Friday, December 19, 2008

Good riddance

Keeping this pithy...2009 can not get here fast enough. Good riddance, 2008!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Real Grammy Awards

The year in music is, for all intents and purposes, over. I have to say that as far as my particular tastes go, it wasn't the greatest year for music overall. But here are my picks for the best of. If you want some reference as to why I am posting this, please refer to my original Real Grammy Awards post from February 2008, for a detailed explanation.

This time around, I've created some new categories because, well, these are my awards and I can do as I please. I took the various pop vocal categories and combined them into Best Vocal Performance...male, female, group, whatever. It is exactly what it says...not necessarily the best songs or artists, but best vocal performance. Only two rock categories...Rock Album, and then Rock Performance, which takes into account the quality of the songwriting, production, "catchiness" and vocals...combining elements of the record, song and vocal categories at the traditional Grammy Awards. Best and Worst Live Performance are taken from my concert-going experiences this year. Best Surprise details those artists whose releases I either wasn't aware of, wasn't overly excited about or was expecting to be somewhat "eh" but who turned out to release solid albums. Worst Surprise exposes those whose albums I was looking forward to and turned out to be duds.

So here we go...

Record of the Year
I Can’t Hold You – Dan Wilson
Light On – David Cook
What About Now – Daughtry

Broken – Lifehouse
Underneath – Alanis Morissette
Sweet and Low – Augustana
Pork & Beans – Weezer
Rise Above This – Seether
Won’t Go Home Without You – Maroon 5
Inside the Fire – Disturbed

(I'm calling a tie because I just couldn't decide between these two, so it's an American Idol coup here.)

Song of the Year
Ordinary – Tim Warren & Eric Donnelly (The Alternate Routes)
Shine – Anna Nalick
Pork & Beans – Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)
Underneath – Alanis Morissette & Guy Sigsworth (Alanis Morissette)
Broken – Jason Wade (Lifehouse)
Grace – Jonathan Kingham

(Songwriters listed...performer in parentheses if different. Phenomenal song from a phenomenal album. For some ungodly reason, they had to create a special "radio re-mix" for the commercial single. What was wrong with the original?)

Album of the Year
3 Doors Down – 3 Doors Down
Forever More - Tesla
Light It Up – Rev Theory
District Line – Bob Mould
Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt – Augustana
Flavors of Entanglement – Alanis Morissette
Heavy Weighs the King – I Nine

(Perfect blend of melodies, harmonies, pop, rock, thoughtful lyrics, and everything else needed to be the find of the year. See "Best Surprise" category for more.)

Best New Artist
Rev Theory
Jonathan Kingham
David Cook
Jordin Sparks

(It was a real stretch to even include this category this year. Not a great year for new artists in my book. Rev Theory wins a landslide here. The other three I only included because they each had a couple good songs and they'

Vocal Performance
Grace – Jonathan Kingham
Where Will You Go – Kip Winger
I Can’t Hold You – Dan Wilson
Light On – David Cook
Forever – Live
Tattoo – Jordin Sparks
Broken – Lifehouse
Stand – Candlebox
Not As We – Alanis Morissette
What About Now – Daughtry
Star – Extreme
Shine – Anna Nalick
Sweet and Low – Augustana
In This Life – Delta Goodrem

(Didn't care for much of the album, but the guy can sing. Kudos to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame and new go-to songwriter, Brian Howes, for co-writing a great song that showcases Cook's abilities.)

Rock Performance
Inside the Fire – Disturbed
Stand – Candlebox

Star – Extreme
Rise Above This – Seether
Nine Lives – Def Leppard
Let It Die – Foo Fighters
Pork & Beans – Weezer
Saints of Los Angeles – Motley Crue

(Didn't know these guys were coming back, wouldn't have cared, never liked their old kick ass rock song.)

Rock Album
3 Doors Down – 3 Doors Down
Forever More - Tesla
Light It Up – Rev Theory
Songs From the Sparkle Lounge – Def Leppard
Chinese Democracy – Guns N’ Roses
Into the Sun – Candlebox

(After a career of radio-friendly hits that I enjoyed for the most part, but that never overwhelmed me, 3 Doors Down surprised me with a solid album of rock tunes. Of course, it turns out to be their worst-selling album to date.)

Worst Song
Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
No One – Alicia Keys
Love Song – Sara Bareilles
Pocketful of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield
Realize – Colbie Caillat
Too Drunk – Buckcherry
Teardrops on My Guitar – Taylor Swift
Say – John Mayer
All Summer Long – Kid Rock
Boots of Chinese Plastic – The Pretenders
Mercy – Duffy
New Soul – Yael Naim
Something in Your Mouth – Nickelback
That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
Chasing Pavements - Adele
Empty Walls – Serj Tankian

(In what was overall a mediocre year for Jeremy music, I couldn't pick one standout shitbomb this year. In her defense, Fergie did have singles out this year, but I am not familiar with them. I'm sure they sucked worse than anything on this list though.)

Best Live Performance
Bon Jovi – MGM Grand Arena
Puddle of Mudd/Cinder Road – The Joint
Poison/Sebastian Bach/Dokken – The Pearl
Toad the Wet Sprocket – House of Blues
Shaw-Blades – Aliante Station Hotel & Casino

(Took a chance and broke my rule about not paying more than $40 for a concert. Great move. After 22 years, I figured it was time to give Bon Jovi a shot, since I really liked their latest CD. For $76, I got a lengthy 2 hours plus of awesome hit songs, great vocals, great energy, great song selection...hands down best of the year.)

Worst Live Performance
Live – House of Blues
Daughtry – MGM Grand Garden Arena
Natasha Bedingfield/The Veronicas – House of Blues
Alanis Morissette – The Joint

(I took a chance on an artist I don't really like...mostly because I wanted to see the opening act. Turns out, they both sucked fish. The Veronicas song selection was awful and Nastaha Bedingfield is just a bunch of noise in my opinion. The only concert I've ever walked out on in the middle. In Bedingfield's defense, I am not her audience, so I'm probably not best qualified to judge her music.)

(1/17/09 EDIT TO THE ABOVE) - how did I forget the Warrant fiasco of last summer? A disgustingly inebriated Jani Lane warbling through the lyrics to an entire set's worth of 80's hard rock tunes. My apologies to Ms. Bedingfield...obviously Warrant takes the cake in this category. Hers was only the worst SOBER live performance.

Best Surpise
Guns N’ Roses
Alanis Morissette
3 Doors Down
Bob Mould
The OffSpring

(Guns, Tesla and Offspring have all had awesome albums before. Alanis and 3 Doors have had songs here and there I thought were awesome. Candlebox's CD was really 4 amazing songs with the rest being just OK. So it came down to Mould and Augustana. I wasn't aware that either was releasing new CD's this year until they were out. Augustana's hit single "Boston" from their first CD was OK...but the album didn't really resonate with me. See the "Album of the Year" category for more on why this was the surprise find for me.)

Worst Surprise
Suzie McNeil
Theory of a Deadman
Snow Patrol

(In fairness, I didn't listen to all the full songs from all these CDs. But, from what I did hear, they all clearly missed the mark in my book. I simply had the highest expectations for McNeil's sophomore effort (see February's Grammy blog post). For some reason the "na-na" cheerleader sound that Avril Lavigne utilized on her latest album, seems to be in vogue. McNeil needs to go back to the kick-ass power pop and classic rock ballads from her debut. Emphasis on her amazing vocal ability. Not being the principal songwriter on her material, it's possible McNeil doesn't deserve all the credit for the first CD, nor all the blame for this mess.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The End of Boston Legal

The TV series, Boston Legal, ended this week. I started out watching it every week, but gave up on it the past couple of seasons. I figured I'd check back in for the series finale. It pretty much went out true to form...a show that could have been an amazing television drama, but instead was morphed into some kind of surreal, satirical dramedy. James Spader burst onto The Practice during the 2003-2004 final season of that show. He single-handedly took a dying show and brought it back to life, allowing it to go out in a blaze of glory. This wasn't any more evident than in the 3-episode story arc in the middle of the season during which Spader's Alan Shore defended a childhood friend, Paul Stewart, played by Patrick Dempsey, against murder charges. These three episodes, with other guest appearances by Ed Asner, Jill Clayburgh and most notably, Betty White, represented some of the best dramatic television I've ever watched. Keep in mind, this was before Grey's Anatomy, so the last thing of note that Patrick Dempsey had done was "Can't Buy Me Love." His performance here was awesome, as was Spader's...laying the groundwork for what should have been one of the most interesting characters on TV - Alan Shore. Everything about the story was dead on...right up until the final moments with Dempsey and Spader in their childhood treehouse, where, after getting Stewart acquitted of all charges, Alan Shore comes to the startling realization that his childhood friend was actually guilty. Probably the best ending to any television episode ever.

Spinning off The Practice into Boston Legal, David E. Kelley had the opportunity to explore the unbelievable emotional complexities of Spader's character. But instead, the show spiraled into a comedic mess, making a mockery out of what could have been riveting television. And the seemingly life-altering incident depicted in the above-mentioned story from The Practice was never mentioned again, despite Betty White reprising her role of Catherine Piper on Boston Legal. That character was turned into a complete and utter farce, and Alan Shore apparently got over the shocking deceit by his friend, not to mention all of his past emotional issues. What a waste.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Shaw-Blades (concert review)

Went to see Tommy Shaw (of Styx and Damn Yankees) and Jack Blades (of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees) perform an acoustic set tonight at Aliante Station Hotel & Casino. These two have been singing together for a number of years in Damn Yankees, on each others' solo records and as Shaw-Blades, which has to date, recorded two albums together...the latest being a collection of covers from the 60's and 70's. Incredible performance. A little bit of everything as far as the set list went...Styx, Damn Yankees, Night Ranger and some classic cover songs. The vocal harmonies were spot on...both guys sound like they could be 25 years old. Also some kickin lead guitar from Tommy Shaw. Hard to pick a best performance of the night. The encore was a little weak, but I have to say, as someone who detests almost all Christmas music, I'll give them that their rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was among the non-suckiest versions of that song that I've heard. When you sound good, you sound good. I don't see any upcoming tour dates posted, but if they come around to wherever you are, I'd highly recommend checking them out. I'd also recommend both of the Shaw-Blades albums, "Hallucination" and "Influence."

ILike Widget

For those of you who haven't checked out the music site, ILike, it's a cool place to kill some time looking for and listening to some tunes. Its software also integrates with other sites/applications such as ITunes, myspace, facebook...and obviously now I've added the ILike widget to EUtS over here on the right --->. Right now, I have posted some of my favorite songs of 2008. These are in no particular order and do not necessarily represent my top 17 songs of the year, but it's just a sampling of songs that were available in full form on ILike. I'll post my Jerammy nominations in a few weeks, but for now, this should be a good indication of what has a chance of appearing on that list. As for the actualy Grammy nominations...I just have no words. Wait...I do have one...JOKE. I think I used that word last year though. Oh well. I'll have to get my hands on a good thesaurus for future years.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Return of EUtS

Well, I stopped blogging because only like 2 people were ever reading these posts, but the clamoring for more (read: 1 person) has spurred on the return of Everything Under the Sun. I promise that this relaunch will provide bigger, better, faster, more thought provoking, sexier, and altogether tastier tidbits of insightful thought. OK not really, but I felt that there should be some kind of grand re-entrance. So hide the kids...I'm back!

So what happened since my last post? The Devil Rays (sorry...the RAYS) won me my baseball betting money back, but then failed miserably at making me any kind of measurable profit. The world economy has decided to teeter on the edge of utter collapse. Terrorist attacks in India. Oh...and yeah, some dude was elected president. Obviously, one can see why I've had nothing to write about. Or, if I'm using proper grammar...nothing about which to write. That just sounds so stupid though.

Yes, I voted for Obama. No, I am not mesmerized by his mere existence. I do not think he's the second coming. And I definitely did not have tears in my eyes when the election was called in his favor. The honest truth is, I fell asleep. Yes, my cherished liberals, our country was on the verge of an earth-shattering, history-making, potentially life-altering occurrence, and I dozed off with the TV on...only to open my eyes mere moments after the landmark announcement had been made. I was disappointed for about half a second...then I was like OK...not really that much of a surprise here. Even the snowballs in hell were laughing at McCain during the last couple months of the race. To further underscore the middle ground nature of my political leanings (do I actually "lean" if I'm in the middle?), I watched the election night coverage on my cable news network of choice, FOX News. Yes, that's right, a registered Democrat...who voted for the savior Bill O'Reilly every night and prefers the slightly red network over the others. It happens. Although Sean Hannity can kiss my ass. I have no use for pundits and analysts who only ever agree with one side. That drastically decreases your odds of being right, because I guarantee you, neither the right nor the left always has the answers. Let's just hope and pray that for the foreseeable future, with a Democratic-controlled White House and Congress, the left has most of them. I'm not convinced yet.