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Music Maven’s Grammy Rundown

grammy1

Admittedly, The Grammys do not thrill me.  Unfortunately, moguls like Clive Davis’ seeming influence into the awards over the last few years leaves me very skeptical as to the nominations and the winners.

I mean, WHERE is Amos Lee?  Ray LaMontagne? 

However, in the spirit of Music comraderie, I made my own Grammy picks.  Personally, I think that they could cut out 2/3 of the categories and cut this puppy down to a half-hour show….but, whatever.  Here are the 2009 Music Maven Grammy picks.

Record of the year

  Please Read the Letter, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

Mainly because Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is so over-played.

Album of the Year

Because of their revolutionary, “name your price” sales strategy….

  In Rainbows, Radiohead — Videotape track

Song of the Year

Only one choice for me…loved her from the start.  Remember, she debuted her 12-song DC (rather than CD) for $6.99 on iTunes.

  Love Song, Sara Bareilles

Best New Artist

For her ’60s vibe….

  Mercy, Duffy

If Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl wins anythings, I will never turn on a radio again.

In the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category, I’m seriously torn between James Taylor’s Witchita Lineman and John Mayer’s thoroughly emotional Say, from The Bucket List.   However, I’m going to have to go with Sweet Baby James on this one.  The Glen Campbell kun-NECK-shun is just too strong.  The best song lyric of all time:

…and I want you more than need you, and I want you for all time.

‘Nuff said.

  Witchita Lineman, James Taylor

(Besides, Say wins a MM Grammy in another category — see below.)

Which, given the choices, leads me to Best Pop Album — JT’s Covers.  I was convinced by Seminole Wind and Not Fade Away.

I was intrigued by the nominations within the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (who comes up with these categories?) pitting Sir Paul McCartney’s Amoeba Record performance I Saw Her Standing There against John Mayer’s Gravity performance from Where the Light Is.  While I have great affinity for McCartney, the Where the Light Is video is superb and Gravity is one of my all-time favorite songs.  Therefore, the award goes to….

  Gravity, John Mayer

The only performance in the R&B categories that I feel is worry of any award is Wayne Brady’s Change is Gonna Come.  Yes, Wayne Brady of Who’s Line is it, Anyway? fame.

  A Change Gonna Come, Wayne Brady

However, I’d like to see Jennifer Hudson win a Grammy, just because she is that good and she deserves it.  Note:  she is the only American Idol alum nominated this year.

In the Country categories, only two nominations piqued my interest.  Brad Paisley’s nomination for Letter to Me in the Best Country Song category and The Del McCoury Band’s nomination for Best Bluegrass AlbumLive at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  Love me some Del…

  Nashville Cats, Del McCoury Band

John Mayer’s Say is a lock for the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture.  I love this song, music & lyrics.

  Say, from The Bucket List, John Mayer

Miscellaneous Other favorites:

Best Traditional Gospel Album, Down in New Orleans, The Blind Boys of Alabama

Best Traditional Blues Album, Pinetop Perkins & Friends, 95 year old Pinetop Perkins, with a line-up of Blues royalty.

Best Contemporary Blues Album — THREE New Orleans acts; Dr. John, Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball.  Can they simply split a Grammy?

And, finally the BIG category….Best Zydeco or Cajun Album….drum roll please……

Music Maven picks……

  Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys

 

 

 

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Super Bowl Ad Review

I anticipate the Super Bowl each year, mostly to see what creative ads Madison Avenue will come up with.  It’s evident that there has been budget cuts and lay-offs as, on the whole, the Super Bowl ads, um…lacked.

My favorite of the night was actually NBC’s promo for their Monday night line-up.

  Feelin’ Alright

I was mildly entertained by the Potato Head/Bridgestone ad:

….and Pepsi’s Forever Young ad…

  Bob Dylan = will.i.am?  Really?

I have to admit that this generation’s William Shatner, Alec Baldwin is scrumptuous in this Hulu ad:

  TV Only Softens the Brain

However, job worries and satisfaction seemed to have been the ones that hit home the hardest this year:

  Bud Light Budget

  Crystal Ball

  If You Hate Going to Work

  The Other End

The Miller High Life delivery guys sums up the whole ridiculous Super Bowl advertising thing…

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2009 in Marketing, TV, work

 

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Variety is the Spice of Life

A couple of years ago when my buddies, Huck and Shrew, separately suggested that Taylor Hicks would be best served in a variety-type TV show, I was somewhat skeptical. 

Really?  Like the entertainment pablum of my ’60s & ’70s youth?  Could our cynical and jaded society grasp and actually appreciate this vintage concept, complete with special guest stars, comical skits and of course, musical performances?  I mean, would these really go over with folks today?

  Donny & Marie, with guest Milton Berle

  Sonny & Cher Show, VAMP

  Flip Wilson, with guest Muhammad Ali

  Tony Orlando & Dawn

However, after contemplating a bit, I remembered that while those good, old variety hour programs provided slapstick humor and comedic skits, there were also ALOT of great musical performances — like these little gems I came across:

  Blowin’ in the Wind, Glen Campbell with special guest, Stevie Wonder

  They Call the Wind Mariah, The Smothers Brothers

Then, as if to confirm my suspicions that today’s sophisticated TV viewer has no appetite for good, old variety fare, Rosie O’Donnell’s attempt at variety show resurrection lasted all of 42 seconds. 

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I see that one of my favorite artists of today, the one and only, Johnny Boy Mayer will have his own variety show on CBS.

Is this guy great, or what?!?

Is this guy great, or what?!?

As visionary as I might be on other topics, I just didn’t see this one coming.  However, I truly believe that he will be a hit and put Rosie to shame.  As it should be…

ROCK ON, JOHN!

John’s got a bit of previous experience, compliments of Dave Chappelle.  In, White People Dancing he shows that he can play a great straight man.  Can’t wait to see who his special guests will be….

B.B. King?

Eric Clapton?

Buddy Guy?

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2009 in John Mayer, TV

 

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(Twang Alert!)

gone-country

My af-FECK-shun for good Country Music has been well documented here at Music Maven.  From Twangalicious Brad Paisley to Johnny & June to hot Kenny Chesney, I’ve decried that much of Country Music is the “Pop” of yesteryear.  So much so, that many “established” artists of other genres are crossing over backwards from mainstream Pop to Country.

In 1994, Country great Alan Jackson released a hit called Gone Country that epitomized the shift of some from other genres to Country and that “it ain’t much different than Dylan”. 

  Gone Country, Alan Jackson

This post was really inspired due to hearing Darius Rucker’s song on Top Country radio.  Yes, Hootie has gone Country.   

  Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It, Darius Rucker a/k/a Hootie

I’d heard the song and thought the voice sounded familiar, but simply never would have thought of Rucker on this song.   His Country introduction registered a #1 hit for Rucker who explained that while his Hootie experience was centered around drinking and partying, his music now is more centered around family and kids.  As the father of young daughters, Rucker has basically mellowed into Country.

Most recently, a mash-up of Werewolves of London and Sweet Home Alabama has been filling the Country airwaves via Kid Rock, who has scored a top ten Country hit with All Summer Long:

  All Summer Long, Kid Rock

This isn’t Rock’s first foray into Country.  He scored a hit on both the Top 100 Billboard Pop chart and the Hot Country chart with 2003’s Picture, his duet with fellow rocker, Sheryl Crow:

  Picture, Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow

Perhaps Country is kinder and gentler for those having fought the good fight in the plastic and tortuous world of Pop.  Among the re-treads from the Pop world is Jewel.  In this interview, she discusses the migration “back” to Country.  (WARNING:  Yodel alert)

Despite her “walk 10 miles to school, uphill, both ways” stories of growing up in Alaska, Jewel’s experiences are very similar to many artists who really grew up “Country”, but broke into music via Pop.  Personally, I consider her music more acoustic than Country.

  Perfectly Clear, Jewel

However, the same cannot be said of Bon Jovi’s cross-over effort with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles last year.  This is pure country, twang, grits and gravy.  I have to say that his tranformation of his Jersey to Atlanta accent grates on my last nerve.

  Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Bon Jovi showed that crossing over to Country isn’t exclusive to relatively new artists.  So too, has the great Bob Seger.  The man who helped to define “classic” 70s Rock, has also tested out Country to wedge his way back into modern day music conciousness.

Bob Seger –   Wait For Me

I have to say that Wait For Me is not what I would consider Country but is rather, the eptiome of Seger music.  Where is this stuff in today’s music.  So good, so easy, so powerful.  **sigh**

Then, there’s just the insipid like Jessica Simpson who will use whatever she can to stay remotely relevant.  She explains here how she found her new BFF, Dolly Parton, by totally screwing up the lyrics to one of Dolly’s songs on national TV.  **roll eyes**

Nevertheless, Dolly forgave and actually wrote a song for Daisy Duke:

  Do You Know, written by Dolly Parton

Unfortunately, those thinking that Country is the big payoff for transitioning careers isn’t limited to singers.  Oddly enough, some actors also think that they can “make it” in Country.  Probably the oddest thing I’ve seen recently is that Kevin Costner is pursuing a Country singing career at the tender age of 53. 

  Long Hot Night

Costner released his new Country CD last week if you feel that you can’t live without it. 😉 

While I’m not particularly fond of his music stylings, he is forever forgiven simply for the fact that he wore a naval uniform in No Way Out

costner-no-way-out

Yeah, I’m shallow like dat.

Lastly, if you can’t get enough of watching washed up celebrities try to get their rural rowdy on, tune into CMT’s Gone Country, hosted by the enormous talent of John Rich of Big & Rich fame.  As an aside, I LOVE their music…here is one of my favorites:

  Comin’ to Your City

…which has been appropriately adapted for my favorite Saturday programming, NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL!

…but I digress.

John Rich hosts Gone Country, which will start it’s 3rd season in January.  Celebrity contestants compete to revive their ailing careers as Country music stars, in a format that has become oh so familar and monotonous over the last few years.

The first season included Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips, perpetual loser Bobby Brown, Maureen McCormick (a/k/a Marcia Brady), Julio Iglesias, Jr., Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Sisqo, and American Idol alum Dianna DeGarmo.  Iglesias prevailed and recorded The Way I Want You:

Season 2 provided the antics of Sebastian Bach of Metallica Skidrow, FAME’s Irene Cara, American Idol over achiever Mikalah Gordon, Jermaine Jackson, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lorenzo Lamas and bad girl Sean Young.  Uber-heavy metaller, Bach, prevailed and has since recorded Battle with the Bottle:

This season promises chills and thrills with contestants Parliament’s George Clinton, Miss USA Tara Conner, 21 Jump Street actor Richard Greico, Micky Dolenz from The Monkees, Sheila E. from Prince, Taylor Dayne and American Idol’s original loser, Justin Guarini. 

Will they coif those curls into a super mullet?   Will Clinton don chaps and spurs?  You’ll have to tune into CMT to find out.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2008 in Country, TV

 

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Mad About Mad Men…

Oh my Lord in Heaven.

I’m not one for watching “series” on TV.  I usually can’t get interested in a story line long enough to watch for any length of time.  However, a few weeks ago Shrew recommended Mad Men.  “You will love it”, she said.  While skeptical, I decided to puruse Hulu to find it, but evidently AMC (American Movie Classics), the cable network that carries Mad Men, does not license through Hulu, BUT did have one episode — the second season premier.  I decided to watch this episode and if it garnered my interest, I would download season one from iTunes, to keep me company on my many business trips.

Naturally, I LOVED IT.  I have completed season one and am anxiously awaiting the weekend when I can catch up on season two, which is conveniently available (for free) on On Demand.  YAHOO!!!

If you watch Mad Men, you know how I can love it so.  If you haven’t watched, YOU HAVE TO!!  Set in the early 60s, the characters lives revolve around a Madison Avenue advertising agency.  The nostalgia is phenomenal, to the point where you think you’ve entered a time warp and are right there with the girls in the secretarial pool, adjusting your Playtex bra and dodging the wayward hands of your boss.

The show is so honestly unpolitically correct that it’s realism captivates.  Here is a video I found on YouTube that lists the Top 10 politically incorrect moments in Mad Men (so far):

Of course, the brilliance of this is that in 1960, this was perfectly accepted behavior.  And, there are many more where these came from.  Women smoking and drinking while pregnant, drinking in the office (at any hour), incessant smoking — anywhere and everywhere by everybody, and the perfect mother worrying about her six year old “getting fat” are just a few of the issues that folks today would simply be mortified over.

And then there’s the sex.  Everyone is doing or trying to do everybody else.  While likely a little over done, the show does expose “the greatest generation’s” proclivity for extra marital dalliances — particularly in action-packed New York City when commerce and culture were seeping from every pore of the city.

Oh, and the music….I love me some nostalgia music, as I call it and Mad Men does not disappoint.  Here’s a few of my favorites from the first two seasons:

  Band of Gold, Don Cherry

  P.S., I Love You, Bobby Vinton

  Babylon (Written by Don McLean)

  Botcha Me, Rosemary Clooney  (ignore the drag queen)

  The Twist, Chubby Checker

  Fly Me to the Moon, Julie London

  Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Bob Dylan

  Theme from Summer Place, Percy Faith Orchestra

  Break It To Me Gently, Brenda Lee

  I’m Through With Love, Marilyn Monroe

Man, I just LOVE this stuff.  The songs, the era, the stories, and oh, the characters.  My favorite is Ad Agency owner Roger Sterling, played superbly (and oh so handsomely) by John Slattery.

Yeah buddy.

Anyway, even though the story of Mad Men takes place a couple of years before I was born, there is something oddly familiar about it all.  Even though things had changed (and not necessarily for the better) by the early 70s and my formative years, alot of what is portrayed in Mad Men was still happening.  While society continued to become more “open”, it also became much less tolerant of, and dare I say militant against, the obvious sexism and male dominance of everything in business and otherwise.  

Even through the bawdy behavior and pervasive deceptiveness, there’s still a wonderful innocence of a world before assassinations, marches in the streets and really, really bad clothes.  Watching Mad Men provides a glimpse into the end of an era…likely the most exciting time in recent U.S. history.  Post WWII society, drunk on money, sex and freedom. 

While you may be shocked by some of the behavior of these peers of our elders, I dare you not to have a few good laughs when you watch Mad Men and relish in the fact that yes, “you’ve come a long way, baby”.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2008 in Good Stuff, oldies, Reviews, TV

 

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What’s “The Story”?

While watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics last Friday night, a familiar song wafted from my big screen TV.  What was that?!?  Could it be?!?  Yes, it was.

  The Story, Brandi Carlile

As previously mentioned on this blog, Brandi Carlile and The Story  were one of my accidental finds when I attended several Saenger Theatre shows earlier this year.

Although I think that the use of popular songs on TV and commercials has been a bit overdone and almost a genre all it’s own now, I do not have a problem with artists allowing their songs being used in commercials as long as the product isn’t contradictory to their known beliefs…or for Viagra.

Knowing of Brandi’s environmetal activism I was a bit confused about The Story being used in a GM commercial.  So, I did what I always do…I consulted the internets and on Brandi’s MySpace blog today, I found this explanation:

Why “The Story” Is In A GM Commercial

Hey all,

I’m writing you from a plane bound for Portugal. While we are gone you may have already heard our song “The Story” in an Olympic advertisement for GM. Depending on how you feel about music and advertising in general, you may be wondering why a band like us would do something like this. Well I have a few good reasons, so allow me to shine a little light on the subject.

When GM first approached our band to use “The Story” in their 2008 Olympic ad visions of SUVs and full-size pick-up trucks driving through a rugged mountain range were dancing through my head. I promptly and politely declined. (Although I don’t want to be a hypocrite, our band did tour in a GM gas-guzzling van for many years) But, when they came back to us and offered to involve us in an ad campaign promoting hybrids, bio fuel, bio hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell cars and yes, even the infamous electric car the Chevy Volt, I felt the need to think twice about having the opportunity to be a part of a huge American car company creating an ad campaign for environmentally responsible cars. We feel they allowed more than a fair amount of input from us and made an honest effort to create an environmentally conscious ad. We are proud of it.

I also believe in American jobs. Keeping people employed in the US and building fuel-efficient/alternative cars could help reduce and one day help eliminate our dependency on foreign oil. To really make a positive impact regarding the climate crisis we all need to work together to make the change, even GM.

Regardless of what my feelings are about the agenda behind the sudden wave of corporate environmental awareness, its still awareness just the same.

Thanks for hearing us out. The twins and I are proud to say that every last penny from the GM ad is being donated and split between several environmental organizations exploring alternative energy and effecting change on a grass roots level…sweet!

Names and links to these organizations are soon to follow just as soon as the paperwork is done! J

And yes dad, we are still loud mouth tree huggers…sorry.

xobc

Good ’nuff for me.  And, I think that many people could be introduced to Brandi’s wonderful music through this very well done commercial for GM’s hybrids.  I have to say that I prefer this use of the song than the contrived Grey’s Anatomy.

 

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2008 in brandi carlile, Emerging Artists, TV

 

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America’s Got Talent…Well, at least Emily David does

Ladies and Gentleman, Aretha, Jr.

40 year old, Emily David, the next great find from America’s Got Talent:

GEAUX EMILY!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on July 27, 2008 in aretha franklin, Emerging Artists, TV