Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘Lady GaGa’

Christmas Album Wish List

Are you ready for Christmas music? As a music fan, I enjoy buying new Christmas music every year from my favorite artists. Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of Christmas albums — everything from Amy Grant and Cyndi Lauper to En Vogue and Kenny Chesney. This year brings new seasonal music from Fantasia, Gwen Stefani and Sia. It seems like every artist records a Christmas album (or at least a song) over the course of their career. Here are the artists I hope to hear Christmas music from in the near future:

 

Superstars

  • Madonna. She only did “Santa Baby” on the “A Very Special Christmas” album. Image if she brought her song craft to some Christmas originals. I would love it, but I have serious doubts she will ever do it.
  • Bruce Springsteen. He has a Christmas song too, but no album as of yet. I can’t think of any rock Christmas albums. A mix of old and new would be music to many Boss lovers.
  • Diana Ross. Sure, she did an album with the Supremes, and even a solo Christmas album in 1994 — but it was never released in America. Isn’t time it came out here, or she recorded new takes on Christmas classics. She could call on her children to help her out.
  • Janet Jackson. Wouldn’t you love to hear what Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Janet would do with a batch of holiday tunes? I am sure we would be dancing around the Christmas tree!

 

Current Pop Stars

  • Rihanna. She is one of the most consistent hit-makers of the last decade. She always find ways to surprise her fans with her music. I would love to see this happen.
  • Lady GaGa. Yeah, she isn’t as popular as she used to be — but she can still sing as evidenced by this year’s Super Bowl. She could do an album of very traditional songs with Tony Bennett, or a dance-pop Christmas album. I would be interested in both.

 

Country

  • Dierks Bentley. Hunky county star Dierks could do a bluegrass Christmas album or a modern country pop album. He would shine on the CMA Christmas special I am sure.
  • Carrie Underwood. Vocal powerhouse Carrie Underwood would be sure to be a bestseller, if she ever releases a holiday album. I am sure there would be a few spiritual songs on there. Another one that I could see being a #1 album.
  • Little Big Town. This group, that I describe as a country version of Fleetwood Mac, is known for their trademark vocal harmonies. A good mix of traditional songs plus a few new tunes too would be a winning formula.

 

Divas

  • Taylor Dayne. Taylor has one of the most distinctive voices of the 80-90’s. I could see her putting her own spin on some Christmas favorites. “Tell It to my Heart, Santa” could be a good title for one song.
  • Jill Scott. I heard she was great at the Hollywood Bowl this past summer. A soulful holiday celebration, with a few gospel tinged numbers would be great.
  • Angie Stone. Another big-voiced R&B diva. She has worked with Josh Groban in the past, and Justin Timberlake is a fan too. Imagine a Christmas duets album, that would be something different in the market.
  • Jennifer Lopez. Can you think of a Latin pop Christmas album? Neither can I. Just imagine all the guest stars she could pull in for the accompanying TV special… Pitbull, Enrique, Marc Anthony, Lin-Manual, and more.
  • Britney Spears. She’s only done 1 Christmas song in the past. How about a Christmas album to tie us over till her next all-new pop album? I would love to hear her take on holiday classics, and a few choice new tunes too.

 

80’s

  • The Human League. The ground-breaking new-wave group could bring something new to the table for sure. I would definitely be up for this.
  • Bon Jovi. Jon and the crew would definitely rock the holiday. Again, a mix of new and old songs would be just right. Maybe even call in former duet partner, Jennifer Nettles.
  • Belinda Carlisle. The voice of the 80’s girl band, The Go-Go’s. Plus she had a decent solo career too. Songs about Christmas in L.A., or maybe songs with some hippie-dippy vibes.
  • Duran Duran. Another big 80’s band. They could call in Mark Ronson or Nile Rodgers (both of whom they worked with before) to produce the album for them. I would love to hear them take on some original songs.

 

Boy Bands

  • Backstreet Boys. NSync did a holiday album back in the day, surprisingly BSB did not. It is never too late. Call up Max Martin and get this one going. I am sure it would sell well for them.
  • One Direction. With the members all enjoying varying degrees of solo success, it may be awhile before we get to this album. But they are good singers, and would definitely bring something different to the table.

And that’s my list! Did I miss anyone? Did I leave out one of your favorites? Please sound off in the comments below. Thanks 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 friends, family and loved ones.

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Winter Reviews 2017

So what have I been enjoying this past fall and winter as far as entertainment? Read on to read my latest reviews of DVDs, movies and CDs. AS always comments are kindly welcomed.

DVDs

Kylie Minogue “Kiss Me Once — Live from the Sse Hydro”
This concert movie was filmed on Kylie’s last tour in Scotland. It has all of the hits, plus the costume and set changes we have come to expect from her. Not to mention cute male dancers. Grade: A-

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
A smart and funny teen movie. An outcast forms a unique friendship with a girl dying from cancer. Earl is his best friend that he makes homemade movies with that spoof classic movies. It is very well written and acted. See it! Grade: A-

The Night Before
Seth Rogen stars along with Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Joseph is a widower who hangs out with his 2 buddies on the night before Christmas. They decide that it is going to be the last time. There are some chuckles along the way, but not as funny as you think it would be. Grade: C+

99 Homes
This was a very good movie. It’s about the housing crisis, and it’s effect on one young man and his boss. I preferred this movie over “The Big Short” which was good a bit overrated to me. Michael Shannon is a shrewd real estate man, and Andrew Garfield is the man who gets evicted by him. He ends up working for him, and seeing the other side of things. Grade: A-

Legend
Tom Hardy stars as twin gangsters, Ronald and Reginald Kray. One is straight and the other is gay. They terrorized London in the 1960s. Not as good as I had hoped it would be, but if you are a Tom Hardy fan, worth a look. Grade: B-

Concussion
Will Smith stars in the real life story of Dr. Bennet Omalu. He took on the NFL, after a series of players starting going crazy because of all the concussions they had suffered during their years in the game. Definitely a must see, even if you are not into sports. Grade: A-

Joy
Jennifer Lawrence shines in this story inspired by the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper co-star. It shows all the hard work and determination it takes to start a business. Grade: B+

45 Years
This drama stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple on the verge of their 45th wedding anniversary celebration. The husband’s former lover’s body is found in the ice, frozen in an accident 50 years before. This is the event that sets the story in motion. Were they meant to be or did the husband really want to marry the girl that died? Good performances, but overall it was sort of dull. Grade: C+

Eye in the Sky
Helen Mirren heads the cast of this timely drama. She plays a military officer who is in charge of a mission to take out some bad guys in Africa. She is in contact with world leaders and military higher-ups in the British and American governments. The question is should they fire on a house, when there is a chance that the blast will kill a little girl who is near by? What loss of life is acceptable? Should the greater good be taken into account? There are no easy answers in the war on terror. Grade: B

Albums

Lady GaGa “Joanne” Lady GaGa returns with her 4th pop album. Lead single “Perfect Illusion” has failed to take off. It is definitely not the album I expected from her. Very uncommercial, and boring in parts. Mark Ronson produced most of it. The one stand out track for me is “Million Reasons” — a country tune if ever I heard one. Other tracks are sort of 70’s rock inspired. I still love her, but she should realize she is dance artist. Grade: C

Barry Gibb “In the Now” Only the 2nd solo album from the last living Bee Gee. Barry is in fine form, and it sounds like he had fun making this album. He had some help from his sons. I prefer this to recent albums from Lady GaGa and Birtney Spears. Grade: A-

Britney Spears “Glory” Britney is back with her 9th album, featuring lead single “Make Me…” (with G-Eazy). Some decent songs, but at 17 songs on the Deluxe Edition, it doesn’t keep my interest. Most of the songs are sort of mid-tempo dance pop. And not exactly top-notch song-writing either. I am missing the high-energy songs of “Circus” and “Femme Fatale.” Grade: C+

Nick Jonas “Last Year Was Complicated” Nick’s 2nd (or 3rd solo album if you count the one with the Administration) follows the same sort of white-boy pop-rock-soul of the last collection. Except this time he doesn’t have a runaway smash like “Jealous.” Overall, I think it is a better album. Includes the Top Twenty hit with Tove Lo — “Close.” Grade: B

Pentatonix “A Pentatonix Christmas” The a Capella group’s third Christmas album features more reworked classics as well as a couple of new tunes too. Manhattan Transfer is one of the guests. Grade: A-

Kenny Chesney “Cosmic Hallelujah” Kenny’s latest album includes the first 2 singles “Noise” as well as his duet with Pink “Setting the World on Fire.” His albums are always solid, and contain songs you will like after only one listen. Nothing ground breaking here for me, but still enjoyable. Grade: B+

Michael Bublé “Nobody But Me” Another consistent performer who is sticking with his formula: some original tunes, some jazz standards, and a few updates of old pop songs also. All of them have his trademark vocals on them. I like it, but am thinking he should try some different next time. Grade: B

“La La Land” Original Soundtrack  This soundtrack to the modern musical that is one of the top Oscar contenders is a fun souvenir for the movie. It is very jazz oriented, gets your toes tapping and you heart strings going too. If you loved the movie, you need to get this too. Grade: A-

“Moana” Original Soundtrack  This soundtrack to Disney’s latest animated hit, contains all the songs sung in the movie, as well as the orchestral compositions too. Plus bonus tracks also, like pop versions of the 2 main character’s theme songs. Grade: B

Eric Church “Mr. Misunderstood” I am late to the party with this guy. I would see him on country award shows and enjoy his performances. He comes across as a bit of a mix of rebel outlaw and everyday working man. Highlights include “Record Year” and “Kill a Word”. Grade: B

Rascal Flatts “The Greatest Gift of All” This is their first full-length Christmas album. They take the songs you know and perform them in new arrangements. I not so sure about the slow version of “Deck the Halls” though. I do like the a capella parts and it is good to hear the other guys’ voices than just the lead singer. Grade: B

Movies

The Girl on the Train
Emily Blunt stars as the title character. She thinks she sees a woman being murdered from her view on the train. Based on the international bestselling novel, this movie wants to be this year’s Gone Girl. So did she really see a murder, or did she do it herself because she was jealous of the woman? I liked it, but didn’t love it. A good lead performance, but not as shocking as it claimed to be. Grade: B-

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
From J.K. Rowling, this is another wizarding world that centers on magic zooligist Newt Scamander. He has a briefcase that contains magical creatures, that get loose in New York City. Eddie Redmayne stars as the main character. Very special effects heavy, I think it misses the heart of the Harry Potter movies. And I am a big fan of those movies and books. I don’t see how this is going to be a 5 movie series. Grade: C+

Moana
From the creators of Frozen and Zootopia, comes Disney’s latest animated movie: Moana. Moana is a Polynesian girl that must team with a demi-god (voiced by Dwight Johnson) to save her island. Great songs, comedy, action. I enjoyed it very much. Lin-Manual Miranda (Hamilton) had a hand in the song-writing. Grade: A

Moonlight
From director Barry Jenkins, comes the tale of Chiron, a black gay man who is growing up in Miami. The film is divided into 3 sections: childhood, teens and adulthood — with different actors taking on the same role as the movie unfolds. The first 2 sections of the movie were moving to me. It’s the third chapter I had a problem with. I wanted more for the character than what I saw on screen. So ultimately I was a bit disappointed. Good performances overall. Grade: B-

Manchester by the Sea
This drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan stars Casey Affleck as a working class guy who has to pick up the pieces once his brother dies suddenly. That includes making funeral arrangements and dealing with his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). His character must also face what went wrong with his own life and marriage. Already a major awards contender, it is a movie that shows the messy challenges in everyday life. Grade: A-

Arrival
Amy Adams plays the main character in this science-fiction drama. It concerns aliens coming to earth, and Amy is the lead person that is helping to communicate with the aliens. Jeremy Renner costars as a fellow scientist. There are parts of this movie I liked, but overall, it was just OK to me. More of a thinking sci-fi movie, than an action one. Grade: C+

Lion
One of the surprises in the awards season for me. This movie is sure to tug at your heartstrings. It concerns an Indian boy that gets lost on a train in India. He is not able to get back to his family. He is adopted by a family from Australia and moves there. As an adult, he takes up the task to find his family that he lost. You will be moved by this tale of family (both biological and adopted). Grade: A

A Monster Calls
This fantasy drama centers on a boy who has an active imagination. He imagines a great tree monster that is voiced by Liam Neeson. This monster is very tall, with arms and legs made of twisting branches. The boy is struggling at school with bullying as well as dealing with his Mom in the hospital, and his grandmother taking over raising him for the time being. The look of the movie is very cool, and has some great fantasy sequences. Grade: B+

That’s all for now. Please sound off in the comments. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

 

Concerts I Am Looking Forward to in 2017

As a life-long live music fan, I always look forward to which of my favorite music stars will be coming in concert soon. Have I seen them a few times before, or are they someone I will be seeing for the first time? Do they have a long catalog of hits, or are they just starting out? Here’s who I look forward to seeing on stage in 2017:

Ariana Grande
She’s had a few successful years with “My Everything” and “Dangerous Woman.” She has the vocal chops for sure, and her personality is starting to show more. Plus she kills it every time I see her perform on TV.

Lady GaGa
It’s time to get back to her day job. After a few detours (Cheek to Cheek with Tony Bennett and American Horror Story: Hotel), she is back with her new album “Joanne.” I have seen her first 2 tours, it will be fun to see her again. She is definitely one talented, multi-faceted woman. Plus she is headlining the Super Bowl half-time show this year.

Bruno Mars
After a break of a few years, Bruno is back with “24 K Magic.” So far the single is just OK to me, but he always kills it with his live performances. And he has a decent amount of hits too, so even if the new songs suck, we’ll get “Uptown Funk.”

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Mr. and Mrs. McGraw head back out for a big arena tour in 2017. Tim has continued to record and tour regularly. Faith hasn’t done much since her album “Fireflies” in 2005. Not sure the reason why, but I welcome her back. I saw them on an earlier version of the “Soul to Soul” tour and it was a great show.

Alicia Keys
She will be touring in support of her new album “Here.” I previously saw her on the “Diary of Alicia Keys” and “As I Am” tours. I started to watch “The Voice” again because of her and Miley. She has such a wonderful spirit and I love her energy. And she gives her all to the performance. The album is just OK, but I still love her.

Sting
The veteran artist is back with his first rock album (“57th & 9th”) in a long time. He’s been making the rounds with appearances on everything from “The Voice” to the “American Music Awards.” With more and more singers dying young these days, I say catch him while you can.

Justin Beiber
He is still riding high off his album “Purpose” and it’s string of hit singles. Plus he got some big love in the form of some Grammy nominations this year in major categories. Plus from what I have seen he really puts himself out there in his shows. Catch him on his stadium tour this summer.

New Kids on the Block
Their chart-topping days are long behind them, but they can still fill arenas. They have found a successful formula and are sticking to it. They put themselves as the headliners on a bill with a couple of other retro acts, and the tickets keep selling. This year’s The Total Package Tour includes Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men.

Ed Sheeran
No tour has been announced yet for him, but if there is one I am sure it is going to be huge. He just released two new singles from his upcoming album “Divide” and they both debuted into the Top Ten (one even went to #1). I have seen clips of his concerts online, and he is an amazing performer. I would definitely go to see him.

Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey
The two superstars are teaming up for Lionel’s “All the Hits” Tour. This show is playing on my birthday at the Hollywood Bowl, so I already have my ticket. Mariah needs to redeem herself after the New Year’s Eve fiasco. I haven’t seen Lionel since he opened for Tina Turner on her farewell tour. It should be fun.

So that’s my concert wish list for 2017. Did I mention your favorite? Who do you want to see live and in person at your local concert venue? Sound off in the comments below.

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.

Super Bowl Entertainers

The 50th Super Bowl will take place on February 7, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos are the teams competing this year. Usually I could care less who is playing. What I really want to know is — who is performing at the half-time show? This year it is Coldplay, the British rock band led by Chris Martin, with guests Beyonce and Bruno Mars. Madonna, Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry all had great half-time performances. So who’s going to be the headliner next year? Read on for some possible choices:shutterstock%5F367205408%2Ejpg

Country Hitmakers

Luke Bryan — One of the hottest acts around right now. He is selling a lot of albums and concert tickets. And it has been awhile since a country act has been featured here.

Carrie Underwood — She has across the board appeal. With 5 albums under her belt, plus countless tours and “The Sound of Music: Live” too, she is a consummate entertainer.

Kenny Chesney — He dominates the concert season almost every year with his shows. And he is a natural performing for stadium crowds. Why hasn’t he done it before?

Female Pop Stars

Pink — She has taken a detour with her You+Me project, but if she wants to reestablish her pop-rock cred, there would be no better place to do it. Great entertainer with a powerful voice.

Lady GaGa — She has taken a detour too, with her duets project with Tony Bennett, but if she wants to come back to the pop world, this would be a good launching pad. She is a proven live performer who consistently sells out tours.

Taylor Swift — What a year this woman had in 2015! She has been everywhere with her “1989” album and tour. And is favored for this year’s Grammy Awards. At this point in her career, I think she is too big for the NFL. But if she is launching a new project in 2017, this would be a great way to do it.

Britney Spears — She has the successful shows in Las Vegas; and has never done the Super Bowl by herself. She previous performed with NSync and Aerosmith in 2001.

Latin-Pop Stars

Pitbull — Mister World Wide, aka Pitbull, has sold out concert tours, hosted award shows and amassed a few major hits along the way. This would be a good fit for him. Plus add in some of his featured guest stars (Ne-Yo, J Lo, Christina Aguilera, Kesha) and you would have a half-time to remember.

Jennifer Lopez — American Idol judge, model, actress, singer, and dancer — she can do it all. With her Las Vegas residency recently launched too, this would be a good fit for a global superstar.

Old School

Earth, Wind & Fire — This veteran group is so retro they are cool. They have a great song catalog that will have people dancing in the aisles.

Queen and Adam Lambert — On his own Adam doesn’t have enough hits, but with Queen behind him, he is both contemporary and retro at the same time. Which is a good fit for reaching a huge TV audience.

Billy Joel — Another oldies act who still plays sold out shows across the country. If the Who and Paul McCartney can perform in their later careers, so can Billy.

So that’s my list of possible choices for the next Super Bowl half-time show. I would love to hear your thoughts on my 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 Kilts lines. They make great gifts for Valentine’s Day for friends, family and loved ones.

 

 

 

 

Concerts I Am Looking Forward to in 2015

As a huge live music fan, going to concerts is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I love the entire experience: you get to see your favorite artists and sing along to their songs. I love the energy of the crowd; the production values — lights, costumes, choreography; the big spectacle of it all. Like Madonna says “Music — makes the people come together”. So what shows am I looking forward to in 2015, read on:

Maroon 5
One of my favorite groups of the last 10 years, surprisingly I have never seen them live before. It’s not that I haven’t tried to get tickets, as I have, but they are always sold out. Yes, their albums have gotten more pop, and commercial since their first album, but I still like them. The group heads out of the “V” tour with special guest, Magic! this coming spring.

Taylor Swift
She is winning me over. When she first came out, I was shocked at how bad her vocals were. But she’s grown up, and gotten better control of her instrument and her range. She will never be Faith Hill, but that’s OK. Plus the whole pop thing fits well with her, she was always more pop than country anyways. Her tour will be in support of her “1989” album. She has quite the song catalog now too.

Little Big Town
This 4-person country vocal group has been one of my favorites since their song “Bring It on Home.” I have described their sound as the country version of Fleetwood Mac, as they trade off between male and female vocals on their songs. I am not so thrilled that their biggest hit “Pontoon” was pretty lame. But they have albums of great songs, so I can overlook that one. Opening acts include: Brett Eldredge and Brothers Osborne.

Bette Midler
The Divine Miss M is headed back on the road to promote her covers CD “It’s the Girls” — a tribute to female groups. She is looking to go “green” on this tour. I have seen some of her shows on video before. It should be a good show as she is a consummate performer.

Kenny Chesney/Jason Aldean
Two of country’s big guns head out for a series of co-headlining shows in stadium across the country. Jason is supporting his CD “Old Boots, New Dirt,” while Kenny is supporting his recent CD ‘The Big Revival.” Country hunk newcomer Brantley Gilbert will be opening for them on select dates.

Lady GaGa/Tony Bennett
2014’s most unlikely collaboration will result in some live shows in 2015. Their CD of standards “Cheek to Cheek” proved to be a success on many levels including a Grammy nomination. It will be interesting to see how much of their own song catalogs they fit into the shows. The tour even includes a stop at the legendary Hollywood Bowl.

Ariana Grande
She was definitely one of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2014 with her string of irresistible sing-along hits (Problem, Break Free, Bang Bang). Now she is heading out on the Honeymoon Tour with boy band Rixton and Cashmere Cat as opening acts. From what I have seen of her on TV, she will definitely be hitting the right notes on stage.

Idina Menzel
Broadway star Indina Menzel helped the “Frozen” soundtrack dominate the charts in 2014. She will be singing songs from Rent, Wicked, IF/Then and more I am sure. Maybe even some songs from “Glee” too. But for me, hearing her sing “Let It Go” live would be worth the price of admission alone.

Lady Antebellum
Country’s top trio head out on their Wheels Up Tour in support of their recent album “747”. Supporting acts include: Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt. Their irresistible vocal harmonies and catchy songs will make for a great concert.

So that’s my list. I hope you have a chance to catch these artists on the road in 2015. Look for me in the cheap seats. And of course, every show I go to I will blog about it too. Let me know who you want to see in 2015.

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.

Covers Albums

It seems like most singers get to a point in their career when they do a covers album. This fall brings new covers albums from Annie Lennox (Nostalgia), Aretha Franklin (Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics), Bette Midler (It’s the Girls) plus Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett (Cheek to Cheek). I can see why artists do these albums. They can pay tribute to songs/artists that they admire; and the pressure is off to come up with some great new songs. The question is are they really bringing anything new to the table with these? Or is it a vanity project with just so-so results? Read on to hear my thoughts on these projects:

 

New

Annie Lennox “Nostalgia” She’s got one of the best voices in pop music, so for me she can sing anything. She chose a collection of songs from the 30’s and 40’s… and it works for me. It has already gone to #1 on the jazz album chart.

 

Aretha Franklin “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” Aretha is awesome, that being said, I wish she had covered other songs. These were all very big hits, and it is hard to do something better when they were done right the first time.

Bette Midler

 

Bette Midler “It’s the Girls” The Divine Miss M chose to cover songs made popular by girl groups. The most interesting song is a ballad version of TLC’s “Waterfalls.” She sounds great as always, but the end result was just OK to me.
Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett “Cheek to Cheek” I applaud Lady GaGa’s commitment to this project, with the tour and all. She definitely has the voice to sing these songs. But I think I would have liked to hear some different songs, as most have been covered many times before.

 

Barry Manilow “My Dream Duets” Barry duets with a bunch of dead singers on this collection — everyone from Whitney Houston to Jimmy Durante to John Denver. Why oh why…

 

Good

Gloria Estefan “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” She picked songs that inspired her and that she liked growing up. The result was 2 Top Ten hits for her from this project including ‘Turn the Beat Around”.

 

Annie Lennox “Medusa” For the most part, I wasn’t very familiar with the songs on here. She chose wisely.
Natalie Cole “Unforgettable with Love” The platinum standard for covers/standards albums. Natalie paid tribute to the songs of her father and did a fantastic job. She earned multiple Grammy awards and set sales records too.

 

Boyz II Men “Love” It was nice to hear the Boyz put their spin on songs by the Goo Goo Dolls and Take That.

 

Michael McDonald “Motown” This album reminded people how great a singer he really is. A commercial and critical hit for him.

Wynonna “Sing Chapter 1”
This lady can sing pretty much anything for me. The album is all covers except for the title song.

 

Hall & Oates “Our Kind of Soul” One of my favorite duos, Daryl Hall has a fantastic soulful voice. Nothing new really, but it is well done.

 

Michael Bolton “Timeless — The Classics” His version of the Bee Gee’s ‘To love Somebody” was a hit off of this collection. The rest is nice too.

 

Linda Ronstadt “What’s New” One of her many transformations. With the help of Nelson Riddle conducting, this set of standards reinvigorated her career at that point.

 

Some OK moments

All of the following have some nice moments, but nothing I would rave about.

Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmunds “Playlist” Song you would have heard on 70’s radio pretty much. Nice, if a bit boring.

 

Rod Stewart “It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook”; “As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook Volume II”; “Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III”; “Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook Volume VI”; “Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time”; “Soulbook”; “Fly Me to the Moon: The Great American Songbook Volume V” God knows he has done quite a few covers albums! The Great American Songbook ones were big hits for him… I have heard the songs done better in my opinion. I do like the rock classics and soul covers though.

 

Gloria Estefan “The Standards” Another album of standards from the Great American Songbook. I haven’t heard enough to really get an opinion on it.
Rick Springfield “The Day After Yesterday” Songs that he liked from the 70’s and 80’s.

 

Erasure “ABBA-Esque” This EP updated some of ABBA classics.

 

A-Teens “The ABBA Generation” A teen pop group consisting of 2 guys and 2 girls (like ABBA), whose first album was all ABBA covers.

 

Gretchen Wilson “Under the Covers” She has a great country-rock voice, haven’t heard this though.

 

Dolly Parton “Those Were the Days” Dolly pairs up with various friends for this set of songs. Guest stars include Keith Urban and Cat Stevens.

 

Bad

Cyndi Lauper “At Last” Yes, Cyndi has a nice voice, but I really felt that she lost herself here. Where was the fun?

Duran Duran “Thank You”
Bad song choices, and done badly too. The only halfway decent song was “White Lines”.

Boyz II Men “Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville, USA” This sounded good on paper I am sure, but was just OK in reality. Stick with the originals.

 

Colton Ford “Under the Covers” Former porn star covers everyone from Alicia Keys to Robin S. and more on this collection. He should stick to porn.

 

I am sure there are more that I missed. What are your favorite covers albums? 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.

Ultimate Fantasy Concert

As a big music fan, one of the moments I remember growing up was watching the Live Aid concert special. This is the special that aired in 1985 and showed us footage from shows in London and Philadelphia. It was all to benefit the hunger crisis in Africa. A who’s who of performers and actors were involved that day: Madonna, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Phil Collins, Queen and on and on. Isn’t it about time we had another world musical event like that? I am sure it could be another charity event of some kind for AIDS, global warming, hunger, human rights, etc. So who would I want on the bill for this Ultimate Fantasy Concert?Concert Scene

Superstars
Madonna
Elton John
Bruce Springsteen
Annie Lennox (Eurythmics)
Beyonce
Justin Timberlake
Cher
U2
Janet Jackson
Prince
Celine Dion
Shania Twain
Tina Turner
Pink
Britney Spears
Christina Aguilera

Up and Comers
Rihanna
Katy Perry
Lady GaGa
Taylor Swift
Kelly Clarkson
Maroon 5
Coldplay
Black Eyed Peas
Alicia Keys
Kesha
Pitbull
Ne-Yo
Imagine Dragons
Bruno Mars

Maybe
Backstreet Boys
Mariah Carey
Usher
One Direction
Adele
Kylie Minogue
Jay Z.
Eminem

What location or country would host it? What networks would show it? Would you want to be there live? The closest we have gotten to an event like this these days is the I Heart Radio Festival they have had in Las Vegas the last few years.

Just imagine the pairings you could have with this lineup! How about Annie Lennox leading a chorus of “Sisters Doing It for Themselves” with Madonna, Adele, Pink, Katy Perry and Rihanna? Or how about Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Prince and Bruno Mars doing an old James Brown song? I am sure it would be awesome TV and have us all talking about it years later. I can dream.

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.

Concerts I Want to See in 2014

Seeing a performer live is one of my favorite things in life. The roar of the crowd, singing and dancing your heart out, the elaborate staging, choreography, special effects, lighting, great musicianship — I love everything about going to concerts. So who do I want to see in 2014? Read on:Katy Perry

Katy Perry
Katy-cats will be out in full force for her Prismatic World Tour 2014. Starting in the UK in May, it will be sure to hit the US later in the year. Featuring songs including her recent #1 smash “Roar” plus all the old favorites like “Teenage Dream” and “I Kissed a Girl.”

Lady GaGa
Yes, she has taken a few lumps in the media and on the charts recently. But reality is she is an exciting live performer and is sure to come up with another pop spectacle. Lady GaGa’s ArtRave — the ArtPop Ball is sure to keep us entertained and make us fall in love with her again.

Lady Antebellum
Country’s reigning trio takes their signature harmonies back to the road on the “Take Me Downtown” Tour. Supporting the recent deluxe edition of their LP “Golden” along with special guests Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves.

Robin Thicke
Coming off the biggest year of his career thanks to  “Blurred Lines”, Robin will be taking his white-boy soul to arenas along with Jessie J. and DJ Cassidy.

Cher
Coming out of her touring retirement and after her Vegas engagement, Cher returns with her “Dressed to Kill” tour in support of her recent album “Closer to the Truth.” I saw her on her “Farewell” tour. But I am not so sure I am going this time… but I am sure it will be a good show.

Miley Cyrus
She has a career! Nobody was talking about her last year. And now she is coming off 2 big hit singles (We Can’t Stop, Wrecking Ball) and a hit album too (Bangerz). I hope that she does some of her old Hannah Montana songs too.

Sting and Paul Simon
Two old-timers touring together for the first time. Both came out of groups: Sting from the Police and Simon from Simon & Garfunkel. Both have long song catalogs and have been known to rework their old songs to new arrangements. It will probably be a 3-hour plus show.

Darius Rucker
Coming off one of the biggest hits of his career as a solo artist with “Wagon Wheel”, the former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish has had quite a run on the country charts. Supporting acts include: Eli Young Band and David Nail.

One Republic
Ryan Tedder’s group One Republic is heading out on a headlining tour for summer 2014. Besides leading his group, Ryan is an in-demand songwriter and producer. Opening act is The Script (Breakeven [Falling to Pieces], Hall of Fame).

Journey/Steve Miller Band
Classic rock mainstays Journey (Don’t Stop Believin’, Open Arms), and Steve Miller Band (Fly Like an Eagle, Abracadabra) are heading out on a co-headlining tour next summer. Opening act is horn-heavy funk group Tower of Power.

And lastly, a couple of acts I wouldn’t mind seeing on the road:

Duran Duran
They haven’t had a new album in a few years, but they are one of my all-time favorite groups. Great songs like The Reflex, Hungry Like the Wolf, and Wild Boys. They have only gotten better over the years with their performances.

Annie Lennox
I loved her with the Eurythmics, and her solo career was pretty good too. She is an awesome vocalist and a fantastic performer. Such a powerful vocal presence. She doesn’t have to have any new material, just come on tour already!

Tickets are on sale for most of these shows in 2014 already. So who do you want to see on tour next year? I would love to hear from you. And look for me in the cheap seats.

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  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Weird, Wonderful Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa in Concert
Monday, January 21, 2013
Staples Center

Born This Way Ball

Special guests: Lady Starlight, Madeon

Songs performed: Highway Unicorn (Road to Love), Government Hooker, Born This Way, Black Jesus + Amen Fashion, Bloody Mary, Bad Romance, Judas, Fashion of His Love, Just Dance, Love Game, Telephone, Hair, Electric Chapel, Heavy Metal Lover, Bad Kids, The Queen, You and I, Born This Way (reprise), Americano, Poker Face, Alejandro, Paparazzi, Scheiße, The Edge of Glory, Marry the Night

Comments: Lady GaGa brought her weird, wonderful and energetic show to the Staples Center the other night. The evening was part of her year-long world tour in support of her 2nd full-length album “Born This Way.” She may have taken a few hits in the media and on the charts, but her little monsters were out in full force and ate up every minute of it.Lady GaGa

The show lasted almost 2.5 hours, and the crowd was standing/dancing for most of it. Not as many costumes in the audience as when I first saw her, there was still a good amount of people dressed up. As well as people of all ages too. GaGa herself had somewhere between 14-17 outfits in this show, but did not include the gun bra that was reported at some tour stops.

The lights went down and revealed the stage set — a Medieval castle with turrets, stairways, walkways and different levels. Some of the band members were up high playing their instruments. A parade proceeded to come from back stage, out to the main stage and down the walkway around the party pit. Lady GaGa entered on a large horse, that was moved along by 2 people inside it. Band members and dancers were also in this parade as well as people carrying flags. The first song was “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)”. From the first sung words, it was obvious the crowd was going to really be into it.

One of the early highlights of the show was “Born This Way.” Her song of self-acceptance that has become an anthem for many: gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, or just plain different. She appeared atop a large pregnant belly, with a women’s legs and private parts shooting out the dancers, as if they were being born. After everyone was ‘born’, she took the front of the stage to lead her troupe through one of many high-energy and video-ready performances of the night.

Religious imagery played a big part in the next segment of the show. “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion” had one of her dancers playing black Jesus with a crown of thorns.  For “Bloody Mary” she and 2 of her backup singers, were seen riding on motorized platforms of sorts, with her standing very tall. These platforms maneuvered the walkway too. For “Bad Romance” she brought back the egg entrance that she used on the Grammy Awards. The crowd was dancing along with their paws in the air.

During “Fashion of His Love” she played the keytar, and she also played the guitar and the piano during the show too. The castle set actually could open up, and you could see inside parts of it. This is where the other band members were on the first floor. She used the 2nd floor as sort of a bedroom/vanity area.

Some of the best vocals of the night came during “Hair” and “Electric Chapel.” It was just GaGa in a leather outfit rocking out with the band. Not to mention the ballad segment of “You and I” and “Born This Way (Reprise).” Before the reprise, she was on the phone talking to a contest winner from Virgin Mobile, one of the tour sponsors. It was a gay man, who was engaged to another man. She invited them back stage, and donated to a gay homeless shelter in his honor. This Lady puts her money where her mouth is.

“Americano” had GaGa hanging from a meat hook, along with slabs of beef. This was another high-energy dance routine, that even had her lounging on a meat sofa. For “Poker Face” there were meat grinders on stage, with legs sticking out. So the dancers could go into and out of them.

During costume changes, there was a talking face, sort of a stylized alien version of GaGa. It was housed in a neon diamond shape. The face actually “sang” the first half of “Paparazzi” before GaGa herself appeared.

The story line of this show didn’t quite make sense to me. Lady GaGa had a long speech about being an alien, not a man, not a woman. “I am you, and you are me. I am the best part and worst part of who you are. She wanted to strive to become the pop star that we deserved.” And with the talking face and G.O.A.T., I was a little bit like huh?

But considering how elaborate each number was, it was like every song had it’s own little music video: different sets, costumes, etc. The band was very tight, and the dancers were all amazing including Mark from “So You Think You Can Dance.” Some of the memorable costumes included something that looked like the alien from “Alien” for “Government Hooker” as well when she came out as the motorcycle from the “Born This Way” album cover.

I identified much more with her speech about self-acceptance. She started by saying that she was waiting tables just 5 years ago. And then she took to stripping to pay the bills. She said isn’t it ironic — I’m the highest paid stripper in the world now? She emphasized that you need to follow your dream and go for it. How when you stop giving a fuck, that is when your life soars. I couldn’t agree more.

“Scheiße” was the last big production number, with GaGa and the dancers executing a fantastic dance number. For the encores, things were dialed down some. “The Edge of Glory” was sung as a ballad first, then the regular uptempo version with GaGa walking around the different parts of the castle. For “Marry the Night” she was down front on the walkway, and pulled 7 fans out of the crowd to share the stage with her. Telling them this was there night too and she wouldn’t be her without them. It was a quieter version of the song too, not like the album version.

Opening acts for the evening were Lady Starlight and Madeon. Lady Starlight was a strange drag queen that played keyboards and electronic noise as far as I was concerned. Madeon was a DJ who had some interesting Euro-techno songs.

Thanks to Lady GaGa, the band, the dancers and the crew for a great evening. It was quite a spectacle for the senses.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Hiking in the Spirit and the Kilt Man line. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Concerts I Am Looking Forward To In 2013

Here’s my list of the shows I am looking forward to this year:

Lady GaGa
Lady GaGa has been on tour with the “Born This Way” Ball for awhile now (She was on my list last year). It is finally hitting the US in the first half of the year.Lady GaGa

Rihanna
Well, the tour in 2012 never developed. And she was in the flop movie “Battleship”. She is touring behind her new CD “Unapologetic”, and is sure to include hits from the “Talk That Talk” album too. The new tour called “Diamonds” tour is set to hit the states in March.

Taylor Swift
Her latest CD “Red” is flying off the shelves… and so are the tickets to her latest tour which includes stadium shows in select cities. With her move fully into pop music with this latest CD, I am sure it will be a very theatrical and entertaining evening.

Maroon 5
I tried to get tickets for the 2013 tour, but they sold out very fast. They have been hotter since Adam Levine has been on “The Voice”. Plus supporting acts Owl City and Neon Trees should add to a great evening of live music.

(more…)

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