The Media ClosetSection 4A, The Media Closet Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Three movies with music underscoring their plotlines have made their way to the high quality promised land, known as Blu-Ray. The first two are full-fledged musicals that celebrate the big band era of the 1940s in a great metropolitan city and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius two decades later, while the third one uses songs from the ’70s, and beyond, in its telling of three drag queens on an adventure in the Australian Outback.
New York, New York
“The war was over and the world was falling in love again” was the tagline that accompanied the 1977 poster for director Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, a musical salute to the bygone era of the 1940s brand of big band music.
The film was initially considered a box-office flop upon its release, as Scorsese had attempted to use the musical as a springboard away from grittier fare, such as 1976’s Taxi Driver, and as a way to pay homage to musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Era. The title song, “Theme From New York, New York,” became a hit for Frank Sinatra, who recorded a cover version in 1979, while Minnelli performs the signature tune at almost all of her concerts.
When Hair made its off-Broadway debut in 1967, it broke new ground in the realm of musical theater with its plotline about an anti-Vietnam war peace movement. It featured a racially diverse cast, the use of illegal drugs, profanity and – gasp – even had a nude scene.
In 1979, the story of the “tribe” of socially conscious hippies was immortalized on the silver screen and focused on Claude Bukowski (John Savage), who has a date with destiny in New York City. He is a farm boy that is scheduled to be enlisted into the Army, until he stumbles upon a hippie “happening” in Central Park. There he meets Berger (Treat Williams), the hippies’ pacifist leader and Sheila (Beverly D’Angelo), a beautiful bohemian who challenges his core beliefs about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
When Tick/Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) is summoned to be the headlining drag act at Lasseter’s Hotel Casino in the remote central Aussie town of Alice Springs by his wife Marion (Sarah Chadwick), he enlists the help of fellow drag queen Adam/Felicia (Guy Pearce) and transsexual Bernadette (Terence Stamp).
Along the way, the trio encounters a bevy of characters, including an Aboriginal tribe, and performs spectacular musical numbers, set to the likes of Peaches and Herb, and Gloria Gaynor.
As the miles on Priscilla’s odometer tick along, revelations are made, frocks are worn to perfection and the finer points of Adam/Felicia’s love for ABBA are argued with Bernadette, which all make for one unforgettable road trip.
For her fourth solo effort, Beyoncé has appropriately titled her newest CD 4, and prior to it leaking on the Internet, the former Destiny’s Child singer gave a listening party for it at The New York City offices of Sony Music.
She said of the new effort, “When editing the DVD [for Beyoncé: I am…World], I noticed that the tone of my voice is different live [than my recording one]. So I used that live performance tone throughout the record. I wanted to do something refreshing and different.
“So I mixed genres and drew inspiration from touring, traveling, watching rock bands and attending festivals … was like a mad scientist, putting lots of different songs together.”
The culmination of that fusion is most evident on the track, “Till The End Of Time,” which features a bass line inspired by Fela Kuti, a Nigerian composer and musician. Available June 28.
Jessie and The Toy Boys
Show Me Your Tan Lines
Tracks like her first two singles, “Push It” and “We Own The Night” perfectly highlight that there is a new pop music force to be reckoned with. However, there is even more than meets the eye with Jessie and The Toy Boys, who are opening for Britney Spears on her “Femme Fatale” tour this summer.
The best part of the music is singer Jessie Malakouti’s (who writes all the music for her projects) uncanny ability to slip some good old-fashioned female empowerment innocuously into the dance-themed songs. Her raw sexuality harkens back to the early days of Madonna’s decades-long career, when she was “Burning Up” for our love. Now available.
Singled out: Lady Gaga
“The Edge of Glory”
The latest hit song in Lady Gaga’s unstoppable arsenal of catchy pop songs is “The Edge of Glory,” which is by far the best song off her latest CD, Born This Way. The song debuted in the No. 3 position on the Billboard Hot 100, solidifying itself as her tenth consecutive Top 10 song to chart since she exploded onto the music scene.
“The Edge of Glory” is somewhat of a departure for the singer, as there is not a “Gaga” thrown into the mix to remind us of who we are listening to. The song, which she debuted during the American Idol finale, is nothing short of being pure pop music confectionary goodness, and is as much of an anthem as her recent smash, “Born This Way.”
And kudos to Gaga for bringing back a saxophone solo, which were so prevalent during the songs of the 1980s. In fact, the track comes off as almost a throwback to a lost gem from the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack, and its catchiness proves that she is a lady in motion, albeit it is suffice to say she will have more career longevity than John Parr did. Now available.
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