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.





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.





Movies with Talking Animals: Career Killers?

24 03 2011

James Marsden used to be Leading Man material.
He preformed well as ‘the other man’ in 2004’s The Notebook; connected with comic fans as Cyclops in the X-Men trilogy ; and he was  oddly sweet in 2007’s Enchanted.  His kitschy singing TV host in Hairspray and apathetic-to-commitment journalist in 27 Dresses were forgivable, but this?   Dude, wasn’t making The Box punishment enough for the year?

Coming to theaters next Friday, April 1, is Hop
In short, the Easter Bunny’s son (voiced by Russell Brand) runs away to make it as a musician in Hollywood where Fred (James Marsden) almost runs him over. Fred takes E.B. in and hilarity, self-discovery, and a minor coup by some yellow chicks who want to take over Easter, ensue.

At least Brand, Hugh Laurie and Hank Azaria don’t have to worry about their FACES being associated with this film, should it flop.  Marsden, co-star Kaley Cuoco, Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins won’t get off so easily.
As someone who has had the (mis)fortune of working at a movie theater, kids movies can go either way. If it rains opening weekend, odds go up. But there are only so many talking animal movies a parent can sit through.

That being said…  Here’s a little list I compiled of talking animal movies we really never needed, and the stars who– for no reason other than a large paycheck– signed on for them.

  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1.   MARMADUKE (2010)

Starring (voice): Owen Wilson, George Lopez, Stacy Ferguson, Emma Stone, Steve Coogan, Kiefer Sutherland and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Now, Emma Stone, I don’t blame you for doing this movie. You gotta do what you gotta do when you’re having a hot year.
And you, McLovin, I don’t blame you. You can try and try but you will always be McLovin!!!!

But Mr. Wilson– Was this the wisest choice we could have made to follow-up Marley & Me? Two dog movies in a very short period of time… Give us another John Beckwith, and fast, so I’m not ashamed to like you anymore! 

This movie may have taken in $78 million, but it ruined a classic Sunday comic and killed the braincells of 7-year-olds across the country.

2.  BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA  (2009)

Starring (voices): Drew Barrymore, Andy Garcia, George Lopez [Repeat Offender!], Cheech Marin and Luis Guzman.

I’m leaving Jamie Lee Curtis out of this, because her early work (HALLOWEEN, A FISH CALLED WANDA, MY GIRL) makes up for the junk she’s making now (CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS, YOU AGAIN).

Drew Barrymore… Drew. Barrymore.
In the same year that you appear in Grey Gardens, which was outstanding, you make this crap?  This part doesn’t do anything for a career already peppered with questionable role choices (MUSIC & LYRICS? DUPLEX? RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS?)

 Andy Garcia. What, did you get bored counting your OCEANS money?  It hurts me, literally hurts me, to have heard the guy from WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN’s voice coming out of a freaking German Shephard.

 

3.  GARFIELD  (2004)

 

Starring: Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bill Murray (voice)

 

Oh, Breckin Meyer. I had high hopes for you.
I absolutely loved the doofy-but-lovable stoner in Clueless and I rooted for you in Road Trip and Rat Race
[You + Amy Smart = Playful, fresh…  Loved it. Call her. Make another movie!!!]

I guess I will just have to accept that you have relegated yourself to the brother and best friend parts (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), and behind-the-scenes work in animation (Robot Chicken).

Jennifer Love Hewitt: You’re the only one on this entire list that makes sense. You have had a long, consistent career, yes -but with THE CLIENT LIST, THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE, and HEARTBREAKERS on your resume… Can you even take yourself seriously?

4.  KANGAROO JACK (2003)

Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken

 

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. You’ve done well for yourself, the family is adorable. But there are only three items on your IMDB that I can say something positive about.
Stand By Me – Greatest 80s Movie Ever. Sincerely.
Crossing Jordan (TV) – You were near-perfection as vulnerable cop in a big city, Woody Hoyt. I loved you, the dynamic with Jordan, the whole show really.
The Defenders
(TV) – Great pairing with Jim Belushi. Looking forward to Season 2

Anthony Anderson – Finally took you seriously when you guested on NBC’s Law & Order SVU.  Loved the bit part in The Departed.  Nice move with The Shield.  Hustle & Flow was ingenius.  You’re going places, but be sure to remind your agent:  NO MORE TALKING ANIMAL COSTARS!

Mr. Walken, this film just didn’t do it for me. Not enough cowbell.  ❤





I Miss When Fergie Used to Sing.

3 03 2011

Before she pierced her eyebrow, bathed in self  tanner, met Will.I.Am, or married the guy from “Las Vegas”   …Fergie sang.

Born in a Los Angeles suburb in 1975, Stacy Ann Ferguson was drawn to the lights of fame by the time she was 10.

Ferguson lent her voice to the television Penauts specials, “It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown” and “Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown;” as well as several episodes of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ferguson appeared on Disney’s Kids Incorporated- where she met future bandmate Renee Sandstrom.  

In 1991, Ferguson and Sandstrom formed the girl group Wild Orchid with fellow childstar and California girl Stefanie Ridel.

The band split by 2001, after recording four albums, touring with Cher and Cyndi Lauper, and hosting a popular Saturday morning competition show “Great Pretenders” on Fox Family.



Ferguson has admitted to having developed a severe crystal meth habit while in Wild Orchid, an addiction that she had to overcome after the group broke up. She told TIME magazine in 2006, “It was the hardest boyfriend I ever had to break up with.”

Also in 2001 Fergie was introduced to the Black Eyed Peas, a trio of male performers, Will.I.Am, APL.D.AP, and Taboo. Fergie was included on several tracks from the BEP’s third album, “Elephunk,” which was released in 2003.

Sometimes Fergie whips out a pretty sweet high note, or a great soulful run, but for the most part she is underwhelming, or drowned out by the attention-seeking boys club that is the Black Eyed Peas.

———————————–

OK, so where did the disconnect happen?

I watched “Great Pretenders,” faithfully, every Saturday- and I have been continually disappointed with the “singing” parts Fergie gets on BEP tracks. She’s really just talking to a beat- which essentially is rapping, with less style.

When she released her solo album, The Dutchess, in 2006, I had hopes that she would be done with bouncing around with Will and the boys… although Will.I.Am did serve as producer and appeared on three tracks.

Her single “Big Girl’s Don’t Cry” is the only time in the last decade I have been impressed, reminded that her former high-note belting, riff-riding, smooth as honey voice is still there— BEP has just not properly showcased it.  Her shit is catchy, don’t get me wrong, but she has done more pseudo-rapping and sing-talking than actual singing since leaving Wild Orchid.

I wish she would lay low for a while, maybe have a kid with Josh Duhamel, and then come back with some seriously original music– she could be like Britney Spears, Sarah McLachlan, Gwen Stefani or Nelly Furtado; all of whom took a break, for family or just for their sanity, and came back to more success than before.

Girlfriend, please oh please take a moment to reevaluate yourself!

Reinvent if you want, explore your voice and the sounds that attract you, but be aware you will never be a Whitney or a Celine if you keep allowing Will.I.Am to be your puppetmaster.