Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guilty as Charged

The other day, a friend of mine asked me what my musical guilty pleasure is. With very little thought, I immediately replied NSYNC. Although, I don't necessarily believe in "guilty pleasures." I don't think you should be embarrassed of anything you choose to enjoy (except Jersey Shore). Obviously, like many teens I had several selections of music I did not want my friends to know I listened to. I was forced to hide my Billy Joel, NKOTB, Boys II Men, and Air Supply tapes in Black Flag or Misfits cases. Nowadays, I proudly proclaim my love for Bay City Rollers, Lionel Richie, Take That, Dashboard Confessional, and most of all The Outfield. I'm comfortable with my taste in music.

It's interesting how music usually comes full circle. Lots of long forgotten bands reform because there's still an audience for that genre and there's always someone discovering it for the first time. Honestly, I was listening to Journey and Hall & Oats long before it got cool to like them again, no thanks to The Sopranos and that Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of books related to music. It made me realize that I don't really listen to much music after 1996 which is a little disheartening. There's just a few bands I've gotten into in the last decade; many are spin-offs of previous bands. I don't feel the need to be up to date with current trends on Pitchfork, but I am always open to new suggestions. Here's a few of my own "guilty pleasures."

Michael McDonald
Man, I sure do love soft rock! The songs are so catchy and light; you can't help but sing-along. Songs like this remind me of being a kid and driving around in my mom's burnt orange Maverick without a care in the world.

Take That
I will always have a little place in my cold black heart for boy bands. It's such a great formula that has worked through and through. It probably started with NKOTB (Joey was my fave). We couldn't really afford to go to big concerts like that back then and I was always jealous of the girls who came back with giant buttons and over sized t-shirts. When I got older, I had the opportunity to see NYSNC on the Pop Odyssey tour and it was such a blast; I felt like 10yr old Priscilla finally had redemption. Take That stands out among the boy banders because they have been probably the most successful and credible. They never got quit that big in the US, but in the UK they were huge even after Robbie left.

Gin Blossoms
This is a band I made fun of in the 90s. There was nothing goth or punk about them so they were definitely on my shit list. As I've gotten older, some of my tastes have changed (or at least become less judgemental). After listening to New Miserable Experience a couple times, I realize Gin Blossoms had some gems. I also have a soft spot for them as a result of watching EMPIRE RECORDS too many times. I've also rediscovered Soul Asylum; the 90s were an interesting time for music and Winona Ryder.

Rick Springfield
Rick holds a special place in the hearts of many women over the age of 40. So how you ask, did I come to be completely enamored by Rick. My mom used to watch this cheesy prime time drama in which Rick played a detective by night and a surfer by day. The show didn't last very long, but Rick's charisma left a lasting impression on me. I further investigated his catalog and discovered some rocking tunes. I also love how he used his dog for most of his album covers.

Dashboard Confessional
Also, a band I made fun of in 2001. I once saw Chris open for some random hardcore band. He had a guitar and a stool. At the time, it seemed like the lamest thing but in hindsight I realize that actually took a lot of guts. To go from being in a pseudo-hardcore band to playing cheesy love songs on an acoustic guitar is something to commend. So the cheesy love songs grew on me and I became a fan. And if you talk during the set, I will punch you in the face. Just ask Yogi & Nicole.

Who are your not so guilty pleasures?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Desert Island Films

What if you were stuck on a deserted island for an indefinite amount of time? What would be the five movies you would bring with you? CASTAWAY & THE BEACH are automatically eliminated for obvious reasons. It's a pretty difficult decision to make. When I asked my friends their thoughts, some answered TRUE ROMANCE, GOONIES, COMMANDO, THE SHINING, GODFATHER II, GRINDHOUSE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, KILL BILL, PULP FICTION, and ZOMBIE. A decent array of quality films right? Also, let's not forget the whole issue of porn flicks. Without further adieu, here are my top five desert island films.

This is an obvious choice since it is my favorite movie of all time. I actually watch it 2-3 times a month. I watch it when I'm sad, sick, cleaning, and when I just need a good laugh. CADDYSHACK has one of the best ensemble casts ever that includes some of the funniest comedians of our time like Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and the incredible Bill Murray. I watched this movie for the first time as a kid with my dad. He was a big golfer and I was in love with the gopher. It's funny to think about the lightly vulgar jokes I didn't quit understand as a little girl. "Someone step on a duck?"

As a horror connoisseur, my choice from this genre would be very crucial. It would need to be something timeless, classic, intelligent, and truly frightening. THE EXORCIST embodies all these things. I've watched it a hundred times and could easily watch it a hundred more. Most recently, I was very excited to see THE LAST EXORCISM because I will pretty much watch anything that has Eli Roth's name attached to it. However, after watching it on opening day, I felt really let down. The film itself had great acting and directing but an ending that just fell short. It's impossible to make a movie about possession post EXORCIST; nothing will ever compare to such a masterpiece.

There are two types of nerds in this world: the ones who like STAR TREK and the ones who like STAR WARS. I like STAR WARS. I believe everything you need to know in life is in the Holy Trilogy. Everything a person would need to learn about love, friendship, family, survival, patience, loyalty, right & wrong, and respect is right in these films. EMPIRE just happens to be the best one. We get to see different landscapes, Luke gets stronger, the droids get funnier, Han & Leia get closer, and most of all, we meet Boba Fett.

David Lynch is one of the best directors of our time. I would have to bring one of his films. MULHOLLAND DR. is such a versatile film. It's sexy, funny, smart, visually appealing, and at times frightening. If I were stuck on an island, I would have plenty of time to find all the clues and finally solve the puzzle. Added bonus is that it stars one of my favorite actors, Justin Theroux.

ALMOST FAMOUS is a film I can watch over and over. It's a great story with with some awesome one liners and a great cast. Most importantly, it has an amazing soundtrack. Most films have a music budget of around $1.5 million, this budget was nearly $3.5 million. One of my favorite things about this film are the subtle cameos. Can you spot them all?

Honorable Mention
Being a big QT fan, it's extremely difficult to play favorites with his films. As an honorable mention, I would include BASTERDS because if I were on a deserted island, I would at least have an opportunity to learn several different languages. This film includes French, German, and Italian. It also has the handsome Bear Jew bashing heads with a baseball bat. How can you beat (pun intended) that?

Monday, October 11, 2010


So I've been thinking about cover songs a lot lately. Why you ask? Seems like everyone is doing them these days (more than usual). A friend of mine absolutely LOVES cover songs, more so than the originals in many cases. Odd right? Apparently many people share this sentiment, especially younger people. Now that I think about it, when I was a kid I had no idea most of the songs Tiffany sang were covers. How was I supposed to know it was a Beatles song? They weren't on MTV! And the only thing I knew about Paul McCartney was that he did that one song with Michael Jackson where they had blackface. I also read a recent poll that declared Celine Dion's cover of "You Shook Me All Night Long" the worst cover of ALL time. I might be able to come up with worse....maybe

Anyhow, here's a compilation of some of MY favorite covers.

Hole-Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
I know you're thinking this is a bold statement and it is, but hear me out. There's a generation of women who all at one point wanted to be Stevie Nicks; Courtney Love is one of these women. Except she's a little more obsessive about it almost as much as she wanted to be Nancy Spungen. Say what you will about Courtney (we can all agree she's a complete lunatic), but there's something about her that just enthralls people. She's an enigma that might never be explained. Is she a really good musician? Did Kurt/Billy really write those songs? How is she still alive? The world may never know, but I do like this song.

The Clash- I Fought The Law (Sonny Curtis)
What can I say about The Clash that hasn't already been said? Yeah, the Sex Pistols created punk (at least the attitude), but The Clash created the soundtrack. They always paid tribute to other genres of music that influenced their style, for example reggae. However, covering an old 50s tune by Buddy Holly's back-up band was something most people would have never thought of. The lyrics are so universal and makes you think about the problems in the world existing a lot longer than we ever thought.

The Pixies- Head On (Jesus & Mary Chain)
For the most part, I knew who The Pixies were when I was very young. They had already became relatively know in the early 90s. In middle school, I used to stay up on Sunday nights to listen to the local alternative program on the radio. I often recorded it on a cassette tape. One night I heard The Pixies play Head On and the DJ mentioned JAMC. So I did a little digging and discovered one of my all time favorite bands.

Social Distortion- Under My Thumb (Rolling Stones)
In high school, most of my influences were punk bands. I had no idea who was influencing them, nor did I really care. To me The Rolling Stones were a bunch of old dudes. I had this image of Mick Jagger in the worst Miami Vice suit dancing around with David Bowie in that god awful video that shall remain nameless. Once I really listened to the lyrics of this song, I realized how compelling and bold it was. I eventually went back into The Stones' catalog and discovered some of the sexiest songs I have ever heard in my life.

New Order- Ceremony (Joy Division)
Yes, I know it's essentially the same band. Are you really the same band after your lead singer suddenly hangs himself? I feel like this was the song that New Order really had a chance to put the past behind them and move into a new direction. They're famous for not doing interviews and have never talked openly about Ian Curtis' suicide. I don't think they really need to, just listen to Ceremony.

Honorable Mention
Johnny Cash- Hurt (Nine Inch Nails)
This is a pretty intense song, only heightened by the haunting video. It's even harder to watch now that Johnny & June Cash are both dead. Makes you wonder what Johnny would be covering now if he were still around.

I know Kenny would insist on including Placebo's cover of Boys Don't Cry (The Cure) in this list and I would, but it's technically not released on anything. We'll just continue to swoon over two of our favorite guys singing one great song together in this video.

What are your favorite cover songs?