Wednesday, August 31, 2005

MTV Video Music Awards 2005 Recap

So the MTV Video Music Awards has come and gone, and let's see how I fared with my predictions a month ago:

- Video of the Year
My prediction: Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani)
Winner: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

- Best Male Video
My prediction: Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
Winner: Jesus Walks (Kanye West)

- Best Female Video
My prediction: Hollaback Girl
Winner: Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)

- Best Group Video
My prediction: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Winner: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

- Best Dance Video
My prediction: 1, 2 Step (Ciara)
Winner: Lose Control (Missy Elliott)

Well, what can I say? I scored 2 out of 5! Not the best score of course, but hey, at least I got 2 categories correct!

As you might have known by now, Green Day swept the VMAs, winning 7 out of 8 nominations. Frankly speaking, I never expected Green Day to dominate as the Boulevard video was only so-so, I felt. But the VMAs are not always about the best video winning the prize (think 1995 when MJ's Scream lost out to TLC's Waterfall for the big gong). It's also about which artiste is hot and whether they have had an exceptional year or not.

It has been a remarkable comeback for Green Day, as they vanished into oblivion after their Nimrod album, only to surface with American Idiot last year and reclaiming their place in rock. This has been Green Day's year, just like 2004 was Usher's year.

As for Gwen, I'm disappointed that she didn't win more than the 2 minor awards. I think that the video is bold and colourful and it really brings the song to another level. But too bad the best video doesn't always win.

As for the show itself, there didn't seem to be any outrageous moments. No scandals or controversies that have been the highlights of the previous years. This is America post-Nipplegate, remember.

Anyway, they will be broadcasting the 2005 VMAs on Starhub Channel 20, MTV channel soon. I can't remember the date, but I know it is on a Saturday. I'll be recording it as usual, although I don't expect an explosive show. Alright, that's all for now, seeya!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Rarities #7: Sarah McLachlan Surfacing/Mirrorball (1999)

This is the exclusive limited edition pack of Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing album, which comes with the Mirrorball album bundled together as well. Mirrorball is a live CD and it was released after Surfacing, but some good marketing people decided to bundle them together and sell them as one, which is a tremendously good idea.

So here you get 2 CDs for the price of one. And this package was really quite limited in quantities and it sold out really fast. So if you happen to have this, lucky you.

Of course, Surfacing contained the big hits Adia, Building A Mystery and Angel, taken from the City Of Angels soundtrack. Other gems include the lovely I Love You, Do What You Have To Do and Sweet Surrender. So it's a preety good album.

What's even better, McLachlan sounds even more superb live, as you can really witness her power strong and clear. And I dare say she improved on her version of Angel on the Mirrorball disc. Mirrorball also contained an unreleased track, I Will Remember You, which won her a Grammy Award as well.

In fact, Mirrorball is like a greatest hits disc, and I would recommend it over Surfacing, wince the best tracks from Surfacing can be found at Mirrorball as well. Having the crowd sing along to Ice Cream is pretty damn cool too.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

You Oughta Listen: Hot tracks...approved!

1. Gwen Stefani - Cool
2. Papa Roach - Scars
3. Missy Elliott featuring Ciara and Fat Man Scoop - Lose Control
4. Foo Fighters - DOA
5. Lifehouse - You And Me
6. Dave Matthews Band - Stand Up

Rarities #6: Robbie Williams Sing When You're Winning (2000)

Robbie Williams was at the height of his fame when this album was released. Ever since he emerged from the shadows of Take That, Robbie has consistently released hit albums and singles, eclipsing the fame and popularity of fellow Take That-er, Gary Barlow. His debut album, Life Thru A Lens was huge, and its follow up, I've Been Expecting You, did just as well. However, Sing When You're Winning (fulfiling his penchant for four-letter album titles) blew everything away.

It contained the massive singles Rock DJ (which featured a cheeky music video), Better Man, Supreme, Kids (duet with Kylie Minogue), The Road To Mandalay and Let Love Be Your Energy. It isn't often that an album could cull six singles, and this just goes to show the strength of the album.

Supreme was a winner, cleverly incorporating the strings playing a strain of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive. Kids was simply hot, pairing up two of the hottest singers in the pop world at that time.

This special collector's edition of the album is really rare, and it's not for sale anywhere now. It is housed in a fabric cardboard casing, with a colour album booklet attached to it. It contains many cheeky pictures of Robbie as usual...e.g. many Robbies in a locker room, naked Robbies streaking in the stadium, Robbie taking a piss etc.

Such is the appeal of Robbie...never taking himself too seriously, and knowing how to laugh at himself. And it doesn't hurt that he can pen some nice tunes and carry a tune decently too.

The CD in this package is an Enhanced CD and it contains videos of live performances of Better Man and Phoenix From The Flames. These extras are not available on the regular edition.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

CD Review: The Essential Michael Jackson (2005)

Being a hardcore MJ fan, I have lapped up every new release that Sony has churned out for the past few years. First, there was HIStory - Past, Present and Future Book I (1995), a double album , of which the first disc was a greatest hits collection. Then, Sony released the first disc as a standalone disc, Greatest Hits HIStory Volume I (2001).

In 2003, they released Number Ones, a collection of all of MJ's number one hits, which wasn't factually correct since not all of the tracks hit number one. In 2004, they released the 4 CD and 1 DVD box set, Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection. It contained never-before-released B-sides as well as all of his greatest hits.

As you can see, there have been many greatest hits collections released over the past 10 years. And in that period, MJ has only recorded two full albums of new material (HIStory and Invincible), not counting Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix.

The reason is because MJ has terminated his contract with Sony, and like every good recording company, they want to squeeze every dollar of profit out of the artiste by re-releasing his old material. And only die-hard fans like me lap them up.

However, so much so for the backstory, The Essential Michael Jackson is still a very good listen. Number Ones was a little thin--how can you contain all of MJ's best songs on one disc? It doesn't do him justice. Never mind that some of the tracks here are the edited radio versions, you still get a very good feel of MJ's brilliance.

The songs are in chronological order (almost, save for one track) and they say the songs suffer from the law of diminishing returns. I would say that it is not very true, since there are only 4 cuts from HIStory and Invincible combined.

Almost all of MJ's hit singles are here. The tracks that are noticeably missing are I'll Be There, Jam and Scream. Scream remains one of my all-time favourite MJ single, partly because it features Janet as well. So too bad it isn't here.

The rest of the tracks are pretty standard. You have the usual Billie Jean, Beat It, Thriller, I Want You Back, ABC, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Rock With You. These are superb tracks of course, and these tracks are almost better than the total output of Justin, Britney, Christina, 50 Cent, (insert name of current hot pop starlet here) combined.

My fave here is Man In The Mirror. You can feel his soul shining through the song. It's a big ballad, and really, no one else can evoke the same emotion that MJ does.

Listening through the album, you can hear the depth and range of MJ's voice and music. He wrote and composed many of the biggest hits such as the aforementioned Billie Jean, Beat It, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Smooth Criminal, Black Or White, Heal The World, Will You Be There and Earth Song.

His voice quality and tone for every song is different. Just listen to his near falsetto in Don't Stop, biting vocals in Beat It, seductive soul in Billie Jean for proof.

I know you're probably bored of me repeating for the upteenth time now, but MJ really is the King of Pop. Do yourself a favour and get the CD and listen for yourself. It doesn't get any more essential than this.