Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Archive for February, 2010

Mixed Emotions: The Pop Conundrum of the Black Eyed Peas

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 27, 2010

Over the last year or so, two questions have been pressing on me, and inspired by this week’s new #1 on the Hot 100, it seems as good a time as any to ask them out loud:

1. How much better would the Black Eyed Peas be if they were only Fergie and, cutting out the two useless rabble-rousers?
2. How much better would the Black Eyed Peas seem if they had never been considered to be a rap group?

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Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s), Mixed Emotions | 3 Comments »

Don’t You Forget About Me: The Beach Boys – “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man),” 1964

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 24, 2010

First off, let me say this: The first season of Men of a Certain Age was significantly better than any TNT show (especially one endlessly hyped during the MLB playoffs, usually a sure sign of deathliness) has a right to be. It feels like a show that should have happened decades ago–a grounded, well-acted portrayal of the constant stresses and occasional rewards of life close to the half-century mark, without the snappy punchlines and caricatured supporting cast such a premise would normally suggest. (Forgive me, Modern Family enthusiasts, but I just can’t take another explanation-less faux-documentary sitcom in my life right now.) Andre Braugher’s greatness is no surprise, of course, and I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Scott Bakula from my days of watching Quantum Leap re-runs on Sci Fi, but the revelation here is Ray Romano, who when freed from the cruel oppression of an interminable laugh track, a perpetually pissed off Patricia Heaton and a family of Emmy-clawing ingrates, turns out to be an impressively expressive and relatable actor.

The show is strong all around, but perhaps its biggest home run is with its credit sequence and theme music, which proves once again that sometimes the most obvious choice is the best one: The Beach Boys’ “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man).”

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Posted in Don't You Forget About Me | 1 Comment »

Commercial Break: Twilight: New Coverage Plan

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 23, 2010

The good part: The werewolf going “Soooo…sup?” to not-Kristen Stewart at the end. Easily the best and most succinct parody of the core ridiculousness at the center of the entire Twilightverse that I’ve seen so far. The bad part: The fact that despite the rest of the look being pretty spot on (down to the fact that at first glance, I thought it actually was Robert Pattinson playing the dude), not-Kristen Stewart is blonde and apparently pushing 30. Maybe they just needed to change one big detail to get around some sort of copyright issue. Shame, though.

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One Moment in Time: Evaluating Alanis Morissette’s 18 Months in the Sun

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 23, 2010

Did you catch Beyonce’s cover of “You Oughta Know” at the Grammys a couple weeks ago? Maybe not, since it was wedged in between two halves of a bizarrely militaristic¬† and somewhat terrible performance of “If I Were a Boy,” but nonetheless, I found the choice of cover fairy interesting (although naturally, not as interesting as if she hadn’t skipped over the “Would she go down on you in a theater?” line–boooooo.) It had been such a long time since I could remember a popular artist willingly invoking the memory of Alanis Morissette, and to see such a pop music tastemaker as Beyonce covering her in such a high-profile gig, it got me to thinking about a question I never thought I’d actually contemplate. This June, it will be 15 years since Jagged Little Pill was released back in 1995–is it finally time to objectively re-evaluate Alanis’s place in pop history?

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Posted in One Moment in Time | 9 Comments »

Don’t You Forget About Me: “Boy, You Sure are a Funny Kid, Johnny…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 17, 2010

Am I the only one who can’t get this song out of his head when seeing the promos for everyone’s favorite fur-wearing, Ruskie-idolizing, Lady Gaga-chumming ice skater’s Sundance documentary series? What’s more, is this what the show’s creators intended to do with the title? I mean, you don’t often see American TV series getting named after Men At Work songs not even released as singles in the US, but I’m not sure what else the show’s title would be referring to, exactly. (Apparently there was also a race horse name named Be Good Johnny, but….nah.) Besides, you can’t deny how perfectly the song fits Mr. Weir in its lyrical portrayal of the titular aloof youngster. No doubt this Johnny was not particularly likely to go out for football or cricket either, and was probably more of a fan of dreaming all the day long. Not to mention that he probably heard the “What kind of a boy are you, Johnny?” question more than once in his time.

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Posted in Don't You Forget About Me | 2 Comments »

Clap Clap ClapClapClap: Notes From All-Star Weekend

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 15, 2010

People who complain about All-Star Weekend sicken me a little. Yeah, sure, there’s nitpicking to be done here and there, and I’ll certainly do my fair share below, but on the whole, I’ll never understand how anyone who considers themselves to be an NBA fan can not get excited over the general celebration of NBA culture that is All-Star Weekend. Even when certain parts of it don’t quite live up to expectation, the rush of just seeing all of these guys together under one roof (well, two different roofs in this case I guess, depending) doing there thing is enough to make just about anything forgivable. And when it’s actually good, too…man, it’s just so much fun to watch. Getting through the long first half of the season can be something of a slog at times, and it’s my opinion that All-Star Weekend is our reward as fans for sticking with it. So here are my hopefully mostly open-hearted and not-too-judgmental thoughts on the unfoldings of All-Star Weekend, in chronological order:

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Posted in Clap Clap ClapClapClap | 2 Comments »

One Moment in Time: The 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 12, 2010

If there was one sporting event from the 2000s that I wish I could have seen live, this probably would be it. I don’t even mean live as in live in person at Oracle Arena–although undoubtedly that would have been especially righteous–but rather, just watching it at home on TV as it was happening. Not being much of an NBA fan at the time, I obviously didn’t see it until much, much later, by which point I had heard about it so much that I figured actually watching it so far after the fact would be extremely underwhelming. Not so. When I finally saw the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on an NBA TV marathon rebroadcast of every Slam Dunk Contest in history (God bless NBA TV for doing this every year, by the way), it still had me jumping out of my desk chair. You can take your World Series comebacks, your Super Bowl upsets, your potential Triple Crown winners. Give me Vince Carter and a windmill 360.

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Posted in Clap Clap ClapClapClap, One Moment in Time | 3 Comments »

Commercial Break: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 11, 2010

The key to this one : the slight raise in pitch and volume as TMYMCSL exclaims “Look again — THE TICKETS ARE NOW DIAMONDS!

Look over your shoulder, GEICO–Old Spice is coming up from behind. Although I am starting to kinda dig your new campaign, too.

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Commercial Break: Punch Buggy Super Bowl

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 8, 2010

It’s hard to say why the Saints winning the Super Bowl left me so underwhelmed this year. Maybe it’s because I’m still reeling from that NFC Championship Game. Maybe it’s because I got too personally invested in Peyton Manning making his stake as the greatest quarterback of all time and somehow making the once-infallible Tom Brady seem like something of a decade afterthought. Maybe it’s because I still don’t understand how, for the life of me, that fucking on-side kick actually worked (BAAASKETTTTTT!!!!!!) Maybe it’s just because the volume was low on the TV on the party where I was watching. Or maybe it’s because, for what seems like at least the third year in a row, the commercials ranged from average to disappointing to downright offensive (no, Bud Light, putting in T-Pain at the end does not make it OK for you to do another autotune-themed commercial about two years after its sell-by date).

Only two ads seemed consensus standouts in any sort of positive way: The Google “Parisian Love” ad and the Volkswagen “Punch Buggy” ad. Not much to say about the former–just a nice, clever, well-structured spot that makes you wonder why more big companies don’t go the understated route. (Well, excet for Taco Bell, for whom this absolutely mortifying Charles Barkley ad probably does register as understated). But about the Punch Buggy spot, the questions and comments abound. Let’s take a look: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Commercial Break | 7 Comments »

Don’t You Forget About Me: The True Leader of “Who Dat?” Nation

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 2, 2010

With all the controversy over who it is that legally possesses the rights to the “Who Dat?” phrase that has become positively omnipresent in the Saints’ recent playoff run, let’s none of us forget who it is that truly owns the phrase. Sure, he might technically have been Florida-based (though I would’ve sworn he was part of Juvenile’s clan at one point–maybe not), but no one has ever invigorated the two words with more swagger, intensity, and likely drug-fueled paranoia as one JT Money. If he doesn’t get an invite to Miami–hell, for all I know, he already lives down the corner–to get the Saints fans amped before Super Bowl XXXIV, something’s seriously fucked up with the NFL. I mean, we all know how much Drew Brees loves pre-game adrenalizing–how fired up would he get leading the Saints in a good, old-fashioned “WHO DAT WHO DAT WHO DAT TRYIN’ TA GET UP IN MA CREW?!?!?!?” chant? You’re not gonna get that shit playing “Magic Bus,” I’ll tell you that much.

Love that Face/Off-aping video, too. 1999, where you at??

Posted in Don't You Forget About Me | 1 Comment »