Remembering Whitney Houston

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I couldn’t believe what my sister said when she called me Saturday night. She told me they announced on of all places, ESPN, that Whitney Houston had died. I immediately felt sick and guilty. The night before, my knee-jerk reaction to a tweet from The Hollywood Reporter was totally innocent and I thought funny. Who knew less than 24 hours later Houston would be gone. It’s sad any talk about one of the greatest voices of my generation had become convoluted into soundbites and punchlines. “Crack is whack” wasn’t just a soundbite, it was the beginning of the end.
The girl from New Jersey had talent from the start and Arista’s Clive Davis opened up the world to Whitney Houston and he opened her voice and her world up for all of us to listen. I’ll remember seeing all of Whitney’s videos on MTV, oh don’t get me started again on the network’s identity crisis, and they were fun, she was fun!
Hit after hit, Whitney Houston reigned the charts and she was a incredible live performer.
Then she met and married Bobby Brown. Did things change? Yes. Did she change? Sadly, yes. During this time, Houston starred in The Bodyguard and she made Dolly Parton a very happy lady when her cover of “I Will Always Love You”, which was included on the soundtrack, was a number-one hit for 14 straight weeks. The soundtrack did hold the record for consecutive weeks at number one until, ironically, Adele took over. One question that will be asked time and again during this painful process will be, is Brown the reason she’s not with us anymore? It’s a question that will never be answered. However, after watching (and enjoying) Being Bobby Brown, something was going on there that wasn’t right, and when Houston refused to appear on the show after season one, a second season would not happen. Mainly because Houston was probably really embarrassed, so embarrassed she never gave her approval for the series to be released on DVD which was good move. But it didn’t stop Houston’s spiral into troubled celebrity notoriety to rage on.
Just in the last year, there were reports Houston had fleetingly succeeded at another rehab stint, and her last big project, a remake of the 1976 film Sparkle, was off and running. The film, which also stars Jordin Sparks in the title role, wrapped production in November of last year and it is still on schedule to be released this August.
I’m still in shock and I leave you with two personal favorites…

The GaGa-iest SNL Ever!

Thank God the Rapture didn’t happen or we would’ve missed the season finale of SNL and it was a doozy!  Sure, host Justin Timberlake has 2 movies to plug–Bad Teacher and Friends with Benefits–but Lady GaGa has the most anticipated album of the last decade to promote!  Duh!  And although I’m still very leery of the SNL writers and producer Lorne Michaels, they were wise to give GaGa the floor in 2 sketches, the digital short, and 2 off-the-wall musical performances.  I’ve said the Nicki Minaj takeover of Jesse Eisenberg’s episode was my favorite of the season, I take it back!  Let’s review in order, shall we?
First up, Timberlake reprised  his “take it on down to (insert service)-ville!” sketch, this time promoting a liquor store in favor of Kristen Wiig’s “teabagging” place and then who shows up? (unfortunately, the clip has not been posted to Hulu) moving on. 
The Digital Short up next…Andy Samberg and Timberlake reprise their “Dick in a Box” and “Motherlover” characters for “3-Way (The Golden Rule)”…more GAGA!
Oh, and I almost forgot, in the first commercial break, a new Google Chrome spot premiered, starring GaGa and her scores of Little Monsters–very cool!
Up next, first musical performance…a little “Edge of Glory” with GaGa playing a lego-like 3D piano, then breaking into “Judas”…sweet!
I thought we probably wouldn’t see GaGa anymore until her last performance, WRONG!…she challenged JT in a celebrity edition of “What’s That Name?”
Hilarious!…and finally, GaGa brought back her egg from the Grammys for a little different interpretation of “Born This Way”…a head scratcher…I hope my sister wasn’t watching.
So awesome, I pray the stores aren’t sold out tomorrow…because I don’t get off work until 4p…GAGA!

Can’t Hold Her Down

I guess to say 2011 for Christina Aguilera has not been smooth so far is a giant understatement.  Although now, if I think about it, 2010 wasn’t too good either.  Let’s review; her Bionic album failed so miserably, a tour to support it was completely scrapped, then, she got separated and eventually divorced from her husband of five years, Jordan Bratman, oh and a little movie called Burlesque came out in November (it’s on DVD now!) and Aguilera’s acting  was critically skewered–though I must say Cher made a mini-comeback and the movie won songwriter Diane Warren a Golden Globe for Cher’s ballad, “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me”.   Unfortunately, Warren did not receive an Oscar nomination, and there’s old Randy Newman up there winning again.  Okay, back to Xtina. I guess that little National Anthem at the Super Bowl debacle is!  Just a week later, Aguilera appeared on-stage at the Grammys for an Aretha Franklin tribute and wouldn’t you know, she tripped right as the performance ended.
Just yesterday, Xtina and her current boyfriend, Matthew Rutler, were arrested on suspicion of DUI and public intoxication.  My first thought?  She’s ever so slowly turning into another tragic pop star a la Courtney Love.  No formal charges have been filed and Aguilera made bail.  At this point, her ex-husband could seek full custody of the couple’s 2-year-old son Max.  Yeah, it was all going down hill pretty fast until the announcement today, Xtina would be joining the NBC reality singing competition, The Voice, as a vocal coach and judge along with Cee-Lo Green and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine; Carson Daly will be hosting when the show debuts next month. 
Aguilera is a powerful singer and I’m sure she’s just a tad bit side-tracked, but can she regain her glory and more importantly, her credibility?  It remains to be seen, I just hope she can make The Voice work.

Just Sink Your Teeth In…

I keep believing Lady GaGa will only get bigger and bigger with each video.  Some are already saying the first video for “Born This Way” is underwhelming, oh hell no!  Anything but.  As with the majority of GaGa’s clips, this is more of a mini-movie and this mini-movie has to be the most intriguing yet.  GaGa keeps saying everything tied to the new album is a “birth”, and we get to experience it two very different, yet similar births.  The birth of good:
 And it’s complete with lots of fluid, as a real birth is.  I love the sci-fi narrative GaGa herself tells and she’s accompanied by Bernard Hermann’s theme from Vertigo….very dramatic, and I totally got a Metropolis vibe.  However, there is a flip-side to the good, the evil. And evil’s birth is just the same only she pulls out a machine gun instead of a um, head????  (Unfortunately, there were only a limited number of stills, and I don’t have the Evil GaGa)  After about 2 and half minutes of back story–The Manifesto of Mother Monster, Gaga then circulates among her disciples as the actual track starts:
 GaGa, though still thin, has definitely tone up, and yes, those pointy, alien-like shoulders will be around for a while.  I would love to see how much work that takes everyday.  The choreography is exactly like it was on the Grammys, only we never see the rubber robes and dresses a la full body condoms.  The second chorus introduces this look/scenario:
 It’s playing on the whole “good vs. evil” theme.  Mostly, the video is strange, dark, and tongue in cheek.  I was waiting for a Madonna homage moment, and at the very end, I got it!  GaGa is shown with a gap in her front teeth, sound like any pop icon you know?  Take a look again and many more times at this strange trip:

GaGa Lays It Down, Literally.

Lady GaGa and her egg walked away with 3 Grammys last night, including, for Best Pop Vocal Album: THE FAME MONSTER–in your face Susan Boyle!!!  Now I didn’t see this live; I confess I’m a huge fan of Big Love which is in its final season on HBO; don’t worry, I have the Grammys DVR’ed, so I’ll be able to see Cee-Lo and Gwyneth and the faux-Muppets in due time.  I would re-post GaGa’s “Born This Way” performance, however, I can’t find a good copy of it, and two, it wasn’t quite the earth-shattering performance the heartland or I was expecting.  Oh, and three, I’m surprised she was on so early, so I didn’t miss it.  But I did miss her acceptance speech for her only televised award:
Yes, the censors were soooooo worried about Cee-Lo and Eminem, they forgot about possibly hitting the delay button during acceptance speeches!  Oh well, she rules, and as of this writing, I haven’t seen a story about that little expletive slipping by.  You know how CBS is about the FCC–in their faces too!!!!  By the way, only 10 Grammys were given away during the 3 and half hour live show which is totally weak.  GaGa also won for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video, both for “Bad Romance”.  And somehow, Whitney Houston has been dragged into the conversation; GaGa says the pop diva was her inspiration for “Born This Way”, so Madonna will be on the bench, if only for a little while. 

Same DNA Indeed!

Oh yes, I fondly remember this moment from October 2009 on Saturday Night Live; two music icons, Madonna and Lady GaGa compete for diva dominance in a sort of hilarious fashion.  I’d say Madonna is either really flattered or really pissed at GaGa today. 
“Born This Way” is phenomenal; I’ve already listened to it countless times, but I noticed something, it has a very familiar melody.  I won’t go to the trouble of posting “Born This Way” alongside “Express Yourself” but I think you already know the almost identical similarities.  The melody is pretty much dead on, only sped up a bit, plus GaGa evokes a little “Vogue” with her raps in the song.  Now I look at this two ways, Madonna can cry foul and she should have already with GaGa’s “Alejandro” video, or she can be honored and really is any kind of good pop music original these days?  Of course not.  It’s neat that we already have that familiar melody in our heads; we are ready and willing to listen and by God, make a purchase. (I’ve decided Target may have the better deal, all iTunes is doing is reducing the price on GaGa’s other cds, lame)  I will purchase it, oh yes I will…May 23rd–or earlier or the Grammys–can’t get here fast enough!

Happy Birthday!

To Ellen DeGeneres…52 today!…I don’t know where to begin on my love of Ellen…it started with some modest stand-up comedy on HBO, moved on to These Friends of Mine later renamed Ellen on ABC…then she came out!…via her sitcom and the world went into a tizzy…”The Puppy Episode” garnered record ratings and a Best Writing in a Comedy Series Emmy for Ellen…however, during this madness, Ellen disappointed me and probably a lot of my fellow ladies when she started dating actress and cerifiable nutbar, Anne Heche…I never saw their relationship as geniune…it was definitely indulgent as Heche directed her then girlfriend in the final vignette of HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk 2 in 2000…at that point, I didn’t really care for Ellen anymore…yes, she went on to star in another self-titled sitcom, The Ellen Show, for CBS, but it just didn’t have the goofiness of her original series…it did have Betty White!…then Ellen vanished for a while…oh sure, she hosted the Emmys, the Grammys, and she would eventually host the Oscars, but her ultimate comeback came in the form of her own talk show, and stay with me…The Ellen DeGeneres Show…the show has won a total of 25 Emmys…and DeGeneres continues to delight the masses, and me, with her rambling, yet clever sense of humor…in just a few weeks, Ellen will venture into new territory, as a judge on American Idol…I’m very excited, but maybe just a tad cynical…I don’t like it when hit shows, although Idol has not raked in its usual ratings at least the last two seasons, shakes things up…don’t even get me started on The L Word…all in all, Ellen will be great and I hope she’s able to completely embrace her new role as a critic aka normal music buying person on the judging panel…and I’m very glad Ellen finally settled down and got married to actress Portia de Rossi…they are uber-cute together…
Ah, sweet love…later!