August 09, 2018

Nostalgic AF: 1980-2000


This is one helluva #TBT.

I know I'm getting old when I catch myself listening to the music of my youth more often than I have before (even though I still pride myself on discovering new tunes on a regular basis, not necessarily what's on the radio).

So it makes sense that I threw together more than 100 songs from the 80s and 90s to help me escape some of the present-day shittiness of adulthood. This is my audio comfort food. This is my time machine taking me back to those days when one of my biggest concerns was whether or not the VCR would record the latest episode of The X-Files.

Needless to say, I will be adding more to this playlist in the upcoming weeks...

@TheFirstEcho

July 12, 2018

Review: 'Eighth Grade'


First thing’s first: Elsie Fisher is, at the risk of sounding trite, a revelation.

She is the young actress starring in writer-director Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, a teen dramedy unlike any we’ve seen on the big screen in recent memory. It may also be the first (and best) movie about Gen Z that could very well resonate across all demos.

Fisher plays 13-year-old Kayla, a girl on the verge of a major transition: graduating from middle school to high school. And every awkward, humiliating, joyful, devastating, and mundane moment leading up to that is captured and conveyed with such gorgeous poignancy and tender nuance.

Burnham, mostly known for his stand-up and YouTube past, proves himself here as a keen observer of adolescent life in the late 2010s. Welcome to a world of sniffing markers, shooter drills (look out for a scene that is simultaneously funny, jawdropping, and heartbreaking), and adults pathetically attempting to dab and use words like “lit.”

It doesn’t take long to easily settle into Kayla’s world and realize just how much she is a product of it. She comes from a single-parent household (Josh Hamilton plays her dad to perfection). She mindlessly scrolls through Instagram, liking random posts, hoping to be liked back (a rabbit hole she often falls into, staged with a kaleidoscopic effect and a synth-dizzy score). She records weekly affirmations on YouTube that no one watches (a device brilliantly used to juxtapose her daily struggles at school). And all throughout, she so desperately wants to be cool...

Read more of my glowing review of a film that is easily falling into my Top 10 of 2018 so far - here.

June 27, 2018

(Bitter)Sweet 16: An L.A.nniversary


For my 16th L.A.nniversary I thought I would be waxing nostalgic on the life I’ve created for myself in this city, reminiscing and reflecting on the moments that have brought me to this point in time – like I usually do. I thought I would be celebrating 16 years of surviving a city that tends to chew up and spit out those who have – let's say – a more delicate constitution.

But unfortunately, I’m not feeling that right now. There is something about the sociopolitical climate we’re currently living in that is inspiring more bitter than sweet within me. And, for other reasons I’ll likely disclose at a later time, I’m feeling a little…vent-y (not the Starbucks kind). I’m ignoring the advice of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” That said, I’m sure I’ll look back on this someday and say to myself: Sheesh. Get the stick out of your ass, Mitsuzuka.

In other words, #sorrynotsorry for what you’re about to read...


As I reach this 16-year milestone, I’d like to share some of my own words of wisdom.

If I had any advice for young hopefuls planning to move to L.A. in order to pursue their dreams and passions – or pursue the hot piece of ass they met on Bumble or Grindr – it would be this:

Don't come here.

Seriously. Don't move to this city. We've already got plenty of folks scrambling to achieve a number of #careergoals, #bodygoals, #couplesgoals, and whatever other goals are currently being invented by some 20-year-old intern who wants to "make it" as an influencer.

Trust me. You'll only clog up more boulevards and freeways (and our infrastructure is already fragile as it is). You’ll only crowd more gyms – and the hiking trails at Runyon Canyon. You’ll only create a longer wait at that brunch place Eater said had “killer gluten-free French toast.” You’ll only further inundate our inboxes and news feeds with invites to see your stand-up comedy, your one-man show, your gallery opening, or a table read for that indie drama you co-wrote with the college friend you’ll eventually lose touch with once she books a pilot and leaves you with nothing but a side gig writing TV recaps for a website no one reads.

You are basically the reason why La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, and downtown have been dominated by state-of-the-art condominiums and countless housing developments, why rent is skyrocketing, and why no one can afford anything north of the 10 Freeway.

In fact, I'll go one step further and say this: stop dreaming. The industry you're hoping to break into is already at its most competitive. By the time you read this sentence, a thousand wide-eyed YouTubers and Instagram models from New York and the Midwest will have already arrived in town with plans to “dominate,” “get some exposure,” or “not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Instead, move to another city that could use a boost in its economy. Go gentrify a neighborhood somewhere else where you can make a bigger splash, where you can get more recognition, where you can buy a three-bedroom house for the price of a studio in Silver Lake.

Sure, L.A. may look all glam and fabulous (and some of it is), but turn around, save your hard-earned money, and flourish in another place.

Don't come to Los Angeles. Really.

We’re good here. Thanks.

@TheFirstEcho

June 11, 2018

"Too Many Friends" by Hearts & Colors Might As Well Be My Theme Song For Life


Sweden sure knows how to crank out some pop.

Hearts & Colors, a duo from the northern European country, has come out with "Too Many Lovers," a seductive, mid-tempo track that is resonating with me a little too much with its lyrics about empty beds and the dead-ends of one too many platonic relationships. And never mind that these guys resemble a more ripped version of early 90s twin rockers Nelson.

And after befriending a stranger from Stockholm during my recent visit to Berlin, I'm taking this as a sign that I need to take a trip to the northern European country in the near future.

Enjoy:

@TheFirstEcho

June 08, 2018

Review: 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'


Ever since the trailer for director Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? dropped earlier this spring, fans of the beloved kids’ show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, have been sharing their reactions to the emotionally powerful preview that has undoubtedly stirred up countless childhood memories. As for the documentary itself, which looks back on the impactful legacy of Fred Rogers, the man behind the long-running TV program, it is guaranteed to open even more floodgates of nostalgia.

“Although Fred Rogers was an ordained minister, he didn’t preach when he was on TV,” the Academy Award-winning Neville states. “He was far more interested in asking questions and offering ideas that could help guide his viewers on their own journey in life.” And with this sterling doc, the filmmaker succeeds in taking Rogers’ lead and exploring the groundbreaking and powerful ideas that were subtly communicated within the show throughout several decades.

As a result, Neighbor is a beautiful tribute as well as a testament to the power of empathy. It’s the soothing balm we need for this divisive Era of Outrage. It’s also one of the best movies I’ve seen this year thus far...

For more of my review, check out Bello Mag.

@TheFirstEcho


May 22, 2018

EUROSUMMER '18: A Playlist for Sunburn Season


Before I jet off to Berlin, Paris, and London to kick off the Summer of 2018 -- while acknowledging how obnoxious this sentence actually is -- I want to bestow upon you the playlist you'll need to accompany your season of sunburns, sandcastles, and barbecues.

If I had to pick some highlights out this compilation of 40+ tracks, they would be: Troye Sivan's "Bloom" (an anthem for bottoms!), Anne-Marie's nostalgic "2002," and the excellent "Some Kind of Wonderful" by MOBS, the Australian pop group that has been churning out irresistible bops ever since they beeped on my radar several months ago.

@TheFirstEcho

May 17, 2018

12 Questions with Elephante


I may be heading to Las Vegas this weekend, but sadly, I will not be attending EDC where Elephante (a.k.a. Tim Wu) will be taking the stage for the first time at the dance music festival. (Instead, I'll be treating my parents to dinner at Gordon Ramsay Hell's Kitchen and the Jennifer Lopez concert for their birthdays.)

But the DJ recently took some time to answer a few questions for me at Bello Mag.

You can check out my interview with him here.

@TheFirstEcho

May 10, 2018

Early 2000s Nostalgia Is Already Here, Thanks to Anne-Marie


It was inevitable. But who knew it would happen so quickly?

There's now a segment of a generation that is not only throwing it back to the 90s -- they're straight-up reliving the early aughts. Anne-Marie, the British pop singer, released "2002," which was co-written by Ed Sheeran and is loaded with plenty of Britney Spears, Jay-Z, and *NSYNC references to make your heart long for simpler, pre-YouTube times.


If you want to check out the official video, which is packed with visual homages to the aforementioned pop artists, watch it here.

And if that isn't enough to convince you that 00s nostalgia is starting to become a thing, then take a look at this Ellen clip from last week:

@TheFirstEcho

May 03, 2018

#TBT: Tweets from the 90s


There are times when I am thankful for having survived my adolescence before the advent of social media. But there are times when I think to myself: What if? What if I had all these platforms at my fingertips? What would my posts look like? 

Probably something like this:


And this:


And then this...



Of course I would have to include this:


...along with music videos that defined most of the decade for me:

Christina Aguilera's "Accelerate": A Transcription of My Reaction


Recorded at 6:31am PST

6:31am - Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod... [goes on YouTube, finds the "Official Video"] Oh, there's a video already?

Oh, it's featuring Ty Dollar $ign and 2 Chainz? Hmmm...

6:32am - So, before I play this, I just want to say that I had a dream about this, about listening to her new single, and it's what woke me up at the buttcrack of dawn. The excitement, like, woke me up, knowing a new Christina Aguilera song was debuting today. And in my dream, it sounded good! You ever dream about songs that don't exist yet? It was like a really good banger. Pulse-pounding beat. Powerful chorus. God, I hope this could be a summer jam. Okay, let's just press play.

6:33am - Okay, she's lapping up some milk with her tongue. Um, does no one remember "Not Myself Tonight" from 2010?

The beat...Are these what they call 808 drums?

Oh, okay.

6:34am - The video looks like leftover, repurposed footage from her Paper magazine photo shoot.

Okay, lips covered in glitter. I just know someone's gonna call her out for mimicking what Miley did for her Dead Petz album cover.

6:37am - Okay, um, I need a minute to digest.

6:38am - This can't be the official single. I do like the cooing near the end with the hint of synths. It's very 90s. But this is not what I expected. What the f**k is she doing?

And yes, I'm all about her aesthetic for this era. She's not piling on the makeup, and she's so pretty without it. But this isn't about her looks.

And first of all -- and I know this is gonna sound like I'm defending her because she's my number one and all -- but I'd just like to say that Christina now represents an era long gone. When pop stars actually had vocals and didn't sound like moody ghost girls trying to haunt a house (I'm looking at you, Halsey and Lorde). Yes, come at me. Come. At. Me.

That said, this track does nothing for her vocals. Where does it go? Nowhere. I hate to say it, but it sounds like a B-side. Does anyone do B-sides anymore? Ugh, I don't even think this is worth replaying, and I was planning on having this on repeat all weekend while I'm in Palm Springs and lounging by the pool and everything. Ugh. Talk about anticlimactic.

6:40am - Why is she letting me down? Wait, she's not letting me down. She does have more. Liberation is coming out June 15. This CANNOT be representative of what the rest of the album sounds like, right? She'll for sure have a power ballad. God, Top 40 nowadays hasn't had a good power ballad. Because no one can do them. No one does them really.

What. Is. She. Doing?

6:41am - 8:04am - [gets sucked into a YouTube wormhole]

8:09am - [searches Internet for other reactions]

8:32am - Okay, Perez Hilton is saying it may just be a buzz single. Please, God, let it be that.


@TheFirstEcho

April 23, 2018

Jessie J Apparently Won a Chinese Singing Competition and We Need to Talk About Her Performances


Jessie J competed on Singer, a popular competition show in China that is apparently open to professionals with recording contracts because...hello, it's Jessie J.

And before we get to her outstanding, show-stopping, jaw-dropping performances, I'd just like to ask: Really, J? Is your management and publicity team not getting you enough gigs in your native U.K. or here in the States? Because what are you trying to prove here, girl? We already know you got the pipes and ability to flaunt some melisma. How is this possible?

Anyway, the finals concluded this past weekend, and she became the first non-Chinese and international singer to win the competition in its six-season history. She was also the first singer to rank in the top three during all of her performing weeks throughout the season.

And now...watch in awe as she covers Celine's 1997 hit from that little movie about a sunken cruise ship:


And then, witness her tackling Whitney...


Twice.
 

FYI, it was "I Will Always Love You" that earned her the crown.

In a word: Wow.

@TheFirstEcho

Nostalgic AF: 1980-2000

This is one helluva #TBT. I know I'm getting old when I catch myself listening to the music of my youth more often than I have befo...