Music Monday: Songs from TV and Movies

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of all things entertainment, so when music intersects with movies or TV, I get super nerdy about it. Last September at TIFF, I saw a movie called Can A Song Save Your Life? and instantly fell in love with it and the music in it. Fast forward some 10 months and the movie finally gets released under a new name Begin Again and I FINALLY got my hands on the soundtrack, so I could just listen to all the songs over and over again. It is certainly something special when the right song (whether written specifically for the movie or not) is played at the right moment and encapsulates the feeling of that entire scene or becomes synonymous with that movie/show.

So with that being said, here are some of my personal favourite songs from TV and movies

  1. Adam Levine/Keira Knightley, Lost Stars [Begin Again] – I’m sure I’ve said it enough at this point, but I LOVE this song. I keep alternating between Adam’s version and Keira’s version. There’s such a sweetness in Keira’s version that plays to how the song was written within the context of the movie. Adam’s more polished version of the song presents itself later in the movie, showing character growth with a slight sense of nostalgia.
  2. Switchfoot, Dare You to Move [One Tree Hill] – I could have gone the easy route and just picked “I Don’t Want to Be” because if you think OTH, you think of that song. With “Dare You to Move,” I actually remember hearing it in A Walk to Remember first, but always associate it with OTH + Nathan & Haley, their memorable kiss in the rain.
  3. Nada Surf, If You Leave [The O.C.] – Again, it would’ve been too easy to put “California” or even “Hallelujah” but instead I had to put “If You Leave.” Who could forget the scene with Seth playing out the cliche of running to the airport, chasing after Anna, thinking that she’s moving back to Pittsburgh because of him?
  4. Gina Rene, U Must Be [Step Up] – Ahhh Step Up, the movie that brought Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan together. It was a pivotal scene, with Nora telling Tyler how she imagined her senior showcase, and then they dance with the sunset in the background. It’s all cute and romantic, and stuff.
  5. Michael Jackson, The Way You Make Me Feel/Ruff Endz, If I Was the One/Jamiroquai, Canned Heat [Center Stage] – So I’m cheating a little bit here, putting three songs for one movie. BUT, these three songs were used for the finale piece in Center Stage! They go together! And I can’t listen to any one of these songs without immediately playing the scene in my head, picturing the choreography.
  6. Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, La Cumparsita (Remix) [Take the Lead] – For some reason, I’ve always loved watching a good tango, so I’ve always loved the song, even if I didn’t know what it was called when I was younger. Then Take the Lead came out and featured this AMAZING trio tango with a remixed version of La Cumparsita, which kind of became my everything. The classic tango song, updated with a hip-hop flavour, which was part of what made the movie unique.
  7. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova/Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti, Falling Slowly [Once/Once the Musical] – Just such a beautiful song.
  8. Katharine McPhee & Megan Hilty, Let Me Be Your Star [Smash] – Let this be one of the few good things to come out of Smash. The pilot capped off with this wonderful song, that set the stage for the rest of the show. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. But hey, at least we got this song and Megan Hilty from that mess.
  9. Oscar Isaac, Never Had [10 Years] – Oscar Isaac actually wrote this song for the movie (an underrated gem about friends meeting up for their high school reunion), where he plays Reeves, a musician with this hit song. The song keeps getting talked about throughout the movie, until Reeves gets convinced to karaoke his own song. The song has a great nostalgic tone that was obviously meant to work with the movie. Just watch it.
  10. Dianna Agron & Lea Michele, I Feel Pretty/Unpretty [Glee] – There once was a time when I loved Glee, before it all went to shit. I particularly loved it most when they actually picked songs that worked itself organically into the story, and not just them doing songs for the sake of it. The performance is actually still one of my favourites that they did, which was in season 2, and dealt with Rachel’s want to get her nose fixed.
  11. Jason Segel, You Just Got Slapped [How I Met Your Mother] – Now for something fun and silly. Because creating Slapsgiving wasn’t enough, the HIMYM gang created this tune to commemorate the occasion in season 3.
  12. Orishas ft. Heather Headley, Represent Cuba [Dirty Dancing Havana Nights] – I stand by my “I don’t really like the movie, but I love the soundtrack.” I just love this song.
  13. Sara Bareilles, Breathe Again [The Vampire Diaries] – There once was also a time when I loved The Vampire Diaries. Now season 1, their music supervisor had already established himself with some really good song choices. But I remember distinctly the first half of season 2, where I thought they were just on a complete roll with the music. They used this fantastic Sara Bareilles song as the coda in episode 4.
  14. Jonathan Groff/Kyle Riabko, Left Behind [Spring Awakening] – It’s a poignant song in the musical, with Melchior lamenting Moritz’ death, wondering what led to it including Moritz’ parents’ treatment of him. Obviously I love the original version as sung by Jonathan Groff, but there’s also a soulful quality to Kyle Riabko’s version which he did on his own album.
  15. Florence + the Machine, Cosmic Love [Nikita] – Season 1, Episode 17: Michael goes to see Nikita and realizes she was right all along when it came to Division. They kiss and that was the beginning of Mikita. I sigh just thinking about it.

 

 

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Cover Songs: Love Them, Hate Them, Can’t Get Enough of Them

I love cover songs. I think it is totally awesome when artists sing another artist’s song, especially during concerts because it mixes things up a little bit. On her recent “Stronger” tour, Kelly Clarkson performed at least 3 cover songs at each stop: 2 were part of the setlist (Florence + the Machine’s “Heavy In Your Arms” and Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t”) plus a fan request. I’ve heard Maroon 5 sing “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “If I Ain’t Got You.” James Morrison and Diane Birch once performed “With A Little Help From My Friends.” John Mayer has sung “Free Fallin” and “Gone.” Justin Timberlake sang “This Love” at one of his benefit concerts (even though he technically performed that with Maroon 5). This is just the tip of the iceberg and I could go on and on with amazing covers.

It’s only recently that I’ve realized where I draw the line when it comes to covers. Hearing covers in concert is one thing because I’m watching an artist I’m a fan of so they can’t do much wrong in my books. But over the years, watching so many TV shows where covers abound like Idol, The Voice, X-Factor, and now with Glee + Smash, my reaction to song choices vary from the usual groan and eye-roll when a song that’s been OVERDONE is sung again (11 years of Idol will turn you into a cynic) or total excitement. There has been countless times when we’ve heard female contestants sing songs by Mariah, Whitney, Celine, etc. even though they don’t have the range for it. But then there are a lot of cases where singers do a fantastic job covering the song by either changing up the song to fit their style (Hello David Cook’s version of “Always Be My Baby” and Kris Allen’s “Heartless” that’s STILL on my iPod) or just simply singing the HELL out of the song. Some covers are even better than the original. Glee, in my opinion, does this the best – take an okay song or one that’s entirely overplayed and make it better/worth listening to (i.e. Blame It On the Alcohol, Teenage Dream, We Found Love). For certain songs though, I’ve found that I can’t even like the cover, despite how good it might be.

In the episode of Glee entitled “On My Way”, the Troubletones sang Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”. I was excited to hear it, but at the same time, it was like “Why couldn’t they pick another song?” I think it comes down to the fact that it was a single and I like Glee better when they’re not doing songs that are already on the radio. After I heard it, I felt kind of indifferent about it – it was good but I didn’t really like it. Why? I realized that I’m fiercely protective of when anyone sings Kelly’s songs. I mean I love Kelly Clarkson – she’s one of my favourite artists ever and I love her songs like they are the soundtrack to my life. So for me, I don’t think anyone should ever sing her songs, unless they can do the original justice.  Megan Hilty sang “Breakaway” on a recent episode of Smash and though there’s no denying that she has a great voice, I didn’t feel as though it carried the same weight as Kelly’s original. But again, maybe that’s because “Breakaway” was such a big song for Kelly. Then on Glee, at the end of the episode “Choke”, Lea Michele sang “Cry” off of Kelly’s “All I Ever Wanted” album and I thought she did a fantastic job with the song. It fit nicely with the storyline and worked well with Rachel Berry’s feelings, so it didn’t feel forced. Actually, it was a nice reminder of what Glee was like when it started. Now of course it really is a track-by-track basis, in terms of what I’m willing to accept.

Christina Aguilera is probably one of the best voices in the industry; she’s got a diva voice. We’ve heard people sing “Beautiful” and “The Voice Within” among other Christina songs, and it’s usually met with the same eye-roll and groan. I thought Amber Riley did a good job singing “Beautiful” on Glee, but I definitely was not happy about Darren Criss singing “Fighter” in the episode “Big Brother.” Not that there was anything really wrong with his version, but “Fighter” is one of my all-time favourite songs and no matter how much angst we’re supposed to feel from the storyline, it just can’t match Christina’s sheer power.

Then there’s Adele. Over the span of this past year, I have no idea how many times an Adele song has been covered. Scratch that, over the span of the past 6 months, I have no idea how many times an Adele song has been sung on TV. I’ll admit I liked  Angel Taylor and Mathai’s attempts at singing “Someone Like You” and “Rumour Has It”, respectively, during their blind auditions on The Voice. Before that, Glee did a great mash-up of those 2 songs as well. But now it’s just plain old fatigue of hearing people try to sing Adele. Just stop please.

It’s not just songs by these artists with big voices being covered that have me  up in arms. I have deliberately  sort of avoided American Idol this past season because it got tiring, with the theme weeks and the judges making no sense. But there was the one week where the theme was songs from this decade (so, the past three years in music). Seeing what the set list was ahead of time, I found it to be an interesting line-up, so I actually attempted to watch the show that week (in between my regular television shows of course). I only came out disappointed, feeling like it was a slap in the face because they not only ruined 2 Kelly Clarkson songs, but also a Maroon 5 song. I know, one should not compare a contestant’s rendition to the original, but let’s be real, it’s inevitable and you can’t help it. The contestant in question, Phillip Phillips, re-arranged Maroon 5’s “Give A Little More”. I’ll embed both versions below and judge for yourself. But while the original has a sexy quality to it (what Adam Levine does seamlessly), Phillip re-arranged it somehow to make it cheesy (Saxophone? Really?). This also doesn’t mean The Voice gets off scott-free either because I was REALLY not impressed with RaeLynn singing “Wake Up Call”. Sure the song can be made country but not by RaeLynn, sorry Blake. And I know Adam seemed to like it, but as a fan, I was not having any of it.

Those are the artists, who in recent weeks/months have been covered that I’ve had problems with. On the flip side, I always love a good Britney Spears cover. I love Britney, and to me, she’s pure pop royalty. People can say what they want about Britney, but damn does she not have some great catchy pop songs? I love it when people cover Britney because her songs aren’t obvious choices. When people hear Britney, they just hear the music because she’s never really been known as a vocalist (which she isn’t and we all know that). So hearing someone sing a Britney song, gives a somewhat cool factor. Naturally, when Tony Lucca sang “…Baby One More Time” on The Voice, I flipped out because the whole thing was just PURE GENIUS. Same song, different show – Marty Casey was absolutely brilliant with his version on Rock Star INXS back in 2005. In concert, I’ve heard Kate Voegele sing “Till the World Ends” and again, I geeked out.

Consider this me ranting about song choices on TV shows (reality or otherwise). Also, a justifiable excuse for me to post videos of some cool/awesome (and I guess one not-so-great) covers. Enjoy!

Upfronts 2011: NBC First to Unveil Its 2011-2012 Schedule

NBC was the first of the broadcast networks to announce their primetime schedules for the new season on Sunday. In total the network picked up 12 shows: 6 dramas and 6 comedies. As I did last year, I’ll break down all the new shows (based entirely on their descriptions) and see what’s worth watching and what’s not. Of course, this is all my opinion. So a rundown of the new shows and where they’ll fit into the schedule:

  • The Playboy Club [Drama – Mondays @ 10]: Set in the early 1960s at the, what else, Playboy Club in Chicago. This is one of the shows where I’m not entirely sure about. Some of the cast members (Amber Heard, Jenna Dewan-Tatum) gets me interested in the show, but I think I’m going to have to wait until previews come out to make a better decision.
  • Up All Night [Comedy – Wednesdays @ 8]: Obviously a comedic take on the challenges of parenthood and balancing that with a career. Most definitely will give this one a shot mainly because of the casting of Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett. With the time period, it’s clear that NBC is trying to take away some of ABC’s comedy night, which I don’t really get. I mean I thought it was a really good idea for NBC to have done their 3 hour block of comedy on Thursdays these past few months. But I’m not a network exec so what do I know?
  • Free Agents [Comedy – Wednesdays @ 8:30]: This is based on a show from the UK, which follows two PR execs on the rebound. The show certainly sounds like it has potential and again, with a cast that consists of Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn, and Anthony Head (Giles!), it’s worth giving a shot.
  • Whitney [Comedy – Thursdays @ 9:30]: The plum post-Office slot goes to this new comedy about a couple who are in no rush to get hitched. First of all, considering it’s about a couple, I don’t know why the name of the show is only one-half of said couple. Second…yeah, I don’t know about this one.
  • Prime Suspect [Drama – Thursdays @ 10]: Based on the UK miniseries which starred Helen Mirren, this new adaptation stars Maria Bello as a female detective trying to succeed in her male-dominated precinct. If it hasn’t been noticed from last year, I am very wary of cop shows. That being said I will give this one a shot because it is a well-known entity.
  • Grimm [Drama – Fridays @ 9]: Detective/cop show where characters from the Grimm fairy tales actually exist in our world. I’m not so sure about the whole putting a new show on Friday, but CBS managed to do well with putting Blue Bloods on Friday so why not? Although granted, Grimm doesn’t have as high profile a cast as Blue Bloods. Anyways, I think the show offers a little something different than most other shows (I mean fairytale characters are real?!) that I would definitely watch it.
  • Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea [Comedy – Midseason]: The show is based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by comedienne Chelsea Handler. I know of Chelsea Handler, not very familiar with her style of comedy so I don’t know how I’ll feel about the show.
  • Best Friends Forever [Comedy – Midseason]: A comedy which looks at a woman who lives with her boyfriend and also lets her newly divorced best friend move in. This could be really funny or really dumb, and I’m moreso inclined to the latter, but haven’t seen anything of it yet, so I’ll try to reserve my judgment.
  • Bent [Comedy – Midseason]: Starring Amanda Peet, the show revolves around two people who find themselves attracted to characteristics which they would normally hate. This could be funny if the writing’s solid.
  • Smash [Drama – Midseason]: SO excited for this. I am all up for more music on my TV screen. The show revolves around a group of people who are trying to create a Broadway musical. It stars Debra Messing (welcome back to our TV screens Grace Adler!) and Katharine McPhee. I also expect to see a lot of my favourite dancers.
  • Awake [Drama – Midseason]: Another show I’m quite excited for. Jason Isaacs (aka Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter series) stars in this drama-thriller about a detective who finds himself living two realities after a car accident. This could get trippy-weird like Inception or Fringe, but I am such a fan of things that plays with my mind.
  • The Firm [Drama – Midseason]: Based on the novel and movie of the same name. There is no cast yet, and it supposedly takes place 10 years after the events of the book/movie. I want to say I’ll give this a shot depending on who gets cast in it, but to be honest it’s another law-type show, so I’ll more than likely skip it whenever it actually gets to air.

Other notable points in the schedule:

  • Chuck, which was renewed last week for a 5th and final season, is moving to Fridays @ 8. I normally would be worried about a show on Fridays, but considering it’s the last season, the ratings can’t possibly get any worse (right?). And anyways, from my point of view, if FOX decides to keep Fringe on Fridays @ 9, that’s great news because I’ll get to watch my two favourie shows back to back. Perfect.
  • 30 Rock will come back in the midseason.
  • Parks & Recreation moves back to its old time slot of Thursdays @ 8:30.
  • Parenthood renewed and is staying put on Tuesdays @ 10.
  • The Sing-Off will be back in the fall in the 8-10 block on Mondays. I’m assuming that the show’s going to be looking for a new judge since Nicole Scherzinger is going to be hosting The X-Factor. Come midseason, The Sing-Off will be replaced in its timeslot by a second season of The Voice.
  • As noted in a previous blog, Law & Order Los Angeles, Outsourced, The Event, Perfect Couples, Chase, and The Cape have all been officially cancelled.

And with that, we get a glimpse of what TV next season will look like…at least with NBC. I gotta say though, with Smash and Awake both being set for midseason, I’m more excited for winter than fall. Next up: FOX.

Upfronts 2011 So Far: TV Pick-Ups and Cancellations

So it has most definitely been a while since I last posted, but I figured there’s no better time to come back than now. Why? Because network upfronts are here! Well, technically, the upfronts are happening next week, but over the course of the past week, each of the networks have announced which new shows are getting picked up and which of the existing shows are getting renewed (at least the ones that had yet to be announced) or cancelled. I think I’ll wait until the networks unveil next season’s schedule during their upfronts to discuss all the new shows and what I think about them. So for now just a rundown of the week in TV news.

FOX

Pickups:

  • The New Girl – Comedy starring Zooey Deschanel and Jake M. Johnson
  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter – Comedy starring Jamie Pressly and Katie Finneran
  • The FinderBones spin-off show starring Geoff Stults
  • Alcatraz – J.J. Abrams mystery show starring Jorge Garcia

Renewals: Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, House

Cancellations: Breaking In, Human Target, Lie to Me, The Chicago Code, Traffic Light – Of the 5, I only watched Breaking In and I gotta say I’m kind of disappointed they decided not to give this show another season. It’s been a little rocky but I definitely thought Christian Slater finally got himself a good series after his previous 2 shows failed. Not angry over the cancellation, but definitely disappointed.

Other Related News: Doesn’t relay to a pickup/renewal/cancellation, but this week FOX announced that Seth Gabel will become a series regular for Fringe‘s 4th season!

NBC

Pickups:

  • Smash – Musical drama featuring Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee
  • Prime Suspect – Adaptation of the Brit miniseries, stars Maria Bello
  • Up All Night – New comedy starring Christina Applegate
  • Whitney Cummings comedy
  • The Playboy Club – Drama set in 1960s Chicago. Stars Amber Heard, Eddie Cibrian, and Jenna Dewan-Tatum
  • Awake – Thriller starring Jason Isaacs and Wilmer Valderrama
  • Grimm – Fantasy cop drama featuring Kate Burton and David Giuntoli
  • Are You There Vodka? – Comedy based on Chelsea Handler’s book of the same name. Stars Laura Prepon.
  • Free Agents – Stars Hank Azaria
  • BFFs – Stars Stephen Schneider
  • Bent – Stars Amanda Peet

Renewals:

  • Chuck – No more being on the bubble! NBC made the right move by renewing Chuck for a 5th season. Unfortunately, it will be the final season for the show. At least it’ll get a proper ending.
  • Parenthood
  • Harry’s Law

Cancellations: The Event, Law & Order Los Angeles, Outsourced

ABC

Pickups:

  • Good Christian Belles – Primetime soap starring Leslie Bibb and Kristin Chenoweth
  • Charlie’s Angels – Reboot of the 70s show featuring Minka Kelly, Rachel Taylor, and Annie Ilonzeh
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Pan Am
  • Scandal
  • The River
  • Revenge
  • Last Man Standing – New Tim Allen comedy
  • Work It
  • Apt. 23

Renewals:

  • Happy Endings – Very happy about this renewal
  • Body of Proof

Cancellations:

  • Brothers & Sisters – Kind of sad, but sort of expected it. The show just wasn’t the same as it was in the beginning. Also it definitely seemed as though the writers were struggling with coming up with new storylines. Like I said, I’m sad to see it go, but it was time.
  • V
  • No Ordinary Family – Had such promise at the beginning and then got exponentially worse almost going into Heroes (S2-4) territory as it got towards the end of the season. Cancellation was expected.
  • Detroit 187
  • Off the Map
  • Better With You – This cancellation hurt. It was one of my favourite new shows of the past season. Loved the relationships, and I really love the cast as well. Each character has their own quirks and it all just worked well together. Such a shame not enough people watched.
  • Mr. Sunshine – I’m sad that the show’s cancelled too. It wasn’t the best, but I was hoping for a second season so hopefully the writers could find its footing. Not to mention, I was really hoping for a Cougar Town/Mr.Sunshine hour block of comedy (yes, I am still a huge Friends fan.)

CBS

Pickups:

  • Person of Interest: J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk drama staring Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel
  • Two Broke Girls: Comedy starring Kat Dennings

Other Related News: The biggest news of the day is that CBS/WB has signed Ashton Kutcher to replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.

CW

Pickups:

  • Ringer – New thriller starring Sarah Michelle Gellar

I might update this post as more news comes during the weekend (if it does). Otherwise, I’ll be posting next week on the official upfronts.