Posts Tagged ‘Josh Groban’

My Favorite Albums of 2013

Last week, I recapped my favorite albums of 2010 (“Night Work” by the Scissor Sisters), 2011 (“Femme Fatale” by Britney Spears) and 2012 (“MDNA” by Madonna).

Now it’s time to share my favorite albums of 2013.

20

LAURA PAUSINI

“20 GRANDES EXITOS”

20-Grandes-Éxitos-Laura-Pausini

19

DEPECHE MODE

“DELTA MACHINE”

Depeche-Mode-Delta-Machine-Album-Art-mala-1024x997

18

MARY J. BLIGE

“A MARY CHRISTMAS”

Mary-J.-Blige-A-Mary-Christmas-

17

ELI LIEB

“ELI LIEB”

eli_lieb

16

JOSH GROBAN

“ALL THAT ECHOES”

All_That_Echoes

15

MICHAEL BUBLE

“TO BE LOVED”

Michael Buble To Be Loved

14

ROBYN

“BODY TALK”

Since I was three year late to the bus on this one, here’s a bonus just in case you missed it, too.

13

EMELI SANDE

“OUR VERSION OF EVENTS”

Emeli Sande

12

ZEDD

“CLARITY”

zedd-clarity

11

AVICII

“TRUE”

Avicii True

On Thursday, I’ll have the Top Ten since I have a special Christmas letter for you tomorrow.

Anthony

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Does Josh Groban’s “All That Echoes” Illuminate?

I saw operatic singer/songwriter Josh Groban  in concert when he played in Moline, Illinois, in May 2011.  Now that he’s back with a brand new album, “All That Echoes”, I hope that when the concert dates to promote the album are announced, he plays here again!

Josh Groban Moline 5282011

Groban has sold more than 17 million albums in the United States since his debut just over a decade ago.  While he’s enjoyed much success with his first five albums, his biggest Hot 100 song, “The Prayer”, a duet with Celine Dion, only peaked at #70 in 2008.

However, the soon-to-be 32-year-old crooner (his birthday is two weeks from today, February 27th) has already had 16 Top 40 hits on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts with 7 of those reaching the Top Ten, and five of them topping the charts:  “To Where You Are” (2002), “O Holy Night” (2002), “You Raise Me Up” (2004), “Believe” (2004), and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (2007).

All_That_Echoes

When the new Billboard album chart was released this morning, as I expected,  “All That Echoes” became his third #1 album selling 145,000 copies in its first week.  All five of his previous albums debuted in the Top Ten with two of them topping the album chart.

His last album, “Illuminations”, released in 2010, was my sixth favorite album that year.  But, it’s also his only studio album that did not go double platinum (sales of two million or more).  Three of his previous albums sold more than five million copies each in the U.S.  Overall, Groban has sold more than 21 million albums in the U.S. alone.

“Brave”, the first release from “All That Echoes”, is already in the Top 20 on the adult contemporary radio airplay charts.  It’s a very solid song that showcases Groban’s amazing voice.

Recently, Josh performed many of the songs from the new album on the Home Shopping Network and I’ll feature the videos from that concert performance.  So, on some of them, you might have to skip ahead if you don’t want to listen to the banter with the show’s hosts.

Almost all music outlets are selling a 12-song collection, but I bought my CD from Target and it featured four exclusive bonus tracks.  With just the first few listens, my favorite of the exclusive tracks, by far, is “Changing Colours”.

While most of the songs are originals written and composed by Groban, there are a few remakes.  Also, there are two duets including one with Laura Pausini, an Italian singer.  I love Laura Pausini and since many in America still don’t know who she is, I’ll showcase one of my favorite songs of hers at the bottom of this review and blog.

One of the remakes that I absolutely love is “Falling Slowly”, an 2007 Oscar winner for “Best Original Song” from the movie, “Once”.

Another of the remakes that I adore is “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)”.  This song was originally recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1972.  Since then, it has been recorded by Peter Frampton, Art Garfunkel, Mike+The Mechanics, Michael McDonald, and George Michael.

Since I mentioned that there are 16 songs on the expanded version that I bought, I can’t honestly say that I love all of the album on my first few listens.  Several of the songs will have to grow on me.

However, here are my other three favorites:

“The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” (I just love that song title!) is a song that has been recorded many times since 1974, but it has never charted as a single.  Some of the artists include Joe Cocker, Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez, and Michael Feinstein.

“Happy In my Heartache” is also a nice song.

And, my final favorite, after my first few listens, is “Below The Line, one of the few mid-tempo songs on “All That Echoes”.

Since the CD just came out last week, I can’t say how many of the songs will rank up there with such Groban classics as “You Raise Me Up”, “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up), “February Song”, and many selections from his last album, “Illuminations”.

Illuminations

On that disc, I loved “Bells of New York City”, “Hidden Away”, “If I Walk Away”, “Love Only Knows”, and “Você Existe em Mim”.  And, even though it was a Christmas album, “Noel” was pure perfection!

Josh Groban sounds amazing on “All That Echoes”.  However, he’s set the bar so high with his previous releases, it’s going to take me a few more listens for a few of the songs that I liked on the album to become loved songs.

GRADE: B

Laura Pausini Bonus!

While she is a huge international star, her only dent on the American chart was “Surrender”, a #1 Billboard Dance Club hit from 2002, from her only English CD, “From The Inside”, which I love.

Random Friday Thoughts — January 25, 2013

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope it’s a little warmer for you as you start your day and kick off your weekend.  We made it safely to Las Vegas yesterday.  Tonight looks rainy in Vegas, but it’s going to be mild today with highs 60-65°.  Here are my random thoughts for this Friday.

WHEN IN VEGAS

After getting situated in our room yesterday, we went and had a quick, cheap lunch buffet at the Palace Station and put some money in the slot machines.  I left $21 behind and Ray walked out with $45.  After a brief visit to the sauna, we walked to the strip.  We tried our luck again on the slots, I only lost $8 that time and Ray lost $30.

We watched the light show at Bellagio and decided to buy some cherry-flavored vodka for the hotel room.  But, we didn’t wait until we got back.  We bought sodas at Walgreen’s where we bought the vodka and just mixed us a drink for the walk back to the hotel. 🙂

Mixing Drinks

GOING GAGA

I’ll go ahead and get it out of the way.  Tonight is the Lady Gaga “Born This Way Ball Tour”.  I can’t wait to see it!  This has to be a special week for Gaga since she performed Tuesday for an Inauguration Ball for President Obama and then tonight for me! 🙂

In the first show to kick of the North American leg of “BTWBT”, she did have a wardrobe malfunction when her latex pants split in the back.  But, like a true professional, she kept right on performing.

Gaga Split Pants

Seriously, it’s Lady Gaga.  She’s used to wearing less than that, so this was nothing!

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Fix Me UpJesusIllinois Weather

ILLINOIS WEATHER IS CONFUSING MY…

While the official high this past Monday was 13° in the Quad Cities, that was deceiving.  That was the midnight temperature as the day started.  Temperature continued to drop and for most of the daytime hours, temperatures in the metro area ranged from 3° to 8°.  The overnight low dropped to -1°.  BRRRRR!

Before that, this winter has been relatively warm.  December 2012 saw temperatures that were 5.9° above average and thanks to highs in the 50s three days in January 2013 (11th, 12th, and 19th), as of this past Monday, temperatures in the Quad Cities were running 3.3° above average.  Obviously, that’s changed with the bitter cold early this week.

Nevertheless, the wacky warm weather of 2012 really has my poinsettias confused.  I didn’t think they were going to turn colors.  However, this week, they began popping with color.  I don’t have the heart to tell them that they were late for Christmas!

Poinsettia 1

NEW MUSIC THAT EXCITES ME

While I still have an undetermined wait for new releases from Britney, Gaga, Janet, and Cher, one of my favorite singers is now racing up the adult contemporary charts with his latest hit, “Brave”.

That is the lead off single from Josh Groban’s new album, “All That Echoes”, that comes out February 5, 2013.

All_That_Echoes

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

This Christmas, Ray and Tammy bought me a stereo system with a record player.  While I posted pictures opening it in my Facebook Christmas photo album, that one was defective and it was returned.  They then bought me just a turntable and we hooked it up with our sound system and it sounds great.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My sister bought me 1974’s “If You Love Me, Let Me Know” by Olivia Newton-John from Goodwill and it sounds great.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DON’T GET ME WRONG, I STILL LOVE REBA!

Malibu Country

Last spring (May 5), I blogged about Reba McEntire’s return to television for the fall of 2012.  You can type in “Malibu Country” in the blog search engine to find the original blog.

Reba said there were many more stories to tell from her “Reba” show that ran on the CW from 2001-2007.  I didn’t realize that except for my favorite singer of all time belting out a few songs, that “Malibu Country” would pretty much be a rehash of the old show.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some differences.  Reba is trying to kick start her singing career, which was the point early in the series, but even that has not been touched on lately.  Lily Tomlin, as Reba’s drinking and pot-smoking mother, is hilarious.

Her rich neighbor, Kim, is just a different version of the dim-witted and much more hilarious, Barbara Jean (Melissa Peterman) from Reba.  Reba’s daughter on “Malibu”, June, is just a watered-down version of the much funnier and more sarcastic, Kyra (Scarlett Pomers), from the original show.  And, now we have Cash, Reba’s son, a cute, but intelligence-challenged teenager.  He is just another version of Van (Steve Howey) from “Reba”.

After watching the first ten episodes, only a few have made me laugh.  The pilot, which was viewed by 9.1 million people, was very funny, and the Christmas episode was very enjoyable.  However, most of them just make me miss the original “Reba” series even more.

Gretel loves the “Reba” series and she watches them regularly and I still laugh.  You can’t beat the chemistry between Reba, Barbara Jean, and Cheyenne (Joanna Garcia Swisher).  Some of my favorite episodes are “Van’s Agent” (when Van lies about Reba being a lesbian to get a football contract), “Driving Miss Kyra” (when she gets her driver’s license and Cheyenne does karoke), and “The Two Girl Theory” (Reba hits the dating scene with Barbara Jean and becomes a “slutty friend” and “some old tramp”, according to Brock’s bartender friend) to name a few.

I’m not giving up on “Malibu Country” yet, but I’m not really enjoying it.  The only reason I’m still there is because I love Reba and Cash (Justin Prentice) is easy on the eyes.

Reba Cash Malibu Country

To close on a positive note, ABC reports that “Malibu Country” is the highest rated new comedy of the 2012 fall season with an average rating of 8.7 million viewers.

“PEEPS’ ’80S FRIDAY FLASHBACK”

Boy George was chosen as one of “Out” magazine’s “The One Hundred Most Compelling People of The Year” 2012.

The trailblazer who has had his fair share of bad press with drugs, arrests, and recovery is still a role model for a large number of people from the 1980s (including me) and in the 30 years since he sashayed onto the music scene in 1982 with “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”.

Boy George

Boy George:  “As I’ve traveled around the world to places that wouldn’t let me in back in the day, like Argentina or Russia, one of the things I’ve been struck by is the number of people who’ve said, ‘You’re the reason I came out.’  In the past I might have taken that a bit lightly, and now I feel that it’s a real responsibility. What I’ve realized is that the world hasn’t changed — there are still lots of places where people are having a really, really hard time because of their sexuality, and I think one of the most important things I can do is be a self-respecting gay public figure.”

And, he added, “If you go back to the beginning, part of my whole plan was to create this universal family of disenfranchised people.  It wasn’t just about sexuality, it was about anyone who felt odd” and “Anyone can dress like a freak — it’s easy.  It’s what you think that really sets you apart from other people. There are a lot of people dressed up at the moment who have nothing to say.”

Boy George led Culture Club to the top ten six times with their first six singles in the U.S.  They did have four more top 40 songs.  Their last chart hit, “Move Away”, reached #12 in 1986.  The group only had one #1 hit, “Karma Chameleon” in 1983.  “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”, which reached #2 in 1982, kicked off their career in America.

“The War Song” reached #1 in Ireland and #2 in the U.K., Australia, and Canada, in 1984, but it stalled out at #17 in the U.S.

Boy George looked fantabulous in the red, curly wig!

FACEBOOK FLASHBACK PICTURES

No, I didn’t have to bail Miss ABBA out of the jail in this picture from January 20, 2012.  And, she wasn’t joining the Moline Police Department’s K-9 unit.

January 20 2012

We had just picked Gretel up from school and visited Daddy Ray’s office at City Hall.

Visiting Work

And, these two pictures are compliments of an ice storm on January 20, 2010, from more than one-half inch of cold rain falling and freezing on cold surfaces.

January 21 2010

It sounds like you may be getting some icing in the Quad Cities Sunday!

Have a great weekend!  Viva Las Vegas!

Anthony

You’ll Perform For How Much? Okay, I’ll Pay It To See You

I’m excited that we’ll be flying out to Las Vegas tomorrow to see Lady Gaga Friday night on the “Born This Way Ball” Tour.  This will mark my second or third time seeing Lady Gaga, depending on your definition of a concert.  I’ll explain that tomorrow. 🙂  What a tease!

Born This Way Ball Tour

As of now, the Lady Gaga concert is the only one I have planned in 2013.  However, I’d still love to see Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, Shania Twain, Lorrie Morgan, and Depeche Mode in concert.  And, if the opportunity presented itself, I’d love to see Josh Groban, Reba, and Britney Spears again!

Last year, I saw only four concerts:  The Band Perry (Davenport, Iowa) , Elton John (Las Vegas), Madonna (Las Vegas), and Pam Tillis (Bettendorf, Iowa).  While two of those concerts were inexpensive (free and $15), the others were much more expensive ($125 and $375)!

I want to talk about how expensive concert tickets are these days, the best concert deal I know of, and share with you all of the acts that I’ve seen in concert one time.  Tomorrow, I’ll share the artists that I’ve seen multiple times.

2012 Top Tours

In a recent blog, I talked about Madonna’s “MDNA” tour being the number one worldwide tour in 2012 making $296.1 million .  But, today, I want you to focus on the number after the artist’s name, the average ticket price.  As you see, several artists in the Top Ten (Madonna, Roger Waters, Lady Gaga, Cirque Du Soleil – “Michael Jackson:  The Immortal”, and Elton John) all earned an average of more than $100 for a ticket!

Although the average Madonna ticket was $140.38, just outside the Top Ten, Barbra Streisand (#22) ticket prices averaged $263, Celine Dion (#29) $157, the Rolling Stones (#33) were the big winners in every sense with an average ticket price of $529!!!! At #37, people paid an average of $165 to see Andrea Bocelli.  And, Vicente Fernandez (#49) tickets averaged almost $141.

With these ticket prices, I checked to see how much I paid the last time I saw New Kids on the Block at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin, in 1990.

New Kids 1990

What???? Only $25.50 (before service charges) for reserved seats!  Holy cow!  So, just as a comparison, I decided to go to Ticketmaster and check to see how much it’d cost to see 2013’s version of the New Kids, One Direction.  Since there wasn’t a concert in Milwaukee, I’ll use Tinley Park (near Chicago).

One Direction

I know this is like comparing apples to oranges, but what a difference.  $25.50 vs. $89.50!  Everything is more expensive these days.  Nevertheless, to see concerts, even in the Quad Cities, you still have to be ready to hand over your cash.

One of the best bargains I know is Northalsted Market Days held in early August in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.  It’s the largest two-day street fair in the Midwest and it’s so much fun.  There are street vendors, food, liquor, live concerts (last year’s line-up included Olivia Newton-John, The Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton, and Karmin), and lots of half-naked people!  I mean, seriously, you don’t see this every day (pictures from 2010)!  You gotta love gay pride and Market Days in Chicago!

Twister Market Days 2010 Gay Pride 2010

All for the bargain price of $8 a day for “Market Days”!

With that being said, I want to share the artists that I’ve seen in concert once!  Now, the list is long!   Keep in mind that several of these were at Market Days or they were opening acts, so I haven’t spent a fortune on concerts in the past 28 years.

For the artists that I didn’t take pictures of in concert, I’ll add a video or album cover!

My very first concert was in the mid-1980s — John Cougar Mellencamp in Carbondale, Illinois.  (This video is not from that tour, but it’s one of my favorite songs from John!)

Bette Midler (Las Vegas, Nevada – 2015)

Bette

Enrique Iglesias (Rosemont, Illinois – 2014)

Enrique Iglesias 2014

Erasure (Chicago, 2014)

Erasure 2014

Shania Twain (Las Vegas, Nevada — 2014)

Shania 2014

Olivia Newton-John (Las Vegas, Nevada — 2014)

Olivia 2014

Ke$ha (Tinley Park, Illinois — 2013)

Kesha June 2013

Rick Springfield (Bettendorf, Iowa — 2013)

Rick Springfield May 2013

Depeche Mode (Tinley Park, Illinois — 2013)

Depeche Mode Tour 2013

Britney Spears & Nicki Minaj (West Allis, Wisconsin — 2011) 

*I want to see Britney again.  Maybe another trip to Las Vegas when she starts her rumored residency there!*

Britney SpearsNicki Minaj

Josh Groban (Moline, Illinois — 2011)  

*Amazing musician.  I can’t wait for his new CD February 5th.  Maybe I’ll get to see him play live again.*

Josh Groban

Elton John (Las Vegas — 2012) 

*Amazing!  This was a bonus concert, since we went to Las Vegas for my birthday to see Madonna and got these tickets at the last-minute!*

Elton John

Dixie Chicks (Chicago — 2006) 

*Great entertainers*

The Human League (Chicago — 2002)  

*Although it took me 20 years to see them after their #1 hit, “Don’t You Want Me”, I absolutely loved seeing them.  I felt 18 again!*

Keith Urban  & Taylor Swift (Moline –2009) 

*Keith was amazing and Taylor was enjoyable back then.*

Keith Urban Taylor Swift

Scissor Sisters (Chicago — 2010) 

*What a fun time.  I had a blast!  I love my Scissor Sisters!*

Scissor Sisters

Lady Antebellum (Bloomington, Illinois — 2008) 

*Great energy and beautiful harmonies*

Lady Antebellum 2008

LeAnn Rimes & Phil Vassar  (Salisbury, Maryland — 2005) 

*LeAnn was so sweet.  The show was fun.*

LeAnn Rimes 2005Phil Vassar

“Glee in Concert” (Chicago — 2011) 

*Gretel’s birthday present and when Darren Criss (Blaine) walked by us, he touched my hand!  Swoon!”

Glee Live

Expose (Chicago — 2008) 

*Great dance band with many hits during my formative years in the late-1980s.  Fun time!*

Expose 2008

Clay Walker (Merrillville, Indiana — 1996)

Sweet Sensation (West Allis, Wisconsin — 1990) 

*Fun freestyle dance trio.  No frills show — just singing and basic choreography.*

Terri Nunn of Berlin (Chicago — 2009)

*She was beautiful and incredible.  I’ve been a fan of Berlin since the early-1980s when “Pleasure Victim” and “Sex (I’m A)… came out.*

Terri Nunn Berlin

Martin Solveig (Las Vegas — 2012) 

*French DJ that opened for Madonna.  He has so much energy.  I bought his CD, “Smash” and it was my second favorite of last year, behind Madonna!*

Kelly Clarkson (Moline — 2008) 

*This was the concert where she and Reba were on stage together and sang each other’s songs.*

kelly-clarkson

Faith Hill & Tim McGraw (Rhinelander, Wisconsin — 1996)  

*I met both of them in the early part of their careers before they were megastars.  I hope to see them again in Las Vegas this weekend!*

Faith Hill 1996 Tim McGraw 1996

Kristine W (Chicago — 2009) 

*One of the most talented and successful dance artists in Billboard Dance chart history!*

Kristine W

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (Chicago — 2010) 

*It took almost 30 years to see her, but, even now, “I Love Rock & Roll”!*

Joan Jett

Jody Watley  (Chicago — 2009) 

*Looking For a New Love” anyone?*

Jody Watley

Jennifer Holliday (Chicago — 2010) 

*AMAZING!  The original Effie White from Broadway’s “Dreamgirls”!*

Jennifer Holliday

Jon Secada (Chicago — 2010)

Jon Secada

CeCe Peniston (Chicago — 2009) 

*”Finally, it has happened to me… Meeting Mr. Right, the man of my dreams/The one and only true love or at least it seems?/With brown cocoa skin and curly black hair…” *

CeCe

White Tie Affair (Chicago — 2010) 

*Lead singer Chris Wallace’s solo debut, “Remember When (Push Rewind)” was one of my favorite songs last year.  It’s still trying to catch fire at Top 40 radio.  Check it out.  I’ll make it easy for you.  I’ll put the video under his picture.* 🙂

White Tie Affair

David Kersh (Cleveland, Ohio –1998)

David Kersh

Martina McBride (Darien Lake, New York — 2001) 

*Part of Reba’s “Girls Night Out” Tour*

Martina McBride

Sara Evans (Darien Lake, New York — 2001) 

*Part of Reba’s “Girls Night Out” Tour*

Sara Evans

Jamie O’Neal (Darien Lake, New York — 2001) 

*Part of Reba’s “Girls Night Out” Tour*

Jamie_O'Neal

Jason De Rulo (Rosemont, Illinois — 2010) 

*Opened for Lady Gaga three years ago.  Great CD.*

Jason+Derulo+JasonDeruloCoverTCC

Tracy Lawrence (Davenport, Iowa — 2011) 

*Fun country music and very nice man.  I interviewed him in Lubbock, Texas, in 1997, and I introduced him to the stage in Davenport two summers ago!*

Tracy Lawrence

JoDee Messina (Bettendorf, Iowa — 2011)

JoDeeMessina

Amber  (Chicago — 2010) 

*Major international dance artist!*

Amber

George Strait (Rosemont — 2011)

*Saw the “King of Country” with Reba.*

George Strait

Lee Ann Womack (Rosemont — 2011)

Lee Ann Womack

Martha Wash (Chicago — 1991)

Bjorn Again (Chicago — 2002) 

*ABBA tribute band.  They were flawless!*

bjorn-again

En Vogue (Chicago — 2009)

En Vogue

Blake Lewis (Chicago — 2010) 

*”American Idol” runner-up to Jordin Sparks.*

Blake Lewis

Lucas Prata (Chicago — 2009)  *Dance artist*

Lucas Prata

Joe Nichols (Virginia Beach, Virginia — 2005)

Joe Nichols

Eden’s Edge (Moline — 2011)

Eden's Edge

Steel Magnolias (Moline — 2011)

Steel Magnolia

Patty Loveless (Columbus, Ohio — 2001) 

*This concert was my birthday present that year and I’d love to have new music from Patty and to see her again.*

Toby Keith (Tinley Park, Illinois — 1995) 

*Before he was all political and anti-Dixie Chicks, he was good in concert early in his career.*

Toby Keith

September (Chicago — 2010)  *Swedish dance band*

September

Linear (West Allis — 1990)

Linear

Dino (Cincinnati, Ohio — 1989)

Dino

I enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and I hope you did, too.  Tomorrow, I’ll feature the artists that I’ve seen in concert multiple times.  One of them I’ve seen enough times that I’m surprised there isn’t a restraining order!

By the way, I loved my shirt I wore for the Madonna concert and I already have one picked out for Gaga!

Madonna Anthony

Anthony

Things I Look Forward To In 2013

It’s incredible that we’re already three weeks into the first month of 2013.  Where does the time go?  I remember being a kid and it seemed that the days lasted forever.  Now, I make lists just to get things done.  I’ve been pretty successful at not planning in the new year.  In the past, I would plan things a year in advance and I was always counting down to those things.  I never lived for “today”.

My main goal in the upcoming month is to return to the land of the working.  What?  I’ll figure that out in the weeks to come.

Otherwise, here are some of the things that I’m looking forward to in 2013 in the entertainment world.

2013 MUSIC

All_That_Echoes

Josh Groban’s voice is so incredible and sexy.  His new album, “All That Echoes”, comes out February 5, 2013, and the first single, “Brave” is already a smash.

This is a behind the scenes video of the song.  The real video has not been released yet.

SPRING 2013?

Cher’s latest, her 26th studio album and the first since 2001’s “Living Proof”, is expected to be released in March.  “Woman’s World” is the rumored first single and a tour is in the works this year.

Depeche Mode

Also, in March, the latest album from the English band, Depeche Mode.

Janet Jackson may or may not be working on a new album.  April 2013 is the release date that is circulating on the internet.  You know if it’s on the internet, it has to be true! 🙂

Natalie Maines

On May 7, 2013, Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines, will release her solo debut, “Mother”, which is expected to be a rock album.

FALL 2013 or TO BE ANNOUNCED

ARTPOP

The third studio album from Lady Gaga, “ARTPOP” is expected by the fall????

Britney July 2011

And, Britney Spears will be releasing her eighth solo album this fall.  I sure hope it includes her current Top Ten hit, “Scream & Shout” with will.i.am because I don’t plan on buying his album.  Also, it’ll likely be announced soon that Britney will be taking up residence in Las Vegas as a regular performer to the tune of a rumored $100 million or more!

2013 TELEVISION

One new show that I want to see debuted last night and, of course, we were watching a marathon of “The X-Files” and forgot that it was on.  So, I’ll have to catch it online.

“The Following”, the new Kevin Bacon Fox series, looks incredible, creepy, and highly entertaining.  It focuses around serial killer, so it has the potential to be great.  If I start watching it, I’ll make it a regular part of my limited television viewing that includes “Nashville” (ABC) on Wednesday, “Elementary” on Thursday (CBS), and “Malibu Country on Friday (ABC).

There are two new shows that sound interesting.

Bates Motel

“Bates Motel” comes to A&E on March 18, 2013, starring Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates.  It’s a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror thriller, “Psycho”.

A&E has ordered ten, first season episodes.

Hannibal

And, in another “original” idea, NBC has ordered 13 episodes of “Hannibal”, yes that Hannibal.  As in, Hannibal Lecter, starring Mr. Claire Daines, Hugh Dancy.

dexter

I can’t wait until season seven of “Dexter”, the third season of “The Walking Dead”, and the fifth and final season of “Fringe” are released on DVD.

Right now, Ray and I are watching “Six Feet Under” (we’ll start season two soon) and we’re still watching the first season of “The X-Files”.

2013 MOVIES

Oz_-_The_Great_and_Powerful_Poster

On March 8th, Disney’s “Oz  The Great and Powerful” starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams arrives in theaters.  It’s a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”.

In May, “Star Trek Into Darkness” hits theaters and in June, “Man of Steel” blasts onto movie screens.  While I want to see both movies, I’ll likely wait for them to released on DVD.  However, it’d be a disservice not to feature Henry Cavill (Superman) 🙂

*EXCLUSIVE* Henry Cavill returns to Canada to continue Superman Film [NO Canada, NO UK, NO Ireland, NO Germany, NO Austria] superman-man-of-steel-henry-cavill-set-photo-011

On June 21st, I want to see the delayed zombie apocalypse movie, “World War Z”, with Brad Pitt.  Like the last two movies I mentioned, I might wait for this to come to DVD, too.  Interesting that in this trailer, they mention the word “zombies”!

And, finally, we recently watched “The Hunger Games” and I loved it.  On November 22nd, the sequel, “The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire” arrives in theaters just in time for Thanksgiving.

CATCHING FIRE

Those are some of the things that excite me in the entertainment world right now.  Of course, I’ll lose interest in a few and I’ll find others to replace them.

Anthony

New Christmas Sounds: Two Are Great & One Is A Lump Of Coal

When it comes to Christmas music, the standards are hard to beat.  While there are newer originals that are incredible like “Secret of Giving” by Reba (1999), there are also some really bad new songs each Christmas season.  This Christmas, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Colbie Caillat, and Cee Lo Green all have new albums.

And, while I’ve already bought three new Christmas CDs this year, there are two more that I want to pick up.

Blake Shelton Christmas

Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, it’s Christmas” is one of them and to be honest, while I like his voice, I really want it because he does a duet with Reba on “Oklahoma Christmas”.

Also, I’m not an “American Idol” fan even with the amazing Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.  However, I finally broke down this past summer and bought my first “AI” alumni CD, “Trespassing” by Adam Lambert.  It was great, but it totally bombed!

With that being said, I was very apprehensive about the new holiday disc from last year’s winner Scotty McCreery.

ScottyMcCreery

Yes, he’s cute and he has that great, masculine Josh Turner-like voice, but did I really want to take a chance on “Christmas With Scotty McCreery”.  I finally decided yes, so I’ll going to buy it.

So, what about the three new Christmas CDs that I bought?  Two are fantastic, but one of them has a drawback.  The third is acceptable and I would only recommend it for one reason.  It would be closer to a “lump of coal”.

coal

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY” — ROD STEWART

Rod Stewart

Ladies and gay men, you may have swooned in the 1970s when he sang “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Young Turks” in the 1980s, but does that gravelly voice translate into holiday cheer?

“Merry Christmas, Baby” is Rod Stewart’s first holiday disc and I can’t believe that we made it through all of the past holidays without him.  This disc is definitely going to be a holiday classic.

Stewart excels in the classics, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, “White Christmas”, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “Blue Christmas”.

Several duets are featured and my favorite is  “Winter Wonderland” with Michael Buble.  He also has nice duets with Cee Lo Green on “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “We Three Kings” with Mary J. Blige.

Rod does a great duet with the late Ella Fitzgerald on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”  God rest her soul, but I have to say that I’m not a fan of singers recording new songs with people who have passed on.   (If this trend continues, I hope Madonna releases a Christmas CD next year and does “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” with the late John Lennon.)

There is one original song on the disc, “Red-Suited Super Man”, and it’s a fun song.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” has been played many times since I bought it.  I love this disc.

GRADE:  A

“ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT”  — LADY ANTEBELLUM

Lady Antebellum Christmas

I absolutely love the harmonies of country music’s hottest trio, Lady Antebellum.  I saw them open for Reba a few years ago and I love their energy and their voices.

You can’t go wrong on their new Christmas album, “On This Winter’s Night”.

Every song on the disc is pure Christmas joy from the upbeat fun of Hillary Scott’s “Holly Jolly Christmas” to Charles Kelley getting down on a fun “Blue Christmas”.  Other perfect standouts are “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “The First Noel”,  “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Silent Night (Lord of My Life)”, and “Silver Bells”.

My only gripe, and this is a big one that long time fans may agree with me on, is that this disc feels like a ripoff to make some quick money on their popularity.

Of the twelve songs, six of them were released on the trio’s 201o EP, “A Merry Little Christmas”.  So, if you’re a fan and you bought that one two years ago, you’re paying for the same six songs this year with only six new songs!  (Santa may place the record company on his “naughty list” for marketing the recycled songs!)

Putting that behind me, if you made confectionery concoctions as tasty as any song on this disc, you’d definitely be in demand year around for your baking!

GRADE:  A 

“This Christmas”  — JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

John Olivia Christmas

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John set the world on fire with the 1978 blockbuster, “Grease”.  Their hit song, “You’re The One That I Want”, is one of the best-selling duets of all-time.  However, while lightning does strike twice, that doesn’t always happen in the entertainment business.  Their follow-up movie together, 1983’s “Two of A Kind”, was a box office bomb, but Olivia did score a top 5 hit, “Twist of Fate”, from the movie soundtrack.

After Travolta got a text from Olivia last year about how successful their “Grease” duet still is, they decided to do a Christmas CD together to benefit her charity, “The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre” in Melbourne, Australia and his charity, “The Jett Travolta Foundation”, in memory of his 16-year-old autistic son, Jett, that died in early 2009 in the Bahamas after he fell and hit his head.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first and then focus on the good.  The opening song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, is probably the worst version I’ve ever heard.  As much as I love Olivia, she couldn’t get “Physical” enough to save this disaster!  Three songs later, “This Christmas” would have been better without John’s vocals.

Enough picking on John.  I like the man and I love his acting.  He does a fine job singing solo on “This Christmas Waltz”.

He and Olivia are joined by Barbra Streisand on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and it’s excellent.  Four songs later, Cliff Richard joins them on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (you may remember Cliff from Olivia’s 198o’s hit, “Suddenly” from “Xanadu”).  Tony Bennett and The Count Basie Orchestra show up on “Winter Wonderland” and James Taylor drops in on “Deck The Halls”.

Olivia’s solo, “Silent Night” is incredible and their medley “Auld Lang Syne/Christmas Time Is Here” is a great closer to an uneven album.

The most exciting song on “This Christmas” is the one that I think should have been sequenced as the first song on the album, “I Think You Might Like It”.  It’s a very fun song and if I close my eyes while listening to it, I see Danny & Sandy in “Grease” dancing to it around the Christmas tree.  Here is the new video from Olivia & John!

GRADE:  C+   (There are great songs on it and there are some not so great songs, but the album is for a good cause.  It’s Christmas and the holidays are about charity!)

And, while we’re talking about amazing Christmas albums, these three are still my favorites.

Happy listening and Merry Christmas early!

Anthony