Music in Media

Film / Soundtrack Review / The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

I know, I know. This soundtrack was the talk of the town weeks ago. Florence!  Muse!  Vampire Weekend!  It’s old news. We’re past it. Why review it now?

Well, it’s one thing to put together an awesome compilation, but it’s a much harder task to ensure so many stand out tracks fit in the fabric of the movie – a cheesy, tweeny blockbuster vampire movie, nonetheless. To be perfectly honest, I sometimes think that the great Alexandra Patsavas – while brilliant and talented and with a knack for finding great undiscovered tunes – sometimes takes me out of the story going “Oooh! Miike Snow!” for a 4 second use.  At the very end of the first Twilight movie, when Linkin Park launched us into the end credits I think I may have groaned out loud.

That said, – Eclipse was a breath of fresh air.  Patsavas nails it.  The songs blend in when they’re supposed to, and enhance key moments that need some extra oomph.  It’s still a cheesy, tweeny vampire movie (Taylor Lautner as Jacob says to Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen at one point: “I mean let’s face it, I am hotter than you” cue theatre bursting into applause), but this time the music is what gives it – at least some – street cred.

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TA Mixtape / Music In Media: TV Dinner

by Andrew Thomas

“It just sort of introduces the idea that you’re in for something pretty idiotic.” – Larry David

I love food. I love eating it. I love making it. I love talking about it. I love hearing people talk about it. I even love watching people make it on competition based television shows. Unfortunately, those shows by nature must leave out one of my favorite elements of food: the smell. When you enter a restaurant owned by a knowledgeable chef, you’ll notice the immediate presence of a powerful, distinct and pleasing aroma. It heightens the anticipation. It lets you know the type of food is on the way. It focuses your senses on the tastes and textures to come.

A good theme song is the television equivalent to a tantalizing aroma before a delicious meal. It whets your appetite for the rest of the show. The tone of the song will let you know if the show will be light, dark, comedic, dramatic, intense, intelligent, unconventional, or any number of things. When you hear the twanging guitars and mournful fiddle of Deadwood’s Opening Sequence, you know you’re not in for a buddy cop comedy. When you hear The Barenaked Ladies prattle off a Brief History of The Universe, you know you’re not watching a show about a rape lawyer.

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Theatre / "The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World" take a weird piece of music history to Playwright’s Horizons

Yesterday a theatre-loving friend of mine tweeted about a new musical coming to Playwrights Horizons next spring that tells the story of a girl group called The Shaggs, a band of 3 sisters from New Hampshire who had their “heyday” in the late 1960’s. A band that only released one album some people regard as a colossal failure, while others – most notably rock icon, Frank Zappa – proclaim as utter brilliance. When discussing his take on it Gunnar Madsen – who will be writing the music & lyrics for the musical is quoted in the New York Times as saying the following:

“I found it profoundly depressing. Other people find a simple joy in it, but for me I just heard how they were forced to do this. I can hear where they’re just struggling to find something out of the chaos which is music.”

The article follows up by discussing how Madsen planned to approach the original music – one of the biggest challenges (I think) in translating the life of any artist to the stage in the form of a musical – to which he answered that he intends to “try to answer the question, ‘What did they hope they would sound like?’”

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Music Video Review (Sort of) / The Los Angeles Film Festival Presents Eclectic Mix 2

"Ready, Able" Grizzly Bear, directed by Allison Schulnik

This past weekend I journeyed downtown to check out one of the two music video showcases organized by the Los Angeles Film Festival. This collection was named “Eclectic Mix 2” and featured videos from the likes of Grizzly Bear, The Fiery Furnaces, Hauschka, Astronautalis and Major Lazer to name a few (full program is listed at the end). After screening all the videos we were lucky enough to get a Q&A with most of the directors. And boy, when watching 20 music videos in a row it becomes abundantly clear what works, what doesn’t, what patterns the programmers went with and just how many ways there are to capture a song in music. I picked 10 videos to give my thoughts on….

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2 Stage Adaptations of Classic Tales Open This Week

This week the interwebs were abuzz with the premieres of two different and much beloved stories that have been adapted to the stage.

The first one – an opera version of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory titled The Golden Ticket – opened last Sunday June 13 at the Loretto-Hilton Center of Webster University in St. Louis. Not sure yet if I really feel ANOTHER adaptation of the story is truly necessary – this one actually got panned in its first incarnation as a concert performance at the National Theatre.

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