Say what you will about the work of visionary writer/director Baz Luhrmann – and many have throughout the course of his 20+ years as a filmmaker – but one thing is certain: the guy believes in the all-conquering power of love. So much so, in fact, that all of his films - from 1992’s deliciously zany Strictly Ballroom to last year’s lush and underrated The Great Gatsby - exist solely to extoll this greatest of virtues. Well, that, and to inject a little razzle dazzle into our often humdrum existence.
Thus it’s no surprise that the For The Record troupe – whose carnival burlesque celebrations inspired by the catalogues of modern-era auteurs like Luhrmann, Tarantino, and PT Anderson have been lighting up West Hollywood all year – chose to tackle the Aussie's breathtaking oeuvre...or that the show is a fizzy, frothy burst of true cinematic romance.
And talk about powerhouse performances. Though Rumor Willis is easily the cast’s most well-known star, each actor - Demi’s and Bruce’s daughter included - shines individually and collectively as they cover the broad plot strokes and unforgettable pop songs, including hits off of the soundtracks from all of Luhrmann’s films: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and The Great Gatsby. 2008’s Australia isn’t represented but still has a cocktail at the bar named after it.
Taking over West Hollywood’s DBA (7969 Santa Monica Blvd), cast members fly through the audience, jumping on tables, dancing on the large bar, and basically using every part of their theater-in-the-round to create a party that Mr. Luhrmann would no doubt approve of. Highlights include a jazzy rendition of The Cardigan’s "Lovefool" sung by cast member Lindsey Gort, a powerhouse redo of Lana Del Rey’s swooning "Young and Beautiful" courtesy of Ruby Lewis, and pretty much everything involving Strictly Ballroom, Lurhmann’s hands-down funniest, most innocently DIY effort.
Buzzed on artisan cocktails with names like “Talk Show Host” and “Buchanan’s Old Fashioned”, and dining on gourmet pizzas from Churchill executive chef Michael Bryant (get there early if you’re hungry, because these go fast), you’ll find yourself lost amidst the unfettered imagination of Baz Luhrmann.
As well as stoned on magic, seduced by love, and above all else, wanting to run home and watch Moulin Rouge! for the millionth time.
Gotta hand it to KP. The girl can still throw a fun music video party.
Her fifth single from Prism, "This Is How We Do" (thankfully, no relation to Montell Jordan's 1995 jam) gets a colorful treatment (thanks to director Joel Kefali) and comes loaded with backup dancers dressed up like Pee-Wee Herman, animated pizza, and a deconstructed Maserati (among other gloriously random items).
Looks like that conscious uncoupling barely left a scratch on Chris Martin. He's looking pretty toned and happy in this latest music video in which he and his Coldplaymates take to the streets of Sydney, Australia like a bunch of Pied Pipers (with the help of Avicii at the producing reigns).
Betty Who, our favorite new artist of 2014 (even though we've been obsessed with her since that Home Depot marriage proposal went viral last fall) is releasing another EP of irresistible pop confections later this spring, and to kick things off, she has debuted "Heartbreak Dream."
Produced by her wunderkind collaborator, Peter Thomas, the track is a sparkly addition to an early discography that should do wonders for her (and his) blooming career.
If 2013 was the Year of the Wrecking Ball, could 2014 be the Year of the Cannonball?
Based on Lea Michele's debut single as a solo artist, it very well could be. At least she didn't straddle an actual cannon in this visually pleasant treatment in which she comes out from the darkness and into the light. Pretty standard and safe. But hey, it's her first time. Well done, girl.
A pop-diva-heavy fall (Katy! Gaga! Britney! Beyonce!) couldn't distract us from the fact that the rest of the year featured some musical standouts from artists who came out of nowhere and dared to change the game...
1. Bad Blood by Bastille - Fronted by singer-songwriter Dan Smith, this London-based group is delivering some early 90s alternative pop-rock realness blended with a unique yet familiar sound that is very early 2010s. And any band that un-ironically mashes up Corona's "Rhythm of the Night" with Snap's "Rhythm is a Dancer" to evocative effect is A-OK in my book.
2. "High Society" by Betty Who - A great pop song is one that can be played on repeat without getting tired, and that's what this irresistibly breezy, all-consuming love song excels at. The Australian singer, who made waves with her song appearing in that Home Depot marriage proposal video earlier this year, delivers some easy-on-the-ears vocals and silk-smooth lyrics. She's like Robyn without the Euro-quirk, Katy without the excess. Her next collaboration with producer Peter Thomas, "All of You," should propel her into a bigger spotlight. Because this girl needs to own 2014. Listen for yourself:
3. Ice On The Dune by Empire of the Sun - The eclectic duo from Down Under elaborate on their electronic soundscapes and deliver a sophomore album that electrified the summer (sorry, Daft Punk).
4. Heartthrob by Tegan & Sara - Talk about a delayed breakout: this twin sister act has been around for a decade, but it took the excellent pop production stylings of Greg Kurstin to propel T&S to new heights and earn them new fans - myself included - with this sparkling gem of an album.
5. "Sweater Weather" by The Neighbourhood - Surfer noir rock and all of its melancholy glory:
6. "My Heart Is Refusing Me" by Loreen - The Swedish pop tart with pipes gave listeners a riveting, EDM-driven single that is equal parts pulse-racing, emotionally cathartic, and quite transcendent. Arguably the best dance track of the year:
7. In A Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities - Sure, Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian's ubiquitous "Safe and Sound" is nice and all, but there's so much more to discover on their magnificent debut album (and previously released EP) like: their hypnotic cover of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" and the electro trumpet-filled "Kangaroo Court," which needs to be played on more radios (see below). These former commercial jingle writers also win the award for Best Song Title of 2013: "Farrah Fawcett Hair," a spectacular track that unpredictably combines narration from NPR's Frank Tavares, soulful, gospel-like theatrics...and Andre 3000.
8. "Chocolate" by The 1975 - Consider The 1975's breakthrough single a slice of alt-rock-pop from 1995. It rolls along and builds up towards an anthemic bridge you'll want to sing along to while downing a few pints at the pub with your mates (even though you may not be able to decipher the heavily-accented lyrics).
9. "Royals" by Lorde - While the Women of Pop were busy roaring and living for the applause, this teenager from New Zealand snuck in and basically changed the game. With awesome lyrics that shame pop for celebrating the vapid and shallow tropes of Top 40, it's an anti-establishment anthem that doesn't get bogged down with cynicism.
10. "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Stewart - The long-neglected category of Pop Music With a Message came back during a time when this country needed it. The headline-making rap duo surprised with this marriage equality anthem, bravely taking hip-hop to new heights and exposing the genre's embedded prejudices and hypocrisy.
Pentatonix, the co-ed a cappella group that's about to embark on a European tour, unleashed their Daft Punk tribute/megamix only a month ago...and they're already over 21 millions views into dominating the blogosphere with their EDM-esque vocal abilities.
So take a break from your Thankgiving leftovers (and Black Friday shopping) and enjoy.
PS - after the video, you can see what the group normally looks like without the scary contact lenses and makeup.
We know you've been missing Hot Nutshell (all three of you), and we're sorry for the delay. But here's what's got us buzzing this week...
Katy Perry debuted her video for "Unconditionally" earlier today. Apparently, the video finds the Prism princess declaring her undying love on a discarded set from Downton Abbey, setting beds on fire, and making it snow.
Reese Witherspoon takes on a period drama (set in 1993!) about the tragic deaths of three young boys in Memphis. And Colin Firth shows up with a southern accent to investigate. It's safe to say there's nothing feel-good about this crime drama:
Elsewhere, Alanis Morissette's seminal album, Jagged Little Pill, is being adapted into a Broadway musical along the lines of Green Day's American Idiot. Shortly after we spontaneously combusted over this news, we dug out our CDs from high school and rejoiced: 1995 is making a comeback y'all.
And then there's this:
Our favorite new show of the fall season, NBC's The Blacklist, is awesome and all (with its breathtaking plots and James Spader's...Spaderisms), but it is co-star Ryan Eggold (90210) who's piquing our interest as the bespectacled husband of FBI agent Liz Keen. What's up with him? What secrets is he hiding? Producers, please don't kill off this hottie. We'd like to see more of him. A lot more.
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