the Buzz for May 2008


Snugly tucked amongst a handful of Harry Gregson-Williams’ soaring instrumentals (which comprise the film’s masterfully executed score) and a new tune from that infinitely annoying Russian pop tart Regina Spektor (one heifer I cannot bear, despite repeated attempts), you’ll find “This is Home” — a slightly melancholy yet uncommonly gorgeous piano-based track from one of the great contemporary bands, Switchfoot (or, as they’re better known in my orbit, “Creed with legs”) — anchoring the original motion picture soundtrack for Disney’s new The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.


Despite the anomaly that was “Meant to Live,” their unavoidable, slow-burning 2004 crossover smash, these guys — led by the enigmatic Jon Foreman, whose world-weary voice conveys honey and vinegar in equal measure — have flown largely (and inexplicably) below the radar in the years following their major label debut, 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown, despite a pair of sturdy, worthy follow-ups.



“Any song with the line ‘magic rainbow’ in it is disqualified from being a good anything.”


— my cranky British pal Mike Walker (whose genius is solely responsible for how GREAT this blog looks), in response to my assertion that the 2008 American Idol Coronation Song, David Cook’s “Time of My Life,” is, in actual fact, not that bad a tune.



pirate smiles always make me cry

posted at 4:08 pm by brandon in now hear this

Perhaps aiming once more to one-up her old rival Madonna, the spectacularly gifted Cyndi Lauper is back this week with Bring Ya to the Brink, her first album of original material (not counting 2001’s Shine, which was released only in Japan) since 1997’s stunning Sisters of Avalon. (Her last two records — 2003’s At Last and 2005’s The Body Acoustic were both covers projects.) Brink is heavily influenced by electronica, marking Lauper’s — ever the maverick, this girl — first full-length foray into the field after years of pressing her face to the glass (1997’s crazy-ass club smash “Ballad of Cleo and Joe” and 1998’s Grammy-nominated “Disco Inferno” cover spring immediately to mind) and flirting with it. Especially if you’re accustomed to (and love) Lauper’s ballads and more downtempo fare, Brink is a bracing change of pace that requires a touch of patience; nevertheless, exposure of any stripe to Lauper — one of a fortunate few artists whose work only got more interesting beyond the ’80s (who besides George Michael and, possibly, Prince can seriously stake that claim?) — is a good thing.




The thread to here:

Prologue — As Gershwin once wrote, “And when he comes my way, I’ll do my best to make him stay”

Part the Second — In random, scattershot strokes… me

Interlude — Everything I’ve needed to know about life, I’ve learned from Sting

So, then came Cascada.

Yes, that nightmarish, migraine-inducing German dance trio — who have just morphed Rascal Flatts’ soaring, searing triumph “What Hurts the Most” into a ridiculous, ear-splitting slab of hopped-up Eurotrash that makes DHT’s intolerably wretched recent remake of Roxette’s pop classic “Listen to Your Heart” sound positively stately by comparison — incited the most vicious argument A and I have ever had.

But first things first.



first comes love

posted at 11:57 am by brandon in somethin' simple like the truth

“So now I have a house and I’m married and you know what’s next… I don’t know if it’s gonna happen. I get such family pressure about children! Like, my grandmother keeps asking me, ‘When am I gonna be a great grandmother?’ I keep saying, ‘I don’t know, I guess as soon as you do something extraordinary.'”


— the hilarious Rita Rudner, from her appearance on HBO’s One Night Stand



spade a spade

posted at 10:31 pm by brandon in somethin' simple like the truth

“Mean ol’ bitch, ain’t I?”


— my crazy aunt Sheila, politely declining a pushy customer’s request for a larger turkey leg. (Editor’s note: she prefaced this statement with the following: “Nobody’s better than anybody else.”)



“I think she just had to put on this politician face, and not be this soft… hurt… woman. But she ended up stayin’ and that’s where she’s at, so she might as well sang the song leavin’ the White House.”


— the divine Lorrie Morgan, responding to Hillary Clinton’s 1992 assertion that she’s not “some little old woman standing by her man like Tammy Wynette.”




6:50 pm: OK, this is more like it. Hey guys, are we ready for two bloated hours of movie previews, pitchy performances from has-been former stars, and the coronation of a new American god? Yup, me too. Can’t wait!

6:54 pm: So, I have a bit of housekeeping to take care of before the show starts. Here’s what I get for not paying attention last night: neither Archie nor Jughead actually sang the true 2008 American Idol Coronation track last night. Because of last year’s “This is My Now” trainwreck (which, some say, unfairly tipped the scales in favor of Jordin over the more electrifying Blake when they both had to sing it in ’07’s performance finale), the producers decided to let each David pick their favorite from the top ten entries in the songwriting contest, and decided to save the winner for tonight’s show.

6:56 pm: The winner is called “Time of My Life” and it was written by a guy called Regie Hamm, whose name you may or may not recognize. He released a terrific album called American Dreams in 2003, and I’m pretty sure nobody but my deranged ass owns it. And/or loves it.

6:58 pm: At some point during this evening’s festivities, I’ll figure out how to link to Amazon’s Regie Hamm page so that you can check it out. It’s a very good album.

7:00 pm: It’s finally here! Is David Cook wearing a Nehru jacket, for the love of Jesus?!




7:10 pm: Due to an agricultural emergency (don’t ask), I’m a little late in liveblogging the “American Idol” finale. That’s what I get for hyping this to you people!

7:11 pm: At any rate, dinner is ready (and a tad burnt), the TV’s on, and we’re ready to go. I haven’t missed a performance yet, but I’m fifteen good minutes late in introducing you to the cast of characters. Screw it; we’ll do it on the fly.

7:14 pm: Good lord, Daddy Clive is picking songs again. Remember that year he picked “Open Arms” for Elliott Yamin and he blew it?

7:15 pm: Who put Andrew Lloyd Webber in charge of the peanut gallery?



“In the first 45 seconds of the reading… I [was] sitting there and I thought, ‘Okay, this is too embarrassing. I can’t say to anybody, ‘What is this about?” Because it’s a farce; it’s falling down funny! And they’ll just die laughing at me if I say, ‘Well, we have to figure out what it’s about.’ And I felt like a fool. So we start to read, and right at the beginning, [star] Tim [Curry] says, ‘I’m King Arthur, and these are the Knights of the Riiiind Table.’ And I thought, ‘Well, of course. It’s about class. It’s English. Everything English is about class. It’s their only subject!'”


— legendary director Mike Nichols, explaining to Charlie Rose the process of getting the Broadway musical Spamalot on its feet



no rsvp necessary

posted at 10:11 pm by brandon in idolatry

After a brief hiatus (for which you can blame A — he popped into town for the weekend, and we spent that time alternately vegging at the movies — if you miss 21 on the big screen, do NOT let it (and the wickedly handsome Jim Sturgess’ exhilarating, star-making performance, not to mention typically snarky work from Kevin Spacey) escape you on video — and making pigs of ourselves at our fave restaurants — and if, by some cosmic accident, the poor woman who waited on us at Marie Callender’s Friday night is reading this, please know: A did NOT mean to take your head off when you asked him that benign salad question), the Buzz is back, and with a major announcement, to boot: the end of “American Idol’s” seventh season shall blissfully cross paths with this here spankin’ new multimedia platform of mine (which today celebrates its one month anniversary) tomorrow and Wednesday, whereupon the Buzz will venture into uncharted waters and take its first stab at liveblogging.


A and I have a tendency to IM each other while watching the big, splashy events (y’know, the Grammys, the Oscars, etcetera), and since I’m rarely at a loss for witty sarcasm during these moments, he always tells me that the world at large should be privy to these confabs. This week, at their discretion, they will be: both Tuesday and Wednesday evening, starting at 7pm central daylight time (perhaps a bit earlier, if I’m feeling especially fired up), the Buzz will document urry riveting second of “Idol’s” epic Battle of the Davids as it happens, and you’re all invited to join in on the fun. Set an alarm if you must, but don’t miss this.



the long goodbye

posted at 3:00 am by brandon in idolatry

I’ve spent the past thirty-some hours, Syesha, trying to summon something even remotely interesting to say about you and your tenure as one of this year’s top twelve. And to my dismay (and even slight horror), there’s just nothing there, my darling. Despite the fact that you never once had a true knockout performance, you were expert at straddling the median (even in your best weeks, you weren’t as good as Brooke or Michael, two unfortunate victims of your phenomenal lucky streak; neither, however, were you as abominable as Kristy Lee or Jason, each of whom now flank the incomparable Sanjaya as “Idol’s” most stunningly inept semifinalists). Most weeks, you were so unassuming that America seemed to altogether forget how unremarkable you really are.


Consider this, Ms. Mercado: the “Idol” highway is liberally littered with the carcasses of contestants who well inhabited your very niche, and be they ridiculous (season five’s Mandisa, anyone?) or sublime (how many folks still believe “Idol’s” original diva Tamyra wuz robbed all those years ago?), you’ve managed — save one, who ended up winning the whole enchilada by plumbing the American songbook and brilliantly fleshing out, of all things, a Gershwin tune (!) from the ’30s — to place higher than any and all of them.


As I whispered in Brooke’s ear two heartbreaking weeks ago, there is nothing you could have done to alter last night’s verdict. Syesha, you could literally be Whitney, and it would still have been all for naught: ever since Mr. Cook turned Lionel Richie’s shockingly schlocky “Hello” into the coolest grunge ballad this side of “Plush,” the forthcoming David Squared face-off has been in the cards. You must have known your great fortune — however remarkable heretofore — was never gonna derail that train.


Simon predicts a “humdinger” for next week. Get yourself a front row seat, Syesha, and watch the fireworks unfurl.



in sickness and

posted at 4:03 pm by brandon in somethin' simple like the truth

“What I tell straight people in my stand-up is, if you watch ‘Will and Grace’ but don’t support gay marriage, then fuck you. Taking the flowers of a culture without easing the burden of minority is like when white people took rock & roll from black people in the ’50s: ‘I love that song, but please don’t use that drinking fountain.'”


— comedienne Margaret Cho, sounding off on same-sex unions