Sunday, May 31, 2015

Movie Review: San Andreas

Look, if you can't leave your intellectual high standards at the door, expect San Andreas to be another dumbed down to a switch-off-your-brain type of film. It's silly, it's ludicrous, it's over the top, but who goes into a disaster film expecting something meaningful or thought provoking? On a visual standpoint, this was bound to be highly extravagant and as expected, the visual effects were spectacular and seamless - the boat race over the tsunami was totally exhilarating. The plot was annoying but expected, some of the characters choices throughout the film were dumb but again expected, and whoever said Dwayne Johnson can't act.. was right! Ha. But he got the job done, so there's that. San Andreas was faulty - pun intended - but it was a decent piece of entertainment. Somewhat engaging, somewhat dumb, but it accomplished what it sets out to do: entertain. 6.5

Movie Review: Tomorrowland

To say that I was disappointed with Tomorrowland was an understatement. No, I didn't think it was bad. The visual aesthetic, for instance, was superb, there's a spirited quality to the adventure that was quite admirable, and Britt Robertson was a relatable and engaging lead. Sadly, that's all there was to it. The plot was redundant and became largely predictable as the film progressed, there wasn't a good story to back up the visuals, and things got awkwardly preachy towards the end. Plus, George Clooney was arguably miscast and he had zero chemistry with Robertson. It's odd. I was expecting to, at least, be mildly entertained, but I felt indifferent and cold after watching Tomorrowland. Was it just me? 5

Movie Review: Spy

I've seen enough spy movies in my lifetime - in fact, we have four (4) films under this genre this year - and while Spy didn't exactly break any mold, it was a hoot! It was unashamedly funny, there were a lot of hysterical moments, and I was fairly impressed by how sharp the writing was. Yes, this was an excessively manufactured hodgepodge attempting too many comedic ideas all at once, but I'd like to think that it was part of the film's charm. The lack of regard for political correctness with all the crudeness and foul mouth was hilarious - it does not tickle everyone's funny bone, but I digress. The lead performance by Melissa McCarthy was fantastic, Rose Byrne was gloriously bitchy, and Jason Statham was shockingly funny. Never devoid of laugh and charm, Spy was one of the most delightfully funny movies of the year. 8

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Voice 8 Wrap-Up: 25 Best Performances

To the obligatory countdown. 28 Episodes. 65 Blind Auditions. 24 Battles. 15 Knockouts. 20 Live Playoffs. 64 Live Performances. The potential this season was undeniably off the roof that I've touted this as the best season ever. That said, what could've been a fantastic season turned out to be quite anti-climatic and lame as the season progressed. Stronger singers got cut early in the competition and by the end of it all, the Final 4 was a rather underwhelming mix.

Looking back though, there were still a couple of outstanding performances throughout the entire season, and yes, this is where this definitive list is for. Again, this is VERY subjective and I guarantee that there will probably be some performances that are nowhere to be found on your list that may be as high as 10 or something on here. But please respond maturely, flames don't make me particularly happy.

Without further ado, here's The Voice Season 7 25 Best Performances!

Honorable Mentions!

If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
Kimberly Nichole

Girl Crush
Meghan Linsey
Top 12

Arms of a Woman
Joshua Davis

Koryn Hawthorne

Say My Name
Travis Ewing
Blind Audition

Here are the TOP 25 Best Performances of Season 8:

Monday, May 25, 2015

DAM NATION: May 2015 Playlist

Again, apologies for the delayed post on the playlists, but here it is! A 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.


1 Beautiful Life Nick Fradiani
2 Black Magic Little Mix
3 Fire N Gold Bea Miller
4 Invincible Kelly Clarkson
5 The Night Is Still Young Nicki Minaj
6 Fun Pitbull (ft. Chris Brown)
7 Fight Song Rachel Platten
8 Bad Blood Taylor Swift (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
9 This Summer's Gonna Hurt Like A Mother* Maroon 5
10 Fire Under My Feet Leona Lewis
11 Flashlight Jessie J
12 Honey, I'm Good Andy Grammer
13 Pretty Girls Britney Spears (ft. Iggy Azalea)
14 Ghost Town Adam Lambert
15 Please Sawyer Fredericks

Password: The final words in the American Idol 14: 25 Best Performances Video? (allcaps & no spaces)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Gritty. Absurd. Nasty. Insane. Brilliant. I needed some time to process what I've just witnessed. Quite frankly, it's hard to fully explain in mere words the experience that was Mad Max: Fury Road. I genuinely had doubts with the film, but it didn't take long for me to become completely immersed by the movie's atmosphere. On a visual scale, the film was impressively striking. The design and execution was extraordinary, the cinematography was staggering, the action sequence were spectacular and not, by any means, tiresome. The story, while simple and cliched, did not lack substance, the direction was masterful, and the acting performance, especially from Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy was magnetic. Were there flaws? Sure, but they're mostly forgivable. At this point, I can't heap enough praise upon Mad Max: Fury Road. It's a modern masterpiece. See it. 9.5

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Dis-aca-ppointing. I was seriously a HUGE fan of the first film - when everyone practically ignored it in movie theaters as I could basically count seven people watching it with me - but Pitch Perfect 2 just didn't live up to it's predecessor. One major gripe was the storyline, or lack thereof. The film didn't seem to know what it was focusing on. The subplots weren't well thought out, there was just too much going on that everything felt disjointed, and there were a lot of filler materials in this film. The Riff-Off, for instance, was annoyingly lame as it offered NOTHING to the plot. The script wasn't as tight as I hoped, some of the jokes fell completely flat, Skylar Astin's underutilized role was a total mistake, and none of the musical sequences were particularly memorable. Don't get me wrong, Pitch Perfect 2 was still thoroughly entertaining and some of the musical performances were good, but it was, arguably, nowhere near as brilliant as the first one. 4.5

Movie Review: Unfriended

Unfriended, while mildly inventive and not a total waste, was a tad underwhelming. Sure, the premise was refreshing - originality goes a long way towards making a horror flick entertaining - the acting was shockingly terrific, and the entertainment factor kept me glued to the screen for the most part, but everything was disappointingly predictable. The pacing was a little problematic and repetitive, the nature of the story made it really difficult to root for the characters - I felt no real sense of loss throughout the whole film - and the scares were few and far between with lame thrills that somehow cheapen the rest of the movie. No, Unfriended wasn't exactly a bad film, but the execution could've been a lot better and tighter. A total missed opportunity. 5

American Idol 14: Beautiful Life - Nick Fradiani

It's been more than a week since he was crowned as the new American Idol and I haven't posted anything yet about his single, Beautiful Life. Not going to lie, I had doubts that the show will be able to pull off another good coronation single after Phillip Phillips' Home, but this actually has a very anthemic vibe to it backed by a pulsating beat and some urgency on Nick Fradiani's vocals. I'm optimistic.

Watch the video of Nick Fradiani's Beautiful Life as FIFA Women's World Cup theme. Good promo for him, to be honest.

DAM NATION: May 2015 Throwback Playlist

Apology for the super delayed upload of this. There was just so much craziness in the last couple weeks with the Finale of American Idol and The Voice that I forgot the playlists altogether. But fret not, here's another set of throwback music. So yes, make sure to dim the lights and crank up this playlist.


1 All My Life K-Ci & JoJo
2 I'm Your Angel Celine Dion (ft. R.Kelly)
3 No Such Thing John Mayer
4 I Try Macy Gray
5 Everywhere Michelle Branch
 6 Smooth Santana (ft. Rob Thomas)
7 Disease Matchbox 20
8 Emotion Mariah Carey
9 Elevation U2
10 A Thousand Miles Vanessa Carlton
11 All The Small Things Blink-182
12 The World I Know Collective Soul
13 All I Have Jennifer Lopez (ft. LL Cool J)
14 Crazy In Love Beyonce (ft. Jay Z)
15 You Make Me Wanna Usher

Password: Who ranked 18th in the American Idol 14 Wrap-Up: 25 Best Performances

The Voice 8: Finale

Was there any doubt in my mind that there's any other result at the end of this season? One person dominated iTunes since the Blind Auditions and with the cumulative votes coming back this season, there's just no way this will end differently. Yes, I still don't understand the appeal - I find this one extremely overrated - but one thing that worked for this person was consistency.

The Voice 8 will go down as possibly the best Top 12 EVER that ended up lame towards the end. What was America thinking with the votes? Kimberly Nichole, Mia Z, and maybe India Carney would've been a much more deserving finalists. They will not win against the eventual winner, but that would made for a much more entertaining final performance episode.

But as always, I digress.

So yeah, just for the purpose of writing it down..


Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Voice 8: Top 4

Was this really the Finale performance episode? What happened? The Voice Season 4 started out REALLY great and somehow got lame as the weeks went by as the stronger singers get cut and we're left with some pretty inconsistent artists.

Also, what year was I in? The song choices were so old and dull, I felt like I was in the 1980s. Ugh. Oh, and don't get me started with the duets.

On with the show!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

American Idol 14 Wrap-Up: 25 Best Performances

To the obligatory count: 6 months. 30 episodes. 153 live performances. 3 unjustly eliminated finalist. 1 annoying Harry Connick Jr. 1 Daniel Seavey. 1 season left. That's right, another season in the history books and like old tradition I compiled a list of the most memorable live performances up to the Finale.

Season 14 had a lot of potential to be best season EVER, but terrible format sucked the life out of these kids. That said, they were still able to deliver some awesome performances, which made this a little hard to rank. But yes, I did my very best!

Anyway, just like many other lists or countdowns, this one is extremely biased. It's based on personal preferences. There will probably be some performances that are nowhere to be found on your list that may be as high as 10 or something on here - actually I guarantee it. But please respond maturely, flames don't make me particularly happy.

SEASON 9 Best Performances 
SEASON 10 Best Performances
SEASON 11 Best Performances
SEASON 12 Best Performances
SEASON 13 Best Performances

Honorable Mentions!

Uptown Funk
Qaasim Middleton
Top 24

Tyanna Jones
Top 12

My Immortal
Top 3

Only The Good Die Young
Nick Fradiani
Top 6

Clark Beckham
Top 5

 Here are the TOP 25 Best Live Performances of Season 14:

American Idol 14: Finale!

Make no mistake about this; Nick Fradiani has triumphed over incredible odds to win American Idol. Even if we forget that Clark Beckham was a favorite from the beginning, and even if we ignore that a person from the South has gone on to win the whole shebang; we are still left with an unlikely victor.

Nick Fradiani had momentum building each and every week since he burst into the frontrunners circle in the middle of the Finals. Each week more and more voters got behind him and over the course of the last couple of weeks were amassed into such a powerful force that they overran the very powerful coalition of voters that Clark had in lockdown. That's some pretty good stuff.

Now, as I’ve said before, I wasn't sure if these two were meant to be in the Finale. But then I realized, Clark  Beckham has a voice so stunning and soulful that I was awestruck and hooked from his first performance during Hollywood Week. Nick Fradiani, on the hand, has a voice that is incredibly marketable, versatile, and while arguably generic, can be molded into something great if given the right material. Personally, I think the right choice was made.

Clark Beckham would be better off outside Scott Borchetta's management. He clearly has a different perspective regarding his music and it was pretty obvious that their relationship wasn't as harmonious as with Nick Fradiani. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Borchetta can actually make a big star out of Nick.

Congratulations, Nick Fradiani! 

It’s been a great season everyone! I had a blast. There were disappointments and frustrations, but that's part of the show. I eagerly look forward to next January where I will return with even more nonsense and blog American Idol for the last time.

American Idol 14: Final Thoughts and Prediction

"American Idol is dead!"

While completely inaccurate, I have to admit that I saw the show's slow death this season. I genuinely had high hopes coming into Season 14 - given all the tease they did with this year's Top 24 with that awesome Feeling Good video - and it looked like it was going to be a legitimately fantastic season.

When the Top 24 was announced, I was ecstatic! When was the last time we saw a diverse and colorful set of contestants on this show? We had a fantastic performer with Qaasim Middleton, Joey Cook, Jax, Trevor Douglas and Shi Scott brought the quirk to the whole proceeding, while Tyanna Jones, Sarina-Joi Crowe, and Clark Beckham were seriously great technical vocalists. We had some marketable country teens with Maddie Walker and Riley Bria, some good balladeers with Rayvon Owen and Michael Simeon, a token guy with guitar Nick Fradiani, and the comeback kid, Savion Wright. There were also a couple of big personalities including Loren Scott and of course, Quentin Alexander.

But then, things went downhill from there. The themes remained old, the format sucked - those chairs were embarrassing - the twitter save seemed like an afterthought, Harry Connick Jr. annoyed the hell out of everyone, and then there's Daniel Seavey. These things could've been prevented, but they didn't and that caused the show to get cancelled. More on that in a couple of days as I gather my thoughts and get myself together.

As for the Top 2, it was better than I hoped. I would've liked maybe Joey Cook or Quentin Alexander to somehow make their way to the Finale, but we're left with two guys who, unsurprisingly, fit the checklist of what an American Idol should be based on it's dwindling demographic and base of the show.

That's not to say they weren't deserving because they seriously put up a show last night. By my count, Clark Beckham won the Finale by a hair with two rounds under his belt. But, the Finale tends to be an unpredictable affair as Nick Fradiani closed the show with a VERY strong case for himself.

The momentum is clearly in Nick's court, and while Clark has been the frontrunner since the beginning, I can actually see Nick pull an upset. At this point, we are looking at two people, one with a future and another with a mission. So, who will it be?

My record on predicting the winner has been awful since Season 11, but I'll give it a try again. I've been rallying behind Clark for so long and his body of work throughout the season was far better than Nick, but based just on the Winner's Single performance, Nick Fradiani came out looking like an artist, while Clark looked like a karaoke singer.

So yes, I will once again root for the "underdog" like what I did with with Jessica Sanchez, Jena Irene, and Kree Harrison, Nick Fradiani is American Idol Season 14 Winner.

American Idol 13: Final Thoughts and Prediction
American Idol 12: Final Thoughts and Prediction
American Idol 11: Final Thoughts and Prediction
American Idol 10: Final Thoughts and Prediction
American Idol 9: Final Thoughts and Prediction

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 2

We got into the Finale week of American Idol Season 14 deadlocked with two strangely different yet similar contestants.

Clark Beckham and Nick Fradiani. Two contestants who have done quite a bit of damage on this show in the past few months and who gave it their all tonight - Oh, and Jax was eliminated in what was one of the most sad eliminations on the show's history. Seriously. You had the girl prepare three songs and not let her sing, at least, once?

That said, the show's final performance night was as solid as I expected thoroughly enjoying every single one of them. There's no dud, just pure music entertainment. I will miss this.

For those that don’t know how I do this, I break the rounds up and judge them individually, pointing out winners of each round as I go, and then make my prediction at the end of my article.

So, without further ado, let’s do this. 

The Voice 8: Top 5 Results Show

Well, I got it ALMOST right. I knew that the 2 more interesting contestants were in trouble, and it happened. They battled for the last Twitter Save and of course, one survived. Now, we're left with a pretty lame Finale contestants. There! I said it. There's always next season, I guess.

Results after the jump!

The Voice 8: Top 5

How did The Voice end up with a pretty underwhelming Top 5 - considering a strong Top 12 - is beyond me. Seriously. We had Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Rob Taylor and now both Koryn Hawthorne and India Carney are in danger of leaving just before the Finale. I don't know. It's just frustrating that we'll end up with the bland Joshua Davis, the loud Meghan Linsey, and the anointed one, Sawyer Fredericks.

But as usual, I digress. Oh, and they did a Hometown Visit, which they completely copied from American Idol - sorry, can't help it!

On with the show!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 3 Head-to-Head Match Up!

Like every year since Season 10, her's a quick rundown of how the rest of the season went and who outperformed who in this season's reviews. Again, I've taken the trouble of going back through all my reviews and snagging the grades I gave for the Final 3. That's right. Since the format now is bit of a mess, and we're coming into the Finale with still three people left, I have no choice but to do it this way. Ha.

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 13: Head-to-Head Match Up! (Caleb vs Jena)
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! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 3

It's American Idol Season 14's Top 3 Night! Or Top 4?

Usually, Top 3 nights are disappointing - with some rare exceptions, course. I mean, with the hometown visit, the contestants are either unprepared or exhausted. Somehow, that didn't happen this week. The Top 3/4 were at their top form and it felt like watching a classic American Idol battle. Each one delivered good performances and that's pretty unheard of this season. Ha.

Oh, and the format of eliminating a contestant after everyone got to sing was a little more tolerable than what they did to Tyanna last week. At least, everyone seemed calmer and focused. Maybe that's why they performed better than usual?

On with the show!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 4 Studio Versions

Again, all of them recorded one song - how they picked which one to record is beyond me - and there were a couple of good studio versions in the mix. I actually enjoyed most of them especially Rayvon Owen's Believe and Nick Fradiani's What Hurts The Most.

Here's how they ranked and peaked against other songs available on iTunes:

#81 What Hurts The Most - Nick Fradiani
#141 Believe - Rayvon Owen
#170 Your Man - Clark Beckham
#258 Empire State Of Mind - Jax

As usual, Tyanna's Run The World was nowhere to be found. The only time she charted was when she did a phenomenal version of Stay and she didn't even rule that week. Sad.

Password: Blog's Twitter Handle (include @)

The Voice 8: Top 6 Results Show

Oy. I didn't expect my prediction to be right, but it did and it's terrible. I don't know. The person may not have the best week, but based on overall body of work, she should not have gone home. In fact, the other person in the Bottom 2 didn't deserve it either. It's interesting how she got eliminated the same week Amanda Brown got booted out of the competition in Season 3.

Sight. We've lost the most interesting contestant of this show this season, and I'm sensing another underwhelming end to once touted as the best season of The Voice. At this point, I don't really care who wins. I mean, it's already a given and it's just a fight as to who will he be competing with. Sigh. The predictability of the show ruins it all.

Results after the jump!

The Voice 8: Top 6

We're almost at the homestretch! It was THAT fast no? Tonight was another interesting episode with a couple of awesome performances littered by misguided song choices. But overall, a strong showing for the remaining contestants.

That said, I don't think there's ever stopping Sawyer from winning the show. Regardless of his performances, he just sell a lot of his iTunes recordings. It's pretty impressive, to be honest. I wonder who he will be up against in two weeks time.

On with the show!

Friday, May 1, 2015

American Idol 14: Top 4

WHOA. Did Clark Beckham just lose his frontrunner status? I may have believed since Top 24 that Mr. Beckham will eventually win the title of American Idol without even trying that much, but after tonight, I'm more convinced that I'm dead wrong.

Say what you want about Season 14, but despite the underwhelming performance and odd song choices, this has to be one of the more unpredictable seasons in years. We lost the best vocalist in Top 12, we had quirky and polarizing performers lasting longer than usual, we eliminated the weakest performers earlier than usual, we had a verbal smackdown between a contestant and a judge, and now an intense debate between a frontrunner and the in-house mentor.

I seriously just sad on my chair and stared. I looked around the room to see if someone was playing a trick on me because I felt like I was in a twilight zone. Not sure if that was all just to set up a competition environment in the next couple of weeks as they desperately needed a competitor so Clark Beckham wouldn’t run away with it and they were very lucky that Clark gave them the ammunition to use and they have Nick Fradiani and Jax to step up and fill that plateau. It's a complicated scenario, but an exciting one.

On with the show!
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