Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Ten FREE DOWNLOAD Songs Of 2010

Hey, cheapskates! Here's an end-of-year list you'll REALLY like! It's my Top Ten Favorite FREE (Safe & Legal, too!) Music Downloads of 2010!


I've posted some video clips so you can preview the songs first. Click on the band & song title to get the free downloads:


1. FREEZEPOP "Doppelganger"
Any music list I'd compile would have Freezepop at the top! Their latest album Imaginary Friends came out mere weeks ago, and it's already taken over my iTunes. My favorite band of all time, and they just happen to be from Boston.





2. CHROMEO "Night By Night"
The best song on Chromeo's Business Casual album.  You can actually download three different versions, but the original is the best.



3. KELE "Everything You Wanted"

I admit it: I discovered Kele because he was looking all cute on the cover of a British gay magazine at Barnes & Noble.... 

I wasn't familiar with his band Bloc Party. This song is from his first solo album, The Boxer. [NOTE: The free download is a remix, which is a little dancier than the original version in the following clip.]







4. BAG RAIDERS VS. SAMMY BANANAS "Fun Punch" (Feat. Carrie Wilds)
Here's the original version of the Bag Raiders song...

...Sammy Bananas added the Carrie Wilds vocals & created a better dance song than any of the crap Katy Perry put out this year! [Sorry, I couldn't find a clip of the actual download...you'll just have to click the link. Trust me, you'll like it!]


5. AUDIOPORN ALL STARS VS. THE YOUNG PUNX "Mashed Popped Punked"
The Young Punx is another one of my Favorite Bands That No One Knows About. All twelve songs on their Mashpop & Punkstep album are remixed and mashed up with the likes of Michael Jackson, Oasis, The Pixies, Depeche Mode, Lady Gaga, N.E.R.D., Suzanne Vega, EMF, Goldfrapp, and (in the clip below), Poison!



6. JANELLE MONAE "Tightrope"
The reason I know of this singer is because my good friend Chantal Ambroise does an awesome version of this song! [NOTE: The free download is a remix of the original version in the clip.]



7. EL PERRO DEL MAR FEAT. ROBYN "Change of Heart" (Robyn's Rakamonie Remix)
I knew I had to include something by Robyn on this list, but none of the amazing songs from her three genius Body Talk EP's are available as free downloads! That's OK, because they're worth every penny. So we'll have to make do with this El Perro Del Mar song that features Robyn...and it's actually quite lovely.



8. BENI & SAM SPARRO "Maximus" (Harvard Bass Remix)
Sam Sparro is another cool singer I discovered this year. The video for his collaboration with Beni is just too cute...and I bet you none of these kids had access to Willow Smith's choreographers.

[NOTE: The free download is for a remix of the song. It's a li'l more 'hardcore'!]



9. TELEPHONED "Off the Hook Mixtape"
This is another Sammy Bananas project. He teams up with singer Maggie Horn to form Telephonedgenerously giving you a whole album–18 tracks!–of fun, dancetastic covers of songs you may have heard before. This is a mixtape I would (seriously!) play at a party. Here's a clip of my favorite, "Pop Champagne":





10. CASEY SPOONER "Faye Dunaway"
One half of the fantastic electroclash group Fischerspooner, Casey Spooner released a solo album, Adult Contemporary, which is a little less electro...and a little less clashy, too, I guess. "Faye Dunaway" is offered up as a free download on his site as a taste test. The song is good...the video is a little disturbing!



So there you have it! Enough new music for you to listen to and enjoy until...well, next week, at least. How much $$$ did I just save you? You're welcome.


Oh, did I miss anything? Any other musical freebies I should be aware of? Let me know! 



Monday, December 13, 2010

For Your Consideration

Oprah Winfrey may have lost the Oscar for The Color Purple years ago, but she delivered a tour de force performance on "The Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, The Next Chapter", cinching her chance for an Emmy Award. 


For your consideration:


BEST ACTRESS for Oprah Winfrey. 


Asked a simple, straightforward question about her relationship with her best friend Gayle King, Oprah loses her composure completely and oh-so convincingly. The long, loooooooong, exaggerated pause. The "I swear to GOD!" hand in the air. The fake tears. The way she goes off script, asking for a tissue–a tissue!–when we all know that when Oprah needs to wipe her nose, she uses the corner of a 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton California King Size sheet, and then has the sheet destroyed in an incinerator.


BEST WRITING 


“She is … the mother I never had. She is … the sister everybody would want. She is the friend that everybody deserves. I don’t know a better person. I-don’t-know-a-better-person.” There wasn't a dry eye in MY house! Too much!  


When asked why she's crying, Oprah explains that she just realized that she has never told Gayle this before. It suspends any element of disbelief to think that in their decades-long friendship, Oprah, a women who spent several million dollars to throw a three-day party for her favorite African-American women to let them know how much she loved and appreciated them, has never told Gayle how she thinks of her. Yet Oprah's brilliant performance makes us believe. I'm sure that Gayle was home watching the program, shocked–shocked!–to hear Oprah speak of her this way. I bet they shared a big hug when they saw each other again.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for Barbara Walters. 


It's clear that Ms. Winfrey and Ms. Walters spent HOURS rehearsing these scenes together to make it look spontaneous. And Barbara played her part beautifully. What a commitment! 


And of course, there's the obligatory "I wasn't gonna cry!!" moment. This is Ms. Walters' calling card, which she requests to be placed in all of her costars' scripts. We wouldn't have it any other way!


I especially love when Barbara asks about those 'to me, dumb rumors'! Don't you love when 'journalists' try to shame us?!? I'll think again the next time I go 'round spreading rumors about poor celebrities!


BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS 


Was Oprah's voice manipulated? She pronounces the word 'lesbian' as 'lezsh-a-bee-in', giving credence to the script; she's so NOT a lesbian that she's not even familiar enough with the word to pronounce it correctly! Brilliant.


She then elaborates, saying she's "not even kinda lesbian." Not even kinda lesbian? Like...Anne Heche? Is this some kind of low blow directed at her de facto replacement Ellen Degeneres? Edgy!


Oprah says the gay rumors "irritate" her because "why would you want to hide it?" Surely she herself has interviewed enough closeted celebrities to know why they would want to hide it...it has something to do with greed, doesn't it? Projecting an image to the public? Remaining viable and marketable? The interview leaves these questions open...perhaps for a sequel?!


I don't know if Oprah is gay or not...but I do know she's a great actress!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Music: It Gets Better than Ke$ha




Hi, my name is gary, I live in Boston, and like everyone else who’s already posted one of these videos, I’m upset about all the recent teen suicides. But there’s something that upsets me even more.

I’m talking about Kesha. She has a new album out and she says that she wrote her song “We R Who We R” as a gay anthem, in response to the suicides. And just like the rest of her songs, it’s atrocious. It’s not just bad, it’s…AGGRAVATING.

Now, staying silent while kids are being bullied is horrible. But not saying anything while Kesha decides to appoint herself the spokesperson for gays is far, far worse. So I decided to make this video to let you kids know…MUSIC GETS BETTER.

It really does. Trust me. I know it looks bleak right now, because you’re exposed to so much bad music on a daily basis, but once you start looking for it, you’ll see that music does get better.

Now, I know I look young–thank you–but I’m actually 40, which, in gay time is like…170. I’m ancient. And as your elder, I really think you should listen to me.

I think it’s important to remember that while you didn’t choose to be gay, you CAN choose what kind of music you listen to. You don’t HAVE to listen to crappy music like Kesha or Katy Perry or Britney Spears….these are not artists. There’s a whole world of great music out there for you to discover…and unlike being bullied, this is one thing you can actually control. You have the Internet. I didn’t have the Internet when I was your age. I had to discover good music by listening to a staticky college radio station from 2 to 3 AM on Friday night. That’s all we had access to.

But you can listen to EVERYTHING online…for FREE! And you know what else you have? Actual gay singers and musicians! Good ones, too…Like Kele, the Gossip, the Scissor SistersSam SparroRufus Wainwright

When I was your age, back in the 80’s, we didn’t have any gay singers to look up to.  George Michael was in the closet, Boy George was basically a drag queen but would never admit to being gay…and did you know that Elton John was once married to a woman? I know, it’s ridiculous, right?

(Oh, and we also had Morrissey, but let’s be honest, he probably caused a few suicides.)

Ya know, I get it…you’re in school all day, studying and learning stuff, and then at the end of the day your brain hurts and you just want to listen to some cheesy poppy dance music. And, I’ll admit, when I was a teenager, I listened to my share of cheesy music. I grew up during the time of Debbie Gibson and Rick Astley and Paula Abdul. But at least these people had some integrity…and they sang about being lost in your eyes and being together forever and being forever your girl. Kesha sings about brushing your teeth with Jack Daniels and selling your clothes and sleeping in cars. Those are things a homeless person does.

I believe that first impressions are very important, and don’t forget that when we first met Kesha she was singing about giving Flo Rida a blowjob. Even Tiffany never sang about giving someone a blowjob!

And if you want stupid lyrics, I have a recommendation for you.  There’s a gay hip hop artist named Cazwell. His lyrics are dopey but smart at the same time…kinda like how Cazwell himself is sexy and ugly at the same time.


Look, I don’t mean to belittle this “It Gets Better” movement (although let’s be honest, it’s just a fad, isn’t it?) but I’m bracing myself for next year’s Gay Pride parade and I’m envisioning a float with 13 drag queens lip synching that awful Kesha song. And after all I’VE been through in MY life…I really don’t think I can take that. I don’t want that awful no-talent bimbo to be the voice for the gay community. We can do better, can’t we? And let me be clear: I DON’T MEAN ADAM LAMBERT.

Now, hopefully, some day in the future you yourself will be at a Gay Pride celebration in one of our country’s big cities, and you’ll see a poster outside a bar that says “Tonight! Gay Icon and Singing Sensation Pat Hodges!” and you’ll turn to your friend and say “Who the hell is Pat Hodges?!?” But you’ll go in. You know why? Because it’s Pride! And you’ll be drunk. And you won’t care.

My point is: There are so many singers out there who say how much they love their gay fans. Everyone wants to have a gay following nowadays. That’s where the easy money is. Do you know why Kristine W plays so many gay pride festivals? Because the straight people don’t want her.

I don’t know Kesha....maybe she’s a nice person. I doubt it. I figure, if it looks like a skank and quacks like a skank, it must be a skank. And MAYBE Kesha had good intentions with this song…but I doubt that too. Music is a business, and Kesha is going after you young gays the same way that RJ Reynolds went after the kiddies with Joe Camel.

So, to wrap this up…thank you for listening…Remember, don’t despair. Music will get better.

Oh, and in case you think this was mean or harsh, you should know that being catty and jaded is a BIG part of gay life, so you may as well get used to it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Defense Of... Product Placements

Every now and then a product placement disrupts the drama on Days Of Our Lives...and I don't mind a bit. 


Last week it was Caroline pimping out Wanchai Ferry's "Complete Meal For Two"...



...and not too long ago we had Arianna and Gabi talking about Midol:



The Wanchai Ferry ad was a bit of stretch, since it took place in the Brady Pub, where the Salem citizens dine daily.  Really? Caroline, famous for her delicious cooking, is serving up frozen Chinese food? Yeah, that was far-fetched. (That must be why they put in Caroline's line about how the kids "couldn't get enough of it". I guess those finicky Brady grandkids haven't developed a taste for Caroline's Chowder yet!) 


The Midol ad seemed more appropriate; soap heroines have gone through sooooo much over the years, it's about time they started crying out for some relief! 


I wonder how the writers feel about having to insert theses scenes into their scripts. It must be hard to segue from a character lamenting over her ex-fiance kidnapping her daughter to enjoying a 'complete meal' frozen dinner kit...but, hey, isn't that how life goes? I mean, ya still  gotta eat, right?


And besides, if it's the right fit, a product placement works well. Some years back (and I'm sorry I couldn't find a clip for this one), Bo gave Hope some jewelry as a gift. The men on soaps are CONSTANTLY presenting their women with jewelry, but in this particular episode the camera zoomed in on the box to show us that it was from JC Penney. It was a pin in the shape of a boat, to represent the couple's boat The Fancyface. Hope loved it...and so did I! Bo and Hope's decades-long relationship has often been described as "he's beer and she's champagne", so to me this scene was perfectly in character. Of course Bo would shop at JC Penney, and  of course Hope would love whatever he bought for her. In fact, I think they should go even further with this: I   often notice the unmistakable Diesel tag on the front of Bo's jeans–maybe actor Peter Reckell wears Diesel, but  the character he plays wouldn't be caught dead paying $200 for a pair of jeans! Why not outfit Bo in a whole wardrobe from JC Penney? If there was ever a Levi's guy, it's Bo.


One of the reasons I love soaps is that they are still charmingly low-budget. Because of this constraint, the sets are minimal and often unconvincing. It's almost like watching a local theater production on your TV–and I mean that in a good way. In these days of multimillion dollar blockbusters with their computer-generated special effects, there's something about the humble world of daytime drama that is very refreshing. It takes you back to the early days of television, when the shows regularly had characters shilling for products. The mother of all sitcoms, Gertrude Berg, spoke of Sanka coffee and Ecko kitchen products in character as Molly Goldberg on the soap-like comedy The Goldbergs.





Guiding Light and As The World Turns have already been canceled, and I'm sure more cancelations are on the way. The soap operas are being killed off like victims of the Salem Stalker–except that these victims won't be miraculously returning from the dead. So if product placements are what Ken Corday needs to do to make some extra cash in order to keep his folks' serial on the air, I'm all for it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whack Cake

Is it me, or did Twinkie The Kid get Botox®?

THEN


NOW

Well, he is 80...I suppose it was time to get some 'work' done. 

Also, isn't it a little disconcerting to see him riding himself?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Faux Shows

I want to like Modern Family, I really do. But I can't get past the show's flawed conceit–sometimes we see scenes where the characters clearly do not know they are being filmed, and other times the characters are aware of, and react to, the cameras. So what is Modern Family supposed to be? Is it a single-camera sitcom, like 30 Rock, or a mockumentary, like The Comeback? It can be one or the other…but it can’t be both.


If the creators want us to believe we’re watching a documentary on the ‘modern family’ they have to be consistent with the parameters of that concept. They want to have a faux-reality show, with characters glancing at the cameras and speaking directly to the viewer in testimonials, but they also give us private moments between characters that would never be shot with a camera crew present. Often, the action is shot from multiple angles (which means there are multiple cameramen), yet we never see any crew carrying cameras. If it’s a mockumentary, we should probably get a glimpse of the camera crew in the background here and there.

On the other hand, if we’re supposed to view it as a single-camera comedy, then they can’t repeatedly have the characters acknowledging the camera. (And while we’re on the subject, when they give us those moments in which character A says something dopey and character B raises his eyebrows and gives us a knowing look…isn’t this essentially the same joke repeated over and over?)

The above examples are the same reasons I find fault with The Office. It’s ostensibly a documentary, but for what? A film? A reality show? If it’s a film, what kind of a budget do the filmmakers have that they can shoot footage for years on end? And what’s the supposed concept of this supposed film, beyond shooting office-worker buffoons who don’t realize they’re buffoons? If it’s supposed to be a reality show, then why aren’t the characters famous yet, as they would be if they were really being filmed for a reality show? Wouldn’t it be more interesting (for any of these type of shows–The Office, Parks & Recreation, or Modern Family) if the first season was shot with the characters being unknowns, and the second season depicted them as the famous, tabloid-photographed, gossiped-about personalities they’ve become? Because isn’t that really what happens to the people on reality shows like Real Housewives and Jersey Shore?

The genius, short-lived Comeback, which utilized B-roll footage and got the director and camera crew involved with the action, is the best example of a mockumentary series done right. Conversely, 30 Rock and Arrested Development chose to film in a single-camera style with a documentary 'feel', but the characters do not know they are being filmed. 

Modern Family and the other current faux-doc comedies want to have it both ways, and in the process reveal their creative laziness.