Little Ms. Polymath

aka the know-it-all

…featuring norah jones November 30, 2010

Filed under: music — mspolymath @ 9:53 pm
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So the fine folks at One2One Network provided me with an advanced copy of …Featuring Norah Jones, the new release from Norah Jones (and yes, I do have the chance to win a gift card in exchange for writing this review.)

I must say Ms. Jones keeps excellent company. The record is a compilation of her duets and collaborations over the year, and guests include Foo Fighters, Willie Nelson, Outkast, Dolly Parton, Q-Tip and Charlie Hunter, to name a few. Upon first listen I thought the disc was perfect for brunch. It evokes the type of adult contemporary station where all sorts of random music is thrown together, but none of it is too aggressive or provocative. It’s a hodgepodge of genres but it never goes too far in any one direction. It’s a comfortable listen, with a few choice selections. I really liked the Talib Kweli duet Soon the New Day and the twangy Bull Rider performed with Sasha Dobson. I wasn’t a fan of the Belle and Sebastian collaboration. This record also proved to me the only person who should ever, ever sing More than This is Bryan Ferry. And I mean ever.

But overall, a good effort from Norah Jones. Put it on if you’re having brunch or want to feel like you’re having brunch, or if you just want a little comfort.

 

tiger suit. October 22, 2010

Filed under: music — mspolymath @ 6:54 pm
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One2One Network sent me a copy of KT Tunstall’s  new CD and asked me to post a review on my blog*. You probably know Ms. Tunstall thanks to her rollicking “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” song that was all over radio a few years back. While I didn’t know much about her, she seemed like a talented musician and I love checking out new music. So I agreed to give the record a spin.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the disc. Tunstall is a decent writer and most of the songs are hooky and serviceable. I suppose that’s part of the problem – there was nothing that grabbed me by the throat (or balls) and really made me want to listen. The tracks are consistent and pleasant – it’s sort of like having a classic rock station on for an hour. You don’t need to change the channel because everything sounds familiar and comfortable. But nothing really excites you, either.

There was one exception – “(Still A) Weirdo,” the ninth song on the CD, did resonate with me. Tunstall’s lyrics about trying to blend in and be “normal” struck a chord (ew, bad pun, sorry) with me. “Golden Frames” was also good, though I couldn’t help second-guessing some of the phrasing. And while it’s not Tunstall’s fault, there are a few songs in which her voice reminds me of the grating car crash that is Melissa Etheridge’s vocal stylings. That more than anything probably worked against Tunstall while I was listening to this release. Sorry, I’m unfairly prejudiced. I think KT will get over it.

So, download “Still A” Weirdo if you’ve ever felt disenfranchised. And if you’re a Melissa Etheridge fan, buy this disc. Otherwise, you can probably pass.

Sorry KT. It's not your fault you sound like Melissa Etheridge.

 

*fine print – I am eligible to win a $50 gift certificate by participating in this project.

 

i want my mtv. June 16, 2010

Filed under: music,TV,unemployment diary — mspolymath @ 8:33 am

Back in the time of Friday Night Videos and loooonging for MTV, these commercials were the stuff dreams were made of. They still get me a little excited and definitely nostalgic.

And how awesome is it to see Hall & Oates quarrel?

 

satc 2 sndtrk. June 13, 2010

Filed under: music,unemployment diary — mspolymath @ 10:22 am
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Yes we can! That’s my rallying cry,  dear readers. For ever since I began this humble blog with my riveting expose of Amelia Earhart, it’s been my goal to get the attention of corporate America, to have someone with deep coffers see my worth, acknowledge my contribution – and ask me to do more. And now it’s happened.

The powers-that-be at One2One Network have sent me-gratis-my very own copy of the Sex and the City 2 Soundtrack. Beyond that, they have ASKED FOR MY OPINION! Oh,how fervently have I awaited this day!

Sadly, when I listened to the CD and sad down to write my review, I felt a bit like Rory Gilmore at the ballet. I wanted so much to like the music so I could write a review full of joy and glee and appreciation for my new-found favorite summer soundtrack. Instead, I feel a little gypped. Because honestly, it pretty much blows.

The music stumbles from the start. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE covers, but Alicia Keys’ version of Rapture is thin and completely unnecessary – the producers would have been much better served with Debbie Harry’s original. Then there’s some random Dido number, reminiscent of 1999. Throwaway.

Fortunately the next two tracks, by Cee Lo and Erykah Badu are both modern and fresh and enjoyable – and they certainly shifted my mood. I thought there might be some life left in the disc, and I began to feel hopeful. Then the snakecharming, stereotypical Middle-Eastern fingerbells of the next two numbers sort of ran together and pissed me off – honestly, I didn’t make it all the way through either song. I remember thinking something about the Casio synthesizer I had in 8th grade, then blacking out.

When I came to, it was Liza Minnelli’s cover of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies anthem. God help us. Did you ever hear Pat Boone covering Ozzy Osbourne? It’s cute and all, but the novelty wears off pretty quick. And the over-enunciation couldn’t be more grating. So yeah, that’s where I stand on Liza’s first contribution to the disc.

Finally, after what has been mostly suffering, we are given a gift. Alicia Keys redeems herself with her own sequel: Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down. This is Keys at her best, her strong vocals soar and the song is invigorating and pulsating and finally breathes some life into what thus far has been a mangled mishmash of music that supposedly represents four of the strongest, most sophisticated women in the country, not to mention symbolizes one of the world’s most vibrant cities.  At this point, I think we’re turning a corner, and I’m elated.

So yeah, we turned a corner alright. What I failed to realize was that corner take us down an alley to a Whitney Houston song graveyard from 1986. Jennifer Hudson had a beautiful voice, as does Leona Lewis…but if I wanted to listen to two grown women modulate and coo throatily about love being a color, well, I guess I would never want that, would I? WHO WOULD? After the joy that was Alicia Keys, this song was just insulting, a letdown and ultimately, irritating. I started to hate the cd case, the cover art and myself for the self-inflicted torture.

Now everything was going downhill, and fast. There are two songs no one ever needs to hear again. One is I Will Survive, and the other is I am Woman. Why anyone felt the need to have the four stars of Sex and the City belt out Helen Reddy’s tired old song is beyond me. What’s worse, the women sound as if they’re auditioning for a community theater production. It’s painful. It’s then I realize the soundtrack’s producers are just fucking with us – because they follow this earsore with three standards sung by the Sex and the City Men’s Choir. And I will not say any more on that subject, because my thoughts are so vicious I can’t bear to type them.

And really, there’s not much else to say about this disappointment. Liza Minnelli does a decent version of Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye and Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors is included for some random reason. I think there might be a couple of other songs, but let’s just let them fade into the wind, as this soundtrack is sure to do.

While I was a fan of the show and enjoyed the first movie, I haven’t felt compelled to see the sequel. Many reviewers have faulted the film for being out of touch with the modern economy – failing to account for the shift in style and tastes that has accompanied the economic downturn of the past two years. If anything, my thoughts on the soundtrack echo those criticisms – the songs are bloated and indulgent of a limited taste level with little thought to how times and style have changed.

So yeah, download the Alicia Keys song. Then move on.

If you ever get inspired to sing "I am Woman," please don't. Just don't.