Return of The Dutchess…

27 11 2014

The Cali native formerly known as Stacy Ann Ferguson has dropped a new single, and it’s as sun-baked and carefree as you’d expect from the sultry voice on every other party anthem of the 2000s.

Robbie Daw for Idolator observes, “The DJ Mustard-produced track finds the 39-year-old Black Eyed Peas diva surprisingly stuck in creative rut, spouting out a slew of hip-hop-lite cliches that, to be honest, we would have expected her to have left behind sometime around The E.N.D. ”

Fergie Ferg is so much better when she actually SINGS! I have always been confused as to why they make her talk over these club beats, or trot her out for a looped and dreamy hook. It’s like will.i.am didn’t know what he H. A. D. in his arsenal. I discussed this, at length, in a blog post almost four years ago… I’m starting to feel like Fergie’s leading me on.

As I’ve pointed out before, this long-awaited sophomore album can serve as second act for the former Black Eyed Pea and the sky’s the limit if only she would give existing fans a bone. (We’re here and we’re waiting! Reward us! Give us something we can share with friends and proudly say “I told you so!”)  I’ve literally been watching this woman sing her way to deserved stardom since a little known 90s girl band (Wild Orchid) hosted a fun but forgettable Saturday morning talent show (Great Pretenders).

This “LA Love” stuff is OK for radio buzz, but give me those love-hardened, crushed velvet pipes on a power ballad ala “Big Girls Don’t Cry” any day. The Dutchess is approaching 40, and she still got it, but she needs to start owning it. “LA Love” isn’t as fun as “Fergalicious” or “Clumsy,” and certainly lacks the confident sass of “Glamourous” and “Pedestal.” It’s an empty spectacle, not a hit.

At least her husband seems proud of her-- Josh Duhamel was kind enough to appear at the American Music Awards last Sunday to introduce Fergie's live performance of the track. 

At least her husband seems proud of her– Josh Duhamel was kind enough to appear at the American Music Awards last Sunday to introduce Fergie’s live performance of the track.





OWN Takes A Major Gamble On LiLo Series

14 03 2014

Legendary talk show host, entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey shocked audiences across America when she retired from her beloved afternoon syndicate, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in favor of heading her own network. Harpo Productions teamed with Discovery Communications to present “a mix of original programs, strips, specials, documentaries and acquired movies,” to replace the fledgling Discovery Health Channel.

OWN-OprahWinfreyNetworkOWN has established itself as a network with the sort of dynamic and dramatic content viewers ate up on Oprah’s original show; offering in-depth conversations on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” (now “Oprah Prime”), investigative documentaries on “Our America with Lisa Ling,” and scripted drama on “Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots.’
As of Sunday night, the reality program “Lindsay” joined the 2014 line-up, with a production order of eight episodes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you know who the titular Lindsay refers to. The circus that is Lindsay Lohan’s personal life raised its tents over Los Angeles over two years, notably between when she was filming Herbie: Fully Loaded (erratic behavior and vague hospital stays for a “kidney infection” held up production) and Georgia Rule (unpredictable attendance and attitude, along with a myriad of doctor’s visits for “dehydration and exhaustion” left co-stars and crew in the lurch).
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A once-promising young star, Lohan has been sidelined from big-name and big-budget projects of late for being an ‘insurance risk—’ the industry’s way of highlighting that the actor/actress lacks credibility and poses a threat to the budget and schedule of a project (Film Insurance covers any unforeseen cost overruns related to the legal hiccups (like an arrest or lawsuit), illness, injury or death of cast and crew members of a given production.) Additionally, a string of poor reviews and financial returns have taken the light out of her star.
In the last decade, Lindsay Lohan has been to rehab six times; been charged with two DUIs, theft, assault, and possession of cocaine; violated her probation twice; and served a combined six weeks in the Century Regional Detention Facility, also known as Lynwood Jail.
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The series began filming in the summer of 2013, during the week after Lohan’s release from her sixth facility, Cliffside Malibu. In an effort to maintain the sobriety that has evaded her in the past, Lohan travels to New York City with a sober companion who is employed by the rehabilitation/counseling center. She states the move is to give her a (deserved?) clean slate, and keep her away from the temptations of L.A. nightlife.

While Lohan says all the right things about her struggles and the uphill battle she continues to face without alcohol or recreational drugs to dull/twist her reality, she continues to lack a certain accountability — despite telling filmmaker Amy Rice, “I know this is my last shot.” There is a fine line between acknowledging and blaming one’s dysfunctional family and upbringing as a source of stress that exacerbated their addictions. Lohan is still full of excuses, at one point foregoing a planned AA meeting because there are paparazzi outside her hotel. Understandably, she didn’t want to bring that sort of prying chaos into the lives of other attendees, but being seen at a meeting could only help her at this point; a fact she remains blind to. Finding a “sanctuary” she can call home is priority number one, when finding a regular therapist in the Big Apple and productive hobbies to fill her time should be.
Regardless of what mantras she spews or plans she alleges, it is difficult to picture Lindsay Lohan riding the subway (like Jay-Z) or walking her kids to school (like SJP). Ever. Jail and rehab have not provided a sufficient bottom, indicated by the “This Season on ‘Lindsay’” clips that followed the show.

Following her stint in rehab, Lohan was given an opportunity to appear on the cult-hit HBO series “Eastbound & Down,” which stars funnyman Danny McBride. Reportedly, the episode filmed without incident, and Lohan was a gracious guest. Recently, dual appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and a cameo scheduled on CBS’ “Two Broke Girls” are about all the work Lohan can hope for. She has a long road back to blockbusters— given that her most recent ‘feature’ The Canyons co-starred an adult figure (James Deen) and grossed a measly fifty grand.

The reality show, or ‘docu-series’ as Oprah is calling it, has elements of established guilty-pleasure programming many of you readers will be familiar with. In the roughly 48 hours since it premiered, I have watched the inaugural episode three times. I can assure bits of murky substance dependence, ála “Intervention;” a kooky cast of oblivious family members, ála “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo;” a misplaced desire for all things luxurious, ála “The Real Housewives of…;” and a borderline delusional self-assurance, ála auditions week of “American Idol.”  It’s damn near riveting, and at times not for great reasons. At one point, Lohan will declare: “Until I fuck up, you can’t assume I am going to.” History repeats itself, particularly in her life, so excuse us while we brace for implosion.

0202123As a former Lindsay (the actress) fan, I will undoubtedly continue to watch the mayhem that is in-store on “Lindsay” (the show).  I admit, I loved Mean Girls and even occasionally rock out to “Rumors” when it comes across shuffle on my iPod.
There’s a fine line between celebrities who genuinely struggle with addiction or mental illness and those who squander their chances and egregiously self-sabotage. Historically, I have given up (interest and/or creative admiration) on people whose personal lives eclipse their professional achievements.
[For example: In my mind, Katherine Heigl is an ungrateful twat who deserves to never work again; LeAnn Rimes is an attention-starved former childstar who knows she peaked at 13; and Justin Bieber is going to end up with a shell of his career and eternally on probation, just like Chris Brown, because nobody tells him ‘no’ or points out that saying ‘Jesus is my homeboy!’ doesn’t negate your moral misdeeds.] I digress.

I want to look at Lindsay in a decade and not even recall the criminal and pharmaceutical issues that plagued her for the last decade. There is no denying her talent, from her mature and intuitive turn as Ali Fowler on “Another World,” to her comic chops in Freaky Friday and emotional range shown in Prairie Home Companion and Chapter 27. Unfortunately, ratings for the series did not start off on a high, with a reported 693,000 viewers tuning in. It would appear that people are so over the hype and the shortcomings of this woman. Even in our 24/7-media cycle, stalkerazzi, fame-obsessed society watching this kind of epic failure loses its salacious glow and becomes just plain sad. 

I hope that LiLo gets herself together, for real, this time and pulls a Drew Barrymore-level or Robert Downey Jr.-level comeback. Those are the ideals for this situation. Seven more episodes to go; we’ll have to wait and see if the woman known for millions of water-cooler moments can work her magic once more, and reform this squandered celebrity into a stable, sober, consistent adult actress.





Grammy Breakdown (FULL)

14 02 2012

In Brief:  3.5 hours, 17 performances, 9 awards.  6 Whitney comments, 2 Whitney clips, 1 Whitney song tribute.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards aired last night on CBS, hosted by musician/actor LL Cool J.  He did little more than introduce the presenters.

Fan favorite Bruce Springsteen, accompanied by the E Street Band, opened with “We Take Care of Our Own.”  They played tight, it was a good note to begin the show on…   Well, it was until LL Cool J brought everybody back down by immediately starting in about Whitney Houston.

The second performance of the night was nominee Bruno Mars and his Doo-Wop Hooligans.  The best part of his appearance was when he said for everyone “to get off your rich asses!”
The Grammys are known as the informal awards show of the season, anything can happen. Mars is quickly making a name for himself as an innovative and exciting artist, but this performance was predictable! The flashing lights, kitchy gold outfits and throwback choreography will not land the hooligans on top of any memorable lists for this year.

Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt — an interesting duo — shared the stage briefly to pay tribute to two fallen female icons, Etta James & Whitney Houston, with a rendition of “Sunday Kind of Love.”  The pair lead in to the first award of the night: Best Pop Solo, which ultimately went to Adele for “Someone Like You,” her second smash single off 21. The other contenders for this category included Lady Gaga for “You and I,” Bruno Mars for the uber popular “Grenade,” Katy Perry for “Firework,” and P!NK, who was not in attendance, for “F**kin’ Perfect.”

Chris Brown took the stage for the fourth performance of the evening, if you can call it that.  The beleagured wannabe-Michael Jackson was TOTALLY LIPSYNCHING.   My brother (14) was watching with me, and as soon as Brown was introduced he said, “Oh, the Beater.”  No doubt similar sentiments echoed from homes across the viewing nation.

Fergie, who was dressed in one of her tackiest ensembles yet,  took the stage with an underenthused Marc Anthony to present the second trophy of the night, for Best Rap Album.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but, luckily the award went to Kanye West for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and he was not in attendance. Therefore we were not subjected to an idiotic acceptance speech riddled with reminders of his self-assured genius and the gift that it is for us to get to listen to him.

 

One of the highlights of the evening, for me, came in the form of Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean reprising their duet single “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”  Aldean always wears a hat that covers half his faaaace! Clarkson was dressed well in a black Grecian gown, accented with sparkly bondage straps.  These two have sung together several times now, and it only gets better!

Then… the moment my brother and I had been waiting for!
THE FOOOOOOOO ❤
Jack Black rambled on about indie cred, how often it’s lost by attending/being honored at the Grammys, and something about the artistry being stolen at the door only to be “sold out back to Bon Iver.”
Under a cloudy LA evening, the tent outside the Staples Center was packed with people eager to have their faces rocked off, something the Foo Fighters always deliver on.  They played “Walk” off thier latest record, Wasting Light.

The second pairing of the night came in the form of a three-song medley from Rihanna and Coldplay.  Rihanna opened with “We Found Love,” surrounded by about two dozen dancers in various levels of undress. Then Chris Martin appeared, and the two sang their duet “Princess of China,”  before Martin finally broke off with the rest of his London mates for “Paradise.”

The third golden gramophone of the night went to the Foo Fighters for “Walk.”  Frontman and founder Dave Grohl gave the speech for their Best Rock Performance win; he was well spoken and topically appropriate. That’s so important– and obviously it was appreciated by the crowd because he got a standing ovation!

The only appearance talked about as much as, but not more than, Adele’s comeback was the 50 Year Reunion of the Beach Boys– which also featured Maroon 5 and Foster the People.  It was low energy and failed to evoke any rich feeling of nostalgia due to the steady 20-something average age of the noms.  Additionally, the remaining Beach Boys who appeared were dressed for BINGO, not a CELEBRATION.

16-time Grammy recipient Stevie Wonder introduced another oldie-but-goodie performer: Sir Paul McCartney. Accompanying the former Beatle on his new single “My Valentine” was legendary Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh (upon seeing whom my brother squealed like a 10-year-old girl does at Justin Bieber) and pianist Diana Krall.

The fourth and arguably most controversial award of the night, for Best R&B Album, went to Chris Brown.
Up against R. Kelly, El DeBarge, Ledisi and Kelly Price, the kid we sometimes hate to love but always love to hate feigned graciousness and stumbled through his thank-yous.
Personally, I deleted any songs of his I had the day news broke of his violence toward then-girlfriend Rihanna… which was two years ago almost to the day of this ceremony. I think it is BULLSHIT that the Recording Academy or the voting audience award this spoiled petulant child with ANYTHING. He has done less than nothing to make strides to redeem himself. He constantly seeks attention in negative ways and refuses to publically take any formal responsibility for what he did.   If I were Neil Portnow, I would have banned him for life.

The tenth performer of the night was usual award show darling, Miss Taylor Swift. She sang “Mean” off her hugely successful Speak Now album.  (The single that won praise in the Best Country Solo* and Best Country Song categories.)
I love her, she is a brilliant lyricist, but I am a little tired of her for two reasons; 1) OMG. If you’ve always wanted to be a country star, DO NOT try to manipulate the markets and release TWO versions of your songs. If you’re good enough to crossover, you will! Shania and Faith never did thaaaat;  2) When you finish singing and everyone stands up to clap, wipe that stupid doe-y surprised look off your face! Staying humble is one thing, and good for you for knowing how lucky  you are… but after all the money and attention and awards, you know we like you. Say “thanks” and wave like everyone else who’s happy to be there.

*This arguably should have gone to Carrie Underwood for “Mama’s Song” which was a stunningly beautiful track.

One of the biggies, Song of the Year, was awarded next, and went to Adele! “Rolling In The Deep” was everywhere this year, and she was genuinely moved by the response to it.  When you can tell the artist is really grateful, it makes it all the more fun to watch. I never liked seeing someone who thought they deserved to win something, win it.

A blue-haired Katy Perry broke it down with a high-flying performance of “Extra Terrestrial” …which lead into the debut of another number: “Part Of Me.”  Girlfriend looked PISSED the whole time, but it is defnitely going to be a smash. She may not be the best singer out there, but she is a great entertainer who is honest with her work.

Shifting genres from the pop performance by Perry, attention was paid to a country trio Lady Antebellum, who won for Best Country Album (Own The Night).  I don’t like them, they’re stuff is kind of catchy but nothing super special.

ADELE FINALLY TOOK THE STAGE AFTER BOUNCING BACK FROM THROAT SURGERY THIS FALL.

SHE GAVE AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE OF “ROLLING IN THE DEEP” AND WAS JUST BEAMING THE WHOLE TIME!
NO WONDER EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER LOVES HER.

It was a hard act to follow but somebody had to do it, it was only 10:0 after all.

The Band Perry and Blake Shelton paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement recipient Glen Campbell, before he joined them onstage for a joyful rendition of the classic “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Another country star came out with the incomprable Tony Bennett for a version of “It Had to Be You” — currently featured on his album Duets II.
They then gave out the award for Best New Artist: which did NOT go to Nicki Minaj! HA HA HA!  The incredibly deep indie rocker Bon Iver took the prize.  He thanked the fans, saying it was a “sweet hookup.”

The highly anticipated ‘In Memorium’ segment of the show was extensive, eliciting “Wow, a lot of people died this year,” from my brother. “I don’t like Jennifer Hudson,” he added before running downstairs for a drink.

The one-time American Idol contestant and longtime Whitney Houston admirer tearfully made her way through “I Will Always Love You.”

So as not to disrespect the somberness of the main hall, the commercial break resumed back outdoors in the tent where the Foo Fighters performed earlier.
The “Grammy Dance Party” of sorts commenced– with Chris Brown lookin like early Run DMC/Ice-T/Sir Mix-a-Lot. It was ridiculous. And he most certainly was using AutoTune in his mic. DJ David Guetta spun for the first part of the ‘party,’ while Brown sing-talked and danced alongside rapper Lil Wayne who looked like he just woke up and rolled of his tour bus.

On the opposite side of the tent, the Foo Fighters started in with “Rope.”  With Deadmau5′ help it got a remix treatment about halfway through.

Things got to an all-time low level of weird with a short play acted out by Nicki Minaj. “The Exorcism of Roman” was such a mess. Minaj was trying way to hard to be memorable, and now she will be for the wrong reasons.  I think the she-rapper was going for some Lady Gaga “Paparazzi”-level performance art, but there was just so much going on and you couldn’t totally understand her. And the blatant religious imagery that wasn’t really defined as good or bad in the scene, would make Sinead O’Connor ask “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?”

The final two award categories to be televised, as there are over two dozen actually given out, were Record of the Year and Album of the Year… which both went to ADELE.
The beautiful Brit was so gracious and cute and in awe of the response to her work, she cried as she told the audience “It’s been a life changing year.”

The finale was, in no uncertain terms, an Epic. Musical. Moment.  For the men on stage, for the viewers in the theater, and fans watching from home.
Sir Paul McCartney reemerged on the grand stage to (appropriately) play the Beatles “The End” with the help of Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen.  Yeah, I’m serious. It was a freaking fantastic way to end the night, with all these incredible musicians jamming out.