moments, only "Infamous" doesn't immediately have the strengths that make "Damages" shine when it's working. I'm very happy to see Meagan Good getting to lead a show. She's sexy, assertive and Good deserves this shot. But the implausibility of her character's reintegration into this close-knit, justifiably paranoid family comes dangerously close to crushing the entire premise and I desperately hope they don't continue to pretend "Infamous" takes place in a world in which TMZ is King, but Google doesn't exist. And as for the family, they're good, but they're not the Darlings. Victor Garber has played this sort of WASP-y patriarch too many times to be surprising, so we're just waiting and watching for him to turn out to be good-evil-good-evil-good-evil-good-evil... STOP. Ditto with Tate Donovan. I guess that for Donovan, this is better than being cut out of the "No Ordinary Family" pilot and for Garber this is better than "Charlie's Angels," but those are both tenuous compliments. I like Garber and Donovan, but it's good will from past performances than make them appealing here, not anything fresh or new. The rest of the cast is solid and packed with familiar faces, but there's no Donald Sutherland or Jill Clayburgh or Madeleine Stowe to keep you mesmerized even when the formula takes over. No matter how many times you've seen basically this exact same show, you'd still be hard-pressed to find "Infamous" boring. It's not gripping, but it keeps you guessing and we get two or three episodes worth of plot machinations in short order. "Infamous" isn't a great version of an ABC show, but it's a passable version of an ABC show, which makes me wonder how it's going to find an audience on NBC. But I wonder that a lot and that's NBC's problem, not mine.
Desire To Watch Again: I watched every episode of "Dirty Sexy Money," sometimes liking it very much and sometimes gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've watched every episode of "Revenge," mostly gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've also watched every episode of "Scandal" and probably most of the other ABC shows that this is aping. There's no reason I probably won't stick with this for a bit. Yay?


Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries


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