Posts Tagged ‘Xanadu’

Thank You For The Beautiful Music and a Lifetime of Wonderful Memories!

Life is a funny thing.

Most of us try to do what’s right.  We strive to treat those we love and care for with affection.  But, with real life constantly getting in the way, do we really stop long enough to tell them how much we care for them and appreciate them?

That’s my purpose today.

When I’m done, I’ll call my sister and tell her I love her.  But, this is about Olivia Newton-John.  I want her to know how much she has touched my life!

Olivia 1

As you likely know, especially since I regularly write about her, Olivia is battling cancer again.

She was first diagnosed back in 1992 and beat it.  It returned in 2013, then again in May 2017 and just last month, I learned that she now has Stage IV cancer.

One thing I know from being a fan is that Olivia is a fighter and I know she’ll continue living life to its fullest.  That’s more than some, including myself, are doing even without cancer!

Olivia Don't Stop Believin

I just finished reading Olivia’s autobiography, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and it was beautiful!

I enjoyed hearing about her childhood, her singing and acting career, and her dear friendships with two ladies I truly admire and love, Karen Carpenter and Helen Reddy.

Olivia Karen

helen olivia.JPG

It was Helen Reddy and her ex-husband that were instrumental in Olivia taking on the iconic role of Sandy in “Grease”!

I’ve been a huge Olivia fan since I heard her first Top Ten hit, “Let Me Be There”, in 1973, as an 9-year-old listening to country music on WNGO-AM 1320, back in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

All these years later, I have a confession to make.  As an little kid, I thought the beautiful voice belonged to Olivia Newton and the booming, manly back-up singer was named John! 🙂

From her first hit, “If Not For You”, in 1971, to her last Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Soul Kiss” (#20, 1985), the English-born, Australian-raised singer charted with 27 Top 40 hits. Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten!

Olivia had five of those Top Ten hits reach #1:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “You’re The One That I Want” (1978, with John Travolta), “Magic” (1980), and “Physical” (1981), which spent ten weeks at the top of the chart!

Olivia 2

In early 2014, Olivia announced “Summer Nights”, a 45-show residency at the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Strip between April and August.

I saw her amazing show on May 30th of that year.

Olivia

Since it’s my favorite number, I’m counting down my thirteen favorite Olivia Netwon-John songs that charted in America!  It was so hard narrowing down the list! 

(Chart positions are from the Billboard Hot 100 unless otherwise noted and the year listed is when the song peaked.)

Along the way, I’ll add three bonus songs and share some personal stories about a few of the hits!

Again, Olivia, thank you for the music!

13

“TWIST OF FATE” (#5, 1984)

12

“MAKE A MOVE ON ME” (#5, 1982)

#11 Movie

“I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” (2 WEEKS AT #1, 1974)

#10 MOVIE

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE” (with Chloe Lattanzi & Dave Aude)

(#1 Billboard Dance Club Songs, 2015)

In this re-imagining of Olivia’s #1 hit “Magic”, which you’ll see later in my countdown, DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude takes Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi to the top of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

The fun video features an incredible looking Olivia and a graveyard of Las Vegas signage of the city’s casino history, show girls, Chippendales, and Britney, Tina Turner, Marilyn Monroe, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.  Oh wait, those are illusionists! 🙂

“You Have To Believe” was my #16 song of 2015!

Bonus

Being a gay teenager in small town Kentucky in the early-1980s without knowing anyone else like myself was very isolating.

Back then, you didn’t think about falling in love since you didn’t hear about those things, but the release of “Physical” and its homoerotic video was definitely eye-opening and it gave this kid hope!

“PHYSICAL” (10 WEEKS AT #1, 1981-1982)

9 CD

“A LITTLE MORE LOVE” (#3, 1979)

#8 MOVIE

“HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW” (1 WEEK AT #1, 1975)

In 1978, Olivia had the starring role as Sandy in “Grease”, a movie that racked up $396 million at the box office.

When I saw the movie, I was a shy, introverted 13-year-old boy still listening to country music.  Occasionally, I’d sneak a listen to ABBA, the Bay City Rollers, and the Bee Gees!

I connected with the innocent Sandy and was petrified when she came out dressed to the nines in leather and holding a cigarette!

I’m no longer naive! 😉

olivia-newton-john-grease-sandy

That was a turning point for me.  Somewhere after “Grease”, I started listening to more pop or Top 40 music and I came across an 8-track recording of Olivia’s sultry album “Totally Hot”.

Totally Hot

It was one of three 8-tracks that I owned.  The other two were “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

#7 CD

“DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT” (#11, 1979)

#6 CD

“MAGIC” (4 WEEKS AT #1, 1980)

#5 MOVIE

“IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (#5, 1974)

Bonus

“I NEED LOVE” (1992)

In the summer of 1992, Olivia was ready for another comeback with the release of her third greatest hits album, “Back to Basics:  The Essential Collection 1971-1992”.  It included four new songs.

A world tour was also planned, but it was scrapped when Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first single from the collection, “I Need Love” really touched me more than a quarter-century ago.  It’s even more powerful for me now as I approach the age of 55 and still single a couple of years after my divorce.

The song talks about wanting more than just a one-night stand or cheap sex.  These lyrics sum up exactly how I felt then in my 20s and how I feel now in my 50s!

“Another place, another time/I would take my chances/Oh I know I could take you home tonight/But I don’t want to wake up with you wishing I was alone”

“I’m not lookin’ for a Band-Aid on loneliness/I’m not lookin’ for a temporary get me through the night/I’m holding out for something more than physical/I need love to make the sex right”

Give the song a listen because unless you’re a die-hard Olivia fan, I know you probably never heard it on the radio!

4

“PLEASE MR. PLEASE” (#3, 1975)

green 3

“SUDDENLY” (with Cliff Richard) (#20, 1981)

#2 MOVIE

“LET ME BE THERE” (#6, 1974)

#1

We’re now up to my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!

I’ve watched the movie “Xanadu” several times and I can’t hear this song without smiling and feeling good.

The soundtrack was more popular than the movie and the title song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

Back in 2014, when I turned 50, I compiled the soundtrack of my life — my all-time favorites songs — and “Xanadu” came in at #4!

Olivia, as your birthday nears, I wish you a “Happy Birthday”!

olivia-newton-john john-easterling.png

Stay strong and keep fighting!

Bonus

“YOUR GOOD GIRL’S GONNA GO BAD” (FROM “SORDID LIVES”)

Years after mainstream fame was behind her and Olivia was living life to the fullest, her friend Del Shores gave her an incredible role.

In 2000, when he made a movie of his play, “Sordid Lives”, he cast Olivia as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian bar singer with a “reputation”!

She reprised the role in the 2008 Logo miniseries.

sl onj.JPG

If you’ve never seen this Texas “black comedy about white trash”, you have to find it and spend two hours laughing!

Here’s Olivia singing the theme song (contains adult language) and her and the cast in the end credits performing Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad”.

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — August 14, 2015

The weekend is almost here and after working the past eight Saturdays, I’m back to having my weekends off again!

I plan on having a fun one and I hope the same for you.  Let’s kick it off with my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

As always, let me know what we agree on and what we don’t!

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER HAS CANCER

My favorite President, Jimmy Carter, who is now 90-years-old, revealed Wednesday that he has cancer.

Jimmy Carter

It was discovered during a recent liver surgery.  He also stated that the cancer had spread to other body parts.

He plans to undergo treatment and says he’ll share more details next week.

I’ll say an extra prayer for President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, for a speedy recovery.

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was an 11-year-old boy growing up in Kentucky when he was running for President in 1976.

I even devoted a full blog to him in March 2012 that I want to share again with you.  (You can click on the link below and it’ll open in a new window so you don’t lose your place in this week’s blog!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/forget-marilyn-i-want-my-week-with-jimmy/

REPUBLICAN RACE SHOWDOWN

After a television debate last week with most of the Republican candidates vying to become the next President of the United States, most people talked about Donald Trump and his rude comments.

Fox News commentator Megan Kelly started a question with “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals’, and Trump replied, “Only Rosie O’Donnell”.

Rosie O'Donnell

While a sad expression of honesty from a man who wants to run this country, it must be working for him.  An NBC News poll after that debate showed Trump as the front-runner with an increasing lead.

Donald Trump had 23% followed by Ted Cruz (13%) and Ben Carson (11%).

Carly Fiorina surged to fourth place (8%) and is now tied with Marco Rubio.

The rest of the top ten: Jeb Bush and Scott Walker (7%), Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee (5%), and Rick Perry and John Kasich (2%).

santorum

Rick Santorum and George Pataki are in last place with 0%!

THEY SAID WHAT???

REPUBLICAN FRONT RUNNER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

(about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly after her questioning in that debate):  “there was blood coming out of her eyes … blood coming out of her wherever.”

MORE TRUMP

(after an uproar accusing him of being sexist with the hormonal overtones to his comment about Kelly):  “Do you think I’d make a statement like that? Who would make a statement like that? Only a sick person would even think about that.”

Kelly Trump

FOX COMMENTATOR MEGYN KELLY

(speaking about the personal attacks from Trump):  “Mr. Trump is an interesting man who has captured the attention of the electorate. That’s why he’s leading in the polls. Trump, who is the frontrunner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism, so I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far. This is a tough business and it’s time now to move forward.”

POP ICON & ACTRESS CHER

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

(About going back out on tour after having to cancel the second leg of her “Dressed To Kill Tour” because of an acute viral infection affecting her kidneys):  “You know, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do this. That’s my wish. But I can’t say that I actually will be able to… My will is pretty strong, so… I don’t know.”

MARVIN GAYE’S SUE HAPPY FAMILY

The family of late R&B legend Marvin Gaye sure loves to sue people.

They successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell over the mega hit “Blurred Lines” claiming that it ripped off “Got To Give It Up”.  Gaye’s family was awarded $7.4 million in damages for copyright infringement, but this is being appealed.

Empire

Now, a son is ready to sue the makers of Fox’s very successful #1 drama, “Empire”, claiming that it was his idea.

I’m thinking two things:  First, they don’t want Taraji P. Henson’s “Cookie” to come down on their asses and secondly, that family needs to get a life – their own!

MORE “MARVIN GAYE”

Singer and songwriter Charlie Puth topped the charts earlier this year with “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa.  The song was featured in “Furious 7” and was a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker.

Puth is now racing up the charts with “Marvin Gaye” with a little help from Meghan Trainor.

The song is already one of 25 most played songs at Top 40 radio in the U.S.

I especially like the fun, sexy, and LGBT-inclusive video!

REBA — YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD

Sadly, since my last “Random Friday Thoughts” in late July, my idol and country superstar Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock announced they were separating after 26 years of marriage.

On a more positive note, I saw Reba in concert for the 13th time when she played the Mississippi Valley Fair last week.  She also announced last week, “Until They Don’t Love You”, would be the second single from her album, “Love Somebody”.

Reba Until They Don't Love You

This song sounds amazing live and she also performed it on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Wednesday night.

You can click on this link to see it:  http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/reba-mcentire-until-they-dont-love-you/2890917

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE”

If you listened to music in the late-1970s, you probably know that’s part of a lyric ( “You have to believe we are magic, nothin’ can stand in our way”) from Olivia Newton-John’s #1 smash “Magic” from the motion picture, “Xanadu”, that hit theaters about this time in 1978.

Now, Olivia has re-recorded part of that song with her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi and DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude.

Olivia and Chloe look incredible re-enacting the vibe from “Xanadu” in and around Las Vegas.

I believe that this song and remix will return Olivia to the Billboard Dance chart.  Her last appearance on that chart was back in 1988 when “The Rumour” peaked at #17.

Olivia’s last Top 40 on the Hot 100 was “Soul Kiss” back in 1985.  It reached #20.

“HANNIBAL”

I’m truly saddened that there’s only three episodes of “Hannibal” left.

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

This was definitely one of the most intelligent, thrilling, artistically creative, and well acted shows on television.  Maybe it was too intelligent!

I’ll especially miss Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier!

However, I’ll still see Anderson in “The X-Files” in January 2016 and I’m really enjoying her as Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson on the BBC hit show, “The Fall”.

It also stars Jamie Dornan, best known as Christian Grey of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

If you haven’t checked out the two seasons of “The Fall”, it’s a must see!

“MR. ROBOT”

Another show I highly recommend is my new summer favorite, the incredibly intelligent “Mr. Robot” on USA Network.

MR. ROBOT

Rami Malek is the breakout star as Elliot Alderson, a computer hacker by night and a security technician at a cybersecurity company by day.

Elliot suffers from chronic depression and social anxiety disorder, which makes him quirky and very awkward in social situations.

Christian Slater stars as Mr. Robot.

This is definitely a thriller drama you need to check out and it was renewed for a second season even before the first episode aired!

FALLING IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH COUNTRY MUSIC 

This part will be very familiar if you read my blog earlier in the week!

Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on country music — Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton.

In the 1980s when I went away to college, it was all about pop and dance music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne), and the second “British Invasion” (Erasure, Duran Duran, Culture Club).

While I stuck with dance and pop music in the 1990s, I also started listening to Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless and they brought country music back into my life.

I’ve always been more of a fan of female singers.  However, I’ll admit that in the music video age, a good-looking singer in a cowboy hat could grab my attention long enough for me to listen to the music.

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

From his debut hit, “What’s It To You” in 1993 that topped the chart to his last Top 40 country hit, “Where Do I Go From You” in 2010.  In his career, he’s scored 29 Top 40 hits, 17 of which hit the Top Ten, and six topped the country charts.  As a matter of fact, five of his first six were #1 hits.

“This Woman and This Man” is still my all-time favorite Clay Walker song.  It topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

Once country radio started cutting back on airplay for Reba, Patty, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, and females no longer in the younger demographics, I lost interest in the format.

In the past fifteen years, the only male country singer I became fan of was Keith Urban.

keith_urban

However, with the recent crossover of Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and the anticipation of Reba’s concert last week in the Quad Cities, I glanced at the country chart.

I watched a few videos and I liked “Make Me Wanna” by Thomas Rhett (I actually interviewed his father, Rhett Akins, back in 1997).

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

michael-ray

Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” is the most played country song in the U.S. this week.

I just bought his self-titled debut album and I’m so glad I did.  Here is the link to my review of the album and you’ll get to hear more of my favorite tracks from it:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/michael-ray-could-bring-me-back-to-country-music/

And, it’s pretty cool that even with his busy touring schedule and with radio and television appearances, Michael had a chance to read my blog and review of his album and tweeted back at me.

Michael Ray Tweets

“THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL”

As much as I love movies, it’s crazy that I still haven’t been to the theater this calendar year.  The last theater movie for me was “Unbroken” back in late December!

I’ve been waiting to see “Jurassic World”, but my summer work schedule nixed that.  And, I’m definitely going to see “Everest” on the big screen (the release date is now September 25, 2015).

Now, I’ve found another one that looks amazingly funny and bold and it has a 95% positive rating on the site, “Rotten Tomatoes”.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is the story of a 1970s teenager, Minnie Goetze, played by British actress Bel Powley, and her affair with her mother’s boyfriend told from her diary.

Kristin Wiig, who’s been in two of my favorite movies over the past year, “The Skeleton Twins” and “Welcome To Me”, plays Minnie’s mother and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) stars as Wiig’s boyfriend.

The movie is only playing in selection theaters now, but will be expanding in August.  Hopefully, it’ll be in the Quad Cities this fall!

“UNDER THE DOME” — THE END?

I loved the first season of “Under The Dome” on CBS and suffered through the end of season two.

under-the-dome

After watching just a bit of the season three premiere, I’d had enough.  And, I guess America has, too.

The show premiered with 13.5 million viewers (17.76 million with DVR figures added).  Last week’s episode was down to an astonishing 3.88 million!

I highly suspect that the show will be cancelled (along with “Extant”).

CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler at the Television Critics Association’s press tour earlier this week told reporters that the dome will come down in the finale.  “Entertainment Weekly” reports that “producers have written the finale to serve as a potential series finale or a season finale”.

Regardless of the fate of the show, two great things came out it — one gorgeous and one gory!

600full-mike-vogelCOW UNDER THE DOME

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I still try to catch the show’s opening just to see the dome split the cow in half!

FALL IS GETTING CLOSER

Okay, let me get that taste out of your mouth!  Look what’s new from M&M for this fall season: Pecan Pie M&Ms!

Pecan Pie M&M

Yum!  I can’t wait to try them!

While I love spending time floating in the pool and I love snow (but not the extreme Midwestern cold), fall is my new favorite season.

Fall

That all sounds incredible, but it’s really all about…

“THE WALKING DEAD”

On August 23rd, “Fear The Walking Dead” premieres on AMC and hopefully that’ll hold me over until October 11th when the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” begins.

Here’s the incredible new trailer for “The Walking Dead”!

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Let me know your thoughts on anything I wrote about today.

Have a great weekend.  I’m going to relax and enjoy the pool.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 7, 2014

After a very busy weekend last weekend, I’m happy that I only have one function this weekend.

On Sunday, I’ll be judging a chili cook-off and cookie contest.  Otherwise, it’s a movie watching two days of relaxation.  I hope you have a great weekend.

Thanks for checking out my random thoughts today.

SUPER BOWL — HAPPY THOUGHT

I’m not a football fan, but I know that Seattle blew Denver away, that Bruno Mars got rave reviews for his halftime performance, and that Super Bowl 48 was the most watched television event ever with 111.5 viewers.

And, since Madonna or Beyonce wasn’t performing, I didn’t watch.  However, leading up to the big game, I was touched by this commercial.  Although I only saw three commercials, I’m partial to this one.

It’s been viewed 44 million times on YouTube and, incredibly, about six thousand people gave it a “thumbs down” or “dislike”.  What kind of people are they?

SUPER BOWL — SAD THOUGHT

Probably the same kind of people who are appalled by Coca-Cola’s commercial, “It’s Beautiful”.

Coca Cola

The ad features “America The Beautiful” sung in seven different languages to show what the company calls our country’s “incredible diversity”.

Here’s what Fox News’ Todd Starnes had to say.

Todd Starnes

And, he wasn’t alone!

Anti Coke Tweets

How do these hateful Tweeters know that those featured in the commercials didn’t speak English and were just singing in their native language?  I admit that if I moved to a foreign country, I would learn that country’s language, but I’d also speak English, my first language.

But, there were also some very positive Tweets.

Coca Cola Tweet

I wish the haters could comprehend what Coast Life Guy had to say.

Diversity and tolerance, we’re not there yet and we may never be.  But, I hope that we continue to make strides in the right direction!  Maybe we need to just think back to this 1971 Coca-Cola commercial.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Cat Lady Starter KitLet It Snow 5 Stages of Winter

MORE SNOW THIS WEEKEND?

A little clipper system dropping across the Midwest Saturday will bring 1-3″ of snow to the area with the heaviest falling across the north.

This has been a very cold and snowy winter, so far!

Temperatures are running about 10° below average this winter and we’ve had 25 mornings with below zero temperatures in the Quad Cities.

Even before this next snow, this ranks as the 27th snowiest winter on record in the Quad Cities. Only 5.2″ of snow would push us from#27 to #10, so we’ll be jumping up this list this weekend!  (The graphic below was updated Saturday with the new snowfall added, so we are higher than 27th now!)

Snowiest Quad City Winters

After more bitter cold early next week, a warming trend FINALLY kicks in by the middle and end of next week!

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Now that I have your attention, this is serious and not a joke.  Ladies, listen up.  Yes, I said ladies.  Men can read it, too.

Did you know that erectile dysfunction is one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease?  While I’ve heard that before, I was glancing through the March 2013 “Family Circle” magazine and Dr. Lawrence Hakin at The Cleveland Clinic Florida added that “It can predate a heart attack by up to five years”.

And, I even took the high road in this public service announcement by not showing a picture!  🙂

MEANWHILE… THAT HIGH ROAD DIDN’T LAST LONG

I think Ben Affleck is hot.  I absolutely loved the ’70s look in “Argo”.

Argo-Ben-Affleck

I got a good laugh and had a few indecent thoughts over a joke CBS producer Chuck Lorre (“The Big Bang Theory”, “Two and a Half Men”, and many more) told at the Producer Guild Awards in late January when he was accepting a career achievement award.

Lorre joked with the crowd that he was standing next to Affleck in the bathroom, “Yes I peeked. And yes, Comic Con, he can play Batman.”

ben-affleck-batman-t-shirt

As you might know, the fanboy/fangirl world was turned upside down when it was announced that Affleck would play Batman in the new untitled Superman/Batman” movie in May 2016.

Affleck laughed at Lorre’s joke and followed it up onstage with this joke about his genitals, “Thank you very much.  Whoever you are, God bless you. I’m often confused with Matt Damon but rarely with Michael Fassbender, so it was a nice change.”

Chuck Lorre

There was so much uproar about Lorre’s joke that the producer issued this statement, “Not that it really matters, but the joke I made at the Producers Guild Awards regarding Ben Affleck’s genitals being of sufficient size to fill the caped crusader’s codpiece was just that, a joke. I’ve never met Mr. Affleck in or out of a men’s room. Nor am I in the habit of peeking at another guy’s junk while standing at a urinal.”

People, chill out.  It was funny.

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Kylie Minogue and I hope that I get to see her in concert when she tours next.

Kylie has sold about 70 million records worldwide.  In the U.S., she’s had 5 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with two of them reaching the Top Ten.  However, in the U.K, Kylie has scored 49 Top 40 hits with 35 of them reaching the Top Ten, and 8 topped the charts!

I know I featured the lyric video to her new song last week, but here is the official video and she looks incredible!

Kiss Me Once

The new album, “Kiss Me Once” comes out March 18, 2014.

“FURTHER TALES OF THE CITY”

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past two years, you know that I often talk about music, movies, and television.  Lately, I’ve been including books, too.  My friend, Kelly Hager, would be so proud of me.

Over the past week, I just finished my fifth book of 2014!  That obviously means I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill and it’s working.  I’m down 8.2 pounds since the start of the year!  Only 12 more pounds to go before this summer.

I just finished “Further Tales of the City”, the third book in Armistead Maupin’s nine-book “Tales of the City” series.

Further Tales

If you recall from my last two “Random Friday Thoughts” blogs, the series is about a “family” of friends at 28 Barbary Lane in San Fransisco in the 1970s.

In this book, it’s now 1981, President Reagan is just beginning his years in office and the Jim Jones’ Jonestown Masscare plays an integral role in the mystery and intrigue.

One character moves away from Barbary Lane, two residents begin a relationship with each other after years of avoiding it, and one couple re-unites only to break up again.

Someone strives to become a television reporter and another ends up dead and you’ll never guess who killed the character and what happened to the body!

Sadly, this was the last of the books to be made into a miniseries.  It aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s the trailer and it contains some adult situations and language!

Many moons ago, I read the first three books in the series that I just re-read.  Now, it’s on to book four and I have no idea what happens, so this is exciting!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Olivia Newton-John just announced this week that she’ll be playing 45 shows from April through August in the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino!

Olivia

Earlier this year, I blogged that I want to see her in concert this year.  This might be my chance to see her and catch Shania Twain and Britney Spears, too.

The English-born, Australian-raised singer first charted in the United States in 1971 with the #25 pop hit, “If Not For You”.

However, she became an international superstar when she scored five consecutive top ten hits on both the pop and country charts at the same time beginning in 1973.

On the country chart, Olivia had 13 top 40 hits.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

“Let Me Be There” was her first Top Ten hit in America in 1973 reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Billboard Country chart.

That song won Olivia her first Grammy for “Best Female Country Vocal Performance”.  She also won numerous country music awards beginning in 1973 and in the years to come, too.

Olivia Physical

Olivia’s 1981 hit, “Physical” is one of the biggest songs of all-time.  It stayed at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks.  This came after her huge success in the movie, “Grease”, which made $394.5 million in 1978 and the soundtrack spawned three top 5 hits.

Olivia would go on to hit the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 27 times with 15 of those songs reaching the top ten.  She reached the #1 spot on the Hot 100 with “I Honestly Love You” in 1974, “Have You Never Been Mellow” in 1975, “You’re The One That I Want” with John Travolta from “Grease” in 1978, “Magic” in 1980, and “Physical”.

While I could not pick my favorite Olivia song because I love the country songs, the pop songs, and the dance songs, the one that always make me smile and sing along was the #8 title track from her 1980 movie, “Xanadu”.  The song featured the Electric Light Orchestra.

DON’T BLAME CANADA, YOU GOTTA LOVE IT

The 2014 Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia.  So far, there hasn’t been a lot of love for the hosting city or country from terror threats, poor accommodations for many attending the games, Russia’s anti-gay legislation, and the list goes on.

In full Olympics spirit, the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion has a message for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies.

“Don’t You Want Me” by the Human League is still one of my favorite songs of all time and now I’ll smile even more when I hear it.

That’s it for this week.  Enjoy your weekend and thank you for checking out my thoughts.  Feel free to share your thoughts about anything I had to say, whether you agree with me or not.

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