Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Guard

"Fuckin' Perfect" - Pink

Read the whole post at Vertigo Shtick!

On November 16 Pink is set to release her first hits collection, Greatest Hits... So Far!!! The set will contain sixteen of the pop rocker's best-charting singles from "There You Go" to "Stupid Girls" to "Glitter in the Air," along with (as is the fashion) three entirely new tracks, including current top ten hit "Raise Your Glass" and a new ditty just leaked/released to the blogosphere, "Fuckin' Perfect." The track list promises GH...SF!!! to be a rollicking and bumpy ride through Pink's uneven discography, but a full-length listen-through is sure to prove not just how broad and varying her output has been over the last decade, but how incredibly skilled and convincing she is throughout the myriad styles and genres in which she has dabbled.

With a title like "Fuckin' Perfect" one would be forgiven for expecting another raucus, up-tempo romp before pressing "play," perhaps thematically in line with great kiss-off tracks from the singer's library like "U + UR Hand" or "So What." Pink seems to be riding the recent trend of motivational underdog anthems (see Ke$ha's "We R Who We R," Katy Perry's "Firework," Pink's own "Raise Your Glass") a little harder than some, and her second new track delivers essentially the same message as her previous single, but "Fuckin' Perfect" is musically a cousin of "Who Knew" or "Glitter In the Air," softer, down-tempo ballads whose hefty subject matter outweigh any perceived surface-level softness. Like those tracks, it's nice and all, and for those who love Pink for her similarly styled singles, "Fuckin' Perfect" is sure to fill in any cracks "Raise Your Glass" might have left unfilled with motivational goodness.

So even though the new song's not really my style, I'd have trouble coming out right off the bat and criticizing it (at least before further listening on my end): even the titular expletive, which for almost any other artist would come off as desperately pandering, is fitting in this case. It's eye-catching, irreverent, confrontational, crude, and menacing to some while comforting to others. In other words, it fits Pink to a tee.

Greatest Hits... So Far!!! drops November 16.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"I Put a Spell On You" Bette Midler

Ah, Halloween. To some, the final day of October is a day of costumes and confections, while for others it means a lot of small callers at the front door that won't leave unless bribed with sweets; for still others, it's but a low key night for horror films or other such appropriate entertainment.

For me, All Hallow's Eve is when I invariably look out the window and declare, "Look! Another glorious morning. Makes me SICK!" and proceed to emulate Bette Midler at numerous points throughout the day (in other words, a normal day). The Divine Miss M has bestowed a number of fantastic gems upon the world of fabulosity over the years - "I'm Beautiful," the Rose, Beaches - but none of them brings me (and, I suspect, a good number of my contemporaries in age) nearly the amount of sheer cult classic glee as Hocus Pocus. Yes, in 1993 (!), the fire-haired diva teamed up with Disney, comedian Kathy Najimy, hot off Sister Act, and Sarah Jessica Parker, who in those pre-Sex and the City times was mainly known for turns in L.A. Story, the short-lived sitcom Square Pegs, and a handful of stints on the Great White Way to make a Halloween comedy for kids.

The fabulously silly tale of three youth-obsessed 17th century witches brought back to life by a misfit teenager was directed by Kenny Ortega, now known for directing the High School Musical series and Michael Jackson - This Is It, the film Ortega scrapped together when the singer died of an overdose weeks before his Ortega-directed farewell concert series. But back then, Kenny Ortega had but one credit under his belt, and while Newsies is probably nearly as beloved among many of my fellow Hocus Pocus devotees, it was definitely not so at the time (the Alan Menken movie musical about a newsboy strike that starred a young Christian Bale, featured Razzie-nominated turns from Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret, and was one of the greatest box office debacles of the early 1990s).

Sadly, Ortega, who is adept at least at staging musical numbers for film if nothing else, gets only one brief chance in Hocus Pocus, and it's less a production number than an obvious concession made on Midler's contract (Miss Midler must have a song, and it shall be fabulous or no deal). But Midler's diva-tastic cover of "I Put a Spell On You" is the rare shining beacon of win in an otherwise uneven film: it's a terrific comedic sequence, but it also completely fits into the plot, certainly far more than one might expect from a one-off song-and-dance number in a kid's movie. It's so utterly Bette Midler, right down to the "Hello, Salem! My name's Winifred! What's yours?" and seeing Najimy and Parker effortlessly slide into their impromptu backup singer roles always got a nice guffaw from us clueless children who were entirely unaware of anything about Bette Midler's public image or career.

And on this Halloween, the first since I began this lovely blog, I'm passing on the joy to you all! Pick up a copy of Hocus Pocus tonight, or just take a listen to a couple minutes of nostalgic camp madness. Either way, Happy Halloween!

To the Left