Romy Shiller

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Whitney Houston

In Music on February 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ivtcelIo0

A commentary

I was trying to figure out why I was SO sad hearing about Whitney Houston’s death.Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American recording artist, actress, producer, and model… Her awards include 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards in her lifetime. Houston was also one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.

Houston’s body was found by a member of her entourage in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Saturday afternoon. She had been due to attend a pre-Grammy awards party at the hotel hosted by Clive Davis, the record producer and music industry executive credited with discovering her in a New York nightclub in 1983. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she was pronounced dead at 3.55pm.

Look, I made jokes about her dysfunctional ways and although her songs are not my style and I’ve never seen her in concert, there was never in my mind a doubt that she had a phenomenal voice. I watch the television show, American Idol, and the judges often warn the contestants not to attempt a Whitney Houston song because a comparison would ensue and be unfair. Pop-culture is my thing. Yes, in addition to many things she is a pop-culture icon.

I remember Houston’s first acting role as the star of the film The Bodyguard (1992). The film‘s original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single “I Will Always Love You” [With “I Will Always Love You” Houston recorded a defining song of the decade, one that meshed her soulful chops, extraordinary voice, and the R&B-inflected mainstream appeal that had already made her a breakout star across genre lines. ], became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. With the album, Houston became the first act (solo or group, male or female) to sell more than a million copies of an album within a single week period. The album makes her the only female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston continued to star in movies and contribute to their soundtracks, including the films Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album in history.

I just want to mention that many films and fairytales have a similar formula as The Bodyguard. In Titanic the rich girl falls for the poor boy. In Beauty and the Beast the beauty falls for the beast. In The Bodyguard the famous singer falls for her unfamous paid-protector. You get the point.

Despite having acted in only a handful of movies before her death on Saturday at the age of 48, Whitney Houston left a lasting legacy with the few film projects she did release during her reign as arguably the best-known female pop singer of her generation. 1995′s Waiting to Exhale earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination, and 1996′s The Preacher’s Wife won her the award (and made her the highest-earning African American actress in Hollywood at the time); this year’s Sparkle [The late singer was due to make an acting comeback in a remake of the 1976 film inspired by the Supremes ] was set to be Houston’s comeback after a well-documented and public period of substance abuse and personal decline.

Whitney Houston was one of the background music scores to my life. I know her songs; they are recognizable like she was. Her stuff reminded me of a different time and her loss reminded me that, that time had passed. I think her death was about many, many things for me. Of course the greatest loss is of the person.

Corey Tut

In Music on August 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

All women do have a different sense of sexuality, or sense of fun, or sense of like what’s sexy or cool or tough.

 Angelina Jolie

I was wondering whether or not to write about New York City-based singer, guitarist, and songwriter Corey Tut (30ish). First of all, he is the most amazing eye-candy I have ever seen.  Could I be objective enough?  Did it matter if he could sing? I could just stare at his pictures. He is an uber-package though. He has looks, talent and drive. I have no doubt at all that he will be very successful.

Corey released “Aural Fix” in 2002, and an EP “Til Now” in 2004. “Everything” was released in 2008, and he is currently working on a new album, hopefully to be released later this year. His songs are often featured on the CW channel’s ‘Life Unexpected.’   He did a cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ that was a big hit on Youtube and was in The Hype Machine (The Hype Machine is the holy grail of music blogs.  They compile the best and/or most blogged songs from around the world.) He wants “to make a big rock record that I could take on the road with songs that would allow me to put on a really dynamic show,” Tut says. “I love being on stage and throwing out different energies and really taking the crowd on a journey.  One of these days I’m going to do my sensitive singer-songwriter, mellow acoustic record,” he says with a laugh, “but this is not the time.” He has also done several radio jingles for Toyota, Papa John’s and Jiffy Lube among others.
I found out the following: He’s “very happily single. I’m married to my work right now.” His Favorite color is red or black, he’s a Sagittarius, his favorite movie is Happiness. *Sigh*. I think that I’m channeling Bridget Jones. “I’m gay, so a lot of the crowd at my shows are guys, but I do get quite a few women as well.” So, not surprising – even with all of that talent, he’s a hunk. Women (and gay men, of course) can and do, ogle freely. He enables a “female gaze” which is very rare and welcome. Even though idols enable a kind of adoration-frenzy, women’s desire in popular-culture fiction is usually punished. I like the combination of talent and looks in Corey Tut. For me, I get to experience lust and brain work. I’m such a third-wave Feminist! Or a big flirt. Can’t decide.

His influences include; Pink Floyd, Purple Rain-era Prince, Oasis, The Beatles, Pixies, Bill Withers, Jack White, U2, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Josh Homme, Radiohead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, R.E.M, Ray Charles, Spoon, Johnny Cash…. “this list could go on forever.” He’s a DJ as well, “I DJ a couple nights a week.  I started DJ’ing as a fluke, and before I knew it I was getting gig offers all over town.  The pay is good and the hours are flexible.  I can make my own schedule, so that allows me to really focus on my day job-my own music.”  Me and DJs – OMG.

His favorite movie star is Angelina Jolie. He made a film with her, “I met her on the set of “Gia” in LA years ago before she was really famous and she was very cool.  The only part of ME that made the movie was my bare ass in the Director’s Cut.  There is a scene where a close up of my ass cross fades to a close up of her face.  A friend of mine took a picture of it and mailed it to me as a post card.  It still hangs on my wall to this day,” Mmmm.

Corey loves performing Live; “There is nothing that can match that feeling of connecting with an audience in the moment with my words and music.  Seeing people dance or move or sing along to something I am creating in that very moment is the greatest feeling in the world.  For the most part, I have been doing acoustic shows over the past year or two and that has really brought out a new side in my writing and performing styles.  It has definitely brought more nuance to my performance. I have a much more intimate connection to my lyrics and my audience when I am up there alone with my guitar.  With a full band, it is has always been more about the overall sound and energy and getting the crowd going.  I am looking forward to putting a full line up back together once this new record is completed, and balancing those two approaches.”

Born in Champaign, Illinois, Corey Tut developed a craving for music growing up as a military brat in Fort Hood, Texas, and Rockford, Illinois.   He started writing songs on his grandmother’s piano, which he taught himself to play. “Then 10 years ago I picked up a guitar and that totally changed everything.”  Needing to broaden his horizons, Corey moved to New York City, kicking around the city’s rock and punk clubs like CBGB, Squeezebox!, and Coney Island High, soaking in the music and performing his own stuff. “You really have to find a balance here, but I have been here most of my life.  I moved around a lot as a kid, and it was the first place I lived that ever felt like home, and I stayed.  I’ve tried LA twice for work, but always came back to NYC.”

He goes on to say, “Then a few years ago, I went through a major upheaval. I had to shed a lot of darkness and start from scratch. That’s what everything is about. I just felt like I needed to get rid of the negative stuff that was around me. Writing the songs on the album was a very cathartic process.”
The New York Daily News says, “Tut draws from pop, rock, and punk influences to deliver a unique performance.” SoHo Journal states, “Finally something I can listen to has emerged from the abyss of pathetic, whining weirdo’s who inhabit the airwaves and all music television. This guy F’in rocks. Close the porn, log into iTunes and buy it NOW!” You don’t need to convince me.

Track List for “Everything”

  • 01 Someone Else’s Problem
  • 02 Right Where You Belong
  • 03 Everything
  • 04 Keeping Up With The Jones
  • 05 Wasted
  • 06 Way Back Home
  • 07 So What?
  • 08 Na Na
  • 09 Wayside
  • 10 My Favorite Memory
  • 11 Precious Time
  • 12 Not Leaving

If you wish to contact Corey Tut, feel free to email him at corey@coreytut.com.

website: http://coreytut.com/

UPDATE: His new video – August 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qkafefGVr0&feature=share

Lady Gaga’s Resistance

In Music on August 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

This is what I think Lady Gaga is doing with her new song Judas and the horns on her head. I think that she is taking a critical approach to the notion of demonization. The bible demonizes gay people and is used to justify prejudice and homophobia. As a spokesperson for gay-rights she is making the symbol for demonization, concrete. What she is doing is radical and dangerous. People resist challenge to a belief-system. I  can intellectualize what she’s doing but many cannot and believe that she is the devil incarnate. To take what she is doing at face-value  is to miss the point.

POP goes the TEEN

In 3rd Wave Feminism, Film, Music, review on July 14, 2011 at 8:27 am

(originally published June 29, 2009)

 

As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you. 

~ Fran Lebowitz

Simply skimming. Images of youth in popular culture. Not Toddlers and Tiaras (2009) about toddler beauty pageants, which makes me sick or the 20-something hot bods in the new Star Trek (2009), High School Musical is a Disney movie that tells the story of some high school students – Troy [Zac Efron], Gabriella [Vanessa Hudgens], Sharpay [Ashley Tisdale], Ryan [Lucas Grabeel], Chad [Corbin Bleu], Taylor [Monique Coleman] – as they audition for, and react to their friends auditioning for, their school’s Spring musical.”

I looked at all three High-School Musicals and the Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert films in addition to many others.  Briefly about Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: “The fictional pop star [Hannah Montana] was created in 2006 for a Disney Channel comedy series about an ordinary teenage girl leading a secret double life. Before long, the manufactured Hannah was very popular with genuine audiences, generating the onslaught of merchandising opportunities expected of a post-Lizzie McGuire hit.” (ultimatedisney.com). In Hannah Montana: The Movie Disney‘s tween sitcom hits the big screen, sending Miley and her dad back home to Tennessee.,…For those not yet in the know, Cyrus plays a fictionalized version of herself on the Disney Channel’s wildly popular series “Hannah Montana.” (Daily News)

In a very utopian way, I imagined things would change for kids. Not only was I wrong but so disappointed. The gender division is enormous. Boys play sports and are ridiculed for being artistic in the High School musicals. Someone discussing gender equity in high school sports on the internet said, “In high school, traditionally, boys’ sports are seen as important and girls’ aren’t. Example: In “High School Musical” the boy wins a sports game and everyone is freaking out but the girl wins an intellectual championship and no-one cares. This way of thinking is all over the country and has existed for as long as school sports. Recently, however, there have been lawsuits over giving equal time and facilities and funding to girls’ sports. Here in Michigan, some girls’ teams won the right to play basketball during the typical basketball season instead of during the boys’ offseason.” (Yahoo.com)

It is ironic because these films are predicated on singing and dancing yet the subject-matter finds these activities contentious.

The gender division has a metaphor; in the cafeteria the so-called “brainiacs” sit together, same with “surfer-dudes” and jocks. All sing about maintaining the status-quo while one from each group “confesses.” A “brainiac” likes rap, a “surfer-dude” plays the cello and wears a tie, and a male jock bakes. I wanted them to break the rules and escape the mold. No such luck even with confessions.

I watched the uber-delicious, Zac Efron  (born October 18, 1987, behave Romy!!) in  17 Again (2009), where like in High School Musical 1, 2 and 3 he plays basketball in High School. “Zac Ephron — the David Cassidy of the 21st Century — makes his grown-up movie breakout in 17 Again, a movie about a middle-aged guy who’s disappointed in his life and magically becomes young again so he can return to high school and make things right.” (DOSE.ca)

In High School Musical the following dialog takes place:

Chad: Have you ever seen Michael Crawford on a cereal box?

Troy: Who’s Michael Crawford?

Chad: Exactly my point! He was the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Now my mom, she’s seen that musical twenty-seven times. And she put Michael Crawford’s picture in our refrigerator. Yeah, not on it, in it. So my point is, if you play basketball, you’re gonna end up on a cereal box. If you sing in musicals, you’re gonna end up in my mom’s refrigerator.

 

We need to validate how fabulous it is for young men to enjoy musicals and for young women to play sports. The divisions we have created are damaging and false. There is a spectrum for femininity and masculinity. Sports do not automatically belong to males and musicals – females. You do not have to be a gay male to like musicals or a gay female to like sports. One can be gay but these activities do not define sexual preference.

“We now must talk about Zac Efron, whom we meet in the first scene [17 Again] as Mike, a high school basketball star in 1989, shooting hoops with no shirt on and preening in the manner of both a high school athlete and a movie actor who is painfully aware of his own appeal: hey everyone, I’m acting. Nice pecs, huh?” (DOSE.ca) It is so hard to watch him as an actor when his celebrity status and gorgeousness is so foregrounded. Certainly he can act, but who cares?

I want to discuss sexuality. Teenagers have sex. “The sexual activity took place at a number of places. And probably the two most common places for sexual activity to take place were either at the home of one of the adolescents. A lot of the adolescents had parents who worked, were at home alone, had parents who put in 40, 60, 80 hour work weeks…,” noted Claire Sterk. (SoundVision.com) Many of the images portrayed try to contain sexuality.

Miley Cyrus  has commented on the sexual Vanity Fair pictures taken by famed photographer Annie Lebovitz, “The photos, appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, were taken by Leibovitz, a renowned celebrity photographer whose edgy, silver-toned portraits have included subjects such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore.”Lebovitz said, “I’m sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted,” Leibovitz made a statement released by Vanity Fair. “Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful.” (FoxNews.com) Sirus said, “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.” (FoxNews.com). Get over it, I say.

CBN.com claims, “Some say High School Musical is the young generation’s Grease. With a G-rating, it is definitely a much cleaner version of high school love illustrated through catchy songs and cool choreography.” The image Disney seems to want to portray is of teenagers being mega-clean cut. All three High School Musicals and the Hannah Montana brand are squeaky clean: “The Disney Channel, which airs Cyrus’ TV show “Hannah Montana,” was also critical of Vanity Fair.” [A] situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines,” (FoxNews.com).Oy and a half.

The emergence of chastity rings speaks to an emphasis on abstinence;

“Selena Gomez (from Wizards of Waverly Place) and Demi Lovato (from Camp Rock) posted a Q&A vlog on youtube and talk about purity rings, being in love with Shia Labeouf/William Beckett, and stuff. oh and then they sing Hannah Montana.” (LiveJournal)

“The Jonas Brothers are an American pop boy band. The band gained their popularity from the Disney Channel children’s television network. Hailing from Wyckoff, New Jersey, the band consists of three brothers: Kevin Jonas, Joe Jonas, and Nick Jonas. In the summer of 2008, they starred in the Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock. They have released three albums.” (Wikipedia) The extremely popular boy group   have joined the band-wagon;

“The Jonas Brothers have vowed to abstain from sex until marriage.

The popular band of brothers wears purity rings as “promises to ourselves and to God that we’ll stay pure till marriage,” Joe, 18, tells Details magazine in their March issue.

The rings are “just one of our ways of kind of like being different than everybody else out there,” Nick says.

“I got mine made at Disney World,” Nick, 15 adds. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Oldest brother Kevin, 20, has a ring from Tiffany’s. “It’s pretty rock and roll,” Kevin tells the magazine. “It’s getting banged up a little bit because of the guitar.”

Though Nick tells Details that he loves the trio’s fans – the “screaming girls are awesome,” he says – the brothers have told Usmagazine.com they enjoy being single.” (Usmagazine.com) Yup. 

 “Miley Cyrus, 16, says she wants to keep her virginity until she marries, implying her 20-year-old good Christian boyfriend Justin Gaston’s dry spell may last another 10 years!” (SawfS News) Uh-huh. 

Is it too radical too suppose these kids could have education about STDs and have a healthy sex life? In the popular high school film Twilight (2008) the lead characters are in love but do not get it on because he is a vampire and is scared he might kill her. I am sensing a disturbing trend.

There is a gigantic market aimed at tweens and teenagers. “Rock & roll may never die, but you know it’s been eaten by the consumer culture when you see Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, in which the bouncy diva of prepubescent bubblegum pantomimes every rebel-yell gesture in history, all to exalt girl-power attitude as something you can acquire.” (EW.com)

Did you know that there is a website that markets to tween girls? It’s called “TV & Pop Culture Fan Gifts for Tween Girls.” Talk about getting them early on many levels. To be a tween girl, according to the branding on this website, is to buy into the following description of items: “Be A Star With High School Musical’s Games, Fashion Angels Crafty Kit, Totally Bananas Harajuku Perfumes, Beautify Your Bratz Dolls for Budding Fashionistas, Hip Disney Fashions for Girls, “The Princess Diaries” Books & DVDs…” (TV & Pop Culture Fan Gifts for Tween Girls) etc.

My impulse would be to show the power young girls have but I think that the gender stereotyping outweighs that. Undoubtedly, that the girls have buy-power is great. However, look at what they can buy. I personally love that stuff but I am fortunate – I can make an informed decision.

Images of teens in popular culture are problematic. The problems have an upside though. They often shed light on what needs to be fixed.

Bibliography

17 Again. Director, Burr Steers, Offspring Entertainment, 2009.

Camp Rock. Director, Matthew Diamond. Disney Channel. 2008.

CBN.com  <http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/screen/goodwyn_HSM3.aspx&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

Daily News <http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/2009/04/09/2009-04-09_miley_cyrus_hannah_montana.html&gt; Accessed May 4, 2009.

DOSE.ca <http://www.dose.ca/movies/story.html?id=1503103&gt; Accessed

May 4, 2009.

EW.com <http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20175074,00.html> Accessed May 4, 2009.

FoxNews.com <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,352800,00.html&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour.  Director, Bruce Hendricks. PACE. 2008.

Hannah Montana: The Movie. Director, Peter Chelsom. It’s a Laugh Productions. 2009.

High-School Musical. Director, Kenny Ortega. Disney Channel. 2006,

High School Musical 2. Director, Kenny Ortega. Walt Disney Pictures. 2007

High School Musical 3: Senior Year.  Director, Kenny Ortega. Borden and Rosenbush Entertainment. 2008. 

LiveJournal <http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/19969442.html&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

SawfS News. <http://news.sawf.org/Gossip/57899 aspx> Accessed

May 1, 2009.

SoundVision.com < http://www.soundvision.com/Info/teens/pbs.asp&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

Star Trek. Director, J.J. Abrams. Bad Robot. 2009.

The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com

The Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/

The Quote Garden. < http://www.quotegarden.com/teenagers.html&gt; Accessed May 2, 2009.

Toddlers and Tiaras.  Reality-TV. Authentic Entertainment. 2009.

TV & Pop Culture Fan Gifts for Tween Girls. Accessed May 4, 2009.

Twilight. Director, Catherine Hardwicke. Goldcrest Pictures. 2008.

ultimatedisney.com <http://www.ultimatedisney.com/hannahmiley.html&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

Usmagazine.com > Accessed May 1, 2009.

Vanity Fair. <http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2008/06/miley_slideshow200806?slide=1#globalNav&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

Yahoo.com <http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090211095834AAHiUu&gt; Accessed May 1, 2009.

Wikiquote <http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/High_School_Musical.&gt; Accessed

May 1, 2009.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_disparity_in_sexual_relationships&gt; Accessed May 2,  2009.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia Accessed May 6, 2009.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia 

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tween&gt; Accessed

May 1, 2009.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia 

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zac_Efron&gt; Accessed

May 6, 2009.

 

Lemmy

In Film, Music, review on July 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I was never a Motorhead fan – not because I thought they were bad but there was simply a lack of exposure. Heavy-metal musician Lemmy Kilmister is the lead singer of the band – an Icon. This film is a documentary about him. He is such a captivating character. He was presented as complex and layered. While apparently a bad-ass, he has a soft-spot for his son. I am a music junkie and I learned a thing or two here.