Thursday, April 29, 2010

LISTS!


Anyone who knows me knows how much I like making lists. Whether it’s a “To Do” list or a grocery list or the list of names Rod and I made to figure out what to name our pup, lists are key. I also love it when magazines do lists and Rolling Stone is the master: “Top 500 Albums,” “Top 500 Songs,” “100 Greatest Guitarists,” etc. Love it! On the local side, 5280 (which is a popular Denver magazine) constantly publishes lists which is why I subscribe. Examples of their lists include: “The 25 Best Restaurants In Denver,” “205 Reasons To Love Denver” and of course their famous list of all lists, “Top Of The Town.”

Lists are great because they can be about anything, can include anything and can be as long or as short as you want. They can also spark all kinds of discussion about what’s too high on the list, too low or not on there at all.

For my first three lists in a series of what will most likely be many I have of course chosen to write about music. Shocking. So here it goes...

Top 10 BBQ/Pool Songs:

10) Aerosmith – Sedona Sunrise
9) Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child Of Mine
8) Led Zeppelin – Hey Hey What Can I Do
7) The Eagles – Take It Easy
6) Joe Cocker – Feelin’ Alright
5) Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved
4) DMB – Tripping Billies
3) Snoop Dog – Gin N’ Juice
2) Kid Rock – All Summer Long
1) Sublime – 40 oz. To Freedom


Top 10 Driving Songs:

10) KISS – Rock & Roll All Night
9) Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
8) Steve Miller Band – Take The Money And Run
7) Bruce Springsteen- Born To Run
6) ZZ Top – Cheap Sunglasses
5) John Mellencamp – Hurts So Good
4) Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
3) Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly
2) Van Halen – Panama
1) AC/DC – Highway To Hell


20 Songs I Can’t Live Without:

20) Carrie Underwood – Undo It
19) Prince – Little Red Corvette
18) Lynyrd Skynyrd – God & Guns
17) Jeff Bridges – Hold On You
16) Gretchen Wilson – Don’t Do Me No Good
15) Black Crowes – Twice As Hard
14) Sheryl Crow – Redemption Day
13) Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
12) Johnny Cash – Walk The Line
11) Van Halen – Unchained
10) Tom Petty – Mary Jane’s Last Dance
9) Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive
8) Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child Of Mine
7) AC/DC – Shoot To Thrill
6) Led Zeppelin – Hey Hey What Can I Do
5) Aerosmith – Sedona Sunrise
4) Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
3) Guns N’ Roses – Dust N’ Bones
2) AC/DC – Highway To Hell
1) Led Zeppelin – Ramble On

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Green Day Brings Rock and Roll to the Big Stage


Back in 1994, when I couldn’t stop listening to Green Day’s Dookie album, I can guarantee that I wasn’t thinking: Wow, this would make a great Broadway show. 10 years later, Green Day released American Idiot, a rock opera album that is a nod to The Who’s Tommy and numerous other musicals. A few days ago American Idiot the musical opened on Broadway. Yeah, that’s right. The punk rock band, which formed in 1987, is going to Broadway.

Green Day is made up of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool. It can be argued that Green Day, along with The Offspring, brought back punk after the forefathers, The Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, started it all.

Thinking about buying tickets? Here’s the premise: American Idiot follows the exhilarating journey of a new generation of young Americans as they search for meaning in a post-9/11 world, borne along by Green Day's electrifying score. With a cast of 19 led by Tony Award-winner John Gallagher, Jr., the musical tells the story of three lifelong friends as one takes off for a life in the city, one leaves home to fight for his country and one stays behind, frozen in the safety of suburbia.

Green Day won two Grammy Awards for American Idiot. The album has sold over 14 million copies worldwide since its release, including 267,000 copies in its opening week. Now the band joins up with one of the theatre's most acclaimed creative teams: Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, two-time Tony Award-winning composer and orchestrator Tom Kitt and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, to bring their story to the stage.

So what does this mean for the future of rock operas? Will other bands follow in Green Day’s three-chord footsteps and make concept albums that can be translated to Broadway? Will they continue to surprise us like when Green Day released a ballad out of nowhere? Think about it: 1997’s inescapable “Good Riddance [Time Of Your Life]” became the go-to song for graduations, farewell parties, bar mitzvahs, etc. Who could have seen that coming?

Either way there is a lot to be said for a band that has continued to turn out hit after hit and album after album for several decades, while always coming up with something new but still staying true to their sound. They’ve already earned several Grammys and now they are the exciting new thing on Broadway. What will this California punk trio come up with next?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Music Award Show You Probably Missed


Although country music is the most popular radio genre in the United States, it’s probably the least talked about. Because pop stars, rock stars and hip hop artists are always making headlines for being scantily clad or on drugs or for pulling guns in clubs, country singers don’t usually get much press. Outlaw country artists like Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson may have been the exceptions but normally country music singers are not front page news. But over the last few years things have changed.

Let’s go back to a previous decade for a minute: Garth Brooks was the king of country in the 1990s, breaking records for both sales and concert attendance. He is still the best-selling albums artist in the United States, a title he has held since 1991, and he is well over 7 million ahead of his nearest rival, The Beatles. Brooks was as country as you could get with his cowboy hat, boots, black and white outfits and staple songs like “Friends In Low Places” and “Rodeo.” He was old school but he had fans of all ages and still does.

Since 2000, other artists have brought country music to the mainstream without selling out. The Dixie Chicks are a great example along with Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Gretchen Wilson, Faith Hill and Keith Urban. After Carrie Underwood won American Idol in 2005 she started a whole new genre – Pop Country. Her voice is incredibly strong and she is very likable. She turns out hit after hit (i.e. “Before He Cheats” and “Last Name”) and her performances are always stellar. In short, she is a marketing dream come true. Other country acts that have made the genre more exciting are Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and most recently Lady Antebellum. You’ll still see cowboy hats and boots but the rest of the style is more recent, more relevant and honestly, a little more rock and roll. As a result, country artists are becoming more relatable and people are noticing.

Last night the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards show was on television and most likely you missed it. Maybe it’s because this award show doesn’t get the hype the Grammy’s or the MTV Video Music Awards do or maybe it’s because country music still isn’t as popular as it should be. The usual suspects performed – Underwood, Paisley, Lambert, McGraw etc. and they were all great. Not one screw up, no flubbing lines, no rappers coming up to steal the show. Reba McEntire, who at 55 years old looks unbelievably good, was the host and she performed. Country legends Brooks & Dunn had their final performance on the show when they sang “My Maria,” the song fans voted for online. Despite some technical difficulties with their microphone, their voices sounded great. In fact, it seems that country artists, no matter how long they have been singing, never lose their voices. Maybe it’s because they don’t use them to brag about how many records they’ve sold or when their next album drops like some other people in the music business. Former Hootie & the Blowfish front man Darius Rucker (yeah he’s a country singer now and he’s awesome) closed the show with another amazing performance.

Hopefully country music will continue to attract new blood and will continue to gain recognition. There’s a lot to be said for artists who know their genre, know their fans, can sing and play their instruments without question and who can get a crowd on their feet. Here’s to a future that brings us more great music without the drama.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mile High Music Festival 2010


After taking 2009 off from Mile High Music Festival (MHMF) apparently this year I’m going again! Thanks Mom! You’re the best!

The inaugural year of MHMF (2008) had its positives and negatives:

Positives:

-The lineup was awesome – Tom Petty, Black Crowes, Dave Matthews Band and even though I don’t really like him, John Mayer.
-Denver finally had its very own music festival – suck it Bonnaroo!
-It was sunny both days!

Negatives:

-The two-day festival took place in July on the two HOTTEST days of the summer in Denver. Instead of having a few beers and getting some sun all we wanted to do was sit by a Budweiser truck to keep cool rather than walk across the field to see some of the less well-known bands.
-The days were really long and there was no re-entry allowed.
-John Mayer sucks.

In 2009 everyone (myself included) was excited to see the MHMF lineup until we found out that the headliners were going to be Widespread Panic (the jammiest jam band that ever jammed) and Tool (a band whose sound I describe as rage rock because they scream instead of sing and it makes their nutjob audience want to mosh and kill each other).

I’m assuming promoter Chuck Morris and the rest of the powers that be were trying to appeal to a wide audience but I knew this wasn’t going to go well because these bands (and subsequently their fans) are just too different. And I was right. Sales suffered big time – they sold 90,000 tickets in 2008 but only sold about 65,000 tickets in 2009.

But I predict that things are about to get better for Morris and company. With the return of Dave Matthews Band to the 2010 lineup along with other headliners that include heavy hitters like Steve Miller Band and Jack Johnson, I think the masses will show up again like they did in 2008. I’ve been lucky enough to see DMB and Jack Johnson several times before so I’m the most excited to see Steve Miller Band. I’m also looking forward to seeing Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Weezer, Atmosphere, Jimmy Cliff (recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Train and Z-Trip (who I haven’t seen since the 2004 X-Games where I was mesmerized by his ability to mix hip hop with rock classics like Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”).

I’m hoping that this summer will prove to be the best MHMF to date. Thanks again Mom!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Justified: Is This Show Outlaw Enough For FX?


Has anyone seen the newest ballsy television show on FX called Justified? It stars Timothy Olyphant (Live Free Or Die Hard, Deadwood, Gone In Sixty Seconds) as a gun-slinging, old school cowboy-looking U.S. Marshal who is transferred to his hometown in Kentucky after shooting a criminal at the Delano Hotel in Miami. As Raylan Givens, (that’s a cowboy name if I’ve ever heard one) Olyphant is as soft spoken as he is ruthless. He can calmly talk his way through almost anything and prides himself on being the quickest draw anywhere – and he can back it up for sure.

So far the first few episodes of Justified are mediocre at best but Olyphant is fantastic. With an ex-wife who calls him the angriest man she’s ever known and a father who is no stranger to jail, Givens plays it cool wherever he goes. He is becoming more and more interesting as time goes on, but unfortunately I can’t say the same about the rest of the drama unfolding around him. The storylines are forgettable and the other characters aren’t nearly as enigmatic and charismatic as Givens which begs the question: Is this show going to be as good as other FX shows like Sons of Anarchy or Rescue Me or is it going to be a subpar wannabe?

Sons of Anarchy (a show based around a badass motorcycle club) and Rescue Me (I’ve written about this one before – it’s about the FDNY and features Denis Leary) are exciting shows with intricate characters and superb acting. So far all that’s keeping me watching Justified is our resident cowboy – and that’s not going to be enough. Givens’ boss is kind of fun with his snarky comments and jokes about how Raylan thinks he’s John Wayne and I am definitely interested in learning more about his ex-wife and meeting his father. But the other characters need to step it up if this show is going to stay on the air.

We’ll see how it goes….hopefully the show gathers steam as the weeks go by because I’ll always make room on my DVR for another gun-slinging cowboy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

90210 and Melrose Place



I know I’m going to catch a ton of shit for this blog post but here it goes…

I was a huge fan of Beverly Hills 90210 back in its 90s heyday. And I still am. That show was the quintessential 90s show – from the clothes to Brandon and Dylan’s sideburns. It was awesome. In 2008, a remake of the original Aaron Spelling show debuted on the CW and I was very curious and excited to see what they were going to do. They paid tribute to the original with a slightly different version of the famous theme song, an updated version of the Peach Pit and one of the main characters of the new show is original cast member Kelly Taylor’s (Jennie Garth) younger sister Erin Silver (Jessica Stroup).

The first season featured the return of a few original 90210 cast members including Kelly, Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and Donna (Tori Spelling) which I was very excited about! It has a similar premise (a family moves to Beverly Hills from the Midwest) and of course is still about a bunch of kids living in a wealthy area who encounter all kinds of issues including romance, drugs and the hardships of living la vida privileged.

Although having some of the original cast members was a good draw – it definitely got me watching – unfortunately they weren’t given interesting storylines so they have pretty much been written out of the show to make way for the version 2.0 cast of characters. While I do miss the vets, I have to admit that focusing on the new characters has made the show better.

While the new characters (and the new show in general) are not nearly as appealing to me as the original (I think I miss Brandon and Dylan the most) there are some high points. For example in the most recent episode, the three main girls on the show, Silver (Stroup), Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes) and Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) have an extremely mature discussion about whether or not Adrianna is gay. In fact it was the most mature conversation about sexual orientation I’ve ever seen on a teen show. It was shocking.

This show is definitely nowhere near as good as the original but what sequels are? I do miss Brenda, Dylan, Kelly and Brandon but I don’t miss the 90s cheesiness. Bring on the cell phones and the Facebook references. The 90210 of 2010 is holding its own for now.

Another iconic 90s show that has gotten a reboot is Melrose Place – it happened in 2009, one year after 90210’s reboot. This was the show that made Heather Locklear famous for being the baddest, blondest superbitch on television. The new version of Melrose features juicy new characters while integrating some of the 90s vets such as Amanda Woodward (Locklear) and Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro). While 90210 didn’t handle its veterans with care, Melrose definitely is. Both Amanda and Michael are major role players in the show and there have been significant guest appearances by Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton), Jane Andrews (Josie Bissett) and Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga). I am still hoping that Jake (Grant Show) shows up on his motorcycle. Yeah, I said it.

The first season of the new Melrose Place took all my strength to watch but the second season is much better and much juicier. Katie Cassidy’s Ella Simms and Shaun Sipos’s David Breck are my two favorite and they definitely get the best lines. Also, great call by the producers when they kicked Ashlee Simpson-Wentz off the show. She is the worst actress I’ve ever seen and it would have been impossible for her to be more annoying.

Either way, if you’re going to reboot a show and feature some of the original cast members their storylines better be good and they better make sense. If they do then it makes for great television and if they don’t then it feels like one big gimmick. And that is no way to treat iconic 90s dramas!