Monday, January 21, 2013

My Fave Films of 2012

Perks of Being My Favorite

1. Perks Of Being A Wallflower
2. Argo
3. Django Unchained
4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
5. This Is 40
6. The Impossible
7. Silver Linings Playbook
8. Zero Dark Thirty
9. Savages
10. TIE - Amour; Life of Pi

21 Jump Street
This Means War
Pitch Perfect
The Cabin in the Woods
The Hunger Games
Documentaries: The Queen of Versailles; Diana Vreeland

Amazing Spiderman
John Carter
Cloud Atlas
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

(* I haven't seen Beasts of the Southern Wild or Moonrise Kingdom)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Songs & Albums of 2012 - My Choices


Cutie Rae Jepsen: 1-Hit-Wonder?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->01. CALL ME MAYBE – Carly Rae Jepsen / This song is just pure pop perfection.  Will Jepsen be a super star? No.  As witnessed by her TV performances, there is no stage presence, no charisma, no “it” factor, hence, no solid fan base (beyond Beiber followers), and sadly, no future.  Her follow-up, the cute “This Kiss,” tanked.  But trust me, when we look back on the decade of 2010-2020, this tune will be in the top 10 of the best pop records of it’s time.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->02. WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER – Taylor Swift / She flipped the script, shocking most, but not many.  Those keen to the fact that all this time Swift was essentially a Pop act, weren’t surprised to hear her go full tilt poppy on this perfectly crafted tune. 
<!--[if !supportLists]-->03. DON’T RUSH – Kelly Clarkson (f/Vince Gill) – Tipping her toe into the Nashville waters, as she’s done over the last two years, it comes as no surprise Kelly tackled this pop-country ditty for her Greatest Hits album.  If you loved Country-Pop of the 80’s, this song is for you.  I am still obsessed with it.  I think it should have been huge for her on Country radio.  (More on her miss-guided releases later when I get to the Albums of the Year.)  While some will connect the tune to Islands In The Stream, it’s also very similar to the recent 2008 Billy Currington hit, “Don’t.” 
<!--[if !supportLists]-->04. SOME NIGHTS – fun. / This one took a while to build on the charts.  It’s as if radio wanted to lump the very talented group into One Hit Wonderville with Gotye.  But the label worked to push it through and didn’t give up. It’s different enough to be original, familiar enough to be compared to Queen, and catchy enough to keep you up at night!
<!--[if !supportLists]-->05. EVERYBODY TALKS – Neon Trees / This is very non-Jerry, but I thought this was perfectly produced and rode the line of harder rock and pop rock – much like the Killers used to do.  The verses are very 80’s.  The choruses make this a powerful fist pumping, driving anthem.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->06. MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – Gossip / This one just didn’t stick – at all!  I’ve never been into Beth Ditto & Co., but I stumbled onto this after reading a review.  If there was one tune to break this band here, this would have been it.  Sadly, it was a non-starter.  But trust me, it’s a damn good single.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->07. GIVE YOUR HEART A BREAK – Demi Lovato / It seemed inescapable, but oddly, this tune only reached #16 on Billboard Hot 100.  I immediately though this would have been the comeback tune for JoJo.  And, bless my “golden ears,” the tune was written by the guys who did her “Too Little Too Late.”  One of the writers, Billy Steinberg, gave us some of the best pop moments ever: Like A Virgin, So Emotional, Eternal Flame, True Colors and Heart’s Alone. 
<!--[if !supportLists]-->08. <!--[endif]-->BROKENHEARTED – Karmin / Hyped as the latest, greatest internet-find, this cute duo couldn’t get past this first single.  Stalling at #16, the lyric of “Finish what you started – Don’t you leave me brokenhearted tonight,” was simple but infectious.  
<!--[if !supportLists]-->09. TITANIUM – David Guetta with Sia / Clearly Rihanna-inspired, this dance ditty rose above the tiresome EDM of late to be a damn good, feel good pop tune.  Featured in “Pitch Perfect,” it was apparently offered to Katy Perry first, then Mary J recorded a demo of it until Sia, the song’s co-writter, ultimate took the lead.  Sia, a 37 year old, white Australian woman, also sang and co-wrote FloRida’s “Wild One.”  Looking older than her 37 years, interestingly (or not) Sia’s never seen in those music videos. 
<!--[if !supportLists]-->10. COUNTRY SINGLES – Yes, I’m clumping these together because I listen to a lot of country and didn’t want to make a separate list.  So here goes: ALONE WITH YOU/Jake Owen (my favorite country single of the year); OVER YOU/Miranda Lambert; CHRIS YOUNG/You; KEEP ME IN MIND/Zac Brown Band; PONTOON/Little Big Town; DRUNK ON YOU/Luke Bryan; WANTED/Hunter Hayes; POSTCARD FROM PARIS/The Band Perry (Their 5th single from their 2010 debut album, hit #6 Country earlier in 2012.  THAT’S how you work an album!)

Others: 50 WAYS TO SAY GOODBYE/Train; I WON’T GIVE UP/Jason Mraz; NOT OVER YOU/Gavin DeGraw; LOVE YOU LIKE A LOVE SONG/Selena Gomez; WIDE AWAKE/Katy Perry; CANDY/Robbie Williams and of course, singles from P!nk, Kelly, Maroon 5, and Carrie – but more of that in my Albums of the Year. 


Maroon's "Voice" Adam Levine
<!--[if !supportLists]-->01. <!--[endif]-->MAROON 5/Overexposed – They’re 3 singles deep (Payphone, One More Night and now the brilliant Daylight) – and I think they can go for two more.  I’m hoping “The Man Who Never Lied” follows.  “Love Somebody” and “Doin Dirt” are highlights as well.  They have just crafted perfect pop – structured, simple, fun, structured songs with production sprinkled with disco, club-thumping and 80’s. 
<!--[if !supportLists]-->02. TAYLOR SWIFT/Red – Technically, not released in time for Grammy consideration, so it shouldn’t be on my 2012 list, but I’m so obsessed with it, I had to include it.  With “We Are Never” and now, “I Knew You Were Trouble,” Taylor has told pop queens Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson to make some room.  Yet her country leaning “Begin Again,” keep her Nashville fan base in tact.  Yes, the juvenile simplicity of “Stay” and “22,” show her age, but others like “State of Grace,” the gorgeous “I Almost Do,” and the title track, show her growth and potential.  And that will keep her around for a long time, if not forever. 
<!--[if !supportLists]-->03. CARRIE UNDERWOOD/Blown Away – Unstoppable is how I’d describe Carrie.  She knows what her fans want and she has yet to deliver a bad album, in my opinion.  And while this one is a bit ballad-heavy for my liking – and those ballads aren’t the “I Know You Won’t,” Celine-like power vehicles of previous efforts, this album has the strongest and best storytelling (with melodies) that she’s given.  The title track (and it’s amazing video), “Two Black Cadillacs” (now just taking off as the new single),  the Coldplay’esque “See You Again,” and “Cupid’s Got A Shotgun” are standouts.  I really felt the Blown Away track should have crossed her over again, like Before He Cheats did, but the label didn’t even push it to pop.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->04. P!NK/The Truth About Love – The no-brainer “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” kicked off what could be her best effort yet.  Often wrongly under rated or forgotten when rambling off today’s lady hitmakers (Gaga, Katy, Rihanna, Beyonce), but there’s no denying the hitfactory that is P!nk.  “Try” should be (and hopefully will be) bigger than it currently is.  And I assume that “True Love,” and God-willing “Just Give Me A Reason” with fun. lead singer, Nate Ruess, will follow.  That duet will be a missed opportunity if RCA skips out on issuing it to radio. (And I worry about RCA, as you’ll see below.)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->05. ADAM LAMBERT/Trespassing – It sold a strong-enough 78k albums in it’s first (weak) week to enter at #1.  But singles like “Better Than I Know Myself” a copy of his “What Do You Want From Me?,” and “Never Close Our Eyes,” a copy of his “If I Had You,” failed to gain any radio interest.  While I certainly don’t know for sure, but I think RCA thought with “Better,” they’d have the same success as the huge “What Do Want.”  However,  I wish they took a shot at presenting AL as what he is: a dance-pop performer.  On stage he is a showman – much like the oft compared legendary rock-man, Freddie Mercury.  And with the song “Trespassing,” being released first (not third), they could have hit a homerun.  On that track, Adam did “cheerleader-pop” as well as Gwen’s Hollaback Girl and better than Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”  It’s just a damn good, high energy album to kick start your night – or gym-going.  “Cuckoo,” “Shady,” and “Kickin’ It” are standouts.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->06. KELLY CLARKSON/Stronger – One hot hit, “Mr. Know It All,” followed by one monster-smash, “Stronger,” the album oddly stalled after what was one of the biggest singles of the year.  Why?  Well, clearly, 3rd single, “Dark Side” was the wrong choice.  Lyrically, everyone might have a dark side, but at the time this song was being pushed to radio, the dark side was a shooting at the theatre showing Dark Knight Rises.  Sometimes a tune can rub you the wrong way.  And perhaps the unfortunate timing of this one turned off radio programmers and listeners.  But to abandon the album entirely?  Yes, that’s just what RCA did.  Regardless that “You Love Me” and “I Forgive You,” were worthy to be hit-bound, the label packaged-up a Greatest Hits CD celebrating her decade long career.  Now, I’m sure they thought they’d strike it rich as they did with P!nk’s collection, but P!nk’s was released when her Funhouse album was done.  And somehow, someone over there has decided to give Kelly NO MONEY for any video efforts.  P!nk and Adam (both on RCA as well), have issued wonderful, polished, high-quality videos but poor Kelly…?  Have you seen “Catch My Breath?”  I feel as if they don’t know what to do with her visual image (cute but plain, girl-next-door, with some ups-and-downs on the weight-scale).  But there is no better voice.  Vocally she can sing a song like no one.  Performance-wise, her vocals are outstanding and her pipes are right up there with Celine.  She will go down in history as one of the best pop vocalists ever.  I truly feel that.  And while she may not be a dancer, she also isn’t much of a live performer.  Singing high-energy songs like Stronger, Since U Been Gone and My Life Would Suck while just standing there – or perhaps simply strutting the stage a bit – isn’t going to fly today. Closing your eyes while singing, conveying no message and not connecting to your fans at home through the TV or in concert, doesn't help either.  She sang “Catch My Breath” on the recent VH1 Divas, which was billed as a salute to dance acts.  So she performs, looking beautiful in a full-length Oscar-worthy gown, not moving from behind a mic stand.  Can you explain that choice?  Is the material not fitting the person?  And as for the Stronger album, Kelly deserves better ballads – and she certainly deserves better service from her label.  Perhaps it's her?  Maybe she's surrounded by yes-men or people who know no better.  (But I don't believe that angle.)

Things that didn’t happen in music this year: comebacks from Brandy, No Doubt, Christina Aguilera, Matchbox Twenty, Nelly Furtado, Mariah (and her not-so “Triumphant,” single which thankfully halted an album release). On the fence: Alicia Keys.  The single “Girl On Fire,” might have caught some iTunes sales due to a TV commercial tie in, but I just don’t know what to do with this amazingly talented woman.  Is she trying to be too-cool for the room, and yet, she really isn’t, so it’s inauthentic?  Is she trying to prove to us that she can really, really sing? (And while, yes, her vocals have improved since her debut, I don’t need her shouting at me and singing in what seems to be a step or two too high for her.)  Let Christina do the over-singing and shouting.  There’s only room for one lady to bury her career every time she opens her mouth.  Also on the fence (at least when it comes to new music): Madonna.  The biggest money making tour of the year, but perhaps the biggest let down of an album.  With all of the hype including the Super Bowl, the album has, in it’s 9 months of release, sold just over 500,000 copies.  When millions upon millions see you sing at the Super Bowl, and then buy tickets to your concert, but you only sell 500k copies, something isn’t adding up.  It could be her attitude (hydrangeas and Gaga-bashing) or over all out-of-touch’ness with what audiences want from her, but the Madonna I knew and loved started trends not followed them.  She brought William Orbit into the pop world (Ray of Light). Now, she teams with a one-hit-wonder (LMFAO) in a sign of desperation just to try to show she’s relevant...?

I'm sure there are some I'm missed.  I'm sure some will make most irate.  But these are my personal opinions.  And I listen to pop (and country), so you won't find Jack White or Springsteen here.  Just not not my thing.  So, I hope you'll sample some of these, make 2013 amazing and be Just Like Jerry!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hot August Hits, TV Thoughts & More

Infectious Break-Up Song #679 from ever-jilted Swift
Current "Hot Hits" I'm into: Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - While I can't imagine what Country Radio must be thinking... other than WTF?...  this song is so infectious and is right up there with Carly Rae's "Call Me Maybe" as the most instant, no-brainer pop hit of the year... P!nk's "Blow Me (1 Last Kiss)" - When I saw the video, I was reminded of just how bad-ass she is.  I thought of Tina Turner, Cher and even Bette Midler... just pure, raw talent with hard-edged sass wrapped-up in a pretty woman. And that says A LOT.  She is so unfortunately under rated or over looked or an "after-thought" when people list today's women-of-pop (Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Katy) and she shouldn't ever be!...  Demi Lovato's "Give Your Heart a Break" - This is Jojo's comeback song that Jojo didn't cut.  She sells albums and has a following but this is her first bonafide, well-earned smash.  I hope X-Factor brings out some more stuff like this from her.... Owl City & Carly Rae's "Good Time" - I dare you not to sing this after your first listen.  This bodes well for Carly's full-CD about to drop next month.... Other's I'm into include Cher Lloyd "Want You Back," Matchbox Twenty's "She's  So Mean," Maroon 5's "One More Night," and Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away," which should be her first crossover since "Before He Cheats." Her video is amazing!  It took a while, but I am indeed hooked on No Doubt's newbie, "Settle Down." Welcome back Gwen & Co.!

Summer TV: So obsessed with HBO's NEWSROOM.  You have to understand, I never missed an episode of the 7 seasons of West Wing.  I love Sorkin's writing.  The casting, the story telling is just genius.  Each episode surrounds a time in recent history and what this news production team went through (IE killing bin Laden, BP oil spill and the brilliant "to report or not to report" on Casey Anthony - because they are a "serious" news show).  With only 10 episodes produced, it's one of those short-run cable series that must cost too much but damn-it I wish there were 22 a year!  Speaking of "cost too much," can you find some dough so Jane Fonda can be on more than 2 episodes!?...  BREAKING BAD (AMC) is still so brilliant.  Dark, scary, real but outlandish, raw... and some of the best acting on TV ever. (Though I do feel Bryan Cranston, after 3 wins, should have withdrawn from Emmy competition.)... WEEDS, EPISODES (Showtime) - yes, I watch 'em!... BIG BROTHER (CBS) is such a guilty pleasure.  And while 3 nights is a lot to commit, I can't imagine missing a moment.  Casting is key to this show and they always get it right.  However, I can tell they thought they were getting a kick-ass, trouble-making lesbian in Jen but got a "is she still in the house?" wallflower instead.... I can proudly admit, I watch BUNHEADS (ABC Family).  I mean, you're giving me Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop in my living room every week on a show from the Gilmore Girls creator?  Color me "there."... Sigourney Weaver on a political soap portraying a Hilary Clinton-like lady with two cute sons (one gay), created by the guy who gave us "Brothers & Sisters"? Need I say more about POLITICAL ANIMALS (USA)?... And whoda thunk DALLAS (TNT) could relaunch decades later to be a perfect cheesy summer soap? I'm holding out for a Donna Mills/Abbey Ewing appearance. 

Annie's a Diva
God Bless the USA!  But I didn't watch ANY of the Olympics. Sorry, but I felt if I missed something amazing, I'd watch it on-line (like Phelp's final win). I did see the closing ceremonies and thank goodness for the Spice Girls and the brilliant Annie Lennox.  Her "Diva" album is the best of the 90's. Period.  Here's her "Why" video to remind you.  

On the movie-front, nothing's killed me this season.  The Avengers and Dark Knight were fun and worth it, while I coulda and shoulda walked out of Battleship and Bourne. The Queen of Versailles is one to watch at home once it's released.

Is there anything better than the classic Neutrogena Light Sesame Body Oil? It's a post-shower must-use, especially after sunning.

So, moisture-up and be Just Like Jerry!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Emmy Nominations: Snubs & Predictions.

My choice to sweep Drama categories
As a TV junkie, I'm going to offer my initial thoughts on the Emmy nominations.

Drama Series: Homeland will take it, with Downton Abbey (now in the Series category) it's toughest competition. Snubbed here is Showtime's Shameless.  Also note, Smash received little love except for Uma Thurman as Guest Actress.

Comedy Series: Honestly, Veep was the only one that made me LOL.  It's Veep or Girls here, but sometimes the academy can be dull and chose something like Big Bang Theory. (I sat through one episode last year and was amazed of its popularity.  It should be popular for being the most unfunny, banal thing on TV.)  Speaking of unfunny, Glee, submitted in Comedy categories, went from 20 noms its first year to just one for Dot Marie Jones (as Guest Actress). I think The Middle deserves to be here too.

Actress Drama: Claire Danes. Period.

Actor Drama: After 3 wins, I wish Bryan Cranston would have done right and withdrawn his name.  He is brilliant and I love the show, but 3 is enough. It just becomes greedy. But, oh the ego of actors!  I'm rooting for Damian Lewis (Homeland) to take it. Snubbed: Hugh Laurie for his final House.

Sup Actress Drama: Mad Men's Christina Hendricks has yet to take this, so that'd be nice. Her competition is the never-nom'd Anna "Skyler" Gunn from Breaking Bad (also worthy).  But don't count out the two Downton ladies (Maggie Smith and Joanne "Anna" Froggatt). This is a category to watch! Snubbed here were Mad Men's Jessica Pare and possibly January Jones (who might have wrongly submitted herself in Lead Actress.) And it would have been nice to see Madeleine Stowe for Revenge get a nod.

Sup Actor Drama: Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) both had wonderful swan-song turns on their series' but I think Harris will take it. The snub here is no nod for Mandy Patinkin (Homeland). Such a shame.

Actor Comedy: Jim Parsons of Big Bang has taken it for the last two years, so I'm hoping that trend stops.  There's a lot of heat behind Louis CK, but Larry David (Curb) has yet to take it.  I think it's CK's year.  Not nom'd: Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), who took the Globe.

Actress Comedy: It was the year of Zooey Deschanel... until Lena Dunham came along.  But don't be surprised if Emmy-darling Julia Louis Dreyfus snags it for Veep.  She'd actually be my choice.  I held such animosity toward her for years for stealing this award from Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback), but I think I'm ready to drop that grudge.  Maybe.  Not really.  But I do like her in Veep.  Zooey will win. Yawn. And really, they ignore Patricia Heaton again?!

Sup Actor Comedy: It's time for Ed O'Neill (Modern Family).  But I do love Max Greenfield (Schmidt) on New Girl. I think Tony Hale (Veep) should have been nom'd.

Merritt Wever to WIN!
Sup Actress Comedy: No else deserves this more than Merritt Wever on Nurse Jackie.  She is simply brilliant, hysterical and her choices - her nuances - are just perfection.  Kristin Wiig is there for her final SNL season - and Mayim "Blossom" Bialik (Big Bang) could be the upset.  I'm lighting candles for Merritt! Snubs here - other ladies from Nurse Jackie, Cougar Town, Happy Endings and Maya Rudolph for Up All Night... and Eden Sher as Sue Heck so deserves a nod already!

Miniseries: American Horror Story. No question.

Miniseries/Movie Actress: Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in HBO's Game Change. 

Miniseries/Movie Actor: Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys). I didn't watch, but it was HUGE and Emmy's love a "movie star" on TV.

Sup Actress & Actor Miniseries/Movie: Jessica Lange & Denis O'Hare for Horror Story. I mean, c'mon!

Reality Host: Tom Bergeron, Cat Deeley, Seacrest haven't won and all deserve it. Their competion: Phil K (Amazing Race) and Betty White, do not.

Reality competition: The Amazing Race should have withdrawn.  I'm hoping So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With The Stars can nab it.  And yes, no Idol nom here.

Now, back to our regular programming and be Just Like Jerry!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Battleship Review, Idol Judge Swap, Idol Predictions

J-Hud: my choice to replace J-Lo
With news breaking this week that Jennifer Lopez would exit Idol after 2 seasons of judging, I thought it'd be an ideal time for me to re-cast the judges.  Actually, I've been thinking about this all season because as exciting as the threesome of J-Lo, Steven Tyler & Randy Jackson were last year, this year it quickly seemed tired... and so did they.   I'll keep with the make-up of 2 guys and 1 girl.  To step in for Jenny from the Block, I offer what may seem to be an outlandish but obvious thought: go with a former Idol star.  I give you Jennifer Hudson.  With Kelly on "Duets" and Carrie on tour, J-Hud is the only female left who is a household name, a proven powerhouse vocalist and a Grammy & Oscar winner.  And while her recent recording efforts have faltered, perhaps Idol can reignite a currently stalled career that has been worthy of so much more.  (Yes, I know she has an Oscar, but I still think she should be making huge, crossover Beyonce/Rihanna-like records.)  My second thought for a female would be to go Country. Idol has made Country stars, so how about you plop a Country judge in the chair?  Wynonna? Why not!? Big personality and one of the most (sadly) under rated vocalists around. I think she'd make great TV and would be brash 'n' brassy with her constructive criticism.  If they want younger, try LeAnn Rimes. Rumored to be long in-the-running for an X-Factor spot, the 29 year-old, started at 13 winning a Best New Artist Grammy and crossed-over to Pop.  Now for the first male-chair: Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas. Like Adam Levine on "The Voice," Rob appeals to youngsters and their parents.  And, just like Maroon was, Matchbox is in need of some "unconventional" media hype behind their upcoming fall CD - their first full set since 2002's "More Than You Think You Are."  (Their hiatus is due to Rob's successful solo turns from '05 and '08.)  At 40, he's the perfect singer/songwriter/musician to join the team.  For that final spot - the one Randy Jackson should volunteer to exit - I feel the "music expert" (IE record exec/music producer) is needed.  No one is better than David Foster.  Tough, honest, brilliant, Foster has produced hits for Barbra, Celine & Whitney.  I could go on, but overseeing projects by those ladies, I shouldn't have to.  But I will.  He discovered, produced and signed Michael Buble & Josh Groban and has 16 Grammy Awards.  However, he's running Universal's Verve Music Group which could pose a problem for Idol's own 19/Interscope.  In his place, a few names I offer-up are Babyface, Jimmy Jam - the more 'vocal' guy of Jam & Lewis (Janet, Mary J Blige)... and, hey, would George Michael do it?  There are other names and scenarios worthy of the panel: Janet Jackson (who turned down X-Factor), Chris Daughtry or Adam Lambert (as part of my "bring back an Idol star" theory), Brandy, Mary J, Cher.  Good Lord, would Cher do it?  Just don't move Iovine to a chair.  Look, clearly Simon Cowell & Co looked at the Voice judges and now knows he can get young, current, hit- making artists (Britney, Demi). So I anticipate, that Idol will do the same and at least two of those chairs will be filled by bodies younger than 50, perhaps 40.  The next panel likely to get scrapped will be the 56-59 year olds judging talent on "America's Got Talent."  If I were Sharon or Howie, I'd be getting nervous, 'cause if Stern wants to stay, he will - and the other two will get the boot... for a younger demo.  This is all not to my liking, I know Kenny Loggins (64) and Gladys Knight (67) could teach better than anyone under 40.  But this is TV and TV is ratings and sadly, youth.  Let's also keep in mind, J-Lo held-out to officially sign on last year until August... for a pay bump to $20 million for just one season.

Jessica Sanchez: My Idol Choice
As for the IDOL contestants? Joshua is a stellar vocalist. His music stylings and song choices lean heavily toward blues & gospel. And without that it-factor of the presence of someone like Usher, I wonder what kind of record he'd make.  I imagine Iovine & Co will pass on signing him, opening him up to go to a gospel label which will likely be his choice.  (Check out his amazing "Man's World.")  The top two?  Again, lacking any personality so what kind of record does Jessica make?  Katy Perry pop with power ballads? Those power ballads we ALL love are hard to find nowadays.  Jessica is an outstanding and amazingly gifted vocalist (check this out), but perhaps her 16 years aren't enough to have her put anything other than perfect vocals behind her songs. If killer vocals were all that is needed to be a huge star, Charise would have hit ("All By Myself").  Somehow - lack of material - she didn't.  As for resident hottie, Phil Phillips?  Not conforming to wardrobe suggestions and bending only slightly to the judges suggestions, clearly the headstrong PP knows what kind of act he wants to be.  Sadly, that kind of act is no longer relevant in any major way in music. John Mayer, Dave Matthews? It's been a while for them. (And the guy rockers Idol's given us: Lee Dewyze, Kris Allen, David Cook - and recently Daughtry, have all faltered.)  It's very clear that young girls are driving the voting process so PP could take it, unless these girls want to show real girl power and let Jessie be crowned, as she should, in my opinion.

Kitch: Battleship Down
REVIEW: Battleship - I won't waste a lot of space on this because I rarely feel ok walking out of a movie but quite frankly, I could have.  It took 32 minutes - THIRTY TWO - to set up the "story" before any real action began in what's supposed to be a kick-off to summer, action, "popcorn" flick.  The effects/CGI - even the Walrus-Men Aliens in Iron Man suits - are all first rate, but that slow start combined with cheesy dialogue and holes in an already thin storyline make this my choice for the worst of the year so far.  If it weren't for the hottness of Taylor Kitch and Alexander Skarsgard, I'd give it a "D."  As for Rihanna's screen debut? No harm, no foul. She took the role, clearly offered to Michelle Rodriguez, and did the one-note/kick-ass chick as it was written on paper. Movie grade "C-" --- For a scathing review, check this out. Ouch.

If you want to see an anti-summer blockbuster, check out the adorable, touching "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."  Judi Dench & Maggie Smith lead a stellar cast of "seniors" who move into a dilapidated retirement hotel in India. The film is sweet, funny and inspiring. A perfect antidote to cure the pain of "Battleship."  So check into the "Hotel" and be Just Like Jerry!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Adam Lambert, Carrie, Veep, Follies

Adam's sophomore set is a summer-party soundtrack
REVIEW: Adam Lambert/Trespassing - There's no denying Lambert's amazing vocal chops. And combined with his showmanship, he's proven himself one stellar entertainer. I think of him as someone who could be a male Gaga - a Princess to take over for Queen Elton and the late Freddie Mercury.  Yes, he's that good. And when you're that good, it's all more difficult to find the genius material to match the outstanding vocals and envelop-pushing performances.  His debut "For Your Entertainment," did just that.  While there was only one slam-dunk charted smash ("What Do You Want"), I felt there were 5 others that should have popped from that collection.  With "Trespassing," AL stays in the same rocking-dancefloor vein, (perhaps pushing the edginess a bit too much for my liking on the ballad cuts.)  But with the album's title track kicking it off, songs 1-7 are custom-made for clubs and pool parties alike.  These cuts are what I hope to be hearing all summer as opposed to Madonna's "MDNA."   Highlights are "Trespassing," an infectious, no-brainer that does cheerleading pop much better than "Give Me All Your Lovin'" by Maddy, funky-silly "Cuckoo," current single "Never Close Your Eyes," and the Prince-like "Shady."  And while the goofy lyrics of "Naked Love" and "Pop That Lock" don't match the banal, nursery rhyme words Maddy tries to sell us, AL's tunes are simply better crafted pop-dance ditty's. I feel as if Adam's in on the joke of having some mindless fun in his lyrics, where Madonna tries to pass it off as artistry.  So now my concern: the label released an OK pop-rocker, "Better Than I Know Myself" about 3 months ago. It tanked. While they may have thought it was a dupe of his "What Do You Want" hit (which it is), with the pop landscape of dance music overwhelming popular on mainstream radio (David Guetta, Rihanna, Usher) and pop-rockers (Daughtry, David Cook) finding no radio-love, you'd then think the label would capitalize on this and push the clubbier tracks - all of which are worthy. My suggestion to RCA/19: embrace the dance and release the title track. My suggestion to you readers: skip the emo-rocking ballads and download tracks 1-8.  My dream and suggestion for his management: a tour with Maroon 5. I mean, picture AL taking on Xtina's part on "Moves Like Jagger." Right? Album grade: A-

OTHER MUSIC: A solid "A Grade" for Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away." While I prefer the poppier Celine'esque power ballads like previous efforts ("I Know You Won't," "Can't Live A Lie"), her up-tempos are undeniably fun and vocals are unmatched. My faves: the driving title track, great storytelling tune 2 Black Cadillacs, power pop-rocker See You Again, the inspiring One Way Ticket and pure country Cupid's Got A Shotgun. SINGLES I'M DIGGIN': Karmin/Brokenhearted; Maroon 5/Payphone; Jennifer Lopez/Dance Again; Selena Gomez/Hit the Lights; and fun./Some Nights.  Songs I never want to hear again: Gotye "Used To Know" and fun's "We Are Young." So overplayed!

TV WATCH: HBO's "Girls" is catching on.  Uncomfortable, raw, painfully and hysterically real, you almost want to root for them... almost. It's that "almost" part that makes the show all more intriguing.... Paired with "Girls" on Sunday, "Veep," has such a strong cast, but seems to coming off a little too sit-commy for HBO so far. I'll stay with it, but for an HBO series, I'm hoping for more edge, less hokey.... Am I giving up on "The Killing" (AMC)? Not yet, but there are 3 stacked up on my DVR which doesn't bode well.... What's better than "Mad Men?" Not much.... Yes, I stuck with "Desperate Housewives" for all 8 seasons and will be sad to see it go.  It was a great soap - never meant to be Pulitzer Prize-winning TV, but more so a newer take on "Knots Landing," and I think it did that just fine. Goodbye Wisteria Lane ladies!...  Season finales are approaching which means summer programming and the return of "Big Brother." Hope it's good!

THEATRE PEOPLE: Hey LA! Get your butt downtown and see the amazing production of "Follies." A brilliant, under rated and rarely seen Sondheim musical, this stellar, hard-working cast will make you glad you hit up the Ahmanson for a wonderful evening of pure genius. Yes, I liked it.  It's currently up for 8 Tony noms and with tunes like Broadway Baby, Losing My Mind, I'm Still Here and How Could I Leave You, I guarantee it's worth it.

SKIN SAVER: My dermo told me to use CeraVe PM lotion. I now do and WOW! See, as we age (though I'm certainly not), we lose moisture and need a good nighttime cream to do its work and repair while we rest.  So, moisture-up and be Just Like Jerry!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Back! Carly Rae, Idol-Watch & More

This is how u look, dress and deliver
an album cover! BAM! SuperStar!
After 3 months, I've returned!  I vow to try my best to kinda think about doing this once a week, ok?

Tunes I love: Carly Rae "Call Me Maybe" - not since "Moves Like Jagger" have I been this obsessed with a tune. It is pop perfection. And the video is delicious with a great pay-off so watch it all!  Carrie Underwood's back with "Good Girl." Thanx Carrie! (Her album drops 5/1.) Yes, Madonna's returned. I assume you've heard.  Her "Girl Gone Wild" is actually a lotta fun. This one by Graffiti6 is so gorgeous, as is the lead singer. It's kind of a male Adele sound. While not as brill as their "Boy Is Mine" from a decade ago, Brandy & Monica re-teamed for "It All Belongs to Me." The lyrics are fun, break-up, "Irreplaceable"-esque and the vid drives home the Waiting To Exhale theme.  It's my current R&B jam.  And finally, Jake Owen! Wow! Hot guy, infectious country-pop ditty; I give you "Alone With You."

TV TIME: After a year-and-a-half, Mad Men returns (3/25)! I need a crash course on what happened last. Do you? Here's a catch-up video....  Did you see Game Change on HBO!? Wow! Just dump a truck load of Emmy's all over 'em, especially Julianne Moore.  You will think to yourself "I can't believe we lived through this?" and "Thank God Obama won."... Yes, I'm into "Smash." It's settled into a lil' soap with musical elements. And while I wish it was all about making a musical, I understand it needs to be mainstream.  It's picked up for season two!... With the amazingly delicious "Revenge" a hit, it seems the nets are gearing up a lot of nighttime soaps, like a re-do of the 70's "Scruples" with Claire Forlani and Alyssa Milano in "Mistress."  Plus, the perfect summer programming will be TNT's "Dallas," beginning 6/13...  Showtime's "Shameless" is brillz... raw, raunchy, unsettling, funny, outlandish, gross, charming.  It'll never win a thing cuz you can't put it in Drama or Comedy.

IDOL: Here's the thing, I've accepted Idol as sheer TV entertainment. I don't think this show or the others can or will ever create a bona fide hit-making-recording-superstar. They haven't done it since Carrie won in 2004 - season 4.  They are now on season 11. That said, a lot of wonderful vocalist have been on the show and lost, won or came close.  But no one has matched the vocal-power and awe-shucks charm of Kelly (who did not know what would come of winning the way contestants do now), the sassiness of astounding vocalist Jennifer Hudson, the full-Country-"marketing-dream"-package of Carrie or the raw-sexy-rockstar'ness of Daughtry. And that's what Idol's given us. Can it be duplicated? Maybe. But it'd be duplicated. You see? So it seems now - with ratings dwindling, Ryan apparently one foot out the door, Steven Tyler (in year two) already over it, J-Lo wanting out last year - that only Randy, is of course, holding on to that table with both hands. Yet, it's still a Fox-TV moneymaker, which means it will continue for years to come.  Let's recall: Ruben, Clay, Lee DeWyze, Bowersox, Archuletta, Kris Allen, Taylor Hicks, David Cook...?  Recent winner Scotty McCreery is doing ok in country. But just ok. Same for Fantasia in R&B (with Grammy wins).  Perhaps the deserving, beautiful and wrongly overlooked Jordin Sparks will jump back with "Sparkle," the feature film with Whitney Houston. And while Adam Lambert's recent single tanked, I hold out hope he'll bounce back to charts and not to Broadway, where I'm sure the offers come weekly. (And if you know me, you know I'm not knocking Broadway, I just want him to be a mega-pop-male-Gaga-star.)  So I love Idol as a TV show - and I love it for opening doors and changing peoples lives. Kellie Pickler (also underrated) "makes a living" in country and is an incredible personality; where's her sit-com?  Six-years (and 2 failed albums) after Idol, Kat McPhee's now on "Smash." Guarini, Constantine, Degarmo are all legit Broadway players. But again, the last huge recording star/"Idol" was created in '04 - Miss Carrie Underwood.

FILMS: Quickly... I rolled my eyes at the "21 Jump Street" previews but had a ton of fun. It was pretty damn funny - and Channing!? Yum.  This weekend, "The Hunger Games." I've been waiting forever... because, of course, I didn't read the book!

FLASHBACK: In my book, still one of the top male vocalists ever. Here's Donny Osmond's '89 comeback hit, "Soldier of Love," written and produced by the guys who gave us Rihanna. True! The story goes, radio wasn't about to play a Donny record, so they sent it out with no artist name - a white label - and radio played it... then, the reveal! And he followed it up with a few other hits like "Sacred Emotion."  Great story!

FIBER: Everything's a gummy!  And as I'm not too good with the veggies, I chew my fiber gummies a few times daily! Try 'em and be Just Like Jerry!