Thursday, May 14, 2009

3 is a Magic Number: Jordin Sparks - Battlefield

That's what I learned from Schoolhouse Rock. Well, actually it's one of many things I learned from those wonderful cartoons. This is mostly to introduce a running theme I've noticed so I can keep track of it.

Pop music loves saying things three times. For some reason, even if it's just lazy song writing, an extremely large number of popular songs rely on the convention that saying a word or phrase three times in a row creates a good song. Somehow, it works. I don't have examples of failed songs with this convention for obvious reasons, but the success stories are all over the radio.

All three of Flo Rida's singles from Mail On Sunday repeated themselves. First we got Low, Low, Low, then he was stuck on an ele- ele- elevator, then we put our hands in the ayer, ayer, ayer. Beyonce can see your halo, halo, halo. Stand under Rihanna's umbrella -ella -ella. Kelis shakes things up a bit by adding an "ugghh!!!" in between the second and third "I hate you so much right now"s in "Caught Out There."

Mary J. Blige - "Come To Me (Peace)" - repeats Peace
MJB - "Enough Cryin" - she's had enough cryin, cryin, cryin and it's time to say bye bye bye
Chris Brown - "Forever" - -eva -eva
Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" - structure of chorus: does that make me/you crazy? x3
Omarion - "Ice Box" - I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Alicia Keys - "No One"
Akon - "Right Now (Na Na Na)" - it's even in the title. the song's all about the na na nas
Timbaland feat. The Hives - "Throw it on Me"
Kat DeLuna - "Whine Up"
Hilary Duff - "Beat Of My Heart"
*NSync - "Bye Bye Bye"
ABBA - "Gimme Gimme Gimme"; "Money Money Money"
Amy Whinehouse - "Rehab"
Natasha Bedingfield - "These Words"
Ciara feat. Chris Brown - "Turntables"
Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around.../...Comes Back Around"
James Blunt - "You're Beautiful"

Our newest contributor to the trend is Jordin Sparks. She premiered her new single, "Battlefield," this week and performed it live on the American Idol results show. The song is filled with "a battlefield" x3 and "get your armor" x3. I have to admit that I'm liking this song so far. I'm glad the live performance got rid of the annoying synths in the studio version. During the chorus, they create this noise that distracts from the rest of the song and doesn't bother to be in the same key at all. Even though the answer to the song's question was answered back in the 80s, love is like a battlefield because 'Love is a Battlefield,' Jordin could have a nice sized hit on her hands with this song. Her previous three singles (Tattoo, No Air and One Step At A Time for those not paying attention) lacked the energy this song has. "Battlefield" has the potential to become almost anthemic in its sound, and is more upbeat. I also think Jordin has improved as a vocalist, which is doubly as impressive considering her health complications with her voice over the past two years.

I can't figure out how to embed a myspace copy of the song for people to listen to, but here's a link to Jordin's music page where you can listen to "Battlefield" in its entirety.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chrisette Michele - Epiphany

On Tuesday, both Chrisette Michele and Ciara released their newest albums. I've been going back and forth between the two constantly for the past few days wondering how I wanted to present my reviews of them. At first I was going to offer a comparison, but I've realized that my feelings for Ciara's Fantasy Ride are too complex to be handled in anything other than a track by track discussion. Even though I like Epiphany more, my feelings for it are much more simple and I can just do a traditional review here.

Michele has said publicly that her goal for this album was to make music that people could bob their heads to, and she has succeeded. While the material may not have the uptempo makings of a mainstream hit, R&B stations have picked up on the title track and the second single "What You Do [feat. Ne-Yo]" is a promising follow-up. Epiphany is one step in the pop direction from Michele's first album, I Am, in that the Ne-Yo produced record contains a small boost and tempo and energy. Michele's voice is still powerful and soulful, and it sounds like she's been working to become an even more impressive singer. On "Notebook," she effortlessly hits notes that previously have sounded stretched and barely there on earlier recordings.

The themes of Epiphany deal with a lot of breaking up. "Epiphany (I'm Leaving)," "Blame It On Me," "Playin' Our Song," "Another One," and "I'm Okay" all talk about the ending of a relationship, with "Fragile" and "Porcelain Doll" threatening to call it off if things don't improve. That's 7/12 tracks. The other tracks cover a crush, meeting "Mr. Right," two love songs during a relationship, and a song to a father about letting his daughter go. While this could create a repetitive nature to the album, Michele and Ne-Yo do a good job developing a variety of sounds within such a small spectrum. While I find the strongest points of the album are "Notebook" and "Fragile," I would strongly recommend buying this album in its entirety.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Make Me A Supermodel - Down on the Farm

The final eight supermodel-wannabes all took a field trip to a farm where they had to pose with an animal. Mountaha and Sandhurst got Molly, a two day old calf; Salome, Brandon and Colin posed with a bull; Jordan and Amanda were each on a horse, and Jonathon stood between the two horses. For the runway, they wore tweed country inspired clothing and tried to be elegant.

Jonathan clearly did the best this week. Guest Judge Maggie Rizer (sp?) said that he should fax this to his wife immediately. It's modeling, and it's also an authentic looking country image. During the rest of the episode, Jonathon demonstrated that he can do push-ups faster than Sandhurst when the models were ambushed by a personal trainer. He also won immunity this week.

I don't think this photo should have won the challenge, but the photographer chooses, so I think it's the end result combined with overall performance throughout the shoot. The shot makes Sandhurst look very strong, but it kind of makes his torso look a little short. Something about the camera angle and maybe how high the pants are. We learned this week that Sandhurst loves ice cream and eats a lot of cereal.

Salome did really well this week. I like the pose, she's one of the only people that did a really modelish pose this week. Her upbringing made her really comfortable and she seemed to be in control during the shoot. She didn't do that much the rest of the time.

There's an obvious gap in quality between the first three and Mountaha, but she did much better than the other four. The problem with three of the bottom five is that they were just boring. She's just kind of kneeling there trying to keep the calf in frame rather than making sure she looks good. It's not her job to get the animal's good side. Mountaha's walk was good this week.

Even though Colin was eliminated for this photo (along with his bad walking) I think it's better than the other three. He really tried and the result is at least something that's not as boring as Brandon/Jordan. We also learned that Colin smells really bad after working out. He also kind of bragged about beating Kerryn, which... I thought she was like his best friend in the house?

Even though what she's doing is really bad and boring, I still like this shot of Jordan. I love the way it's framed with the view of the stables behind her. She's lucky she knows how to walk well and has a book full of good photos to ignore this one. Jordan doesn't work out apparently. A lot of people hate the thin person that never works out, but that's me too, and like me, Jordan is really out of shape when she's forced to join the group exercise. Oh, did you know she doesn't like Amanda?

Amanda was almost sent home for being sex on a horse, but I'm putting her above Brandon because this isn't boring. Bad is better to me than boring, because at least it can be memorable. People will remember Amanda sexing it up on a horse way before they remember Brandon standing there doing nothing.

Here's the offending shot. It's so boring, but the judges just let him slip through with a warning to pick up his game. He seemed a lot closer to booking the go-see he went on with Sandhurst than Sandhurst did. In part because he doesn't have nearly as big of thighs so he fit the sample.

Next week, the seven remaining models are posing nude. Salome's weight issues will probably put her in the bottom again. Amanda seems to be a favorite to go home, so we'll see if she can do sexy and sensual without being sleazy. Also, in order to prep for the shoot, the guys have to do a lot of manscaping and Brandon cuts his testicle(s).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let's All Go To The Movies - Wolverine

So I saw Wolverine tonight. I feel like I was expecting more than I got. While it was fun to see all the different mutants, there were a few obvious plot issues - and I'm not just talking about differences between the film and the comics.

This is somewhat spoilerish, but not to the point where I'm going to give away the whole movie. I just want to complain about the major plot problem. Skip the next paragraph if you want to remain 100% unspoiled.

When Wolverine meets Gambit and they're about to fight, Wolverine sees Sabretooth and decides to fight him instead. If Gambit hates Sabretooth as well, as he reveals in the preceding conversation, why would he interrupt the fight and let him get away? I know you couldn't actually kill the character off, but the situation just wasn't natural.

I felt that the acting was sufficient for what it was. The Blob was the most annoying/worst actor, so good news for He did decent enough for his first effort. Most characters didn't really have to do that much, since the movie is less than two hours long and involves a large variety of locations and people present.

I know the movie is going to make tons of money no matter what anyone says at this point. It's the first big summer movie of the year, and the anticipation for this has been brewing for years. It will be interesting to see how people react to the film after seeing it. Will it experience the near-universal praise of The Dark Knight or will it be a more realistic reaction? I'm kind of thinking a Juno-type effect where all the hype is going to end up hurting people's perception. I say go see it, enjoy it, but know it's far from perfect. I'm hoping some of the later movies of the summer (next week's Star Trek, HP6, Transformers 2, GIJoe, etc) will be much better.