Friday, February 5, 2016

58th Annual GRAMMY Award Predictions: Taylorpalooza

Via Tumblr

The 58th annual GRAMMY Awards are set to air on February 15 on CBS and the ladies of Information Services are psychedddd. We've taken the time to predict the winners of all the big categories so you don't have to. Fair warning: we're pretty sure Taylor Swift is gonna clean house this year.  

Record of the Year 
"Really Love" D'Angelo and the Vanguard
"Uptown Funk" Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
"Thinking Out Loud" Ed Sheeran
"Blank Space" Taylor Swift
"Can't Feel My Face" the Weeknd

Kate: As cute as Ed Sheeran is, there's no way he's going to trump Swift's infectious hit "Blank Space." Seriously- I bought a shirt that says "I can make the bad guys good for the weekend" on it. Please don't tell anybody.   

Jessica: Any record with the title "Can't Feel My Face" deserves to be Record of the Year. Plus, I love a guy who sounds like MJ and wears hair like Basquiat. 

Jasmin: Taylor’s “Blank Space” music video made the song a huge hit. With over 1 billion views on Vevo, it’s safe to say Taylor is going to win this GRAMMY.  

Album of the Year
"Sound & Color" Alabama Shakes
"To Pimp a Butterfly" Kendrick Lamar
"Traveller" Chris Stapleton
"1989" Taylor Swift
"Beauty Behind the Madness" the Weeknd

Kate: Chris Stapleton is the man. I've known that since 2008 when he was the lead singer and guitarist of the SteelDrivers. His first solo album Traveller was released last year and it's flawless as far as I'm concerned.

Jessica: Taylor Swift's got this one in the bag. I look like her... at least that's what strangers tell me. My mom and I don't see the resemblance, but I'll take it. I chose Taylor out of pure vanity. 

Jasmin: 1989 was THE jam of 2015. No matter what your stance is on Taylor Swift, we can all agree that she killed it with this album.  

Song of the Year 
"Alright" Kendrick Lamar
"Blank Space" Taylor Swift
"Girl Crush" Little Big Town 
"See You Again" Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
"Thinking Out Loud" Ed Sheeran

Kate: Is there a difference between song of the year and record of the year? Can somebody explain that to me? Anyways, "Blank Space" all day (this is not intended to be a Kanye West pun).  

Jessica: If I vote for "Thinking Out Loud", will I seem cool? It seems like the kiddies like him. B96 plays this song on REPEAT, 

Jasmin: Swift managed to make crazy seem alluring and turn comments about being a man eater into a ground breaking hit song with “Blank Space.” Without a doubt Tay wins this round; better luck next time Ed Sheeran!

New Artist
Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Kate: Being a huge fan of country music, you think I would be supportive of Sam Hunt. But I'm not. His definition of country isn't quite on par with mine, so I'm definitely pulling for Courtney Barnett in this category. Her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit proved Barnett to be one of the sharpest, most original songwriters around. 

Jessica: Tori Kelly, hands down. And she looks like she could be on the Disney Channel. YAY! 

Jasmin: My hope is that Sam Hunt wins this category. His entire album is phenomenal and if you haven’t heard “Single for the Summer” go pick up Montevallo and be ready to dance.     

Pop Vocal Album 
"Piece by Piece" Kelly Clarkson
"How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" Florence + the Machine
"Uptown Special" Mark Ronson
"1989" Taylor Swift
"Before This World" James Taylor

Kate: Florence + the Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is one of my top five (okay, maybe top ten) albums of 2015. I listened to it religiously on repeat for weeks after its release. Chances are good, however, that Taylor Swift will walk away with this award.

Jessica: I’m pulling for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful because Florence has a killer set of lungs....pun intended. I love a great melody and this album provides a lot of them.

Jasmin: I really hope Florence + the Machine wins this one. Welch needs to be recognized for her haunting music and strong vocals. Still -Taylor Swift will probably win this award. Sigh. 

Rap Album
"2014 Forest Hills Drive" J. Cole
"Compton" Dr. Dre
"If Youre Reading This Its Too Late" Drake
"To Pimp a Butterfly" Kendrick Lamar
"The Pinkprint" Nicki Minaj

Kate: If it were up to me, Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick would share this GRAMMY. Almost like how Cady Herron, Regina George, and Gretchen Weiners shared the Spring Fling crown in Mean Girls. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and it’s sure to be To Pimp a Butterfly.   

Jessica: Apparently, I read this a little too late, because I had no idea the name of Drake's latest album. I hope he wins though.

Jasmin: I’m not exactly an expert in this genre, though I’ve heard that Drake’s album is great. Or maybe  Nicki Minaj should win…girl has to represent.

Country Album
"Montevallo" Sam Hunt
"Pain Killer" Little Big Town
"The Blade" Ashley Monroe
"Pageant Material" Kacey Musgraves
"Traveller" Chris Stapleton

Kate: Both Musgraves’ and Monroe’s albums are GRAMMY worthy, there’s no doubt about that. But Chris Stapleton has taken the music world by storm and he’s sure to come out on top this time around.   

Jessica: Little Big Town sang the National Anthem for the NFC championship I think they meet the requirements for releasing the best country album of 2015. Because, honestly, what’s more country than America and football at the same time?

Jasmin: Kacey Musgraves! Pageant Material! This album is fun to listen to and I absolutely love it. Honestly, Sam Hunt might win, but please let it be Kacey.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Alan Rickman

We are not off to a great start this year. First David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman.

You know when you hear that someone famous has passed and then for the first time realize how much you truly liked them? I've always liked Alan Rickman, but his death has put this into sharper perspective: why did I like him so? Rickman was an every-man, not classically handsome, but attractive; he was British and his delivery measured, which gave him a slightly sophisticated air; and he worked on stage and screen, which gave him pedigree. He may have been made famous to audiences playing Hans Gruber in Die Hard, but it is his softer performances that get me, specifically Truly Madly Deeply. What always stood out to me was his ability to make every character, even the villains, sympathetic or, at the very least, understandable. In my book, that is the mark of a good actor.

Selected filmography:

Die Hard

Truly Madly Deeply

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Sense and Sensibility

Galaxy Quest

Harry Potter movies

Love Actually

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Alice in Wonderland

Lee Daniel's The Butler

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie--more than any other pop artist--exemplified the necessity of change and metamorphosis. In his six decade career he has inhabited staggeringly diverse personae: extraterrestrial glam rocker; blue-eyed soul singer; cabaret-style Thin White Duke. This overwhelming impetus to redefine himself is perhaps the sole constant of Bowie's oeuvre. Attempting to define his influence is nearly impossible, as it extends well outside the musical domain, into fashion, film, and the art world. Like the Beatles--his early contemporaries--glimpses of Bowie's influence can be found in virtually every aspect of modern music and pop culture. His songs have been covered by a veritable who's who of iconic musical acts; Nirvana, Tina Turner, Beck, White Stripes, Tegan and Sara, etc. It would be impossible to write a comprehensive encomium of David Bowie; an artist whose myriad lives have somehow survived his time on earth. I would encourage all our readers to delve into David Bowie's legacy, via any of the links below, and celebrate his mutable genius.

Selected Discography

Space Oddity

The Man Who Sold the World

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars

Aladdin Sane


Five Years: 1969-1973

Station to Station



Selected Filmography

The Man Who Fell to Earth


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Best of Bowie

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas classics at the Dundee Library

This time of year many people enjoy watching their favorite Christmas movies: It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Home Alone, Elf, and Miracle on 34th Street, just to name a few. Over the next week we are showing a couple Christmas classics that maybe you forgot about (or aren't as familiar with) and are sure to put you in the holiday mood:

Prancer (1989)
Saturday, December 19 at 2 p.m.

This '80s classic stars Rebecca Harrell, Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, Abe Vigoda, Michael Constantine, Rutanya Alda, and a pre-Jurassic Park Ariana Richards. A little girl finds a wounded reindeer in the woods and believes it is Prancer. Her efforts to nurse it back to health so she can return it to Santa bring about wonderful changes in the lives of everyone- her father, their neighbor, a grouchy vet, a department store Santa and the people of the town.

Remember the Night (1940)
Tuesday, December 22 at 6 p.m.

This is one of four films that Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray starred in together. Both funny and dramatic, Remember the Night is one of my Christmas favorites. Stanwyck plays Lee Leander, a woman who shoplifts a bracelet and goes to trial for her crime in New York. Because the trial is occurring so close to Christmas, the prosecuting attorney, John Sargeant (Fred MacMurray), gets the trial postponed until after the holidays. He feels bad that Lee will spend Christmas in jail, and posts her bail. When he finds out Lee's hometown is not far from his childhood home in Indiana, he offers to drive her home for Christmas. She ends up spending Christmas with John's family, and gets to participate in their Christmas and New Year's traditions, including a good old-fashioned barn dance. Stanwyck and MacMurray have wonderful chemistry together, and the supporting cast is terrific as well. You may recognize Belulah Bondi from It's a Wonderful Life, or Sterling Holloway from his voice work on Winnie the Pooh or The Jungle Book.

Love Barbara Stanwyck and want more Christmas movie recommendations? Try Christmas in Connecticut for a fun screwball comedy, or Meet John Doe for another film that combines comedy with more dramatic elements.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Truth Hurts (Especially when Adele is Singing it)

Reserve 25 in the catalog today
~Adele's third studio album, 25, was released on Friday, so I've only had the chance to listen to it like 8063 times~ 

Adele released her first album, 19, in 2008 after graduating from the BRIT School for Performing Arts & technology. She wrote most of the material for her debut album on her own and named the album for the age at which she did so. She kept the theme going when she released her sophomore album 21 in 2011. The album is deeply autobiographical, exploring the different stages of heartbreak from anger and bitterness to acceptance and eventual forgiveness. Adele is a vocal powerhouse and 21 is one of my absolute favorite albums to be released to this day. 

The wildly anticipated third release delivers what all Adele fans want — big vocals, ballads (heartbroken and otherwise) and the classic soundscape, culled from vintage pop and soul music. Technically, Adele has already made this album two times over. She's swept us off our feet before: stirred our souls so powerfully that 25 is not collectively as game-changing as some might have wanted it to be. It is, however, still a collection of beautifully crafted songs that evoke emotion unlike anything else I've heard this year. “Hello”, the opening track, picks up the heartbreak theme of 21 which documented a tumultuous breakup in her personal life. The new single echoes the reflective mood of the album’s [21] closing track, the piano ballad-turned-anthem “Someone Like You”. The album itself is a collection of torch songs, filled with longing for lost love and mourning for her own faded innocence. The second track, titled "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)", was produced by Max Martin and as a result the song has a very Taylor Swift-esque feel to it. "Send My Love" is more of an upbeat sendoff than anything else. "River Lea" is by far the most powerful song on the album; Adele finds herself filled with self-doubt, apologizing to a future lover for some uncommitted sin. 

The most standout aspect of the album as a whole isn't so much Adele's voice (which is just as phenomenal as always despite recent vocal cord surgery) as it is her delivery. There aren't many artists in the music industry today that convey emotion the way she does. She's authentic. My favorite tracks off 25 resonate strongly with my current situation: "Water Under the Bridge", "Love in the Dark", and "All I Ask". Clearly I'm stuck in one of those post-love ruts at the moment. Of course, after another 10,000 listens and once a little more time has passed, my favorite tracks are bound to change.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Recommended Listen: In Colour by Jamie xx

I was excited for this album to be released in June, if only to tide me over to the next release from The xx-- the group Jamie xx is a member-- but I've come to love it on it's own merit. While this CD isn't nearly as stark or moody as The xx albums, this should still please existing fans and perhaps gain some new ones due to his expanding repertoire. Three tracks feature vocalist Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, both members of the xx. So, even though this is a solo album, he's still got one foot planted in the group. The track that diverts the most is the hip-hop and dance-hall inspired I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times), featuring Popcaan and Young Thug.

What makes this album different from previous efforts is that it's not as cohesive from track to track. It's more diverse: this disc oscillates between house and more-laid back compositions and the aforementioned hip hop/dancehall track. You can dance, or just plain relax to this disc, which isn't true of all electronic albums. My standouts include Sleep SoundObvsHold TightThe Rest is Noise, and Girls, which is my favorite of the pack. This is a definite step forward for Jamie.

In Colour by Jamie xx
Find it in the catalog

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Admit It: You're obsessed with "Hotline Bling"

Via Pitchfork

Unless you live under a rock (or are Meek Mill or like…my 90 year old grandmother) you know all the lyrics to Drake’s smash hit “Hotline Bling” and you love every second of it. It was hard to admit at first, I know, but now you own it. You live to get in your car every morning on your way to work and scream “YOU USED TO CALL ME ON MY CELL PHONE” at the poor people taking your coffee order at Dunkin’ Donuts. Or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, here’s a list of songs with essentially the same message to help you get over your obsession with “Hotline Bling”. 

"It Is What It Is" by Kacey Musgraves

I know what you're thinking and yes, I do write a lot about Kacey Musgraves, but that's only because I know good music when I hear it. "It Is What It Is" is the closing track off Kacey's first album Same Trailer, Different Park. This song is both the best and saddest ode to friends with benefits that you'll ever hear. Most Drizzy-esque lyrics:
"But I ain't got no one sleeping with me /
And you ain't got nowhere that you need to be /
Maybe I love you /
Or maybe I'm just kinda bored"  

 Florence Welch has built a career on other peoples' heartbreak. This track, off her third studio album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, has a call-and-response chorus about waiting by the phone that would make Smokey Robinson proud. Most Drake reminiscent lyrics: 
"Now it's one more boy and it's one more lie / 
(Holding on for your call) /
Taking the pills just to pass the time /
(I can never say no)"

Modern romance (at least according to Aziz Ansari) is essentially not knowing if you're actually dating a person or instead just "hanging out" with them on a fairly regular basis. And if that's not confusing enough, these non-relationships usually end when one person decides they've found someone who is more interesting to text. Cam's single "Half Broke Heart", which has yet to be released on a major record label, explores what comes after the fallout. She sings: 
"Upfront no strings /
Sure fun till it unravels /
Won't see me cry / 
But I might kinda wanna call you tonight"  

Grace Potter has been leading The Nocturnals through the murky water that is pop-rock for years now. Her first solo album titled Midnight dropped earlier this year; "Empty Heart" is the one track off the album that Drake himself could have written. Proof:  
"I cry when you do, I cry when you don't /
Why won't you tell me what you want with me /
One day we're together then we're apart /
Why won't you let me fill up your empty heart" 

So, there you have it. Drake may be the king of emotion, but there's plenty of artists out there who can help us conquer the epidemic that is "Hotline Bling". Enjoy.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fall Movie Preview 2015: Read It Before You See It

So I guess the film industry is officially out of ideas? Here's a list of books you can read before they hit the silver screen this season.  

Black Mass (September 18)
If Johnny Depp alone isn't reason enough to see Black Mass, then...well, he is. Depp will play the notorious Boston gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger in this film adaption of the exhaustively researched book of the same name. Movie critics are falling all over themselves to proclaim Black Mass the first true Oscar contender this year. The film also stars Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, and Adam Scott.  

The Martian (October 2)
Matt Damon is returning to outer space this fall. He played a small role in last year's Interstellar where he unsuccessfully attempted to take down Matthew McConaughey on an icy planet unfit for human life (yes, it was just as weird as it sounds). This time around, however, Damon will play the lead role as an astronaut who is forced to survive alone on Mars after a fierce storm sends his crew back to Earth. Hopefully this space odyssey will prove less stressful than Sandra Bullock's 2013 solo journey through the universe. I had to leave the theater before Gravity had even ended due to an anxiety attack. Great job, Alfonso CuarĂ³n!  

Mockingjay - Part 2 (November 20)
Everybody and their brother has seen Mockingjay - Part 1 and the rest of The Hunger Games trilogy, so there's no doubt in my mind that you already have plans to purchase your kids' tickets for the midnight premier of Mockingjay - Part 2. And if you don't you're like the meanest parent ever. But seriously, this series has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. Katniss Everdeen and her badass, arrow slinging self has taken on the role of hero to fans all over the world. And why shouldn't she? After all, not just anyone could win the Hunger Games. Twice.  Get it, girl! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer 2015: Rain, Cheap Beer, and Post-Concert Depression

I think I've spent more money this season on concert tickets and overpriced Bud Light than I have on...well, anything ever. And being the generous person that I am I've decided to relive some of the magical moments I spent drowning in the rain, surrounded by scantily-clad teenagers here, on this library blog, with you. Enjoy. 
*Disclaimer: the majority of the shows I attended this summer fall under the genre of 'country'. Surprise! 

via Tumblr

Lana Del Rey
May 30, 2015
Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Tinley Park, IL

I have to admit I am a fan of Lana's music, although I won't go as far as to say she's my queen. Seriously guys, what's up with that? Del Rey kicked off her Endless Summer Tour in early May with special guest Courtney Love...which was odd to say the least. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to witness that spectacle as Grimes was the opener on Del Rey's Chicago stop. I had no idea who Grimes was before the show and I still don't have a clue today. It was 40 degrees and pouring rain yet every concertgoer around me was wearing high-waisted shorts and a flower crown. I was unimpressed with Del Rey's performance; she whined her way through a couple of tracks off her most recent record Ultraviolence while mostly ignoring her second (and my favorite) album Paradise. And when she finally got around to performing "Summertime Sadness" I was in the bathroom. That was the first and the last time I see LDR in concert. She's all yours, hipsters! 

Zac Brown Band
June 28, 2015
Milwaukee, WI

I traveled to the faraway land of Wisconsin to witness Zac Brown and his 10 piece ensemble throw down on the main stage at Milwaukee's annual Summerfest. The most impressive part of any ZBB show is the sheer amount of fiddle they're able to incorporate into modern country music; their cover of "Devil Went Down to Georgia" is reason enough to shell out the money to see these guys play live. They have an incredible energy that allows them to play lesser-known material to a crowd that really only wants to hear "Chicken Fried" on a two hour loop. The band took a big risk releasing their latest album Jekyll + Hyde this year. It has a much less traditional sound than their fans are used to, but it ultimately opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the band. You can place a hold on the album here.

July 10, 2015
Windy City Smokeout 
Chicago, IL 

I've reviewed Kacey's material here before and I really just can't say enough good things about her. Musgrave's onstage persona is just as you'd expect it to be. She speaks the truth and nothing but the truth and she's damn proud of her Texas roots. And ladies, her style is ON POINT. Not only did she play a bunch of her own songs, but she also covered some classic country hits like Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough" which confused a lot of the preteens around me. She's returning to Chicago in September to play a set at Farm Aid alongside Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp (just to name a few).  

via Tumblr

Taylor Swift
July 18 & 19, 2015
Soldier Field
Chicago, IL

Swift is without a doubt America's Sweetheart--donating thousands to a young fan diagnosed with cancer, sending personalized Christmas gifts to girls all over the world, spending hours interacting with her fans on Tumblr--and she recently kicked off her latest world tour in support of her album 1989. I've been a fan of Taylor since the very beginning; I saw her perform for free on the lawn outside of Soldier Field way before she was ever big enough to sell out the stadium two nights in a row. Her new album is unlike anything she's done in the past and she played the entirety of it for 60,000 Chicago fans. Twice. She left behind the acoustic guitar and the melodramatic lyrics this time around to show her fans that she's more than just a boy-crazy wannabe. She's the real deal. She's a bonafide pop star.

So, when all is said and done, I've seen some pretty bangin' shows this summer. Despite the weather (Illinois...amirite?!) and the hundreds of dollars I spent on booze instead of bills, I'll call it a success.