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Best Music TV Shows of all Time

As a fan of both music and television, it is not always easy to come up with a winning formula that benefits both mediums. You have had so many reality singing competitions, and a few fabulous duds like “Cop Rock.” But here is my list of the shows that got it right:

Reality Shows

American Bandstand (1952–1989)
Dick Clark was the host for most of the run and is credited with it’s success. You had acts of the day performing, plus good looking young people dancing to the songs too. Who didn’t want to be there?

Soul Train (1971–2006)
Don Cornelius was the host that most people are familiar with (1971–1993). This show focused mostly on soul and R&B performers but disco, jazz, funk and hip hop made their way on it too. Who didn’t want to strut their stuff in the Soul Train Line?

American Idol (2002–2016)
The greatest singing competition show that ever existed in my opinion. It has changed the face of popular entertainment forever, and brought singers and performers we are still enjoying today. They just announced this week it is coming back for the 2017-2018 season on ABC.

Solid Gold (1980–1988)
Dionne Warwick and Marilyn McCoo are the hosts that I remember the most. If you grew up in the 80’s you remember this show fondly. It had a dance troupe, the Solid Gold Dancers, who would dance to the Top Ten tunes of the week. It was tacky, but it was fun.

Dramas

Nashville (2012–current)
This series focuses on the performers, song-writers and music industry people in Music City. The two main stars are Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. It is basically a good old fashioned soap opera with music. Not a musical, but a drama. There have been concert specials of the stars showcasing their very real musical chops.

Smash (2012–2013)
This behind the scenes look at the making of a Broadway musical never really found it’s way to great success. But those that watched it loved it for what it was: a celebration of Broadway — it’s music and stars. Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty starred as the 2 women who wanted to play Marilyn Monroe in a musical entitled “Bombshell.” Along the way, there was plenty of drama and some great numbers as well as some ridiculous story lines too.

Glee (2009-2015)
This fun show followed the students in a Glee Club at McKinley High School. These kids were all misfits in their own ways… but they found power and success in the music. The early seasons were very successful and they were able to spin off a series of successful albums, singles and concert tours too. Some of the numbers were sung in character, while others were performance numbers. They also created some great mash-ups, where they took 2 or more songs and smashed them together into one great medley.

Empire (2015–current)
This show is Fox’s current hit drama about the going’s on in the world of hip-hop. It follows the Lyon family, ex’s Cookie and Lucious, and their 3 sons Jamal, Andre and Hakeem. Lucious is hip-hop royalty and 2 of his sons are performers, while the third is behind the scenes. The music is executive produced by Timbaland. The soundtrack from Season 1 debuted on the charts at #1, beating out Madonna’s last album.

Special Mention

So You Think You Can Dance (2005–current)
OK, so it is not a music show per se, but a dance show. But music is a big part of the routines, and I have discovered plenty of new music by watching this show. Plus they have had performances by up and coming musical acts too.

So have I missed any? I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

Fall Entertainment Roundup Part 2

Thanks for coming back. Part 2 features my reviews of CDs and TV shows. As always, comments are kindly welcomed.

CDs

Dierks Bentley “Black” Dierks is back for his 8th album. Special guests include Maren Morris and Elle King. Stylistically he is not presenting anything new for me, but it is still a solid record. “Somewhere on Beach” covers similar territory to “Drunk on a Plane.” The duet with Elle King “Different for Girls” is a bit of a sequel to Beyonce’s “If I Was a Boy” if you ask me. I hope it’s the second single. Grade: B-

Beyoncé “Lemonade” Queen Bey’s new project premiered as an HBO special, and an exclusive on Tidal. It is her follow-up her self-titled project. Again, we have a visual album and a music album. Stylistically it is her most diverse project yet: rock, reggae, country, gospel, R&B, ballads and more. She attacks the rumors of Jay-Z’s infidelity head-on. Ultimately it is story of female empowerment, especially black women. She is a force to be reckoned with. Grade: A

Kelly Clarkson “Piece by Piece Remixed” Her record company released this to capitalize on her triumphant return to American Idol in it’s final season. She sang a stripped down version of “Piece by Piece” which ended up going viral, and it instantly made it’s way onto the pop charts. You get new versions of 10 of the 16 songs off her last studio album. Grade: B+

Daughtry “It’s Not Over… the Hits So Far” Only the third American Idol alumni to warrant a greatest hits album, Chris Daughtry and company offer up only 2 new tracks on this collection (Torches and Go Down). It is still a great career overview, even if most of the songs are from the first 2 albums (the band has 4). Grade: B

Brett Eldredge “Illinois” This is his second album. I decided to take a chance on him since he is opening for Keith Urban on his tour this year. He’s got a nice voice, and I instantly liked some of the songs. Will see where he goes with his career. Grade: B

Ariana Grande “Dangerous Woman” Ariana’s 3rd album is just as good as her previous one “My Everything.” Contains the hit title track as well as “Into You.” And I am beginning to get a sense of her as a woman and an artist… something I wasn’t sure about last time. Grade: A-

Nick Jonas “Nick Jonas X2” Nick’s breakthrough solo project has been re-issued in a special deluxe edition with 7 additional songs. So you get the hits from the original like “Chains” and “Jealous;” plus remixes of those 2, and a couple of new songs too like “Levels” and “Good Thing” (with Sage the Gemini). His pop-R&B sound is finally starting to grow on me. Grade: B

Miranda Lambert “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” I am just catching up on this girl. And I have enjoyed every one of her releases. This is her 2nd album and includes the hit “Gunpowder and Lead.” So you get fiery uptempo songs with a ttitude and tender ballads too. Grade: B+

Little Big Town “Wanderlust” One of the year’s biggest surprises for pop music fans. This is the country group’s collaboration with Pharrell Williams, who co-wrote and produced the album for them. You get their trademark vocals, but the tracks are pop tunes for the most part. Danceable, fun, and definitely hook filled. I loved it the moment I heard it. Includes the fantastic first single “One of Those Days” — which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Grade: A

Rascal Flatts “Changed” Rascal Flatts has never been much of a ground-breaker with their career. The country trio has a successful formula that they don’t mess with. So you get the big ballads, some good party tunes and nice vocals and harmonies. They have been consistently good through their whole career. Grade: B+

Blake Shelton “If I’m Honest” I am a fan of Blake, but this one is not doing much for me so far. “She’s Got a Way with Words” and the duet with girlfriend Gwen Stefani are the stand-outs for me. The rest is just OK. Hopefully it will grow on me. Grade: C

Sugarland “The Incredible Machine” This was the 4th (and so far last) album from the country duo. It contains the hits “Stuck on You” and “Tonight.” I hope that they get back together again to make some new music. Grade: B-

Keith Urban “Ripcord” Keith’s latest CD, has a few things in common with his last one “Fuse.” Is it country? If it is, it is very pop-oriented country. He has guest stars like Nile Rodgers, Carrie Underwood and Pitbull even on this album. I would love for Keith to try pop fully for one record, like Taylor Swift’s “1989.” That would be interesting. I believe Keith’s pop leanings, whereas with Tim McGraw it didn’t fit for me. Grade: B-

Jimmy Wayne “Sara Smile”
I first came to know this singer when he opened for Wynonna Judd on one of her tours. This is his 3rd album featuring the title track — a remake of a Hall & Oates song. They are featured on the song too. He’s got a nice voice, but some of the material is not up to par. Grade: C

 

TV

Animal Kingdom
Based on the Australian film of the same name, this TNT series follows the exploits of a crime family: a mother and her sons and grandson. The location has been moved from Australia to Southern California’s beaches. The cast is lead by Ellen Barkin and Scott Speedman. Everyone is good looking, and there is a decent amount of male flash on display. Sex, drugs, bad behavior — so far I am enjoying it. Grade: B+

Mad Men (Part 2 of Season 7)
I have been a big fan of this show through the years. I missed the last season, because I didn’t have a TV for a good portion of last year. So now I am finally catching up with it on Netflix. I have to say this last season was a bit of a disappointment to me. It was all over the place. So much of the stories occurred away from the ad agency. And they tried to give everyone a decent ending except Betty it seems. Grade: C

Greatest Hits
Billed as a special event limited summer series, this show brings back hitmakers of the past (like Rock Springfield and Backstreet Boys) singing their greatest hits as well as current hitmakers (Pitbull, Meghan Trainor) too. Each episode covers a 5-year period like 1980-1985; 1990-1995 etc. The show is hosted by Arsenio Hall and Kelsea Ballerini. This shows reminds me of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” a summer show from summer’s past that brought back old hitmakers to prime time. It was good to see some of the stars on here, even if they aren’t as good as they used to be. I hope they bring it back next summer. Grade: B

Do you agree with my reviews? Please sound off in the comments. I would love to know what you are watching and listening to.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Diana Ross: Still Supreme

Diana Ross in Concert
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guest: Naturally 7

In the Name of Love Tour

Songs performed: Summer Breeze, While My Guitar Gently Sleeps, Fix You (Naturally 7); I’m Coming Out, More Today Than Yesterday, My World Is Empty Without You, Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, Touch Me in the Morning, Love Child, The Boss, Upside Down, Love Hangover/Take Me Higher/Ease on Down the Road, Don’t Explain, Good Morning Heartache, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Will Survive, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), I Will Survive (Reprise)mr0zbp-b781149345z.120130804141403000gh81f8bkb.1

Comments: Diana Ross returned to the Hollywood Bowl for 2 triumphant shows this past weekend. In a show that celebrated her entire career from the Supremes to the movies to her solo anthems, Diana wowed the crowd with enough energy and star power for someone half her age. And she is 72! I was amazed by her.

Naturally 7, a 7-member a capella group, opened the show for her. They performed Seals and Croft’s 1972 hit “Summer Breeze” as well as covers of songs by Michael Jackson, George Harrison, Coldplay and more.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana’s daughter who stars on “Black-ish”, introduced her before the curtain parted. She said she was the 2nd child of Diana’s 5 children. She was thrilled and honored to be introducing her mother.

The opening song for Diana was “I’m Coming Out.” And Diana made a dramatic entrance from the back of the Bowl on an elevated swing that had her flying in above her band. She was dressed in a sparkling red dress with accompanying wrap.

This was the latest stop on Diana’s “In the Name of Love” tour, which she has been on intermittently for the past 3 years. It was nice to see her with a full production. She had a full band with backup singers. And we got the requisite glamorous costume changes throughout the evening too. She definitely knows what the fans want to see.

Diana performed a bunch of her Supremes hits, in full versions this time, unlike other times where she did them in medleys. So we got the big hits like “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Love Child” but did not get “You Keep Me Hanging On” or “Reflections.” The group had an amazing 33 Top Forty singles in their career, with 23 making the Top Ten.

What was cool was how well known so many of her songs are. The crowd was on their feet singing and dancing along all evening. When she performed “Upside Down” she had her son, Evan, join her on stage as well as his dancer buddy who had danced with Diana before. Usher was also in attendance and he danced and sang a little during that segment too. The crowd was going crazy. Usher bowed down to Diana — deserving of a Diva like she is.

Her voice may not be as strong as it was when I saw her in the 80’s and 90’s, but she still sounded good.

The 2 biggest surprises of the night for me were “Ease on Down the Road” and “I Will Survive.” Sure, she was in the movie “The Wiz” with Michael Jackson, but he was the one that sang that song, not her, in the movie. She recorded “I Will Survive” in 1995, and it is definitely a song that everyone knows and loves.

This concert served as a reminder of the superstar that she is. Thanks to Diana and her band for a fantastic evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Soulful Sounds of En Vogue/Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men/En Vogue in Concert
Friday, July 8, 2016
Greek Theatre

Special guest: H-Town

Songs performed: Knockin’ Da Boots (H-Town); My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Whatta Man, Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Deju Vu, Don’t Let Go (Love), Medley: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Got to be Real, Bad Girls, Best of My Love, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Respect, Lady Marmalade, Tell Me Something Good, Proud Mary, Free Your Mind, Hold On (En Vogue); Motownphilly, On Bended Knee, Water Runs Dry, Uhh Ahh, Four Seasons of Loneliness; Medley: Thinking Out Loud, Let’s Get It On, Smells Like Teen Spirit; I’ll Make Love to You, A Song for Mama, End of the Road, Motownphilly (Reprise) (Boyz II Men)

1459193391-Boyz-II-Men-En-Vogue-ticketsComments: Two R&B/pop vocal groups from the 1990’s are co-headlining a summer tour this year: Boyz II Men and En Vogue. Both started with 4 singers each, and now have 3 singers each. Their heydays may be behind them, but both acts showed that they have the hits and the vocals to still put on a great show.

The opening act was H-Town named after the city they were from: Houston, TX. They had a few minor hits on the R&B charts back in the 90’s, including a #1 song called “Knockin’ Da Boots.” One of the founding members died back in 2003, so the other 2 members have carried on without him. Their music was all pretty much bump and grind R&B. They even spilled water on their torsos and crotches, like it should be sexy or something. But it came off as more pathetic. At least they threw some teddy bears into the crowd and handed out some roses too. Their act pretty much sucked. And Shazam has a good voice too — too bad it’s on this material.

Next up was En Vogue, the all-female vocal trio. The group features founding members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron-Braggs plus Rhona Bennett. Surprisingly the group never had a #1 single on the pop chart. But they had a couple of big #2 songs, and they started and ended their set with them. I was a big fan of this group back in the day. I got to see the original 4 on their “Funky Divas” tour, and then saw them as a trio as part of the Colors of Christmas concert.

The ladies are all in their 40’s and 50’s now, but they all looked good and sounded good. Wearing all black dresses, they sang their way through their hits, plus sang their new song “Déjà Vu” which they described as breezy R&B. They also did a big diva medley of the women/songs that inspired them: everyone from Diana Ross and the Supremes to Donna Summer to the Emotions and Tina Turner. I would have loved for them to sing more of the album cuts from their albums — but that didn’t happen. But the crowd was on their feet for most of their set — singing and dancing along.

Up next were Boyz II Men hailing from Philadelphia, PA. The group features founding members Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman. The crowd was definitely excited to see them and I was glad to see them received so well. The 25 years they have been together have done them well. They are consummate showmen. They were dressed all in white, and still had the harmonies and vocals that made them famous.

They started and ended the show with their breakthrough hit “Motownphilly.” From there it was one big hit after the other — “End of the Road,” “Water Runs Dry,” I’ll Make Love to You” and more. Plus they had a covers section of their set also, but it seemed much more loose than the En Vogue one. They covered everyone from Ed Sheeran to Marvin Gaye to Nirvana. Nathan played guitar, while Shawn played bass during this segment.

Wanya was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” this past year where he reached the Top 4. He relayed how much has changed in 25 years — you can gain a few pounds and lose your hair. Shawn said he loved the fact that he could sleep in his own bed that night, since he calls Los Angeles home.

The difference I see between the 2 headliners is that Boyz II Men never really went away, whereas with En Vogue there have been stops and starts with fighting over the name, breaks for family time, and years of not recording or touring. En Vogue has 5 albums to Boyz II Men’s 11. The Boyz didn’t sing any new songs in their set, unlike En Vogue who sang 1.

I was disappointed that they didn’t do any songs together. “One Sweet Day” would have been the perfect vehicle for them both — with En Vogue taking on the Mariah Carey vocals.

Overall, I had a great time. It was good to see real singers who didn’t need any special effects (other than fantastic vocals) to win over the audience. Thanks to everyone for a great evening out.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

 

 

My Dad’s 90th Birthday

100_6946What do you say for someone turning 90? My Dad is hitting that milestone this week, God willing I will be there some day too.

My Dad and I have had an interesting relationship over the course of my life. Truth is, we don’t have much in common. And I have joked with him about it.

But at the end of the day, he’s a good guy, who’s watched out for me all of my life. He has provided and cared for me, along with my Mom and siblings. I never went to bed hungry, never worried that I had a house to go home to.

When I moved out of the house, he was there to help me with it with his moving van. And showed me and my partner a thing or two about moving couches around corners.

I remember one time I was having an argument with a friend over the phone. After my Dad wrote me a hand-written note, saying that he loved me and was available if I wanted to talk about it. I still have that note to this day.

I remember him taking me places and doing things with me because he wanted to spend time with me: be it riding a roller coaster at Magic Mountain, or taking me to Knott’s Scary Farm for the Halloween Haunt.

So I may not have gone to a USC game with him, and I doubt that I ever will. But we have gone to see some action adventure movies like “Fast and the Furious” and “Indiana Jones” together. Plus we always make a point to celebrate the holidays, and birthdays together. And it is something I do gladly.

My Dad is not one to show emotions… and in that he is very much a product of his generation. Men were tough, and didn’t let others see them cry. So I was shocked when I saw him crying, when I had to put our dog to sleep. The man has a heart after all! That incident made him more human and relatable to me.

Thank you Dad for being in my life! For all of the love and friendship you have shown through the years. Ninety is a huge milestone. Happy Birthday, you have definitely earned your cake, and you can have as many pieces that you want! I tend to celebrate my birthday for about a month, but for you, I am giving you permission to celebrate all year!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Dear Omar Mateen

Editors Note: Like the rest of the country, I have been deeply affected by the massacre in Orlando. The following is my letter to the killer if he was alive today.

Congratulations on your newfound fame and notoriety. It’s official — you have past the previous records of mass shootings and are now the person with the highest body count — 49 innocent lives. Yeah, I know they were all faggots to you. You think you knew what these people were all about, but in reality you new nothing about them other than that they deserved to die for their “horrible” lifestyle. I bet you never knew a gay person.

How could someone who has a son of his own commit such an evil and heinous crime? Don’t you realize that the people you killed had families too — brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, partners, children, grandparents and friends? They were people who were going to school, working jobs and trying to make a way in the world, just like you were.

Who made you God? What makes you better than the rest of us? Did you have a direct connection to Allah? Did he tell you via a cosmic phone call or text to go and kill a bunch of LGBT people in Orlando?

From reports that are surfacing, you seemed to enjoy the nightlife yourself. You often visited nightclubs and enjoyed partying. The people at the Pulse were just letting off some steam and having a fun evening — like people do when they go to a nightclub. Laughing, dancing, drinking — they weren’t protesting or making some kind of political statement. They just wanted to have a good time. Who are you to say what someone else’s good time is comprised of?

And don’t get me started on the possibility that you were actually a closeted gay man. If that is the case, you should have gone to therapy. You would have found out that people can and do lead healthy and productive lives as LGBT persons. That whatever was written in the Koran, was written so long ago they had no clue to the reality of being gay. Most LGBT people I know believe they were born this way. Sure you may have had issues with your family, but I do believe you would have gotten past them in time.

As for the anger issues, well again, I would recommend some therapy and some possible prescription drugs too. How you reacted to being offended to seeing 2 guys kiss is not a normal reaction. It is obvious that you are a mentally deranged individual. I would like to believe that you could have gotten past things and lived a normal life.

Having a normal life is not something your victims will get to do. Who knows what they might have achieved? They could have had the cure for cancer or been a future President of the USA. Those that did live (and there are 5 still in critical condition, so your total may still rise) are going to have a long hard road back to recovery. We are talking huge medical expenses, rehabilitation, plastic surgery, prosthetics and more. Not to mention the intense trauma they endured that will result in years of psychotherapy. These people have been through hell, and you are the one responsible for it.

I get that religion is important to you. It is important to me too. I love that I get to connect to God and my spiritual community. One of the tenants of my faith is that we are all people of God — regardless of race, religion, sexuality or nationality. I don’t have to agree with or like everyone in the world. We are different, and I am OK with that. If I see something wrong in the world, I will pray about it. If I feel so, I will write my politicians and tell them how I feel. Try to get laws or protections passed. I would never take matters into my own hands and be judge and jury myself. But again, that is something we feel differently about.

Did you expect to see all the outpourings of love around the world? I bet not. Sure there are those haters who agree with what you did and see it as an act of God. But those people are in the minority. There have been rallies and vigils all over the world for your victims. Politicians, law enforcement, ministers, celebrities along with millions and millions of regular people who want to celebrate and remember the people you killed. Your victims were people who most of us have never met, yet we have cried so many tears about them.

In the end love will always win. I guess you know that now too since you are dead. You can never hug your son again. You will never see your wife again. Never talk to or interact with your parents. Every year on June 12, we will read aloud the names of the fallen to remember them and celebrate their lives. Your name will soon be forgotten. A small footnote in time.

I pray for you and your family. Something that you probably wouldn’t do for me. But again, that’s the type of person I am.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Happy 5th Anniversary Kilt Man!

This month marks the 5th anniversary of this blog. There have been 226 blogs written over the last 5 years. That is an incredible accomplishment if I do say so myself! In honor of this momentous occasion I will look back on some of the highlights from the past year.Dan-5Year

I celebrated my love of all things entertainment with quarterly recaps of what I am watching and listening to. See Summer Entertainment Roundup Part 2, Entertainment Roundup 2016 Part 1 and 2, plus Spring Entertainment Roundup Part 1 and 2. Don’t worry, I am already working on one for Summer 2016.

I attended some high-profile concert tours and invited you to experience them through my eyes. See reviews of Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, Janet Jackson, the B-52s and more. Plus check out my Facebook page for A View from the Cheap Seats for more photos and reviews of live music shows through the years.

I voiced my frustrations about not having a TV (Living Without TV), and what songs are played on radio these days (Radio Playlists [Stagnation]). As well as weighed in on gun control too (All Lives Matter). I also complained about the frustrations of collecting all the music of one particular artist (Complete Collections).

I gave my predictions on who would win at the Oscars and on the final season of American Idol. I also celebrated all the fantastic albums/songs by American Idols through the years.

I highlighted the hunky actors and singers that I would to see in kilts in Guys I Want to See in a Kilt Part 3. Surprisingly I didn’t write any more on kilts this year, or on Speedos for that matter. Look for new blogs coming on those topics in the coming months.

Thanks for being a part of my incredible journey on this blog. I look forward to sharing my thoughts, feelings and interests with you for many years to come. Please sound off in the comments if you have any topic suggestions. I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Guys I Want to See in a Kilt Part 3

 

It is refreshing to see more and more kilt companies popping up in the last few years. They see a market for something different with men’s clothing. And who better to improve visibility for kilts, then to see a celebrity wearing one. I would love to see the following celebrities out and about in a kilt. I am sure they would make some best-dressed lists if they did.

Sam Hunt — This country hunk has made a splash on the music scene in the past year with his album “Montevallo” and it’s singles “Take Your Time” and “House Party.” I can imagine him rocking a utility kilt for sure.

Teddy Sears — Besides being an actor in such shows as “The Flash” and “Masters of Sex,“ this man is an athlete who loves surfing and triathlons. A sport kilt sounds up his alley.

Matt Bomer — He’s been in big box-office hits (Magic Mike) and TV shows too (American Horror Story: Hotel). Plus he’s gay in real life. I could see him wearing a kilt on the red carpet some time.

Ben McKenzie — He’s come a long way since “The OC”. Now starting on Fox’s Batman prequel “Gotham” as Detective James Gordon. He plays a tough guy on TV, but I bet he has a softer side in real life. Plus he has Scottish ancestry too.

Tom Mison — He stars on “Sleepy Hollow,” as a man who is from another time. So he is used to period clothing. What has more tradition and history than wearing a kilt?

Jamie Bell — The boy who was “Billy Elliot” has grown up nicely. He has a background in dance, besides acting in such films as “The Eagle” and “Snowpiercer.” I could see him wearing a hiking kilt on the weekends.

Jason Derulo — Pop/R&B hit-maker Jason Derulo has given us such fun songs as “Talk Dirty” and “Want to Want Me.” Plus, he’s taken on judging on “So You Think You Can Dance” also. He is always very stylish and trendy with his clothes. I could see him rocking a kilt in his concerts.

Corey Stoll — He’s equally at home on screens big (Ant-Man) and small (House of Cards). He’s tall and has big ears… just imagine him wearing a kilt commando.

Jason Statham — Action hunk Jason Statham has definitely kicked some major ass on the big screen in such films as “The Transporter” and “Fast 8.” I can’t imagine anyone taking issue with him when he is wearing a kilt.

Chris O’Donnell — He started in the movies (Batman & Robin), but now makes his home on TV (NCIS: Los Angeles). Plus he has some modeling on his resume. I could see him wearing a kilt relaxing on vacation.

Zac Efron — He came from the Disney Channel (High School Musical), but he’s graduated to big screen roles in “Hairspray and “Neighbors.” He boyish charm, and hot body would make him look great in a kilt.

So, those are my choices for this latest round of kilt fantasy hunks. Did I mention your favorite? Be sure to check out Parts 1 & 2 of this series. Sound off in the comments with your choices.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Spring Entertainment Roundup Part 2

Here’s what I have been listening to and watching over the past few months. As always, comments are kindly welcome.

CDs

Ed Sheeran “X (Wembley Edition) The expanded edition of his hit album “X” with 8 additional songs. So you get the hits like “Sing,” “Thinking Out Loud” and “Photograph” as well as new songs like “Touch and Go” and “Lay It All on Me” (w/ the group Rudimental). Grade: A

Daughtry “Baptized” The fourth album from American Idol alumni Chris Daughtry and his band. Stylistically he hasn’t changed much since his debut, I was hoping he would mix it up some. Highlights include “Waiting for Superman” and “Long Live Rock & Roll” (where he name checks major acts from the 70’s and 80’s). Grade: B

Daughtry “Break the Spell” The third album from American Idol alumni Chris Daughtry and his band. Highlights include “Crawling Back to You,” “Outta my Head” and the title track. Grade: B

Elliott Yamin “Let’s Get to What’s Real” Elliott’s 3rd album is his most R&B album to date. It’s real music played by real musicians. He reminds me of Michael McDonald some, with his white-boy soul. Grade: B

Charles Kelly “The Driver” This is the first solo album from Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum fame. He doesn’t stray too far from the fold. I could imagine most of these on a Lady A album. Guests include: Dierks Bentley, Stevie Nicks and Miranda Lambert. Highlights include the Grammy-nominated title track and the blues-rock ballad ‘The Only One Who Gets Me.” Grade: B-

Dixie Chicks “The Essential Dixie Chicks” The country trio is finally heading back on the road this summer. So I picked up this collection to remind myself of all the great songs they have in their song catalog. It is easy to hear their influence in a lot of the young singers out there. Grade: A

Rihanna “Music of the Sun” The first album from the superstar. I needed to recover from the lousy “ANTI.” It contains the radio hit “Pon de Replay.” Lots of reggae and dancehall touches on this album. It showed she was an artist to watch. Grade: B-

Boyz II Men “Twenty” Celebrating 20 years as a group, this double album has 13 new songs as well as 8 re-recorded Boyz II Men classics. Nothing new really, but still likable. They still have their trademark harmonies. Grade: B

DVDs

The Last Five Years
Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in this movie musical about a young couple’s romance and dissolution over the course of the last 5 years. The interesting thing is it has very little dialog, and the story is told through the songs. His story starts at the beginning, and hers starts with the end. I thought it was very well done. Grade: A-

Sicario
Emily Blunt leads an all star cast including Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. She plays an FBI agent who gets involved with the DEA and helping with the war on drugs on the Mexico and American borders. It’s a situation where nobody seems to win. Grade: B+

A Most Violent Year
It’s 1981 in New York City. This drama stars Jessica Chastain and Oscar Issac, as a married couple who run a heating oil company in a very competitive environment. She’s the daughter of a mob boss. He is an immigrant who is trying to make his way in a tough business. The title was a little misleading… not very violent in my opinion. But a good character study about striving for the American Dream. Grade: B-

Fifty Shades of Grey
OK, I had to see it to see what the fuss was about. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star. He’s a millionaire with a kink fetish; she’s the naïve student who falls for the wounded millionaire. It wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t romantic. It was just sort of like, why is this a phenomenon? I did like the music, but that’s about it. I can’t believe there are 2 sequels coming. Grade: D

Cake
Jennifer Aniston stars in this drama that deals with some heavy issues. She plays Claire, who is a pain pill addict who is trying to get by. One of her friends kills herself and she find herself investigating her life, while trying to put hers back together. Claire was in a horrible car wreck, where her child died, and from that she is now in chronic pain. Grade: A-

Movies

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, brings back Henry Cavill as Superman going against Ben Affleck as Batman. Bruce Wayne has been watching what has been going on with Superman, and is not sure that he can be trusted. So Batman takes on trying to bring Superman down. But they have to come together to fight a new enemy that has been created by Lex Luther — Doomsday. Plus Wonder Woman shows up too. I hated the previous movie, “Man of Steel.” This is better, but not by much. The actors are all fine… what I have issues with is the direction and writing. Plus, why do these movies have to be so long? In the end, it’s all a big commercial for the Justice League movies. Grade: C+

Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds stars as the title character in the latest Marvel super hero movie. He’s foul mouthed, snarky and mischievous. I was not familiar with this character at all. Overall, I liked it, didn’t love it. I had a problem with the violence, and it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. There were some similarities to “Guardians of the Galaxy” — offbeat factor, the love of old music — but that was a much better movie in my opinion. I doubt I would see a sequel. Grade: B-

Zootopia
The latest movie from Walt Disney Animation imagines a world where all the animals get along and work at various jobs. Judy Hopps is a bunny who becomes a police officer in the city, and has to work with Nick, the fox, to solve why some of the animals in the city are missing. Featuring the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Shakira (who sings a few songs too). The movie is fun and colorful and like a lot of Disney cartoon works on couple of levels. I enjoyed it. Grade: B+

TV

The Passion Live
The Passion Live is the latest of TV’s live spectacles (The Wiz, Grease). This one was a bit of a mixed bag… not really a musical per se, and not all the way live either. The Passion tells the story of Jesus in the last few hours of his life. It was hosted by Tyler Perry, and filmed in and around New Orleans. The segments not on stage were filmed beforehand, only the action on the stage was filmed live. I found it interesting that they used mostly pop songs, and not religious songs for it. So you got songs from Phillip Phillps, Katy Perry and Tina Turner … sung by a group of artists like Chris Daughtry, Seal, Prince Royce and Trisha Yearwood. Some of the songs worked, others did not. And then when the story wasn’t being told, they showed a large lighted cross being carried through the streets of the city, plus interviews with people along the way. Overall, it was just an OK show. Not something I see as a yearly event like the producers would like it to be. Grade: C

Dead 7
SyFy channel brings together a bunch of has-been boy band singers for a zombie western. So you get Joey and Chris from NSync; Nick, Howie and AJ from Backstreet Boys; Jeff from 98 Degrees and Eric-Michael from O-Town. Plus Latin-pop singer Jon Secada too. I was surprised how straight it was played…. I was hoping for a campy movie like a “Sharknado”… but it played more like a very bad zombie movie that shouldn’t have been made in the first place. Stick to singing guys! At least BSB is working on a new album. Grade: D

That’s all for this time. Please sound off in the comment below. I would love to ehar what you are watching and listening to.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and more.

Spring Entertainment Roundup Part 1

It’s that time again… here are my reviews on albums, movies, DVDs and even one play that I have seen/experienced in the last few months. As always comments are kindly welcomed.

 

Albums

Justin Bieber “Purpose” I am a belieber! I never thought I would buy an album from this guy. But he’s been smart and has hooked up with some top producers and song writers to deliver a solid collection of dance-pop songs. Highlights include all the singles “Where Are U Now,” “Sorry,” “What Do You Mean and “Sorry.” Grade: A-

Demi Lovato “Confident” This is someone I should like…. I have liked other Disney girls like Miley, Britney, Christina and Hilary Duff too. I knew her music from the “Camp Rock” movies plus a few of the bigger hits too. Her vocals are strong throughout, the songs not as much for me. Highlights include “Cool for the Summer” and “Confident.” Grade: C+

Bryan Adams “Anthology” This is the most definite collection for Canada’s own Bryan Adams. I have 2 other greatest hits collection from him (See previous blog about complete collections). So you get the hits, album tracks, and a few bonus tracks like live and alternate versions too. With over 30 songs, this is a strong career overview. Grade: A-

Carrie Underwood “Storyteller” The latest from American Idol winner Carrie Underwood is a solid collection of the songs she does best. You have sweet ballads, and you have your songs with attitude too. I didn’t think it was a strong as “Blown Away” when I first got it, but it is growing on me. Highlights include: “Smoke Break,” “Heartbeat” and “Chaser.” Grade: B+

Rihanna “ANTI” There is no being nice here — “ANTI” is awful. I can’t believe we waited 3 years for this. No hits as far as I am concerned… maybe 2-3 OK songs. This is a serious misstep for her. And she is one of the best females of the 2000’s. Still looking forward to the concert… but seriously she has done better than this. Somehow the first single “Work” — actually went to #1. Grade: D

Miranda Lambert “Kerosene” The first album from her. I actually started with her most recent release, “Platinum,” which I loved, so that made me curious about earlier releases. I knew the title track, but that was it. The rest of it doesn’t disappoint. A good mix of uptempo songs and ballads. You could tell she was on her way to greatness. Grade: A-

Wynonna & the Big Noise “Wynonna & the Big Noise” The latest album from Wyonna Judd, and her first since 2009. This time she brought along her band, the Big Noise, in which her husband is a member. She’s not trying to chase any trends here… and I doubt she will be played on the radio with it. But she made the album she wanted, a very blues-rock oriented country record. Definitely worth a listen. Grade: B

 

Movies

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The 7th installment in the Star Wars saga brings back old favorites Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer, along with a group of newcomers. I guess I am just over Star Wars. It was OK at best… And the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. What I liked when I was 13 is not what I like now. Just a big commercial for the toys and other tie-ins. Grade: D

Spotlight
It is definitely one of the best movies of the year. Excellent writing and acting. It should be a big awards contender. You will be angry and sad at what went down with the sex scandals and the Catholic Church in Boston. Thank you to the journalists who made this story a priority. And may we continue to hold in prayer those who were victims of abuse. Grade: A

The Big Short
The setting is the recent housing crisis, and how some people bet against it knowing that it would fail. They got rich in the process. Featuring an all-star cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Directed by comedy veteran Adam McKay. You’ll laugh, but it also mad me mad. Grade: B+

The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio (as Hugh Glass) stars in this story of a fur trapper who is attacked by a bear. His comrades believe he will die in the harsh wilderness and leave him for dead. His son is also murdered so as to have no loose ends. Not only does Glass survive — but he makes his way back to try and kill the man who murdered his son. Beautiful locations and great performances… still it’s basically a long revenge movie. I have a hard time believing this can win as best picture. And if Leo finally wins an Oscar for this, it will be for his whole career and not just this movie. Grade: B-

Bridge of Spies
Tom Hanks stars in this movie directed by Steven Spielberg. During the cold war, a Soviet spy is captured in NY. Hanks is hired as the lawyer to defend him. Later on he arranges for a prisoner exchange when the Russians capture one of our guys. An interesting story I had never heard before. Written by the Coen brothers and Matt Charman. Also starring Oscar nominee Mark Rylance. Grade: A-

Room
Brie Larson stars in this movie about a woman who is held captive in a room along with her son for the past 7 years. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as the son. With a supporting cast that includes William H. Macy and Joan Allen. Mother and son do make it out of the room, only to find challenges adapting to the real world. Ms. Larson is definitely someone to watch out for. She was in another great movie called “Short Term 12.” Grade: A

Brooklyn
Saoirse Ronan stars a young woman who leaves her native Ireland for the US and a better life. She lands in Brooklyn, and quickly finds herself growing to like it there… the people, her career, and a boyfriend. A tragedy back at home brings her back to Ireland where she is shown an alternate path she could take. Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson star as the love interests. It has some light moments, and was a nice coming of age story. Grade: B

Creed
Ryan Coogler co-wrote and directed the latest movie in the “Rocky” franchise. Sylvester Stallone stars again as Rocky, but the focus is on Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Rocky’s foe and friend, Apollo Creed. Rocky becomes his trainer and helps Creed move up the ranks all while facing his own health issues. The studio is hoping for a new franchise. It looks like this is the new chapter the saga needed. Stallone even got an Oscar nomination from this performance. Grade: B

Straight Outta Compton
This biopic tells the true story of the rise of the legendary rap group — N.W.A. It is nominated for Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Oscars. I resisted this movie because I really don’t like this type of music, but I found myself getting into the storyline. And for something I don’t follow, I knew a lot of what went down in their story. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E were all recognizable names to me. I still don’t like the music but appreciate where they came from, and what they did based on pure drive and ambition. Grade: B-

Play

Armagayddon
The Second City Studio Stage in Hollywood puts on this original musical about one Christian couple’s reaction to the Marriage Equality Supreme Court verdict. They get engaged on the day they meet and move to San Rafael, CA. There they join a group of Christians hell-bent on converting homos from their evil ways. It was cute, and we got a few laughs…. Sort of predictable. It is about an hour long. Now playing through April. Grade: C+

DVDs

Annie
The big-screen remake of the classic Broadway musical Annie, brings together Jamie Foxx (as the father figure) and Quvenhané Wallis as the adorable orphan Annie. The songs from the original musical still hold up (many in slightly different arrangements), the newer songs were just OK. The movie has a good cast and a big heart. Not perfect by far, but still worth a rental. Grade: B-

Begin Again
Keira Knightly stars as a up and coming singer-songwriter. Mark Ruffalo stars as the guy who takes on trying to make her a star. Adam Levine stars as a Keira’s ex, who has become a star after the breakup. Includes the Academy-Award nominated song “Lost Stars.” Not much weight to the movie, but a pleasant diversion. Grade: B

Lady Antebellum “Wheels Up Tour”
Filmed in Irvine, CA on their 2015 tour, this concert captures the country trio at their best. Featuring songs from all 5 of their studio albums, plus some inspired cover songs too. They bring out their openers Sam Hunt and Hunter Hayes for some help also. Almost as good as being there. Grade: A-

That’s it for Part I, look for Part 2 next time. Thanking for reading.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and more.

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