Changes to the monthly competitions

Hi and welcome back to Amazing OurStage. We want to let you know that there will be changes to the prizes we are offering. Every month will be different.
This month we are awarding prizes of $100 to winners of the competition finals. In the future there will be prizes to help your musical career. Check back to find out.

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Tag: Bette Midler
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Music and Movies — Pop-Song Placement in Hollywood Films

Every day, somebody once told me, deserves its own soundtrack. So, according to Hollywood, does nearly every film. But unlike the old days when the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack became as popular as the movie, and films like Dirty Dancing and The Big Chill had soundtracks so successful that they spawned sequels, movie music rarely scales blockbuster heights anymore.

On the Billboard 200 album chart for the week ending January 21, Hollywood only had two albums in the Top 40—the soundtracks for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. So did Florence and the Machine!

Unless the music is linked to the TV series Glee, chart traction is no longer guaranteed, not even for songs from the biggest blockbusters. Bruno Mars scored one of the few big movie hits of recent years with his Twilight Saga track “It Will Rain” (No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100), which, astonishingly, was the first chart hit launched by the massively successful vampire franchise.

Nowadays, the studios and indie houses seem to use all of the best music in the movie trailers anyway. Better to hear a familiar pop song (say, Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”) selling a Julia Roberts rom-com (say, Eat Pray Love) than to have to sit through the millionth comic-relief/release oldie sing-along just as the main characters are triumphing over plot-driven (and driving) conflict.

Maybe I just don’t see as many mainstream films as I used to back when Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton had their I-will-survive moment in The First Wives Club while singing “You Don’t Own Me,” but thankfully, the number of soundtrack sing-alongs have been waning in recent years.

Still, despite the dearth of hit soundtracks and Motown karaoke moments, music is alive and well in the movies. Here’s how it’s being best put to use these days.

1. To Wake Up Moviegoers: The Constellations‘ “Perfect Day” in Horrible Bosses. Not that anyone needed to be roused from slumber during what was a surprisingly smart and spry comedy, but for those who did doze off and missed the sight of Jennifer Aniston wearing next to nothing, this 2010 track (watch the video here) was the perfect wake-up bomb.

2. To Illuminate the Action”: Desire’s “Under Your Spell” in Drive. Just in case you didn’t get that Ryan Gosling was digging Carey Mulligan in Drive (and the film didn’t exactly, um, drive that point home before deciding that he would die for her), this song’s opening lyric—”I don’t eat/I don’t sleep/I do nothing but think of you“— told the entire love story in under twenty words. More than any film in my recent memory, Drive merges sound and vision so brilliantly that I don’t think the movie would have been nearly as effective without its perfectly placed music.

3. To Reflect the Action: Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in Melancholia. Who better than the man who wrote an entire opera cycle, Gotterdammerung, devoted to the twilight of the Norse Gods, to provide the backing track for a movie about the end of the world? I’ve always imagined that something by the nineteenth-century German composer would be playing in the background, via some invisible loudspeaker in the sky, when the end of days rolled around.

4. To bring on the waterworks: The National’s “About Today” in Warrior. If you weren’t moved, at least nearly driven to tears, by the family drama or the opening strains of the National’s 2004 track, cued right after the brothers played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton re-bonded in the mixed-martial-arts ring, then check the space where your heart should be. There might be something missing.

5. To score an award—or at the very least, a Top 40 hit: Madonna’s “Masterpiece” in W.E. Its Top 40 prospects are grim, but the song Madonna wrote and sung for her second directorial effort is already a Golden Globe Best Original Song winner. Unfortunately, this is the end of its road to the Oscars. To be eligible for a Best Original Song Oscar nod, a tune must be composed specifically for the movie and appear in its body or be the first song that plays when the credits roll. “Masterpiece,” alas, was the second credits tune. By saving the best for last, Madonna killed her Oscar chances. Better luck next film song!

The EditoriaList: Top Ten Singers-Turned-Actor

Once you’re a hugely successful musician, with lots of people telling you how awesome you are, making the leap into acting (or painting, or politics, or baseball, or aviation, or molecular biology) must seem like a piece of cake. There are so many object lessons to teach us how untrue that is (Britney Spears’ Crossroads, anyone?). But there are a few double-threats out there who have successfully made the leap.

 

10. Queen Latifah

It’s pretty aggravating to see a talented actor take an opportunity to do quality work, wipe their ass with that opportunity and flush it down the toilet. Queen Latifah has done this a couple of times. She could have had a solid career as a supporting actress after The Bone Collector and Bringing Out The Dead, but then she kicked America in the crotch by being part of The Country Bears, among other debacles. She was then lucky enough to be cast in Chicago, and it was inarguably a star-making performance. Finding herself in that enviable position, she accepted roles in a bunch of utter garbage, including Taxi and The Perfect Holiday. Sigh. But dammit, she’s always fun to watch on screen, whether it’s comedy or drama, and I suspect she’ll continue to appear in quality movies from time to time. Just don’t expect consistency.

Continue reading ‘The EditoriaList: Top Ten Singers-Turned-Actor’

Sound And Vision: Will Adele Beat the GRAMMYs Best New Artist Curse?

Adele should have been a contender, but who knew she’d end up being arguably the UK’s female act most likely to still be succeeding in 10 years?
When she arrived on the pop scene in 2008 with her debut album 19, she was sandwiched between— and overshadowed by—fellow Brit-soul divas Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Then something unexpected happened at the 2009 GRAMMY Awards, where Adele was nominated in four categories, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Chasing Pavements,” her second single. Against all conceivable odds, she pushed Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum and Duffy aside to take Best New Artist, the prize Winehouse had claimed one year earlier.
Though the careers of GRAMMY’s Best New Artists have gone in many different directions (good luck, Esperanza Spalding), the high failure rate has spawned the urban legend known as the Best New Artist GRAMMY curse. Yes, some (Bette Midler, Sade and Mariah Carey, among them) have gone on to major careers and/or iconic status, but just as often (Starland Vocal Band, Debby Boone, Paula Cole, etc.), they haven’t. And at least one (Milli Vanilli) had the award rescinded for not bothering to sing a note on the album for which they won it.
Her freshman-year GRAMMY haul aside (she also took home Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Chasing Pavements”), Adele has had a slow build by contemporary pop-star standards. Her first album arrived under the radar in January of 2008 and stayed there for most of the year. But by autumn, Adele was in the right place at the right time: performing on an episode of Saturday Night Live, which—thanks to an appearance by then-US Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin—became the program’s highest-rated episode in fourteen years. (Does that mean she owes her US success to Sarah Palin?)
The chart action that ensued may have been a no-brainer, but there’s nothing predictable about Adele. It’s not just that she sounds far more seasoned than you might expect twenty-two-year-old to be. On her 19 version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”— recently still hovering high on the UK singles chart more than two years after its release—she did what Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and even Dylan himself had failed to do: She gave the song soul.
And that special brand of blue-eyed soulfulness is the foundation of her sophomore album, 21, its power and its glory. God knows where Winehouse is at the moment, what she’s doing and when/if she’ll ever resurface again. And Duffy inched farther into the pop realm on her second album, Endlessly, and the result has been poor sales in both the US and the UK. In contrast, the critical and commercial reception to 21, which was released on January 24th in the UK and will be out on February 22nd in the US, has been promising. A week into its life span, it was already platinum and No. 1 in Adele’s homeland.
Paul Epworth’s production on “Rolling in the Deep,” the opening track and first single, is as big as Adele’s voice (which I’d place closer to the husky domain of Alison Moyet or even Florence Welch than to Winehouse or Duffy), creating a huge wall of sound that’s like nothing else on the radio right now. It entered the UK singles chart at No. 2 a few weeks ago, immediately matching the peak of “Chasing Pavements,” and it’s cracked Billboard’s Hot 100. The album would have been more streamlined and focused with fewer producers (Epworth, Rick Rubin, Ryan Tedder and Adele herself are among the seven credited), but it’s more about Adele’s voice anyway, and at least she doesn’t sound like she’s moved on from chasing pavements to chasing hits.
It’s hard to imagine 21‘s best tracks— which include left-of-the-pop-mainstream songs like “Rumour Has It” and “He Won’t Go”— posing any major threat to the leading ladies on the Hot 100, but Adele’s against-the-grain musical mentality works in her favor. Despite those early comparisons to Winehouse and Duffy, Adele stands on her own musical ground. Because she’s not easily categorized, she’s not quickly forgotten.
As Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and other iconoclastic legends have proven in the past, long, sturdy music careers need not be built on hit singles or pre-packaged sex appeal. When the dust settles and most of today’s pop starlets have fallen far out of flavor, Adele just might be the last woman standing.

50 STATES IN 50 WEEKS… WEEK 17: NEVADA + Bonus Q&A

OSBlog_50States_NV

Home of: Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, Andre Aggasi, Panic At The Disco, The Killers, 7 Seconds, Hemlock, Slaughter, 702, Jenny Lewis

Fun Facts: State flower; sagebrush, state song; “Home Means Nevada,” state animal; desert bighorn sheep

The Venues:

The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, which opened in 2003, was built specifically to house Celine Dion’s “A New Day” show (2003-2007). The venue is currently being shared by Cher’s “Cher At the Colosseum” and Bette Middler’s “The Showgirl Must Go On.”

Away from the glitz of the casinos is Beauty Bar. With an authentic late 50s interior, salvaged from the Capri Salon in Trenton, NJ, the venue hosts multi-genre DJ nights while the outdoor patio has a stage for live bands. Like its sister locations in NYC, Austin, San Diago, San Francisco and Hollywood, the Las Vegas Beauty Bar offers manicures with your martinis.

If you prefer The Vibrators and Murphy’s Law to Wayne Newton and Cirque du Soleil, The Double Down in Las Vegas is the bar for you. Punk, garage, surf and psychobilly are featured live on stage and on the jukebox. Catch OurStage punks The Bastard Suns on Oct 15th and heavy psychedelic rockers White Rhino on Oct 22nd. Thirsty? The Double Down claims to be “The Birthplace of the Bacon Martini.” Yum.

The Music:

Las Vegas' Modern Science

Las Vegas' Modern Science

Las Vegas has been an entertainment mecca since it first legalized gambling in 1931. Aside from the casinos, Vegas is known for hosting big name acts like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. But what about the local, homegrown music scene? For more info on what happens in Vegas, OurStage turned to Kane Churko of local Las Vegas band Modern Science. Modern Science has been busy playing shows to support their self titled debut album, released earlier this year on their own MIMORTL label (Download the album for free at www.FreeModernScience.com). Their hard work seems to be paying off: Their song “Look Where Your Walkin’” earned them a Top 10 finish in the March 2009 Pop Channel, and they will be showcasing at OurStage venue Ace of Clubs in NYC as part of this year’s CMJ Music Marathon. Kane took some time out to answer some questions about the music in his home state.

OS: The songs on your debut album Modern Science are exuberant, danceable and flat out fun. Do you think your hometown of Las Vegas has had any influence on your sound?

KC: Las Vegas doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither do we. Don’t get me wrong—we’re serious musicians with serious ambitions but we like to have fun and make people forget about regular life for a little bit. In that sense—we’re completely Vegas. Let’s just hope the term “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” doesn’t apply to us. :-P

OS: Obviously not everyone in Nevada can play the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace like Cher & Bette Midler. What is your favorite venue to play in Nevada? Who are your favorite local bands to play with?

KC: House of Blues at Mandalay Bay no question. We played there a few nights ago for about 800 people and between the stage, the sound and audience there’s no better feeling. I would love to play the new Joint at The Hard Rock though—I saw Wilco there and it was the best show I’ve ever been to. As far as other local bands go Imagine Dragons are pretty cool—we played with them the other night too. Also our friends the Afghan Raiders are also doing some exciting stuff. We’re hitting up NY with them at the end of October for CMJ. Bringing Vegas to the Big Apple. Should be a party!

Continue reading ’50 STATES IN 50 WEEKS… WEEK 17: NEVADA + Bonus Q&A’

 


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