Dec 212012
 

The third season of HBO’s crime drama, Boardwalk Empire has just finished. Having spent a good deal of time in the Atlantic City area when I was young, I have become a big fan of the show which is based on historical criminal figures. There is a lot to like about the show and many focus on the once-in-a-lifetime role of gangster Nucky Thompson as played by Steve Buscemi. Indeed he is incredible. But what transports you into 1920’s prohibition era South Jersey shore are the sets, costumes, cinematography and perhaps most importantly, the music. Continue reading »

Sep 282011
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

In “I Am Unicorn,” McKinley High gears up for their production of West Side Story, with several of our principal characters battling for the leads. Meanwhile, Kurt makes a run for class president, and music coach Shelby Corcoran (guest star Idina Menzel) steps back into the lives of Rachel (her biological daughter) plus Quinn and Puck (the parents of her adopted child).

Last week in this column we talked about Glee’s apparent attempts to carry out season three with a purpose many claimed the show lacked last year. One of the through-lines established in “The Purple Piano Project” was the performance of the school musical, which we learned would be West Side Story. I assumed they’d save its whole production for a few episodes down the line (much like last year’s Rocky Horror), but it seems the show is really taking to heart the notion of letting plots build throughout a season. Here we get only part of the West Side story in the form of auditions, with several of our main characters (namely Rachel and Kurt, but also Kurt’s boyfriend Blaine) attempting to claim the leads. That’s a serious change of pace from last season, where Rocky Horror was announced, produced, performed and cancelled in the span of 45 minutes. Continue reading »

Apr 272011
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.


In “Born This Way,” Coach Schuester tries to teach his glee club students to accept the things that make them self-conscious, and how better to impart that lesson than with Lady Gaga’s new single?

It seems every time Glee does Lady Gaga, Fox will promote the show as though she fills the whole episode when really we only get a song or two. Last season’s “Theatricality” brilliantly paired Gaga with KISS, arguing that the four-piece arena rock band was the male equivalent of pop music’s current mistress (Alice Cooper might actually provide a better analogy, but whatever). This episode was not as focused musically, offering Glee‘s usual genre-spanning mix and capping the episode with “Born This Way,” marking the first time Glee‘s ever featured a song before the album it’s on even comes out. Way to stay ahead of the curve, Glee. Continue reading »

Oct 132010
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

Hello, Glee readers (Gleaders?)! Two important things have happened since last week’s post went up. First: Glee topped the Beatles‘ record for number of entries on the Billboard Hot 100; last week’s releases brought them up to 75 charting tracks, versus the Beatles’ paltry 71 (ironic that last week’s songs included the show’s first #1 Beatles cover, no?). We’re only four episodes into the series’ second season at this point and the show doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, so I can’t imagine what Glee’s record will look like at the end.

Second, I received some feedback that readers might like me to be a little more critical in these roundups—not to tear the show apart (unless it needs it), but to call out performances that maybe weren’t great and spotlight those that were. I’m going to try that out this week and I’d like to start by retroactively saying that I find Rachel’s character insufferable this season, so when “Grilled Cheesus” delivered her singing an awful Barbra Streisand song from a movie that I’m sure would make me want to claw my eyes out, her case was not helped in the slightest. Continue reading »

Oct 062010
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

Why do a feature on Glee?

Well, for one, it’s an insanely popular show. Second, and more importantly, Glee is pop culture’s number one source for cover music right now. It’s kind of sneaky about that fact; few people, if any, talk about the music of Glee as cover tunes, but that’s precisely what they are. Often the show’s performances don’t do much in the way of altering the original song as covers typically do, but sometimes they can surprise us. Regardless, I think it’s interesting to look at those performances: why the show chooses a particular song, how the arrangement differs (if at all), etc.

So it is that each Wednesday I’ll be doing a rundown of every track Glee covered that week, delving a little into the history of the original track and talking about how the Glee version relates. I suspect a lot of people who watch the show are introduced to a few new songs every episode (even a music nerd like me had never heard “Papa Can You Hear Me?” prior to last night — a crime, I know), but I also think that people really into music but not big Glee fans might enjoy seeing some fresh performances and reinterpretations of favorite songs. In short, I think this feature has something for everyone, and I hope you agree! Continue reading »

Aug 272010
 

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

San Diego songwriter Steve Poltz is hard to peg. He’s best known for his work with Jewel, co-writing her sappy 1996 hit “You Were Meant for Me.” You’d think that sentence says it all (specifically, it says, “I’ll pass”). But he recorded a whole record of 45-second answering machine records. And it’s one of Neil Young’s favorite albums. Okay, I’m interested again. He’s recorded songs for gooey romantic comedies, but his indie post-punk band inspired a Weird Al song. If nothing else, the man must have a very eclectic Rolodex.

He leans towards his sappier side on his new album Dreamhouse with Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” the title song to the 1973 movie. It’s schmaltzy as heck, but it’s well-crafted schmaltz. Put it this way: if the schmaltz-instrumentation continuum runs from acoustic guitar to synthesized orchestra, this falls to the former. Naming it one of the 100 best songs of all time seems a stretch (I’m looking at you, Billboard), but in Poltz’s tender delivery it’s perfect for a vulnerable moment. Continue reading »