Saturday, December 17, 2011

Music Roundup: My Top 10 Albums of 2011


My (Always Subjective) Top 10 List:


Apocalypse - Bill Callahan
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If Bill Callahan puts out a new record, it will be my favorite record of the year. That's not mere dedication to a songwriter I've favored for two decades, but rather an acknowledgment that he gets better with each passing year. I would argue that Apocalypse, the latest from Callahan, is as evocative and frankly spellbinding as any work in the artist's catalog.
Standout tracks: "Baby's Breath" and "Riding for the Feeling"

Undun - The Roots
A percussive, soulful concept album that somehow, impossibly, improves upon the band's prior successes. By my count, this is the tenth Roots record that is an unequivocal classic. Tenth. Can you name another contemporary group with those credentials? I can't.
Standout tracks: This is such a cohesive work, there's little point in highlighting specific tracks.

Bad as Me - Tom Waits
Arguably less ambitious than your average Tom Waits album (there's no song-cycle or high-concept narrative on this one), Bad as Me still offers just about everything you could possibly want from the artist at this stage of his career: guttural crooning, dusty blues, early R&B, rockabilly, and, yes, Keith Richards and Marc Ribot on guitar.
Standout tracks: "Raised Right Men", "Get Lost", and "Hell Broke Luce"

House of Balloons/Thursday - The Weeknd
House of Balloons is The Weeknd's proper full-length debut, and it justifiably received most of the accolades. But the mix-tape that followed it, Thursday, was a compelling listen in its own right. I'm including both in my top ten list, because I can. The lyrics on these recordings range from amusing to clumsy, but the sound is guaranteed to make you woozy. In a good way. (These two albums are only available as digital downloads from artist's Tumblr page.)
Standout tracks: "What You Need", "The Party and the After Party" and "Lonely Star"

Bon Iver - Bon Iver
This self-titled album is the proper follow-up to Justin Vernon's critically acclaimed debut, For Emma, Forever Ago. Vernon's gentle voice and impressionistic lyrics are still the focal point, but this record features a much fuller sound. I think I favor the intimacy of the earlier album, but Bon Iver has some excellent songs that benefit from the enhanced instrumentation.
Standout tracks: "Calgary" and "Minnesota, WI"

Black Up - Shabazz Palaces
Remember the '90s rap group Digable Planets? Doesn't matter. Even if you were familiar with that group, you'd probably never have guessed that Shabazz Palaces is the current project for former Digable Planets rapper Ishmael Butler. This is an astoundingly relevant and forward-looking album, particularly as it comes from an artist who has been in the business since the Clinton Administration.
Standout tracks: "A Treatease Dedicated to the Avian Airless from North East Nubis"

Demolished Thoughts - Thurston Moore
A solo outing from Sonic Youth singer/guitarist Thurston Moore, Demolished Thoughts is essentially a singer-songwriter album that sounds a lot like Sonic Youth. I find that to be a pretty irresistible combination. The songs are uniformly strong on this record, but they reach greatness thanks to the gorgeous production, courtesy of Beck.
Standout tracks: "Circulation" and "Orchard Street"

W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) - Pharoahe Monch
This may be the most focused, concise Monch album yet. His lyrical delivery is always a thing to behold, and his work on W.A.R. just might be up there with his revered solo debut.
Standout tracks: "W.A.R." and "Black Hand Side"

Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2 - Beastie Boys
I never thought I'd be including a Beastie Boys album in my top ten, but here we are. I've enjoyed Hot Sauce Committee more than any Beasties record since...the '90s? This is a record by a group of guys who know their strengths and actually sound like they're having a good time. Bonus points for collaborating with Nas on "Too Many Rappers". I would endorse an entire of album of Nas rhyming over Beastie Boys beats.
Standout tracks: "Make Some Noise" and "Too Many Rappers"

Father, Son, Holy Ghost - Girls
I'll be honest, the big over-the-top climaxes on Father, Son, Holy Ghost don't always pay off. But when they do... If you can appreciate the idea of a decidedly idiosyncratic songwriter going all out, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen.
Standout tracks: "Honey Bunny" and "Love Like a River"

Runners Up/Honorable Mentions:

The Family Sign - Atmosphere

El Camino - Black Keys

Deerhoof vs. Evil - Deerhoof

The Book of David - DJ Quik

No Kings - Doomtree

I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive - Steve Earle

Ceremonials - Florence + the Machine

Tell Me - Jessica Lea Mayfield

The Only She Chapters - Prefuse 73

Fear of God II: Let Us Pray - Pusha T

Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang - Raekwon

The Whole Love - Wilco

Wild Flag - Wild Flag

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Concert Review: The National, Wye Oak and Local Natives at the Aragon Ballroom, 12/6/2011

Last Tuesday night, Brooklyn based indie rockers, the National, played a sold out show at Uptown's Aragon Ballroom.

Even though the National has been one of my favorite bands for about six year now, I never quite got around to seeing them live.  At first, it was just pure laziness on my part, but for the last couple of years there have been some serious obstacles in my way: like only playing Chicago for Lollapalooza (port-a-potties and poor sound quality, I think not) or playing the exact same night AND time as my other favorite Ohio rock band- the Black Keys.  Excuses excuses, I know, but I was getting seriously worried I'd never see them live. So when the Aragon gig was announced, I was super excited that not only were the National playing Chicago again (and indoors!), but they had two bands I liked a lot opening for them! 

Baltimore duo Wye Oak started off the evening a little bit before seven.  Their album, Civilian, was one of my favorite albums of this year, but I was even more impressed with their live show. Jenn Wasner's vocals really popped in a live setting and her guitar playing was phenomenal. The band had incredible sound for a two person outfit, especially considering the Aragon's barn like acoustics and that poor Wasner spent most of the set being half- electrocuted by her mike.

Next up were L.A. based indie poppers Local Natives. Out of the bands, they were probably the one I was least excited to see. I enjoyed their album, Gorilla Manor. But they are a little too upbeat and accessible for me to listen to on a regular basis.  But in concert, they were adorable and the audience really enjoyed their set.   Local Natives singer Taylor Rice had an easy going and affable stage presence (and looked vaguely like James Franco with a mustache).  It was probably smart to have them sandwiched in between two more lugubrious acts.  They were the only band that you could dance to and not look weird (though many tried and failed to prove otherwise). 

Before the National set, they had a live video of the band hanging out backstage.  It had a strange effect on the audience.  At first we calmly watched the video, then slowly started cheering louder and louder to cajole the band out of their dressing room- like a pre-concert encore. The band took the stage around nine and played for a solid hour and a half.  Singer Matt Berninger looked sharp in a suit coat, vest, tie, jeans and oxfords.  Casually holding a wine glass in his hand through the evening, he looked like the dapperest man in indie rock (Hamilton Leithauser better up his game).  The band opened with "Runaway" from their most recent album, High Violet.  But their set drew from throughout their career, including tracks from their more obscure early records like "Murder Me Rachael" from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and "Son" from their self-titled debut. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters (based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell) brings us another ensemble cast that weaves through the mores, class distinction, gossip, and romance that defines British costume drama.

Justine Waddell portrays the central character, Molly Gibson, a sweet and innocent young woman. Her doctor father (Bill Paterson) is loving, but protective as Molly has grown up without a mother since childhood. However, as the main story begins Molly finds herself surrounded by maternal influences. In an effort to supply her with some female guidance her father proposes to Hyacinth (Francesca Annis), a local woman with ties to the Lord and Lady of the county. Molly is naturally upset at the prospect of someone new interrupting their peaceful existence, but Molly does her best to accept her new mother. Molly herself seeks out the companionship of Mrs. Hamley (Penelope Wilton), a more amiable female influence  than her new step-mother (It becomes clear that Hyacinth is, to use a twentieth century term, high maintenance). In the process, Molly also becomes close to Mr. Hamley (Michael Gambon) and their sons Osbourne and Roger. Eventually, Hyacinth's daughter Cynthia (Keeley Hawes) enters the picture and adds to the list of influential women in Molly's life. Although Cynthia has a more negative impact, the two are genuinely attached to each other (not fake-friendly as many young women in that position could/would be).

This mini-series stands out for it's performances. Waddell plays Molly as pure, but not naive. Cynthia can be quite annoying at times and Hawes' performance is accurate in this regard. She is the crazy to the calm and sensible Molly.  Annis captures the haughtiness of Hyacinth trying to create a household to her standards (which is really over-compensation for lack of self-confidence). And, Gambon delivers some of the best lines in the series as the crusty, but lovable Mr. Hamley.

Wives and Daughters
Find it in the catalog!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Movies showing at the library in December

Come to the Dundee Public Library and watch a movie on the big screen. Movies are shown in the downstairs Meeting Room. Plus, enjoy free popcorn and beverages.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (G)
Saturday, December 3 @ 3 PM
Part of Dickens in Dundee

Crazy, Stupid, Love (PG-13)
Wednesday, December 14 @ 6 PM

Cars 2 (G)
Saturday, December 17 @ 2 PM
** We will also hold a drawing at the end of the movie for some Cars 2 movie posters. Each audience member has a chance to win! **

Elf (PG)
Wednesday, December 21 @ 6 PM

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy birthday, Ryan Gosling!

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Actor Ryan Gosling turns 31 today. He stars in two films now in theaters; he plays a Hollywood stunt driver who also drives getaway cars for robberies in Drive and a political staffer to George Clooney's presidential candidate in The Ides of March.

Born November 12, 1980 in London, Ontario, Gosling first started acting on television, including The All New Mickey Mouse Club (1993-95), Breaker High (1997-98), and Young Hercules (1998-99). He broke out in film with his performance as a Jewish neo-Nazi in The Believer (2001), for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He continued to take dark roles in indies The Slaughter Rule (2002) and The United States of Leland (2003). In Murder by Numbers (2002), Gosling played a high school student who conspires with Michael Pitt to commit the perfect murder.

In 2007 he attended the Academy Awards as a Best Actor nominee for his performance as a high school teacher addicted to crack in Half Nelson (2006) and then was seen in the thriller Fracture, co-starring Anthony Hopkins. Later that year Gosling starred in Lars and the Real Girl (2007), playing a character who falls for a life-size doll. After being absent from the big screen for several years, he appeared in two movies in late 2010: All Good Things and Blue Valentine. All Good Things (2010), co-starring Kirsten Dunst, is based on the true story of the 1982 disappearance of Katie Marks (Dunst), the wife of David Marks (Gosling), who was suspected but never convicted in her assumed death. Blue Valentine (2011) is about the relationship between Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams). The movie contrasts their moments as a couple falling in love with difficult-to-watch scenes of their marriage falling apart. To call the movie depressing is an understatement; even though I’m a huge Ryan Gosling fan I put off seeing the film for months because I didn't think I could handle the emotional turmoil. But I am glad I finally watched it. One of my favorite moments is when Dean urges Cindy to tap dance in front of a store window with a heart on it. Meanwhile, he serenades her with "You Always Hurt The Ones You Love" on his ukelele. You can check out the song on the Blue Valentine Soundtrack.

I love the way Gosling completely disappears into his characters, and while he has demonstrated his talent in dark roles, I have been hoping for him to take on a comedy for years. One of my favorite movies from 2011 is the comedy-drama Crazy, Stupid, Love, about a man (Steve Carell) dealing with being single after his wife (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce. Gosling becomes his wingman, advising Carell's character on clothes, women, and how to be a man.

I look forward to more Ryan Gosling films in 2012: Gangster Squad (also starring Sean Penn) and Only God Forgives, in which he reteams with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Current Album Obsessions

Five albums that have spent an unhealthy amount of time in my car stereo of late:

Have One on Me- Joanna Newsom
Call No.: CD ROCK RAP NEWSOM HAVE
Find it in the catalog!

I avoided listening to this album for almost a year after it was released.  While I like Ys. initially, it wasn't a record that I wanted to listen to over and over again.  And this album is three discs and over two hours long.   It seemed exhausting.  However, I find Have One on Me a lot more enjoyable that Ys.  The songs are still super long and complicated, but they have an easygoing, seventies Joanie Mitchell vibe to them.  Also, while the album works together well as a whole, it's not necessary to listen to all three discs in a row.

Track Obsessions:  "In California", "Have One on Me", "Good Intentions Paving Company", "Does Not Suffice"

The Rip Tide- Beirut
Find it in the catalog!

It's been four long years since Zach Condon's last album, 2007's Flying Club Cup Being a fan of both previous Beirut albums, this was one of my most anticipated albums of the year.  Upon first listen, The Riptide seemed a little bit underwhelming.  It lacks the big, orchestral punch of the previous two albums and is, instead, more an understated synth pop album (but not of the Cut Copy variety).  However, after repeated listens, my appreciation for the album has grown considerably. Though Beirut's sound has evolved, The Rip Tide still has the moodiness and old-timey quality that I enjoyed on his previous albums. 

Track Obsessions:  I almost always hit repeat (at least once) on "East Harlem" and "the Peacock."  "Payne's Bay" (especially the first two minutes) and "Santa Fe" are favorites as well.

Meadowlands- The Wrens
Call No.: CD ROCK RAP WRENS MEADOWLANDS
Find it in the catalog!

I had never really listened to the Wrens before, having had them mildly confused with late 90s Canadian folk punk (that's a real thing, apparently) outfit the Weakerthans.  I listened to the Weakerthans during my short-lived emo period, which is not a musical phase I like to revisit often.  Anyway, I'm glad I finally checked out the Wrens.  Meadowlands is a breakup album, which always wins bonus points from me, but it also rocks pretty hard on occasion. 

Track Obsessions:  "Hopeless" has become a recent favorite of mine, but "Everyone Chooses Side" is still my absolute obsession here.  It gets repeated at least twice per album listen. 

Apocalypse- Bill Callahan
Call No: CD ROCK RAP CALLAHAN APOCALYPSE
Find it in the catalog!

I hadn't heard of Bill Callahan or Smog until his record, Sometimes I Wish I Was an Eagle, was listed on fellow blogger Jason's best of 2009 list.  Because I refuse admit that there are musicians that I haven't heard of, I immediately checked him out and I have been a fan ever since.  Callahan has a lo-fi sound, mixed with witty lyrics and a gloomy baritone.  Apocalypse is his latest seven song EP and it ranks among his finest work.

Track Obsessions:  "Drover," "Baby's Breath," and "Riding for the Feeling."
 
Yuck- Yuck
Call No.: CD ROCK RAP YUCK YUCK
Find it in the catalog!

The cover of this album (Google it, if you must) is one my least favorites of the year. In general, this would cause me to avoid listening to all together like Cocorosie's Grey Oceans (click on link at your own risk- you cannot un-see it!).  However, I was desperate for something new to listen to and had heard good things. Yuck's sound reminded me a lot of the 90's guitar driven alternative rock like the Smashing Pumpkins that I listened to early in my high school career.  In fact, with hints of the Cure and guy/ girl vocals, Yuck would have totally been my favorite band ever, if I discovered them in high school.  I'm glad I checked out the album in spite of the aesthetic unpleasantness of the cover, though Grey Oceans is still gonna be a no-go.

Track Obsessions: "Get Away," "Suck," "Sunday," and closer "Rubber."

Monday, November 7, 2011

What we're listening to: Born This Way

Born This Way by Lady Gaga
CD Pop/New Age Lady Born
Find it in the catalog!

Lady Gaga's album Born This Way does not disappoint. Since its release in May this CD has been on repeat in my stereo (and in my head). My favorite songs change from week to week, because there are that many good ones. Lately my favorite is the slinky electronica-esque "Heavy Metal Lover." Just as on previous albums Fame and The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga continues to make fun dance songs filled with energy, including "Marry the Night," "Scheiße," "Judas" and "Born This Way."

Born This Way also includes several songs heavily influenced by the '80s. "Hair" and "Edge of Glory" both feature the late Clarence Clemons of The E Street Band on saxaphone, and "Bad Kids" and "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" sound like they could have been released 30 years ago. I think this album shows the chameleon-like abilities of Lady Gaga as a singer and songwriter. She sounds different on each song, even singing in Spanish on the mariachi-tinged "Americano" and speaking in German over the addictive track "Scheiße." And by addictive I mean, just try to play that song only once.

While Gaga can always be counted on for catchy dance songs, she also writes emotional ballads like "You and I." This song, about a lost love, is one of my favorite Gaga songs ever. I first heard this song at Gaga's February 28 concert at the United Center. Hunched over the piano attacking the keys, she was on fire singing: "It's been a long time since I came around / Been a long time, but I'm back in town / This time I'm not leaving without you." Her February concert was one of my favorite memories of the year, and this album ranks as one of the best of 2011.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Warner Bros. delaying DVD releases to libraries

Warner Bros. announced last week that they will not distribute their theatrical DVD titles to libraries until 28 days after their release dates. Additionally, the copies sent to libraries will not have any extras or bonus features. Read more about these changes at Library Journal.

Here are upcoming DVDs that will be affected by this policy:

Crazy, Stupid, Love: November 1 DVD release date; available to libraries November 28.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: November 11 DVD release date; available to libraries December 9.
The Hangover Part II: December 6 DVD release date; available to libraries January 3.

Angry? Upset? Confused? Contact Warner Home Video:
Phone: 888-383-9483
Online: Warner Customer Service

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Voice-over Theory

I have a running discussion with a friend that many television shows we like are voiced-over. So, we've developed this completely unscientific theory that television shows with voice-overs are usually good (note that I said "usually"). I find that they add something useful to the show and they can be integral to the story. For example, Arrested Development relies heavily on Ron Howard's voice-over because quite a bit of the story is told through it and it's funny. Other times the voice-over adds to the viewers understanding of the character's psychology such as Dead Like Me, Dexter and Veronica Mars. Burn Notice does a bit of psychology mixed in with how-tos: Michael details how to make a bomb MacGuyver-style or how he will coax a villain out of hiding (you never know when this stuff might come in handy...).

This list isn't exhaustive, but what I could remember having memorable voice-overs. Please let me know in the comments of other shows that you'd put in this category.
Arrested Development Find it in the catalog!
Burn Notice Find it in the catalog!
Dead Like Me Find it in the catalog!
Dexter Find it in the catalog!
Veronica Mars Find it in the catalog!
Wonderfalls Find it in the catalog!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dress up as your favorite pop culture character this Halloween

Glee
Puck, Sue Slyvester or a Cherrio from Walmart

True Blood
Sookie Stackhouse: Merlotte's waitress uniform from hbo.com

Jason Stackhouse: Bon Temps football t-shirt from hbo.com

Eastbound & Down
Kenny Powers: mullet hat from hbo.com

The Hunger Games
bellasugar gives advice on creating your Katniss Everdeen costume. And Hunger Games fansite The Hob suggests possibilities for Katniss' "girl on fire" outfit. The Hob also includes posts on costumes for other characters, including the Tributes, Effie Trinket, and President Snow.

The Office
Dunder Mifflin warehouse employee costume and more at nbc.com.


Harry Potter
Find Harry Potter costumes for adults or Harry Potter costumes for kids at buyharrypottercostumes.com. Choose to be a character from the series, like Luna Lovegood (below), or be a Hogwarts student. You can check out Gryffindor/Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw/Slytherin house sweaters, ties, and accessories too.
The Simpsons
Homer, Marge, and Bart from Walmart
30 Rock
Liz Lemon: TGS hoodie from nbc.com.

Friday Night Lights
Panther Football or East Dillon Lions apparel from nbc.com.

Drive
Steady Clothing Inc. is producing replicas of the awesome scorpion jacket worn by Driver (Ryan Gosling) in the film, but they will not be available until November 11. You can always make your own... don't forget leather driving gloves and a toothpick for the corner of your mouth to complete your costume!

These are just a few fun costume ideas I found on the web. What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Catch a movie at the library this week

This week we are showing two movies at the Dundee Public Library. Watch the hilarious comedy Bridesmaids (R) this Wednesday, October 19 at 6 PM. Co-written by and starring Kristen Wiig of Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids also stars Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, and scene stealer Melissa McCarthy.

And on Saturday, October 22 at 2 PM you can see the 1944 film National Velvet (G). National Velvet stars Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney, and is part of our series Film Classics: Starring Elizabeth Taylor.

Both films are shown in the downstairs Meeting Room, which opens 30 minutes prior to showtime. Free popcorn and refreshments are also available at all movies.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guilty pleasure pick: She's the Man

Anytime She's the Man is on television (it was just on last weekend), I get sucked in. The modern take on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Or What You Will stars Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. When I stop and think about the how ridiculous the movie is, I somehow manage to overlook this and only see it's virtues.

If you're not familiar with the plot of Twelfth Night it is quite farcical: a woman, Viola, pretends to be a man and befriends a man, Orsino, whom she ends up falling in love with, but he likes another woman, Olivia, who in turn likes Viola (thinking she's a man). Get that? Anyway, She's the Man follows along these lines, but it is centered around teens in high school who play soccer. Bynes' character, Viola, finds that her school's girl's soccer team is cut and after trying unsuccessfully to tryout for the boy's team, she ends up transferring to a rival school and posing as her twin brother Sebastian to be on their boys team. (Why she doesn't transfer and tryout for their girl's team is never addressed, although, neither is whether a girl's team exists at this new school either...) She rooms with Duke (Tatum) and he subsequently helps her win a starting spot on the soccer team, all the while believing her to be Sebastian. Shenanigans and romance ensue.

The supporting characters and actors are appealing, most notably David Cross as the principal of the school (why he did this film I don't know, but I don't care because he's awesome). Viola's friends from her original school are likable and Julie Hagerty and John Pyper-Ferguson play Viola and Sebastian's divorced parents with an air of perfect ignorance. They have an excellent scene in the last several minutes while - SPOILER ALERT - the truth comes out about the gender of Sebastian/Viola. Pyper-Ferguson remarks "this soccer game has more nudity than most." Bynes is funny driving the film's kookyness, and last but not least, Channing Tatum is easy on the eyes.

She's the Man
Find it in the catalog!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy 100th birthday, Lucille Ball!

Comedienne Lucille Ball would have been 100 today. She was born on this day in 1911 in Jamestown, New York. After working as a showgirl and model in her twenties Lucy started to get small movie roles, beginning with Roman Scandals in 1931. In 1940 she met future husband Desi Arnaz on the set of Too Many Girls; they married in November that same year. After several years of dealing with schedules that kept them apart, Lucy and Desi worked together on the radio show My Favorite Husband, which debuted in 1948. With the growing popularity of television, CBS decided to adapt My Favorite Husband for TV, which became I Love Lucy. The first episode aired October 15, 1951. Lucy played Lucy Ricardo, a housewife who longed to break into show business. Desi played her husband, Ricky Ricardo, a bandleader. Their friends and landlords, Ethel and Fred Mertz, were played by Vivian Vance and William Frawley.

I Love Lucy episodes demonstrate how great Lucille Ball was at physical comedy.Whether it be stomping on grapes in an Italian vineyard or reacting with her unique facial expressions, you never want to take your eyes off her. I think my favorite Lucy facial expression is when she opens her mouth really wide without making a sound and raises her eyebrows as if to say, "WHAT?!" In honor of Lucille's Balls 100th birthday check out seasons 1-9 of I Love Lucy on DVD and re-watch some of the best moments in TV history.

The Complete First Season
Find it in the catalog!
This DVD set also includes the lost pilot. Highlights from this season include "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" for the product Vitameatavegamin, which contains vitamins, meat, vegetables, minerals... and is 23% alcohol. "Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular?" In "The Diet" Lucy almost starves herself in order to fit into a size 12, the size of the dress of the girl appearing with Ricky in his show.

The Complete Second Season
Find it in the catalog!
In "Job Switching" Ricky and Fred stay home to cook and clean while Lucy and Ethel get jobs in a chocolate factory. Lucy isn't able to get Ricky alone to tell her the news she is pregnant in "Lucy is Enceinte." She comes to his show at the club and writes down a song request; when Ricky walks to each table asking if they are the happy couple, he is surprised to find it's Lucy.

The Complete Third Season
Find it in the catalog!
In "Equal Rights" Lucy and Ethel wind up washing dishes at the restaurant where they just ate dinner after Ricky and Fred split the bill into four checks.

The Complete Fourth Season
Find it in the catalog!
During this season Ricky, Lucy, Fred, and Ethel visit L.A. and meet such celebrities as William Holden and Eve Arden ("L.A., At Last"), Cornel Wilde ("The Star Upstairs"), and Harpo Marx ("Harpo Marx").


The Complete Fifth Season
Find it in the catalog!
At the start of this season the gang is still in L.A. I always liked the episode "Lucy Visits Grauman's" where Lucy and Ethel steal the slab of cement of John Wayne's footprints. Later in the season the group leaves for Europe, visiting London, Scotland, Paris, the Swiss Alps, and Italy, which features the classic episode  "Lucy's Italian Movie."

The Complete Sixth Season
Find it in the catalog!
In "Lucy and Superman" Lucy asks Ricky to invite Superman (George Reeves), who is in town to sign autographs, to Little Ricky's birthday party. When Ricky tells Lucy that Superman cannot make it, Lucy dresses as Superman and goes out on the ledge outside their apartment in preparation to surprise Little Ricky and his guests. And when Superman changes his plans and does show up to the party, Lucy can't join in on the fun as she gets locked out on the ledge in the rain.

The Final Seasons 7, 8 & 9
Find it in the catalog!
These seasons were called The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, or The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Remembering Amy Winehouse

We only said goodbyes with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black.
- "Back to Black"

Grammy-winner singer Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27 on Saturday, July 23 in her London home. While she had struggled with drugs and alcohol these past few years, a cause of death has yet to be determined. Family and friends gathered for her funeral last Tuesday. During her career Winehouse released the albums Frank (2003) and Back to Black (2006). Many celebrities from around the world have used Twitter and other social media outlets to respond to Winehouse's death. I think the words shared by comedian Russell Brand and singer Adele are very touching. As a fan of her small but powerful collection of work, I was devastated to hear the news of her death, and in a way it is still hard for me to fathom she is no longer here.

I have been a fan of Amy's from the first note of "Rehab" I heard her sing on the radio in 2007. After buying my own copy of Back to Black the album followed me everywhere. Her lyrics reached straight for my heart and I played the songs over and over. I never get sick of her voice. Ever since those first listens of her songs I still feel Amy's longing and loneliness whenever I listen to her songs, especially "Love is Losing Game" and "Wake Up Alone," as if I were hearing them for the first time. When I feel down, I put on Back to Black because, and maybe it's weird to put it this way, Amy Winehouse knows those dark feelings, too. She dug so far inside herself on her songs, and in my opinion she was in a class of her own in the music world. No one can take her place. It's heartbreaking that someone so young, and so full of talent, can be gone at the age of 27. Amy Winehouse, you will be missed.

From EW.com:
Amy Winehouse on video: Five classic moments from her career
One of the moments featured is her 2007 set at Lollapolooza

Listen to music by Amy Winehouse:
Frank
Back to Black
"Valerie" on Version by Mark Ronson
"Cupid" on the Valentine's Day soundtrack
"It's My Party" on Quincy Jones' Q: Soul Bossa Nostra
"Fool's Gold" on Sex and the City. Volume 2 soundtrack
"Monkey Man" on the Run, Fat Boy, Fun soundtrack

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Lightning has struck!": Midnight screening of final Harry Potter film

The final installment in the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, opened at midnight last week on July 15. While I have attended other midnight screenings and have been a Harry Potter fan for years, this is the first time I bought a ticket for a midnight Harry screening. I am so glad I did because it was a wonderful experience.

A small group of friends and I were the first group in line for the midnight screening at the CineMark in Melrose Park just after 8 PM. Several of the ushers asked us if we knew what time it was, and you could tell they thought we were out of our minds, but we didn't care. We played Uno to pass the time and were also able to see some unique Harry Potter outfits, notably a guy dressed in a decorated t-shirt that read: "Real men don't sparkle. Team Wizard." We were allowed into the theater around 10 PM, which left us with more time to check out the costumes of the other Harry Potter fans. Some made their own shirts touting the end of the series with the symbol of the deathly hallows, and others wore the colors and uniforms of the Hogwarts Houses -- Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. I myself wore a Harry Potter quidditch shirt, and brought along my illuminating Hermione wand. I was most impressed by fans dressed as characters from the series -- I saw Harry, Hagrid, Dobby, Bellatrix, Narcisa, Professor Trelawney, and Luna.

As it came closer for the previews to start, the audience started to clap and chant and I could literally feel the excitement from everyone around me. They were vocal in response to the trailers (lots of excitement for Sherlock Holmes) but became silent once the movie started. Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 left off, with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) taking the Elder Wand from the hands of the dead Dumbledore. While Part 1 set the scene for Part 2, with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) searching for and destroying horacruxes (a horacrux is an item that Voldemort infused with part of his soul, and hid, in order to insure his immortality), the much more action-packed Part 2 focuses on their return to Hogwarts and the fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. 

Some observations, without being too much of a spoiler:
  • I enjoyed the scene where Hermione poses as the mad Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) in Gringotts after taking Polyjuice Potion. Watching Bonham Carter play Hermione trying to be evil and horrible (and failing) was fun.
  • I loved seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts and re-join the other characters we've met throughout the series, like Neville (Matthew Lewis), and Luna (Evanna Lynch). While the characters have spent seven years at Hogwarts as students, the actors filming these eight movies have been together even longer. Seeing all the students and teachers back together again, ready to face Death Eaters, Voldemort, and risk their lives, was very powerful.
  • Ralph Fiennes is disturbing as ever as Voldemort, and I thought the army of Death Eaters waiting to begin their attack on Hogwarts was a very creepy sight.
  • The shot of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) looking out a window at Hogwarts. It's early in the movie, and at first we only see him from behind, but I found it to be a moving visual, already knowing Snape's secrets from reading the book
  • I knew the deaths of certain characters were coming, but it was still shocking to see in the movie.
  • The audience in my theater was awesome. They cheered and clapped at moments like Ron and Hermione's first kiss, Neville's taunts of the Death Eaters, and Molly Weasley's duel with Bellatrix, just to name a few moments. The audience went wild for Neville, especially. 
I loved the movie and had a great time seeing it with a packed theater of devoted fans. Throughout the course of the movie I clapped, laughed, gasped, held my breath, and cried. I was filled with so much excitement that when I returned home at 3:30 AM I could not fall asleep. I look forward to watching Part 2 on the big screen again. I saw the 2D version and I would like to see if/how 3D changes the experience. All in all, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a brilliant, epic conclusion to the film series that started in 2001, and not only does the film do the book justice, it reaffirms the quality and magic found in J.K. Rowling's books.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My summer road trip playlist

My list is mostly about a good driving beat and is just a sampling, because frankly, this list would only last about an hour, and that would be one lame road trip!


"One Big Holiday" by My Morning Jacket. This track if off of their 2003 disc It Still Moves and is the perfect opener with it's pulsing guitar

"Bloodbuzz Ohio" by The National from their 2010 disc High Violet, a favorite of the Media Corner crew

"My Girls" from Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective


"Paper Planes" from M.I.A's second major release Kala
 
"Milk" by Kings of Leon, a more mellow, but beaticious track from their best album Aha Shake Heartbreak

"I Wanna Be Adored" by the Stone Roses, the late '80s band with merit, from their eponymous debut

"Around the World" by Daft Punk from their album Homework. If we're talking about beats, we gotta have a little electronica on the list


"There Goes the Fear" by one of my favorite British bands, The Doves. In fact, just check out the entire Best of Doves CD

"Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + the Machine from their debut disc Lungs. This has been overplayed a bit, but it's nonetheless a great one for driving

"Boy With a Coin" from The Shepherd's Dog by Iron and Wine

"The Influence" by Jurassic 5 from their 2000 disc Quality Control. I love this old-school sounding hip-hop track


"Someone Great" by LCD Soundsystem. There are several songs on Sound of Silver that I could pick, but this one won

"Second Chance" from Gimme Some by Peter Bjorn and John; it has a catchy hook and, be warned: it will get stuck in your head

"Higher Ground," a rocking cover of the Stevie Wonder song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Find it on What Hits!?

"1901" by Phoenix (Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix) was in a car commercial after all

"Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap from the 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack

"Kanske är jag kär i dig" found on Night Falls of Koretdala by Jens Lekman, which ends most excellently and is already a favorite of mine


Got any tracks that are essential to your road trip playlist? Let's hear 'em!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What we're listening to: Circuital by My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket have recently released Circuital and it's a bit of a return to the sound that MMJ fans know and love (although, I will go on record as saying that I didn't have a problem with their last disc, Evil Urges). Upon first listen I was drawn to the title track Circuital. It has a good beat and builds slowly. Now, I'm in the midst of digging (and repeating) track four, Wonderful (The Way I Feel). The song features the MMJ tradition of infusing a bit of country sound into their rock and according to the A.V. Club the lyrics are "sweetly sappy," but I just plain like the sentiment:

I'm going where there ain't no fear
I'm going where the spirit is near
I'm going where the living is easy
And people are kind
A new state of mind

I'm going where there ain't no police
I'm going where there ain't no disease
I'm going where there ain't no need
To escape from what is
Only spirits at ease

Track five, Outta My System has a chorus that will get stuck in your head and Holdin' on to Black Metal (track six) has a rollicking feel, complete with a small backing chorus. Ultimately, I dig Jim James and his voice. His normal signing voice almost sounds lazy and a little disconnected, but his falsetto is just so careful and, well, soulful. I'm fascinated by the contrast and this disc showcases it once again.

Circuital by My Morning Jacket
Find it in the catalog!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy birthday, Natalie Portman!

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Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman celebrates her 30th birthday today. This past year has been a busy one in her career. Portman portrayed a ballet dancer consumed by the idea of perfection in Black Swan, for which she was nominated for and won countless awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress. Portman also starred as a medical resident looking for only a physical relationship with friend Ashton Kutcher in the comedy No Strings Attached. And don't forget her role as a warrior who joins princes James Franco and Danny McBride in the David Gordon Green-directed tale of chivalry Your Highness (out on DVD in August). Or maybe you've watched her as Jane Foster in the summer blockbuster Thor.

Drama, comedy, superhero-action flick, she can do it all. But what about writing and directing, you say? Well, Portman did both for a segment in 2009's New York, I Love You. Okay. She sings, writes, and directs. But she doesn't sing, right? I don't know about singing, but she does rap; check out the track "Natalie's Rap" from The Lonely Island's 2008 album Incredibad and hear a completely different side of the actress. Portman has accomplished quite a bit for someone who has only just turned 30. I'm sure her career will become even more eclectic in the years to come.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fortress of Bookitude

In accordance of this year's summer reading theme, A Midsummer Knight's Read, two of our library's gentry, Sir Readsalot and Lady Lorelai, assembled a castle tower made of library books. Be sure to check it out in person and enter our contest to guess the number of books it contains! 


Monday, June 6, 2011

Second Annual Beardys: Hollywood edition


Last year, we compiled a list of the best facial hair in music.  While, the beard trend continues to grow, even invading the once clean cut J. Crew catalogs, the facial hair landscape in music hasn't really changed that much since last year (minus Dan Auerbach retiring the gingerbeard!).  So, instead this year's beardys will focus more on the bewhiskered in film and television.

First, we do have three musical award updates first though:

Best Ginger Beard (Issued in memory of Dan Auerbach's Beard): Robin Pecknold from the Fleet Foxes.
On a non-facial hair related note, I'm totally digging the Fleet Foxes' new album, Helplessness Blues

Best Creepy Uncle Mustache:  George Lewis Jr., Twin Shadow.  He also wins the Steven Patrick Morrissey Award for best pompadour in popular music.

Check out Twin Shadow's excellent debut album,  Forget!

Best Beard in Rap: Rick Ross
Check out one of his albums!

Fret not, for more discussion of beards in music, check out New York Mag's excellent Beard Symposium

Now, the Beardys go to Hollywood:

Most Swoon-worthy beard:  Ryan Gosling.
I'm not saying that Ryan Gosling has a face that launched a million beards, but how many dudes under the age of forty had a beard before Half Nelson?  And now every hipster in the city of Chicago is happily bewhiskered...hmmm... But Gosling does know how to wear a beard right.  Without a beard, he looks too clean-cut and boyish, but with stubble, he's just the right amount of rugged.
Check out the dreaminess in one of his films!

Best Brooding Beard: Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre.
Most of the time, Rochester just rocks the mutton chops, but when the going gets tough, he channels his inner mountain man.  Sadly, I could not find a picture of Rochester with a beard, but below is my mock up. You'll have to see the movie to get the real deal:

Check out one of his films!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron: 1949-2011


Gil Scott-Heron died Friday, May 27th, at the age of 62. He was a fiercely engaged vocalist and lyricist whose work incorporated blues, jazz, soul, and stream of consciousness poetry. Best known for his fiery spoken-word performances of the 1970s, Scott-Heron's lyrics consistently explored themes of social justice, poverty, urban violence, and race. He is frequently cited as a formative influence on the evolution of hip-hop, and his work has been sampled by such notable artists as Mos Def and De La Soul. Most recently, Kanye West built a track around Scott-Heron's voice on the chart-topping album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He addressed his elder statesman status with both pride and chagrin on the 1994 album Spirits: "We got respect for you rappers and the way you be free-weighin', but if you're gon' be teachin' folks things, make sure you know what you're sayin' ." The compilation The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is an essential sampler of his work, but his is a legacy more varied and rewarding than a single disc can afford. (My personal favorite is the 1971 album Pieces of a Man.) Scott-Heron was experiencing something of a renaissance of late, with his 2010 album I'm New Here and its 2011 remix We're New Here garnering considerable critical acclaim. As engaging and insightful as both those records are, there isn't really a better introduction to this artist's work than the pointed media critique "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised":

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clockbusters: Name that movie

Are you a big film buff? Try your hand at the game Clockbusters from Veer. Three photo clues appear on the screen and you have 60 seconds to type in the name of the correct film. You are able to skip a clue and go on to the next if you don't know the answer. I played the original game and scored 43 out of 50 for my first run. I then tried the clues I skipped and figured out five more.

I still have no idea which movie the following images represent: sword handle, headless doll, and lightning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Music Year: Trapped in 2007


Following in the footsteps of fellow Media Corner Blogger Jason and the AV Club before him, I highlight one of my favorite years in music.

There is a certain type of people who seem trapped in a period of their life—for instance, people who relieve their high school glory days well into adulthood.  Similarly, I think some people have a musical peak; they get fixated on a particular period in music and never quite move on.  Their musical taste slowly atrophies into unhipness.  I had a neighbor in college who seemingly only listened to music which was popular circa 1996.  This would have been less annoying, if say he was really into Weezer’s Pinkerton or Belle and Sebastian’s If Your Feeling Sinister.  Instead, I had to wake up every morning to sounds of the Cranberries’ “Salvation” and Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta” blaring from his dorm room.  The kid must have musically peaked at the age of 12.  How sad, I thought, be in your very early 20s and already nostalgic.

However, when I was attempting to compile my best of the 00's album list (a task I still haven't finished), I realized a disconcerting trend.  Save for Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001) and Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006), all of my favorite albums were from 2007.  I wondered if this was my own musical heyday…soon I’d be the annoying neighbor blaring LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” and saying stuff like, “2007, that was when music was music!  Not like the rubbish kids listen to these days.”

Thankfully, my music geekery is insatiable, so it's hard for me to get stuck in one year for too long.  Even if I’m still really obsessed with Person Pitch and Jens Lekman. 

My Top Five of 2007:

5).  Cryptograms- Deerhunter
Find it in the catalog!
It took me a while to discover this album.  Deerhunter had kind of a notorious reputation at the time, thanks in part to front man Bradford Cox's sometimes erratic behavior and provocative blog posting.  The first time I heard most of the songs off of Cryptograms was when I saw the band live in 2008.  The eerie moodiness of the album, as well as the spare psychedelia make Cryptograms a classic.

Stand-Out Tracks: Spring Hall Convert, Strange Lights, Heatherwood

4).  Night Falls Over Kortedala- Jens Lekman
Find it in the catalog!
Though he had garnered some fame for his singles "You are the Light" and "Maple Leaves," I somehow missed Lekman until 2007. I saw him described on a music blog as being a combination of Jonathan Richman and Frank Sinatra.  As a big Jonathan Richman, I immediately checked out his single "Postcard to Nina" and I was hooked.  Night Falls Over Kortedala is a funny, quirky, but sincere effort.

Stand-Out Tracks: Opposite of Hallelujah, A Postcard to Nina, Into Eternity, Kanske Ar Jag Kar i Dig

3).  Sound of Silver- LCD Soundsystem
Find it in the catalog!
Having spent much of 2006 listening to the Talking Heads, New Order, and Gang of Four (thanks Marie Antoinette), meaning I was in the perfect frame of mind to love this album. While all of James Murphy and Co.'s albums are great, Sound of Silver is probably the most consistently awesome.  Best three song stretch of the Aughts?: "North American Scum," "Someone Great" and "All My Friends."

Stand-Out Tracks: The aforementioned three, "Get Innocuous!"  and "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down." 

2).  Boxer- The National
Find it in the catalog!
Alligator, the 2005 release by the National, had been in heavy rotation in my stereo for about two years when Boxer came out.  It was one of my most hotly anticipated albums of the year and it exceeded my expectations.  Most National albums have to grow on you, but my love for Boxer was immediate.  They just do melancholy so well.  This is an album full of slowly building tension and brooding.  Lyrically, the album focuses on the theme of reluctantly growing up.  Being 23 at the time, I could definitely relate to the early adulthood ambivalence.

Stand-Out Tracks:  Fake Empire, Mistaken for Strangers, Slow Show, Apartment Story, Start a War

1).  Person Pitch- Panda Bear
Find it in the catalog!
If there was one album that was the zeitgeist of 2007, it was probably the solo album of Animal Collective member Noah Lennox aka. Panda Bear.  Person Pitch was named the best album of the year by Tiny Mix Tapes, Gorilla Vs. Bear, and Pitchfork. It has an upbeat sound and is unabashedly Beach Boys-esque. It definitely is a pick-me up record.  When I listen to it, my mood usually improves and I feel more relaxed.  Person Pitch is like a trip to Portugal for your ears!  This album is definitely recommended for fans of the Animal Collective album Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009). 

Stand-Out Tracks: Comfy in Nautica, Bros, Good Girl/ Carrots, Ponytail. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Haley Reinhart leaves American Idol with a bang

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Haley is joined by her father Harry Reinhart during "What Is and What Should Never Be."
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With season 10 contestants cheering for her, Haley lets loose on her farewell performance of "Bennie and the Jets" on last Thursday's results show.
Wheeling's Haley Reinhart, a top 3 contestant on American Idol, was sent home last week. Haley brought a mix of jazz, soul, and rock to her songs, and had some of my favorite moments of the season, including "Bennie and the Jets," her duet on "Moanin'" with Casey Abrams, "You and I," "House of the Rising Sun," "I Who Have Nothing" and "What Is and What Should Never Be." Fans of Haley (and I'm one of them) hoped she would continue her rise from underdog to the next American Idol, but the vote for teenage country singers Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina pushed them through to this week's finale.

I thought Haley got better with each week's performances. She owns the stage and has an amazing range. Plus she makes interesting song choices and is not afraid to take risks. After she was eliminated from the competition on Thursday's show she ripped into "Bennie and the Jets" for her farewell performance, ending up in the audience next to the rest of the top 13.

Here's how Haley did the previous two weeks:

Wednesday, May 18: Top Three perform three songs each
The first round of songs where those chosen by the contestants. Haley sang "What Is and What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin. According to AI vocal coach Debra Byrd, Haley is only the second contestant since Adam Lambert in season 8 to be cleared to sing a Zeppelin song. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant gave permission for her to perform the song after they received a clip of her singing. Haley's performance of "What Is and What Should Never Be" was my favorite performance of the night and one of Haley's best. Her father Harry Reinhart joined her on stage on electric guitar. Haley had fun with the song and didn't let a fall on the stairs get to her. I love how she started the song very tender, as if she were caressing the notes, and then brought out the rock side to her voice.
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The Reinharts rock out.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Modern Family

If you haven't yet enjoyed the laugh-out-loud stylings of Modern Family, one of the best comedies on television outside of the NBC block, check out season one. The focus is on three families that are related. There's Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill) and his second, younger Colombian wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez). The more traditional family is made up of Claire (Julie Bowen), who is Jay's daughter from his first marriage, and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) and their children Hayley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould). And last, but not least, there's Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Jay's son from his first marriage and Claire's brother, his partner Cameron Tucker (Eris Stonestreet), and their adopted baby daughter Lily.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Haley gives the performance of the season, makes Top 4 on American Idol

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Entertainment Weekly has already added Haley Reinhart's performance of "House of the Rising Sun" to their 30 All-Time Best Performances on American Idol.
Last Wednesday's episode of American Idol featured the theme "Now and Then," which had the Top 5 singing a current hit and then a song from the past. Sheryl Crow acted as guest mentor for the singers while Jimmy Iovine appeared to have a strong influence in their song choices. For Wheeling native Haley Reinhart's current song, Iovine picked the unreleased "You and I" by Lady Gaga, which she's performed on her Monster Ball Tour and is on her upcoming album Born This Way. Haley was unsure about singing a lesser known song but decided to take the risk after speaking to Lady Gaga herself, who gave Haley her blessing. "You and I" was a great fit for Haley's bluesy growl and I thought she sang it like it was her song. Iovine noted that on this performance Haley "shows you where she could go" in the music industry, and I agree. Judges Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson were not supportive of the decision to sing an unknown song. But in my opinion, just because songs are released and available to listeners, that doesn't mean everyone knows the words and connects with them. I wasn't familiar with "Gone," performed by Scotty McCreery, and to be honest I did not know several of the metal songs tackled by James throughout the season. I love when a contestant sings a more obscure song and makes me say, "Where has that song been hiding?" Judge Steven Tyler shared this same sentiment, calling the ability to make an unknown song work on stage "a beautiful thing."

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Haley's "in it to win it."
For her second song Haley sang "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals. Sheryl Crow suggested Haley start the song a cappella, which I thought was great advice. Intimate moments with just the singer and her voice on stage are moments I wait for each season on Idol. Haley's interpretation of the song made me feel I was hearing the lyrics for the first time, and hands down, her performance is now my favorite from any singer this season. She took her time with the opening of the song, lingering on the notes and holding the audience's attention in the palm of her hand. When the band joined her, she moved around the stage with confidence and belted out notes while not over-singing. She ended the performance with her fist up into the air, as if saying, "Take that!" back to the judges or any naysayers.


On both her performances last week Haley proved she is a star and willing to take risks. Thinking back to her earlier performances of "Fallin" and "I'm Your Baby Tonight," you can tell how much Haley has matured on stage. Tonight the Top 4 will sing songs from the Lieber and Stoller songbook and they will be mentored by Lady Gaga. The Top 3 contestants will be revealed on Thursday's results show. If Haley makes the Top 3, Wheeling will throw her a hometown welcome and celebration concert just like Mount Prospect held last year for eventual winner Lee DeWyze. According to the Daily Herald article "Wheeling ready to host new 'Idol' party," the events will take place this Saturday, with a parade ending at Wheeling Village Hall and a concert at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights. I know I will be voting for Haley tonight!