Posts Tagged ‘Lady Antebellum’

Christmas Treasures “Mix 96.1” May Miss

If you live in the Quad Cities, Mix 96.1 is the “official Christmas station” and it started playing your holiday classics 24 hours a day through Christmas Day/

That’s too early for many (?) and perfect timing for some of us!

Christmas 2014

Yesterday, I shared my ten favorite Christmas songs and you’ll hear some of those on Mix 96.  Others, like Reba, you won’t!  What gives?  You don’t have to be a country station to play a “mix” of artists. 🙂

Here I’m going to share some of my more recent holidays songs (compared to the classic or more popular versions) that I’d love to see become standards. Some already get airplay and some don’t and may never.

So, today you’re listening to “A Peeps’ Christmas”.  This is what it’d sound like if I could program Mix 96 for a day this holiday season.  Once you venture through my list, you may find some that you’ll cherish and want to hear each Christmas.

MARIAH CAREY — “AULD LANG SYNE” — THE NEW YEAR’S ANTHEM

This one totally rocks!

LEONA LEWIS — “ONE MORE SLEEP”

KELLY CLARKSON, REBA McENTIRE, & TRISHA YEARWOOD — “SILENT NIGHT”

Incredible — even before Reba joins them!

STRAIGHT NO CHASER — “THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS” (LIVE)

MICHAEL BUBLE & MARIAH CAREY — “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

KYLIE MINOGUE — “WHITE DECEMBER”

CASCADA — “LAST CHRISTMAS”

MARIAH CAREY — “OH SANTA”

LADY ANTEBELLUM — “A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS”

MARY J. BLIGE — “RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER”

ERASURE — “THE CHRISTMAS SONG”

LeANN RIMES — “ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE”

KELLY CLARKSON — “UNDERNEATH THE TREE”

HANSON — “WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME”

KYLIE MINOGUE — “100 DEGREES” (This is new, but, so disco!)

BRITNEY SPEARS — “MY ONLY WISH (THIS YEAR)”

ANNIE LENNOX — “WINTER WONDERLAND”

JUSTIN BIEBER & MARIAH CAREY — “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

KELLY CLARKSON — “WRAPPED IN RED”

So, did  you find any new ones here you like?

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — December 20, 2013

It’s hard to believe that this is my last “Random Friday Thoughts” blog before Christmas and the next to last one of 2013.  Where has this year gone?

Before I share my thoughts this week, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or Happy Kwanzaa.  And, if you’re Jewish, I hope you had a nice Hanukkah!  Regardless of what you celebrate, Happy New Year early!

“FRUITY” IS DEROGATORY!  

“Homeland” actor Damien Lewis is making nice after his derogatory comments about why he dropped out of theater early in his career.

Lewis didn’t want to become “one of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn’t start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards.”

Damien Lewis

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who he might have been talking about.

Sir Ian

Out actor Sir Ian McKellen, who’s had a long career in theatre and has found movie success in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies shot back at Lewis.

McKellen says, “I wouldn’t like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn’t particularly like just to keep the income up.”

He went on to say, “As for a fruity voice? Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer’s voice: to fill a large space. It is unnatural. Actors have to be heard and their voice may therefore develop a sonorous quality that they can’t quite get rid of, so you think actors are as pompous as their voice is large. I suppose Damian was thinking of that a little bit, too.”

Sir Ian McKellen

Lewis apologized to Sir Ian saying, “I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian’s.  He’s one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor.  My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I’ve been giving since 1999 – it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else’s career. I have contacted Sir Ian McKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies.”

And, this is how gracefully Sir Ian responded to the apology.

McKellen 1 McKellen 2

My final thoughts to Damien and to anyone reading this.  I remember being a young gay man back in 1980s Kentucky and my cousin took my aunt to see The Judds in concert.  She commented to my cousin that one of the band members was “a little fruity”.

That word was offensive then and it is now.  I can excuse a woman who had not been around many gay people more than I can excuse an actor that is around fellow actors who are gay and use the word “fruity”.

Lewis claims that he’s used that soundbite since 1999!  He should have been called out on it then.  Now that it is public, just know that “fruity” is vulgar and offensive!

RUPAUL TACKLES RACISM & PAULA DEEN

RuPaul

In the December 2013/January 2014 issue of “Instinct”, glamour maven RuPaul says, “Everybody uses their mind to discern who is who, what is what.  In that respect, we look at a person’s race, sex, how short they are, whatever, and we decide in our minds who they are and whether we should get to now them and like them.  In that respect, everybody on the face of the earth is by definition a racist.  Everybody.”

Paula Deen Happy

“We all do it.  Nobody talks about it.  The thing is, you just can’t get caught.  And for everybody to point their finger and pooh-pooh her [Paula Deen], it’s f*cked up.  And that’s the kind of stuff I’ve hated my whole life — that we’re such hypocrites.  She’s a lovely person, and I think it was unfortunate that she got caught.”

Sashay! Shantay!

DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT SANTA?

With Christmas just days away and Santa on his way back to the North Pole to check his list twice, here are some interesting tidbits from “Boston” magazine:

93% of Santas have their beards yanked — almost half the time by skeptical moms; 44% of Santas are sneezed on up to 15 times a day; and that 28% of Santas are peed on at least once a season.

Santa

The maximum time a Santa wants to spend with a child is 60 seconds and the best answer to tough requests for presents is “Santa will see what he can do”.

CHRISTMAS DECORATING

This might fall under “fail”!  But, then again, depending on your sense of humor, maybe not. 🙂

Palm Tree Lights

FORGET VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS….

Santa Clauses   Christmas Women

CHRISTMAS PICK HIT

Back in 1998, Australian singer Sherrie Austin scored her first country hit with “Lucky in Love”.  It reached #37 on the Billboard Country chart.  Since then, she’s scored three more hits with the biggest, “Streets of Heaven reaching #18 in 2003.

Shane Stevens, one of her best friends, is a singer songwriter from South Carolina, that penned Lady Antebellum’s #1 hit, “American Honey”.

Sherrie and Shane

Sherrie and Shane are BFFs on the Sundance Channel’s “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys”.

Stevens, who is a self-proclaimed “full-on Jesus freak”, doesn’t have a problem being a gay Christian, but being “out” in Nashville and on the show can be a little difficult, “What’s interesting about it being in Nashville…it’s such a rub to be gay in the Bible Belt. In New York City, there’s not really a rub. I can walk down the street and hold hands with my partner. There I’ve had a bottle thrown at me. It’s hard. But it’s a beautiful place and it’s one of the fastest growing cities in America and I love it.”

Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys

He goes on to add, “The most problem you find is just in church and the religious people and I’ve learned over the past few months doing this show that God doesn’t like to be put in a box. Even I’ve been guilty of trying to put him in a box. I was saying the other day that I wish I was raised an atheist so I didn’t have to un-learn everything that I’ve learned. But God loves his so much he’ll just get in your box with you and love you and hang out with you. ”

I’ll choose naughty!

SAD TO SAY GOODBYE TO DEXTER

If you watch your television shows as they air, you said goodbye to Showtime’s “Dexter” on September 22, 2013.  The 9 p.m. broadcast brought in the largest overall audience in Showtime’s history.

Dexter S8

I’m one of those that try to avoid the spoilers and watch “Dexter”, “American Horror Story” and “Bates Motel” on DVD.

So, now that I’ve watched the final season and I don’t give away spoilers, it was a satisfying season, but it wasn’t my favorite.

I loved the character of Evelyn Vogel, the doctor that came up with the “code” for Harry and Dexter to follow with Dexter’s need to kill.  The “Brain Surgeon” was an interesting villain for the season and the return of one of Dexter’s old girlfriends was fun.

My problem with the season was Dexter spending so little time doing what he does best — getting rid of bad people who slip through the cracks of the criminal justice system!  With my sexy man Dexter, I want more blood!

Dexter

If you’ve never seen “Dexter”, you have to start watching it.  It’s one of the best shows ever on television.  Yes, sadistic and gory at times, but intelligent, sexy, and fun.  My last comment before I grade this last season, the last scene should have been left out and left to our imagination!

I ranked my favorite “Dexter” seasons back in my June 7, 2013 blog, and here is what I said then and I’ll add season 8 to the list.

Season 1: (A+)   — Three words:  Ice Truck Killer!  Plus, I love Sergeant Doakes (“Surprise Motherf***a”)!

Season 2: (B)  –   I gave it a higher grade for Doakes and a lower grade because of Lila (you gotta love Paris)!

Season 3: (B-) –  This season had so much potential especially when Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) saw Dexter kill someone early on, but the show lost its way for most of the season.

Season 4:  (A) –  The Trinity Killer & Rita taking a much deserved bath!

Season 5:  (B-) — Lumen got old fast, but having Jonny Lee Miller (Jordan Chase) on the show saved it from getting a “C”.  However, the story line was weak.

Season 6:  (A-)  –  The “Doomsday Killer” and the Book of Revelations killings were intriguing.   The “Nebraska” filler episode dropped the season back a partial grade.

Season 7:  (A+) — The dynamics of Dexter and Debra this season after she witnessed his kill at the end of season six were incredible.  Debra’s fragility of discovering what Dexter is and having to compromise her position with Miami Metro to save her brother was a powerful story to watch unfold.   And, it was fun seeing Dexter as the mouse in the “cat and mouse” game with his every move being watched by not only Debra, but also by Isaac Sirko and the Koshka Brotherhood (the Ukrainian based international crime syndicate).  If that wasn’t enough, he and Debra then had to come up with a strategic plan after Captain LaGuerta found evidence that Doakes wasn’t the “Bay Harbor Butcher” and she started investigating Dexter!

Season 8:  GRADE:  B

PICK HIT

It’s been just over a year since Chris Wallace, the former lead singer of the Chicago-based band, The White Tie Affair, released his debut solo album, “Push Rewind”.  It’s an incredible album that should not have been overlooked.

The first single, “Remember When (Push Rewind)” made it up to #24 on the Top 40 radio airplay charts and the follow-up, “Keep Me Crazy” just recently cracked the Top 40 radio airplay charts.  The video came out this past weekend.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Idiots

Snowflakes

Reindeer Rain Dear

WINTER STORM THIS WEEKEND

UPDATE:  Friday, December 20, 2013, 4:05 p.m.

It is looking more and more likely that we’ll be seeing a major winter storm Saturday afternoon into Sunday afternoon.

With the storm less than 24 hours away now, our “Winter Storm Watch” has been upgraded to a “Winter Storm Warning” (fuchsia-colored shading) from 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 p.m. Sunday.

 

Those snow totals look pretty good at this point based on this updated map of available moisture.

 

ORIGINAL WEATHER POST:  Friday, December 20, 2013, 6:24 a.m.

For days now, meteorologists have been working feverishly to pin down the winter storm for this weekend.  While there’s still room for error since temperatures will be right on the borderline for snow, freezing rain, sleet, and snow, here goes…

There will be some slippery driving conditions Friday and early Saturday from the light freezing rain that fell across parts of the area Thursday night and Friday.  Be careful!

 

A “Winter Storm Watch” goes into effect Saturday evening through Sunday evening.

A mix of rain, sleet, snow, and freezing rain will develop south to north across the area Saturday with the heaviest snow expected Saturday night and Sunday morning.  There will be about nine hours of moderate snow.  The snow will start winding down by midday Sunday.

 

I gave you early snow projections Thursday night and as of Friday morning, I’m sticking to them.  The map above from NOAA shows that there’s about a 70% chance in the blue-shaded area seeing more than 4″ of snow.

I’m thinking 6-9″ of snow may fall from Freeport, Illinois, to the Quad Cities, to Burlington, Iowa, to the northwest to Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Southeast of the Quad Cities, 3-6″ of snow could accumulate.

Again, there will be some changes to the forecast as we get closer to Saturday, but this is a good place to start.  As with any snow, there could be isolated higher totals and some totals in that range may be on the lower end and some on the higher end.

SIMPLY INCREDIBLE

Some people actually sing!

After Katy Perry recent lip-synching debacle in France (she was “singing” along to a backing track of “Roar” and her lip sync was off so bad that the show was stopped and she started over sounding shaken and scared), it was incredible to see Lady Gaga perform her current Top Ten hit, “Do What U Want” with Christina Aguilera on “The Voice”.

What amazing vocals and incredibly sexy!

*Video deleted on YouTube.

‘THE HUNGER GAMES:  CATCHING FIRE”

I have not read “The Hunger Games” books and I plan on holding off until “Mockingjay” Part 1 and 2 arrive in theaters in November 2014 and November 2015, respectively.

While I really enjoyed “The Hunger Games”, I liked the sequel, “Catching Fire” more.  Without having read the book, I feel the story lines were fleshed out more, especially the love between Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

The Hunger Games Catching Fire

Also, Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) was much more human and less robotic in the sequel and her feelings toward Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) were very touching.  And, her over-the-top costumes were amazing.  (With that being said, Katniss and Peeta’s clothing rocked in this movie, too!)

hunger-games-catching-fire-burning-outfitKatniss Effie Peeta

I liked the more violent approach to the competition once “The Hunger Games” started.  The tributes are fighting for their lives and it felt like kid’s play in the first movie.  Granted, the kids that saw the first movie are about one-and-a-half year older and that may be part of the ramped up realism.

Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Johanna (Jena Malone) are great additions to “Catching Fire”.

GRADE:  B

JOSH IS SO ADORABLE

21-year-old Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta Mellark, in the “The Hunger Games” franchise is such an adorable Kentucky boy.  When I say “adorable”, I’m not talking about being cute (which he is, but I’m old enough to be his father), I’m talking about his open-minded, intelligent logic.

Josh

In a very honest article in the November 2013 “Out” magazine, Josh melted my heart when he said, “I have this dream that one day, my kid’s gonna come home from school and be like, ‘Dad, there’s this girl I like, and there’s this guy that I live, and I don’t know which one I like more, and I don’t know what to do.’  And it’d just be a non-issue.”

Josh-Hutcherson-Out-Cover

When the magazine came out, much of the worldwide press that picked up on the interview focused on his thoughts of his sexuality (“mostly straight”) and when he jokingly said that the three lead characters in “The Hunger Games” series should have a threesome, a “triad” relationship.  I’m just mentioning it because it was in the article.  While awesome, dwelling on it would be reductive!

We need more people in this world that think (and look) like Josh.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Daryl Hall & John Oates, Kiss, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, and Cat Stevens will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The 29th annual induction ceremony will take place April 10, 2014 in Brooklyn.

hall-and-oates

Hall & Oates met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania back in 1967 and released their first album in 1972, but it didn’t make the Billboard charts.

Their first single, “She’s Gone” peaked at #60 in 1974.  However, from their first Top 40 hit, “Sara Smile” (#4, 1976) to their last, “So Close (#11, 1990), they scored 29 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, 16 reached the Top Ten, 11 made the Top Five, and 6 topped the chart:  “Rich Girl” (1977), “Kiss On My List” (1981), “Private Eyes” (1981), “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” (1982), “Maneater” (1982), and “Out Of Touch” (1984).

FINAL NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CLASSIC

Director John Waters (“Hairspray”) set out to make “the trashiest motion pictures in cinema history” and I would say that he succeeded with such camp classics as “Pink Flamingos” and “Female Trouble”, both starring Divine.

Female Trouble

I absolutely love “Female Trouble”, a very twisted, dark, and hilarious movie.  Here’s a Christmas scene from the movie and it does contain “adult language”, enough to get an R-rating in this two-minute clip alone! 🙂

Merry Christmas, my friends, and don’t forget those cha cha heels.

Anthony

Favorite Albums of 2010

I haven’t been hitting the spiked egg nog (yet).  At the end of 2010, I posted my favorite movies and albums of the year on my Facebook page, but I’m posting this in my blog as I prepare my list of favorite of 2013.

So, take a little flashback in time and let me know how many of these albums you own and how many you didn’t know about.

10

“BURLESQUE”

SOUNDTRACK

BURLESQUE

#9

JASON DERULO

“JASON DERULO”

jason-derulo-album-cover

#8 CD

LA ROUX

“LA ROUX”

la-roux

green 7

LADY ANTEBELLUM

“A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS”

lady_antebellum_-_a_merry_little_christmas

6'eren_RGB_FINAL

JOSH GROBAN

“ILLUMINATIONS”

Josh-Groban-Illuminations-Official-Album-Cover

GREEN 5

MARIAH CAREY

“MERRY CHRISTMAS II YOU”

mariah_carey_merry_christmas_ii_you_cover_art

red-number-4

LADY GAGA

“THE REMIX”

Lady Gaga The Remix

#3 CD

REBA

“ALL THE WOMEN I AM”

REBA_ATWIA_COVER_500

number_2_red

KYLIE MINOGUE

“APHRODITE”

KYLIE APHRODITE

#1 MOVIE

SCISSOR SISTERS

“NIGHT WORK”

SCISSOR SISTERS NIGHT WORK

There you have my favorite albums of 2010.  And, since this is a flashback, you only have to wait until tomorrow to see what my favorites of 2011 were!

Anthony

My 2012 Favorites CDs

Do you like year-end lists?  Maybe you find them interesting or as a starting point of a heated debated, especially if you disagree.  Yesterday, I shared with you my favorite movies that I watched in 2012.  Now, here are my favorite albums that I bought this year.  Semantics!  Although one of them was released in 2011, I just bought it this year, so it’s new to me and this is my list!  🙂

Just missing out on the Top Ten were #11 “Christmas Spirit” (Richard Marx), #12 “Hello” (Karmin), #13 “Cheers, It’s Christmas” (Blake Shelton), #14 “Christmas With Scotty McCreery (Scotty McCreery) and #15 “Electra Heart (Marina and the Diamonds).

10Ten

“ROCK OF AGES” — ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK

9 CD

KYLIE MINOGUE — “APHRODITE:  LES FOLIES (LIVE IN LONDON)”

#8 CD

LIONEL RICHIE — “TUSKEGEE”

#7 CD

LADY ANTEBELLUM — “ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT”

#6 CD

ROD STEWART — “MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY”

#5 CD

KYLIE MINOGUE — “THE BEST OF KYLIE MINOGUE”

#4 CD

SCISSOR SISTERS — “MAGIC HOUR”

*NSFW*

#3 CD

CALVIN HARRIS — “18 MONTHS”

#2 CD

MARTIN SOLVEIG — “SMASH”

#1 CD

MADONNA — “MDNA (DELUXE EDITION)”

MDNA

*NSFW* (This is one of the best Madonna songs ever — very angry and violent!)

Here’s to 2013!

Anthony

Three More Holiday Albums Worth The Money

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is one month from today, I don’t feel as crazy listening to and blogging about Christmas music.

Last Sunday, I highly recommended new holiday music from Rod Stewart, “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “On This Winter’s Night” by Lady Antebellum.  Today, I’m reviewing two more new Christmas entries this season and one from four years ago that you definitely need to get if you missed it then.

“CHRISTMAS SPIRIT”– RICHARD MARX

Chicago singer/songwriter Richard Marx was on fire in the late-1980s and early-1990s scoring 14 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

He topped that chart with classics like “Hold On To The Nights”, “Satisfied”, and “Right Here Waiting” and he also reached the Top Four with “Don’t Mean Nothing”, “Should’ve Known Better”, “Endless Summer Nights”, and “Angelina”.

Richard Marx

While Marx hasn’t had a Top 40 radio hit since 1994, he’s had many hits on Adult Contemporary radio.  His latest album, “Christmas Spirit” has already introduced two new songs you’re hearing this holiday season on the radio, “Little Drummer Boy” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, a duet with singer/songwriter Sara Niemietz.

If you were a fan of Richard Marx during his heyday two decades ago, you’ll love his new Christmas album.  “Christmas Spirit” is a perfect collection of holiday songs and it also features a duet with another 1980s pop star, Kenny Loggins, on “Let The Be Peace on Earth” and a duet, “Silent Night” with singer and fiddler Sara Watkins.

There are two new original songs on the 13-song album, the title track, which is spectacular and “Christmas Morning”, which is a decent song.

Marx excels on “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “White Christmas”, and “O Holy Night”.

His version of “Little Drummer Boy” is my favorite on the disc and will likely be a staple of Christmases in the future.

My only regret with “Christmas Spirit” is not a fault of Richard Marx.  I wish I had shopped around before buying the CD from Amazon.  If you buy the Target version, it comes with four additional songs, “Blue Christmas”, “Silver Bells”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.

GRADE:  A

“CHRISTMAS WITH SCOTTY McCREERY — SCOTTY McCREERY

ScottyMcCreery

The other new purchase I made recently is the second album from 2011 “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, “Christmas With Scotty McCreery”.

His debut album, “Clear As Day”, was released in the fall of 2011 and sold more than 1.1 million copies and generated three country hits, “I Love You This Big” (#15), “The Trouble With Girls” (#17), and “Water Tower Town”, which barely cracked the Top 40, (#38).

Since I’m not an “American Idol” viewer, all I know about Scotty is that he’s 19-years-old, from North Carolina, is cute, won an ACM Award for “Best New Artist”, and that he has a voice that reminds me of Josh Turner.

McCreery is great on the upbeat classics like “Let It Snow!”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Holly Jolly Christmas”, but the album drags a little on “Mary Did You Know” and on the new song, “Christmas Comin’ Round Again”.  The other original song on the album, “Christmas In Heaven” has the potential to be heard again next year.

McCreery has a great voice and this is a decent album for the holidays.

GRADE:  B

“JOY TO THE WORLD” — FAITH HILL

Faith_Hill-Joy_to_The_World

While it isn’t new, I missed out on buying Faith Hill’s “Joy To The World” when it was released in 2008.

Epic fail on my part.  Of the eleven songs on the album, ten are classics and there’s one new song, “A Baby Changes Everything”.  That song actually reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Faith’s voice is just angelic with the big band orchestra sound of the album.  It features such classics as the title track, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Away In The Manger”, “O Holy Night”, “Winter Wonderland”, and “Silent Night”.

Faith blows me away with her version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”.

Buy it now and don’t hesitate!

GRADE:  A+

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

A Buffet of Thoughts — A Little of This & That

It feels like one of those days where I’d love to have a buffet!  But, I’m determined to eat healthy through Saturday when I leave for Houston.  So, I’ll have a blog buffet — where I talk a little about this and a little about that.

SO GOES OHIO, SO GOES THE COUNTRY

Watch out, Mitt Romney!!!  If the great people of the Buckeye State are correct and they have been since 1972, you’re in trouble.  Since Ohio is considered a “battleground” state that will be key in deciding the 2012 election, you’d better be spending much of your time, money, and efforts there.

Since 1972, Ohio has picked the winning candidate in the presidential election.  As a matter of fact, since 1944, the state has only picked the wrong candidate in the race for the White House one time!  Back in 1960, Ohio picked Republican Richard Nixon over Democratic winner John F. Kennedy by 6.6%.

In the latest CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll of Ohio voters posted on Real Clear Politics, President Barack Obama leads Romney by 10%!

And, speaking of President Obama, I entered a contest the other day and the winner gets to have dinner with the President before the election.  While a long shot, Gretel is very excited.

IS THAT A DINOSAUR?

While the Quad Cities will enjoy more “Indian Summer-like” weather (NOAA: “Indian Summer” is generally associated with a period of considerably above normal temperatures, accompanied by dry and hazy conditions ushered in on a south or southwesterly breeze”), from this weather map you’d think that a storm would be bringing a dinosaur into the middle of the country!  I saw this a while back and saved it.  Too funny!

Sadly, the forecast for Houston Saturday when we arrive doesn’t look too great and will likely keep us from seeing the “Balloon Glow” of hot air balloons at the Johnson Space Center!   Bummer!  😦

OUR FISH SHOULD BE VERY AFRAID

Overnight, I was awakened around 2 a.m. by a noise down on the patio, which is located right below our bedroom window.  One of the cats heard it, too, and she was in the window peering outside.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw it.  A raccoon was scurrying around trying to get the can of fish food open after it knocked the container off the patio table.  I ran downstairs and turned on the patio light and it ran up the steps into the backyard away from me.  Like a warrior, I grabbed the water hose and started spraying it into the direction that it ran.

Those are pictures of the fish earlier in the week.  I think we need to find something to keep the raccoons away from them this week while we’re gone.  We definitely didn’t  fatten them up to be a meal for a nocturnal beast!

RANDOM PICTURES I REALLY LIKE

REMEMBERING MY GRANDMOTHER

On Monday, my sister, Tammy, turned 46.  We celebrated by Ray making her dinner and we had pumpkin cake roll for dessert.  Tammy is not the only family member that would have been celebrating a birthday Monday.  She was born on my grandmother Helen’s birthday.

Had my grandmother been alive, she would have been 99 years old!!!

FALL MOVIES & OSCAR CONTENDERS ARE COMING

I’m so excited to see the new Ben Affleck movie, “Argo” when it’s released on October 12th.  I’ll be in Las Vegas and I plan on finding a movie theater.  I’ve already expressed interest in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, “The Paperboy”, “Lincoln”, and “Zero Dark Thirty”.  Now, I’ve added another one to the list.

“Entertainment Weekly” calls “The Impossible”, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, a “shocking tsunami drama” based on one family’s experience of the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit on Christmas Day (our time) 2004.  The trailer looks incredible.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

I know that I just blogged two days ago about the new Mattel Barbie coming out and that I still didn’t get my Reba doll from last year, but here are a few nice places you can shop this year and know that some of your money goes toward marriage equality.

FALL TELEVISION

While I wait for the new ABC Reba McEntire comedy, “Malibu Country” (November 2nd), the only new television show I’ve checked out this fall is “The New Normal”, from Ryan Murphy (“Glee”, “American Horror Story”, and “Nip/Tuck”).  It focuses on a gay Los Angeles couple (Bryan and David) wanting to have a baby.  Goldie, who just moved to LA from Ohio agrees to be their surrogate mother for $35,000 to go back to law school and to make a better life for her daughter, Shania.

It’s funny and enjoyable.  The premiere episode has been the best.  The ensemble cast is great and the standouts are Ellen Barkin (Goldie’s grandmother), NeNe Leakes (Bryan’s personal assistant), and Bebe Wood (Shania, Goldie’s pre-teen daughter).

Sadly, the ratings for the NBC show have already started slipping from almost 7 million viewers for the first two episodes to around 5 million for Tuesday night’s politically-charged episode, “Obama Mama”.  Check out this extended preview if you haven’t already watched the show.

Tonight (Thursday night), I want to check out CBS’ new take on Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary”.  It’s not because I’m a fan of the detective.  It’s because I’ve had the hots for Angelina Jolie’s ex-husband, Jonny Lee Miller, ever since he played “Eli Stone” on ABC (thanks for cancelling that ABC, bad call!).

Speaking of hots, Miller’s version of Holmes is even tattooed! 🙂

And, finally, Sunday night is the seventh season premiere of “Dexter”.  And, we’re only two weeks away from the new season “The Walking Dead”!  I love this post to thank the show’s 10 million Facebook fans!

And, the new season of “American Horror Story” is coming, along with the final season of “Fringe”.

FLOWERS

With the trees beginning to turn and mums opening up, colors are beginning to pop.  Did you know that in the winter of 1636, tulip mania hit Holland and for some time, bulbs traded for the price of houses? Crazy!  Although I’d never pay that much for anything, other than a house, the sight is majestic!

MY NEW MUSIC GUILTY PLEASURE

While I await the new Lady Antebellum Christmas CD, “On This Winter’s Night” and  Blake Shelton’s Christmas album (because it features Reba), the album I’m really excited about is Calvin Harris’ “18 Months” (October 29, 2012).

For those that don’t know him, he’s a Scottish DJ and producer.  He also spent 10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Rihanna on “We Found Love”.  He’s also had other hits like, “Feel So Close” and “Let’s Go”.  His new song, “Sweet Nothing”, features Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

And, FYI, I still cringe when I hear the current Taylor Swift song, “We Are Never Blah Blah Blah”!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

I’ll leave with you this amazing quote from Chinese journalist Hu Shuli, “Believe in what you do, do it smartly, and never give up.”

Have a great day and thanks for checking out my buffet blog.

Anthony