Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent

Let me start with the obvious: Angelina Jolie was born for the role of Maleficent! She was just outstanding to the point where I admire every flex of her facial muscle for sheer mastery of control, expression, and projection. No one could've play this role better than her. Visually, the film managed to balance a backdrop that was vibrant, lush and happy, but in parts ravaged and desolate creating a tense and foreboding atmosphere. The story lacked a bit of a punch though - despite the radically different take on this classic tale - and somehow seemed predictable. The climax was a bit problematic as it was too reminiscent of Frozen, and some cast were an absolute miscast. Maleficent didn't break any boundaries in film-making and there were certainly a few things to nitpick around here, but the film was exactly what it sets out to be - a well made blockbuster movie that is guaranteed to entertain. 7.5

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

I must admit, I've NEVER been impressed with any of the previous X-Men films save for maybe X-Men: First Class, but that somehow changed with X-Men: Days of Future Past. This was everything I had hoped and more. True, there were a couple of clunky moments and for a movie that was touted as an epic battle for survival, the action was too little, but for the most part, this was pretty awesome. The visual effects were fantastically rendered, the screenplay was surprisingly tight, the music was apt, the pacing was good, and the story and how the director executed it was just the perfect course correction for the X-Men franchise. Of course, the acting performances were first rate. One just simply cannot ever see this caliber of acting from any superhero film. Ever. Oh, and Quicksilver! X-Men: Days of Future Past wasn't perfect, but it was worth all the bucks. It's predictable and flawed yet makes for a comfortable viewing. 8.5

Thursday, May 22, 2014

American Idol 13: Finale!

That’s a wrap! We’ve concluded another season of American Idol! It’s time to pass the torch from the soaring voice of Candice Glover to the other power vocalist that is Caleb Johnson.

Jena Irene? You had an outstanding and impressive run! I was hoping for you to pull an upset, but I guess, the demo was just too strong for you to overcome. Pick your chin up and get into the recording studio. Your story was a fun one to root for, and you've managed to create moments on a season when it's almost lacking.

But Caleb?

He auditioned three times, and like Candice last season, never gave up. I'm not entirely a fan, but I can't deny that he's probably one of the most consistent power vocalists on this show. So yes, there's really nothing to complain other than his potential to be a successful winner and someone who carries the brand moving forward.

But I digress. After all, how many Finale’s actually have the two best vocalists compete against one another? It’s a rarity. However, except for last season, I’ve had a problem with how easy it’s been for a lot of the male winners since Season 7 to practically scoot by while better vocalists practically begged for votes.

Anyway, I'll get back with my comments later on!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

American Idol 13: Final Thoughts and Prediction

Before anything else, I'd like to say something. American Idol has been plagued with bad news cycles this season. Everyone pounced on the program once more like a hungry shark that smelled blood in the water. A lot of people kept on saying “The worst season ever?” and “Is Idol over?”, and it only furthered this media pile-on until it became something close to common wisdom.

Yes, the ratings shrank throughout the season. Why? What can explain that? The same phenomenon that explains why people like to back a winning horse and jump off a sinking ship. When something becomes “media common sense” we react in the worst of ways. Besides, American Idol is 13-year old show!

American Idol is not over.

If you ever loved this show, fight for it even when they have a bad season because that is going to happen! Talent was not as strong this year as prior seasons, but that's in no way a statement on the talent of next year's group of contestants. But, what you should never do is join a mob mentality that only spreads like wildfire and creates expectations that are drastically unrealistic.

After all… it’s #$@&ING REALITY TELEVISION!

Anyway, let me get with my prediction. The Nokia theater shined and Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson stood on that stage to go three rounds and leave it all on the stage. By my count, Jena took the last two rounds and Caleb took the first. It's almost a split decision that favors Jena Irene. As much as I'd like to think that the momentum is clearly in Jena's court, I have a funny feeling that Caleb's doing his own damage with the voters.

Truth be told, I'm not as confident as how I predicted say Scotty McCreery's win during his season, but I'm taking on a HUGE limb here and say that Jena Irene will take the title and go on to become the thirteenth American Idol and she will be the first wildcard winner. And yes, I've been wrong the past two seasons! Haha. 

American Idol 13: Top 2

Another year, another season.

We’ve gone from so many to so few and finally have arrived at a showdown between Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson. They're completely different artists, but they both have an undeniable stage presence and strong vocal chops. Indeed, I really enjoyed the Finale and probably one of the most memorable Final performance episodes. The contestants seem like great people and I hope, whoever takes the title, goes on to great success.

Anyway, without further nonsense, I'll get to the rankings..

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Voice 6: Finale

After countless of Blind Auditions, two tiring rounds of Battle Rounds, and a weirdly rushed Live Shows, we're down to three competing for the title of The Voice! I don't know, but this season somehow felt weird and it was VERY hard to have some sense of attachment with any of the contestants despite the show having some really fantastic vocalists. But, as usual, I digress.

Let's get on with the ranking!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla

Godzilla started out well, but the momentum somehow died down and eventually turned into a mess. I don't know. Visually, the film was nothing short of brilliant. The cinematography was outstanding, the drab color palette added a darker edge to the film, the production values were top notch, and the action sequences were quite impressive. However, the pacing and editing were problematic. I thought the story dragged in parts, I hated how the movie always cut away to something completely different every time a conflict seemed about to start, and the climax seemed a bit rushed and underwhelming. The film just felt very disjointed. The casting was a bit of a train wreck as well. Aaron Taylor-Johnson looked the part, but he didn't have the rugged charisma and authority to pull off the role that well. Some of the cast looked confused, even at ordinary moments. Oh, and how come we only got to see Godzilla for roughly 20 minutes? There could have been a great Godzilla movie here, but the opportunity was sadly missed. 6

DAM NATION: May 2014 Playlist

It's that time of the month again! A lot of good songs and a good number of genre to choose from this month. So, without further ado, here's another list of 15 songs that I (personally) fancy, that are already doing good on it's own and maybe some new singles from different artists that will probably - or maybe not - be hits in the next coming weeks in whatever format.

Enjoy!


1 One Ed Sheeran
2 Chandelier Sia
3 Everything Reminds Me of You Tessanne Chin
4 Am I Wrong Nico & Vin
5 Fancy Iggy Azalea (ft. Charli XCX)
6 Feelin' It Scotty McCreery
7 She Looks So Perfect 5 Seconds of Summer
8 Birthday Katy Perry
9 I Choose You Sara Bareilles
10 Broken Ones Jacquie Lee
11 Super Love Dami Im
12 John Doe B.o.B (ft. Priscilla)
13 Money On My Mind Sam Smith
14 Love Runs Out OneRepublic
15 Problem Ariana Grande (ft. Iggy Azalea)
PLUS TWO BONUS TRACKS

Password: Who won the American Idol 13: Top 2 Head-to-Head Match Up?
(Full Name and Case Sensitive)

American Idol 13: Top 2 Head-to-Head Match Up!

Since Season 10, I'd like to post a quick rundown of how the rest of the season went and who outperformed who in my Season 13 reviews. So once again, I've taken the trouble of going back through all my reviews this season and snagging the grades I gave both Caleb and Jena on each of their performances.

Below, a head-to-head comparison, just to see which finalist ''won'' the overall season in my book, and to refresh your own memories so you can do your own seasonal audit.

Season 12: Head-to-Head Match Up! (Candice vs Kree)
Season 11: Head-to-Head Match Up! (Phillip vs Jessica)
Season 10: Head-to-Head Match Up! (Scotty vs Lauren)

Head-to-Head Match Up after the jump!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

American Idol 13: We Are One - Jena Irene

Listen to Jena Irene's debut single, We Are One. For American Idol to release the "supposed" winner's debut song ahead of the actual Finale is unprecedented and an interesting development. Let's see if this will have an effect on the actual outcome next week.

Sure, We Are One has the same anthemic song structure just like most of the pop songs out there, but this one has an extremely rousing melody with a big, rushing chorus, a pulsating beat of effects-laden percussion and vocal fireworks galore. It has that perfect mix of cheese and dangerous exuberant with a chant that begs anyone to sing along. It's overloaded with layers of intricate production, but I'm not mad about it.

Listen to the track after the jump!

American Idol 13: As Long As You Love Me - Caleb Johnson

Listen to Caleb Johnson's debut single, As Long As You Love Me. For American Idol to release the "supposed" winner's debut song ahead of the actual Finale is unprecedented and an interesting development. Let's see if this will have an effect on the actual outcome next week.

I have to admit, throughout the season, I didn't think I will consider Caleb as a viable contemporary rock artist, but while As Long As You Love Me has that kind of 80's sound, the melody is terrific, his vocal sounds fantastic, and it has a catchy hook. With an insistent pounding drum beat and driving electric guitar accents, this is probably the last thing I expected from a coronation song - and that's a GOOD thing! Good job!

Listen to the track after the jump!

The Voice 6: Top 5 Studio Versions

Here's the Top 5 Studio Versions, and they were alright. Nothing to write home about, although I don't know what's up with Kat Perkins, but I really enjoyed her two recordings. Haha. Sue me! Also, Josh Kaufman's Love Runs Out. Again, just look at the cover of this post for DAM's pick. Also, here's where they peaked against other songs available on iTunes:

#3 Heaven - Jake Worthington
#4 All of Me - Josh Kaufman
#6 Foolish Games - Kristen Merlin
#12 Love Runs Out - Josh Kaufman
#14 Good 'Ol Boys - Jake Worthington
#19 Hide and Seek - Christina Grimmie
#28 Some Nights - Christina Grimmie
#33 Let It Go - Kat Perkins
#48 Gunpowder & Lead - Kristen Merlin
#57 Chandelier - Kat Perkins

Friday, May 16, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 3 Results Show

Alex Preston. Argh. This was a tough one. Alex deserved to be in the Finale. He had certainly proven it more than once, but I guess somebody had to take the fall. I thought he had a strong night last night, and it's a shame that he left when he actually delivered the best last night. But I digress. He should be incredibly proud of his bronze medal and the several great performances he added to this show’s history. He was creative, thoughtful, measured, and I have no doubt he’ll be signed rather quickly. After all, he joins fellow third place finishers Vonzell, Elliott, Melinda, Syesha, Haley, Joshua, and Angie and that’s not a bad group to belong to!

Results after the jump!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 3

This week, the contestants sang three songs over three themes: Randy Jackson’s Choice, Judges' Choice, and Reprises. That’s right. There is no free choice this round, so the Idol contestants had very little control. That's also probably why Top 3 night has always been constantly disappointing. There have been rare exceptions, but for the most part, it's underwhelming.

Oh, and in this episode we get to see a sneak peek of the Top 3's homecoming celebration. They're pretty much glorified propaganda, but there's a certain truth to the situations we witnessed. But that's more for tomorrow.

On to the rankings!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Voice 6: Top 5 Results Show

The Voice Season 6 Live Show was just way too fast that I felt like I didn't get to connect to most of them. In just a matter of five weeks, we're off to the Finale. The show spent so much time on the Blind Auditions and two rounds of Battles, and then allotted five (5) week? But I digress. The remaining finalists are good enough although I would've preferred a different outcome, to be honest. And why push for another InstaSave?

Oh, and it was nice to see Jacquie Lee, Will Champlin, and Tessanne Chin on the show again. Their performances were pretty good. Very nice.

Results after the jump!

The Voice 6: Top 5

All of a sudden, we're down to five. The bloodbath that happened last week was a bit of a letdown - were they in a hurry to finish the season? - but I digress. We're left with five people, and some of them delivered pretty strong performances. To be honest, I'm not sure how to trim them down to the Final 3 as I think they've had their respective moments throughout the season.

Let's get down to business, shall we?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Movie Review: The Other Woman

Was The Other Woman funny? Sure. But there were certain things that didn't sit with me well. I don't know. It started off quite nicely with a couple of hysterical moments from Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz 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 conveniently and shockingly violent. It's such a shame because the premise had potential that if handled well and consistently, it could actually deliver something more than the slapstick and toilet humor. Sadly, 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. The Other Woman wasn't exactly an awful waste of time, but there's just not much to write home about. 6.5

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Voice 6: Top 8 Studio Versions

So here's the Top 8 Studio Versions, and just like last week, I'm not too fond of the song choices, although I enjoyed a couple of the recordings. Kat Perkin's Get Lucky, in particular, rocked! Again, just look at the cover of this post for DAM's pick. Also, here's where they peaked against other songs available on iTunes:

#2 I Can’t Make You Love Me - Josh Kaufman
#4 How To Love - Christina Grimmie
#15 Get Lucky - Kat Perkins
#21 Hillbilly Deluxe - Jake Worthington
#29 I Drive Your Truck - Kristen Merlin
#41 I Believe I Can Fly - Delvin Choice
#61 Forgive - Audra McLaughlin
#72 River Deep Mountain High - Sisaundra Lewis

American Idol 13: Top 4 Studio Versions

Who's genius idea was it for the Idols to record just ONE song when they all performed three? Why didn't we get an iTunes version of Jena Irene's Can't Help Falling In Love? Why? It's annoying and frustrating. They've been doing this for the past few years and I don't know why they suddenly dropped recording all performances.

But enough of that, here's where Idols peaked against other songs available on iTunes:

#202 Too Close - Alex Preston
#240 YoĆ¼ and I - Jessica Meuse
#242 Travellin' Band - Caleb Johnson
#407 Heartbreaker - Jena Irene

As for me, I enjoyed Jessica Meuse' recording of the Lady Gaga tune. There's intensity, grit and character in her vocals that I've never heard before. Good job!

The Voice 6: Top 8 Results Show

Eliminating three (3) people this week was an interesting twist for The Voice, but those who landed to perform for the InstaSave wasn't exactly unexpected no? Did America save the right person? I'm not sure, but that result broke some real curse on the show. Haha.

Results after the jump!

Friday, May 9, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 4 Results Show

Jessica Meuse. This is the first week of American Idol Season 13 where I felt sad. Heck, Jessica was sobbing and it was clear that she's broken up about this. Possibly the hardest elimination of the season. But she was eliminated for one simple fact: song choice. It's pretty hard to rally behind someone who didn't catch during the rehearsals that her song choices will send her home. And yes, during this stage of the competition you better have a seriously powerful fan base, and unfortunately, she came up tonight's big loser. In my opinion, she would have made a tremendous finalist and has the talent to stick around for a long time. She should be incredibly proud of her accomplishments because the editing she got during Hollywood week was horrendous, and she got very little credit from the judges. I love myself some Jessica Meuse, and it's hard to watch her go.

Results after the jump!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 4

It was Top 4 night (Wow. The season rushed by!) and the entire aura of this episode was off. I mean, everyone delivered, at least, one stellar performance, and yet, they also had performances that were annoyingly mediocre or just plain bad. It's just a bit perplexing how these remaining contestants could be incredibly inconsistent! Haha.

Oh, and a couple of observations. Ryan's selfie obsession was irritating to watch, Randy is the most useless mentor in the history of any competition show, Caleb looked fatter tonight, and Ryan's facial hair oddly looked good on him. Haha.

On with the rankings!

The Voice 6: Top 8

And suddenly, The Voice decided to change its rules and eliminate three (3) people this week. Why? Because they want to get this whole thing over? The performances were lackluster for the most part. There were a couple of good ones, but nothing to write home about really. So there!

Oh, and Adam Levine bleached his hair! Yay or Nay? Haha.

Let's get on with the performances!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Look, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fine superhero movie. The visual effects were eye catching and an absolute visual treat, most of the action sequences were executed pretty well, and of course, the cast were magnificent at their roles. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, in particular, were fantastic and their chemistry felt organic that there's a certain depth and believability that's pretty riveting to watch. So, brilliant cast, awesome visuals, what's the catch? Well, the film tried to do way too much, that the pace and tone felt uneven. The editing had little consistency, the script was underwhelming, and it lacked focus from the romance, the villains, and the needless subplot involving Peter's parents. Plus, the villain design on Green Goblin looked cartoonishly goofy. The flaws were obviously there and parts got a bit too familiar, but the immensely likable duo at it's heart and fantastic production value somehow overshadowed them. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was good, but not amazing. 7.5

American Idol 13: Top 5 Studio Versions

Sorry for the late post. I've been quite busy the past few days. Anyway, here are the recorded versions of the Top 5 songs - one each - and some of them sounded great.

Here's where Idols peaked against other songs available on iTunes:

#44 Say Something - Alex Preston
#148 Summertime Sadness - Jessica Meuse
#165 How To Save A Life - Sam Woolf
#283 I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Caleb Johnson
#347 My Body - Jena Irene

Personally though, I enjoyed Alex and Jessica's studio recordings, although Alex's sounded a little hollow without the back up singer. Jena also delivered a pretty solid number. That is all.

Friday, May 2, 2014

American Idol 13: Top 5 Results Show

American Idol has officially jump the shark. What was up with the "big twist"? While I did like the simple fact that the producers still care about the show - giving it some much needed shock - but it was a dumb one. Why would they ask the contestants to vote if they want someone eliminated or not? This is not Survivor where the competition is THAT cutthroat. It's funny though how the whole thing backfired on them when two people voted NO. Haha. 

Sam Woolf. Well, the "cat with nine lives" has finally been put to sleep. I’ve always enjoyed Sam's crystal clear tone and fantastic pitch and to this day I maintain the belief that Sam would have been a very marketable winner. We'll see if a label will pick him up and allow him to make a record. The kids fatal flaw was never truly gaining a much needed connection with all of his materials. Every week he showed America that you didn’t have to be the best week after week; you had to just be better than one person week after week. This strategy took him to fifth place, which is not a bad showing for someone with very little main stage experience. Kudos.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Movie Review: Rio 2

Let's get the positive out of the way. On a technical standpoint, Rio 2 didn't disappoint one bit. The colors are abundant and vibrant, the animation was awesome, and some of the wide scenic shots looked impeccable. Add to that the background music that certainly got across the energy and vibrancy of the film's theme. That being said, the story was neither interesting or now, the humor fell flat more often than not, and the writing was pretty generic. I don't know if I'm just grading on a curve, especially given Pixar's ability to deliver terrific animated films, but this was just a typical talking animal adventure film. Look, Rio 2 was a decent family movie that's suitable for the entire family, but adult viewers may walk away slightly disappointed. I did. 6

American Idol 13: Top 5

Here’s what I got out of this episode: One, Randy is really fighting for screentime! The struggle is real, people! Haha. Two, this show gets cheesier and cheesier. And lastly, Jessica Meuse is the new Haley Reinhart - or a milder version of some sorts. Ha!

This week, it's all about people tweeting the show and suggesting song choices. It's a first and other than Caleb's Asteroid song, I'm mostly okay with the picks. The performances, on the other hand, is a totally different story. A couple of them delivered, but it was a mixed bag entirely. Yes, they just can't please me . Haha.

On with the rankings!

The Voice 6: Top 10 Studio Versions

So here's the Top 10 Studio Versions, and while I'm not too fond of some of the song choices, there were a few bright spots in the bunch. Again, just look at the cover of this post for DAM's pick. Also, here's where they peaked against other songs available on iTunes:

#3 Hold On, We're Going Home - Christina Grimmie
#16 Let Her Go - Kristen Merlin
#27 You Lie - Audra McLaughlin
#32 Landslide - Kat Perkins
#33 This Is It - Josh Kaufman
#36 Run - Jake Worthington
#64 Oh Sherrie - Sisaundra Lewis
#73 Bright Lights - Delvin Choice
#120 I'm With You - Bria Kelly
#150 Ain't It Fun - Tess Boyer
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