Views on pop culture through my eyes

Part 1 covered movies. This blog will cover DVDs and CDs that I have been enjoying during the spring and early summer, read on:


Stranger by the Lake — This independent foreign movie tells the story of a gay relationship that starts at a gay cruising beach. One guy may have seen the guy he’s interested in drown another man. With nudity and some real sex scenes too. Grade: B+

Rush — Directed by Ron Howard, this movie tells the story of 2 Formula One race car drivers in the 70’s in Europe. They pushed each other, and had a friendly competition over the years. Grade: A-

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — An update of an old movie starring Danny Kaye. Ben Stiller stars as Walter, who has an active imagination. Sean Penn plays a pivotal role as a photographer who helps to spur on Walter’s real life journey around the world. I liked it, but not as engaging or funny as you would hope it to be. Grade: B-

Masters of Sex (Season 1) — We are catching up on this show on Netflix. Originally broadcast on Showtime, this series tells the story of Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson, as they prepare their ground-breaking sex study. Lots of skin for sure considering the subject matter and a good cast all around too. I definitely recommend it. Grade: A-

Paddington — From the makers of the Harry Potter series, comes the live action tale of the talking bear named Paddington. He created mischief for the family he moves in with. Nicole Kidman plays a villianness. Cute, but not overly so. I enjoyed it. Grade: B

Night at the Museum: Secrets of the Tomb — The third movie in the Night of the Museum trilogy. Hopefully it is the last. What started as a cute concept (things come alive in the museum after dark) has become one big excuse for special effects at this point. Good to see Robin Williams on screen again… but in this? He’s done better, and so has Ben Stiller. Mildly entertaining at best. Grade: C

So I have started back with my own new music Thursdays… once upon a time I would drive to the record store and buy CDs on payday. But now, I just click a button and buy it on Amazon or ITunes, and it is downloaded to my computer.

Ed Sheeran “X” He lives up to his hype! This signer-songwriter from England has definitely made a name for himself. This album features great songs like “Don’t,” “Sing” and “Thinking Out Loud.” He is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Grade: A-

Maroon 5 “V” The LA band — led by the charismatic Adam Levine — shows no sign of letting up with their hit singles. It continues the pop sound of the last few albums. “Songs About Jane” still is their best collection; but this one has “Maps,” “Animals, “Sugar” and “Lost Stars” too. Grade: B

Britney Spears “Britney Jean” This one was a flop for Britney, undeservedly so from my perspective. I just question the singles that were released from it. Highlights include “Work Bitch,” “Perfume” and “Passenger.” The duet with her sister is nice too. Grade: B

Kylie Minogue “Kiss Me Once” She is still giving us some fun dance pop on this her 12th album. Highlights include “Into the Blue”, “I Was Going to Cancel” and “Beautiful” — her duet with Enrique Iglesias. Nothing new stylistically, but solid none the less. Grade: B

Glee “The Music Presents the Warblers” The show is over, but the music lives on. The Warblers were the competition of the McKinley High New Directions. Darren Chris is the featured lead on a number of these tracks. Includes the hit “Teenage Dream” — love hearing it as a gay love song. Grade: B+

Kelly Clarkson “Greatest Hits — Chapter 1” As the original American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson has made quite a dent on the pop music charts over the course of her career. She is not slowing down either… features all the hits, plus a few new songs too like “Catch My Breath” and “People Like Us.” Grade: A-

The B-52’s “Nude on the Moon: the B-52’s Anthology” Coming out of Athens, Georgia in the late 70’s, early 80’s, the B-52’s were something different in pop music. This is their most comprehensive collection to date, and includes all the hits and album cuts from their years on Warner Bros. Plus a few alternate versions too. Grade: A

Darius Rucker “Southern Style” Darius’s 4th country CD doesn’t add anything new to the mix. But it is solid, if unspectacular. Grade: B-

Lady Antebellum “747” Lady A finally realized that they were becoming a bit too adult contemporary in their sound. So it is nice to see them dig into some fun uptempo numbers on this latest collection. And you get their trademark vocal harmonies too. Grade: A-

Miranda Lambert “Revolution” An earlier collection from one of the current queens of country. I loved “Platinum” but this one is starting to grow on me after a few listens. Grade: B

Sam Hunt “Montevallo” This singer-songwriter has written songs for Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Billy Currington. On his debut album, he writes some hit songs for himself too like “Leave the Night On” and ‘Take Your Time.” He has taken country and mixed in some hip-hop influences into his music. Grade: A-

So that’s all for now. Hope you are enjoying the summer. I would love to hear from you.


Comments on: "Summer Entertainment Roundup Part 2" (2)

  1. said:

    Dan, I was introduced to Ed Sheeran by SNL as I was with Sam Smith. Smith completely blew my mind with his extraordinary voice. I bought his CD as soon as it was released. I also bought his work with Disclosure. I also bought “X” and played it continuously. I think “Stranger By The Lake” is a very noteworthy film. It expands the limits of gay film. It works to tear down the limitations between broad release feature films and gay film, in that it tells a story, has a plot with fully developed characters and, incidentally, has graphic adult gay sexual content. Like “Weekend”, it broke down barriers and is an exceptional film. Stranger was nominated for several Cesar Awards, French “Oscars”, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best screenplay, Best editing, among others. It won Best Newcomer Actor. Imagine when a comparable gay film is accepted here and nominated for Oscars. Small advances, step by step. We make progress.

    • For Ed Sheeran, I knew “The A Team” but it was the Taylor Swift duet (Everything Had Changed), that really won me over on him…. then came “X.” Sam Smith was getting a lot of press as the male Adele before his state side debut… he lives up to the hype. I hear he is in the running to do the new James Bond theme. It will be interesting to see what both these guys do next… same for Alain Guiraudie, the director of “Stranger by the Lake.”

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