The Audacity of Rock: Part 8

Let's sing about debauchery in the douchiest way possible.

I'm just going to let you know that it took me waaay to long to track down the earlier era song for this part. Let's just say if I die without ever hearing "Let's Put the X in Sex" again, I will be happy. Game on!

"Lovin' You's a Dirty Job" by Ratt

The big grossout with this song begins with the band's name which is more reminiscent of the nastiest haircut of my early years than bad boy. I don't really want to know how lovin' somebody is a dirty job, but I know that my favorite part is the bridge where they pretend this is a tender proposition rather than the pure early 90s filth that it is.

"Up All Night" by Hinder

While incorporating another great rock band trope (the live show music video), Hinder manages to make we want die. With it's douchey beginning whine-fest for people to "shut the f--- up" to the scenes of them taking shots, it's just trying way too hard to be awesomely wasted. But I think the one important thing to note is that it sounds almost exactly like the butt rock era that Ratt hails from. In other words, in 20 years, party songs are just as bad if not worse since their hair is so emo.

Hinder - Up All Night

Questions to ponder:
1. Do visible bras increase the effectiveness of gas masks?
2. Does showing yourself rocking a crowd actually mean you're awesome or that you need others to think that you're awesome?

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 , 6, and 7 of The Audacity of Rock.


Confessions of a Shopaholic

1. Stupid girl = completely uninteresting.
2. Stupid decisions = completely uninteresting.
3. Hugh Dancy (my British boyfriend) = once again being consigned to an underused boyfriend role and therefore uninteresting.
4. High fashion clothing = ugly and uninteresting.
5. John Goodman and Joan Cusack = awesome in anything else, but are also boring and uninteresting.
Total damage to my brain: I can't tell. I forgot I was even watching a movie. I think I lost my ability to react to things.

Anyway, I'm going to completely forget about the movie by remembering why I adore Hugh Dancy in the first place:

Hugh Dancy rowing in Daniel Deronda. Masterpiece Theatre productions always suck me in.


Falling in Love

I had no idea that Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro starred in a fairly light-hearted romance Falling in Love (1984), but they did.

Points to make:

1. The soundtrack of this movie utilizes Dave Grusin's kind of jazzy hit "Mountain Dance."

I feel like I heard this song a lot as a child. I wonder if my dad had this somewhere or played it on the piano or something. Anyway, it's suprisingly timeless in feel, but definitively 80s. It also makes this film definitively full of Hollywood happy romance.

2. This is based on the British film Brief Encounter (1945). And while Falling in Love follows the same almost adulterous affair between two adults on a train plot, it's far less proper and less repressed than Brief Encounter. What I love about the latter is that it is so suppressed. It's told from the perspective of a woman in flashbacks. We witness a scene where she's saying goodbye to a man and then drives off with her husband. She reflects on her relationship with that man until we see the first scene again and really see why she was so irritated and anxious the whole time. I cannot recommend it enough.

Spoilers ahead:
Anyway, Falling in Love eventually has the two leads reveal to their respective spouses their severe attachment to someone outside their marriages. So, instead of bravely continuing on in their (what looks to be very good) relationships, they give up on them. It's just seemed like a cop out to me so their could be a "happy" Hollywood ending, but I just felt bad for the left spouses. They seemed pretty cool to me, so the film lost me in the end.

3. I kind of like De Niro in a romantic role. He's not especially charming, but he acts like a decent man and is pretty low key. And Streep is, as always, just lovely and fun. She brings a lot of emotion to a very minimally scripted role. There's a moment when she's getting dressed to see De Niro and she keeps trying on different outfits. Suddenly, she stares at herself in the mirror and asks herself, "What are you doing?" It's a seriousness about consequences that gets lost by the end of the film. But overall, the chemistry between the two leads is sweet and comfortable. They are awkward for most of the film, but it seems to come from respect for their other attachments. It's nice to see the pair of them be so natural.

4. Have you listened to it yet?

It'll be stuck in your head the rest of the day.

5. Anyway, you can find Falling in Love online, but I'd recommend seeing Brief Encounter first.


College pop culture retrospective

In honor of my college graduation, I give a list of my favorite pop cultural finds of my college years. It's pretty random list, some of which is completely cliche, but here you go:

1. Bollywood. My freshman roommate started me on Bollywood films with Dil Chahta Hai. While in recent years my consumption has slowed down, they're usually good for a laugh or cry or just fun if you've got a spare 3 hours.

Om Shanti Om is fantastic. I never wrote a review on it, but if you love super-meta, making a movie within a movie, genre mixing movies, than this one is for you. It's funny, a little tragic, and randomly spooky. Plus, Hamlet and Singin' in the Rain references.

2. The Beatles. Like anyone who likes music, I've always loved the Beatles, but I owe a guy I will always remember as Hot Hot Brian in my psych class for pointing me toward Rubber Soul during a class presentation. After that, I was hooked to the Beatles' later (and more awesome) albums.

Seriously. Buy it. Love it.

3. Led Zeppelin. *cough*

Jimmy Page is inviting you into the dangerous world of Led Zeppelin fandom. Warning: it can be obsessive.

4. K-dramas. Next time in search for a corny series I might branch out from Korean dramas, but My Lovely Sam Soon was a good place to start.

I know right? From this picture alone My Lovely Sam Soon is already too adorable to resist. FYI, it's like a Korean Bridget Jones except way more adorable...adorable.
Shockingly, it's probably just as cheesy.

5. House. I have found that a good way to tell if you're going to like a roommate is if they'll sit down and watch an episode of House with you.

The original team smilier than they are ever on the show; I just love this picture.

6. Online television. I'm counting both legal and more sketchy means. It's so much more convenient to find catch up on tv shows since I got to college, and I love the internet for that.

It's like magic.

7. pandora.com. Check out this station that was developed from artists I discoverd on pandora. I now can enjoy bluegrass and other musical genres new to me.

8. Emo. Sometimes, it doesn't suck. But as a friend said, everyone has a quota of how much emo they can take. Personally, emo better come with some pop hooks or I'm out. Less offensive emos: Panic at the Disco (since they're either electronica or Beatles in their approach), Cartel (pop-y!), about 4 of My Chemical Romance's songs, about 5 of Fall Out Boy's songs, a smattering of others. But for the most part, still kind of a whiny/mediocre genre.

emo love by angel dudettes,  Image Hosting
Do yourself a favor and never image search 'emo.'

9. The rock musical/opera. Possibly the best film genre possible in that the musical is usually good and the plot is usually preposterous. This magical blend makes sure that you feel both pleasure and guilt if you like it. Great examples: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Across the Universe, Tommy.

I was going to subject you to Mean Mr. Mustard's robots in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but thought better of it and instead I give you the Barry Gibb and his fabulous locks, the rest of the Bee Gees, and Peter Frampton in the film.

And in case you're concerned about what happens to Mr. Frampton...

Billy Preston magically appears from a weather vane to save the day! yay!


The Audacity of Rock: Part 7

Church organ intro.

I love the organ. A lot. But today I'm just going to be focusing on churchy sounding organ. Usually a song featuring cathedral-like chording at the beginning eventually starts to rock by the time the drums and/or guitars come in and/or take over, but by that point the organ has already sucked me in. Mostly, it's usually a hilarious attempt to make rock "edgier" by mixing it with sacred things...like the organ. For this collection of church organ songs, I've chosen fairly sterile organ parts (so not gospel church organ). We're also doing more than two generation, and I'm using Grooveshark because I find no need to use an example from a Zeppelin cover band. So here we go:

1. "Your Time is Gonna Come" by Led Zeppelin (1969)

I've probably gushed over John Paul Jones and his mad organ/keyboarding skills before, but they are on full display here. It's innocuous enough that it could probably be played in a church, that is before it starts to play the riff the guitar will later take up. It's an interesting blend of the blues anchored rock with a decidedly less bluesy intro by the organ.

2. "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince (1984)

Prince, being quite the showman, decided to not only give us a warbly church organ solo, but also a church sermon. This time, the organ segues into a pop song, hitting chords to the beat of the only coherent lyrics in the song, "Let's Go Crazy," proving that the organ can be both serious and catchy.

3. "Faith" by George Michael (1987)

I know this is The Audacity of Rock*, but how can you not include this song? This is entirely poppy and catchy and terrible all at once. With the blending of church organ and sexual lyrics, how edgy is this? Although Mr. Michael does give up on the organ as soon as the guitar comes in, demoting his song into acoustic ridiculousness.

4. "Like a Prayer" by Madonna (1989)

I've given up on the rock thing entirely at this point, but I had to include this song, what with its suggestive lyrics. But unlike "Faith," this poptastic single maintains the organ throughout the verses of the song, subtly changing chords in the background. Also double points for including a gospel choir**.

5. "Intervention" by Arcade Fire (2007ish)

The ultimate cathedral organ at the beginning of a rock song. It's majestic and actually reflects the lyrics of the song. It reinforces the power of "the church" to take over a life by remaining a strong presence with the other instruments. Also, a children's choir*** takes up the back-up vocals by the end. Love.

Questions to ponder:
1. How awesome is the organ? Why?
2. Are there any other examples of the church organ intro?

*I count Prince as rock for his leadership of a band and musicianship.
**Which is great idea for another one of these.
***I love choirs!

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ,and 6 of The Audacity of Rock.


In the spirit of finals and graduation week...

I give you Europe's "The Final Countdown" until I have time to post anything else. You're welcome in advance.


Medley of the Day: Try a little tenderness edition

"Try a Little Tenderness" is a song that reels you in. It builds up over the course of the whole song, adding instruments and percussion along the way until it reaches its peak with a full band and a vocalist reaching unintelligible emotion. More than anything, it's a show stopping tune that can be the highlight of a film.

Here's the man whose version of this song sparked countless iterations, Mr. Otis Redding (about :30 in):

And some film highlights featuring the song.
Paul Giamatti and Andre Braugher in Duets (2000):

The band from The Commitments (1991) at about 2:35. And yeah, that is Glen Hansard on the guitar:

And last is my absolute favorite--Jon Cryer sliding into the record store in Pretty in Pink (1986):


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I thought I was safe, but the weather gods called me on my hubris. It's been snowing all day. It's April. It's spring. Not even this classic scene makes me happy:

It just reminds me of why I hate snow so much.

The Audacity of Rock: Part 6

Using early cinema stylings for music videos.

I'll admit I love this one. The more theatrical a band can get, the better. And what's more theatrical than silent film?

"Tonight Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins

This video takes the basic plot from Melies' "A Trip to the Moon" (1902) and makes it a love story. Who knew the Smashing Pumpkins could make something more adorable?

Here's the original cinemagician Georges Melies at work in part 2 of "A Trip to the Moon":

And here's the fantastic video from the Smashing Pumpkins:

"Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance

This video borrows a lot from German Expressionism from its heavy black eye make-up (not just emo-liner) to its bleak gas masks and skeletons, not to mention the lonely hero at the end. Post-WWI was not a fun time. Anyway, while a lot of this movement performed in theatre, quite a few early silent films used some of the same techniques that showed internal emotion and turned it into symbolic set design and props in addition to exaggerated body movements.

Here's a super creepy scene from Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) complete with black eye make-up and stylized sets:

And here's MCR's video:

Questions to ponder:
1. How much would you like to believe that rock bands actually research this stuff and knew a lot about early cinema and it wasn't just the people who work for them?
2. Would everything be better if it was done in an expressionist form? Why or why not?

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of The Audacity of Rock.


Some great beards 2

I took a four hour nap today, so to bide time until I fall asleep, five more beards:

1. Sean Connery. Classic old man Connery beard.

2. Kenneth Branagh. This is from Much Ado About Nothing when he's the hilarious Benedick. While this picture is great for his beard, this is oddly serious for his character. At least Denzel and Kate are having fun in the background.

3. Keanu Reeves. Speaking of Much Ado, my favorite/least favorite casting ever*.

4. Richard Schiff. Toby is always right.

5. Marvin Gaye. Retrospective and socially aware beard.

*Sister: He's so angry. Someone must have told Keanu someone stole his cheeseburger.


Tear Jerkiest Moment of the Day: Baseball edition

I caught the last half of A League of their Own (1992) and I couldn't stop crying. Something about baseball and sisters and women doing awesome things and how it's a shame there isn't more women in professional sports. Not to mention I can't help it when older characters reflect on the good old days that we got to experience through the film.

Mostly, I forgot how much I love this movie.

I cried during this rendition and the one they sing while touring the exhibit celebrating the AAGPBL at the end.


Jesus Christ Superstar

Through the magic of Hulu, I was able to watch the entirety of the 1973 film adaptation of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. It's shockingly more watchable and interesting than you would think. It's a funky retelling of Jesus' final week and passion. It develops minor roles from the gospels, like Judas and Mary Magdalene, but ultimately respects the accepts the traditional story.

1. The beginning and end of the film make it seem like some young adults came to the middle of the desert to some ruins to stage a hip, new passion play. They arrive on a bus in normal clothes and quickly change into vaguely first century garb and pull a giant cross off the top of the bus. At the end of the film, they all get back into the bus, but just a little more pensive. I'm not sure what that's supposed to imply other than a good excuse for why everything looks so cheap and minimalist.

2. Reading the bible you forget that Jesus must have had quite the entourage following him around. The "superstar" status that he must have built up to be a threat to the Sanhedrin probably was a lot more raucous than what I usually imagine. Interestingly in this film, the combination of the Christ entourage and 70s inspired dance moves and dress draws a connection between the many movements of the 60s and 70s. It seems that part of this 1st century movement managed to have an impact for 2000 more years.

The kids in the Jesus/anti-Rome movement. (Starts at about a minute in.) Also, the really enthusiastic Simon Zealotes trying to get Jesus to go all Lucifer.

3. I like the idea of Judas being a sympathetic character. While you can't gather the reasons for his betrayal in the standard gospels, you can read in between the lines that he had other motivations besides greed. In this version of the story, he noticed that the crowd was getting out of hand and Jesus and his followers were drawing too much attention to themselves so he took the only action he could think of to save them all.

I know I posted this song before, but it's so well written and Carl Anderson gives a great vocal performance.

4. We get to see a fairly conflicted character of Jesus in this film. While it's assumed that he is what the gospels declare he is, the film also shows Jesus struggle with the demanding crowds, a betraying apostle, and also questioning God why he has to die--all while singing at the top of his rock opera lungs. And Ted Neeley does a pretty good job of navigating through one of the most idealized and enigmatic people/characters/concepts ever.

5. Mary Magdalene (played by the 70s pop star Yvonne Elliman) is also developed a little, with the lovely "I Don't Know How to Love Him." The song expresses her confusion about how she feels about Jesus, which may or may not be romantically. Perhaps she's grappling with Jesus' special nature. But I think this, more than anything, develops the idea that he's someone ineffably different: the Christ.

5. The title song's performance only competes with the final sequence from All That Jazz in flamboyantness. In fact, I think it's quite distracting from the lyrics of the song, which is quite thoughtful. But, I guess fringe and girls in half shirts are all part of the message...?

Carl Anderson as Judas singing it out.

6.Conclusion: Jesus Christ Superstar is an interesting retelling of Christ's last week that with catchy rock music that gives the story more tangible emotion than a usual retelling.

7. The film and other links for Easter:
Jesus Christ Superstar on Hulu
Fantastic talk by Jeffery R. Holland from last week, "None Were with Him"
History of Easter eggs from my sister


Dear network TV,

Way to seduce me into watching your new cop shows with great lead-in shows and some favorites as the lead characters. I don't want to spend 3 hours straight watching TV, but you've made me do. ABC's The Unusuals seems like pretty standard cop procedural fare (set in NYC), but I really like Amber Tamblyn and Adam Goldberg in the random stuff, so I watched it. And I'm in the process of watching NBC's Southland (set in LA), but it looks like they're trying to be as edgy as network TV can be--complete with shaky-cam and the bleeping out of too risque words. Too bad I'm going to keep watching it because The OC favorite Benjamin McKenzie and the love of my That Thing You Do! life Tom Everett Scott is in it.

Love love,

P.S. Let me just transcribe some of the magical dialogue and events from this pilot episode. Starting from about 10 minutes in:
  • "Come home and make a baby."
  • "You've got 90210 written all over you."
  • "He doesn't pay his rent! What am I supposed to do?"
  • "Look, I'm never gonna lie, okay?"
  • newbie (Benjamin McKenzie) throwing up after seeing a rotting corpse (pilot episode of ER much, same producer?)
  • newbie called "Tori Spelling"
  • douchebag training cops yells to vice cop dressed as hooker, "Hey baby! Show me your bleep!"
  • "Don't think you can handle it, quit now. Do us all a favor and give up."
  • "You threatening me!?"
  • Speaking of That Thing You Do! I keep thinking of Lamarr saying, "Have you tried the peach cobbler? Best in the southland."
  • "Shoot. We got our own war on terror right here."
  • Hey! Creepy Phil from Lost is in this!
  • "Cuff first, then search."
  • (Commercials rant: Observe and Report looks not only not funny, but meanspirited. Repeated viewings of the commerical for it makes me think Anna Faris is even less funny than originally thought.)
  • "Do you know who did this?"
  • "Kids running around shooting each other because they're wearing the wrong colors. Or they are the wrong color."
  • "What the hell did you think a gun was for? Show and tell?" This is only the beginning of this fantastically trope-filled tough-love speech which includes the phrase "front row seats to the greatest show on earth." Some more: "And that my friend is God's work. If you want to be a pussy, quit." Epic.
  • head bludgeon!
  • (Commericals rant: "Roger Ebert gives Knowing four stars." He also gave Watchmen the film four stars and thought it was nuanced. Think about it.)
  • "I didn't want to hurt her. She started screaming, and I panicked."
  • Newbie asking about the guy he shot, "Is he okay?" Veteran cop gives a knowing look.
  • End montage to The National's "Fake Empire."
  • Promo: "Where very moment is what you'd never expect." I'm sure.
Final word: I probably won't watch Southland again. It's taking itself way too seriously for how boring it is. But I'm willing to give The Unusuals another try since it's at least trying to give the characters some personality, no matter how hokey the attempt.


The Audacity of Rock: Part 5

Spazzy dancing lead singers.

A lead singer has the responsibility to be the face of the band, whether that's mysterious, angsty, hardcore, or just plain weird. It's amazing how crazy some lead singers get to keep their persona and the band's energy up. Sometimes it's hard to interpret what exactly a lead singer is trying to do with their movement, but it's usually pretty entertaining.

"Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads

David Byrne's spazzy dancing is forgivable because it seems intentional. The band's music is usually outright bizarre. Occasionally a catchy hook and the bizarre lyrics merge to become great. David Byrne then flails to the music and we end up with a beautiful piece of rock performance.

"Viva La Vida" by Coldplay

I usually enjoy Coldplay's music, but I cannot watch it be performed. Chris Martin is just too enthusiastic and ADHD for my taste. Even in this video, Chris Martin is almost too spazzy to handle. Mostly I loathe how hilariously demonstrative he is with his gestures to match the lyrics.

Questions to Ponder:
1. Assuming it's a conscious decision, how does one decide that they want to move like David Byrne or Chris Martin?
2. Can I please take dance classes from either one of these guys?

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of The Audacity of Rock.


Medley of the Day: It's sunny edition

I hope by making this playlist, the weather gods won't curse me with another round of snowstorms, but I really just want to celebrate the sun and spring and being excited that school's almost out for summer.

1. "Someday Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw. Possibly one of the best pop songwriters ever, Mr. Crenshaw wrote one of the catchiest, most upbeat songs ever. Love.

2. "Mykonos" by Fleet Foxes. I love a good melody and sweet vocal harmonies--especially when they take a turn for the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

3. "When the Day Met the Night" by Panic at the Disco. One year later, still in love with this album.

4. "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey. Possibly one of the cheesiest songs ever produced, it sounds like a middle school crush.

5. "Copperline" by James Taylor. I can't resist. It reminds me of jumping on the trampoline and smelling freshly cut grass.


How to Steal a Million

How to Steal a Million (1966) is one of those movies that shouldn't work, mostly due to the script. The plot is just ludicrous*: a young woman's father is an art forger. He just lent a statue to a local museum, but the museum wants to insure so they must inspect it closer. But it's a fake, so to protect her father, the young woman enlists the help of a man she caught burgling a painting from her home to help burgle the statue from the museum. But the burglar isn't really a burglar at all**! Hilarity and romance in a utility closet ensues.

It's terribly contrived but ends up being a lot of fun only because of the charm of Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. To be honest, I adore this movie mostly because of Mr. O'Toole. Most of his films that I've seen are quite serious, but in this he's just incorrigible, clever, charismatic--not to mention those big blue eyes! Really, he's mastered the "are you serious" look, and he uses it well in this film whenever Hepburn's character does something ridiculous that no one would ever actually do (which is pretty much every scene). In fact, I usually just ignore what's going on in the plot entirely and bask in the fabulousness of Hepburn and O'Toole.

This YouTube video, while using the overused "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall, has several O'Toole reaction shots which should be all you need to convince you to watch How to Steal a Million:

And for added bonus...

Pete posing like the fake Cellini Venus.

Audrey dressing the wounds of criminal in her house that she accidentally shot...of course.
Although he is charmingly dressed in a tuxedo.

Have I mentioned how much I want Audrey's lacy mask thing?
And maybe a Peter O'Toole arm around my shoulders as well?

*My gut instinct is to spell this word "ludacris"...
**How many forms of burgle can I use in one post?


Triple threat...to your heart

I dare anyone to watch all three of these Italian movies in a row. I think your heart would burst from too much happiness, sadness, nostalgia, humor, and love.

Life is Beautiful (1997). Cutest family ever?

Il Postino (1994). A poet and a peasant: heartwarming hilarity.

Cinema Paradiso (1988). Toto and Alfredo. 'nuff said.


The Audacity of Rock: Part 4

Hey guys! Let's wear masks!

This is probably the most ridiculous connection I've made yet. Mostly, I wanted to use bands I hadn't used before in making a connection through rock's past and present. Please enjoy the result of me searching the internet and racking my brains.

Genesis "The Musical Box" (I believe this is a truncated version)

Peter Gabriel was a big fan of dressing up, negating the positive, upbeat, only mildly strange music of Genesis during his era and making it super-weird. But you've got to love it. Here he is in a Fox mask (and red dress). Whether it was because he was shy or just trying to make some sort of statement, who knows? But I do know that I kind of love how mismatched his outfit seems to the rest of the band and the music. To be fair, he's kind of weird without the mask, too.

Slipknot "Psychosocial"

Before today, I had no idea there was a band out there that wore Michael Myers masks. But then again, I don't like screamo very much. At least Slipknot gives me the relief of a sung chorus. Anyway, with the masks, notice that they're all different. Much like BSB, you can pick your favorite one. My favorite is is the zanni inspired executioner mask--adorable! Or absolutely frightening. I can't decide.

Questions to Ponder:
1. While I understand that Slipknot is attempting to make their hard core even hard corer by wearing these masks, does Peter Gabriel have any good reason for wearing one?
2. Is Slipknot scary or just hilarious? How does the choppy editing and quickly changing focus of the video help the scariness or hilariousness?
3. In fact, who would be scarier to encounter: the 9-masked-man band Slipknot or Peter Gabriel in a fox mask?

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of The Audacity of Rock.