Friday, July 31, 2009

Love, Save the Empty

I'm annoyed. Dating in this day and age is no longer the typical you meet, there's a spark, you get to know each other, and slowly something grows. Everything is part of this gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, fast-paced, let's-have-sex-before-we-even-say-hello mentality. I won't deny that I've been caught up in it before. Social networking and dating websites, cell phones, and online chat have made communication so accessible yet people have never felt more alone in their lives.

It's no wonder women have mental issues and men act like predatory jerks.

There is no movie (or book) better suited to explain this dysfunctional phenomenon than He's Just Not That Into You. I watched it. I saw myself in every single one of the womens' situations. I got angry. I laughed. I cried.

And then I simply realized that this is reality.

People do stupid things. Men don't call back when they say they will. Women obsess to the point of being idiots. We're all scared. We all want to take that chance. We're just not as confident as we'd like to be. But we all want the same thing though. To find that one person who completes us, who will love us even with our stupid mistakes.

One major point in this movie that wasn't a mistake however, was the soundtrack. It's beautifully balanced between great nostalgic 80's favorites like The Human League's Don't You Want Me, The Talking Heads' This Must Be the Place, and The Cure's Friday I'm in Love along with newer tracks from Corinne Bailey Rae, The Ting Tings, and Lily Allen. Scarlett Johansson even sings one track herself (wonderful voice in my humble opinion). The small gem of the soundtrack however, comes from a singer-songwriter named Erin McCarley. Her voice has a purity that is not easily found in the pop world today, and her stunning beauty makes her one to watch out for. Her single Love, Save the Empty, actually has two different videos.

The original:

And the re-release for the movie:

While I love the original with its quaint simple charm (and cute girl carrying a fish around town), the re-released version actual had me paying more attention to what the lyrics were saying. There were many more close-ups of Erin's gorgeous face where we can see her singing full phrases rather than the choppy, quick cuts of the first video, and the movie clips are interjected perfectly adding emphasis to lyrics that connect us all in the journey to find the one.

It all just goes to show that sometimes being still is much better than the fast paced that we're all used to taking.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Off Topic

I'm going off topic for a minute. It's important.

I live in an amazing city. There is nothing that would ever take me away from this place. Complain all you want about how the winters are crap and the traffic and CTA is a mess. Our city and state government is more than a little corrupt. But there is a spirit of creativity and genuine delight here that I have found nowhere else. People here have the knack of finding beauty in simplicity and that is one of my highest priorities in life.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

What you may not know

What you may not know about me is that I'm actually a choir dork. I write a ton about pop music because I love it, but my real passion, more than opera, more than rock, is choir music. I love the sounds we make, the concentration of so many people for that one perfect moment. There is no experience like it in the world.

I miss the days where I sang in my choir in undergrad. We were an amazing group of musicians with a truly passionate conductor. I learned about some amazing choral composers that I probably would not have come across if it weren't for him. One of my favorites is Eric Whitacre. Not only is he amazingly talented and hotter than any movie star on the screen today, he's also extremely humble. I met him in person about four years ago at Midwest (ok, so I'm a band dork too), and told him how much I love his choral music. He was genuinely surprised and happy, and actually took a few minutes to talk to me. I was completely smitten.

But the most truly amazing thing about him though is his pushing the boundaries of music and technology. He's written an opera called Paradise Lost that infuses technology and live action on stage. One of his more recent projects has also included putting together a virtual choir for his piece entitled Sleep.

The premise is simple. A video of a conductor is posted. Everyone sings along on their own part. The outcome is phenomenal.

And he's going to be doing it again with another of his pieces, Lux Aurumque. You can bet my webcam will be ready for this one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Video Noir

Last night, I had a most excellent time at Chicago's Movies in the Park, a summer tradition running now for ten years. There is nothing like gathering with a few thousand people in the grass of Butler Field to watch a movie that everyone loves. A few favorites from the last couple of years have included Grease and The Sound of Music (can you imagine singing do, a deer, a female deer with roughly three thousand people? It's pretty awesome.) This is just another small reason that I love living in this city. There's so much to do here and it's all free.

Last night was a film noir classic that I was familiar with (having the soundtrack to the musical of the same name), but I hadn't actually ever seen the original movie of Sunset Boulevard. This is a beautiful example of film noir at its best. Shot entirely in black and white, it is a crime drama that emphasizes "moral ambiguity and sexual motivation" to the very core. What many people also don't realize is that this movie is the origin of that famous line "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

The film noir genre doesn't only pertain to film. There have been plenty of videos shot in this style as well and they range in a broad spectrum of artists and styles. My mind instantly goes to this first classic from a legend in his own right, Mr. Rod Stewart. His video for Infatuation follows the film noir style to a tee.

A more recent entry close to the film noir genre is No Doubt's It's My Life. Though shot in color (and a little too closely following the plot line of Chicago), it has the early 50's crime scene drama written all over it.

Madonna is known for her outrageous and controversial videos that push the boundaries of fans and critics alike. Justify My Love, while having been banned by MTV, could also be considered in the film noir genre for its aggressive sexual nature and ambiguous sensuality.

And of course, a little bonus video for the musical theater dork in me. Here is the amazing Glenn Close in a scene from Sunset Boulevard, With One Look.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer School

It's been way too long since I've had the time to post. Summer school is kicking my ass. Just when I think I'm about to get caught up, something else falls apart and I'm left trying to pull the pieces back together. So, to remind myself of a simpler, better are a few more summertime videos to tide me (and you) over till I'm back to blogging in full swing.

My personal ultimate summer jam (before Will Smith became such a huge movie star)

Classic - No one can sing it like Janis. Makes me want to sit on a porch in the early evening, just taking in some suburban ambiance. (maybe it's time for me to get out of the city)

Whatever happened to The Sundays? Another great song that simply makes me happy. I think I need to revisit my CD collection to update my iPod.

And the ultimate summer song (with karaoke lyrics)

This video is one of those summer songs that I remember from when I was just a little girl. I always loved singing along to the scat, but didn't ever really pay attention to the actual words. The best video that I could find to post today had the karaoke lyrics and's all about sex and driving drunk. Makes me wonder about other songs that I love from that era that I didn't pay attention to.

So what are your favorite summertime jams?