Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grammys 2011: Don't Call It a Comeback

Most would agree that last year's Grammy Awards were a bit of a disappointment (see "What the Grammys is going on?" should you need reminding). Well all I can say this time around is "welcome back" to our old friend and a job well done. Way to make a comeback.

This year's show was clearly reformatted and redesigned to showcase the music nominated. It was truly a live performance-oriented show -- like some kind of charity concert at which tons of cool artists who would never in a million years play amongst one another come together for the sake of something greater.

I thought the Aretha tribute was a thoughtful, energy-provoking way to open the show, although it was reminiscent of a VH1 "Divas Live" episode. And while no one would deny that Lady Gaga is an electric performer, her wardrobe was all but shocking compared to her usual. But I guess if you were incubating in a "womb" for 72 hours, you'd want to be comfortable too. In any case, it is refreshing that she still gets slightly shaken and visibly humbled by her successes.

This year's telecast seemed to be all about the trios. Bruno Mars, B.O.B. and Janelle Monet complimented each other well and, although the vocals were shaky, Bruno's doowop take on "Grenade" was fun and endearing. Mumford and Sons, Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan proved that a genre can evolve without sacrificing its original quality. Norah Jones, John Mayer and Keith Urban made us realize that not all Dolly Parton songs are obnoxious, and that, despite our urge to resist, we kind of love John Mayer.

The upsets of the night? The fact that Eminem won only two of the ten categories he was nominated in (and they were pre-telecast, at that), Esperanza Spalding sweeping the coveted Best New Artist category (umm, she's a Jazz artist... just saying) and Arcade Fire for Album of the Year. Good for the underdogs. You go Glen Coco.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

99 Problems... but the soundtrack ain't one

While seeing the movie may not be a must, listening to the soundtrack to No Strings Attached is. Featuring classics like "I Wanna Sex You Up" (Color Me Badd is timeless, really) and "Bossa Nova Baby (Viva Elvis)" by the King himself, this compilation showcases a variety of genres and periods.

Speaking of periods (sorry, guys), the "period mix" Adam (Ashton Kutcher) makes Emma (Natalie Portman) is sheer genuis. Although only "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis actually made its way into the scene and onto the album, the tracks "I've Got the World on a String" (I don't think that's what Ol' Blue Eyes meant), "Red Red Wine" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (gross) are equally hilarious and appropriate for a mix of this nature. Take those tunes (and others not mentioned in the movie at the site below) into consideration if ever you find yourself living in a romantic comedy:


But the real shining stars of this soundtrack are the newbies. "Bang Bang Bang" by Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. and "Rock It" by Little Red set the Cali tone for the film; "I Will Let You Go" by Daniel Ahearn is the obvious choice for that moment of realization that you are in love and therefore, totally screwed; "Love Lost" by The Temper Trap just reiterates why they are effing amazing.

The reason I'd buy this soundtrack at all, however, is "99 Problems" by Hugo. Making a cameo as the entertainment at the local bar in the film, Hugo and his version of the notorious Rap song initally got a laugh before the audience quickly realized that it may just be the coolest cover ever.

Listen to samples of No Strings Attached (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), available to order February 15th:


Hugo - 99 Problems