MUSIC Best Night of My Life,* by Jamie Foxx
These are lean times, friends. It's too late for any famous artists to release some crap in order to cash in on holiday sales, and too early for big artists to come out with fully fleshed releases because launching at a time like this means putting out a whole lot of advertising dollars when everybody's already shot their (cash) wad.
Thus we are relegated to the truly dedicated/talented (Ghostface Killah), the artists we haven't heard from in awhile (Keyshia Cole) and the celebrity crossover (Jamie Foxx). Now, some might be predisposed to dismissing Foxx's rapping abilities because he used to be an actor. I, on the other hand, am more noble: I'm willing to dismiss his rapping abilities because he used to be a comedian, then he used to be an actor.
The multi-media crossover is becoming more common (or at least, more pronounced), and arguably easier — no one would argue this point less than Bruce Willis, aka Bruno, aka the original white rapper (though the Hoff might have a few choice words, but his value in any given artistic field is largely kitsch). This is actually Foxx's fourth album, and it seems more concerned with mentioning Patron and using AutoTune than it does actually having good songs. Despite having more cameos than your average Will Ferrell movie (including short stints by T.I. and Justin Timberlake), this probably deservers a place right next to your Eddie Murphy albums.
- Apollo Kids, Ghostface Killah — Though he doesn't go all out in calling himself the Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City (like his last album), GK's latest album seems to be pleasing fans. Everyone who misses the '80s can just set their turntables to "Starkology" and put it on repeat. If turntables had a repeat function. ('80s burn!)
- Allura, Hex Hector — Hex Hector, who we can only assume is the half-brother of Lex Luthor, is back after a five-year hiatus, nine years after his first (and only) Grammy win. Actually, they discontinued the Grammy he won the year after he won it. That's either a really good thing, or a really bad thing. We'll let you decide which it is.
- Yule Tidings, The Gorillaz — Okay, technically this holiday album doesn't come out until Dec. 25, but we're putting it on the list anyway. It's notable for the fact that Damon Albern claimed he made the entire thing on an iPad. Because the most important of enjoying music is knowing how difficult it was to make, right? Maybe that explains why he's giving it away free.
- "Christmas Trololo", Some Middle School Choir** — What's creepier about this? That the kids are wearing masks? That the audience is just singing along, like a) this is a song they know or b) it's totally expected? Or that a
Christmas holiday Decembermas concert features a 30-year-old Russian song from YouTube that's only popular because of how freakishly Frankensteinian the singer looked? This is what happens when you put Millenials in charge of things. And you thought nobody could be worse than Gen Xers. ---
DVDs Easy A
There's a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required in almost every movie. Usually this has to do with believing someone like Emma Stone (or Tina Fey, or Drew Barrymore, or Lindsay Lohan) being relegated to "unpopular" status because of their plain, woebegotten looks. This, despite the fact that no matter how tightly you bind their hair in a bun, they still look hotter than 98 percent of the people you'll ever meet in your entire lifetime.
But we forgive them for this, because after 30 years of the exact same trick it's not llikely Hollywood's going to give it up anytime soon. But Easy A requires us to take the suspension of belief one step further, to the point that the "high school" in the movie might as well be set on Mars in the 1970s: Sex is a stigma among teenagers.
Recent studies have shown 46 percent of Americans 15-19 have had sex, and that number climbs to 60 percent if you're just counting 18-year-olds. But of course, in the world of Easy A, if you have sex, everyone's going to think you're weird and you'll start sewing elaborately adorned letters on your clothing because you just read The Scarlet Letter. After all, everybody wishes they lived in a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel.
Who is this movie's audience supposed to be? People who went to high school in the '50s, when this might have been plausible? Puritans? Anyway, Emma Stone. I'll probably buy it anyway.---
- Devil — You can (and Lord knows I have) mock M. Night Shamalamadingdong for all his awful movies since The Sixth Sense. But it's possible, one supposes, for a studio to argue that the failure of his movies came not from the writing, but from his directing his movies. Ergo, why they would be willing to spend millions of dollars on a movie about five people trapped in an elevator with the devil. But you cannot excuse the fact that lots of people hate the guy, which is why the decision to market Devil as an "M. Night Shylamalan movie" makes absolutely zero sense. Unless they're doing some sort of wildly inventive The Producers-style scam. Which, come to think of it, is more believable than someone being dumb enough to market a movie as an M. Night film.
- Step Up 3 — Street dancers are pitted against the world's best hip-hoppers in a downhill ski race in order to save the ski lodge before the popular/rich kids' parents tear it down to build a new top-of-the-line Aspen-esque lodge. Or something.
- Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps — Shia LaBeouf is a toadying sycophant who cares only about money and not about anyone else or his interpersonal relationships. Oh, and in this movie, he plays a Wall Street analyst in a plot so ridiculous I can't even figure out how to condense it into a joke.
- Salt — Angelina Jolie runs around shooting guns in tight clothes. Also, I think there's a plot or something.
VIDEOGAMES Rock Band 3: Midi PRO Adapter (PS3, X360, Wii)
Hoo boy. If you thought there weren't any releases in music, videogames are almost nonexistent. In fact, the only thing that's not a downloadable game for the PS3 isn't a game at all. It's a Rock Band peripheral that allows you to hook up your MIDI keyboard or drums and use them to play the game with. Finally, they've come up with a way to shut up all those music nerds who complained, "If you're going to do that much work, why not just learn how to play to a real intstrument?" while sneering at you over their horn-rimmed glasses. Now, if only there was a way to get them to stop kvetching about AutoTune …
* It's probably a total coincidence that the title of his album sounds almost exactly the same as the immensely popular Black Eyed Peas song, right? Right.
- Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Runner (PSN) — You guys remember Strong Bad, right? Back when the internet was still a vast wasteland with cattle grazing lazily? (I don't remember things all that well.) Well now you can pay a mere $15 for the first episode on the PSN! Or, you can buy it for $9 for the PC, or spend $30 and get all five episodes on PC. PSN: Ripping you off, whenever they can.
- A Space Shooter for Two Bucks! (PSN) — There's nothing I don't like about this game.
- Back to the Future: The Game (PSN, Mac, PC, iPad) — This is another episodic series of games (i.e. We can make you pay more by dribbiling out levels one at a time), and servers as a sequel to the third BTTF movie. The DeLorean pops up back in 1985, and Doc has been missing for a while. He's trapped in an old-tyme jail, and you have to adventure-game his way out. Gameplay mechanics haven't been revealed yet, which is never a good sign. Still, at least they got Christopher Lloyd to do the voice of Doc Brown.
** Seriously, this is how devoid of releases we are this week.