“You Suck” and Other Passive-Aggressive Jams

15 12 2014

As much as look forward to new releases and awards season, moments of triumph and honor for my favorite stars… I am completely guilty of enjoying their personal and professional lows just as well. I consume pop culture and celebrity news each waking hour of my day; absorbing the good, the bad, and the ugly indiscriminately.
Sorry not sorry but the silly, weak, thinly veiled instances where they lash out at each other are just as satisfying as when a cast lauds each other and their project, because it reminds me that they’re still just people! The following list of songs are some of the more passive-aggressive tunes in recent memory; they basically exist because the celebs in question have issues to address & feelings to express, but they pretend their privacy is so valuable that they can’t just come out with it about a given feud.

Inspired by Abigail Breslin’s recently released song “You Suck” which is a not so stealth attack on former flame, Michael Clifford, of 5SOS ‘fame,’  here’s a little list of my favorite passive-aggressive musical moments! An angry tweet can entertain us for days, but an ambiguously targeted lyric can spark fodder for a career (Carly, Alanis — I’m looking at you!).

 

10 – 7. Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl” – Trent Reznor/NIN, “Starfuckers, Inc” – Stone Temple Pilots, “Too Cool Queenie” – Foo Fighters, “I’ll Stick Around
Target: 
Issue: General bitchery and fame grubbing
Most scathing lyric: [STP] “There was this boy / He played in a rock-n-roll band / And he wasn’t half-bad, At saving the world / She said he could do no right / So he took his life / His story is true…  It’s ok cause what goes around, comes around / It’s all right cause what goes around, comes around”

 

6. Rihanna, “Cold Case Love
Target: 
Issue: On-going Physical & Emotional Abuse
Most scathing lyric: “But your love ain’t the kind you can keep / Release me now cause I did my time / Of this cold case love / My heart’s no longer cold & confined / I’ve had enough”

 

5. Jonas Brothers, “Much Better
Target: 
Issue: Less than amicable break-up
Most scathing lyric: Get a rep for breakin’ hearts / Now I’m done with superstars / And all the tears on her guitar / I’m not bitter / Now I see everything I’d ever need / Is the girl in front of me / She’s much better”

 

4. Katy Perry, “Circle the Drain
Target: 
Issue: Addiction
Most scathing lyric: “Wanna be your lover, not your fucking mother / Can’t be your savior, I don’t have the power / I’m not gonna stay and watch you circle the drain”

 

3. Justin Timberlake, “Cry Me A River
Target: 
Issue: Infidelity
Most scathing lyric: “You don’t have to say, what you did / I already know, I found out from him / Now there’s just no chance, for you and me, there’ll never be / And don’t it make you sad about it”

 

2. Selena Gomez, “The Heart Wants What It Wants
Target:
Issue: General Douchebaggery & Insensitivity
Most scathing lyric: 
“You got me scattered in pieces, Shining like stars and screaming / Lighting me up like Venus, But then you disappear and make me wait / And every second’s like torture, Hell over trip, no more so / Finding a way to let go, Baby baby no I can’t escape”

 

1. Taylor Swift, “Dear John
Target: 
Issue: 
General Douchebaggery & Game Playing
Most scathing lyric: “You are an expert at ‘Sorry,’ And keeping lines blurry / Never impressed by me acing your tests / All the girls that you’ve run dry have tired lifeless eyes, Cause you’ve burned them out / But I took your matches, Before fire could catch me, So don’t look now / I’m shining like fireworks, Over your sad empty town”

 

 





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.





Movie Review: The Drop (2014)

9 10 2014

Well, I had to wait until September to see the best movie of the summer… because there were no films on my radar that came close to the gripping storytelling or depth of character performance of Michael R. Roskam’s THE DROP.


“I just tend bar. And wait.”

THE DROP is an amazing contribution to the crime-drama genre, expertly crafted by Dennis Lehane (who you may know from his other adapted works: MYSTIC RIVER, GONE BABY GONE, and SHUTTER ISLAND) and Michael R. Roskam.

Based off Lehane’s 2009 short story “Animal Rescue,” THE DROP stars Tom Hardy as Brooklynite bartender Bob Saginowski. The reserved bachelor and one-time thug immediately seems the guy to root for in this Chechen-dominated underworld. On a walk home, he discovers a brutalized puppy in a trash can and strikes up a relationship with the woman, Nadia, whose property the can is on. It turns out, there is a common shady figure, Eric Deeds, in their pasts that lurks back into focus. Trouble on top of trouble, he is.

“Are you doin’ somethin’ desperate? Again?”

The bar, Cousin Marv’s, gets held up by a couple of dumb brothers trying to prove themselves in the game. They’re aware that Cousin Marv’s is a longstanding local haunt, but it hasn’t quite been “locally owned” for more than a decade. Some shot callers from the Eastern Bloc muscled Marv and Bob’s crew out of power, letting Marv retain his establishment but requiring Bob to handle the collection of money to-be-laundered.

Seemingly anxious, self-isolating, and seeking redemption, pragmatic Bob hardly appears the kind of man to get on board with such activity. He lives alone in his parent’s house, prayer cards and plastic-wrapped furniture all around him. He hems and haws over the decision to care for the dog he found, eventually coming to treat the animal like his own child.

“I got news for ya, Fitzy. We’re all dead, we’re just still walkin’ around.”

Cousin Marv, who is in fact Bob’s relative, isn’t sitting by so quietly anymore. He may or may not have had a hand in the stick-up, and he may or may not be planning another hit on the biggest tip night of the year: Superbowl Sunday. He also may or may not end up dead in his car because the “Chechnyans” are on to him.

The robbery plotline kind of dissolves by the end, because Bob gets all riled up at the prospect of protecting his woman and his new canine companion, Rocco, from the psychotic Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts). Love and respect taking priority over the ego of an aging wannabe, family or no.

Tom Hardy is sexy as hell, even while he’s crazy-eyed and shooting people in the neck. By film’s end, I couldn’t decide if Nadia (Noomi Rapace) was hanging around him because she was afraid to leave or because she was enamored of his extreme efforts to be the alpha-male on the block. Hardy disappears into the role of Bob Saginowski, without a hint of his natural accent or impish charm peeking through. Bob is supposed to come off as straight-laced and pretty vanilla, that is until he expertly disposes of a bloody limb left outside the bar. Hardy masters the script, revealing little bits of Bob’s true (mildly terrifying) self with a quip here and a covert move there. From Bane to Bondurant, I love his diversity!

The late James Gandolfini plays Cousin Marv, a neighborhood guy who sees himself as considerably ‘harder’ than he is able to live up to. Facing pressure from his sister (Ann Dowd) to finally act his age; the financial burden of caring for an ill, elderly parent; and the emasculation of knowingly being pushed out of your own business create the perfect storm for Marv to lash out and get himself in a situation he cannot handle, and Bob is not willing to clean up (like last time). Cousin Marv is kind of the antithesis of Tony Soprano, the groundbreaking HBO gangster whom Gandolfini portrayed for six seasons (and earned 3 Emmys). Tony had vision, Marv has half-assed ideas. It was at once odd and reassuring to see Gandolfini as Marv, his last major film appearance before his June 2013 death. To see this burly, brutish-looking actor take on roles of pronounced vulnerability (ENOUGH SAID, THE DROP) at what turned out to be the end of his career, speaks volumes about the varied body of work the actor was trying to accomplish for his professional legacy. He was much more than Tony Soprano, and we’d do well to acknowledge that for him even post-posthumously.
THE DROP presents as one story and flips you onto a new path a few times to keep your interest. Let’s just say I was alert and engaged from the first frame, while my fellow audience members were actively . THE DROP took in nearly $5 million last weekend, a respectable feat considering it opened in less than 1,000 theaters. Check Fandango and get yourself to see THE DROP as soon as possible- this is one movie that is sure to be a sleeper during the upcoming awards season, and you’ll be sorry to have missed it. #MarkMyWords

 

THE DROP
2014
Fox Searchlight Pictures





Sketchers Suck, And So Do Their Commercials!

24 08 2011

I change the channel every time I see Brooke Burke.
She just annoys me. She always has.

Now, I have a reason:  Her latest commercial for Sketchers Shape-Ups.

 

I have a problem with all the Shape-Ups ads, but particularly those starring Burke because if you Google her- it is VERY obvious she did not get that amazing figure using the stupid shoes.

The 39-year-old mother of four was in pageants in her teens, was a nude model in her twentys, and has been hosting inane pre-awards shows or “Insider”-like shorts on TV for over a decade.

I can see where they’re coming from, hoping to capitalize on a celebrity endorsement… but how about you try to sign someone who Is Famous or  Has Toned Up/Slimmed Down.

The other issue I have with Sketchers is… they don’t seem to be in on the joke. They’re crappy shoes.
I wouldn’t even wear those things in middle school, and I think any grown woman wearing their shoes should be embarassed.  Regardless of whether or not they work, Shape-Ups look like special shoes your doctor reccommends when one of your legs is shorter than the other.

__________________________________________________________

Commercials I do like:

The Force

Real Men of Genius: Mr. Taxi Cab Over-Accessorizer

Dorito Mama

We Want the Funk

Thanks for the Falcon





Auto-Tune: Destroying the Music Industry One Pitch Correction at a Time

30 03 2011

This will serve as an open letter to the likes of Ark Music Factory, and any ‘label’ who purport to be cultivating “undiscovered” teen talents.  Well done, you have made innocent kids the ridicule of the free world and worse, made them think they are really on their way to some kind of Miley Cyrus-Justin Bieber stardom.

I know someone is going to comment and call me a “cyber bully” but I am in no way trying to ruin the self-esteem of these girls! That said, it cannot be ignored that Rebecca “It’s Friday, Friday, Friday” Black, Alana Lee, Madison Bray and Abby Victor are decidedly less talented than the mainstream teenyboppers like Emily Osment, fellow Disney star Selena Gomez, Bieber and the Jonas Brothers.  Luck and opportunity have a great deal to do with success, but people who are paying thousands of dollars to any studio or agency don’t realize they are gambling with neither on their side.
{{ RELATED: Read more about AMF founder, Patrice Wilson HERE }}

At least the gimmicky bubblegum singers of the 90s were in on the joke, and they profited handsomely. These songs blowing up online today, they have nowhere near the level of natural showmanship found on “I Want It That Way,” “Bye Bye Bye,” or “Genie In A Bottle.”
I can look back on my tween years with a grain of salt: I know they weren’t great, that they won’t go down in music history with the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Cher. 
I give my mom a lot of credit for putting up with all the shreiks I shreiked over BSB, NSync, LFO, the Spice Girls and Hanson. Their songs still bring a smile to my face and I can whip out a dance move or two, but they are just childish nostalgia. I assure, my tastes have improved with age.  I can only hope the same goes for the Ark girls.

It is sincerely freaking me out that at 22, I’m already having moments of “Oh, kids today.”

Anyway, the difference between the boybands and girl power groups of my youth? They had to at least be able to sing when they recorded. [Lipsynching in concert is a whole different animal.]

So here is where the real culprit in this whole do-they or don’t-they singing arguement comes in:  A U T O – T U N E .
The not-so-well kept industry trick, concieved by Antares Audio Technologies in 1997, is described on Wikipedia as a phase vocorder “used to disguise off-key inaccuracies and mistakes,” allowing “singers to perform perfectly tuned vocal tracks without needing to sing in tune.”

The software has been used intentionally, to achieve a particular effect on the voice, to much success by artists from Cher (Believe, 1998) to Kanye West (808s and Heartbreak, 2008).  The topic of major names in music using the tool even garnered press from Time magazine in ’09– with writer Josh Tyrangiel declaring, “It’s like Photoshop for the human voice. Auto-Tune doesn’t make it possible for just anyone to sing like a pro, but used as its creator intended, it can transform a wavering performance into something technically flawless.”

Rap mogul Jay-Z included a track called “DOA (Death of Autotune)” on his 2009 album The Blueprint 3, and later commented that the device had crossed over from an aid in the arsenal of legitimate artists to a societal joke. 
“It was a trend, it was cool in the beginning. Some people made great music with it, now it’s time to move on,” he told MTV.

So why is something that is sort of shunned by the better part of the entertainment industry, or at least thought of as a last resort on your off-est of days, so beloved by the people coming onto the scene now?  Jason Derulo, Taio Cruz, and most recently Kim Kardashian, have released singles in the last year that were heavily and obviously put through the digital wringer before reaching our radio waves.

The issues with Auto-Tune have consistently reared their ugly heads– but this time the anger is geared toward the vanity labels and personal projects posted to Youtube.

Yes, I’m looking at you, Rebecca Black. 

 

*Joseph Birdsong, you’ve got some sweet editing skills, but you’re not innocent in this either.*

—————————————

So what do we do?
Phenomenal songwriters like Taylor Swift don’t jump out of suburban high school every day.  Kids aren’t teaching themselves to play an instrument as much as they’re pretending to play one on GuitarHero(TM of Activision).

But does that mean we ought to settle for garbage like the “My Jeans” song by some girl with giraffe lips and grasshopper legs, who may or may not be Dustin Diamond’s illegitimate child?

Diamond, now 34 - Swerdlow, 12

 The only good thing I can say about her song, “My Jeans” (which I heard about last week from Tyler Oakley) is that this song is age-appropriate, but alas, her parent’s weren’t at the creative consultations that followed, which is evident by her current single, O.M.G., and its Miley Cyrus at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards-level disturbingness.
{{ RELATED:  MICHAEL BUCKLEY OF “WHAT THE BUCK” GIVES HIS TAKE ON “OMG” @ 1:33 MARK }}

It scares me that most middle schoolers don’t have the sense to sift through their parent’s CDs or (gasp!) records and discover the magic that is Elton John, Styx, Heart, or Janis Joplin.  And I blame Auto-Tune for that; the under 19 set don’t even know music exists without digital airbrushing- and how could they when we have all been buying it?!!

MetroStation made me consider taking a pencil to the ear, but Rebecca Black and Jenna Rose… I could never have seen this shit coming. 
I almost miss that horse-faced nepotistic poseur Trace Cyrus.       Almost.





Thanks a lot, kids from Kegs and Eggs.

24 03 2011

I’m sure you’ve read about us in the Wall Street Journal or heard some snippet from Glenn Beck about the hooligans in central NY who drunkenly trashed a neigborhood the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day.

I can’t tell you that didn’t happen, but I can assure you that- as a student at UAlbany- we do not all behave that way, BUT we are all being punished.

Youtube searches for the term “Kegs and Eggs 2011” yield over a hundred results. The evidence against these assholes is irrefutable, and it’s mostly their own faults for getting caught.  The news outlets and the police got the footage that is so devastating and incriminating FROM YOU. You guys filmed yourselves! And then put it on the internet!

A girl in one of my classes said that the riot and the destruction was “one of the most entertaining things” she’s ever seen, and that she was “glad they did it.”
She is a moron.  Unfortunately this school is full of them.

Almost every one else that I have talked to about the events of Kegs and Eggs ’11 are mortified, humiliated, angry, confused… The idea that our peers could get so reckless and deviant would have sounded absolutely preposterous before it happened.  Are there bar fights? Of course.   Cab fare disputes? Every day.  But hundred person large stampedes through Pine Hills?  Never before!

I really am at a loss to try to explain or apologize on their behalf, because there are no excuses.
I think that my school is handling this very well, and I look forward to hearing about who gets not only arrested but expelled from this point on.

When I was applying to colleges, the guidence counselors at my high school made it known that the 3 hardest SUNYs to get into were Cortland, Albany, and Binghamton.
I think that this would only be true today, if every one of them lowered their admission standards. There is not way, after my experience for 4 years here, that Albany is anything but a breeze to get into. I think it’s really just a numbers game, the first 47% to apply are in. 
Maybe that’s how it was when I got in, I’m nothing special, I never questioned it until I got here and people continually make the “there, they’re, their” mistake in every single writing class.
[OMFG, Change your major, wouldja?!!]

I’ve heard some wild stories about both Cortland and Binghamton students, but they have no where near the reputation that UAlbany has. (Thanks alot, 2004 Princeton Review.)

—————————————————————-

The most recent chapter in the Kegs and Eggs saga of Spring ’11 semester is the cancellation of Fountain Day.
The seasonal celebration, and arguably the ONLY campus event worth going to, was set to be held on April 10.

President George Philip said via email, “The shocking conduct of a few that day stands in stark contrast to the behavior of the vast majority of hard working students who are intent on pursuing an education and contributing to society. 

The University is now facing severe criticism.  The behavior exhibited by some of our students has many questioning the integrity of our University and, as a community, we must respond.  Consequently, we face some difficult choices, including the future of Fountain Day.”

I get it, really, I do– The school would have been hounded even harder if they had let this event go on as planned. It would have been like rewarding us for destroying $12,000+ of property.

My problem with this decision is that Fountain Day never had to be the free-for-all it is now known as.
My very first year here, I was so shocked by what went on right in front of the staff, UPD, and our professors.

People from my dorm, who could not have been over 19 at the time, were totally wasted the entire day. People were throwing up wherever they happened to stumble, and the general merriment turned to mayhem when the water started to flow.

This could easily have been prevented if the University had stood behind any of the threats to kick people who were intoxicated out… closing them in a classroom that immediately flanks the fun and is easily escapable was just poor planning.  Legal or not, they should have breathalized every single person who they checked in. What is the point of having us register and swipe in, if we can get loaded in the parking lot and jump one of the corner baricades that isn’t guarded?

 Kegs and Eggs, Fountain Days passed, and house parties raided… SUNY Albany’s administration is going to have to crack down AND HARD in order to weed out the students who have chosen to stick around following the department cuts that had everyone up in arms last fall.  Slim the crowd, get ’em under control, and then fix our reptuation.

At this point, with graduation a mere 51 days away, I am absolutely terrified of the first job interview I have and the sort of questions they will have for a Great Dane alum.  Jeez Louise. 
I didn’t come here to party– It sucks that I will have wasted 4 years and $70,000, and will have to explain why my degree is not garbage for the rest of my life.





New Year, reNewed Focus

23 01 2011

Hey ya’ll, Been away a while!
Took about 8 weeks off from blogging while I was on vacation from UAlbany, but just because I wasn’t posting every week doesn’t mean I wasn’t absorbing all things media and pop culture!

 Here are my thoughts on a few items that developed during my sabatical…

  

The Cast of JERSEY SHORE: Reality stars, Enemies of Italy, and… Authors?

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino released his self-help gem “Here’s the Situation,” a veritable GTL How To, back in November; Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi graced the literary world with her novel “A Shore Thing” earlier this month; and now, Jennifer “JWoww” Farley will take a shot at the Best Seller list with a compilation of her insights to the contemporary dating game with “The Rules According to JWoww,” due out February 8.

 Currently, Sorrentino sits at #4005 on the Amazon sales chart- far and away from Polizzi who is #606.

Honestly the only one of these 3 titles I am tempted to thumb through during my next visit to Barnes & Noble is JWoww’s. I’m pretty sure she and castmate Vinny Guadagnino are the only ones that can read, but he’s opted not to cash in on the image.  I admire her tenacity, she is one of the only characters from ‘Jersey Shore’ who has been unchanged each season.

As I understand it Farley has two degrees in business- so I expect this to be just the latest in several strategic ventures she persues while ‘Jersey Shore’ is still wowwing.

 

 

Canadian singer Lavigne, 24

CONGRATULATIONS TO AVRIL LAVIGNE
Nobody has liked your music in a decade, but you’re still relevant enough to have been the first online celebrity death hoax of 2011! 

The internet has done great things for ease of access to information, but it has also contributed to the rapid spread of misinformation, hate, and rumors.

Late 2010 Twitter “casualties” were Adam Sandler, Owen Wilson, and Charlie Sheen.  Sandler and Wilson are alive, well, and working. Sheen is alive.   All four death “announcements” over the holiday season had the stars meeting their demise on the slopes. To quote Youtube icon Michael Buckley:  “Somebody really hates snowboarding!”

 

 

NPR sets the bar for journalists…  and apparently that bar is not up very high.
NPR seriously fucked up their coverage of the Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting in Arizona by announcing the congresswoman dead- when she in fact lived and is recovering.

“Weekend Edition” host Scott Simon said on Wednesday the organization’s mistake is “reprehensible.”  He went on, “There should be no room for doubt when a news organization declares someone dead. They should wait until the medical authorities directly involved declare death, or close family members announce it.”

I can only agree with Scott Simon, as reports surfaced that Gifford’s own husband, Mark Kelly, believed her dead before speaking with his mother-in-law who was at the hospital with Giffords.  To send this poor man into the early stages of grief is unforgivable- on the part of NPR and every other media outlet who inaccurately reported on the Tuscon shooting.

 

FOUNDER OF DEADSPIN HAS (PROFESSIONAL) FALLING OUT WITH CURRENT CHIEF
2010 was the year people really learned the name AJ Daulerio.

His involvement in breaking the Bret Favre cellphone photo scandal has solidified his place in history alongside Woodward/Bernstein (who broke the Watergate scandal), Monday Night Football (whose anchors first reported the death of John Lennon), and the National Inquirer (who knew Tiger Woods was a cheater days before his wife!).

AJ Daulerio has surpassed the expectations of one-time mentor Will Leitch, who founded the “Deadspin” sports site, and not by any means Leitch is proud of.

Daulerio has upped readership three-fold, but he has veered the website from its beginnings as platform for commentary, to a raunchy gossip page with tidbits of athletic coverage.

Leitch told GQ that “I never wanted people to feel like they needed to take a shower.”   And now Deadspin is home to the “Worldwide Leader in Dong Shots.”

NETFLIX THANKS THEIR CUSTOMERS… BY CHANGING THEIR ENTIRE M.O.

“Add to DVD Queue” no longer an option on the hugely popular movie rental service.  Within the next 12-18 months those flimsy red envelopes that contributed to the demise of your neighborhood rental shop and perpetuated the laziness of American consumerism will be no more- as Netfilx has announced they anticipate a complete shift over to digital streaming in 2012.

I am on the fence about this. On the one hand, it is smart for Netflix, as they will no longer have to purchase and process physical DVD discs. On the other hand, what a way to slap your older customers in the face. Perhaps the over 50 crowd doesn’t have the desire to subscribe to and learn “OnDemand”-style viewing.

Also, it is unclear whether the same variety of films and TV series will be available through this digital ordering system as through your “Add to DVD Queue”/mailer format.  Older films, obscure foreign or documentary films, and sets of television shows may be harder to come by now.

I YEARN FOR THE ERA OF THE VIDEO STORE.