free-vector-james-bond-007_068002_james-bond-007Remember when landing the theme song to a James Bond movie was a big deal? It’s one of those things that feels like it should still be important, but ultimately, I don’t think that it carries quite the weight that it used to.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Bond movies don’t pack the punch they did in the 70s and 80s. I’m not sure I’ve given a shit about a James Bond movie since Pierce Brosnan played him, though I have often wondered if I’d like any of the Ian Fleming novels.

Anyway, I guess there’s a new Bond movie coming out this fall, and Sam Smith got tapped to sing it. The song’s called “Writing’s On The Wall” and I gave it a listen tonight after my Twitter stream erupted in what can only be described as a hate fest. I am no fan of Sam Smith – I think he is the whiniest of the whiny bores. As someone said, every note he sings is covered with a tear drop. Ever since he turned Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” into a funeral dirge, I’ve viewed all his music with a certain degree of suspicion.  The cherry on the top was incessant overplaying of “Stay With Me” by radio.

That said, I actually kind of like it. It sounds like a Bond theme, in a way that a lot of other Bond themes have missed the mark. It might sound just a little too much like “Skyfall” but it’s still capable. I’ll give it a few more listens on Spotify and I may even eventually buy it.

You might think that my favorite Bond song is Madonna’s “Die Another Day,” but you would be wrong. Most of the time when magazines and web sites rank Bond themes, they use it as an excuse to crap all over Madonna yet again, as “Die Another Day” is inevitably ranked “worst Bond song.”  Funny thing is I do think it is one of the weaker Bond theme songs, but it’s a solid song from Madonna. It is autotuned to death, but it was a new direction for her at the time and I think it holds up rather well over a decade from its initial release. It’s biggest crime is not sounding like a Bond song.

No, my favorite Bond song is, hands down, Tina Turner’s “Goldeneye.”

Tina slays this song like latter-day Shirley Bassey. Talk about a Bond song that sounds like a Bond song should. I actually saw Goldeneye in the theater and I’m pretty sure that it was during that viewing that I learned Tina sang the theme song. We didn’t have the Internet to give us all our information months in advance in 1995. I even bought the CD single of “Goldeneye” which had a questionable dance remix of the song.

Coming in a very close second is, naturally, *whispers* “A View To A Kill.”

Posted in Movies, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tweet gone wild

I’m not even sure how this happened, but today, I had a random one-off tweet get favorited 700+ times and 200+ retweets. It was something that I said that struck me as mildly humorous, but clearly, it struck a nerve somewhere.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 9.10.52 PMMy first clue that anything was happening was when I had 11 Twitter notifications between the time I left for work and the time I got to work – something that doesn’t happen to me in a a week most of the time. But then they just kept on coming.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what’s going on with this tweet.  It’s not hashtagged, it’s not remotely controversial. Hell, it’s not even that good. My first thought was bots. Most of the accounts that were favoriting it or retweeting it seemed kind of fake or bot-ish to me. One of the @ replies had tagged Marina & the Diamonds, so I suppose if people were following that through a list, they’d see it. There is apparently a remixer named Olivia Mutant John but they only have 45 followers on Soundcloud, so I find that extremely unlikely as well.

I think that ultimately, the answer is that it was random. Who can predict what takes off and what doesn’t?  Why do some videos go viral and others that are just as funny never reach a wide audience?  What brings something to the front page of reddit when on another day it would have gotten 3 upvotes? The universe is a weird place, and as I well know, you can pour your heart and soul into something and get two likes on Facebook, but something you basically barfed up randomly in less than a minute is beloved by the masses.

All I can say is I hope that oliviamutantjohn got some new followers. Personally, I still prefer “Olivia Neutron-Bomb” but this works too.

Posted in Crazy, Twitter | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

7 songs: Summer 2015

96d836081f0525e23df46d4bfa305f94I feel like August 29th is close enough to the end of the summer that I can recap 7 songs that came to define the crazy, topsy-turvy summer of 2015.  It was a pretty awesome summer for music – maybe not as good as 2012, but as we head into the autumn months, I’ll look back fondly on this summer’s music, but I’ll also remember just how shitty I was at managing my anxiety for most of it. So the songs on this list are a little bit bittersweet, but mostly, they are awesome.

  1. Forget / Marina & the Diamonds
    I wrote about this song at length in a post a few days ago so I won’t say much more than it’s still my favorite song of the summer. And here’s its amazing video again.

  2. Shut Up & Dance / Walk The Moon
    I heard this song a million times at work this summer. Unlike other songs that have been overplayed at work, I don’t want to gouge out my eardrums when I hear it. (see: Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and John Legend’s “All of Me.”) On the contrary, this little slice of 80s synth-pop in the year 2015 has more staying power than I expected.

  3. Bitch I’m Madonna / Madonna
    It’s not the most accomplished piece of art Madonna has ever recorded. The song itself is nowhere near as good as its title. Regardless, I’ve listened to “Bitch I’m Madonna” more times than I thought I would when I initially listened to it in December of 2014. No matter what you think of it, “Bitch I’m Madonna” is a song Madonna was born to sing.

  4. The Other Boys / NERVO (feat. Jake Shears, Kylie Minogue & Nile Rodgers)
    I kind of love that Kylie Minogue is just doing whatever the fuck she wants to do. At this point in her career, she can afford to do it. Clearly, part of that is performing one-off tracks with other people and by and large, the results have been glorious. Of note: I’d listen to an entire album of Shears & Minogue.

  5. I Can Change / Brandon Flowers
    Flowers’ The Desired Effect is probably my favorite album of the year. It’s a smart, concise album steeped in retro sounds. Trying to pick a single song from it is a challenge because all the songs from the album have taken a turn in heavy rotation. But “I Can Change”, with its Bronski Beat sample and Neil Tennant guest vocal probably wins the prize.

  6. Pageant Material / Kacey Musgraves
    Oh, Kacey Musgraves. You might just save country music from itself yet. Her voice is so effortless and her songwriting so clever. With not a single bit of autotune, she continues to crank out song after song that is true to the spirit of traditional country music while at the same time, poking fun at it. She remains the heir apparent to Dolly Parton. She could do worse.

  7. High By The Beach / Lana Del Rey
    I was not a fan of Lana Del Rey’s second album Ultraviolence. Every song sounded pretty much like the one before it. It was definitely no Born To Die. I have high hopes for this next record though, based on the strength of “High By The Beach”, a song that feels so much like late summer, you kind of have to think she planned it like that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rebel Heart – by the numbers

It’s been months now since Madonna released her 13th album, Rebel Heart. Thanks to the massive amount of leaking, it’s also the only album of hers that feels like it’s had multiple release dates.  Now with the start of the Rebel Heart Tour looming less than two weeks away, I thought it time to take a look at just how I’ve been listening to Rebel Heart.  I screen capped the Rebel Heart deluxe edition from my iTunes library, including the play counts. It should be noted that my “deluxe edition” is a bit of an amalgam of the official deluxe edition and leaked version that hit the Internet five weeks prior to its release.  You’ll have to click on this picture to make it remotely readable.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.37.43 PMA few thoughts:

  • Overall, I’ve listened to this album a lot less than I did MDNA. All things considered, it’s a good but not great album.  Part of the problem is that it’s too damn long. I would have rather had a solid 12 songs than the lumbering behemoth that we ended up with.  It also suffers from what I feel like Madonna playing it too safe.  There are some authentic “Madonna moments” on the record, but in general, it feels kind of generic – as if the songs could have been recorded by anyone.
  • The first half of the album has definitely benefited from being out since December when Madonna scrambled to counter the leaks by releasing the first 6 songs on iTunes. It also helps that they are, more or less, the best songs on the record.  That said, I’m not saying that “Bitch I’m Madonna” is a GOOD song, just that it benefitted from the early release.
  • In the “Holy Water” vs. “S.E.X.” war, “Holy Water” wins easily.  Neither is a great song, but “S.E.X” is the only non-remix, officially released song to not break into double digits yet.  If it had been up to me, “S.E.X.” would have been jettisoned from the album. I would have substituted the demo “Revolution” but no one asked my opinion. Based on Madonna’s Instagram, it looks like we’re going to get both “Holy Water” and “S.E.X” on the tour.
  • I still prefer the original Avicii “demo” versions of the title track and “Wash All Over Me” to the finished versions.
  • The two “Living For Love” remixes are largely garbage, as evidenced by a single play each.
  • “Beautiful Scars” and “Graffiti Heart” should have made the album proper (which ends with “Rebel Heart,” rather than being delegated to bonus tracks.)

In the end, I’m still excited for the tour, but it’s largely based on the prospect of hearing classics like “Who’s That Girl” and “True Blue” performed live for the first time in nearly 30 years and the fact that a live Madonna show has never disappointed. Amazingly, precious few details of the tour have leaked. Madonna has apparently learned her lesson from the album launch.  I guess we’ll find out on September 9th when the tour opens in Montreal.

Posted in Madonna, Music, Rebel Heart | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Forget about it

marinaandthediamonds-feb15-3I’m going to do my annual “end of summer” post with between 7 and 10 random songs that defined the summer. Here is 2014’s list and, for the nuts of it, 2012’s.  Apparently I had better things to do in 2013. But before I get to that, I’d like to mention what was probably my song of the summer – “Forget” by Marina & The Diamonds.

I was so nervous about Marina’s album in the run-up to its release.  I had liked the title track enough, but then all the subsequent songs released ahead of the album were, frankly, a bit on the boring side.  And then “Forget” dropped, and my faith was restored.

“Forget” pretty much embodies everything I love about Marina’s music. Smart lyrics, a punchy beat, and a killer melody. It is easily my favorite track off of FROOT.  It utilizes Marina’s both the sultry lower register of her alto and her upper register as well. She may not have the range of a young Mariah Carey, but I love that she is smart about how she shows off her vocal range.

Lyrically, “Forget” is in the top 5 Marina songs. I am pretty sure that my absolute favorite part of “Forget” is how she manages to work the work “tortoise” into a pop song. That she adorably pronounces it “tor-toyse” is just icing on the cake.  I also double dog dare anyone to find a song with the word “abacus” in it.  Anyone finding one with both “tortoise” and “abacus” is clearly writing their own song.

For those wondering, “Forget” is all but guaranteed a berth on my year-end CD. Even if I grow weary of it, denying it a spot seems grossly unfair when it has been so prominent in my listening all summer.  We’re going to see her live in Minneapolis on October 30th – my second time seeing her live (as well as Anna’s.)

And yeah, I think I’ve already chosen the cover of the year-end CD – but wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me!

Posted in Music, songs, summer | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

My “duh” moment of the day

I was surfing Tumblr or something tonight and I came across this great picture of Herb Ritts and Madonna.tumblr_nt3ls6RwX61qls92lo1_1280

I saw it and remembered that he had died of AIDS, but couldn’t remember when. I knew he did a lot of work with Madonna, famously photographing her True Blue album cover, directing the video for “Cherish” and doing all the photos for The Immaculate Collection.  So over to Wikipedia I went.

It was there that I learned that these two album covers, which I always thought were so similar, were both shot by Ritts.

I really can’t believe that it took me until now to realize this.  Seriously. Someone revoke my fan card.

No wonder Olivia served as a gateway drug to Madonna fandom to so many Madonna fans.  Also, no wonder why I won’t be recreating the Physical album cover on one of my year-end CDs.  I’ve already done it!

Posted in album covers, Madonna, Music | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The house is not a home

My mother-in-law and her husband are looking to move back to the small Iowa town where they used to live. In scanning the real estate listings, they came upon a listing for the house we used to live in when we lived there.


It’s been almost 12 years since we lived there, but I still think about that house more than you might imagine.  We spent the early years of our marriage in that house, brought a newborn baby home to it, and had the first of our cat deaths under that roof.  The clothesline in the picture above was installed by Heidi’s stepfather. We carpeted the stairs, repainted the walls and completely redid the bathroom.  We redid it primarily because it was woefully inadequate.  For starters, it was the only bathroom in the house and, while it was a full bathroom, had only a bathtub (i.e., no shower.)  As a kid that grew up in a house where the only shower was in the unfinished part of our basement, this didn’t really bother me too much.  We took baths all the time as kids.  But we knew that adding a shower would improve the resale value of the house and besides which, we wanted one.  After all, we were to the point where we wanted a shower.

We got a claw foot tub for free from the neighbors and bought a shower for it.  We replaced the floor and the tile on the walls.  We got a new sink and toilet.  It was a job.  We did it all ourselves with help from our fathers.  I still recall how, when Heidi’s dad was putting in new flooring, there was a hole in the floor that the cats got into.  I was nervous that he was just going to close them up in there.  Fortunately, they all left with us.

Unfortunately, the departure from that house was a whole lot sooner than we had thought.  When we redid the bathroom, we had no idea that in less than a year, we’d be pulling up stakes and moving.  We always say that it was the 2004 Democratic caucuses that prompted us to think about moving. After being treated very poorly by the people that we were supposedly most ideologically similar to, we decided that the small town life, while nice in theory, is less than ideal in reality.  The fact remains that in most small towns, if you don’t have grandparents buried in the cemetery, you’re never really “in.”  So I started looking for work elsewhere and in less than 3 weeks, I had applied, interviewed, been offered, and accepted the job I have now.  Of course, that meant we had to sell our house. No problem, right?  We had a new bathroom!

WRONG.  The house was an albatross around our necks for 18 months as try as we might, we could not move it.  It was a bad time to try to be selling a house in small town Iowa.  Ultimately, we took a huge loss on it just to get it off our hands.  I still kind of shudder when I think about how much I had to pay to stop being an owner of that house.

Seeing the pictures inside the house in the realtor’s listing really made me unexpectedly sad and nostalgic. Heidi would say “of course it did” but I honestly didn’t expect to feel the feelings I did when I looked at the inside of the house.  There are still bits of us in there.  I can still remember what it felt like to live there.  I’m very happy with the life I have now and the house I live in, but I can’t help but pine for the days when things were a little simpler. Or maybe they just seemed simpler.  The temptation to romanticize the past is sometimes difficult to resist.

My daughter doesn’t even remember the house, but I sure do.  I guess there’s something about the first house you own that makes it special, even if it did stick it to you financially. Even that can’t make me feel anything but fondness for it.

Posted in family, Life stories, nostalgia | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment