Well, I've got to hand it to "The Vampire Diaries." Just when you think you know where the show is going, it throws you a bloody, bitten curve ball. Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes it's just depressing and sad. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about the latest one, or whether it belongs in the former category or the latter one, but I think we can all agree it's a doozy.
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A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as my job is exciting enough for there to be a show on A&E about it...
This Sunday, the 40th American Music Awards will take place in Los Angeles. While the awards don’t have the prestige of the Grammys, they have something that the Grammys don’t: the winners are voted on by the fans. That means that One Direction will win in every category for which they are nominated. The AMAs also have another great advantage-- and this is why acts like Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Linkin Park will be performing: the show happens right before major holiday shopping begins so it’s an excellent chance for acts to get in front of their fans to remind them that their new album will make a most excellent stocking stuffer.
Below are our predictions for Sunday night. Remember, the fans pick the winners (the nominees are determined by a number of criteria, including sales and airplay), so the trophy doesn’t necessarily go to who is most deserving, it goes to who has the most ardent fan base...sort of like “Dancing With the Stars” or “American Idol.”
The American Music Awards air live from the Nokia Theater at 8 p.m. ET.
New artist of the year:
Carly Rae Jepsen
It’s a fine list and some of these artists will no doubt find their way into the Grammy best new artist category (although Cole already got nominated for that honor last year). Fun. may seem like the act with the longest career potential, but given that One Direction’s fans have already worn their fingers to the nubs voting, this one goes to 1D.
Winner: One Direction
Male artist, pop/rock:
Hmmm...not a lot of rock in this pop/rock category, is there? That’s because there are few male solo rockers making a lot of noise right now. Also, with the inclusion of Flo Rida, Pitbull and Usher, it’s clear that pop and R&B and rap all appeal to the same audience now. Justin Bieber continues to defy the odds and is showing much more staying power than the usual teen phenom.
Winner: Justin Bieber
Female artist, pop/rock:
All of these artists are very popular and all have had great years. Since she’s between album cycles, Katy Perry may be at a slight disadvantage here. Clarkson is so popular, but she probably can’t compete with the ardency of Minaj’s and Rihanna’s fans. This is a contest between Minaj’s Barbies and Rihanna’s Navy. We’re going with the military.
Band, duo or group, pop/rock:
Again, there’s a paucity of rock acts here. The Wanted had one hit. We’re not saying they are done, but they can’t compete with the likes of fun. or Maroon 5 when it comes to radio supremacy or One Direction when it comes to teen phenoms. Maroon 5 has had an incredible resurgence over the past year, but, again, their fans won’t come out in the same number as One Direction’s.
Winner: One Direction
Male artist, country:
The three hottest male solo acts will duke it out here for bragging rights...if you don't count Blake Shelton as one of the hottest male country artists right now (rolling my eyes). All three are buddies and are, in fact, racing up the country charts right now with Jason Aldean’s “The Only Way I Know,” which features Luke Bryan and Eric Church. All three have great careers going right now, but Aldean still outsells both of them both in record sales and ticket sales.
Winner: Jason Aldean
Female artist, country:
It’s nice that Taylor Swift is nominated, even though she didn’t have an album out during the eligibility period, but it also shows that she can step away and there aren’t other solo female artists to take her place. Carrie Underwood has had a great year and is coming off a No. 1 single with “Blown Away,” but Miranda Lambert is just unstoppable these days.
Winner: Miranda Lambert
Band, duo or group, country:
Zac Brown Band
What? No The Band Perry? That’s a pretty noticeable omission. Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum had fans that extend beyond country die-hards and that could help them with the voting here, but the Flattheads love their boys. All three acts have had strong years, but Lady A has the largest base.
Winner: Lady Antebellum
Know why this category isn’t split into male and female? Because there aren’t enough hit-making female rappers to fill out their own group. Maybe one day that will change and Missy Elliott is returning so Nicki Minaj will have some company. This one isn’t even a contest. It’s Minaj for the win.
Winner: Nicki Minaj
Male artist, soul/R&B:
Usher’s album was an artistic triumph, if not the commercial success of some of his past efforts, but Chris Brown, who seemed to release a new song every week, appears to have completely overcome his past troubles and his fans really stand behind him. Trey Songz rounds out the category nicely, but Brown is the winner.
Winner: Chris Brown
Female artist, soul/R&B:
Mary J. Blige
Beyoncé is a fan favorite, but, like Taylor Swift, she hasn’t been working a new album this year. Mary J. Blige is so awesome that the award should be named after her, but she has an older demo that won’t likely get out the vote for her. Rihanna, who just keeps releasing hit after hit after hit is a one-woman jukebox.
Artist, alternative rock:
The Black Keys
What a wacky grouping of artists. They couldn’t be more different. Gotye had one hit, but what a mighty hit it was. Both the Black Keys and Linkin Park put out albums that continued the trajectory they were on, but didn’t seem to take them to new heights. Still, LP’s fans are powerful
Winner: Linkin Park
Artist, adult contemporary:
Really? There’s not even a discussion to be had for this one.
A review of tonight's "Last Resort" coming up just as soon as I compare you to Kurt Cobain...
After a weak Performance Wednesday on "The X Factor," I'm not sure if two eliminations on Thursday (November 15) night will be enough. We're just killing time on four or five acts at this point and any reprieve tonight may just mean that those survivors will have their Thanksgiving spoiled next week. Better to send them all home tonight and let those performers enjoy turkey.
I'm not sure which two will be tapped for elimination, but I'm pretty sure neither of them will be Carly Rose Sonenclar, so she's this week's recap cover-girl.
On to the full recap of eliminations and Taylor Swift after the break...
Lady Gaga appears to be rapping on what's shaping up to be a new album cut "Cake." Mother Monster released a luscious little clip of her speak-singing along, with images of wagging butts, dancing in her underwear and otherwise suggesting that a lucky piece of cake is going to get some action from a very famous pop star.
"You chew beef, I wear meat / And stay on top of the I'm I'm I'm I'm / Getting fat and so is my bank /With a sold out world tour b*tch," are among the lyrical sage-wisdom, as the song was also previewed during a Mugler fashion show in September.
As for the 15-second clip, maker-of-sexy-photos Terry Richardson helmed it, which should surprise no one. Gaga and Richardson released a photo book together just last year. And Richardson likes things to look like an American Apparel ad.
For all of you who saw "American Horror Story" last night (and for those of you who didn't, cover your eyes and run -- spoilers ahead!), we finally learned the ugly truth about Bloody Face -- and unfortunately, so did Lana. Of course, one big reveal just leads to more questions. Luckily, in a conference call with journalists Quinto talked about the surprising Dr. Thredson, hinted at what's ahead for Bloody Face and his latest victim, and why things are going to be getting "a lot more disturbing in the coming weeks." The best news? Quinto promises that all questions will be answered... eventually.
So basically, a whole lot of people I know are making "Deus Ex."
We ran a piece back in July when CBS Films made a deal with Square Enix and Eidos Montreal to adapt "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" for the bigscreen, and I said then that it is a promising property. When I wrote that, I hadn't played the game yet. So I rented it from GameFly and gave it a try, and pretty quickly realized that while I like the world and the imagery and the kinds of ideas they're playing with, I haaaaated the game itself. No fun at all. It was just a case of the mechanics being too busy and the mix of stealth and shooting all seemed very clunky, and it's one of the few games I've played where I just bailed out halfway through because nothing about it compelled me to keep playing.
Even so, the world remains fertile, and in some ways, my problems were about the gameplay being less interesting than the world or the characters. I would rather have watched it than played it. Today's announcement that C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, the team behind "Sinister," are going to be handling the co-writing and directing duties for the film is a step in that direction, and now we know the property is in the hands of people who are authentic fans of this stuff.
Chris Brown and Rihanna's new duet "Ain't Nobody's Business" is, indeed, "Unapologetic." The song has arrived in full a few days out from Rihanna's new album release, and the pair would like for detractors of their rebudding relationship to butt out.
Using a famed line from Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel," they both sing on the refrain: "It ain’t nobody’s business / Just mine and my baby." The sound, overall, is reminiscent of MJ, which must've thrilled the pants of Chris Brown, a longtime disciple who has never shied away from the comparison. It's helmed by The-Dream.
With lines about making out in a Lexus and the continued use of "baby," one would assume that Rihanna and her baby are back together, which they've both denied in the past week. The question of their relationship status, however, will never cease to pique others' curiosity so long as Rihanna and Chris Brown make songs like "Nobody's Business." Making their business model dependent on "Nobody's Business." Business because of "Business." The snake eats it tail.
"Nobody's Business" is a decent song, if you're in a place to hear it. I think it's lame to drum up publicity based on the reformation of what I think is a screwed up relationship that should truly be addressed quietly, but if Brown-Rihanna duets are the MO in the future, so be it. This is one of the cases where the public persona plays deeply into how songs are written and performed, making their personal business of "Business" fair game in criticizing it. So it's a draw, in consideration of her deeply affected delivery of the words "hain nobah'ees bi(d)neh," Brown's bad edits on the pre-chorus, the "infectious" post-disco dance brew and wrinkle-nosed funk at the end.
Bill Condon had one advantage working in his favor from the start as director of both halves of "Breaking Dawn," the final film in "The Twilight Saga," and that is that the nature of a conclusion allows you to do things dramatically that no other story in the series can do.
Catherine Hardwick deserves high praise for the same reason Chris Columbus did on the "Harry Potter" series, because even if their respective films in their respective franchises aren't the best films in those series, they still had to get the whole thing up in the air to start with. They had to find the cast. They had to set the stage. They had to establish a tone and a visual language that every other director in the series then had to react to, and if you're the fourth guy on the series, you're going to benefit from any mistakes other people have made on the earlier films. You'll be able to build from what they've done, and while they're busy feeding the audience exposition or grappling with the inertia of a movie like "Eclipse," where nothing of consequence happens to anyone at any point, if you're making the conclusion, you get to deliver payoffs, and that's always going to be more fun.
As the annual Oscar season unfolds, there are a number of expected events that traditionally make or break a best picture winner. These signposts usually indicate who is the frontrunner, who is gaining traction and who isn't.
"Crossfire Hurricane," Brett Morgen's new documentary celebrating 50 years of The Rolling Stones (9 p.m., HBO), opens in intentionally disorienting fashion.