Posts filed under ‘Rave Review’

“I’d Rather Keep the Trash and Throw You Out”: Feminine Angstiest Songs #3

See also Feminine Angstiest Songs #2 and #1

“Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)” samples Carly Simon’s quintessential song of feminine angst, “You’re So Vain.” Janet Jackson sings, and Missy Elliott, a veritable hip hop guru, raps. The music video, clearly alluding to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” stars a fleet of undead women. Janet dances in the midst of the ghouls as she stalks her former lover through a creepy mansion, bathroom, and parking garage. She wields a baseball bat, strutting her svelte figure in a sexy outlaw getup. Missy accompanies Janet and the zombie women on this hot pursuit. In an eerily erotic scene, Janet seductively swallows a black spider and growls, “I’d never be your lover / I’d rather make you suffer / You stupid motherfucker.”

Basically, don’t fuck with, lie to, cheat on, steal from, or disrespect these women…unless you want to end up in a “show down, knock down, drag down, gun slugger, shoot ’em up” with demonic damsels. But this post isn’t about you anyway, is it?

March 11, 2010 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Lolly’s Top 5 Hip Hop Hits of 2009

See also Lolly’s Top 5 Hip Hop Hits of 2008

Runner-ups: “Birthday Sex” and “Imma Star” by Jeremih, “So Sharp” by Mack 10 featuring Lil Wayne, “Best I Ever Had” by Drake, “Obsessed” by Mariah Carey, “Girls on the Dancefloor” by Far East Movement

#5 Omarion featuring Gucci Mane (or Lil Wayne) “I Get It In”

This song is cocky (pun intended) as hell: It’s about fitting really big things into tight places. Omarion brags about how his girl “fumble(s) when it hangs down,” and Gucci Mane is hooking up with gal who has “done fired” her panties. In the Lil Wayne version, Mr. Carter quotes Beyoncé’s “Ego” to make the same boast: “It’s too big; it’s too wide; it won’t fit, but…I get it in.” Ironically, the most phallocentric song of the year has a video that’s about as phallocentric as last year’s “I Kissed A Girl” by Katie Perry. Omarion has moves that would make most ABDC teams jealous, but he doesn’t save them for the few ladies in the video. Toward the end of the three-minute clip, the rapper forms a human seesaw with a male dancer. This quasi-homoerotic display is almost unheard of in hip hop videos. Perhaps the compact “parking spot” is unisex.

#4 Drake featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem “Forever”

The line-up doesn’t get much better than this. Unfortunately, some radio stations abridge the 6+ minute song by removing one of the rapper’s verses. In ascending order, here’s how I would rank each rapper’s rhymes: Eminem (“He ain’t had a real buzz like this since the last time that he overdosed”), Drake (“Labels want my name beside the ‘X’ like Malcolm”), Lil Wayne (“My mind shine even when my thoughts seem dark”), and Kanye West (“You would think I ran the world like Michelle’s husband”).

#3 Mario featuring Gucci Mane & Sean Garrett “Break Up”

Breaking up never sounded so good! It seems Mario would do just about anything for his girlfriend (“Don’t I lace you with the Gucci? / Don’t I deck you in the Louis?”) except, of course, be faithful. And, for him, it isn’t so much about getting back together but, rather, having one last midnight rendezvous (“If you leavin’, baby, don’t leave me till tomorrow / Tonight we gon’ get a lil’ tipsy with a bottle”). If the break up is final, Gucci Mane reminds us that “girls are like buses: Miss one, next fifteen, one comin’.”

#2 Keri Hilson featuring Lil Wayne “Turnin’ Me On”

Miss Keri, baby! This song should be renamed “Pleasing Women for Dummies.” Keri stresses the importance of “recogniz(ing) a real woman,” and Lil Wayne brags about his oral prowess (“I’ma kiss the spot for ya…I turn you on like a handle / Like a television on the Weather Channel”). Sporting “on” and “off” brass knuckles, Keri rocks the music video that’s full of dichotomous imagery.

#1 Kid Cudi featuring Kanye West & Common and sampling Lady Gaga  “Make Her Say”

“And we can have one hell of a night / Through the day,” promises the casual (hetero)sex anthem of the year. Kid Cudi wonders, “When it’s said and done, will she spit it up or swallow?” Kanye West wants to hook up with a shorty, but he doesn’t want to make it “statutory”: “Hold up…Born in ’88. / How old is that? / Old enough.” Common reminisces about a girl whose “head was gooder than the music.”

And each wants a ménage à trois the only socially acceptable way he can have it (XX/XY/XX). To emphasize this common goal, each rapper begins his verse with a version of “She wanna have whatever she like / She can if she bring her [girl]friend.” Cudi wants a dominant girl with a “fat ol’ ass.” Kanye makes me wonder why I didn’t love college. Common likes to take charge – even if he has to pay for it.

That which is explicit in this hit is misogynistic at best (Cudi and Co. sample Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” to the tune of, “I make her say, ‘Oh…Oh-Oh-Oh…Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh’ when I p-p-p-poke her face.”). That which is implicit, however, is compelling and provocative. Just as most novels have autobiographical inspiration, lyrics often reveal aspects of artists’ personal lives. Each performer in “Make Her Say” shares more information on sexual preferences than would most hip hop artists. It’s one thing to talk about getting “brain on the train.” It’s another to express as-yet-unfulfilled desires, previously secret reflections, and subtle sociopolitical commentary to boot.

The melancholy undertone of an upbeat song that’s entirely about sex seems strange. The subject matter, however, isn’t as lighthearted as the music video’s balloons and peaceful scenes would have you think. “Casual sex” is a misnomer: There is nothing casual about sex. As a society, we take healthy sex lives for granted, and yet sexuality influences most of us in some very problematic ways. Whether they realize it or not (I think they do), all three rappers express this tension between carnal desire, heteronormativity, and mainstream constructions of masculinity. Lady Gaga, who defies gender norms, genre, and Jehovah, creates the backdrop for this musical dialogue. The final product is far from a “Bad Romance.”

February 12, 2010 at 7:26 am 2 comments

Current and Classic Rentals & Ratings

Year of the Dog
Genre: Comedic Drama
Starring: Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Regina King, John C. Reilly, Peter Sarsgaard
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Molly Shannon shines in this quirky drama about the multi-layered relationships between co-workers, friends, loved ones, and, of course, animals.  Mike White, the writer of The Good Girl and School of Rock, makes his directorial debut in what hopefully will be the first of many cinematic triumphs.

New York, New York
Genre: Musical Drama
Starring: Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro

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Minnelli and De Niro sizzle with musical and sexual chemistry in this Scorsese film set in the post-WWII 40s.

He’s Just Not That Into You
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Scarlett Johansson

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I expected more from this all-star cast. It has its funny and sweet moments, but, overall, this film portrays women as weak and inept players in the game of love and war.

Summer of Sam
Genre: Crime Drama
Starring: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito

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Set in New York City in the summer of 1977, this Spike Lee Joint follows a close-knit group in an Italian-American neighborhood as it responds to the surrounding violence, heat, humidity, and hatred. Son of Sam’s carnage serves as the backdrop for a reflection on the complex nature of relationships between members of a seemingly cohesive community. Make sure to check out Adrien Brody’s compelling performance during the “Teenage Wasteland” montage.

June 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

From the Vault: Nine 1/2 Weeks Gets 8 1/2 Stars

Three years after I was born, Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful, Indecent Proposal, Fatal Attraction) directed Nine 1/2 Weeks, starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. I saw it for the first time this weekend and felt puzzled by the film’s poor critical reception. Lyne manages to forge a balance between art and sex, creating an erotically-charged drama rather than soft core porn. The film is a meditation on the ambiguities and limitations of consensual liaisons between women and men.

Elizabeth (Basinger), a “divorced white female, beautiful statuesque blonde,” meets John (Rourke) while shopping for dinner party fare.  John is concomitantly creepy and desirable as he makes overt sexual advances toward Elizabeth. “You’re taking a hell of a lot for granted, aren’t you,” Elizabeth remarks as John pointedly changes the bedsheets after their first outing. And thus begins a 9 1/2 week sexual journey. Elizabeth’s endearing naiveté complements John’s carnal authoritativeness. Scenes of sadomasochism, female masturbation, spontaneous lovemaking, and erotic food usage ensue. Lyne’s images at once titillate and disturb as the couple crisscrosses sexual boundaries and societal norms.

In her early 30s at the time of the film’s production, Basinger is, in retrospect, living proof that some women are like wine; they improve with age. While undoubtedly attractive, Basinger’s Renée Zellweger-like poutiness in this film pales in comparison to her fetching sophistication in L.A. Confidential and The Door in the Floor (both filmed over a decade later). Rourke, on the other hand, has endured a transformation in the opposite direction. The intensive reconstructive surgery he underwent after his professional wrestling career has rendered his once-alluring face almost unrecognizable. That said, he still has the body of an Olympian and acting talent that ranks him among the very best. His portrayal of John in Nine 1/2 Weeks made me further appreciate his wide range as an actor, as evidenced in Body Heat, Sin City, and The Wrestler.

If nothing else, this film depicts two major actors at pivotal moments in their respective careers. Beyond that, the disquieting interactions between Elizabeth and John speak to the complications of human nature and the overwhelming responsibility that accompanies sexual desire.

June 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Current Redbox Rentals and Ratings

Frost/Nixon
Genre: Drama
Starring: Frank Langella and Michael Sheen
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Langella deservingly received an Oscar nomination for his role as Richard Nixon in Ron Howard’s provocative retelling of the post-Watergate interviews between British television personality David Frost and the former president.

The Poker Club
Genre: Drama, Suspense
Starring: Johnathon Schaech
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Although it has a few interesting plot twists and startling moments, The Poker Club comes across as a decently-made student film. But if you’re looking for visual stimulation, actors Johnny Messner and Michael Risley and actresses Jana Kramer and Lori Heuring make good eye candy.

The Wrestler
Genre: Drama
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood
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Rourke delivers an artistic tour de force as a has-been competitor trying to make a comeback in his professional and personal lives.

The Spirit
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure
Starring: Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Gabriel Macht, and Scarlett Johannson
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Even with an all-star cast and the talent of Frank Miller as screenwriter, The Spirit managed to lower my spirits when I saw it in theaters this holiday season.

Doubt
Genre: Drama
Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis
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Some critics bemoaned Streep’s “over the top” performance as a hyper-judgmental nun, but I think Sister Beauvier’s ferocity and relentless inner struggle could have only been depicted by such a seasoned and dedicated actress as Streep. Hoffman, Adams, and Davis also triumph in expressing what playwright and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley likely had in mind when he helped transform his story from stage to screen.

Yes Man
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel
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With a handful of laugh-out-loud scenes, this lightly romantic comedy achieves its goal of providing 90 minutes of entertainment. While Carrey and Deschanel have some chemistry, their age difference is a bit distracting and doesn’t manage to completely pass off as believable.

April 24, 2009 at 9:34 pm 5 comments

“I Hate You So Much Right Now”: Feminine Angstiest Songs #2

Kelis’s “Milkshake” brings all the boys to the yard, but her rhymes in “Caught Out There” put them in their places. She dedicates the song to “all the women out there/that been lied to by their men/over and over again” and admits “maybe you didn’t break the way you shoulda broke, yo, but I break.”

From her 1999 debut album Kaleidoscope, “Caught Out There” paved the way for the cocky and confrontational lyrics of “Bossy” (featuring Too $hort) and “In Public” (featuring husband Nas). In fact, when Kelis declares herself “the first girl to scream on a track” in “Bossy,” she’s referring to exercising her irate shouting skills in “Caught Out There”: “I hate you so much right now / I hate you so much right now / I hate you so much right now / Ahhhhhhhhh!” Kelis repeats the angsty chorus no less than seven times and outdoes Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” with threats like, “So sick of your games / I’ll set your truck to flames / And watch it blow up, blow up / (Tell me how you gonna see her now?).” I certainly think that’s worse than taking “a Louisville Slugger to both headlights!”

It may seem like I’m hating on my man right now, but that’s not the case at all. I do, however, feel severe animosity toward “The Man.” He can go fuck himself. And I’m grateful to “the one that’s tattooed on his arm” for giving me an outlet to vent my ire through.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

Lolly’s Top 5 Hip Hop Hits of 2008

Runner-ups: “Swagga Like Us” by Jay-Z, T.I. et al., “Whatever You Like” by T.I., “Love in This Club” by Usher featuring Young Jeezy, “Touch My Body” by Mariah Carey

#5 Flo Rida featuring T-Pain “Low”

Apple Bottom Jeans have never sounded so good. Flo Rida’s solo debut album, Mail on Sunday, soared to the top of the charts with this first hit single. “Elevator” featuring Timbaland and “In the Ayer” featuring will.i.am solidified this preeminent rapper’s spot among the best. The catchy lyrics and ground-shaking/booty-thumping bass make this song almost impossible not to dance to. I found it hazardous to drive my car whenever “Low” came on because my hands inevitably ended up anywhere but on the steering wheel.

#4 Estelle featuring Kanye West “American Boy”

“Don’t like his baggy jeans, but I’ma like what’s underneath ’em,” sexy UK artist Estelle coos, as Kanye provides a little self-promotion: “Who killin’ ’em in the UK/Everybody gonna say you K/Reluctantly cuz most of the press don’t fuck wit’ me.” Kanye West’s laid back rhymes perfectly complement Estelle’s sultry melody: It’s as if they’re making love in the studio! What I enjoy most about this song, however, is its promotion of the United States. As Estelle cites all of the places she wants to visit in the Land of the Free, we feel enticed to do the same…and to have a little more love for our American boys at home and abroad.

#3 Kanye West “Love Lockdown”

Stylistically, Kanye West took a lot of risks in his most current album, 808s & Heartbreak. But Kanye has taken artistic risks throughout his career, usually with great success (e.g. not censoring the “N-word” in “Jesus Walks,” sampling Daft Punk in “Stronger”). 808s and Heartbreak is Kanye West’s first album without a Parental Advisory sticker, and he replaces rapping with singing to lyrics that undoubtedly reflect the recent death of his mother and break-up with his fiancee. The use of the 808 and tribal drums gives “Love Lockdown” an originality unparalleled by other chart-topping songs of 2008. In it, we hear a vulnerability, which is all the more refreshing when held up against the “bad ass” personas within Kanye’s ilk.

#2 M.I.A. “Paper Planes”

Although the background is relatively upbeat and part of it was prominently sampled in “Swagga Like Us,” “Paper Planes” has a sad tone to it, even without respect to the lyrics. A children’s choir, gunshot sounds, and the ringing of a cash register occupy the song’s chorus as Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam (M.I.A) spits out her poetry of sociopolitical satire. I feel “Paper Planes” captures the melancholy air of 2008 better than any other track.

#1 Lil Wayne “Lollipop”

In his hit single “Lollipop,” New Orleans native Lil Wayne boasts that he’s going to “hit it, hit it like [he] can’t miss.” Although he’s clearly talking about a sexual act, the same could be said about his ability to score a slam dunk on one of this summer’s most memorable songs.

Stephen “Static Major” Garrett, who died in February 2008, posthumously topped the Billboard Hot 100 as the featured singer in “Lollipop.” The music video is dedicated in his memory. Garrett was an incredible songwriter: Who could forget Ginuwine’s “Pony” (1996) or Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” (1998)? Although multiple remixes followed its release, the version of “Lollipop” in the music video continues to be the most popular.

“Lollipop” deserves the foremost position on my countdown because, no matter how many times Movin’ 92 or KUBE 93 played it, I never grew tired of the song’s blatant allusions to oral sex or the scratchy vocals of Mr. Carter. If anything, I wanted to come back for more, just as Lil Wayne’s shawty does: “Just like a refund/I make her bring that ass back.”

January 4, 2009 at 5:55 am 3 comments

“Oops, I Didn’t Know We Couldn’t Talk About Sex”: Feminine Angstiest Songs #1

In 1994, Madonna released Bedtime Stories, an album with less overt sexuality than Erotica (1992) but with plenty of imagery nonetheless. Although “Secret” and “Take A Bow” were the most popular singles on this multi-Platinum album, “Human Nature” takes the cake when it comes to expressing feminine angst. I’ll explain why in this first installment of many about songs I like to jam to when I’m feeling like a man-eater.

Before Madonna rendered herself curveless through yoga and God only knows what else, she filmed the music video for “Human Nature,” wearing body-hugging black vinyl and donning chestnut cornrows among a sea of smutty men and women. Anonymous hands begin to fondle a seated Madonna just before she slams her legs shut. We then see her dancing in a white box, along with the other dancers in S&M-esque garb. Throughout the song, Madonna seductively whispers the following mantra: “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” The backless, frontless boxes could represent superficial repression from which Madonna is ultimately free with access through the front and back doors.

Madonna is unapologetic about her sexuality, self-expression, and decisions: “I’m not sorry / It’s human nature / And I’m not sorry / I’m not your bitch / Don’t hang your shit on me.” Sometimes a partner’s words and actions serve as an attempt to silence us, but we can take the upper-hand in the blame game. I’ve taken this too far by refusing to apologize for things that actually are my fault, but I like the concept of using human nature as a defense when appropriate.

“Human Nature” came back to life in Madonna’s 2001 Drowned World Tour as she performed it while riding a mechanical bull. Not to be outdone by her past self, Madonna recruited Britney Spears to sing along in November 2008. This version of “Human Nature” includes the infamous line, “It’s Britney, bitch!” The cougar and her cub have been released into the wild yet again.

Unabashed and unwilling to adhere to haphazard social constructions, Madonna delivers yet another knockout performance. My favorite line of the song poses an age-old question: “Would it sound better if I were a man?”

January 1, 2009 at 5:49 am 1 comment

“The Dutchess” is D to the E to the L-I-C-I-O-U-S!

Fergie’s solo debut album, “The Dutchess,” came out in September 2006, but several of the singles continue to dominate on top 40 and hip hop stations. I received the CD in the mail a few months ago as a sort of gag gift and ended up enjoying it more than the sender or I could ever imagine. As far as hitting a home run track after track, I would put it on the same shelf as Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” Eminem’s “The Eminem Show,” or Lucinda Williams’s “Essence.” Here’s a track-by-track analysis of what this album has to offer:

  • “Fergalicious” – This light, upbeat track kicks off the album with Black Eyed Peas band mate, will.i.am, making his first of many cameo appearances. Fergie flexes her rapping muscle by rhyming “promiscuous” with “suspicious,” “fictitious,” and “kisses.” Those who enjoyed Black Eyed Peas’s “My Humps” will definitely dig “Fergalicious.”
  • “Clumsy” – Reminiscent of the soda shop pop of the 50s and 60s, “Clumsy” captures the fun and fresh vibe of a different era while still adhering to hip hop standards. Released as the album’s fifth single, “Clumsy” was the first track that reached out to me from the radio waves, luring me in with its clever coyness.
  • “All That I Got (The Make Up Song)” – This song gives us a glimpse of Fergie’s vulnerable side as she asks, “Would you still love me if I didn’t workout or I didn’t change my natural hair?” It seems a bit odd coming from someone who boasted, “And I know I’m coming off just a little bit conceited / when I keep on repeating how the boys want to eat it,” two tracks before, but it showcases some of her vocal talent.
  • “London Bridge” – The album’s first single came across as annoying at first, but it grew on me. If nothing else, it has a good beat, and the cockiness of the lyrics gives the song a lot of energy.
  • “Pedestal” – Co-written by Fergie (like all the songs on the album), the song aptly begins with, “Your pedestal is falling down,” to the tune of the nursery rhyme, “London Bridge is Falling Down.” With clever angst, Fergie dishes out her opinion of haters in the industry.
  • “Voodoo Doll” – I think this song is about the difficulty of coming to grips with sexuality, feminity, and biology.  Fergie laments, “This body’s a temple of doom,” and a lot of my ladies probably understand where she’s coming from. No, being a sex symbol is not all it’s cracked up to be.
  • “Glamorous” – Although it’s not one of my favorite tracks, I can see why it became such a huge hit. There’s something glamorously ghetto about the way Fergie spits out her rhymes.
  • “Here I Come” – Fergie and will.i.am sample “Get Ready” by the Temptations and, in doing so, produce a fresh and modern hit. While Fergie’s vocals fit the song, will.i.am steals the show on this one with his rapid rhymes.
  • “Velvet” – This track is more sensual than Fergie’s backside with romantic poeticity (<-yes, that’s really a word…I found it hard to believe at first myself) and lyrical smoothness throughout. The last 10 or so seconds are nothing short of arousing: There’s a reason this one wasn’t played on the radio.
  • “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – This smash success really allowed the world to see that Fergie was more than a pretty face and rockin’ bod. Unfortunately, I still can’t get over the following line: “And I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket.”
  • “Mary Jane Shoes” – It’s a little bit reggae and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, and everytime I listen to it I want to throw on a baby doll dress and some matching mary janes. I appreciate the simplicity of this song, and it’s a welcome departure from the sexed up vibe of most of the other tracks.
  • “Losing My Ground” – As she did in “All That I Got,” Fergie displays a bit of vulnerability in this ballad.
  • “Finally” – Stacy Ferguson could be mistaken for Christina Aguilera because of her range and vocal control throughout this song.  I must admit to having chills run down my spine the first time I heard it.
  • “Maybe We Can Take a Ride” – Keep listening for this ghost track: It’s worth the few moments of silence.

August 15, 2008 at 6:58 am 1 comment


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