Friday, 31 January 2014

The Grammy's 2014 Highlights

 The 2014 Grammy Awards

     If you didn't catch the Grammy awards this year, boy did you miss out.  Over the last few years I've found the Grammy's catered to either specific genres (that I so wasn't into) or specific age groups, (for which I grew out of as soon as I got my driver's license).  But this year, oh this year, they catered to everybody, every age group, and all musical palates.

    This awards show had very little to do with actual awards.  It was all about the performances.  And though I would have picked a host with a little more clout than LL Cool J., the entertainment portion of the evening was divine.

    To launch the show last Sunday night was this leggy performance of Drunk in Love by Beyonce and Jay Z.  Have a look for yourself, chick has legs!  (If you're wondering what the bleeped out lyrics are, it's "How the hell did this sh!t happen".


     After a quip from LL Cool J. and an award presented by Anna Kendrick and Pharrell Williams, which was pretty cute, to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for Best New Artist, Lorde took the stage to perform her killer-hit, Royals.  Now if you haven't heard this song yet, you are living in a box below ground - because I live in a box above ground and even I've heard this tune.  And it's catchy.  I originally thought it was some sort of tribute to the show Gossip Girls, until I saw Lorde perform it here at the Grammy's, after this performance I thought it might be better suited for The Walking Dead.  Regardless, killer performance.

   So after the creepy realization that Lorde isn't actually some Britney Spears/Aguilera wannabe, Hunter Hayes, this child (Seriously the kid looks like he's 12 years old, though he's apparently 22) takes the stage and moves the audience by belting out this inspiring song.  If this performance of Invisible by Hunter Hayes doesn't give you chills and goose-pimples, go see your doctor, because you are likely dead inside.

     We get bored by an actual award acceptance at this point, Daft Punk and the robots win for best duo/group performance.  They beat out P!nk.  WTF!??!  Anyhow, after that lame moment, and another lame moment where Steve Coogan plugs his new movie while introduce Katy Perry, a vortex opens and takes us into a crazy, witchy, dark world where Katy Perry performs Dark Horse.  This was a visually stunning performance, but all around it left me with a feeling of "Meh. What's next?"

     Following Katy Perry's show, Robin Thicke takes the stage with Chicago where they perform a medley of Chicago tunes.  Now I've heard a lot of things about Robin Thicke that made me dislike the man, things like the lyrics to Blurred Lines.  So I expect a total schmuck to be taking the stage, but instead we're greeted by a lovely gentleman, who does justice to a  classic band like Chicago.  Sure he ends it with the Blurred Lines song, sending his gentlemanliness right out the door. But his opening performance? In two words: tasteful and talented.

    When the audience stops going wild for Thicke's enthusiastic finale, Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. sing one of the cutest songs I've heard in a really long time.  Cop car had every couple within earshot holding hands and smiling.

  Insert a sweet performance by John Legend to break things up and allow for a bathroom break.  Other than the sweet look on his wife's face during creative camera shots, this video can totally be skipped.

     While everyone is coming back from their bathroom break, Kevin Hart and Charlie Wilson give out the award for Best Rock Song to Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl and everybody else for Cut Me Some Slack.

     And now back to our regularly scheduled excitement! Or not.  Well sort of.  Taylor Swift takes a seat at the piano and perfectly belts out a tune that would be perfect to listen to on days when you are spiralling into an abyss of depression and want to feel like someone understands you.  A lot of anger there too.  And whiplash.  Maybe it's just me but I think she's trying to invoke the glorious Stevie Nicks in this piece; the raspy voice, the flowing gown, the feathered hair.  Keep trying Taylor, you have a long way to go to reach the divinity that is Stevie Nicks.

    At this point, I can barely stay in my seat because I know, I know, the first of the two reasons I tuned into the Grammy's is taking the stage, or in this case, takes the sky.  Don't miss this one, where she does her amazing acrobatics while singing Try, followed by a steamy dance scene - not enough for you? No problem, I was craving more too, and P!nk delivered by skirting-up and joining Nate Reuss from Fun to belt out Just Give me a Reason. 
     Though this was another unbelievable performance by P!nk I don't think even she can ever outdo her 2010 grammy performance of Glitter.  But regardless, give it a look-see.

   Yet again we interrupt this show to bring you an award.  Lorde wins for Best Pop Solo Performance for... you guessed it, Royals.  Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

     Ringo Starr then performs Photographs.  Remember how I mentioned earlier that this show caters to all age groups and not just the teeny-boppers any more? I wasn't kidding. The crowd is having a blast, including Yoko Ono.  Crazy.

     And another award... Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z win Best Rap Collaboration for Holy Grail. Yay.  Yawn.  Oh wait, what the hell is goin' on?  The energy shifts completely as Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragon take the stage. We are talking about some intensely crazy, super-enigmatic, high energy vibes happening.  Talk about rockin' the roof off a place!

    This performance was raved as being the best show of the night on social media.  Though I'll admit the intensity was sublime, I had other ideas.


    Notice how Taylor Swift is like the only person dancing? Normally I would say "You Go Girl" but I find she moves like Steve Urkle from Family Matters.  Shrug.  Maybe it's just me. Oh and the guys from Imagine Dragon spend the rest of the show in their white suits covered in smoke and red dye from the machines. Rock on dudes!

   That was pretty damn powerful, right? Well, feel terrible for this young lady, Kacey Musgraves who has to immediately follow this act with a twangy country song.  It's kinda sad too, on its own merit, Follow your Arrow is actually a pretty cool song.  In fact, she beats out Taylor Swift with this tune later on in the evening...

    Poor girl.  Anyhow, make room for Julia - Frikkin -Roberts!  Wait, WHAT?  You got it! Julia Roberts stunningly take the stage. "But why is a high-calibre actor like Julia Roberts at the Grammy's?" You ask? Who cares!?! It's Julia - FRIKKIN -Roberts! She could stride on stage at a prostate cancer convention and still be right where she belongs.  But that's not why she's there.  Miss Roberts is there to introduce a tribute to The Beatles that will air in February, exactly 50 years from the day the foursome made it big.  Pretty cool actually.

    Know what else pretty cool? Watching the remaining Beatles perform live at the Grammy's.  And you know what? I'm not the only one who thinks so.  Check out the audience going absolutely wild.  (Sorry for the quality, I actually couldn't find a decent version of this.  Go figure.)

    We interrupt yet again to announce that Bruno Mars won Best Pop Vocal Album, for Unorthodox Jukebox. Heh, cute title.

    As the quality of the videos here get crappier and crappier you get a real sense of what age groups are posting these videos.  The older bands aren't getting any social media time.  Either because the young'ens aren't interested in these classic musical gods, or it's now past their bedtime.  Either way, this chicky got chills when Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton took the stage.  (My guess is that Blake Shelton's presence has something to do with insurance purposes and the likelihood that he's certified in CPR.)

   When Merle starts up with Okie from Muskokie I thought I had time warped back to being 5 years old in the back of my parents Oldsmobile on the way to some godforsaken place.  It was amazing to see this part of the show, and like the crowd, I sang right along to the songs of the grand ol' opry.

   Now take a moment, a serious moment, to contemplate this.  Yes, this is a Deep Thoughts Moment.  Okie from Muskokie came out in 1949, that's 45 years ago.  Mama Don't let you Babies Grow up to be Cowboys was released in 1975, 39 years ago.  Merle Haggard is a whoppin' 76 years old, Willie Nelson is 80.  80!!! And everyone in that audience, despite age, race or musical genre was singing along to those songs.  That's pretty damn impressive.


    Remember Kacey Musgraves? That poor little country girl that had to follow Imagine Dragon's awesome performance? Yeah, don't feel bad, not many people do.  Anyhoo... she wins that award I mentioned earlier, beating out Taylor Swift for Best Country Album with Same Trailer Different Park.  Heh heh, cute title.

    Now here it gets interesting, notice also that the video quality improves.  We have Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder performing Get Lucky.  I really hope Pharrell sees this performance and learns to take his finger a quarter inch further away from his nose when he's holding a mic.  I'd also like to add that I have a sneaking suspicion that the Daft Punk Robots are actually Milli Vanilli in disguise.


   Okay seriously, best audience ever! Gives me faith in the human race to see all of those different walks of life enjoying the same party.  To quote Almost Famous, "Music will save the world!".

   And now for the mash-up awesomeness of the evening.  A brilliant performance of a number of Carole King's hits and Sara Bareilles Brave brought to us by these two wickedly amazing artists.  Cyndi Lauper introduces them, and I gotta find out what her skin treatment regimen involves, because damn, she looks better than she did when Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun.  Totally feeling the sisterly love here.

     And song of the year goes to.... Lorde for Royals.  Jarod leto takes the stage looking fine as ever and does a beautiful tribute to Lou Reed.  I admit, I teared up a little.  But Jared, if you're listening, I'd take a walk on the wild side with you any day, handsome.  And as if that scene wasn't cool enough on its own, Jared then goes on to introduce the second reason I tuned into the Grammy's.  Metallica Baby!!!  They rock the house down with Lang Lang doing their massive hit: One. My honey and I were head-banging like it was 1989.  Taylor Swift won't be the only one with a little whiplash injury come the morrow. (Skip to 00:38 seconds to avoid the gibberish)

    It's gotta be mentioned here that when Steven Tyler, (who genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself tonight) gets on stage with Smokey Robinson and spontaneously sings a really spectacular version of You Really Got a Hold on Me.  So cool.  Another award. Sigh.  Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams win Record of the Year for Get Lucky.  Whatever.

   Now the party really gets insane.  Like REALLY gets insane, in the coolest way ever.  The dazzling Queen Latifah introduces Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' performance.  I hadn't heard this song before, but man oh man, I had no idea that these guys had it in them.  That amount of depth from the group who brought us Thrift Shop was not expected.  Brilliant, really. They perform Same Love which preaches love and tolerance for same-sex coupling. It's bloody beautiful. Then 31 couples of all walks of life get married right there at the Grammy's. The ceremony is officiated by Queen Latifah while Madonna sings an old favorite, Open Your Heart.

    It is one of the most touching moments in entertainment history.


    It's pretty much all downhill from there.  There's a nice little memorial to those in the music business that passed away in 2013.  I shed a tear for George Jones and sang along to The Everly Brothers' When Will I Be Loved.  Another award went to Daft Punk for Album of the Year.

    The whole night was themed towards tolerance, love, anti-bullying, meshing of age groups, genres, and coming together as one.  If you missed the Grammy's on Sunday, I hope my article was helpful  in catching you up on what seems to be a musical breaking down of walls. Pink Floyd would be proud.

    One other thing worth mentioning (well, sort of) is Pharrell's hat, which was so... well... weird, that it got it's own parody account on twitter before the show was even over.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Hold on to your Hormones

The Wolf of Wall Street

So picture a typically ambitious and testosterone-driven man’s most detailed wet dream.  Got it in your head? Good, it probably resembles the movie The Wolf on Wall Street.  So there ya go, no need to watch the movie.  Unless you want to see how it all goes wrong.  In that case, by all means take the three hours and bury yourself in this creative debauchery.

I don’t think there are many virile men out there who wouldn’t love this long escapade into money, drugs and loose women. A warning to the women though: expect your man to be in alpha-male mode after gnawing on this meaty film.

The acting, well the acting is superb. Leonardo DiCaprio tears to shreds and devours every aspect of our main character, Jordan Belfort.  A variety-pack of carnivorous actors ravish the screen with little to no effort in this mash-up cast.

And finally, kudos to the man who needs no accolades, Mr. Martin Scorsese – giving men what they’ve craved for decades, a movie so filled with testosterone that his audience can’t help but wonder how the crew doesn’t jump out of the film and attack them in typical ‘roid-rage fashion.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Same Ol' Woody

    Blue Jasmine - Movie Review

     I've always had a distaste for Woody Allen.  I never really "got" his films, and because of that, I always felt like I simply wasn't cool or hipster enough to "get" them.  Maybe I'm not. (Also, that affair with his adopted daughter was big news when I was a kid and didn't exactly grace him in my books.) Regardless of his so called "genius", his movies, and his being in general, have never done a thing for me.  Blue Jasmine was no exception.

    The only reason this movie got any stars at all from me is because of Cate Blanchett's amazing performance.  That woman is unbelievably talented.  Nonetheless, the movie stunk about as badly as blue cheese dressing drizzled over 3-day old tuna that's been left out in the sun.

   Okay maybe it wasn't THAT bad... It does have a great cast and the characters really do reel you in, but to what end? None at all. I've sat through my share of bad movies with crappy endings and no story wrap-ups lately but really, this one takes the caviar.

    Save yourself the time, don't bother with this film unless you are studying how to act, (or how NOT to complete a story), and go fishing instead.  In shark-infested waters. With someone you detest. It may not be the best day you've had but it most certainly will come to a more definite conclusion than this film.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - A Review

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

A review

     Ever take the last piece of chocolate out of the box, expect it to be awful, then are pleasantly surprised when it's delicious? You wanted caramel, but were happy to find a tasty nugget instead? That's The
Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

     I watched the film following a re-watch of Tropic Thunder - Now let me just say, I usually detest Ben Stiller movies, but was up for a night of mindless entertainment. They don't call it Friday night for nothing'. But this was no typical veg-out movie.

     Walter Mitty is your basic self-conscious, insecure sucker with a penchant for daydreaming. Lucky for the viewer, those daydreams are brought to us with film-sequences reminiscent of a good superhero movie.

     Ben Stiller's character finds adventure, excitement, and himself on a journey to the movie's best part: Sean Penn as the uber-mystical photographer. Though it wasn't quite as uplifting as Larry Crowne, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a great film to watch if you're looking for something along the lines of The Big Year.