Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘reality TV’

Pentatonix Celebrates the 4th

Pentatonix in Concert
Monday, July 3, 2017
Hollywood Bowl


July 4th Fireworks Spectacular with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins conductor

Special guest: US Air Force Band of the Golden West

Songs performed: Sing, Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love, Imagine, Take on Me, Hallelujah, Coldest Winter, Daft Punk, Michael Jackson medley, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Bohemian Rhapsody

Comments: Pentatonix, the a capella phenomenon, headlined 3 concerts at the Hollywood Bowl for their July 4th Fireworks Spectacular. I first became familiar with the group on the show “The Sing-Off” back in 2011. This was a reality competition for a capella singing groups. They won that season and have gone on to win 3 Grammys and sell out shows around the world.

I first saw the group in concert when they opened for Kelly Clarkson on her “Piece by Piece” tour in 2015. They also performed with her during the show also. They won the crowd over then, I knew they were on their way to being headliners.

The first part of the evening was just the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra under the conduction of Thomas Wilkins. They played a few numbers including “Yoda’s Theme” from “Star Wars” as well as the yearly salute to all the military branches. This the time when service members are encouraged to stand up and be acknowledged when their theme is played.

After a brief intermission, the Orchestra was joined by Pentatonix. Normally Pentatonix do all their shows with just them creating all the sounds. So it was a little different for them and for us — but in a good way. They did do the second song of the night, a capella — just to show the crowd what they can do. Their sound is so full, because they imitate the sounds of instruments with their vocals.

The show started with their original song “Sing” off their self-titled album. But the majority of the show was their interpretations of songs by other artists including those featured on their latest EP — “PTX, Vol. IV — Classics.”

That EP has their take on songs from Elvis, a-ha, the Andrew Sisters, John Lennon, Queen and more. They also performed their medleys of songs from Daft Punk and Michael Jackson as well. One of the more memorable numbers was a pop-operatic number sung entirely in Italian. We also got to hear Avi’s awesome bass vocals. Too bad he is leaving the group after this tour.

After “Take on Me,” the group exited the stage to make way for the fireworks. So the Orchestra was joined by the Air Force Band of the Golden West in a medley of patriotic tunes as fireworks exploded over the Bowl.

The group did come back after the fireworks for the finale of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was a rousing finale to another fun summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Thanks to Scott, Mitch, Kirstin, Avi and Kevin for an awesome show. I look forward to hearing more 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.


Who Will Win American Idol 2015?

I have watched American Idol since season one. It is the best singing competition show on TV. Their ad campaign has said it all: we make superstars. With all the platinum records, online downloads, concert tickets sold, and major industry awards like the Grammys — this is the only show can boast about their track record. Even “The X Factor” has produced bigger stars than “The Voice” ever has. So who has what it takes to win it all this season? Read on for my list — from least likely to most likely — to win and be crowned the next American Idol.American Idol Season 14

7. Rayvon Owens (Richmond, VA; 23) — He is very soulful and reminds me of John Legend or Ne-Yo. Negative is his reliance on his falsetto, which he isn’t always good with. He’s been in the bottom a few times, so he is not connecting with the audience.

6. Joey Cook
(Woodbridge, VA; 23) — The kooky girl with the retro looks and little instruments (squeeze box or ukelele) is a bit too quirky for her own good if you ask me. Her interpretations have been interesting at times, but can’t see how she fits in today’s music scene.

5. Tyanna Jones (Jacksonville, FL; 17) — This young lady is definitely a powerhouse vocalist, with one of the strongest and biggest voices in the competition. She seems comfortable on stage. Hopefully she picks good songs for herself, and has self confidence too.

4. Jax (East Brunswick, NJ; 18) — This smoky voiced single named young lady definitely has star appeal. How far she can go with it, I am not sure. Her take on “Poker Face” by Lady GaGa was horrible, so she’s still finding her sound.

3. Clark Beckham (White House, TN; 22) — Clark is going for the white boy soul of a Darryl Hall, but reality is he is a bit overrated for me. He can be a bit over the top for me with his vocals. He thinks he’s better than he actually is.

2. Quentin Alexander (New Orleans, LA; 20) — This guy is a refreshing change from a lot of the singers in the competition. This guy is a real artiste— with his love of fashion and unconventional looks (afro, African jewelry), plus his unique interpretations of his song choices. He reminds me of Prince or Terence Trent D’Arby.

1. Nick Fradiani (Gulford, CT; 29) — This handsome singer/songwriter is a working musician whose stage presence shows all of his experience playing gigs. He looks like a lost cousin of the “Jersey Shore” gang, and has a voice that has echoes of Chris Daughtry. Plus he’s been consistent throughout the competition.

So those are my predictions. I predicted the last 2 winners, but missed it with Phillip Phillips. Do you think I got it right? 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.

Dysfunctional TV Family: The Braxtons

Like a lot of people, you were probably curious about what Toni Braxton was up to these days. She had a great run of singles in the 90’s, songs like “Another Sad Love Song” and “Unbreak My Heart.” Then the hits stopped coming, she had a couple of kids, had some health problems, got divorced, and filed for bankruptcy (twice). Well, Toni is back on TV along with her 4 sisters: Tamar, Towanda, Trina and Tracie. Plus her mom Evelyn too. The show is called “Braxton Family Values” and airs on the WE channel. Having just finished the second season, the show is definitely one of those guilty pleasure shows.Braxton Family Values

Toni comes across as the sane, responsible one compared to her sisters.

Tamar is the spoiled bitch sister. She thinks she is the s***. She is married to Vince Herbert, a big-time record executive behind Lady GaGa and others. She is trying to get her own career off the ground, and make her mark on the entertainment scene. Good luck girl! She has some funny comebacks, but she needs to shut up and put out to me. If she is so great, than put out an album. Quit with all your talking about not wanting to be Toni Braxton’s backup singer anymore and just hit it already. Truth is she flopped on an album with the sisters and her own solo album before.

Trina is the party sister. She has had some issues with alcohol and even had a DUI. She has been trying to make her marriage work after reconciling with her husband Gabe who cheated on her. Turns out she cheated also. Ultimately, she has decided to divorce him. She is working on her own material with a band, sort of dance-pop material.

Towanda is the responsible one, and is trying to launch an acting career. She is also trying to work on her marriage to Andre, a good man who can’t seem to support his family. So they are living together despite being separated. Plus she seems to be Toni’s go-to girl — she was her personal assistant in the first season, but is not anymore.

Tracie is the wanna-be. She is the one who never got to experience being famous. She had a contract with the sisters, but then she got pregnant and it didn’t happen for her. So now, she is trying to get all the sisters interested in a “Braxtons” album project. With the sisters wavering on that, she has taken an interest in running a hair salon. She is very happy to step in as Toni’s backup when Tamar announces that she doesn’t want to do it anymore.

Evelyn is the mom. She was married to the children’s father for a long time, till she found out he was cheating on her for years. So now they are divorced and don’t get along so well. She also has one son, who was shown on the show just once (he’s not in show business). She has some strong words for her daughters as far as careers and relationships (siblings, marriages).

As for Toni, she is shown dealing with lupus, accepting awards and making the occasional live performance. I always thought she got screwed by Arista Records and Clive Davis. He was too busy with Whitney to nurture Toni the way she should have been. Now she’s had 2 albums on smaller labels, neither of which has made much of an impact. She still has a beautiful voice and I would love to see her in concert someday.

I would love to see the sisters release a soundtrack companion to the show. They could sing a couple of songs together, then all the sisters could each do some solo songs. Maybe even get Mom to sing one too. I would definitely be interested in buying it.

Who Will Win American Idol Season 11?

The reality institution has shown some wear after 10 seasons. It has seen ratings decline and new shows like “The Voice” and “The X Factor” have come on challenging their formula of taking unknowns and turning them into household names overnight.American Idol Season 11

“America, you’re on fire, because this is an amazing top 10 brewing,” said judge Randy Jackson. We know some will rise to the occasion, others will crash and burn — and don’t forget a surprise elimination or 2. This year’s finalists are a diverse crop of individuals, but who’s going to win? Here are my predictions:

10. Soulful 28-year-old teacher Elise Testone of SC. Reminds me some of the girl from Season 10, Hailey Reinhart. Needs to find her groove, or she is a goner too. Despite the fact that she was good on “Let’s Stay Together,” I think her age is a factor. This is a young person’s game.

9. 17-year-old student Deandre Brackensick of CA. Otherwise known as the pretty boy with the hair he likes to flip. I liked him more with his hair pulled back.


Singing Competition Overload

I admit it, I like reality shows. But I am starting to feel a bit of singing competition overload. In the past year, we have seen “The Voice,” “American Idol, “The Sing Off,” and “The X Factor” not to mention “America’s Got Talent” and “The Glee Project” too which have singers on them. It seems like America is searching for new talent year round now.The X Factor

“American Idol” is still the best of the bunch as far as I am concerned. There is something about taking someone who was an unknown and turning them into a star. You can’t deny the track record: all the album sales, concert tickets, Grammy Awards and even an Oscar winner from their ranks. It is a pop culture institution at this point. It introduced the world to Simon Cowell and reinvigorated the career of Paula Abdul. Sure there have been some weaker seasons and winners, but overall it is the one I still love the most. And the one I follow pretty religiously. They have 3 genuine stars from their ranks: Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood.

“The X Factor” was supposed to knock “Idol” out of the water — but it hasn’t. It has done decently in the ratings, but to me, it is not that different than “Idol.” It was renewed for season 2, but there are some things that need to be fixed. Nicole Scherzinger needs to go, she brings nothing to the competition. She is a good singer and I enjoyed her when she played in “Rent” on stage but not here. I don’t like the drastic cuts, having 2 cuts where 2 acts go. If you need to start earlier to avoid things like that, then do it. The same thing happened to “So You Think You Can Dance” when it was on in the fall (since there is a shorter time span in the fall from Sept to Dec. than when shows go in the spring from Jan. to May). The arrangements and production are so overblown. Do we need all the fireworks, and backup dancers? Sure these people want to be touring artists… but they will only get there based on vocals and great songs. I would like to see more of the actual mentoring of the contestants with their mentors. I do like the idea of having older singers and groups too, so keep those categories. It is supposed to be about the SINGERS and not the judges, so remember that!


The Appeal of the “Shore”

Now playing on MTV is the latest season of “Jersey Shore.” The show that came out in 2009 as a rip off of “The Real World” set in Jersey, is now celebrating it’s 4th season set in Italy. Why does this show still fascinate us? I will try to offer some suggestions.

  1. It’s a train wreck. You know how you can’t take your eyes off of a car crash on the side of the road, the one with blood and guts on the pavement, it’s a lot like that. Anyone who has waited in traffic for hours, wants to see something when they pass a traffic accident. We don’t want to see a stalled car, after waiting so long.
  2. We actually like these people. They have been in our lives for a few years now and we have seen their good times and bad. They fight and make up, just like family and friends do. They have become part of our TV family. These are people who we wouldn’t mind hanging out with over Sunday dinner or a night fist-pumping at the club. (more…)

Let Chaz Dance

The new fall TV season has not even started yet, but we already have our first big controversy. And it concerns Dancing with the Stars. There are a lot of people upset about the casting of Chaz Bono as a contestant on the program. Chaz is the offspring of Cher and Sonny Bono. He was born a woman (Chastity), but she became a man a few years ago and goes by Chaz. So we have our first transgendered contestant on “DWTS.”Chaz Bon and Lacey Schwimmer

Other contestants this coming season include:

  • Nancy Grace — Legal commentator/host
  • Ricki Lake — Actress/author/former talk-show host
  • Rob Kardashian — Younger brother of the Kardashian girls
  • David Arquette — Actor and ex-husband of Courteney Cox
  • Ron Artest — Los Angeles Lakers forward
  • Kristin Cavallari — Reality star from The Hills and Laguna Beach
  • J.R. Martinez — All My Children actor
  • Hope Solo — Woman’s soccer player
  • Elisabetta Canalis — George Clooney’s ex — actress/model
  • Chynna Phillips — Wilson Phillips singer married to Billy Baldwin
  • Carson Kressley — Queer talk show host


Why I hate “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”

I’ve stayed quiet on this long enough. It is time for “The Bachelor” franchise to be retired. Does anyone really think they can meet their soulmate on reality TV? ABC is currently bringing us another round of “The Bachelorette” starring Ashley Hebert as the girl looking for love on reality TV. She was one of the girls who was in love with Bachelor Brad last season only to have her heart broken. Give me a break! Give her a few years and she will be on on “Dancing with the Stars” or “Celebrity Rehab.”

They try to sell it as romance and true love and in reality it’s just a bunch of pretty people having their 15 minutes of fame. What really pisses me off, is that so many of the seasons end with a marriage proposal! The track record of the franchise is 1 marriage, and technically that was from “The Bachelorette” not “The Bachelor”. The people that love this show are the same people who would deny me my RIGHT to marry my life partner of 22 years. One season they even had a Bachelor who was a single dad. Oh yeah, let me find a woman on a reality show to be the surrogate mother to my child! Talk about family values. Are these people for real or what? It is disgusting… and a disgrace to those people who actually have to work on their marriages and know how hard it is to balance life, work, kids, responsibilities, etc. Relationships are hard and are much more complex and rewarding than an hour long TV show would suggest.

Back to the gay issue… My relationship is beautiful, loving, caring, something special to cherish. It is NOT sick, twisted, perverted or disgusting. It is REAL! Not some producer’s silly fantasy of what a relationship should be orchestrated for drama for the sake of TV ratings. I hope the backlash that met Bachelor Brad last time, causes people to tune out this season. Let’s send a clear message to the powers that be, we’ve had enough and don’t want to take it anymore!

Gay marriage is not going away as an issue… and the courts and public opinion are increasingly on our side. Maybe if it was a gay couple I would watch… but I still bet that it wouldn’t last!

Pop Goes the World

Hello and welcome to my blog. When I first thought about starting a blog, I wasn’t sure what the content would be. But after some consideration, I have decided on a mix of pop culture and observations about society in the 21st century from yours truly. Who am I you ask? My name is Dan and I am a 40ish gay male who lives in the Los Angeles area. I have been in a committed relationship with my partner for over 22 years. I am a graphic artist by trade, huge music fan, and I love to wear kilts… I am sure all these things will be addressed as the weeks go on.

These week’s topic is “The Real World”. I am a fan of this long running reality series on MTV. The latest installment marks a return to Las Vegas. For anyone who has lived under a rock all these years, the premise of the show is to take 7 (or sometimes 8 ) strangers and put them in a house for a few months. Everyone is from different backgrounds and experiences, but they usually find good looking 18-25 year olds… who don’t mind having their lives taped 24/7. This season features a guy named Dustin Zito… a cute athletic white boy who is often seen shirtless. He looks like he could be a model for Abercrombie & Fitch. He fell into a relationship with a little blonde girl named Heather… they were often seen cuddling, making out and hooking up. A few weeks in, and the roommates find out that Dustin has done porn… gay porn. This of course caused a lot of controversy in the house… Heather had to confront Dustin about it and they broke up because it was too much for her. Dustin had for years starred on a website called A bunch of horny college guys running around naked a lot, jerking off and having an occasional blowjob. He claims he was young and stupid and it was not really something he was proud of or something he was really into. Yet he did it for a few years… So Dustin was “gay for pay” then. He said he saw it as a good opportunity out of the community he lived in.

The problem I have with Dustin is he seems so homophobic… This is the guy who said he didn’t want a gay guy for a roommate because the guy would be sniffing his underwear…Really? I have never known a gay guy who was into that! I can accept that sexuality is not all black and white… and that it is often gray. I did try to see some of his porn, but the best I came up with was a few boner shots, but no sex scenes. He had a big grin on his face, and seemed to be enjoying himself from what I could see. He took the checks he got from his “modeling” gig and cashed them.

Dustin’s friends actually showed up in Vegas the weekend the news broke, and he was able to convince his straight male friends that he was young and stupid and that it was no big deal. I am glad that his friends didn’t think any less of him because of it. That shows that they are true friends. He actually showed them the site and the photos too.

In an episode or 2 after Dustin and Heather broke up, she went and hooked up with another girl roommate Nany. Talk about being 2 faced! Here she was not handling what Dustin had done and she hooks up with a girl! But the funny thing is here, the other straight males in the house, Mike and Leroy, were so turned on by this. They had their tongues hanging out like it was the greatest thing that ever happened. What is it about straight guys that loves the idea of hot lesbian action?

Society in general seems to have an issue with bisexuality in males… for females, it seems like it is no big deal at all. And they are not seen as less than for having a lesbian encounter. But for a man, it is still seen as a big taboo. Why is that?

All those rumors for years and years about Tom Cruise and John Travolta? I bet there is probably some truth to them. Are these guys gay? I don’t think so. Both are married and have children with their wives. Have they had gay sex? Maybe… so what if they did anyway?

Dustin needs to make peace with his past. So what if he fooled around with guys and enjoyed it? Maybe that is not where he is at now, I can accept that. But he can’t escape his past, it is always going to be a factor for him. Every interview, every acting job, it will be mentioned… you know it! I really wish that Dustin was forced to work a big gay event at the Hard Rock Hotel as part of his “job” at the hotel. Like have him work a gay couples event, gay parents event, an AIDS fundraiser. Have him see that we are normal too and that being gay doesn’t make you weird, or someone who is a predator. I know plenty of cool gay people who are fun to party with. They are great role models, have good senses of humor, and are not afraid to laugh at themselves. And I have never caught one of them sniffing my underwear! By the way, Dustin and Heather did get back together…

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