The King's Speech
I've heard so much lately about this movie since the Academy Awards are looming. I just got the chance to see it last Thursday. One of the most interesting things about the movie is the style used by director Tom Hooper. Many of the shots used are ones in which the camera is directly facing an actor, as if he were speaking directly to the camera. At times, the movie has a sort of goofiness to it (I'll mention a scene in which Geoffrey Rush asks Colin Firth to start cursing, and he does, gratuitously). It kind of reminds me, in a way, of a Wes Anderson movie. Having said that, The King's Speech has twice as much depth than any Wes Anderson movie has ever had. Geoffrey Rush performs flawlessly as the radical speech therapist, and is well-deserving of a supporting actor Oscar. Helena Bonham Carter is equally deserving of a supporting actress award. She plays a most convincing stately British woman. However, the best acting performance, and the best aspect of this movie, is certainly Colin Firth as the King. When Firth laughed, I wanted to laugh. When he got angry, I was angry. When he cried, I wanted to cry. His is certainly the best performance of the year, and he ought to receive the best actor award. Although I don't quite like The King's Speech as much as I enjoyed The Social Network, it's a definite second place for 2010 for me, and I highly recommend it.
The Strokes - "Under Cover of Darkness"
Last Wednesday, The Strokes' Julian Casablancas revealed via Twitter that the first single from their upcoming album, Angles, was available for download on the band's website. It's called "Under Cover of Darkness." The release of this single marks the first time the Strokes have released new material since 2006's First Impressions of Earth.
Dear followers, I cannot tell you how much I love this new song. Ever since a good friend of mine got me into the Strokes back in my sophomore year of high school, they have been one of my favorite bands. I love their raw, gritty rock sound, which is especially evident on their first album, Is This It. The twanging, dual guitars on "Under Cover of Darkness" and the rock-shuffle groove in the bass and drums mark a return to form for the band after their more ambitious (and more disappointing) 2006 release. Julian Casablancas's voice is back in its distinctive grungy sound, although he sings higher on this track than I've ever heard him sing before, and for this reason some have said the song reminds them of Julian's solo album, Phrazes for the Young. The way I see it, though, "Under Cover of Darkness" is all Strokes. The catchy melody, guitar hooks, and driving rhythm tell me that they are back in full swing. I love it so much I wanna cry now when I hear it. I was nervous about how Angles might turn out after their last release, but now I am fully confident in it, and I've already pre-ordered my copy on Amazon. With all this warm weather we're having, I'm getting more and more excited about the summer months, and I'm thinking Angles will be the album of the summer.
Lady Gaga - "Born This Way"
Another new artist's extra-hyped new material was released last week. Last Friday, pop's most peculiar superstar, Lady Gaga, released her hugely anticipated new single "Born This Way." It seems Gaga might be taking a step away from the dance hit material that she has been known for and is taking a stab at activism. The song is probably a response to the recent teenage suicides that have taken place as a result of bullying. It seems that in a medium where a huge amount of people can be reached, such as pop music, the message of a song like this could really affect a lot of people. Having said that, the fact that she's taking a new approach to her music means that aspects that people really loved about her older stuff are lost. The chorus of "Born This Way" is anticlimactic, and far less catchy than some of her other mega-hits, like "Bad Romance" and "Poker Face." Nevertheless, it is sure to reach the top of the charts. I am interested to see what her fans will think of her album, which comes out in May.
The Grammys are mostly a joke. They certainly don't award the best music that's been produced throughout the previous year. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the night's two biggest surprises.
1) Esperanza Spalding wins best new artist. Esperanza is a talented jazz bassist who attended Boston's famed Berklee College of Music. Her 2008 album, Esperanza, features tasteful Latin jazz compositions and an exciting arrangement of the famous standard "Body and Soul." I hope that she will receive some notoriety following this big upset. Q-Tip is producing her new album, which does not have a release date as of now.
2) Arcade Fire wins album of the year. Apparently, a lot of people don't know anything about Arcade Fire. Although I'm really happy their latest album, The Suburbs, won best new album, it's a shame their first two albums didn't receive this kind of attention.
In other Grammy news, Janelle Monae rules, Justin Bieber's performance was cool, and Cee-Lo outdresses Lady Gaga. I'm tired of linking stuff, so I'll let you find them on your own.
I'm getting really excited for summer. Who would have thought that a 40-degree day would feel so warm? Unfortunately, this also means that I really don't feel like working on my schoolwork, but I'll figure that out, I guess. I was home this weekend and got a bunch of new music, so, providing I actually listen to these, expect future reviews/snippets regarding the following albums:
Destroyer - Kaputt
James Blake - James Blake
Talib Kweli - Gutter Rainbows
Alright, folks. That's all for now. Thanks for reading!