Monday, April 11, 2016

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' Trailer is Here!

The first major trailer for J.K. Rowling's 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is here! In it we get our first look at the New York Wizarding World, as well as some familiar looks at places we've seen in the 'Harry Potter' films. The inside of Gringott's is shown early on, and there are references to both Hogwarts and Dumbledore. Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander, who is revealed to have been kicked out of Hogwarts at some point, yet is well liked by Dumbledore.

Hearing "Hedwig's Theme" in a movie trailer again is enough to bring a tear to any Harry Potter fans eye. 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is in theaters November 18, 2016.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lady Gaga Pays Tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys

Lady Gaga was tasked with putting on the 2016 GRAMMYs tribute to the late icon David Bowie. She had Nile Rodgers with her, who produced two Bowie Albums: Let's Dance & Black Tie White Noise, to play guitar and help create the show. Gaga delivered a high energy performance that utilized the latest technology, which is something Bowie was always fond of doing.

And of course, it featured her in numerous costumes. She was able to seamlessly cram some of Bowie's biggest songs into the almost 7 minute performance, which can be difficult considering how much Bowie changed through the years. However, everyone involved were able to make it work. Her opening performance of "Space Oddity" utilized a new Intel projection technology, which projected the lightning bolt from Bowie's Aladdin Sane album cover onto her face. Luckily it worked well and matched up perfectly on her face. I personally loved her moving futuristic robot-looking piano.

Let us not forget though: The Grammys have only awarded David Bowie with one Grammy Award... Let that sink in. And he wasn't even first nominated until 1984 despite his acclaimed 1970s work. The fact that he wasn't very mainstream in the 70s is probably part of it, as the Grammy voters tend to go for mainstream even today, but especially back then. He should win a few more for his acclaimed new album Blackstar next year, though he sadly won't be able to receive them of course.

Songs featured:
Space Oddity
Ziggy Stardust
Suffragette City
Rebel Rebel
Let's Dance

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Most Memorable Super Bowl Halftime Shows

We've got another Super Bowl and Super Bowl Halftime Show in the books. This year featured Coldplay, Beyonce & Bruno Mars in what was an okay performance. It wasn't outstanding, it wasn't terrible. The best part was when the three joined together for a "Fix You"/"Up&Up" performance that showed clips of previous Halftime shows (which for some reason left off Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake...hmm). Overall though, it just felt like something you'd watch at the VMA's or Grammy's.

So what are the most memorable Super Bowl halftime shows ever?

U2 (2002) - U2 were tasked with performing just a few months following the 9/11 attacks. And really, no band is better to handle that sort of moment. They were the first band to resume concerts in New York City with some shows at Madison Square Garden just a few weeks after the attacks. They delivered in a big way at the Super Bowl. It started out with an upbeat performance of "Beautiful Day." That led into the more somber "MLK," which is when the giant screen of the names of every victim scrolled upwards to the top of the Superdome. That led into "Where The Streets Have No Name," which picked up the pace again and left viewers feeling hopeful for the future. It culminated in Bono revealing an American flag on the inside of his jacket, a visual that still resonates. U2 were able to take viewers along for a ride through so many different emotions, which might never be possible again.

Prince (2007) - If any word could be used to describe Prince's Halftime show, it would be: electric. It was a rainy night in Miami, but that didn't stop him from putting on an energetic show, utilizing the weather to his advantage, even featuring simulated lightning on top of the stadium. He featured numerous cover songs that surprised and delighted people: "We Will Rock You," "Proud Mary," "All Along The Watchtower," and the more recent Foo Fighters hit "Best of You." He ended the night by playing "Purple Rain" in the rain, which became the signature moment that people remember. Since then the NFL has basically forced Miami to put a canopy over the seats for them to host future Super Bowls in the Dolphins' stadium, in case it were to rain. I guess the rich folks insanely spending hundreds-thousands of dollars on tickets can't handle a little water. Prince, however, went out there and showed that a little rain never hurt anyone.

Diana Ross Leaves in a Helicopter
Diana Ross (1996) - Diana Ross ran through a string of her Motown hits, but the memorable part was at the end when she declared that her ride was there. A helicopter came down onto the field and whisked her out of the stadium, in what is clearly the most memorable exit from the Super Bowl halftime of all time. The show left such an impression that the NFL went for a Motown/1960s theme in the a few of the shows after this one.

Michael Jackson (1993) - This was the first halftime show that truly went for being a major event in itself, something that would become talked about alongside the game in the following days. Jackson memorably walked out and basically just stood there to a roaring crowd for a while. He then performed some of his biggest hits ("Billie Jean," "Black or White") in a large scale spectacle that hadn't been done at any of the previous halftime shows. The set ended a bit cheesy with "Heal the World", but overall it kicked off the Halftime show as we know it today.

Janet Jackson featuring Justin Timberlake (2004) - This one doesn't even need an explanation. Its memorable for Nipplegate, and we've all heard the story. Of course, the whole reaction was overblown and showcased how ridiculous the FCC is.

Paul McCartney (2005) - Let's be real: if the NFL went by without ever having one of the Beatles play the Halftime show, something would be missing from its lore. Paul delivered a stellar set as he always does, and the show featured a healthy amount of crowd participation, ending with "Hey Jude" that featured the whole crowd singing along.

Bruno Mars featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014) - Bruno Mars was one of the younger performers, as they usually get someone with a large back catalog of hits. Bruno rose to the occasion though, including a memorable drum solo, which probably gave him a number of new fans. The show made for a good mix of slower moments with high energy, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers proved to make a solid pairing with Bruno and his band.

The Rolling Stones (2006) - The Stones did what they did best, rocked the house with a rollicking performance that could probably put people half their age to shame. What was memorable about this is how the NFL & ABC aired it on a five second delay and turned off Mick Jagger's microphone for two songs with lyrics that were too "sexually explicit." The band agreed to that beforehand so it wasn't a surprise, but it just goes to show how worried networks had become about live TV after Nipplegate in 2004.

Aerosmith, Britney Spears, 'N Sync, Mary J. Blige, Nelly (2001) - This one isn't really memorable for the performances aside from when they were all on stage to join together and play "Walk This Way." It perfectly encapsulated the pop culture landscape of 1999-2001, while having something for everyone. It was an odd mashup, but one that actually worked.

And a shout out to Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, and Lenny Kravitz. While the jury is out, it did feature a few possible memorable moments: Left Shark, Missy Elliott returning to the public eye unexpectedly, and Katy Perry on a platform that "flew" around on a wire, which made for quite a stunt.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie Dead At 69

Music icon David Bowie passed away just days after releasing his new album Blackstar and celebrating his 69th birthday. It was unexpected to the public, but it was confirmed after that he had been battling cancer for the past 18 months. His wife Iman had posted various messages and pictures in the days leading up to his death.

He began making the album after his cancer diagnosis. The idea of having jazz musicians on the record came when he was in a jazz club and saw some musicians that he liked in mid-2014. The album was confirmed by producer Tony Visconti to be designed as a parting gift to the fans, with Bowie knowing it would be his last. Blackstar was recorded earlier in 2015, yet held off until Bowie knew he was near the end of his life. The hit album is peppered with Jazz music throughout, though it remains a rock album at its core. Bowie also drew inspiration from Kendrick Lamar. 

The music video for his haunting new single "Lazarus" was carefully planned to be released to the public when he was sure he only had a few days left. The lyrics to the song begin as, "Look up here, I'm in heaven!" The whole album is filled with lyrics about mortality, and when it was released a few days ago it was met with acclaim. Yet, none of us took any of the lyrics of the video for "Lazarus" to actually symbolize his fate. 

After a 10 year hiatus from music, he released The Next Day in January 2013 without much advance notice, and followed that up with an EP in the fall. That album was also received well and showed Bowie had reached yet another creative high point. He stayed away from touring though, with his last live performance coming in 2006 at a charity concert with Alicia Keys. 

Bowie was a true innovator right up until the end.

There's a starman waiting in the sky. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ricky Gervais Takes On Mel Gibson

Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes again this year, and of course the censors were ready through the night. He joked about a number of things from <i>The Martian</i> being considered a comedy (because a person being stranded in space, trying not to starve, with impending death on the horizon is a comedy) to the whole Sean Penn/El Chapo thing.

The highlight of the night came when Gervais met Mel Gibson. Gibson was one of the award presenters, so of course Gervais, who joked about him at previous Golden Globes, introduced him. He pulled no punches, having one long sentence bleeped out. The bleeped out line that he asked Gibson directly: "What the fuck does sugar tits mean anyway?" Sugar tits is of course a reference to Gibson's 2006 arrest when he drunkenly called a female cop sugar tits. Watch the awkward yet mesmerizing exchange below.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Abby Wambach Retires

Abby Wambach has ended her stellar career, playing in her final match for the United States Women's National Soccer Team in a 1-0 loss to China. She finishes with 184 International goals, a record for both women and men. The match was also significant as it was the US Women's first loss on home soil since 2004. It's almost fitting though, as the team gets set for yet another big change. Shannon Boxx, Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny also retired. That previous home loss in 2004 was during the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal victory tour, at the end of which saw fellow US Soccer legends Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain & Joy Fawcett retire.

Speaking of Hamm, Foudy and Chastain, they were in attendance. And yes, they will be tearing up Bourbon Street with Wambach & Co:

Even though there were some questions as to whether Wambach would retire or not during the summer, you kind of felt it coming after the team won the Women's World Cup. At the start of this victory tour, it just felt like she was content and ready to move onto something else. Fittingly, Homare Sawa of Japan retired on the same day, sending off two of the best female players together.

Abby's legacy will not just be about all the goals she scored or the gold medals won. Her leadership and ability to rally her team (see: 2011 Women's World Cup match against Brazil) will be up there as well. She's also known for her being as awesome as can be when interacting with fans.

While giving an interview to FOX Sports after the match, "Beautiful Day" by U2 was playing over the stadium loudspeaker, which is a perfect way to describe Wambach's final match and career.

Abby Wambach looks on the Superdome Crowd

Monday, October 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens New Trailer

The new trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered during the Giants/Eagles Monday Night Football game on ESPN. Of course, its already online and you can watch it as many times as you please. Call Guinness because the world record for nerdgasms will be broken tonight.

There is more dialogue than the previous trailer, our first look at Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and more Han Solo (Harrison Ford)! There is also a version of Leia & Han's theme from the original trilogy. Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) get the most screen time, fitting into the scenery just fine. No Jar Jar Binks type mistakes there.

Still no sign of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), though it might be smart to hold off and keep his story secret. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) seems influenced by Darth Vader, speaking to the burnt mask in once scene, but we'll find out for sure once the movie hits. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is in theaters December 18, 2015. It will probably make a gazillion dollars.