Archive for December, 2009

BLONDE BUT NOT BROKEN

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Coming January 5th is Katharine McPhee‘s sophomore disc UNBROKEN. Earlier this year, I mentioned McPhee’s blonde transformation and her music, of course, with the super-rich music video for HAD IT ALL.

I will be the first to say, that I was not a fan of Mcphee’s original direction with her first album, but it seems like this time around the American Idol alum has found a groove that finally matches the poise of her sultry chords. And I, for one, am looking forward to hearing this record in its entirety.

In the meantime, YOU.MUST.CLICK.HERE to see Katharine live, performing tracks from Unbroken, in HD (for Walmart Soundcheck).

MICHAEL CERA: NOT A MOLESTER

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I think Cera would laugh at this headline!

Most known for wearing short shorts in Juno and his eccentric voice in Superbad, Cera has become the face of the charmingly awkward. He’s the poster child for the seemingly uncool, which makes him cool, of course, with his pale skin, and his love for all things indie rock. But beyond his comedic genius in such films, is his ability to play characters so well that they seem to reach out somehow to those who never felt in. And his music, seems to do the same.

The Long Goodbye (AKA Michael Cera’s band) is a Los Angeles-based indie trio which lists Weezer, Brian Wilson, and The Decemberists as its influences. A feature in Spin Magazine describes the band’s songs as “silly, confessional, and off-the-cuff rag-tag ditties,” based on “simple structures” and “adolescent-in-love lyrics.”

The band, who remains unsigned, has often been viewed as just-sorta-there. According to Limewire’s Music Blog: “Based on the lo-fi quality of the band’s recordings, it is clear that the boys view their side-project as a goalless hobby, or just an excuse to carry around guitars.”

Although I’m unaware of the boys intentions, I will keep it generic by saying that the music is just as charming as Cera himself, the sound blending perfectly onto any mixtape.

Decide for yourself. Listen to Michael Cera’s band, here.

PS: I’m looking forward to Cera’s new film, Youth In Revolt, although he does look a little molester-like with that mustache!

MADONNA, OFF THE DANCEFLOOR

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Madonna. The name alone speaks volumes. But whatever image or opinion that may come to mind, block it. Because until you watch I AM BECAUSE WE ARE (Madonna’s documentary on the millions of orphans in Malawi), you may misconstrue the hype behind the persona that has long held our attention with fluorescent pop anthems, warping fashions, and interlocking lips (most notably with Britney Spears).

Madonna is both the top-grossing female and solo artist of the decade, scoring $802 million in ticket sales for her concert ventures. She has 47 (and counting) top 10 singles. Countless accolades have graced her existence but her biggest acheivement, in my book, is the work she’s done off the dancefloor.

In case you’ve missed it, here’s your chance to witness the story of Malawi’s crisis, as told by Madonna.

Check out I AM BECAUSE WE ARE, in full, below.

UNDRESSING RIHANNA’S HARD EXTERIOR

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Rihanna perform live for a taping for NBC’s New Year’s Special with Carson Daly. Entering the stage in a fur coat that swallowed her tiny frame, Rihanna quickly unrobed and got down to business (sorry, this is not meant to sound dirty). Wearing nothing but a cropped fur coat underneath (with midriff showing) and black gloves with top hat in tow, Rihanna grabbed her crotch so much, you’d think she was playing the part of Michael Jackson. For real, it became distracting, maybe she had an itch? I’m not sure, but all jokes aside, it was an incredible show. Up first was the attitude-driven The Wait is Over, then onto the new single Hard, and then came the whole freakin’ kit and caboodle, when out of nowhere Jay-Z popped onto the stage to join Rihanna for Run This Town & Umbrella.

But if you look close enough, undressing the girl of these anthems of attitude, behind the hard persona, Rihanna’s vulnerability can still be seen. As I’ve written earlier, I am not a huge fan of her new image. I prefer artists’ vulnerable sides in general, because I feel that is where the real truth lies, the more substance-driven truth that may be covered up by topless photoshoots in GQ, and rough songs about violence and revenge. And on Rihanna’s wonderful new record (even in all its explicit labels), the track that stands out the most to me, is the least HARD of them all–a vulnerable, unique, honest track about the images left after love. Backed by Will.i.am, the song Photographs is a sure-fire winner.

Check out Rihanna’s softer side in Photographs, featuring Will.i.am, below.

MAKING BABIES WITH SUFJAN STEVENS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

This will make you smile no matter how jaded your heart has become.

When I first witnessed the visual dynamo of BABIES (a documentary film by Thomas Balmes), my heart felt fuzzy all over. But it was more than just the visuals, it was the music that also helped the trailer deliver a snaggletooth baby bite to the soul.

The trailer features music by Sufjan Stevens, and a song called The Perpetual Self. His music alone, makes me gaga, so one can expect that when babies were added to the picture, I officially lost it. Cuteness overload!

Check out the trailer to Thomas Balme’s BABIES, after the jump!

MILEY CYRUS POISONED

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Not really.

But she is working with Bret Michaels of Poison. Cyrus, recently revealed a track she is currently working on, and, well, it’s definitely unexpected.

Says Miley: Every Rose is a classic and one of my favorites. Bret Michaels and Poison was my very first concert and introduced me to rock and roll. I recently heard the song play and everyone around me starting singing along. It’s a song that everyone knows and loves. I feel like the way the music industry is today really shelters kids and they aren’t exposed to songs as honest and real as this one. Bret and I had a great time in the studio together just hanging out and making music. It was so surreal to have him sit down with his acoustic guitar and walk me through Every Rose and then give me the opportunity to add my own flare and edge to it. Bret is so passionate about music and it shows. I think it is such a rad collaboration because it shows that two artists that seem so different on the outside can come together and organically create something that we are both proud of. I look forward to finishing the song with Bret and John Shanks who is producing.”

Every rose has its thorn and we’re about to get pricked! I kid, I kid.

I genuinely like Miley’s music and I will definitely be seeing her upcoming film, The Last Song, based off the novel by Nicholas Sparks when it is released in April of 2010. The movie was filmed on Tybee Island, near Savannah, Georgia this past summer. You can watch the theatrical trailer, below.

BROKEN HEELS & FAMILY MEALS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Check out Alexandra Burke’s Broken Heels. The video from the singer, the winner of Britain’s X-Factor, was choreographed by Beyonce’s main dude, Frank Gatson (yep, he did Single Ladies).

On how Burke’s spending Christmas: “I’ll be at home with the family in London. I couldn’t be anywhere else. We all cook and have family meals together so it’s going to be a great day. I don’t want any presents, I’m just happy being with them.”

Spoken like a true champ! Family 1st.

Check out the champ, bringin’ the sass, in the catchy Broken Heels, below.

KINGS OF LEON SPIN RIGHT ROUND

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Coming off a year full of highs, Kings of Leon grace the cover of Spin Magazine, where the group is named Band of the Year.

The boys behind the massively successful (and it took quite a trek to get to this point) band, spent their childhood traveling with their father (Leon) who was a Southern Pentecostal preacher. In this strict sheltered environment, the idea of rock music seemed an exotic idea. When the boys’ father resigned from the church in 1997, the boys shot off to Nashville and embraced their repressed rock roots. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Check out a moving dance performance to King of Leon’s USE SOMEBODY (cover), on Britain’s Clothes Show Live, below.

KEEP THE CHANGE, YOU FILTHY ANIMAL

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Yo yo yo, who dat be? It’s R-O-B on the M-I-C. Ok, I’m done. So basically, it’s almost Christmas, and I don’t know about y’all but I’m pretty stoked! Yes, among the challenges of the holiday, comes the ever-changing flight chaos, or train/traffic chaos, or the chaos of punching your way through tweens at the local mall (ok, so punching wasn’t the best word, but you get the point). Either way, I am sure you are feeling the excitement of the holiday season.

But I’ve got to ask–are you feeling the love? I remember being a kid (ok, I still do this, I admit) and loving Christmas because it meant:

A. I was getting new CDs
B. I was getting books/toys
C. I could watch Home Alone and pig out on homemade fudge & peanut butter balls (Welcome to the South!) all damn day

Yes, these are all wonderful things but as I’ve gotten older/grown up, I’ve come to realize that the beauty of giving, really has nothing to do with the gift but more to do with the push behind why we choose to give in the first place.

Christmas, to me, first and foremost, is a time of God, not gifts. Yes, gifts are a part of this, but more than anything, I’ve come to take Christmas as a time to truly cherish the blessings God weaves into the tracks of our head (yes, weaves/tracks/head was a bad description also, unless you’re Britney Spears, but you know what I’m sayin’). Basically, I guess, in my own silly way, I want to say to each and every one of you: Cherish what you do have and DO NOT WASTE ANOTHER SECOND of your time worrying about what you don’t have. Things are things. Diamonds & flat-screen TVs are meaningless compared to the love that I know is floating around you. Take a good look and drench yourself in that. Oh, and while you’re at it, cock your hat!

Merry Christmas everyone! Y’all have fun now, ya hear?!

“Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.”

–Frank Sinatra

EMPIRE STATE OF MIND II (THE CRAZY EYE REMIX FT. STEPHEN COLBERT)

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com



How Alicia Keys kept a straight face during this is beyond me.

Wearing a hoodie with facial expressions only he can manage, Colbert appeared during Alicia’s performance on The Colbert Report and dropped the following lines:

“Shoppin’ mall is close, my community is gated/ My shorties are all private-school educated/ Home theater system, 60-inch plasma. Clean suburban air, much better for my asthma/ Still hit the city, Times Square, keep it real/ Hard Rock Cafe for the appetizer deal/ M&M Store, Disney Store, I’m in heaven/ I own this town from 41st to 47/ Take you to ‘The Lion King,’ that show is fantastic/ Leave half an hour early so I can beat the traffic/ I can get home really fast, driver rocks an E-Z Pass/ Land of cheaper gas and the upper middle class.” <--HA! Check out the always lovely Alicia Keys performing the New York anthem (with Stephen Colbert), below.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor U.S. Speedskating

MTV’S THE BURIED LIFE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

FINALLY!!! A show on MTV backed with a heart instead of a hard-on.

Let me be the first to say, that it’s been quite some time since I’ve actually watched MTV. For one, the programming has been lackluster, and two, with a few exceptions, the shows have lacked edge & substance (I miss Gideon Yago, oh & actual music videos!). Apparently MTV has gotten the memo though, that we aren’t all shallow, selfish, or materialistic brats who only care about drama, sex & keggers, because MTV’s shifting shapes in a new series called The Buried Life.

The Buried Life asks one question: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE?

The show follows the lives of four guys, who, along the path of achieving their own bucket list, help to encourage others in achieving their own. I predict a lot of laughter & tears, laced with a killer soundtrack.

Watch the trailer for the incredible true story of a journey called The Buried Life, below. Series premiere January 18 at 10PM ET/PT. To find out more, click here.

MERRY WASTE MANAGEMENT

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

A gift only Jason Mraz can give.

To the average person, Christmas means giving gifts wrapped in paper with snowflakes or snowmen or Hannah Montana (whatever pokes your fancy), but for Mraz, it has more to do with waste management.

Check out his weird/charming/always green ramblings on the holiday season below (as taken from his blog).

“The best present is your presence! Be a helper – Spend time with loved ones. Maybe commit yourself to cleaning out their junk drawers. Assist someone in proper waste management. Such as, recycle their old cell phones and unwanted electronics to ensure it doesn’t hit the landfill. The good people at Electronic Recyclers can help make this easy. The green goal is to reduce your addiction to clutter. Ban the Phonebook for example. Unless your 80, I doubt there’s a need for a new one every season.”
-JM

Good advice, kids. Good advice.

SELFISH RESIDUE

SELFISH RESIDUE
by Rob Brayl
Copyright © 2009 / All Rights Reserved

There are lines
That cannot be crossed
Etched in silhouettes
Of skin and bones
And the heart quickly beats
The lingering of lust
Trips our feet

Temptation is satisfaction reversed
Quenching temporary thirst
Lying underneath the sin
Easily broken beneath cracks of dirt
Leaving faith stripped
Upon needles and pins

Yet when we’re naked of the world
Is when we’re exposed to you
Nothing hiding the habit of the selfish residue
That runs rampant through our veins

This love could be so magnetic
That it pulls the earth
And melts the moon
Like slipping fireworks
Dying for just one touch
Of the ground we walk upon

If only
If only we’d believe

FROM MEAN GIRL TO HUMANITARIAN?

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“I just heard a 14 year old victim of human trafficking was married off to a 45-year-old man as her father could not repay the money he had borrowed. This story of the 14-year-old being sold is 1 of a million. I am going to use my voice to bring attention to this global crisis.”
-LL

Lohan is currently in India to film a documentary with the BBC about the trafficking of women and children in the country.

Lohan tweeted: Focusing on celebrities and lies is so disconcerting, when we can be changing the world one child at a time…hope everyone can see that.

I’m rooting for you, Lindsay.

DELIVERANCE FROM BABES & BEER

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Apparently I’ve been in a deja vu sort of mood lately, playing some old favorite tracks on repeat (and after writing this, I’m in the mood to throw on Deliverance with Burt Reynolds, although I can deal without the mountain creepers & that hideous “pretty mouth” scene with the toothless man). Recently, it’s been this little diddy, Bubba Sparxxx with Timbaland in DELIVERANCE, a track which always takes me back to the mountains of Virginia and a little too much PBR during college. What can I say, you might be a redneck/indie rock kid if! I kid, I kid. Alanis was right: You live. You learn.

The track is original & infectious, fusing bluegrass with hip hop backed with incredible lyrics and a message that actually means something besides babes & beer. Although receiving critical acclaim, the album did not sell well. Go fig! Either way, the song, to me, is a rare pop gem.

Check it!

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