One of These Songs Will (Maybe) Be 2014’s Summer Anthem

It’s the month of May, which means Memorial Day’s unofficial start of summer is right around the corner, which ALSO means it’s time to start picking front runners for this year’s Song of the Summer competition.  After much consulting with the Internet, here’s the current state of play:

I WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN – Rita Ora

Thanks in part to some Calvin Harris producing, Rita Ora’s new single epitomizes summer.  Combine the infectious pop with a self-satisfying hook that you can sing to just about anyone – even the mildest of your acquaintances! – at a backyard BBQ and you’ve got a very serious contender.

 

I WANNA GET BETTER – Bleachers

This song’s got it all, namely a massive chorus that says, “I’d like to be making a better effort!” and a guitar solo worthy of Marty McFly.  But perhaps most refreshing, it’s a great alternative to all the EDM beat-dropping that we’ve been swept up in for as long as anyone can remember.

 

JEALOUS (I AIN’T WITH IT) – Chromeo

If you like having fun, this one’s for you.  And summer = fun.  It’s also the poppiest non-traditional pop song going at the moment.

 

RATHER BE – Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne

Jess Glynne is the featured vocalist flavor-of-the-month, but this is her finest work.  And all thanks should go to her if Clean Bandit wins Summer 2014.

 

BIRTHDAY – Katy Perry

You know what makes this song an especially strong contender – errbody’s got a birthday.  You have a birthday.  I have a birthday.  Even our pets have birthdays!  Yes, the album came out last fall, which makes this song ancient history, but the music video was just released with much fanfare and KP’s gearing up for a huge summer tour. 

 

PROBLEM – Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea

This song is definitely a jam.  And with that familiar sounding sax sample from Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty”, it’s already showing heat as the #1 song on iTunes, not to mention a coveted August performance slot on the Today Show Summer Concert Series.

 

WATER FOUNTAIN – tUnE yArDs

Let’s call this an indie-outsider thanks to a fun hook that, ultimately, is probably better suited for a children’s song than a summer anthem.

 

COME WITH ME NOW – Kongos

Kinda like if Mumford and Sons drank Red Bull in Tennessee.

 

LA LA LA – Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith

With a big debut on SNL last month and his eagerly anticipated debut album set for release later this month, Sam Smith is poised to be the next big thing in music.  “La La La” has been on the charts for months, but all the recent attention may give this one a shot.

 

SUMMER – Calvin Harris

Probably a little too nail-on-head.  But respect for cutting straight to the chase.

 

MOVE THAT DOPE – Future featuring Pharrell Williams & Pusha T

At the very least, it would be a nice full-circle moment for Pharrell to bookend an incredible year of hits.

 

NOBODY TO LOVE – Sigma

Not since Dido sang “My tea’s gone cold, I’m wondering why” has there been an opportunity for a catchy hook to spinoff as its own hit single.  Chances here are slimmer (it’s the same line over…and over…and over), but it’s the only way you can really get dancey to Kanye’s incredible “Bound 2” chorus.

 

HEARTBREAK DREAM – Betty Who

She had an under-the-radar pop hit with “Somebody Loves You”, but this first single from her second EP may be what puts Betty on the map in a well-deserved way.

 

SUMMERTIME IS GREAT – Three Beat Slide

and finally, your worst S.O.S. nightmare…

 

But no matter who wins, as long as it’s not “Happy” or “Let It Go”, I think we’ll all be just fine.

 

DeSales: It’s Still There. We Checked.

On April 26th, 2014, Kristin Cimonetti (’06), Lauren Coticchio Willis (’06) and Chris Mirigliani (’06) put their bulldawg paws in the air as they journeyed from Brooklyn, NY to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley for a visit with their alma mater, DeSales University.  The following is a first-hand account of what happened…

11:30AM:  ARRIVAL ON CAMPUS – It’s still here!  And the place looks pretty good.  A few new buildings have popped up, but it’s still just as difficult to spot a human being walking about campus on a Saturday morning.  Everyone either went home, is nursing a hangover or decided to attend another school entirely.

11:37AM:  JOY AT BRISSON – Chris and Lauren are overjoyed to see that dormitory, Brisson Hall, still shines atop campus.  Once upon a time, this is the exact place where their close friends were fired from RA positions and many cases of beer were sneaked in via people’s “laundry”.
DeSales Brisson Hall
11:42AM:  LABUDA CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS – Kristin and Chris marveled at the (mildly) updates TV studio control room.  Thankfully, Pre-Korean War era studio cameras have been left in place for nostalgia sake.
DeSales TV
12:25PM:  THE HEIGHTS – Kristin and Lauren visit Height #6, one of many residences they shared during their four glorious years as active Bulldawgs.
DeSales Heights
12:35PM:  THE D.U.C. (meaning of acronym still unknown) – They all got stuff at the (new to them) campus store.  Also, a snack.
DeSales Campus Store
Hey, DeSales has a radio station.  Who knew?
DeSales Radio
1:30PM:  OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING – Our Bulldawgs traveled to visit their former off-campus homes in historic Bethlehem.  Their homes, however, were not deemed historic.
Selfridge St Bethlehem
Bethlehem PA
2:00PM:  BREW WORKS – The Bulldawgs enjoyed beers, beer and cheese soup, and several tons of nachos at the excellent brew pub where Chris used to wait tables.  Some even called him the greatest restaurant server of his generation and all time, but this has never been confirmed.
Bethlehem Brew Works
Bethlehem Brew Works
3:15PM:  BETHLEHEM SANDS CASINO- Though the Bulldawgs would have preferred to take a food coma induced nap, they pressed on to the casino.  This Peeps store in the adjoining mall is the only proof of their visit…
Peeps Store
4:30PM:  THE TALLY HO – What DSU trip would be complete without a stop at the watering hole that taught them all what drinking irresponsibly truly means?  It was also the place where we once spotted Shooter McGavin  the guy from Happy Gilmore).  Oh, and we lost an Irish girl there once, too.
Tall Ho
Tally Ho
6:30PM:  WOOPSIE – On the drive back to Brooklyn, Chris realizes that he left his house keys at The Tally Ho.  His bad, guys.  His bad.  But at least they got to see the place one more time.
Tally Ho
and finally, this…

2014 Academy Awards: Some Thoughts…

Last night, in addition to squeezing in a hilarious episode of Comedy Central’s Broad City, I managed to watch the entire Academy Awards telecast.

Thank you, thank you!  Please, hold your applause.

In an effort to make the many hours of viewing somehow worthwhile, here are a few of the night’s standout moments and thoughts from my head…

#1.  Lupita Nyong’o schooled us in the fine art of ‘How To Make Everyone On Earth Like You’ while delivering the best acceptance speech of the night…

Lupita-Nyong'o Oscar

#2.  Hey, John Stamos was there!  Just…cuz.

John-Stamos-Oscars

#3.  I can’t be the only one who became very uncomfortable when Darlene Love burst into song after 20 Feet From Stardom won for Best Documentary?

Darlene Love Oscar 2014

#4.  The pizza gag was great.  And a much needed break from the stuffy Oscar reverence…

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#5.  Congratulations to Spike Jonze for winning Best Original Screenplay.  If someone could please decode his speech about the people in the wings, that would be great.  Thanks.

Spike Jones Oscars 2014

#6.  John Travolta butchering Idena Menzel’s name.  I’m not convinced it was entirely accidental.

#7.  Bette Midler couldn’t sing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ DURING the In Memoriam reel?  Two birds, one stone?  No?  ok.

Bette-Midler-Oscars-2014

#8.  There were an awful lot of Samsung ads, eh?  Does anyone own a watch phone yet?

samsung-gear-myvouchercodes

#9.  Google reduced filmmaking to a series of DIY-style searches in their Oscar commercial.  Who needs film school?

#10.  While picking a fake fight with someone in the audience during her walk to present the Best Actor award, Jennifer Lawrence started to push the boundaries of her “she can do no wrong” status.  Remember, Jennifer, it’s a slippery slope to Anne Hathawayland.

rs_245x261-140302213533-tumblr_n1ugnvmTVC1qbnazvo1_250

rs_245x261-140302213531-tumblr_n1ugnvmTVC1qbnazvo2_250

40-JLAW-JOKES

#11.  The next time you’re confused about life, just ask yourself – What would Matthew McConaughey 10 Years From Now do?  Hopefully he can ride the awards buzz all the way to an Emmy win for his role in HBO’s True Detective.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

The end.

A few thoughts on that new Beyonce album…

The new Beyoncé album is called Beyoncé.  (The main reason for me writing that sentence is that I finally learned the mac shortcut for adding an accent above letters.)

First thing about that new Beyoncé album – really didn’t like it the first time.  But after giving it a second and a third chance, I discovered that it actually gets better with age.

I originally quipped to a friend that there were no bangers on the entire album.  And that’s not entirely true.  There are no bangers like ‘Crazy In Love’ or ‘Halo’, but instead you’ve got the more tradition R&B bangers like ‘Pretty Hurts’ and ‘XO’.  And since this is an R&B album, we should all get on board with these two being classified bangers.

Next, the song with Drake – ‘Mine’ – would be leagues better if Beyoncé sat most of this one out.  Play it from the 1:20 – 1:56 marks (below) and you’ve got yourself a song that would cause authentic American twerking on every dance floor across the country.

The song with Jay-Z -‘Drunk In Love’ – will get better after you’ve heard it a dozen more times on radio.

End of white guy review.

The Top 10 ‘Just Fine’ Movies of 2013

After a pretty significant slump at the cinema these last few years, 2013 had some great movies (12 YEARS A SLAVE, FRUITVALE STATION), while others were terrible (AFTER EARTH, JOBS, THE FIFTH ESTATE).

But what about all those other movies that were just…fine?  These are the movies that you don’t regret paying to see in a theater or taking a couple hours to watch on the couch.  You were, for the most part, entertained, but didn’t give them much thought after the credits rolled and would have a hard time retelling the plot to a friend who may ask at a New Years Eve party tomorrow night.

To honor the average, these are (says me) the Top 10 ‘Just Fine’ Movies of 2013…

#10.  STORIES WE TELL

A very well-told documentary about filmmaker, Sarah Polley’s family that unfolds like a mystery.  But if you’ve ever dealt with a problem in your own family (and who hasn’t?), the film ends and you’re like “oh.  I guess that’s it?”

STORIES WE TELL

#9.  THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

Great acting.  Solid story.  But at the end of the day, just not as good as BLUE VALENTINE.

place_beyond_pines_still-620x435

#8.  DON JON

An all-around fun time at the movies, assuming you like overt sex.  Easily one of the best performances I’ve seen from Scarlet Johansson.  A respectable directorial debut from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Plus, Tony Danza!

DON JON

#7.  PRISONERS

A tightly wound thriller with a solid cast led by an over-acting (and very yell-y) Hugh Jackman, but Paul Dano is the one who subtly shines.

Film Review Prisoners

#6.  THIS IS THE END

Proof that a bunch of famous friends can get stoned and make a really fun movie.

This_Is_The_End_36998

#5.  THE WAY WAY BACK

Quietly edging out THE SPECTACULAR NOW as the coming-of-age film of 2013.  Steve Carell very convincingly plays a dick.  And Sam Rockwell always delivers.

WayWayBack

#4.  SIDE EFFECTS

A well-paced psychological thriller filled with B+ actors, all of whom all raised to A- level by ‘retired’ director Steven Soderberg.

Side-Effects-Poster

#3.  INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

As someone who’s not crazy about folk music, the songs were my favorite part of a movie that featured some admirable performances but failed to highlight the time period in which it was set.

inside_llewyn_davis

#2.  HUNGER GAMES:  CATCHING FIRE

As the second adapted film in a YA trilogy that already got things right on their first time out, the bar was raised all around when the tributes were sent back into the Games.

HUNGER GAMES CATCHING FIRE

#1.  GRAVITY

Perfectly timed at 91 minutes, it’s a must see that at the end of the day is more of a cinematic achievement than incredible movie.

Gravity-2013

 

The 10 Best Songs of 2013, Says Me

Two-Thousand-Thirteen.  How bout it?  It was a year when many people listened to many different kinds of songs.  There were original songs.  And then some people made covers of those original songs.  Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of songs that no one decided to cover, or even sing, at all.  Who could keep track?

These are the 10 songs that were my favorite this year.  In very particular but unnecessary order, they are…

#10.  Sam Smith – “WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN” (cover)  

The Bruno Mars version is fine, but this Brit’s got more killer pipes…

 

#9.  Daft Punk – “GET LUCKY”  

Cuz, duh.

#8.  James Blake – “RETROGRADE”

This song fulfills the electronic/experimental/weird quota in my top 10.  Also, it’s great.

 

#7.  Justin Timberlake – “MIRRORS” (live on SNL)

The album version is just fine, but this one’s better.  And live-r

 

#6.  Avicii – “WAKE ME UP”

Avicii’s version is the one that got me into the gym most days this year, but we’re all sick of hearing it now.  This non-EDM cut gives the vocalist, Aloe Blacc, his proper props…

 

#5.  Kanye West – “BLOOD ON THE LEAVES”

This is my “All of the Lights” form Yeezus

 

#4.  HAIM – “THE WIRE”

It’s got that groove thing happening.

 

#3.  A$AP Rocky ft. Skrillex – “WILD FOR THE NIGHT”  

Just now noticing a real Hip-Hop and EDM trend forming on this list.

 

#2.  Drake – “HOLD ON WE’RE GOING HOME”  

It’s the song that I’m still not sick of hearing when I purposely select it on my phone every day for the last five months.

 

#1.  Kendrick Lamar – “BACKSEAT FREESTYLE”  

Yes – the song was technically released in 2012, but the music video debuted in January.  And I still didn’t know it existed until this summer, but that’s beside the point.  This is my list and I’ll do what I want.

Plus, you can’t beat this NSFW video thumbnail…

Battle of the 2013 Year-End Mashup

First, you’ve got your classic mashup artist, DJ Earworm with his 7th annual United State of Pop.  This one’s called “Living the Fantasy”

 

And then there’s this guy, Daniel Kim, who took it to another level by mashing 68 songs in Pop Danthology 2013

 

Both are 7 out of 10’s if you ask me, but you gotta give the edge to Kim for reminding us that Harlem Shake was a thing that happened this year.

R.I.P. Harlem Shake:  2013-2013