Wednesday, November 30, 2011

new favorite song

Why use this version someone put together with My Little Pony? Why not. (by they way... what the heck hast this generation done to My Little Pony?)

Monday, November 14, 2011

GLEE: "I Am Unicorn"

The title of this episode comes from a Brittany metaphor. She says that a unicorn is a pony who does a good deed and is rewarded with a horn. Then it poops out cotton candy until the horn falls off and it forgets it's magical. I don't know where she gets this stuff; it is certainly not in any unicorn lore I'm familiar with. It's not even My Little Pony stuff. She says she wants to help Kurt because he's the school's biggest unicorn, someone who "knows they're magical and isn't afraid to show it." I'm at a point where now I'm really concerned about Brittany and the show is not doing itself any favors by making her this naive and dumb. Either her parents should be brought up on child abuse charges, or the school should be reprimanded for failing at educating her. I did like though that we got to see a bit of her in class. This show has a history of forgetting that these kids actually have classes to go to.

We learn that Vocal Adrenaline did NOT win Nationals last year, but came in second. Their coach was fired, so Vocal Adrenaline may be vulnerable. For this reason, Mr. Schue says he needs to focus all their attention on glee club, and this means he cannot direct the musical. For this reason, the directing duties go to Emma and Coach Bieste, along with Artie as student director. In the meantime, Mr. Schue is instituting a "booty camp" for the kids to improve their dancing, and Mike Chang is helping him. It's about time! Their dancing has always been a weak, and if they really want to win these are the sort of things they need to do. If he got the Acafellas working, surely this will help. Mercedes however resents having to go to booty camp.

Annoying Miss Sugar got her rich daddy to give money to the school if they would hire Shelby Cochran (Rachel's mom) to coach a second glee club highlighting Sugar. This is bad for the school, but it's a way for the show to get back to the storylines of the first season. Season two went by with almost no word at all about Quinn's baby.

Quinn makes a deal with Sue to star in a propaganda video about how the arts ruined her life. Sue has convinced her that she was fine until she joined glee club. She goes to Mr. Schuster to tell him on camera that glee club ruined her life, but Schue gives her an earful. I like that he tells her off, and that they mention the time that she was living with Mercedes, which was ignored all last year. I guess her parents took her back. The biggest problem with the video scenes is that it makes Becky a joke again, carrying a boom mike in the shot. Meanwhile, she is missing her baby and doesn't like that Shelby is back. Shelby tells her that if she wants to be a part of Beth's life, then the new grungy Quinn has to go. Uh oh, just when I was starting to like new Quinn.

Brittany's plan for Kurt's campaign is lots of pink and glitter and rainbows that just screams gay. Kurt's idea is for something more understated, but frankly his poster is just as gay. It's gay in a different way, but still. Though for once it's nice for Kurt to not want to walk around with a sign saying that's he's "gay gay gay". After last year, I appreciate him wanting to be seen as more than that.

Auditions are fast approaching for West Side Story. Both Kurt and Blaine want to audition for Tony, which has Kurt very nervous. Rachel of course wants Maria. She was planning on auditioning with "I Feel Pretty", which shows just how dumb Rachel is. It's a fluffy song and doesn't showcase her range well, or what Maria is about. Furthermore, Sondheim is on record saying he dislikes his lyrics to it. Shelby suggests doing "Somewhere" instead. So Rachel tries it, and while it's a better song I think it is still not a great audition. The problem with "Somewhere" is that it's as much identifiable with Barbra Streisand as with West Side. And so Rachel falls back on her old standby of Barbra imitation. She sings it with her mother and it's far too bombastic and loses all the sense of the lyric. The song is about hope for love in a violent world and I don't get any of that from this performance. All I get is notes.

Puck visits Shelby at home and very much wants to be involved in his daughter's life. He even drew her a picture of a clown that looks more like a pig (actually it looks like a leprechaun in a bow tie). And again the state of the American education system is hinted at: on the top of the picture Puck wrote "Too Beth". The lack of spelling ability in high school students really saddens me. This is not an exaggeration; read my previous posts on the subject to prove it.

And now we come to Kurt's audition which is a strange blend of good and bad ideas. He performs on scaffolding, which allows him to be somewhat athletic, climbing and swinging. This is good if he wants to be Tony. And yet once again he chooses the wrong song. He may think lyrically it's right, but it's still a girl's song and he needs to prove himself masculine for once. The scaffolding did help, though at times it felt less gymnast and more pole dancer. Also, just to be picky, these bits make it clear that he's singing to a prerecorded track because it would be a lot harder to belt out those notes will upside down and all. I'd have preferred a vocal that was more authentic to this situation, and less clean. But he caps it off with some fantastic knife twirling, which I think was Chris Colfer's idea. That moment was really spectacular, and if he had chosen a different song then it really would have helped him. Or if he wanted to stick to his usual self, he should have sung "Maria" which would at least have suited his range, and been a song from the show.

This might be a good time to mention that for some time now I've thought it would be good for Kurt to sing They Might Be Giants' "How Can I Sing Like a Girl" on this show, because it fits him perfectly.

Kurt overhears the directors talking about him, and while Emma is in favor of him for Tony, Coach Bieste doesn't think he's "street" enough. So with this in his mind, Kurt flips out when he walks down the hall and sees Brittany has hung all of her glittery unicorn campaign posters. The last thing he wants now is to be seen as feminine. To counter this unfortunately, Kurt does the gayest thing he could possible do. He performs a scene from Romeo and Juliet with Rachel... in full Elizabethan dress. I mean, he does put on a nice gruff voice, but that doesn't stop it from eliciting giggles from the directors. Oh Kurt, why are so naive?

Quinn comes back to glee club all prettified again, with the pink washed out of her hair. We learn that she's doing it just for show in order to get custody of Beth back from Shelby. But even so, I miss troubled Quinn. Couldn't she have at least kept the nose ring? Even just a stud? I like nose studs. Oh well, there goes my favorite part of the season so far.

Ultimately, Kirk embraces Brittany's design elements for his posters, but by then Santana has convinced Brittany to run for president herself. And Kurt's got competition for Tony as well. Blaine auditions for the musical with the perfect Tony song, "Something's Coming" which he nails, of course. Blaine really is a perfect Tony. However, I will save my further opinions on casting choices for the next episode, when things get heated. Mercedes was wearing a shirt that said "Diva" in this episode, and that's going to prove true.

Not a bad episode, but a lot going on. There was barely any music in this episode!

Songs in tonight's episode:
Somewhere -- from West Side Story
I'm the Greatest Star -- from Funny Girl
Something's Coming -- from West Side Story

favorite line
Burt Hummel on Kurt: "Dude, you're gay. And not like Rock Hudson gay, really gay. You sing like Diana Ross and you dress like you own a magic chocolate factory."

Next Episode: Brittany's presidential campaign, Mike Chang in trouble with his parents, and the war of the Marias as both Rachel and Mercedes fight for the lead in the musical

GLEE: "The Purple Piano Project"

Time to finally catch up with these reviews. So... here's what I've missed on Glee!

Just like last year's premiere, Jacob Ben Israel's show opens the episode. It's a fun way to catch everyone up on what happened over the summer. It's also a way to address internet confusions. In this episode, it is clarified which kids are juniors and which are seniors. Mention is also made of Mercedes having dated Sam. Unfortunately, at the start of the season Sam is off the show. So his relationship with Mercedes is over. The in-show explanation is that his dad got a job out of state. Isn't that how he ended up on the show in the first place? I hope they aren't still homeless. Mercedes is now dating a big black football player. This was the direction they started going in last year, until the writers were more concerned with Kurt and almost entirely excluded Mercedes from story lines. In many ways watching season three begin feels like wiping away a lot of what was wrong with season 2, and bringing focus back to some of the elements of the first year.

Mr. Schuster is now seeing Emma. The season opens with them in bed together. Has she gotten over her frigid thing? I like the cute little element of them packing each other's lunches in cartoon lunchboxes.

Mr. Schue plans to push the club harder this year because he let them down last year. Yes, he did, but it's NOT because he wanted to be in April Rhodes' musical. He still could have done that over the summer, and I don't understand why he didn't. But just like last year, his big plan is to recruit new members with some stupid idea. This year, it's the Purple Piano Project. He's placing donated purple pianos around the school and whenever glee members see one, they have to sing a song. It's really a terrible idea, but even the episode doesn't take it seriously. Despite the fact that it's the name of the episode, it's once again and assignment on this show that gets dropped halfway through the episode.

Kurt and Rachel are planning to go to Juliard, probably because they've seen Fame a few too many times. But Emma informs them that Juliard has no musical theater department. She suggests Kent State, saying it has a musical theater department and a "macabre backstory" which can put things in perspective if they don't get the lead. I found that pretty funny. I know it's sick, but I always laugh at Kent State jokes. So now the plan is for them to go to NYADA: New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts.

I'm glad they've continued the story about Sue running for congress. Unfortunately, she thinks the best way to get ahead is to trash the arts. It feels artificial to me, just as a way to get Sue back on the mean side. Oh, and her purple track suit seems too obviously tied in to the theme of the show.

Strike one for the Purple Piano Project: Mike and Tina come on a piano, but don't sing. They play "Chopsticks".

By far my favorite element of the new season in this episode is burnout Quinn. She's become so jaded and cynical she feels the need to totally reinvent herself. She now has pink hair, a nose ring, and hangs out with other burnout girls called the Skanks. This tranformation makes perfect sense to me. After losing yet again and no longer having her cool or her power, swinging the other way seems understandable. And the embarrassment she suffered during the prom queen campaign surely didn't help. Here's a girl who tried so hard to reinvent herself; Quinn the cheerleader was an affectation to a point. So a new affectation is exactly what she would do, and why not embrace a philosophy of total indifference? People like that are often more accepting of other "different" people. The Skanks hang out and smoke under the bleachers. This reminded me a lot of Freaks and Geeks, and was a part of the high school experience this show was missing. I'm surprised the network let them show lead characters smoking on television. It's a shame that some of the Skanks look a little too pretty to really be these kinds of people. Like, Mack seems too made-up to me.

Rachel says she should have spoken up last year when Quinn cut off all her hair and thought it would solve all her problems. Thank you, Rachel! Didn't I say this last year?

Mr. Schuster says that he's thinking of starting a family with Emma. That's not fair to Terri! Remember when she had that hysterical pregnancy?? I hate the way the show treated Terri. She deserved better. I dislike television that breaks up marriages.

Sue decides to make Santana and Becky co-captains of the Cheerios. Both of them hate this idea. I like that this is getting back to treating Becky like a regular person, and not exploiting her for comedy.

For some reason, the glee kids have rehearsed a number to sing for recruitment in the event of a purple piano being around. This seems to defeat the purpose of the piano in the first place, doesn't it? I mean, this is really just what they did with "Empire State of Mind" last year. So that's strike two for the Purple Piano Project. The band is there and everything!!

The choice of song is The Go-Go's "We Got the Beat", which is a great choice of song. I hope they keep doing older songs. There was way too much contemporary garbage last year. However, this whole scene is utterly ridiculous. They are dancing around in the cafeteria on tables and everything and people barely react! They get through the entire song before a food fight breaks out. And take it from me, you can't just burst into song in a school cafeteria without faculty yelling at you or something. Again, the song was a good choice and sounded pretty good, but why the band? I want something like this to actually feel spontaneous for once! Wouldn't it have been interesting to NOT have it be an overproduced album track, but just be the kids getting up and singing, getting others into it? That's what the piano thing would have been good for. Instead, it was just an excuse to do an entire routine in the cafeteria and was hard once again for me to suspend my disbelief.

And in comes a new character who I hate. Her name is Sugar Motta, the daughter of the guy who donated the pianos. She auditions for glee club thinking that she's better than everyone. She also claims to have self-diagnosed Asperger's, giving her free reign to say anything insulting she wants. Anyway, she's a TERRIBLE singer, and just a bad human being. Mr. Schue is stuck wondering whether it's worth letting her into the group. She doesn't realize how bad she is; she's delusional. And I frankly hate the Asperger's thing being thrown around. It's insulting to Aspies, I think.

Strike three for the Purple Piano Project: it was supposed to be that you sang when you came upon one randomly. Kurt purposely puts one in the auditorium so he and Rachel can sing together. And the whole band is there waiting for them. Is anyone going to actually do the assignment?? The point was to get other kids interested in singing, not to just sing by yourself for fun. Anyway, Rachel and Kurt do a truly ABYSMAL big band version of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" for no good reason. They think THIS nonsense is going get them into NYATA? It ruins the song, making it sound even sillier than it does normally. Can they please leave Oz alone now?

Mr. Schuster somehow thinks that sinking to Sue's level is a good idea, so he crashes her Cheerios tryouts and covers her in glitter while Emma films it all. He puts it on YouTube, but it only helps Sue's cause. Duh, you moron. It makes you look like the bad guy.

Blaine has decided to go to McKinley and join New Directions. Well of course he did. Come on, you think that wasn't gonna happen? But can I just ask why he's always wearing bow ties? He's wearing one with a polo shirt today. That's not gay, that's just ridiculous.

Blaine also does his own little song in the courtyard. There's a purple piano there, but I'm not sure it's the reason for the song. Again, the whole band is there. And for some crazy reason, the cheerleaders are dancing with him. Ultimately it seems it was a trick, because then they coat the piano in lighter fluid. But until then I could not understand why the cheerleaders were performing with him. I mean, I do miss some of the first season choreography that had cheerleaders in it, but there needs to be a reason for it. Quinn flicks her cigarette and it ignites the piano. Luckily there was no one sitting at the piano at the time.

Kurt and Rachel go to a meet-and-greet of other potential NYATA kids. And these kids are insane. Like Kurt and Rachel turned up to eleven. And of course they are totally better than Kurt and Rachel. They do a performance of "Anything Goes" mashed up with "Anything You Can Do". Certainly that lyric is appropriate for the scene, and it's nice to finally see some tap on this show. Now, I'm not certain the two songs really go together besides the word "anything", but it was surely better than their ridiculous Oz thing.

I love when Rachel suggests its time to resign themselves to a miserable life of community theater and rattles off three shows, Nunsense, Love Letters and The Vagina Monologues. It's funny because that's so true.

Mr. Schuster kicks Santana out of glee club because of the piano fire that the cheerleaders were responsible for. Harsh, but understandable. I guess that they want to make the cheerleaders bad guys again.

Kurt and Rachel decide they need more extracurriculars, so Kurt is running for class president. Meanwhile Rachel suggests they do West Side Story for the school musical. It does seem like this school never gets a musical done, which is odd. Though school musicals are usually in the spring, unless the school does two. Also, they've had a very bad track record on this show of confusing the movie with the stage show, so I go into this West Side Story thing with much trepidation.

The purple piano ultimately didn't work. They tried to make the pianos a metaphor for the kids at the end, but it all feels weird and forced. The episode ends with with a big performance of "You Can't Stop the Beat", which at least continues the "beat" theme from the Go-Gos number. And everyone is in purple. Why? Because this episode has a purple theme for no apparent reason. It was good to see the show trying to fix the problems of last year, but this episode was something of a lackluster premiere. Ultimately, last year's premiere was stronger. They have yet to fix the underlying problem with the series when they try to do to many things at once and the supposed "theme assignment" of the week takes a back seat. Still, I'm liking grungy Quinn, and I hope this season is good.

Song's in tonight's episode:
We Got the Beat -- the Go-Gos
Big Spender -- from Sweet Charity
Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead -- from The Wizard of Oz
It's Not Unusual -- Tom Jones
Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do -- from Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun
You Can't Stop the Beat -- from Hairspray

Favorite line:
Brittany: "I have pepperoni in my bra."
Santana: "Those are your nipples."

Next episode: Brittany is Kurt's campaign manager. That should be interesting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Another catchy song

First of all, yes I know that five episodes of Glee have aired and I haven't written anything about them. I have a LOT to say, but will do so when I have time. Just posting about one episode can take two hours. And when they get written, they will be done as if I haven't seen the episodes that follow. I will try to make them reflect my thoughts on first viewing.

But another thread on this blog that I have neglected is my list of silly, catchy, annoying songs that run through my head sometimes that I love. This was intended to be a fairly regular series, and I got lazy. These will all be songs that I love and don't mind humming in my head over and over, even if others find them frustratingly annoying. Previous songs mentioned were the pickle song from Dr. Seuss' Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?, the theme from The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, and Sesame Street's Captain Vegetable.

Tonight for some reason I was reminded of an episode of Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers. This animated series was made by Disney when I was in grade school and was a staple of the "Disney Afternoon". Few realize however that it premiered on the Disney Channel. It used to air on Sunday mornings so I couldn't watch it, but when I had chicken pox I got to stay home from church and watch it. That first episode I saw was when Dale fakes having a broken toe. Funnily enough, for my birthday a couple years later I got that episode on VHS tape.

But the episode I'm thinking of right now is "The Case of the Cola Cult". It was a favorite episode of mine, but rather a strange one. The Rescue Rangers stumble upon a cult of mice who worship soda. They shower in it. And they flush away their worldly possessions in a bucket of soda while the company's television commercial plays. It turns out that they are being conned, and when their possessions are "fizzed" they are really being stolen by people in charge. Pretty heavy stuff for a kids' cartoon. But that commercial's jingle is so darn catchy. So here is my song choice for the night. You tell me it doesn't make you want Coo-Coo Cola.

Hope that gets stuck in your head all day. Come along! You belong! Feel the fizz!