Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

2010: Year in Review January 1, 2011

Filed under: Books,Fringe,Glee,Lost,Memories,Movies,Music,Television — Emily @ 5:24 pm

2010 was a year that marked the birth of my second son, which has made it decidedly more difficult for me to maintain this blog. Perhaps one of my new year’s resolutions will be to post more frequently. We shall see. Blame it on pregnancy ditziness, blame it on newborn phase sleep deprivation, but whatever the cause, much of 2010 is a blur, especially the entertainment world. I do remember saying goodbye to, and shedding some tears for, one of my all-time favorite shows. I also remember the wrong person winning American Idol, the soap opera I grew up on coming to an end, and Christopher Nolan continuing his movie-making magic. Here’s a bullet point list of the best of times, worst of times of 2010.

  • Good Reads
    • Stieg Larsson’s Girl trilogy – I read all three of these books in 2010 and found them completely riveting. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a satisfying blend of suspense and mystery revolving around the enigmatic Vanger family. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was a conspiracy-filled investigation to clear the name of the wrongfully accused, and The Girl Who Played with Fire was a satisfying ending to the trilogy with its expose of a secret organization and Lisbeth Salander finally finding some peace. I have watched the Swedish movie adaptations of the first two novels, and they were surprisingly good (meaning the transition from page to screen was pretty accurate). I hear there are American versions in the works, but since the trilogy is set in Sweden, and so much of the plot revolves around Swedish politics and culture, I don’t think they will be as good.
    • Eric Larson’s The Devil in the White City – I don’t usually read historical non-fiction, but I was fascinated by this book, which blends the story of an infamous serial killer with the city of Chicago’s efforts to prepare for and host the 1893 World’s Fair. Larson knew when to elaborate and when to summarize, to make this a quick and interesting read. Word on the street is that there is a movie in the works, with Leonardo DiCaprio set to play serial killer H.H. Holmes. Should be a good one!
  • Good Movies
    • Shutter Island – Speaking of Leonardo DiCaprio, he has completely redeemed himself for Titanic. Yeah, I guess I should have gotten over that about ten years ago, but I lost over three hours of my life to that movie!! It took me a long time to forgive him for shouting “I’m the king of the world” and such. This year, he only impressed me, starring in two of my favorite movies. One was Shutter Island, adapted from the Dennis Lehane novel. I knew it would be good when I saw that it starred DiCaprio, along with Mark Ruffalo (one of my favorite character actors) and Ben Kingsley. This one was terrific in the theater: the scenery, the music, the everything. The ending surprised (and disappointed) some people, but Martin Scorsese did a great job with every single detail, from beginning to end, and I was impressed.
    • Inception – The only person who outdid Scorsese this year was Christopher Nolan, who continues to amaze me with his ability to intrigue and entertain. Inception is the last movie I saw in the theater before my son was born, and I haven’t been back to the movies yet! What a terrific experience that movie was: the sights, the sounds, the story… the whole package. I look forward to giving it a second look soon.
  • Good Music
    • Mumford and Sons – Their Sigh No More is the only complete album I purchased in 2010, and I love it. From the mainstream hit “Little Lion Man,” to the solidarity of “Timshel,” to the poetry of “The Cave,” everything is worth listening to and enjoying.
    • Glee – Nothing is more fun to listen to than songs from Glee. They are fun to sing and dance along to, in the car, the kitchen, or anywhere else. The second season has been a little lackluster, but I’m still enjoying last season’s hits – most notably “Somebody to Love,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Borderline/Open Your Heart,” and “Alone.”
  • Good TV
    • Breaking Bad – After three seasons of it receiving awards and accolades, we finally jumped on the Breaking Bad bandwagon, zooming through the first two seasons on DVD. Now we are anxiously awaiting season three, and hope it will reair on AMC before the dvd release. Bryan Cranston is truly amazing in this role, one that is about as far removed from the dad on Malcolm in the Middle as you can be. I’ve had several people tell me they don’t want to watch the show because it sounds depressing (actually, I think I was one of those people before I watched it!), but the show balances out the heavy themes (cancer, drug addiction, deception, etc.) with lighter moments. We so enjoyed this show that we decided to try out AMC’s other original series. We quickly lost interest in Mad Men (well made, yes, but no likable characters!), but immediately took to the new zombie drama The Walking Dead (too bad there were only six episodes in season one…). I was also interested in Rubicon, but since it was canceled after one season, I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it.
    • Fringe – I continue to love this sci-fi investigative show. The story arcs are imaginative, the characters well drawn, and the details thorough. This season has been all about this universe vs. the alternate universe, and I appreciate all the little details that the writers throw in about alt-universe (JFK was’t assassinated, they no longer use writing pens, avocado are a rare fruit, etc.). This show even inspired the name that I eventually chose for my son (Peter).
    • Lost – I couldn’t do a year end post without mentioning what is probably my all-time favorite show. I throughly enjoyed the final season, although it took me awhile to come to terms with the way it ended. The show had a great run, though, so I don’t miss it now. Too much other tv to watch anyway.
  • Good Sports
    • The Saints won the Super Bowl! – After years of embarrassment, followed by some years of “almost, but not quite,” the Saints finally had their moment of glory as Super Bowl champs, by winning a handful of crazy games. It was oh so sweet to celebrate with them after all those depressing Sunday afternoons growing up in Louisiana, watching the ‘Aints.
    • Duke wins the NCAA championship! – What a rare thing, for two of my teams to win championships during the same year! I have been a Duke fan since 1991, the year they won their first championship. I’ve followed their ups and downs ever since then, and was pleasantly surprised when they were the only #1 seed left standing for the Final Four last season, and added another championship to their collection. Go Blue Devils!
  • Disappointments
    • Velva Jean Learns to Drive – This book was okay, but I was really unhappy with how it ended.
    • The Event – I guess I shouldn’t have expected much from NBC, since their action/suspense shows usually fail, but this show was just one, big convoluted and implausible mess. I tried to watch it, but gave up on about episode 5 or 6. I suppose it will last for awhile, but I won’t be tuning in to this failed hybrid of 24 and Lost.
    • So You Think You Can Dance: Season 7 – When I first heard that the show was mixing things up by pairing new contestants with all-stars, I was super excited. And as much as I loved seeing Pasha, Mark, Kathryn, etc., their presence made it nearly impossible to pick favorites among the newbies. We couldn’t enjoy power couples, and I was usually too busy watching one of the all-stars do their thing to notice how the actual contestants were doing. Throw the ridiculous number of injuries in, and the uneven number of guys and girls during the second half of the season, and it was an epic failure. There were still a few memorable performances, but none that I can think of right now.
    • Lee beating Crystal on American Idol – Every year I only half watch the spectacle that is American Idol, and last season, my one eye open quickly pegged Crystal the only one with the total package amonst the weak top ten. As much as I liked Lee (he was a nice guy, after all), he wasn’t nearly as talented or comfortable on stage as Crystal. Like all previous contestants, their post-Idol successes or failures will determine the real winner (a shout out here to the one and only Jennifer Hudson, who was voted off way too soon on her season of Idol).

So what were the best and worst moments in 2010 entertainment for you?

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Recently Purchased on iTunes October 26, 2010

Filed under: 1980s,1990s,Music — Emily @ 10:13 am
Tags: ,

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve finally gotten around to buying some new music on iTunes. I received a couple of iTunes gift cards last Christmas, so it was about time! Having $50 to spend on music is a big responsibility for someone who almost never buys music (and no, I don’t “steal” it either – I just tend to listen to what I already have). So how did I decide what to spend it on? First, I listened to Pandora and wrote down the names of songs I particularly enjoyed. I also paid attention when people on Facebook praised certain groups and artists. And finally, I dug deep into my memory banks to think of some old school classics that I’d enjoy having on my iPod. Rather than buying entire albums, I decided to mostly purchase individual songs so that I could have more variety. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, but I still have $18 to spend!:

  • Mumford and Sons – Sigh No MoreI just purchased this album this morning; in fact, I’m listening to it for the first time right now and loving it! This group is so different from anything on the radio right now – refreshing, creative, folksy, yet modern – all at the same time. I’ve always liked a good folk music sound, and it’s even better when combined with other sounds. (Think Nickel Creek, Regina Spektor, Rich Mullins, etc.) I’ve heard good things about the Avett Brothers, too, so I will be buying some of their music in the near future.
  • Sara Bareilles – “Gravity” – I first heard this song a couple of seasons ago on So You Think You Can Dance, during Kayla and Kupono’s emotional “Addiction” performance. The song stuck with me as much as the routine did, so I’m glad to own it now.
  • Muse – “Uprising” and “Supermassive Black Hole” – I like Muse enough to buy their albums, but these two songs are a good start for my collection. Muse has a sharp, satisfying sound, and perhaps sadly, they represent some of the “heaviest” music in my collection.
  • The KLF with Tammy Wynette – “Stand By Jams” – Remember this classic late ’80s song? “Their justified, and their ancient, and they drive an ice cream van…” I have no idea what it was about, but the combination of country and dance music sure was catchy!
  • The Killers – “When You Were Young” – I really like the lead singer’s voice, and perhaps this group reminds me of the best of the ’80s, since they have a synthesizer/Duran Duran-ish sound. Plus, it’s fun to play this song on Guitar Hero! 😉
  • Joshua Radin – “No Envy No Fear” – This is one of the songs I discovered on Pandora. It has a sleepy, pleasant sound. I think I’ve heard it on a tv show, too.
  • Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind” – I was reminded of this song when the kids on Glee sang it a few weeks ago. No offense to Rachel, Finn, and the gang, but this is one of those times when I prefer the original over the Glee-i-fied version. This is a fun one to sing along to.
  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – This song has been played everywhere. I first heard it on the “Wizard of Oz” themed episode of Scrubs. Such a beautiful version of the classic song, and it makes me happy every time I hear it. 🙂
  • Christina Aguilera – “Ain’t No Other Man” – I admit it: I like a good Christina song every now and then! They are catchy, and the girl can sing. I’m sure I’ll purchase a couple more of her songs eventually, but for now this is it.
  • Britney Spears – “Toxic” – Let’s consider this a nostalgic purchase. Britney songs have always been catchy, so why not add a couple to my collection? For the record, though, she doesn’t have a particularly good voice – she’s just well-produced.
  • Brandi Carlile – “The Story” – This has been in my Pandora rotation lately, and when I investigated where I’d heard it before, I discovered it was featured in a Grey’s Anatomy promo, and a GM commercial during the Olympics. I love her voice – similar to Melissa Etheridge, and this is just a good song.
  • Beyonce – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” – Ever since the Glee episode where Kurt led the football team in a dance number to this song, I can’t help but smile when I hear this song. It’s fun to dance and sing along to, and that’s enough reason for me to buy it.
  • Missy Elliot – “Lose Control” – This isn’t my typical choice of genre (most of my music is of the “chill around the house” variety), but I wanted to add some songs that will be motivating during a workout. Since this is one of the songs played during my cardio kickboxing class, I know it will keep me moving on the treadmill or stair stepper, too!

So there you have it. How should I spend my remaining $18? I am open to suggestions!

 

Regina Spektor’s Far: A Review January 27, 2010

Filed under: Music — Emily @ 5:27 pm
Tags: , ,

Regina Spektor’s latest album, Far, was released last summer. Now that I’ve listened to all the songs countless times and have fallen in love with all the music, I am ready to share my thoughts about it. My introduction to Spektor was through her previous album, Begin to Hope, which was so good that I was sure her follow-up album wouldn’t live up to its standard. I was wrong! Somehow, she managed to top herself, turning out another brilliant blend of quirky lyrics, beautiful piano, and her distinctive pure vocals. Sometimes I have no clue what her songs are about, but I love them anyway. Here’s a rundown of the songs that make up Far.

  • “The Calculation” – This is one of the songs I can’t figure out. It seems to have something to do with a couple’s stagnant relationship, but I’m not sure. It starts off light-hearted enough, talking about kitchen cupboards and macaroni pieces, but then about halfway through these lyrics push violently through the cheery music: “So we made the hard decision / And we each made an incision / Past our muscles and our bones / Our hearts were little stones / Pulled ’em out they weren’t beating / And we weren’t even bleeding / As we lay them on our granite counter top…” Regardless what it’s about, this song is fun to listen to, and even more fun to sing along with.
  • “Eet” – Initially, I wasn’t crazy about this song, but there is plenty to appreciate, and plenty of singing along to enjoy. Do I know what “eet” means? No. But it certainly makes for an interesting song.
  • “Blue Lips” – Aerosmith sang the praises of pink, Coldplay serenaded yellow, and now Regina Spektor contemplates blue: “Blue lips, Blue veins. / Blue, / The color of our planet from far, far away.” This is one of my favorite songs on the album. It has powerful lyrics, powerul vocals, and a satisfying mix of melancholy piano and striking guitar chords. It is a song about the struggles of the human existence, or at least as far as I can tell.
  • “Folding Chair” – Maybe you prefer the quirkier, less serious Regina. She certainly shows up in this song, which is pure fun, and instantly catchy (listen to it once and it will be stuck in your head all day). From the opening line (“Come and open up your folding chair next to me / My feet are buried in the sand, and there’s a breeze”), to the illogical explanation that “I’ve got a perfect body, ’cause my eyelashes catch my sweat,” to her bizarre imitation of the dolphin’s song through a series of “ooh ooh ooh oohs,” I couldn’t imagine anyone anyone else pulling off this song, or succeeding so marvelously.
  • “Machine” – I can’t help but think of the Cylons on Battlestar Galactica when I listen to this song, which is about a humanoid machine. Just last night I watched the pilot episode of the BSG prequel, Caprica, which explores the origins of the Cylons. So, all the “machines that look and act like humans” stuff is fresh on my mind. A sampling of lyrics from “Machine”: “I collect my moments / Into a correspondence / With a mightier power / Who just lacks my perspective / And who lacks my organics / And who covets my defects / And I’m downloaded daily / I am part of a composite.” Does that sound Cylon-ish to anyone else?
  • “Laughing With” – This is definitely my least favorite song on the album, so it’s ironic that it was the first single she released, and that it was the song she sang on all the talk shows. Reminiscent of Joan Osborne’s “What If God Was One of Us,” it runs through a list of various situations in which people don’t laugh at God, for example: “No one laughs at God in a hospital / No one laughs at God in a war / No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor…” The only shift in the music comes when the perspective changes to times when God is funny, like “at a cocktail party,” or when “presented like a genie…” – otherwise it’s a rather monotonous song. It’s still not a bad song; it’s just a bit of a downer.
  • “Human of the Year” – I love this song. It’s my favorite on the album. It’s basically a song in praise of a regular guy, imagining what it would be like if he were recognized by the world for his simple contributions to society. It’s nice to imagination a world where the man in the cubicle gets honored instead of the man with all the money and power. My favorite part of the song is an explosion of music and choral singing: “Outside the cars are beeping out a song just in your honour. / And although they do not know it all mankind are now your brothers. / All mankind are now your brothers. / Hallelujah. / Hallelujah. / Hallelujah. / Hallelujah.” Listening to this song makes me feel happy to be alive. 🙂  Take a listen:
  • “Two Birds” – This is a catchy song that deals with the theme of relationships that get stuck in one place because neither person is willing to make the first move, or one person is afraid to step out of his/her comfort zone. “Two birds on a wire / One says come on / And the other says / I’m tired.”
  • “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” – This is a highly inventive and fun song, and it reminds me of Ben Folds’ “Songs of Love,” off his Supersunnyspeedgraphic album. Both songs take a whimsical look at the teen dating game. Spektor’s song starts off: “There’s a meat market down the street / The boys and the girls watch each other eat / You are so sweet, so sweet / Dancing and moving to that beat, that beat…” Folds’ song begins: “Pale, pubescent beasts / Roam through the streets / And coffee-shops / Their prey gather in herds / Of stiff knee-length skirts / And white ankle-socks…” One important difference between these two songs is the style: Spektor’s song creatively mimics the sounds of an ’80s techno song, while Folds’ sounds more like a waltz. Both are great, though, and very worthy of an iTunes purchase.
  • “Genius Next Door” – This song has me scratching my head more than any of the others on this album, but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of it. Whether it’s about an Erin Brockovich scenario where a town’s water supply was tainted by industry, or simply an unexplained phenomenon, it all centers around a murky lake: “Some said the local lake had been enchanted / Others said it must have been the weather / The neighbors were trying to keep it quiet / But I swear that I could hear the laughter / So they joke, and they nicknamed it “the porridge” / Cause over night that lake had turned as thick as butter…” The melody is haunting, and it’s an interesting song to puzzle over.
  • “Wallet” – Next to “Folding Chair,” this is probably one of the more light-hearted songs on the album. It’s about someone finding a wallet and examining all the contents to figure out what sort of person it belongs to (before returning it to the local Blockbuster). It is very true that what’s in our wallets says a lot about who we are, so it’s a simple yet truthful song.
  • “One More Time with Feeling” – When I see the song title and hear the phrase in the lyrics, I immediately think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode, “Once More, with Feeling.” Can’t help myself. However, I don’t know if Regina was channeling Buffy when she wrote this song, but it certainly seems like it: “…hold on / one more time with feeling / try it again, breathing’s just a rhythm / say it in your mind until you know that the words are right / this is why we fight. / you thought by now you’d be / so much better than you are / you thought by now they’d see / that you have come so far.” Hmmm… that does sound a lot like how Buffy felt after her friends brought her back to life and harsh reality, and she was going through the motions, trying to pretend that everything was okay.
  • “Man of a Thousand Faces” – The album ends with this mysterious song about the man with a thousand faces who “Sits down at the table / Eats a small lump of sugar / And smiles at the moon like he knows her…” I couldn’t tell you what it’s all about, but it’s an intriguing end to an excellent album.

If you’ve never listened to Regina Spektor, do yourself a favor and check out some of her songs, soon and very soon! Granted, she’s not for everyone, but her music has many layers to discover, uncover, and decipher. Enjoy! I’ll leave you with the music video for “Eet.”

 

Eye of the Tiger January 17, 2010

Filed under: Music,Television — Emily @ 4:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

What do the theme song from Rocky and the tv show Supernatural have in common? Well, they are both involved in the video that I am sharing with you today. When it comes to brothers Sam and Dean on Supernatural, I have always preferred Sam (played by Jared Padalecki). I’ve been watching the show on dvd for the past couple of months and have made my way into season four. Over time, I have come to appreciate Dean more, as well as the actor who plays him: Jensen Ackles. After watching his highly entertaining lip synching performance of “Eye of the Tiger,” complete with fist pumping and air guitar playing, I officially love him!

A few more reasons to love him:

  • He is hilarious, and seems like he’s a lot of fun on the set (based on the blooper reels that I’ve been watching)
  • He is a Dallas native (which means something to me since I live in Dallas)
  • He and my son share the same birthday (well, with about 30 years separating them, that is)

So this video was (I think) originally shown as the credits rolled at the end of season four episode “Yellow Fever.” In this episode, Dean contracts a virus that basically makes him a scaredy cat. In fact, at one point in the episode, he squeals in terror like a little girl when Sam opens a locker to reveal a harmless cat. (That moment also made me love him.) During one scene, “Eye of the Tiger” was playing on the radio in Dean’s car while he was sitting around waiting for Sam. This isn’t unusual, since Dean is known for his love of classic rock. What was unusual was that after the scene was over but the song was still playing, Jensen Ackles decided to do an impromptu performance of the song. The results are classic. Since I wasn’t able to embed the video in this post, you’ll have to watch it on YouTube:

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 12 Perform November 25, 2009

I was overwhelmed last night when I found out it was already time for each couple to perform two dances! More than that, I was disappointed that this is the last week that the couples as we know them will be together. 😦   This season is going by fast! I am going to miss Ashleigh/Jakob and Legacy/Kathryn most of all. But I think it’s safe to say that all four of them will make it into the top ten.

First Round

Ellenore & Ryan Lindy Hop (Carla Heiney) – They looked like they were having fun, and so I had fun. But on some level, I still associate the lindy hop with weirdness. A few seasons ago wasn’t there a Lindy Hop contestant who got cut in Vegas who had an uncontrollable wink? This style is beaming with so many smiles and looks of surprise that it’s all a bit much.

Kathryn & LegacyJazz (Sonya Tayeh) – Oh my! We had to do a double take when Legacy crawled across the stage on his hands!!! He is crazy strong and coordinated. And this performance was all about him. Kathryn had some cute moments, but the choreography didn’t give her much more to do than give Legacy someone to play off of. He really shone in this one.

Karen & Victor Argentine Tango (Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin) – They had better chemistry than I expected, but something about this dance was almost comical to me. It was just too serious. I have been sold on intense, serious tangos in past seasons, but it was like Victor and Karen were trying so hard to not crack a smile that they were about to bust! I was reminded of an old SNL parody of Calvin Klein’s Obsession ad, in which Jan Hooks is the spokesperson for Calvin Kleen disinfectant. What’s the connection? Well, everyone in the ad is uber-serious and dressed in high society clothes (as far as I can remember, anyway). So, you may have guessed that I am still not a fan of Karen or Victor.

Mollee & NathanHip-Hop (Jamal Sims) – I was completely disinterested in this routine. Much of the blame for that falls on Jamal Sims. What was the purpose of bringing Alexander Graham Bell into hip hop? That was really a stretch.

Noelle & RussellSamba (Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin) – I agree with Adam that these two were too nice during this performance. Too many smiles, not enough sexy. And why in the world did they make Russell wear that ridiculous v-top?! Noelle looked great, but I’m still just not picking up good vibes from her. Every week she lacks a connection with the audience.

Ashleigh & Jakob Lyrical Jazz (Sonya Tayeh) – Oh, I just love them! I was amazed by their control and strength in the moments where they would hold a leg straight up in the air for what felt like forever, or where Jakob held Ashleigh and slowly lowered her from a hand stand position to the floor, while she meanwhile made it look easy to keep her legs in a diagonal position. I was also thrilled to see something different from Sonya. While I normally enjoy her herky jerky, spastic, weird routines, sometimes it feels like she’s relying on the same old tricks. So to see this light, flowing, beautiful dance was very refreshing. It was my favorite of the night.

Second Round

Ellenore & Ryan Broadway (Spencer Liff) – Ryan’s role as the temptation of fame came across as a poor man’s version of Kupono’s evil addiction persona from last season. Other than looking devious and rolling his arms and hands around, he didn’t have much to do but give Ellenore someone to play off of. But then, I hardly noticed him because she was so good! She was perfect as a stiff, doll-like character, controlled by puppet master Ryan. She has an unusual style that has shone through in the past few weeks. I hope that she can hang around past this week, because I’m afraid these two performances won’t be memorable to the voting audience to keep them out of the bottom three.

Kathryn & Legacy Viennese Waltz (Jean Marc and France Généreux) – This performance was very pretty. While Legacy stood out in their first performance, this one was all about Kathryn (well, except for Legacy being shirtless – couldn’t help but notice that). But it was clear that Legacy was fully invested in the performance, since he brought tears to his own eyes when it was over. I like the passion and dedication he has to dance and to the show.

Karen & Victor Hip-Hop (Laurie Ann Gibson) – I really don’t remember much about this dance. My glimpses of recollection include the thought that Karen’s hot pink and black outfit didn’t fit the routine, and that this performance in no way, shape, or form moved any mountains! It didn’t even move an ant hill! In fact, it may have done just the opposite and pushed Karen and Victor further down into the valley of elimination. (Cue ominous music now…) Laurie Ann Gibson needs to step up her game and quite overhyping her routines, or the audience will roll their eyes every time she appears in the choreographer rotation.

Mollee & Nathan Can Can (Tyce Diorio) – And so the show welcomed another new dance. I couldn’t help but think of Moulin Rouge, although this cheery, bubbly can can couldn’t have been further from the manic, sensual can can of that movie. That being said, I actually liked it. I’m still not a fan of Mollee, and her performance was just as “little girl playing dress up” as ever, but I thought Nathan finally came out of the shell he’s been hiding in for weeks. He actually looked like he was throwing caution to the wind and giving his all to this rather girly dance. It was a bonus that Tyce threw in Nathan’s trademark pirouetting. So yes, this was better than last season’s awkward Russian folkdance, by a long shot.

Noelle & RussellContemporary (Tyce Diorio) – I really wanted to like this one. It started off so beautifully, everything from the music to the movements. But then Tyce had to go and throw in actual paint. How distracting was that. It would have worked better if they had literally painted each other from the beginning, but since they only reached for the paint and smeared it on each other once, it felt too gimmicky. The weird paint thing took away some of my enjoyment from the performance, but I still liked it, and thought it was better than their first dance of the night.

Ashleigh & Jakob Cha-Cha (Jean Marc and France Généreux) – This wasn’t the best cha cha I’d ever seen on the show, but it was certainly fun to watch Ashleigh in her element. This was the first time that Jacob looked a little out of place, but that’s probably more because he was basking in the light of Ashleigh’s ballroom glory. One thing’s for sure: this couple will be safe this week. As usual, they had the best performances of the top 12.

My Favorite Performances

  • Ashleigh and Jakob’s Lyrical Jazz
  • Ellenore and Ryan’s Broadway

Predicting the Bottom Three – In previous weeks, my predictions have usually been 2 out of 3 correct. I wonder if I’ll finally be 3 for 3 this time.

  • Karen and Victor
  • Mollee and Nathan
  • Russell and Noelle

Who Will Go Home? – Keeping in mind that the judges want to keep the most popular dancers around another week so they will be part of the top ten tour, the contestants who have drawn less attention are likely in the most danger tonight. If it were up to me, I’d send Mollee or Karen home over Noelle, but I think the judges are too in love with Mollee’s personality and Karen’s hips to send them home just yet. As for the guys, I’m a little nervous for Russell, but feel like it’s Victor’s time to go. Even if Ellenore and Ryan are in the bottom three, I think Ryan would be safe because the judges don’t want to break up the top ten draw of a married ballroom couple that are super cute.

  • Noelle
  • Victor

What are your thoughts about this week’s episode?

 

Glee 1.10: Ballads November 19, 2009

Filed under: Glee,Music,Television — Emily @ 2:32 pm
Tags: , ,

This week’s episode of Glee was one of my favorites yet. While some of the episodes have struggled to find the right balance of “funny” and “sweet,” this one was perfect. I laughed, I cried, I tapped my foot, and after the credits rolled I was singing the ballads that were so entertaining. My only complaint is that we didn’t get our weekly dose of Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester. Maybe she needed a week off to get her edge back, after going soft in the last episode.

The best way to dissect this episode is to look at the ballads, since these songs reflected the characters’ struggles, triumphs, and awkward dilemmas:

Rachel and Mr. Schuester sing "Endless Love"

  • “Endless Love” – Rachel and Mr. Schuester kicked off the glee club’s ballad assignment by singing Rachel’s favorite ballad – a song that turned out to be highly inappropriate for her to be singing with her teacher, and which set off a major crush that led to many funny moments in the episode. I knew this would be a special episode when all the voice-overs started during this song; while most of the students were thinking about trivial things, Rachel was admiring Will’s eyes, and his dental hygiene. I loved Will’s reaction to the crazed look in Rachel’s eyes: his eyes got wider and wider, and the look on his face became more and more uncomfortable. It was so at odds with the song lyrics, that it was highly entertaining. Meanwhile, their duet was fantastic. All in all, this segment worked well on many different levels.
  • “I’ll Stand by You” – I like this song, and I liked Finn’s performance of it. It was silly, yet sweet, that he was singing to the ultrasound video of the baby, but for the audience it’s also a little sad, since that baby isn’t really his. The moment between him and his mom was touching – upon seeing the ultrasound video, she realized that Quinn was pregnant, and her reaction was to comfort her son, who had broken down in her arms. That was a much better parenting technique than the one we saw from Quinn’s mom and dad later in the episode.
  • “Don’t Stand So Close to Me/Young Girl” mash-up – This may have been my favorite moment of the whole episode. After Emma suggests that Will let Rachel down gently through a song, he performs a mash-up of Sting’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and Gary Puckett’s “Young Girl.” First of all, what a fantastic mash-up it was, and second of all, Matthew Morrison once again gave an amazing performance. I loved how he was pleading for Rachel to understand his very clear message, through his dancing, his tone of voice, his looks of desperation, and most significantly, the lyrics. Of course, Rachel and Emma were both so enamoured with his performance that they didn’t notice the meaning. Speaking of Emma’s infatuation with Will, I am glad that the show has toned it down a bit. It is mostly a one-sided deal now, whereas for awhile Will seemed to be showing an interest in her.
  • “Crush” – What an awkward moment, when Rachel pushed “play” on the mix CD she made for her and Mr. Schuester, and started singing Jennifer Paige’s flirtatious “Crush.” The whole car ride was painfully awkward, but also amusing.
  • “Having My Baby” – Speaking of awkward, what a way to break the news of their teenage daughter’s pregnancy to two prim and proper parents: serenading the whole family in the middle of dinner with a Paul Anka song that includes lyrics like “I can see it, your face is glowing” and “the seed inside you, can you feel it growing.” In the midst of the song it was funny, but as soon as Quinn’s parents turned a cold shoulder it became very sad. It really wasn’t Finn’s place to tell them the news, but I guess we’re supposed to think that Quinn needed his support and didn’t have the strength to do it alone. Once again, Finn’s mom came through and offered to let Quinn stay with them as long as she wants to, after Quinn’s parents kicked her out.
  • “Lean on Me” – After an episode full of ups and downs, crushes and crushing moments, it was nice to end with such an uplifting, sweet moment. The whole glee club showed their support for Quinn and Finn by singing the ultimate friendship song. “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on…” I loved the camaraderie that was represented through this song – despite all the people giving Quinn and Finn a hard time, they have their glee club buddies to depend on. Sniff, sniff. And they sang every last drop out of the music and lyrics. I was ready to stand up and sing along with them, but I didn’t, because then I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate their voices! After hearing Amber Riley (Mercedes) singing the national anthem at the World Series, I have an even greater respect for her voice and overall star power. Those American Idol contestants wouldn’t stand a chance competing against her! “Lean on Me” was a great ending to a great episode.

The main non-singing related aspect of the episode that I enjoyed was Sarah Drew’s guest starring role as Suzy Pepper. She was worlds away from her role as the soft-spoken and sweet, but level-headed Hannah on Everwood. I was amused that she is still playing high school student roles, even though she’s nearly 30 years old. She was great as the neurotic, hot pepper-eating, student who had never gotten over her out of control crush for Mr. Schuester. I’d love to see more of this character on future episodes.

What did you love about this episode? Am I the only one that thinks it was one of the best yet, or was it really that good?

 

SYTYCD Season Six: The Top 14 Perform November 18, 2009

I enjoyed seeing childhood photos of the judges and contestants on this week’s episode, and there was enough variety in the dance styles to make most of the performances interesting and entertaining. I’m continuing a “quick thoughts” format due to my busy fall tv viewing schedule.

  • Ashleigh & Jakob (Hip-Hop w/ Napoleon & Tabitha D’umo)“Whatcha Say,” Jason Derulo – I like this song, only because it gives me another chance to hear Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” which never received much radio play in my area. The song was certainly appropriate for a routine about a girl hashing things out with her cheating boyfriend. For me, this routine marked the return of Tabitha and Napoleon, whose routines for awhile have been lackluster. I loved the emotion and character that shone through the choreography, and as usual, Ashleigh and Jakob more than brought it all to life. I just love them, and to me, they are way better than all their competition, in terms of a knockout combo of technique and showmanship.
  • Karen & Kevin (Broadway w/ Spencer Liff) “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” Sweet Charity (2005 revival cast) – Um, no. Awkward, uncomfortable, and any other synonyms for those words. I guess these two need to get back to the sexy, slightly inappropriate routines. 
  • Noelle & Russell (Foxtrot w/ Edward Simon)“Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes),” Michael Buble and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – They both seemed very stiff during this routine, which prevented it from being graceful and elegant. I’ve never been a fan of Noelle, and I’d be happy to see her go home this week so I could see Russell paired with a different partner. In my opinion, she’s always seemed artificial and tense on stage. Russell hasn’t lived up to my expectations, considering he was my favorite going into the season. It does seem like he’s been stuck with ballroom a lot, and it’s obviously not his strong suit.
  • Channing & Victor (Jazz w/ Tyce Diorio)“Blackbird,” Bobby McFerrin – This was an unusual routine, and seems like Tyce’s attempt to channel Sonya. He sure was acting weird when he explained the choreography! Is he auditioning for the role of Paula Abdul? As for the dancing, I thought Channing and Victor did well, and it was fun and quirky. I agree with Nigel that Channing looked like she was relaxing and having fun. Victor is still off my radar, but I was glad to see them do well this week. Not sure it will be memorable for viewers, though.
  • Kathryn & Legacy (Paso Doble w/ Tony Meredith)“Pursuit,” Ka (Cirque du Soleil soundtrack) – Legacy certainly made his presence known in all his shirtless glory! Despite this, I found myself focusing on Kathryn. I continue to be impressed by her performances, which surprises me since her initial off stage personality was that of a blubbering high-pitched cry baby. She completely transforms into the character of the moment each week, leaving no trace of her sensitive, sweet country girl personality. Don’t think that I don’t like Legacy, though. He did well in this performance. Too bad that they fumbled the ending – that kept it from being a knock-out routine. Kudos to Tony Meredith for coming up with a creative spin on the paso doble!
  • Ellenore & Ryan (Contemporary w/ Travis Wall & Jaimie Goodwin)“Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” Stars – I wanted to love this routine, with it being a contemporary one choreographed by the lovable Travis Wall. Something was missing for me, though. That being said, I was impressed by Ellenore. She seemed to be more in character than Ryan, and her movement and confidence were striking. While last season, Evan often suffered from being short-statured (for example, it was a noticable hindrance on ballroom routines), I think that Ryan is suffering from the opposite – his bulkiness is sometimes distracting, and prevents him from carrying the smoothness that some routines demand. During this performance, he didn’t float around the stage and leap in the air as easily as someone like Jakob would have done. So, as much as I like Ryan, I don’t know that he will go much further in the competition.
  • Mollee & Nathan (Pop-Jazz w/ LaurieAnn Gibson) – “Bad Romance,” Lady Gaga – They looked like two kids running around the playground, but at least it was a vast improvement on last week’s disastrous salsa. My enjoyment of the performance was also hindered by the lack of story. LaurieAnn was too busy screaming to inform the audience what this dancing and prancing was all about. I really enjoyed the “Battlefield” routine that she choregraphed for Brandon and Jeanine last season, but this one fell flat. And what is with the pink headphones that she’s always wearing?! For me, Nathan and Mollee lack the stage presence and personality that many of the other contestants have showcased, and that has made them less interesting to me.

The Top Performance

  • Jakob and Ashleigh’s Hip Hop – Honestly, while I enjoyed a few of the other routines, none of them came close to my favorite duo’s performance.

Predicting the Bottom Three Couples

  • Karen and Kevin – This was the most awkward and forgettable performance of the night, and so I will be shocked if these two aren’t dancing solos.
  • Noelle and Russell – As Adam said, the Foxtrot is second only to the Quickstep in being the kiss of death. I hope that doesn’t mean we’ll say goodbye to Russell this week!
  • Channing and Victor – This last spot was a toss up between these two, or Ryan and Ellenore. But in the end, I think that viewers prefer a Travis Wall contemporary over an eccentric Tyce Diorio jazz routine any day.

Who I Would Send Home – Neither of these dancers has made an impression on me, and while I think Victor has more all around talent than Russell or Kevin, they have much more personality when they dance.

  • Noelle
  • Victor

So, how are you feeling about the contestants at this point in the season?

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