Saturday, April 19, 2008

Broadway Junkie

That's what I've turned into, thanks to the musical recordings kindly purchased by L on my behalf, which I've been blasting non-stop everywhere I go these past couple of weeks.


Believe it or not, I watched the original film version eons ago as a child ( it didn't have any singing ) and found it hilarious. Funny how it's been successfully translated into a musical format on the stage and, more recently, on film yet again, featuring Hollywood stars John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Queen Latifah and Zac Efron.

[ My long-haul flight from New York to Singapore flew by very quickly, thanks to repeat viewings of the movie on Krisworld. :) ]

You can check out the track listing here. This is the Broadway cast recording, not the one from the film ( the former is tonnes better ).

All I can say is, it's the perfect antidote for any bad day. Combining a high-spirited mix of '60s rock 'n roll / Motown / gospel genres, infectiously upbeat melodies, ingenious lyrics and fabulous vocals, the album came at a huge steal, thanks to the US$10 special offer at Times Square's Virgin Megastore. The sound quality is top-notch as well.

Standouts include Welcome To The 60's, Run And Tell That!, and of course the big finale You Can't Stop The Beat.

My personal favourites, however, are Without Love and I Know Where I've Been.
The former is a joyful proclamation of young ( i.e. idealistic ) love, beautifully written and sung by the leads. The lyrics deserve special mention. A sampling:

"Without love
Life is like the seasons with no summer
Without love
Life is rock 'n' roll without a drummer

Like a week that's only Mondays
Only ice-cream never sundaes
Like a circle with no center
Like a door marked "Do Not Enter!"

Darlin' I'll be yours forever 'cause I never wanna be
Without love"

The latter, on the other hand, is a poignant piece about racial discrimination.

"There's a dream in the future
There's a struggle we have yet to win
And there's pride in my heart
'Cause I know where I'm going
And I know where I've been

There's a road we must travel
There's a promise we must make
'Cause the riches will be plenty
Worth the risk and chances that we take

There's a dream in the future
There's a struggle we have yet to win
Use that pride in our hearts
To lift us up to tomorrow
'Cause just to sit still would be a sin"


Spring Awakening

I passed the theatre for this show multiple times but didn't buy tickets. Now I'm regretting it, argh!

It won a fistful of Tony Awards, including Best Musical for 2007, and I can totally understand why.

But I must admit, I probably listened to the CD at least 5 times before I started to love it.

Track listing here.

I am not kidding when I say I ADORE this album. Never mind the depressing plot / subplots / lyrics. Again, it is a work of genius in every sense of the word.

In stark contrast to the deliriously happy Hairspray, Spring is angry, bitter, even occasionally vulgar.
But it's also so ^&*%$#@ good! :)

A potent melting pot of everything from rock to pop, from head-banging numbers to haunting love ballads -- it's currently taken up residence in my car stereo, with no plans to leave anytime soon, haha.

And every track is terrific. Every single one.

Personal faves? Of course I have a few. :)

Hard rocking ones: The B*tch of Living, Totally F*cked, Don't Do Sadness, And Then There Were None.

Slow ones: Touch Me ( the best! ), The Word Of Your Body ( gorgeous! ), Whispering, The Guilty Ones, Left Behind, and Those You've Known.

Pop pieces: The Mirror-Blue Night, I Believe, and The Song Of Purple Summer.

That just about covers the whole album. Like I said, the entire recording is chock full of gems.

I especially like the way some of the songs are interpreted -- there're wonderful violin solos, Brit-rock inflections ( Blur kept popping into my head ), and the leads are truly fantastic.

A YouTube clip of the cast's Tony Awards performance can be viewed here.

I'm now going through the last CD, i.e. Wicked ( about the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz ). It's a far cry from the other two, done in a more "traditional" manner, with soaring choirs and operatic vocals. But it definitely rocks! Will write a review next time.

Movie Rundown

Picked up a few VCD rentals this week, including Enchanted, Beowulf and Atonement.

Thankfully, I made good choices this round ( took home a few duds in the past ), and just finished Beowulf, which I greatly enjoyed. I know there were critics / fans who complained about the accuracy of the interpretation of whatever medieval legend it's based on ( I don't really care ). Speaking from the perspective of a total ignoramus, it was a really fine piece of work, with solid storytelling and superb visual effects. Highly recommended.

I also like Enchanted a lot, and for many reasons. The leads have wonderful chemistry, with Amy Adams cracking me up with her ditzy antics, James Marsden showing off his comedic and vocal skills, and Patrick Dempsey using his doe-eyed Look Of Lurve to great effect. The plot's rather silly, but the music saves it from sinking into cheese hell, thanks to the legendary Alan Menken, who penned classics for The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin.

Am gonna watch Atonement after this. Lots of people tell me how fabulous it is, so I've got high expectations here. If it's anything like The English Patient ( one of my all-time Top 5 favourites ), I may just buy the DVD for my collection.

Other Updates

Clay Aiken's releasing a new album! Titled On My Way Here, it will be out in early May, and there's a video for the title track on Amazon. His voice is still as spectacular as ever. Sounding good, Clay! :)

David Archuleta's now in the Top 6, yes! He's been picking excellent songs this past fortnight, first with Robbie Williams' big hit Angels, then with the inspiring When You Believe from The Prince of Egypt. I appreciate the fact that he relates to pieces with positive messages, instead of singing about love, love and more love. Keep it up!

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 7 is now being shown EVERY NIGHT on cable's Starworld Channel 18, with repeats the next morning at 11am. The L&O series ( the original, plus SVU and Criminal Intent ) is IMHO the cream of the crop where crime dramas are concerned, and Season 7 has already upped its game by featuring stories that are much more controversial and emotionally distressing than its predecessors.
This has been ongoing for at least 3 weeks now. Tune in so you won't miss any more episodes!

Just got HOD's approval for my HMDP attachment next year, and I'm ecstatic to be returning to Manhattan, woohoo! Now to get all the paperwork out of the way... :)

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