Thursday, September 29, 2011

Glee Season 3: I Am Unicorn Episode Review

I Am Unicorn
Season 3, Episode 2

Wow. What an episode! Yes, I Am Unicorn certainly wasn't THE best episode EVER, but it was pretty damn good and it actually got me excited for the series again! Possibly Glee's strongest since Season 1's Finale - and that's a long time!

I thought the episode was captivating, it didn't bore me to tears, there were some absolutely brilliant moments and there's an actual semblance of continuity from a few story lines that were dropped completely last season. I must say, Glee's Season 3 is actually delivering WAY better than I expected. Very nice.


- I hate to admit it, but I shockingly liked Will Schuester in this episode. He, to me, brought out the "continuity" that I was looking for since early Season 2. He remembered how Mercedes compared herself to Beyonce, about how Emma helped him staged Rocky Horror, and even addressed how Quinn lived at Mercedes' place. Of course, it was all on the writers, but still..

- Oh Brittany, you never fail to amaze me! She was hysterical and endearing all at the same time! She was into unicorns and thought the capital of Ohio is O. Owesome! Haha.

- Clown pig!! No doubt, that little scene with Puck and Shelby was seriously moving!! I wasn't really a big fan of Puck's character, but this just made me love him. Everything was just amazingly adorable.

- I actually liked how Mr. Schuester snapped at Quinn. The context of that scene was good and the execution was even better.

- Quinn's storyline was more interesting and intriguing than I initially thought. I had reservations with how the writers handled her character - you know, Quinn wanting Beth back - but this somehow gave her more depth. I just hope that this "act" lasts for roughly two weeks, otherwise it will get a bit stale.

- Burt Hummel was great! Can I say the best dad EVER? He gives the best advice.. EVERYTIME!!

- Rachel as Juliet and Kurt as Romeo was too funny! Haha. 

- The Brittany and Santana's short interaction in this episode was quite lovely. I didn't expect that.


- Still iffy about Sue's storyline, but whatever. Oh, and I guess they stopped thinking of good lines for Sue no? 

- Kurt portrayed again as a victim in this episode was annoying. I actually felt really sorry for Blaine. He was stuck in the middle no matter what he did, I honestly believe that he really wanted the lead role, he's a performer - a star performer at that, it's what he does best. But then he decided to push that aside for Kurt, in order to support him, why couldn't Kurt do the same to him?

- I wasn't so keen on the songs this week, which I already whined about a couple of day ago. Good thing, the story lines made up for it being weak. I'm also hoping that the songs don't go to Kurt, Rachel and Blaine as the trend of the first two episodes suggests.


SOMEWHERE was stunningly beautiful! No words for the musical and emotional chemistry between Shelby and Rachel. Just breathtaking.

THE GREATEST STAR. I didn't care much for this. Yes, the staging was great and Kurt sounded amazing, but that's just about it for me. I can appreciate the talent it would take to sing and act this song, but it was just not my cup of tea. Plus, I really miss songs with Kurt's lower register. Just saying.

SOMETHING'S COMING was weird. I used to find his silly faces cute in The Warblers, but it somehow didn't work here. His final note was impressive though.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie Review: Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits was basically Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman's No Strings Attached, only better!! Seriously. This was not as dull as that and I thought that it got more things right from it's narrative, to the execution and down to the dynamics of the characters. 

Of course, this was just as predictable as any other romantic comedies out there, but that was something I could overlook just because it was actually well written. I liked how straightforward the screenplay was and I enjoyed how it would poke fun at the cliches of romantic comedies in general, and then use it for comedic advantage later on. I personally found the deliberate use of cliches part of the humor to be a nice touch.

The vulgarity, I thought, was one of the things the movie handled quite nicely. It had lots of it, but just enough not to offend. It wasn't in every sentence, yet it wasn't squeaky clean. It just had the right mixture of everything.

But what made Friends With Benefits a touch above it's contemporaries was the cast. Both Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis nailed (no pun intended) their roles incredibly well. I found them quite believable and real and their characters were extremely and genuinely likable. Plus, their back and forth banters were delightful. Not to mention, their spot on chemistry.

The supporting cast was nothing short of fantastic either, especially from the incredibly hilarious Patricia Clarkson and Woody Harrelson. They weren't overused, which was good, and I found myself laughing more often than not with their "wisdom". Of course, the awesome Emma Stone and Andy Samberg also did a cameo and I felt happy. Haha.

Overall, Friends With Benefits was nice charming light hearted film. It's not wildly hysterical as I expected, but quite clever and entertaining.. cliches and all!

RATING: 7/10

Movie Review: Horrible Bosses

True, Horrible Bosses wasn't horrible - the way Bad Teacher was bad - and I thought that it had all the right mix of everything from the interesting and perhaps relatable premise to an excellent casting, but somehow, the film felt surprisingly underwhelming.

It's maybe because the film just wasn't funny enough. Sure, it started off quite nicely with a couple of funny moments and a good amount of energy, but the hilarity steadily ran out towards the end. The writing got sloppy, the plot became uneven and it was wrapped up far too neatly and conveniently.

It's such a shame because the premise was incredibly ridiculous that if handled well and consistently, this could potentially deliver some hysterical scenarios. But the film didn't really take advantage of that and ended up being another generic comedy that went through the motions of a sub-par comedy flick.

Good thing, the film had Charlie Day and Jennifer Aniston who, I thought, had standout performances in this film. I'd even go and say that without them, this would've been a hot mess. Charlie Day was often annoyingly loud, but his over-the-top and dramatically hysterical performance was spot on. Jennifer Aniston's role was also quiet refreshing. Who knew she could pull off this role? Her comic timing was excellent and she performed her part wonderfully.

As for the others, I just didn't care for them that much. Jason Bateman and Colin Farrell were decent,  Kevin Spacey was forgettable and I just don't like Jason Sudeikis - he irritates the crap out of me!!

I may have seen worse movies than this, but Horrible Bosses wasn't a highly memorable experience either. A forgettable comedy that I can laugh once or twice and then move on with my life. Haha. Just saying.

RATING: 5/10

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music Video: Mr. Know It All - Kelly Clarkson

Here is Kelly Clarkson's new music video for her debut single, Mr. Know It All, off her next album, Stronger.

Love the song! I admit, the music video isn't the best, but it serves the song well. I actually like the color mixed into it. Oh, and I think this is the best I've seen of her - she looks gorgeous!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sing-Off Season 3: Signature Songs (Episode 1)

If it's just based on pure singing talent, this underrated singing reality competition, The Sing-Off, tops everything else! Seriously. The Sing-Off is so much better than The Voice, The X-Factor, and yes, even my beloved American Idol.

The talent pool this season is very impressive and it's refreshing  to see all of these singers who aren’t pitchy and don’t need instrumental accompaniment to stay on key.

The Sing-Off also got the BEST JUDGES EVER! With Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and Nicole Scherzinger's replacement, Sara Bareilles where could they go wrong? They all know their stuff and they give articulate and constructive criticisms.

Nicole Scherzinger was useless in the last two seasons of the show - Simon Cowell was on crack when he decided to hire her as a judge on The X Factor - and thank God for Sara Bareilles who adds freshness and charisma to the panel. Plus, she's very knowledgeable! Can I say the first ever useful female judge?

Oh, and I always love the show's epic group performances!

Group Performance: Perfect by Pink

Here's how I rank their performances! 

8. Cat's Pajamas
Some Kind Of Wonderful (eliminated)
Sure, they were technically on point. However, they were just too slick and professional for my liking that I didn't find anything engaging about them. 5.5/10

7. Fannin' Family
Who Says (eliminated)
They have pretty solid lead vocalist, but they seemed to be a little raw for the competition. I think they were horribly outclassed. 6/10

6. Urban Method
Love The Way You Lie
It was a solid first performance, although I felt like there was just too much rap into it and not enough of everything else. I also found the group's counterpoint towards the end a bit messy. I did like their female lead's voice though. 7/10

5. Kinfolk9
I admit, something seemed a little off with their perfomance - maybe they needed a bit of an extra work in their harmonies - but they've certainly got promise. Lots of emotion and I loved their male lead's tone. I hope they'll work on their quirks as there may be too many groups with more technical edge and polish than them. 7.5/10

4. The Yellow Jackets
Wavin' Flag
This performance was powerful. I did like the fact that the group didn't settle for one specific lead as it offered a good sense of dynamics in their presentation. I'm actually looking forward to what they will do next. 7.5/10

3. Vocal Point
Jump Jive and Wail
Not so keen about the song choice, but they're incredibly infectious. I thought their harmonies were spot on and I kind of liked their choreography. Ha! Oh, and that last note was pretty impressive. 8/10

2. Afro-Blue
Put Your Records On
I loved the smoothness of their lead vocal. It sounded effortless, relaxed and I kind of dug the jazzy arrangement of the song. It got a little muddled somewhere in the verses, but that's just me nitpicking. 8/10

1. Delilah
"Supergroups" usually annoys me, but their presentation was probably the best of the night. Tight vocals. Great harmonies. Incredible dynamics. Outstanding lead. Interesting arrangement. Their version of this Bruno Mars' ditty was amazing! 9/10

Movie Review: Glee: The 3D Concert Movie

Let me go straight to the point and say that Glee: The 3D Concert Movie was straight up disappointing. And yes, I say this as a HUGE fan of the show. So, what went wrong?

I expected this movie to literally be a CONCERT experience just because I didn't get to catch the tour - which is impossible geographically! Haha - but what I got was an after school special. I seriously had no idea that this was one of Glee's attempts to make themselves more prominent as the "savior" of the underdogs. Really?

Two years ago, Glee established itself as a series that satirized high school life in a snarky and smart way complete with show tunes. The portrayals were indeed over-the-top, but the characters were human enough that it didn't make the series just about stereotypes. But as soon as the fans ate it up and confessed to have identified themselves with the characters, the show became self-conscious and turned it into a life long mission to end bullying.

Sure, there's nothing wrong with that, but that little snarky, satirical show with a heart of gold that had the power to inspire people, WITHOUT EVEN TRYING, was gone. Instead of a fun experience with the concert and whatnot, all I got was a movie about how important Glee has become. Seriously? I loved Glee for the fluff, and not this! Maybe it's a bit cold-hearted, but I didn't really care much for the three Glee fans they introduced. No offense against them, but the self-congratulatory vibe that I got was annoying.

If it was just a couple of mini-testimonials here and there, it would've been fine. But to follow these fans in their schools and homes complete with crying and re-enactments of their "life changing" stories, everything felt a little forced and heavy-handed.

See! Notice how I'm almost halfway into the review and I didn't even mention a single thing about the performances! Sigh. Good thing, the musical numbers were amazing that it somehow - though not completely - made me forget about the weird fan narrative. To me, this should have been front and center and not the fans and how Glee changed their lives. I only wanted to see the CONCERT and by adding those stories made everything disjointed.

I even hated the fact that some songs and performances were cut off at the beginning just to give way to the interviews. Transitions were frustrating!

Of course, the 3D technology didn't help one bit. Just like in Justin Bieber's Never Say Never, putting it in 3D was pointless. I couldn’t concentrate on the performance with Finn Hudson’s huge head coming at me. The hands waving in front of my face was utterly distracting. WTF!

All that being said, I still love Glee and the characters make the show worth watching. As for the film, it wasn't as bad as Justin Bieber's - or maybe I just wasn't his target audience - but I was overly underwhelmed. This should have been called Glee: The Concert Documentary instead. Just saying.

RATING: 5/10

Concert: American Idol Live Tour! 2011 in Manila!!

I'm an obsessed American Idol fan for a couple of years now - 7 years? - and it's just 3 years ago when I decided to take this fantardism into another level and review the performances and just last year to actually make a blog for American Idol, DAM NATION, which eventually branched out into other things.

So, imagine my reaction when I learned about their live concert tour extending here in Manila. I died. Sure, I got to attend the David Cook-David Archuleta concert back in 2008, Kris Allen concert in 2009, and even Allison Iraheta mini-tour that same year, but we're talking about 11 American Idols in one stage, and they're the people I've been obsessing about the last few months. Missing out the concert wasn't even an option!

And yes, the concert didn't disappoint. It was ALL I expected and more. EVERYONE impressed me and they were just a joy to watch. Without a doubt, the strongest Top 11 on American Idol EVER! Yes, even better than Season 7 and Season 8.

Recap of the concert after the jump!!

Born This Way
They performed this on American Idol twice and I didn't expect them to open the concert with the same song sans the boys. But I have to say, the girls looked and sounded really good. It's not something that got me all crazy and whatnot, but it's still a pretty solid performance to start the concert. I love how Naima 'rapped' the mid section of the song.

Empire State Of Mind
Yes, I'm a Pia Toscano fan, but this song choice - or maybe the order of the performances? - somehow ruined the momentum of the upbeat opening. If I had it my way, I would love to see the guys sing something. But on the context of Pia's performance alone, she killed it! She moved around more than I thought she would and she hits all the notes flawlessly - just how I expected her to perform. 

California King Bed
Goosebumps this early? How was even remotely possible? Haha. I love this Rihanna song and found Stefano and Pia's performance to be top notch. I expected nothing less from Pia, but Stefano impressed me! This is ABSOLUTELY NOT the same Stefano I saw on American Idol. This Stefano really brought it - matching Pia note for note and even overshadowing her at times. Who knew?

Maggie May
Paul McDonald wasn't really my favorite of the bunch, but he was pretty entertaining. When he went out and started singing, he really tried to get the whole stadium be as lively as possible. Of course, the audience responded positively and people were already cheering and dancing. Yes, I appreciated the effort and I somehow like Paul now.

Who Says
Thia performed a Selena Gomez' song? Really? On paper, this shouldn't have worked, but it shockingly did. It's not as "out there" as some of the performances, but it's pleasant. It suited her age and the changes she did with the phrasing was quite impressive. An Adele song would've been pretty stunning for her tone, but that would be a little slow and somber for a happy concert like this no? 

Flashy!! I feared that Filipinos wouldn't get this performance just because the song was obviously obscure, but it did get some nice applause after. Haha. I loved the 'choreography' and the graphics in the background was very interesting. Of course, the girls minus Lauren sounded good.

The crowd went wild when Stefano went out with a keyboard at the upper level of the stage. Again, I thought Stefano was impressive! Where was this Stefano during American Idol? He was lively, he connected to the song really well and his vocals were outstanding.

DJ Got Us Falling In Love
When the band started playing the first few chords of this Usher song, people started to get up and dance - like literally! His singing was exponentially much better than I remembered it from the show, he was working the stage AND the crowd. I realized then that the crowd LOVES Stefano. He was received surprisingly well by the audience.. And then the lifting of the shirt happened, and the whole stadium went berserk!! And then he took off his shirt, and every girl - and those pretending to be one - lost it!! Haha.

Finally, the boys (minus Scotty) went out and some people were actually singing with them. I didn't know the song was THAT popular here. Of course, they all sounded good - even Paul's voice got to carry this song well. I noticed that when James and Casey went out for the first time, people started screaming like there's no tomorrow. It's was hilarious actually.

On The Floor
Naima time! Coming into the concert, I figured that Naima will be the least popular of the bunch. She was polarizing on the show and I wasn't really sure how Filipinos would react to her. I got the feeling the crowd didn’t quite know what to expect from her. So after Animal, people started to sit down again, but Naima asked everyone not to. And boy, did she deliver! I mean, Jennifer Lopez' version was fine, but Naima performed it like it was actually hers. She did a one-hand cartwheel where she landed on a split, for crying out loud!! She should be out of breath by then, but she started singing again and still sounded mighty fine. Definitely some standing ovation here!

This Time
I like this song and it was nice to see her music video behind her. The problem I had though was the fact that I was watching to see if she and the video are in sync. Haha. She sounded good and she did much better here compared to her "New York" song, for some reason. She was still a bit self-conscious, but I expect her to continue growing as a performer (see, Underwood, Carrie). Plus, she actually got more applause than I might have expected.

I felt the love from the audience when he came out and Casey didn't disappoint one bit. I LOVED the jazzy arrangement of the first few verses of the song and the dramatic lighting really complimented his voice. And when the full band came in, people again went crazy!!

Ok. I mentioned before that Moanin' would probably be one of the best performances on that American Idol stage, and I was really glad to see this live. I admit, their version wasn't as magical as when they performed it before, but it was still pretty amazing. Casey and Haley have really good chemistry on stage and their voices were incredibly good together.

Harder To Breath
The crowd was really into this performance. He joked about his outfit as he was actually wearing a leather jacket when it's hot and that it was getting "harder to breath". Of course, this prompted laughter and cheers from everyone. He rocked this performance out. I didn't quite get it during American Idol, but it had it's own charm.

Forget You
This was one of the most enjoyable number on the concert! And since Forget You was undeniably a popular song, a lot of people were actually singing along with them. I appreciated the fact that everyone had a verse to sing and the graphics were pretty fun to look at. I wasn't so sure about the red outfits, but whatever.


Flat On The Floor
I didn't expect the reception Lauren got when she came out. I felt like the audience were relatively more quiet compared to the others. I wasn't sure if it was because she started singing just before everybody even got back to their seats from the intermission. That said, Lauren sounded really good with this Carrie Underwood ditty that complemented her raspy tone. I enjoyed this as I was actually listening to the song on the way to the concert stadium.

Like My Mother Does
Not really a fan of this sappy song, but she did a terrific job! The music video as her backdrop was just as distracting as Pia Toscano's though. So, that didn't help, I guess.

If I Die Young
Oooh. I LOVE THIS SONG and her version was just as good - or even better - than the original. By then, the crowd warmed up to her and got a much better reaction from the crowd. I guess this was because this song was one of the better known country songs out there right now. 

Sweet Child O'Mine
Now, Steven Tylers video package was hysterical. But when the band started playing the beginning chords of this song, there was a whole lot of spontaneous standing and cheering! Not particularly a rock fan - or even a Durbin fan - but this performance from James felt like a REAL CONCERT! It was loud, but the crowd was loud-er! Amazing.

Again, goosebumps at the end of this song. Uprising was probably one of my favorite performances from James Durbin and for some reason, he somehow performed this way better here than on the show itself, which I didn't think was remotely possible. The notes he hit were unbelievable and one can't deny his ability to entertain. Very nice.

Never Too Much
.. and then I was suddenly brought to the church!! If you've visited the site during Season 10, you would know that I'm not a big Jacob Lusk fan. I actually hated him on the show. Now, while I didn't care much about this song choice, I found him very entertaining. People were basically sitting down after James, but he tried his hardest to connect with the audience. 

You're All I Need To Get By
This, however, was a much better song for Jacob. His vocals were powerful and the way he worked that stage was pretty fun to watch.

House Of The Rising Sun
Haley was next and the screaming fans died - not literally, of course. Haha. We all know how good she performed this song on the show, and Haley just matched that on the concert. She was sexy, sultry and her jazz background really worked well with the song. Oh, and she looked gorgeous on that dress. Loved her!

Bennie and the Jets
Of course, she should do the song that made an impression to everyone! Her performance of this song catapulted her from being a fodder to a legitimate dark horse during the show. Here, she performed this with great passion and her vocals were soaring. I did like the riffs she did towards the end and she sold this song like it was written for her. By the end of this, I had no doubts Filipinos were so into her.

American Idol Winner countdown started flashing on the screen and I was surprised at how involved the audience were with every announcement of every winner from ALL 10 seasons. All got loud reactions from the crowd, but it was when David Cook and David Archuleta that got the audience into a frenzy. Haha. Of course, when Scotty was shown on the screen, I just couldn't hear myself.

Your Man
Ok. So, the person beside me - a 50 year old man - was quiet for the entire concert. At first, I thought that his wife just dragged her into it. But, guess what? He and his wife attended the concert just to see Scotty McCreery live! How crazy was that? To be honest, I doubted Scotty's popularity in the Philippines mainly because the country genre isn't as big - even non existent - here compared to the United States. To my shock, Scotty, undoubtedly, got the biggest reception of all the Idols in that concert. And when he started singing this song, people were bouncing around as if they'd just won the lottery! Crazy!

Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not
I wasn't so crazy about this song when he performed it on American Idol, but I swear the girls were swooning everytime he sings the line 'Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not'? Haha. I won’t go into Scotty’s singing except to say he does really well with this. He was a complete charmer. Just saying. 

I Love You This Big
Not a fan of the song, but Scotty made the impossible and made it work! I don’t know. If it was Stefano or even Casey singing this, it will come across as cheesy - for Scotty, it came across as sincere.I think it was his connection with the song and the audience. I'm still not a fan, but to hear him sing this live made me appreciate it a little better.

When You Say Nothing At All
When Lauren went on the stage for this duet and started singing, I felt like she entered on the wrong key. It sounded a little off, but they both recovered from it and performed it like seasoned artists. Umm, yeah. That's all I have to say. Haha.

When Scotty performed this on American Idol, I became a fan! He got to show a much brighter side of his personality and the whole number was just FUN! It was no different in the concert. He was lively, incredibly infectious and his vocals were solid. I was loving it! Seriously.

This made me - and I'm not afraid to say it - emotional! Yes, this was their last performance EVER as a group and I was just glad to see the concert live. Everyone on stage looked like they were having fun and they were just happy to be part of something as big as this. The medley was a little awkward at time with all the transitions and whatnot, but I didn't really care. Of course, the crowd was totally into it!

No doubt, this concert will be one of those memories I'll never forget. Dare I say, even better than David Cook and Kris Allen's concert a couple of years back. It was fun, no dull moment, and this concert actually made me appreciate a couple Idols that I didn't like. Stefano Langone stepped up his performances and blew me away, Paul McDonald was entertaining, and I don't hate Jacob Lusk that much anymore. Everyone did really well and they all made me happy, which was the point of this concert right?

In a couple of months, a new set of American Idol hopefuls will takeover this blog. But for now, it's all about them. Until next season!!
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