the Buzz for February 2009
A comeback seven years in the making toplines this week’s new music releases, and when you see who is helping the artist in question make said comeback, methinks you’ll agree with me that it was certainly worth the interminable wait. Read on:
Shine, her tenth studio album, arrives in stores in late March, and in the runup to that event, modern country legend Martina McBride is reissuing her first three studio records in a brand new, ridiculously affordable — the list price is under ten bucks! — three-disc package. Even though it contains what remains one of her very best songs, a deeply affecting heartbreaker called “That’s Me,” 1992’s The Time Has Come is a first record through and through, loaded to the gills with middling material and non-modulated singing. The Way That I Am, released the following year, revealed traces of the artist that McBride was destined to become (particularly on the sassy smash “My Baby Loves Me,” the song that gives the album its title, and “Independence Day,” the controversial anthem about spousal abuse which landed its performer on the front page of every newspaper when it became a touchstone in the wake of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder), but it wouldn’t be until 1995’s breakthrough triumph Wild Angels and its six (!) massive radio hits (including the magnificent “Phones Are Ringin’ All Over Town,” another of my all-time McBride favorites) that she would truly hit her stride. If you missed any of this back in the day, you’ll find no more attractive opportunity to play catch up and correct that foolishness.
(All times Texas, er… Central)
6:55: T minutes five minutes! Let the fun begin!
7:00: The Hollywood Sign, the Kodak Theater, ah… my former home… The ABC Red Carpet begins…
7:01: The first star we meet is Kate Winslet, and there are more questions about the jewelry and the shoes than anything else. How Hollywood! She does look good, though.
7:04: Wow, Matthew Broderick looks a bit… bigger… than I recall. And what’s with the hair?
7:05: Taraji Henson looks so excited! This definitely seems like a party for her. Plus, she was was on Eli Stone, which both Sherry and I miss.
7:09: And we’re back, with all kinds of dresses: red, white, black, and, oy, horrendous! Valentino certainly can create creative dresses.
7:11: Danny Boyle, the director, and the entire cast of Slumdog Millionaire are here. The kids especially did a great job and they are the real stars of the movie.
So, there’s an Oscar pool at A’s office this year, and short of rigging it — don’t think I didn’t consider it either — I’ve pulled out all the stops to win it. (I’m still steamed about losing his office’s college bowl game pool by just a couple of points last month, and I’m seeking vindication.) And since I’ve got money riding on these picks, I’ve put far more time analyzing this year’s contests than they ever required. I swear you can take what follows to the bank. (However, if I’m wrong, don’t throw tomatoes at me. To quote that ever-prescient sage Dan Rather, some of these races are hotter than a Times Square Rolex.)
It’s Oscar weekend, and the Buzz is pulling out all the stops to mark the occasion. Tomorrow night: this blog’s official picks for who is going to score a victory on the big night. (And you should pay close attention to me: I correctly called three of the four major Grammy winners two Sundays ago — including that supposedly “shocking” victory for “Please Read the Letter” in the Record of the Year category, a call that no other pundit was brave enough to make — and the one I missed (Adele over Duffy for Best New Artist) was merely a fluke.)
And on the big night itself, a live blog. I’m working on Sunday afternoon and evening, so A and Sherry Ann are taking the (hopefully snarky) reins until I make it home, at which time I’ll take over and tell you all I think about all I see. Come hang with us Sunday night beginning with the official ABC red carpet show at 8pm EST. (That’s 5pm for all you out in Calla-forny.)
Wouldn’t it be my luck that I would start writing a marvelous post, only to have the story contained therein change dramatically before I would have a chance to shepherd the composition to Buzz-worthy perfection? Such is the case with
Ms. Joanna Pacitti, who was already well on her way to becoming “American Idol” season eight’s bona-fide front-runner until the producers decided — amid a new swirl of controversy a la last season’s inclusion of the ridonk Carly Smithson (who, under the moniker of Carly Hennessy, released a high-profile Ishtar-level megaflop album at the beginning of this decade, and who was derided heavily last year for competing in what is ostensibly designed to be an “amateur” competition) — to deep-six her for eligibility reasons, as it had come to light that, even though she at this point no longer has a recording contract, Pacitti did have past working relationships with more than one executive at 19 Entertainment, the company which owns and produces “Idol.” It’s a devastating break for her: unlike Smithson last year, who, with her faux-tough-chick sensibility and demeanor, was never gonna go all the way (and whose needless desecration of Bonnie Tyler’s all-time classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart” still rankles my ass, all these months later), adorably fresh-faced Pacitti actually had a decent shot to win this thing.
If Pacitti’s name rings a bell with you, it ought to: three years ago, she released a dynamite debut record called This Crazy Life, which sounded very much like something Avril Lavigne would come up with if only Avril could hit more than one note. (I swear to Jesus I mean that as a compliment!) Life initially received a burst of attention for its fun (and infinitely more tuneful) cover of Dashboard Confessional’s breakthrough smash “Screaming Infidelities,” but there was so much more interesting material to be found on this record: for the life of me, I don’t know why the brilliant “Ultraviolet” wasn’t chosen as the radio single; “Your Obsession” matches pound for pound the haunting creepiness of Sarah McLachlan’s 1994 touchstone “Possession”; and if “Just When You’re Leaving” isn’t one of the saddest faded-love songs you ever heard, kindly ask someone to slap some sense into you until you’ve reversed your foolishness.
Meantime, we get our first real look at “Idol’s” top 36 tonight, and I’ve already been warned by my new pal Michael Brainard (an actor I recently interviewed on Brandon’s Buzz Radio) to keep an eye out for his good friend Jackie Tohn, whose Joplin-esque voice is already causing quite a stir in the “Idol” blogosphere. I already had money down on Pacitti, so my best guess is that the remaining contestants are breathing a heavy sigh o’ relief that she’s been shown the door. Game on, folks.
Would you believe The Fray still hasn’t left my CD player? Luckily, it’s another light one out there this week, because I still have a pile of discs to get through, and if anyone can get me to divert my attention away from Isaac and the boys for a spell, it’s the miraculous woman who gives us the week’s marquee release. Read on:
If you missed it in theaters last fall, make it a point to catch up with Bill Maher’s laugh-riot quasi-documentary Religulous when it arrives on home video this week. A hilariously scathing indictment not of God himself, but rather of the phalanx of fables and parables which have been concocted wholly by human beings in vain and often foolhardy attempts to explain and quantify Him, the film straddles, and with a fierce confidence which sometimes steps a toe or two over the edge, a tricky line between debunking myths and outright mocking them, and while the whole affair gets a little tiresome in the third act (which contains a visit to “Holy Land,” a religion-based theme park whose daily ministrations climax with — I kid you not — a full-scale reenactment of Jesus’ crucifixion), Maher scorches a wide swath of Earth (and admirably so) in a valiant stab at injecting some logic and reason into our collective faith.
“You make other people realize that there exist other beauties in the world.”
— a lovely phrase which was the lead in a passage full of clickable Cialis links that got jammed in the Buzz’s spam filter. (I found the idea here to be not only sweet, but extraordinarily compelling, and while you who composed this failed wholly to sell me an erection enhancer, you did do nothing short of give this blog a whole new mission statement. So, at worst, it’s a draw.)