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Category Archives: Music

Best Original Song Nominees (90th Academy Awards)

The Oscars’ Best Original Song category is one that has gone through some serious shifts over the years. When the category began back in the mid 1930s there was no shortage of movie musicals to pull original songs from. It was one of the most popular genres at the box office through a few decades and even with the admonition against songs from Broadway musicals being imported to the screen and becoming eligible for the award, they always seemed to be able to fill out the category without too much trouble. After all, songwriting legends like Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin were still pumping out hits, and what better way to make sure people heard your great new song than to slap it into a movie? This was true to the point that if you’re someone who has seen lots of old movies you’ve probably stopped being surprised when a straight comedy or even drama stops abruptly to let somebody sing a song that might not have much to do with the rest of the movie.

While this emphasis on songs didn’t guarantee nominee classes stacked with classics, by comparison the number of truly legendary songs you find in those first few decades is pretty impressive. Consider 1936 in which “Pennies From Heaven” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” weren’t quite good enough to beat out “The Way You Look Tonight” or 1941 in which “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Baby Mine,” “Blues in the Night,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B” all lost out to Kern’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” Even through the fifties and sixties, more traditional type singers like Doris Day and Frank Sinatra popped up and helped to define an Oscar-winning song as one that might sit comfortably on the shelf alongside the great American songbook. But even a relatively conservative voting body like the Academy couldn’t completely ignore that there had been a definite change in what popular music meant by the late 1960s.
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The Top Albums Of 1998

Jeffthewildman reminisces about his favorite albums from 20 years ago.

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The Best Albums of 1988!

Because of the way the school year is split down the middle in December/January, the year of a person’s high school graduation can bring back contrasting memories. It’s a big transition time, and the confidence and security of a high school senior can give way to plenty of uncertainty for the following college freshman. This certainly was my experience in 1988, and most of the albums I’m about to recommend do reflect that surge of joy and tumult.

A quick glance at 1988’s singles charts leaves more of an impression of a pop culture world adrift in paper-thin sentimentality and low cartoonish sexuality. This general malaise was also evident as the nation responded to eight years of Reagan populism by shrugging and electing his Vice President, an eminently qualified man who somehow failed to inspire, or give off the impression that he actually wanted the job again after his initial four years were up. It was a world that was in dire need of something like Nirvana to shake itself out of its stupor, but was three years away from being ready. For the time being, individual spots of light on pop radio such as R.E.M., INXS, or U2 (“the Alphabet People” one of my friends used to say) had to suffice for those of us who hadn’t quite given up on top 40 yet. It’s instructive to note that one of the top hits of the year that has actually enjoyed a continued place in the spotlight, Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” has done so mostly as a joke due to its own clean-shaven cheesiness.

Yeah I was probably on the way to being pretty insufferable by the time 1988 was over – – but I had some excellent albums in my collection to show for it.
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Why’s It Remembered?: “All-Star”-Smash Mouth

JefftheWildman wonders why we still can’t get Smash Mouth’s “All Star” out of our heads.

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Why’s It Forgotten?: “Low” (Flo Rida)

JefftheWildman gets low with Flo Rida.

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Why’s it Forgotten? Crank That (Soulja Boy)

 

 

Kevthewriter cranks that Soulja Boy.

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Cheesetastic Classics: Rednex “Cotton Eye Joe”

This is how Europeans see Americans.

Jeffthewildman is bringing back Cheesetastic Classics with a look at a Swedish group that mixed a little country into their techno pop.  Are they two great tastes that taste great together?  The folksy Swedes had a novelty hit with their dance-mix version of the line-dance standard, Cotton Eyed Joe.  Where does their take on the song fit into the pantheon of cheese?  That’s for you readers to decide.

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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Vertigo

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

As a puzzle focused on movie posters, some of the chosen films or versions of their posters featured on it are not necessarily top notch. None of this can be said about the amazing poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological thriller, Vertigo. The great designer Saul Bass produced a wide array of promotional images for this Hitchcock masterpiece, but the above one sheet version has become one of the most famous and striking posters in film history.

However, Vertigo is much more than a great marketing campaign. The film was worked on by some of the legends of the art form, and it shows. Although the movie’s reputation had gained steadily over the years as film lovers continued to see it over and over, a dramatic million dollar restoration and re-release of Vertigo in 1996 allowed even larger numbers of people to fully appreciate the beauty of Hitchcock and company’s work on it. Despite mixed reviews on its initial release in 1958, it has become one of the standard members of any compiled list of the finest films ever made, and actually replaced the legendary Citizen Kane at the top of Sight & Sound’s 2012 critics list.

Join me below, and we’ll discuss this amazing poster and film. Oh, by the way, there will be enormous spoilers for the movie after the break, so if you haven’t seen Vertigo yet I’d recommend you go take care of that momentous lapse in judgement first and then come back and finish reading this article.
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A Very Disney Morning! – Daffy Does Disney

Come join my brother, sister-in-law and I for breakfast at Chef Mickey’s and the new Magic Kingdom entry. This past December I was at Disney Springs when I found out that Walt Disney World was discontinuing the Magic Kingdom’s welcome show and letting guests onto Main Street for the hour prior to the ‘official’ opening of the park that comes with its many attractions beginning operations for the day. I didn’t really get to experience this new routine during my April trip because every day I went to the Magic Kingdom was an extra magic hour day, which meant a couple of the park’s lands would be opening at the same time as the first guests entered (If you remember, I was a little confused about how this all would be handled). Meanwhile, the underwhelming new castle welcome show has made the rounds on the internet and has generally been met with shrugs. So what would a standard Magic Kingdom morning actually be like? You’ll have to watch to get that answer.

Daffy Does Disney – Happily Ever After!

Much like I’ve been doing over the past calendar year, I carried some lightweight cameras with me on my recent trip to Walt Disney World vacation over labor day weekend.
Unlike with my previous trips, the video I took while in Florida will be leaking out at a much more measured pace for a little while. This is mostly because I’m moving in just three days. For now, please enjoy this full video I captured of the relatively new fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom, called “Happily Ever After.” While I have nitpicks about there not being enough “classic” Disney material from the first 50 years of the company’s legendary animation output, the show is undeniably amazing, with fantastic visuals and some real emotional high points. It was one of the highlights of the trip.

Building My movie Posters Puzzle: A Night at the Opera

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Following last week’s inspection of the great transatlantic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, comes one of the most highly praised efforts of the even more famous American immigrant comedy team, the Marx Brothers. Although there were five different brothers who joined the act at different times, the three most well-known show off the true depth and versatility of their talents in A Night at the Opera, an expression of sheer unadulterated entertainment. As is often the case with comedy, it is difficult to write a lot about this movie specifically without risking taking the air out of it. I’ll cover some of the background for the production and the history of the brothers in general, but to get a real sense of the thing, you’ll want to search out A Night at the Opera for your own viewing pleasure. It is one of those movies that it is entirely possible to smile all the way through.
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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Another Fine Mess

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Here is another rather unique entry in this series. The stars of Another Fine Mess certainly are very deserving of their place among the greats of cinema. What makes it a little different from most of what we’ve seen so far though, is that this comedy is a short subject, lasting just over twenty-eight minutes. That the gags and beats in it are relatively well conceived and executed is not just due to the established proficiency of Laurel and Hardy themselves, but must also be attributed to the fact that the story and script had been tried out elsewhere a couple of times. First, it appeared as the stage play “Home From the Honeymoon,” and then a silent version was attempted by Laurel and Hardy themselves in their Duck Soup just three years earlier (Leo McCarey, who worked with the pair extensively while at Hal Roach productions would later use “Duck Soup” again as a title for a Marx Brothers movie). It should also be mentioned that the story was written by Stan Laurel’s own Father, Arthur J Jefferson.
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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: American Graffiti

In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Funny how powerful nostalgia can be, even when it’s not for something that’s directly your own. In the case of George Lucas’ 1973 film American Graffiti, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the characters themselves are pretty darned sentimental to begin with. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) and Steve (Ron Howard) are recent high school graduates on their last night at home before they’re supposed to fly away to college and the film as a whole serves as an inspection of transitions personally and societally. Set in 1962, this is a movie full of people who have not yet heard of The Beatles and are still playing out the routines and styles that had been established in the late 1950s. Enough so, that if you ask a bunch of people who haven’t seen the movie for a while, they probably think it’s set earlier than it is. Let’s investigate the unique sentimentality and nostalgia of a movie that was actually pretty revolutionary for its time.
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