Saturday, February 25, 2012

#MyFive Movies of 2011

So the Oscars are tomorrow night, and while I love a good award show, I just don't find many of this year's nominees all that inspiring. So I thought I'd blog MY favorite movies from 2011, many of which would never win an Academy Award, but definitely won a special lil place inside my heart (and dvd collection).

5) Super 8 - Most of the summer blockbusters were fun, but I didn't find many of them all that inspiring. Super 8, however, caught me by surprise. The characters were very like-able, the cinematography was gorgeous, and the plot was captivating and suspenseful. I was surprised at how little attention it actually got, as I thought it was the best 'blockbuster' of the year.

4) 50/50 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt has slowly become one of my favorite actors. Without much pomp and circumstance, he picks roles that really allow his talent to shine. 50/50 was incredibly moving, and managed to balance funny and irreverent with a very serious and emotional subject. Super heart-warming.

3) Bridesmaids - So funny I saw it twice, which marked the first time I ever saw a comedy film more than once in the theatre. Every single cast member was hilarious in their own way, and the movie as a whole was a consistent riot. And a Wilson freakin' Phillips' cameo? You had me at 'I know there's pain...'

2) The Help - Incredibly moving and inspiring in so many ways. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer moved me to tears more than any film ever has. I've seen it several times, and have forced various family  and friends to watch it with me. And anytime a witch like Hilly gets that kind of delicious karma, I'm sold.

1) Footloose - Judge me. I don't care. I didn't even want to see it. But I knew 10 minutes in it would change my life. Incredibly hot tough yet sensitive guy as lead? Check. A soundtrack so beautiful that I have worn it out in 4 months? Check. And a surprisingly fresh and realistic take on standing up to outdated ideas of fear and repression? I'm in. The DVD comes out on March 6th. Cut loose.

I'm pretty confident Octavia will win an Oscar for The Help, while Viola Davis should, but probably won't (damn Streep). But I'll be watching I guess. If only for a chance to see if Kenny Wormald got an invite. If not, no worries Kenny. You can come to MY awards show anytime :).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

#MyFive Glee Love Songs far. Because let's face it, Glee beautifully combines believable love with meaningful music, and will probably continue to do so. The songs below brought what I affectionately call #Gleedrops, both happy and sad. Click the links and share your faves!

5) "Somewhere Only We Know" - Kurt & Blaine:  I actually feel they've yet to have an epic song moment, but this one's the closest so far. When Blaine sang goodbye to his beau, you could feel his happiness for New Directions, but also his sadness of losing Kurt from the Warblers. It's a damn sad song already, so throwing in some Darren Criss facial expressions makes it even more moving.

4) "Fix You" - Will & Emma: Part of me cringes anytime someone sings to their lover that they will "fix them" (Kelly Clarkson told me long ago that she, nor any lady, needs fixing...jerk.) But the song arrangement was beautiful, and Jayma Mays' gut-wrenching performance always makes me want to jump through the screen and hug her. So I could see why Schue would wanna lend a hand (or falsetto).

3) "I Will Always Love You" - Sam & Mercedes:  The timing of Whitney's death this week definitely amped up the emotions, but Amber Riley's vocals were the best, and most moving, they've ever been. Plus, Sam cried. Anytime a hot guy shows emotion, I'm sold on whatever brought his tears. So in less than four minutes, a couple that previously felt a little forced, is now the one I'm rooting for the most.

2) "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Rachel & anyone with a Y chromosome: I've actually liked Rachel Berry with every man she's every fantasized about including in her eventual Tony acceptance speech. Which is probably why I loved this song. She was conflicted and all over the place, and only a super dramatic song could speak to how she felt. And what teenage girl (or gay) hasn't felt that way?

1) "Songbird" - Brittany & Santana: Theirs is the relationship that has moved me the most. Watching sweet little innocent Brittany try to help tough-as-nails but super vulnerable Santana accept herself and their love has brought many a #Gleedrop. And never more so than during Santana's performance of one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It was the perfect for Santana. Just like Brittany :).

I'm anxious to see how all of this season's power couples will end up in this Tuesday's winter finale. I also eagerly await the day I can add a Sue-centric performance to this list. Trust.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

#MyFive Whitney Houston Songs

I just found out about Whitney's passing and I'm very sad. Since I'm stuck home sick tonight, I figured I'd celebrate her memory and share my favorite songs and videos.

5) I'm Your Baby Tonight - This was the first Whitney single I purchased with my own money, and that video was fierce! So many Whitney's all looking sheik and sassy. Watch her fashionable sass in the I'm Your Baby Tonight video.

4) How Will I Know - Pure pop fun, both in song and video. I was a wee lil' gay, but the colors and fun in this video grabbed my attention very quickly. Check out the awesome hair and moves in the How Will I Know video.

3) I Have Nothing - I know "I Will Always Love You" is everybody's favorite Bodyguard tune, but this one's mine. Her voice SOARED in this song, and just kept goin' higher and higher. I believed. Check out the I Have Nothing video.

2) Saving All My Love For You - I liked this song when I was a kid, but when I rediscovered it as an adult, I fell in love with its lyrics, when I fell in love for the first time. See her subtle and sweet love song in the Saving All My Love For You video.

1) All The Man I Need - It's my ultimate Whitney song and one of my favorite love songs ever. So sexy, powerful, and moving. I didn't know who she was singing to, but I wanted to find him. Check out the amazing All The Man I Need video.

I'm gonna pop some NyQuil and loop a nice slow Whitney playlist as I fall asleep. Thanks for all the memories Whitney. You will never be forgotten.

#MyFive Mouseketeers

Alumni of the good 'ol 90s MMC were poppin' up all over my world this week! Put on your ears and follow me back to the innocence of my youth. Here are #MyFive Mouseketeers!

5) Ryan Gosling - I actually only remembered Ryan from the MMC after someone pointed his old mousey-eared days out to me years into his film career. I do recall him as one of the quieter, less spotlight-hogging kids, and it's neat to see him maintain that personality as an adult. People love him because of his actual talent (did you see Drive? holy hell), not because of headlines or some weird public obsession. Okay, maybe there's a little public obsession, but at least it's well-deserved.  Watch Ryan sing "Always in My Heart" from the MMC!

4) Tony Lucca - I had no intention of watching The Voice this year. Until I read that Tony was there. He was the hottest guy on the MMC and I'm fairly certain he made me a homosexual. Okay, probably not, but at least he made it fun to be one. Also, his independent music is beautiful. Highlights are "Always", about the love of a parent, and "Back to Me", about letting go of someone and hoping they come back. Check 'em out on Itunes, and support this gorgeous man's career. And if you need evidence of his hottness,  Watch Tony's "Take Time" music video from the MMC!

3) Christina Aguilera - Okay. Let's try and keep this judgment free. Her voice is amazing. Absolutely amazing. She had a hand in some of the most beautiful pop songs of the 00s. She's a strong woman who stands up for what she thinks. Do I always understand her choices or remarks. No. But then, I don't always understand mine. And I'm still fabulous :). Watch Christina sing "I'm Not Over You" from the MMC!

2) The Party - If anyone remembers and loves this group, you are my automatic best friend. Their four albums defined my early adolescence. I wanted to be Tiffani Hale, and I will continue to google her name every year in the hope that someone has located her. It was disney pop music at its best, and it even got a little naughty sometimes (Let's Get Right Down To It?...yikes!). They made tons of videos, but here's the one that sums up their pop charm.  Watch The Party's "I Found Love" music video!

1) Britney Spears - Please. Love her or hate her (and hating her is not an option by the way), she is the best thing that has come out of the entire Disney Channel. If you love pop music, her songs are undeniable. If you love controversy, she's a dream come true. If you teach psychology, she's an excellent case study on the dangers of fame and life. Something for everyone. And everything for me :). Watch Britney sing "I'm Gonna Get You" from the MMC!

If Fred and Moweva were here, they'd say they'd see you real soon. That'd be a lie, though, 'cause we'd never see them again. And if you don't know what that means, then I'm surprised you read this whole thing. MMC love is kind of like a cult. And I'm happy to drink the Kool-Aid. Want some?

Monday, January 9, 2012

#MyFive Tortured Days of Our Lives Characters

Get ready for another Chandler Massey-inspired blog, as I found myself saying "Poor Will" about 50 times this week. He does emotional angst extremely well, but he's only the latest in a long line of Days characters who the writers have put through the ringer. It's really unlikely your life is all that bad compared to these folks, so crack open a bottle of gratitude and read along with me, eh?

5) Billie Reed - Poor Billie. She bursts on the scene with one of the worst back stories in Days history. Her father got her addicted to drugs and pimped her out? Pretty harsh. Then he gets shot and killed (yay?) and a hero by the name of Bo comes into her life. Except it turns out his dead wife's not so dead, and try as she might, she just can't fight the eventual return of the supercouple. So she flies out of town (to the most depressing Bette Midler song ever), and to add insult to injury, she comes back several times over the years, only to be turned into a pathetic plot device for said supercouple each time. Here's hoping her return this year is less victim-y.

4) Greta Von Amburg - Poor Greta. She takes a simple acting job and ends up as (another) acid vat victim. Then she lives in the swamp for years, horribly disfigured. But it's okay. Someone will find her and she'll find true love, right? With Bo? Notsomuch. Eric? Woulda been nice. Austin? Virtual reality only. Jack? He faked being gay to avoid dating her. But at least she'll have a nice life as a princess, right? With a lovely coronation party, where absolutely no one gets shot in an NC-17 rated bloodbath. ...Right? Maybe she was better off in the swamp after all. 

3) Will Horton Poor Will. His mother's Sami Brady. Let's just process that for a second. He could probably write a book on all the horrors his mother has subjected him to. But let's just stick with the last year to make the point. Watching your mother cheat on her husband and bonk the guy who raped her while your brother's missing. Harsh. Being blackmailed by the aforementioned guy, who happens to be a very loathsome Dimera and knows all your secrets. Yikes. And trying to figure out your sexuality in the midst of all this, in a town that apparently has never really had gay people (except for fakegayJack and MIA Harold of course)? Sigh. Poor Will.

2) Hope Brady
 - Poor Hope. She fights every breakup plot device the 80s can throw at her, only to marry the man of her dreams. And then die in a vat of acid. And then come back not knowing who she is. And then remember. And then forget. And then remember again, but maybe not for real. And maybe she was a princess. Or actually just kidnapped by one. But don't worry, she eventually gets her identity back. And that's only the beginning. Every few years, one of her children are kidnapped, switched at birth, or run over by their siblings. Just keep an eye on Ciara, everyone. And your fingers crossed.
1) Marlena Evans - Seriously. No other choice. She's been through the loss of several marriages, complete with miscarriages, brainwashed priest impostors, brainwashing abusive doctors, and more. Her children were stolen from her, returned to her, raped, and sent off to Colorado for reasons unknown. She was possessed by the devil. Possessed. By the devil. She was also kidnapped and trapped in pits, secret rooms, and birdcages for months at a time, many of which appearing to not have a bathroom. She was tricked into thinking she killed almost all of her friends and was a serial killer (after another, albeit brief, possession), and was forced to live on an island with them. And worst of all, Hattie Adams. Poor Marlena.

Feel better about your day? I do. I just hope there's some good news ahead for some of these folks. And fewer bathroom-less birdcages and fake-gay boyfriends. Have a great week ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#MyFive Moving Live Performances

Pop artists have a reputation for producing music that is fun and entertaining, but rarely emotionally moving, especially outside of the magic of the studio. I have been moved to my core on several occasions, however, by artists who infuse powerful and real emotion into their live performances. I thought I'd share my five faves on this frigid morning. Click on the links to relive the magic :)

5) "Because of You" - Kelly Clarkson: The charm of that low-budget first Idol season was how the contestants seemed just like you.  So when Kelly peformed a song she wrote as a kid live at the Grammys after an amazingly successful year, it was like watching your friend live her dream. The kicker was the "I've always dreamed of performing at the Grammys" video intro of a young Kelly.

4) "Silver Springs" - Fleetwood Mac: I was too young to grasp FM's musical talent when I saw this reunion performance, and I was also too naive to get just how complicated and painful relationships could be (Zack & Kelly never seemed to be that intense). But the moment I heard Stevie sing this song, and more importantly, the way she looked at her ex as she sang, I got it. I got the talent, I got the pain, and I felt everything she was feeling, long before I'd know those things for myself. That's true talent.

3) "Falling Slowly" - Kris Allen: I was Team Kris from his first song, but my friends were all Team Adam. I had many an argument with my sis about her lack of a soul, until this performance. The second it ended, my phone rang, with my sister crying and apologizing on the other end. On a night of cliche and over-indulgent movie songs, Kris picked one with true heart and soul, and it was the perfect vehicle for the world to hear just how moving his voice can be.  Team Kris, ftw.

2) "Live to Tell" - Madonna: This song wasn't a fave until the Confessions Tour, when it blew me away. When someone pretends to be Jesus at a church play, they do it to inspire people through the tale of someone who died for others. Madonna was doing the same thing, but instead used the analogy to suggest how Jesus would want us to help people, particularly children. The imagery and music combined to from an inspirational masterpiece.
1) "Glitter in the Air" - P!nk: Everything about this exhuded vulnerability, bravery, and authentic emotion. The raw, imperfect vocals, the nude jumpsuit, and most beautifully, the seemingly-effortless and stunning movements of her body as she dangled from only sheets. She sang of fighting your fear and pride to achieve those rare and incredibly beautiful moments in life, no matter how brief or risky they may be. You could see the awe in the faces of everyone in that auditorium, just as easily as you could see the tears on mine.

There you have it. Which performances have inspired you?

Monday, January 2, 2012

#MyFive Anticipated Albums of 2012

Of all my pop culture vices, music is definitely the biggest. I had fun looking back on my faves of 2011, so I thought I'd look ahead to 2012! Also, I showed up at work today without realizing I wasn't supposed to, so since I'm here with nothing to do... 

5) No Doubt - I hesitate to even put them on this list, as Gwen and the boys have been threatening to release the new album for years now. But surely this is the year they finally do it, right? No Doubt was such an important band for me in my teenage years, and they made some awesome pop music. I'm so ready for some more, that every time I see Gwen Stefani hock makeup or clothes in a commercial, I yell at her to get her ass back in the studio and make me some music. Not kidding.

4) Wilson Phillips - Thank you, Bridesmaids, for making it okay to vocalize my love for these ladies again. For years, they were the secret little shamebased treasure I missed the most, but now others are just as captivated by their harmonious voices and not-so-harmonious personalities (please tell me you saw that reality special). Everyone told me I was nuts for holding out for a Wilson Phillips come back. But I got my way, 'cuz I Held On for one more day (actually for several years, but I guess that's a much-less inspiring lyric).

3) Kris Allen - If you haven't figured it out yet, you should expect Mr. Allen to pop up in any of my music-related blogs. Favorite American Idols, Best Songs of 2011, Anticipated Albums of 2012, hell, I'd probably find a way to stick him in my Favorite R&B Divas blog (which I now feel challenged to do). Beautiful voice, beautiful heart, beautiful face, beautiful dog. "Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful". Hey Kris, maybe that should be your album's title. Either that, or "I love you Wesley Ryan". Actually, that last one sounds better. Go with that.

2) Fiona Apple - I'm most inspired by talented singer/songwriters who weave a web of poetry with their lyrics. In that regard, I'd argue that Fiona's the best of my generation. She can create a song that is so unique and unlike anything you've ever heard, but the picture she paints is so perfect that you wonder how no one ever thought of it. When you combine that talent with all the ish this inspirational survivor has overcome, you have one very powerful artist, who can pull your deepest emotions out of you before you even know what they are.

1) Madonna - She's been making amazing albums for almost 30 years, which is why I cringe when people call someone "the next Madonna". They'd have a long way to go to pull off the success that ol Madge has maintained. I've loved her recent dance-focused LPs, but my favorite Madonna is actually ballad Madonna, and rumor has it her new effort will include her first slow-tempo treats in over a decade. If they're anything like the leaked song "Masterpiece" I will be beaming all year long. She's my favorite artist ever, and 2012 is hers.

What are you looking foward to in 2012? Are you as excited about Madonna? Are you sick of my Kris Allen love? Did you show up to work today for no reason? Sigh....