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Usher may be “Looking 4 Myself,” as his new album’s title indicates, but he certainly isn’t at a loss when he’s searching for musical styles. On his most adventurous album yet, Usher takes styles that have worked for him in the past, whether it was his smooth swagger or his dance leanings and turns them on their head. “Looking 4 Myself” is not so much a reinvention as an exploration of different styles by a confident artist secure enough to abandon past formulas.
The result is an inventive, stylish album, out June 12, that could be heavily rewarded come Grammy time.
My wife is in school these days, which means there are many moments where I am the only person available to take care of Toshi and Allen, even if I've got work that needs to get done. It can make for some exciting schedules on certain days, and a recent Saturday was a perfect example of that.
We were up early for Toshi's final baseball game of the season, and then we had his end-of-the-season party at his coach's house with all the parents and players, a great group of folks. And almost immediately after that wrapped up, we had to head down to the Four Seasons so I could do my interviews for "That's My Boy," Adam Sandler's new comedy.
Walking into a room with kids in tow totally changes the dynamic. In the case of Sandler and Samberg, the last room we did that afternoon, as soon as we walked in, Sandler was up on his feet.
He stood in front of the boys, looking down at them. "I'll bet I can guess your ages." He pointed at Toshi and guessed correctly. "Six, right?" Then he pointed at Allen. "And you're three."
"No," said, Allen. "I'm four. I turned four on my birthday!"
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Last week, we did two installments of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast: one where we went on at some length and depth about "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men," the other with quick hit reviews of new and returning shows. This week's only podcast is a blend of the two, with brief-ish reviews of "Bunheads," "Dallas" and "Falling Skies," plus a longer discussion of the "Mad Men" finale and this week's "Buffy" chatter.
All the Beliebers are watching their calendars, holding their collective breaths, for June 19: the date when “Believe,” the new album from Justin Bieber comes out.
As has occurred the past two weeks, today we get a new song from the album in advance of its release. This time, it’s “As Long As You Love Me,” featuring Big Sean, and it has nothing to do with the Backstreet Boys song of the same name. A 90-second snippet appeared on iTunes on Monday. Listen to it here.
No, on this one, which features a slow, stuttering, electro-clash chorus, Bieber seems to be in an Olympic frame of mind, as he warbles: As long as you love me, I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold.” He’s so crazy for the girl, that it doesn’t matter if they’re homeless or broke. Please he manages to work in Destiny’s Child into the lyrics.
Big Sean comes in with a rap that further backs up the “love is all that matters theme,” and he’s got it bad for his lady, who’s his “hallelujah.”
As with the three songs we’ve heard previously, Bieber is all about the love on this album. Each song, whether it’s “Boyfriend,” “Die in Your Arms,” or “All Around the World” featuring Ludacris, has celebrated love of some kind, whether it be romantic or universal. What’s been missing, and we’ll know better when we hear the rest of the album next week, is something that feels like a stone-cold radio smash. As Billboard reported last week, after “Boyfriend’s” stellar start, it slipped back down the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, but Bieber’s label fought and pushed that rock back uphill to get radio to give it another chance.
As we’ve previously written, for all his success—including recently selling out his forthcoming arena tour—Bieber has not become a radio star. We’ll see if it happens with the tracks from “Believe.”
We’re holding off grading “As Long As You Love Me” until we get the full song on Tuesday.
As I mentioned in my review of Fiona Apple's show at SXSW this year, part of her beauty is her ability to tread that line of perfect sanity and snapping into brambles of a nervous breakdown. Her single "Every Single Night" -- with its close-proximity vocal recording and its war-cry chorus -- has the same appeal.
And now its music video does too. Poor Fiona is half-consumed by a octopus and needs lay down with the buffalo-headed man every single night. She is followed and afraid at points, and then utterly alone at others, weaving those spindly arms through one bizarre nocturnal rite after another. The snails are cute... her rolling around in them is not.
We're in the home stretch now, with only a few weeks left until "The Amazing Spider-Man" arrives in theaters.
The film screened late last week for people doing interviews at the New York press day, and I assume we'll see it here in LA in the very near future. I'm looking forward to it, and to make sure I don't carry the Raimi movies into the theater with me, I've made sure not to re-watch them or refer to them at all. The last time I saw any of them was when "Spider-Man 3" was released, and at this point, I've got my general impressions of them, but that's about it. Whatever Marc Webb and his cast and crew have done here, I'm going to judge it as its own film.
This is, of course, a key moment for Sony Pictures. They've got a lot riding on this film. In order to remain in the Spider-Man business, they need to keep producing films at a certain pace, and they are gambling big here by rebooting. They had a proven creative team and a well-liked cast in place, so scrubbing all of that and starting over is about as risky as making a Spider-Man movie can be at this point. Sure, the character is well-known around the world, and ultimately, the character is what they're selling, but if this is going to work, all the moving pieces have to come together.
It's that time of year. Well, no, not THAT time. Awards season is still a healthy ways off and anyone giving it overtly serious consideration right now is in for a hurtin'. But with 2012's midway point fast approaching, it's a valid time to take stock of the film year so far, and to take a glance ahead at the season to come.
And yes, I suppose it's as good a time as any (on the early side of things) to update the sidebar predictions with uneducated stabs in the dark so we don't go on looking like we're living in the past.
First, a quick recap. Very quick, actually, as the only Best Picture stories of the year so far have been made on the basis of admittedly impressive box office success. But to me, considerations of "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers" for serious Oscar contention feel a bit like hot air in the hot months with little else to grease the awards conversation gears.
After three peaceful months in which the "O" word was among the furthest things from my mind -- even at Cannes, where unusually few films sparked such speculation -- the distant-but-not-invisible threat of the 2012 awards season entered my consciousness in a number of ways this week.
First, before a screening of the emphatically not Oscar-bound "Rock of Ages" (hey, I don't mean that as a slight), my usual no-trailers policy was involuntarily broken as Warners subjected me to gorgeous glimpses of "The Great Gatsby" and "The Dark Knight Rises"... and as much as the moviegoer in me got excited, I'd be lying if I said my mind didn't wander to their intriguingly uncertain awards prospects. The next day, I had only myself to blame to raising the subject. After seeing Sarah Polley's wonderful "Take This Waltz," due for US release later this month, I foolhardily tweeted that it feels like a viable Oscar play for Michelle Williams -- only to wish I hadn't said anything as numerous followers replied with their skepticism.
The members of Matchbox 20 has always been lovers of power pop, but their music didn’t always reflect that bent. Too often, they tried to exist in both pop and rock simultaneously. While they’ve certainly been successful, sometimes they sounded a bit unfocused.
However, with new single “She’s So Mean,” MB20 has shot an arrow straight at a power pop target and hit a bullseye. With its handclap intro and catchy guitar refrain, “She’s So Mean” is an ear worm waiting to invade your brain and not let go for the rest of the year. The song is redolent of ‘70s power pop—that territory that Fountains of Wayne has mined so successfully— yet it never sounds overly retro. Listen to it here.
The production is deceptively simple, but each drumbeat, every little yelp by Rob Thomas, only makes the song more seductive. Plus, hasn’t everyone had the one person who you can’t let go no matter what he or she does? “Every now and then she makes you a little bit crazy/she’ll insert a knife in your back and then she’s calling you baby.” Who’s the crazy one?
It’s been 10 years since Matchbox 20 has put out an album of all new material (2007’s “Exile on Mainstream” combined old and new tunes) and it seems like the time away has done them good. The Matt Serletic-produced song, the first single from “North,” sounds deliberate in the band’s commitment to pop. There’s no line straddling, no trying to be something they aren’t.
“North” comes out in September.
It's the wedding day for Caroline's brother Jamie and his partner Rich. But the first topic of business is Teresa's interview with In Touch Weekly. Jacqueline reads it in her hotel room and is shocked by what Teresa says about Caroline: that Caroline is one of several women (including Melissa and Kathy) who have bullied Teresa over her family's money troubles.
Caroline has her own copy and is less than thrilled. Actually she feels insulted by being "accused of bullying by a bully," adding that Teresa is insulting the only people who were actually there for her when she needed them.
Jacqueline knows that Teresa makes money by talking to tabloids, so she worries Teresa isn't being completely honest in order to make her story more interesting to publish. Jacqueline leaves the magazine out in her room, in the hopes Teresa will see it when she drops by.