Friday, February 26, 2010

Rihanna Rips A Page out of MIA's Book

Have you seen Rihanna's new video for her single "Rude Boy?"

If not, or if you want to see it again, here you go.

I'm all for Rihanna's new creative burst following the crazy fall out from the Chris Brown beating. But is it just me or did Rihanna watch M.I.A's "Boyz" when she was conceptualizing this video? "Rude Boys" seems less referential and more just a copy cat, with higher production value and more skin.

Here's the "Boyz" video.

Now, one could say that MIA's video wasn't all that original. It's all neon, '80s and Jamaican-inspired. I'm not saying she invented this stuff. I just hope that in trying to reinvent herself, Rihanna doesn't lose her musical identity.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thumbs down for "We Are the World 25"

The 25th anniversary remake of the "We Are the World" video premiered tonight. If you didn't get a chance to see it, watch the full version here.

I personally am not a fan. There are those (mainly my family members) who would accuse me of filtering my viewing experience through an MJ fan filter. That's not my problem, I don't think it was sacrilegious to redo the song. Though the MJ tribute - superimposing him into the video for a duet with sister Janet - was very awkward.

In general, I felt that the entire project came off as disingenuous compared to the original collaboration. I appreciate the spontaneity of the original, which was put together the night of the American Music Awards. While I realize the project was put together to raise money for Haiti and the more celebs, the wider the audience and potential donor base, it seemed like WATW25 became more about filling the studio to capacity with famous people rather than creating a quality charity song. If you want people to buy the song or video, make it good.

My major beef: I'm so over Auto-Tune. Jay-Z may have called for the Death of Auto-Tune, but it just won't seem to go away. When you have people like Celine Dion, J-Hud, Barbara Streisand, Mary J. Blige and Josh Groban featured on the track - all artists with pipes of steel - and then you have Lil' Wayne and T-Pain Auto-Tune (I refuse to call it singing) for a couple of verses (longer than Ms. Streisand and Groban's solos), you're just creating a recipe for disaster. The T-Pain part killed the song for me.

I'm not sure how the solo selection process worked. I could have done with more Dion and less Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Nicole-from-the-Pussycat-Dolls. The rap was out of place. And honestly, it seemed like LL was the only one who was into it. I want to know where Stevie Wonder was that night because his part on the original was amazing and I would have rather heard that.

Here's the old video if you want to compare.

The one update I endorse is Wyclef's part. The pain in that man's voice is real. And his cries gave me a sense of urgency. I imagine it might be the push some people need to give to Haitian relief.

By the way, what did Jeff Bridges and Vince Vaughn add to the mix? I wonder if they were trying to recreate the confusing celeb cameo that Dan Akroyd make in the original.

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lessons the Super Bowl (Ads) Taught Me

Apparently, the worst possible thing for men is to be married. OR have a significant other. Because all women do is nag. And make you take responsibility for your actions. And make you walk around with their bra on your shoulder in the mall. And force you to marry them. And subdue you until you agree to make babies with them.

If not, that's what the advertising industry wants us to think. I read somewhere over the weekend that 51% of the Super Bowl viewing audience looks forward to the ads as much, if not more, than the game. And I'm willing to bet that women constitute a hefty portion of that segment. So it's sad that a majority of the Super Bowl ads, which are hailed as the best of the best, portrayed women in a negative light.

It's clear that all but one Super Bowl ad, the one that advocated women's heart health (I'm not counting the anti-abortion ad, that's a whole other story), were made with men in mind as the target demographic. I know that men are typically associated with sports watching, but most women I know watched the game (even if for some, it was just about the ads).

Now, I don't like ads in general, so I don't see what's so exciting about ads companies that are already a part of the American consciousness (Coke, Budwesier, Snickers,) spend millions of dollars on. Come on Google, you're brand is a verb; there's no reason for you to waste your money on a Super Bowl ad.

With such a large viewing audience, I do find it disturbing that misogyny was the overarching theme of the night.

Here's what I learned from watched the ads:

1. Having to do things for your girlfriend sucks.
2. The only thing worse is to have to do things for your wife. You married her, what else does she expect?
3. Men are long-suffering and put-upon.
4. Dove is for women. But Dove for Men apparently is injected with testosterone, which makes it manly.
5. Kids are just obligations.
6. Sexual harassment = awesome
7. The only time women are interesting is when they are naked or about to get naked
8. And this seemed to be the big one - Men, in their natural state, like to be pantless

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vanity "Fair"

Anything missing from this photo?

My instant reaction the new Vanity Fair cover was "Wow! Everyone is Caucasian" (perhaps less formal that that, but nevertheless).

The lack of diversity in their "New Decade, New Hollywood" issue was glaring and almost obvious to the point of intentional.

Now I'm not going to say what other actresses of color should have been on there, but how could Vanity Fair NOT see how glaring the omission is that they made? And yes, I am saying that the publication should have made an intentional effort to put in a few notable actresses that happen to be from more diverse backgrounds.

Seriously, anyone else would've been better than Kristen Stewart.

Vanity Fair attempted this diversity thing in their 2008 issue by including in Zoe Saldana and America Herrera on the cover inserts.

Come on VF! Let's progress and not digress!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Movie Math

Oscar nominations were announced this morning.
This year marks the most diverse Best Director/Achievement in Direction selection with Lee Daniels, Precious, and Kathryn Bigelow, Hurt Locker, nominated.
In the Academy Awards' 82-year history, Daniels is only the second African-American nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. John Singleton was the first black director to be recognized, for Boyz N the Hood in '91.

Kathryn Bigelow, whose work has been garnering a lot of buzz, is the fourth woman to be nominated in this category. No female or African-American directors have ever taken the prize.

That's a pretty unbalanced equation, don't you think?

The Academy has a history of ignoring women and people of color. I believe that Ang Lee, who took this category for Brokeback Mountain, is the only minority person who has won for best direction.

Here's hoping either Bigelow or Daniels gets the Oscar. James Cameron seems like a lock, but he's already got an Oscar. Both Hurt Locker and Precious appear to have a lot of heart and I really don't want to hear another one of Cameron's "king of the world" speeches about how his films have dominated the global box office.