Pop Cultured Summer 2015 – June

Summer is upon us! Which means its that special time of year where a lot of things happen, but also don’t happen. The movie blockbusters are coming in at full force, while TV takes it easy (sorta). There will also be plenty of concerts and events to fill up those wonderful summer days and nights. So here are some of the things I’m looking forward to!

JUNE

Yeah, that thing I said about TV taking it easy? Well, by the look of things, it doesn’t really look like it. First of all, my favourite summer show, So You Think You Can Dance (June 1), is back! Some changes are afoot for season 12, the first being that Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo will be on the judging panel. I understand having Paula as a judge, Jason not so much. The biggest change for SYTYCD however, is that they will be doing Stage vs. Street – meaning the Top 20 will consist of 10 dancers with formal training (Stage) and 10 dancers with no formal training (Street). The logistics of how that will ultimately change the show’s fundamentals can be read here. Syfy continues to add some interesting new shows to their lineup with Dark Matter (June 12) and Killjoys (June 19), both of which are Canadian-made and American co-produced. Dark Matter, based on the comic book of the same name, is about a spaceship crew that awakens with no memory of who they are or how they even got there, and now must work together to figure out those secrets and survive. In Killjoys, Hannah John-Kamen, Luke Macfarlane, and Aaron Ashmore play a trio of interplanetary bounty hunters. While we’re on the topic of space, I’m actually quite excited to check out The Astronaut Wives Club (June 16), based on the true story of the women who were left behind as their husbands ventured into space. It’s an interesting time period to look at, but I’m actually just really excited about the cast involved: Joanna Garcia Swisher, Odette Annable, Yvonne Strahovski, Wilson Bethel, Bret Harrison, and Desmond Harrington are the more recognizable names. Then there’s Zoo (June 30), based on author James Patterson’s book about a not-so-distant future that sees all the animals in the world revolt against humanity for how we’ve treated them over the years. The so-called limited series (though CBS said the same thing about Under the Dome and Extant, which are going into seasons 3 and 2) is a suspense thriller with a slight tinge of sci-fi – all good considering one of the writers and executive producers on the show is Jeff Pinkner, one of the men responsible for Fringe. Lastly, June sees the return of Suits (June 24) and Graceland (June 25). Season 5 of Suits will see the fallout from last season’s ender, with Donna leaving Harvey and working instead for Louis, and of course, there’s that little thing of Mike and Rachel being engaged! Meanwhile, with season 3 of Graceland, we finally get the answer to whether Mike is dead or alive (he has to be alive though right? Hurt/damaged but alive.)

On the movie side of things, the only movie I’m REALLY looking forward to is Inside Out (June 19). It’s a Pixar movie, featuring a voice cast that includes Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling! I’m sorry, that’s just a no-brainer. I’m excited for everyone to see Love & Mercy (June 5), a movie about Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys, during two very critical times in his life. It’s a film I saw at last year’s TIFF and just really great.

June will see the release of two albums that I’m really looking forward to!. The first is Tori Kelly‘s “Unbreakable Smile” (June 23). After this post, I went and downloaded more of Tori’s previous releases. I’m still in love with her song “Nobody Love” and can’t wait to hear what the rest of the album sounds like. Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars, will be releasing her first solo album “Venus” (June 30), since the band’s break-up (she released 4 albums prior to forming The Civil Wars). Based on her first single, “Woman” (which for the record, is co-written by Matt Morris, a wonderfully talented musician in his own right), Joy’s new sound is a departure from what people may expect (that is, if they’re expecting just The Civil Wars’ sound but solo) but it is entirely refreshing.

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Top 10 Favourite SYTYCD Routines

So You Think You Can Dance is one of my favourite reality shows. Getting to watch different styles of dance on my TV screen every week during the summer is quite honestly the best. The show as a whole doesn’t get nearly the respect and recognition it deserves, but over the years, it has provided us with numerous memorable routines, which has been justly rewarded with countless Outstanding Choreography nominations/wins. As such, for my April blogging challenge, I wanted to include a list of my 10 most favourite SYTYCD routines. It’s a simultaneously easy yet difficult task, because lists are simple but narrowing it down is the hard part.

1.) Season 2, Top 10 – “Ramalama (Bang Bang)”

Still one of, if not THE best group routines in the history of the show. It was one of the first times the show really showcased a dance that was very much out of the box, and it really brought out an artistic side to the show that we hadn’t seen before. Also, Wade Robson just kinda rocks.

2.) Season 2, Allison & Ivan – “Why”

This was a turning point for me, in terms of when I really started LOVING the show. Ivan, a hip-hop dancer, held his own, dancing with the incredible Allison in her style, which was Contemporary. Add to that, Annie Lennox’s gorgeous song “Why” and it was just perfection.

3.) Season 7, Alex & Twitch – “Outta My Mind”

Everyone loves Twitch; he’s a beast of a dancer. Everyone already loved Alex at this point, but to see him, who’s trained in ballet, KILL it in this routine next to Twitch, just threw him up to another level.

4.) Season 4, Katee & Joshua – “No Air”/ Chelsie & Mark – “Bleeding Love”

Tabitha & Napoleon had been dancing/choreographing long before SYTYCD, but when they were brought in for season 4, everything changed. They made an immediate impression with the “No Air” routine, then a couple weeks later, they solidified themselves in the SYTYCD world with “Bleeding Love.” We had some smooth hip-hop in the past, but for the most part, everyone thought of hard-hitting hip-hop on the show, so when NappyTabs came on and delivered these contemporary hip-hop numbers, it was just never the same.

5.) Season 8, Melanie & Marko – “Triptico”

Melanie & Marko are among my favourite SYTYCD pairings (next to Allison/Ivan, Katee/Joshua). Every single routine they did was wonderful, starting from their Contemporary “Turn to Stone” and even to their Disco “I Feel Love.” So why is “Triptico” my favourite? Well, I’m a sucker for the Tango, and even though it wasn’t perfect, they sold the performance. And that drop/flip/turn/lift (I have no idea what to call it) at the end? Gets me every time I watch it.

6.) Season 5, Top 12 – “Calle Ocho”

Season 5 was top-notch, in regards to the group routines. I mean, the competition numbers were really good too, but the group routines were everything. This number though was my absolute favourite for the entire season: NappyTabs choreographed with Dmitry Chaplin to make a totally awesome Latin Hip-hop fusion. What more could you want?! It was everything and more!

7.) Season 8, Top 12 – “El Fuego”

I just love this group number. I can’t even explain why. Maybe it’s because it’s a Flamenco-style routine that we just don’t see a lot on SYTYCD, plus everyone was on point, performing the hell out of it.

8.) Season 9, Top 10 & All-Stars – “Circle of Life/Nants Ingonyama”

Season 9 was very light on NappyTabs. At the end of the season though, they made up for it with this awesome Afro Jazz Hip-Hop set to music from The Lion King! The competing dancers alone were terrific, but add in the All-Stars and it just explodes.

9.) Season 7, Top 11 & All-Stars – “Ra”

Speaking of exploding, season 7 was the first season that introduced the All-Stars, and it has certainly helped in bringing out the best in the competing dancers. This was, once again, a finale number, but it definitely proved just how amazing the talent was. A competitive season as it was, with the best 11 dancers (was supposed to be 10, but they couldn’t help themselves and added in one more) instead of 20 competing, you knew they meant business. Like NappyTabs before, Chris Scott immediately made an impression with this genre-fusing hip-hop, and has been a regular choreographer on the show ever since. Bonus points for finding a way to include an injured Alex Wong into the number.

10.) Season 4, Katee & Twitch – “Mercy”

The Door. This routine showed that not all Contemporary routines had to be sad and overwrought with emotion. This was all kinds of fun and emotional in a different sense. Absolutely love it!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS*

*AKA my way of cheating and adding 5 more routines I REALLY REALLY like. My blog, my rules*

1.) Season 8, Top 10 Guys – “Velocity”

Season 8 was just SO GOOD, right from the very start. Chris Scott choreographed this Adjustment Bureau-themed contemporary hip-hop for the Top 10 Guys for the first show, and it was just so indicative of what the rest of the season was going to feel like.

2.) Season 8, Melanie & Tadd – “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story”

There was a reason Melanie won season 8; she’s an amazing technical dancer, who really knows how to sell the performance. Spencer Liff didn’t give us the typical Broadway routine that we typically see on the show, instead he choreographed a routine that was sexy and required Melanie & Tadd to really act.

3.) Season 9, Top 8 – “Run Boy Run”

Sure we have a steady rotation of choreographers creating wonderful pieces, but the show does not just rely on those geniuses. There are so many talented choreographers that it would be a shame to not showcase their work. So it was a welcome surprise to see the show bring the immensely talented Peter Chu to choreograph this group number.

4. ) Season 3, Neil & Danny – “Are You the One?”

Mia Michaels. Genius. A contemporary routine that required so much power from Neil and Danny. Just fantastic.

5.) Season 10, Jasmine & Comfort – “Run the World”

For years, I was constantly complaining that the boys always got the “fun” routines for the finals; they often got either a completely different style (see: Russian Trepak of S4, Malevos of S7, Steppin of S8) or a cool jazz or hip-hop routine. The girls always got Broadway/Contemporary/Jazz. So you have no idea how ecstatic I was to see this routine happen. Mind you, it wasn’t the final 2 girls (Jasmine and Amy) dancing together, but rather Jasmine dancing with All-Star Comfort. However, it doesn’t change the fact that we got a girls hip-hop routine! FINALLY! HALLELUJAH! More of this please!

There you have it – my favourite SYTYCD routines! The show returns for its 12th season – Stage vs. Street – on June 1st!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Fandom Friday: 5 Times I Totally Fangirled

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I was actually already planning a post about celeb encounters when Megan (The Nerdy Girlie) and Kristin (Super Space Chick) released the Fandom 5 topics for this month. Perfect! Now, I’ve always prided myself in not COMPLETELY fangirling when I’ve met people whom I admire. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m kinda sorta socially awkward, so I have trouble talking to my own friends sometimes, let alone celebs. Also, I try my best not to embarrass myself too much; it’s hard, but I try. Regardless of that, there have been multiple instances where that truly fangirl side of me comes out, meaning my awkwardness comes out and it gets hard for me to form proper sentences. My version of “totally fangirling” is getting so nervous I act like a total dork.

1.) SDCC 2013 – Final Nikita Panel

I’ve documented this in a previous post, but essentially I got up the nerve to go ask my favourite people in the world a question at their final panel. Just my luck, someone in front of me asked pretty much the question I was going to ask, and I had to think of another question on the spot. So much pressure! If you watch the video, you can probably hear exactly how nervous I was.

2.) SDCC 2014 – Meeting Shane West

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Again, I already posted about this. To recap, I went to the panel Shane West was moderating and was determined to meet him afterwards. Tried my damned hardest to keep my fangirliness in check.

3.) SYTYCD Tours

SYTYCD Tour M&G

I love SYTYCD and for seasons 3-8, I actually went to the tour. For all the shows except one, I stayed after the show and waited to meet the dancers (because I found out early on that they did this, and I went with people who were willing to wait with me). Season 3 I met Lauren Gottlieb, was pretty calm. Season 4 I met Chelsie, Comfort, Courtney, Kherington, Joshua and Katee; it was when I met Katee that I nerded out a bit mentioning that I was a fan of hers from Paris By Night (and I think I embarrassed her a little bit by bringing it up). I skipped season 5 (it was too cold to wait). The season 6+7 tour I met Kathryn, Robert, Kent, Lauren, Ade, and Allison. Allison is one of my favourite dancers and I was so bummed that I missed the season 2 tour, so I was SO EXCITED to meet her. To be honest, I actually don’t remember much of the interaction because of how excited/nervous I was, except for asking her about tWitch (who was there at the show, but not performing), and then later on finding out that they had actually started dating (and now married)! Then the season 8 tour I met Marko, Melanie, Tadd, Caitlynn, and Nick. I definitely fangirled meeting Marko because he’s totally my dancer crush, and again I had to mention PBN, which I think caught him completely off-guard.

4.) FanExpo 2013

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I know I’m repeating myself again, but gosh, all these Cons are what dreams are made of. Saw Stephen Amell twice and acted like it was no big deal both times. 15 minutes after meeting Stephen (the first time), I met Gina Torres and could barely form a complete sentence. I met Piper Perabo and Peter Gallagher at the Covert Affairs signing. With Piper, I was my usual awkward self, not really sure what to say. With Peter, I managed to get in the fact that I loved Center Stage and The O.C., and have a proper interaction with him. It’s times like this that I don’t know how my brain processes being a fangirl.

5.) General Reaction to Awesome Events/News

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Sometimes, I’m at my most fangirliest when I hear good news. That means if my favourite TV shows get renewed, particularly if they’re on the bubble (which let’s be honest, applies to 75% of the shows I watch), I’m screaming and doing a happy dance. Favourite music artists going on tour and stopping into Toronto? Ditto. My favourite music artists teaming up to do a tour (like in 2013, when Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson toured together)? FUCK YES!

Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – May/June

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. Summer may be well underway, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go back and talk about what’s interested me the past couple months (also, wanted to get this out before posting next month’s).

MAY

Before going forward, I figured I should go back ever so slightly. The month of May is typically known as the start of the summer movie season, and as has occurred for several years now, it started with a superhero movie. This year, we got the beginning of Marvel’s Phase Two with the release of Iron Man 3. A couple weeks later saw the Star Trek sequel, Into Darkness. I had time to go see both of those, but another movie that got released at the end of the month, that I still have yet to see is Now You See Me – I mean, magic caper thriller, an original story (meaning non-sequel/reboot/etc.) and an awesome cast to boot? What more can you ask for?

Concert-going is a big deal to me and my summer concerts actually started at the end of April, when I got the chance to see Sara Bareilles on her Brave Enough solo tour. The first time I actually saw Sara in concert was when she opened for Maroon 5 on their It Won’t Be Soon Before Long tour, and it was at that show that I got to meet her. It’s been such a long time since I had seen her live that I almost forgot how great she is, and with this tour being just her performing, it was such a great reminder. A week later, I went to check out Tyler Hilton, Teddy Geiger, and Ryan Cabrera on their joint tour and that was kind of a cool show to check out, because they actually came out during each other’s sets to play a song or two together.

On the TV front, May meant only one thing to me: the beginning of a new season of So You Think You Can Dance!! Regardless of how I felt about last season’s vast amount of changes, I love this show so much.

JUNE

Though it can sometimes be difficult to follow the cable shows, being from Canada and all, but it is those shows that make up most of my summer. One of the shows that I was really looking forward to seeing was Jeff Eastin’s (creator of White Collar) new show Graceland, starring Aaron Tveit and Daniel Sunjata, as two of the five undercover agents living under the same roof. Lucky for me though is that Bravo Canada is simulcasting the show on Thursday nights. The sixth season of True Blood recently premiered and I must admit that was only slightly excited about it. The show has had its ups and downs, with last season being not very good, so I was a little bit unsure as to whether I would want to keep watching. Under the Dome, based on the Stephen King novel about a town that mysteriously gets trapped under a dome, is one of the first shows by the major broadcast networks to adopt a cable-style season structure (that is, 13-episodes as opposed to a full 22). The final season of Dexter premieres June 30th, and though the show had a rough couple of seasons, it was back to form last season after Deb found out about Dex, and now we’re waiting to see how it all ends. Following Dexter is the series premiere of Ray Donovon starring Liev Schrieber as an L.A. professional fixer (think Scandal without the politics of DC, and the glitz of Hollywood).

Continuing on with the movie season is the recently released Man of Steel, the latest reboot in the Superman franchise. Coming from director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and producer Christopher Nolan (do I really need to say the Dark Knight trilogy?), the movie sets Superman/Clark Kent firmly rooted in reality. This year’s big Pixar movie for the kids and the kids at heart is Monsters University, a prequel to their hit Monsters Inc. (so sadly, there will be no Boo in this one). Seth Rogen assembles an all-star comedy cast including Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Craig Robinson among others for the end of the world comedy This Is The End, which also features many other celebs playing themselves (albeit a very comedic, some say deranged versions of themselves). A few years ago there was a big story about teens who stole millions from the homes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, and Orlando Bloom, among others – flashforward to now where director Sofia Coppola brings the story to light in The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson. A slight twist to the typical buddy-cop comedy is The Heat, which brings together Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

One of the things that I was really excited about this month was seeing Shaping Sound when they came through Toronto on their tour. Shaping Sound, for those who don’t know, is a dance company founded by SYTYCD alums Travis Wall and Nick Lazzarini, along with Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson. The company is filled with so many fantastic dancers (including other SYTYCD alums Jaimie Goodwin, Alexa Anderson, Channing Cooke, Noelle Marsh) and the show itself was just phenomenal! Amazing dancing all around and I only wish I could see it again.

Thankful for Pop Culture

I’m Canadian, so we already celebrated Thanksgiving a month ago (ya know, the REAL Thanksgiving, as per Robin Scherbatsky). However, in honour of Americans celebrating their Thanksgiving this weekend, I thought I would give thanks to the pop culture things I am thankful for this year.

1.) NIKITA

Always thankful for this show, from the moment that it was picked up to the fact that it is still on the air, despite the odds. I know I gush about this show A LOT, but they have never failed to amaze me with what they do. Maggie Q is the the first Asian-American to be the lead of a TV show, which to me is such a huge deal. The rest of the cast and crew work tirelessly (especially the countless  “Fraturdays”) to give us a mini-movie each episode. The show has done so much in 2.5 seasons (thus far) than most shows do in their entire run. Thank you for being awesome and I honestly look forward to the day that I can actually tell you all that in person!

2.) The last season of FRINGE

So incredibly thankful that we’re getting a final season of Fringe. Again, it’s a show that has faced incredible odds and as a fan, you can’t help but be incredibly grateful that a final season of the show even exists. FOX could have easily cancelled it because of the low ratings, but they totally did us (and all involved with the show) a solid by allowing the writers to finish the story they set out.

3.) MAROON 5 & KELLY CLARKSON

Two of my favourites in music had a great year. Though Kelly released her album “Stronger” last year, I’m simply thankful for her putting on such great concerts this year. A great singer performing incredibly well LIVE, there’s not much more you can ask for than that. I’m still not IN LOVE with Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” but I am happy that they have a huge hit with “One More Night”; they completely deserve it. Also, the fact that “One More Night” kept “Gangnam Style” from ever hitting #1 on the Billboard chart was a great bonus (seriously, I would’ve called that the end of the world if Gangnam became a #1 hit).

4.) TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival is such a great event for movie fans. It offers a little something for everyone: indies, documentaries, foreign films, and just damn good movies. This year I got to attend one of Jason Reitman’s famous live readings, got to see an incredible performance by Marion Cotillard in the film Rust and Bone; the harrowing Twice Born starring Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch; and a lighter different side to Alexander Skarsgard in What Maisie Knew. Not to mention the official release of movies that played at TIFF last year – 10 Years, Friends With Kids, The Oranges.

5.) Wonderfully written TV Shows

A great number of both new and returning shows have been doing ridiculously well creatively. On the drama side: Parenthood, Homeland, the resurgence of Dexter, Once Upon A Time, Revenge (season 1), Covert Affairs, Suits, Nashville, and Arrow. On the comedy side: Parks and Recreation, Community, Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, Go On, and Ben and Kate.

6.) AMAZING DANCING

I am beyond thankful for all the truly amazing dancing we witness on both the big and small screen. Step Up Revolution continued the series with some more new and exciting choreography. But So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are the dancing gifts that keep giving. The most recent example? Derek Hough and Allison Holker choreographing an INCREDIBLE contemporary number this past week on DWTS, that also featured Melanie Moore, Kathryn McCormick and Jessica Lee Keller.

 

That’s what I’m thankful for, this American Thanksgiving. Share what pop culture things you’re thankful for!