Tuesday, November 9, 2010

THIS JUST OUT: Black-ops-Susan-Boyle-vs.-the-world edition

Posted on Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM

The Gift,* Susan Boyle

I'll admit it right off the bat — I'm not the biggest fan of American Idol. In fact, I'm as close to the exact opposite of its biggest fan you can get without going all pyschotic-mumbling-to-yourself-about-the-hosts-while-stroking-your-rifle.** But here's the thing: Susan Boyle's not even American. SHE'S NOT FROM 'ROUND HERE.

I guess with the ever-increasing Christmas creep it should come as no surprise that Christmas albums are being released in early November, It's not like Boyle made up any new songs — the track listing is pretty much what you'd expect. You've got your "Noel," your "Away in a Manger" and even some "Auld Lang Syne." I'm no Boyleiac (Boyleophyte?), but her voice definitely sounds different than from when I heard her sing that one other time on Britain's Got Talent on YouTube (though her understated vocals actually sound better here). Also, and I hesitate to point this out, at this point Boyle's pretty much a cover band. She's had one original composition on her two CDs. Just saying.

But that's not important, you guys. What is important is that Simon Cowell is no longer on American Idol, and he needs to be making ridiculous piles of money somehow. Do you know how many dollar bills it takes to fill up an Olympic-size swimming pool? Less than what he's got, but what about the pool at his other house? WHAT ABOUT THAT POOL?

  • The Lady Killer, Cee-Lo Green — Just in case you didn't catch the self-censored version on Letterman, William Shatner's cover of "F--k You" on Lopez Tonight or don't want to listen to Gwyneth Paltrow ruin it on Glee,*** you can catch the original on his new album.
  • Now 36, Various Artists — Ugh. Just ugh.
  • WYWH, The Concretes — Though I'm pretty sure the description "popular Swedish indie pop band" is just a mistranslation, this Target-commercial-backing band is following up on their 2007 album, Hey Trouble, with the second release without former lead singer Victoria Bergsman.
  • Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Kid Cudi — Cudi tries to envelop his life since the release of Man on the Moon: End of Day in 2009 with his sophomore output. More brooding than an emo teenager who just got kicked out of the goth group for being too anti-conformist, Cudi meshes multiple musical genres along with artists like Mary J. Blige, Cee-Lo Green and Kanye.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Somehow this concept seeems to have escaped most people, so I'll spell it out for you Hollywood types: When you get the Internet excited about something, whether it's music, a movie or Conan, you have to go into it with the expectation that most of those people would rather consume that media on the Internet, or at the very least in the privacy (laziness) of their own homes.

So when much-loved comic book (the ultimate nerd medium) Scott Pilgrim got its big-screen adaptation from Edgar Wright (beloved by nerds) in the guise of a videogame movie (the nerdiest thing this side of ironic horn-rimmed fake X-ray glasses), everyone was somehow shocked and/or disappointed when it only earned $31 million at the box office (though Michael Cera didn't help). This, despite the fact that this movie was made to be watched at home, on DVD. For proof, I give you Grandma's Boy.

What does this mean to you? Get out there and buy the DVD! It's the only way your pop-cultural obsessions will ever see the light of day again. Don't want the blood of another Firefly†† on your hands? Fork over some cash for the DVD, Nerdlington. Then go buy it on Blu-Ray just for good measure.---

  • Grown Ups — See, this is what you get when you complain that Hollywood is out of original ideas. We don't want them to have original ideas. If they do, we get movies about runaway trains†††.
  • Charlie St. Cloud — Zac Efron plays a blond (probably rich) sailing enthusiast. Wow, what a stretch. Also, he sees dead people. (Bonus points if they manage to include the phrase, "It's not your fault!" a la Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.)
  • Disney's A Christmas CarolYou remember, that Dickensian adaptation with Jim Carrey doing his impression of Tom Hanks in Polar Express by playing every character. You know, that movie that came out in theaters a year and three days ago.
  • Knucklehead — Much as I was a fan of "Big Show" Paul Wight when I was 12 and still watched wrestling, I don't know if I really want to watch a movie about him as a church handyman who decides to try his hand at wrestling. It just doesn't feel realistic, you know?

Call of Duty: Black Ops (PS3, PC, Wii, DS)

It's the first Call of Duty release following the exodus of a vast majority of the original games' devleopment staff, and the verdict thus far (from most reviews) is that its a serviceable &mash; at least — follow up. They did away with all those silly things like (thankfully) purposely offensive levels where you have to pretend to be a terrorist and mow down people in a crowded airport.

The game uses a non-traditional story, in that you're a special ops veteran who's being interrogated (at the Bay of Pigs invasion, no less) for information and "play through" the memories. Apparently, we've exhausted both the WWII stable and the modern era, so we're left to just ping-pong our way through "history" however the game sees fit. Then again, I actually liked Fall of Liberty, where you play as a plumber during a Nazi invasion of the East Coast, so there you go.

It's Call of Duty, so the gameplay is as you'd expect: Aim sights here, pull trigger there, crossbow fires bolt that waits for five seconds after impact before making the enemy go all explode-y. There are even a number of different modes, including the federally-mandated-on-all-entertainment-products zombie level. But hey, even if you don't like the game, Activision's committed to pumping out COD sequels at a rate of at least two games per year, so you won't have to wait long. Apparently, like Guitar Hero before, they're determined to run this franchise into the ground as quickly as possible.

  • Monster Jam: Path of Destruction (PS3, X360, Wii, DS, PSP) — Oh wow, you guys! This game has 30 officially licensed Monster Jam trucks, so all the names you've never heard of (aside from Grave Digger) will actually be real trucks instead of fake ones! Because you'd totally be able to tell the difference.
  • Karaoke Revolution Glee (Wii) — I say again: Ugh.
  • Family Feud Decades (Wii) — Apparently, no one wanted to release any other A-list (or B- or even C-list) games to go up against the COD juggernaut.
  • The Fight: Lights Out (PS3) — Oh look, Wii Boxing for the Playstation Move. Surprisingly, it reaches new heights on the Unintentional Comedy Scale by having Danny Trejo (Machete) host the tutorials. Unsurprisingly, the actual game sucks. Dear gods of motion-control gaming: Please make developers use 1:1 relationships between what I do and what the character does. Thanks.

* Is there any way that this album title is not self-aggrandizing? Either she's referring to herself as a gift, referring to her voice as a gift or the album itself is a gift to you.
** With the exception of Paula Abdul. Who's no longer on the show. Thanks to me. (Not really.)
*** Seriously, why is Gwyneth Paltrow going to be on Glee? That makes less sense than John Stamos. And no, you don't get a link for that. Not only because it hasn't happened yet, but because that sort of thing shouldn't be encouraged.
And likely under the influence of some mind-altering substance.
†† Yes, I'm still bitter about this. So unbelievably, unimaginably bitter.
††† Oh god, however will we figure out where it's going? WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING.

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