February 22, 2018

Obsession of the Week: Janelle Monáe's "Make Me Feel"


Take some art direction from Black Mirror's "San Junipero," inject it with some very Prince-esque funk, and you get the gorgeous music video for Janelle Monáe's "Make Me Feel," a single that is already being hailed as a "bisexual anthem." (The fact that Janelle's alleged boo, Tessa Thompson, also appears in the video only adds fuel to the rumor fire.)

And, regarding certain recent Prince homages, a coworker recently quipped, "Justin Timberlake should take note."

@TheFirstEcho

February 09, 2018

20 Things That Turn 20 in 2018


1998 was a good year. How good? The proof is here in these pop culture relics...

1. Can't Hardly Wait - See future Client List and Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer Love Hewitt play the prettiest girl in school while surrounded by a dozen actors before they hit it big on procedural dramas and milquetoast cable TV movies! Seriously, there are so many familiar faces in this movie...and right now, it is hitting me hard in the gut to think that I was graduating from high school at the same time as these characters. Sheesh.


2. Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" - An unrivaled R&B-pop duet that should never be remade. But if both singers want to reunite for a sequel, then by all means: Have. At. It.


3. Armageddon - It's the mind-numbing Bruce Willis blockbuster that gave us Aerosmith's then-ubiquitous "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" and one scene that will never make us look at animal crackers the same way again.


4. Madonna's Ray of Light - Arguably her best album of this decade. It was experimental, it was existential, and it won four Grammys.


5. Felicity - The WB drama about a college freshman chasing her crush across the country and adjusting to life in New York City gave audiences one of television's best love triangles (FYI - I will always be #TeamNoel) and became one of the most endearing coming-of-age sagas at the turn of the 21st century.


6. "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears - It was the music video that launched a pop megastar and millions of schoolgirl Halloween costumes.


7. The X-Files: Fight The Future - Mulder and Scully's first big-screen adventure was a big-budget thrill ride that bridged the fifth and sixth seasons of the sci-fi series. And apparently that "truth" is still "out there" considering they're back on Fox solving more cases and still dealing with that damn conspiracy. Sigh.


8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling - Four years before everyone bought tickets to see Harry & Co. on the big screen for the second time, fans devoured this bestseller.

9. Semisonic's "Closing Time" - The anthem for every graduation party across the country.

10. Charmed - The pitch for this Aaron Spelling fluff probably went something like this: "What if you gave Charlie's Angels a book of spells?"

11. Deep Impact - The superior giant-meteor-destroys-the-Earth movie of the two that came out during the summer.

12. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Bow down to one of the best albums of the 90s.

13. My Boston University T-shirt - Yes, I still have it. Yes, it still fits...kind of. Go Terriers.

14. Disney's Animal Kingdom - The theme park in Orlando, Florida opened its gates. Yours truly experienced the magical wonders later that summer.

15. The series finale of Seinfeld - The price for a 30-second commercial during the final episode was a cool $2 million.

16. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe - The most anticipated literary title of the year. And no, I never read it.

17. Alanis Morissette's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie - If Jagged Little Pill helped me get through a year of high school, then this follow-up helped get me through a year of college.

18. Fear Street Seniors: Let's Party by R.L. Stine - This installment marked the beginning of the end of a long-running series of horror novels that left a significant impact on my young adulthood.

19. Saving Private Ryan - "All that just to find Matt Damon???"

20. My high school graduation cap and gown - Gulp. I'm learning how to cope with this harsh truth. (More on this later...)

@TheFirstEcho

February 08, 2018

I Was a Guest on 'A Special Presentation'


ICYMI: I was a "special guest" on A Special Presentation, a podcast about "the ghosts of television and pop culture past." I had the nerdgasmic opportunity to share some of my TV expertise, particularly on the seminal 80s primetime soap Knots Landing.

Hosts Jonathan Bradley Welch and David Crabb welcomed me with open arms (and a box of doughnuts) over at the Nerdmelt Showroom on Sunset Boulevard.

Listen to my episode (#27) wherever you get podcasts (like HERE) and enjoy listening to me ramble on about kidnapped babies, corrupt politicians, and other cul-de-sac convolutions.

@TheFirstEcho

February 02, 2018

Song of the Month: February 2018


There must be something in the water over in Australia because the Nation Down Under has been delivering some impressive pop lately. This is the second month in a row in which I've showcased a song from a group of Ozzies.

Sheppard's "Coming Home" is a feel-good bop that any smart music supervisor will want to include in a TV commercial for Coke or some millennial-targeted lifestyle ad campaign. (Or maybe that's just the copywriter in me.) Either way, it's a track that should be added to everyone's playlists as we trudge through another wintry month that needs some sparkle.

Initial Thoughts on Justin Timberlake's "Man of the Woods"


Okay, here we go...

I'll start with some positive: I love "Montana." (Listen HERE.) It's the perfect retro-smooth track that Bruno Mars never released in 2013. It's the musical equivalent of a post-coital cruise in a black Cadillac Fleetwood Coupe at midnight somewhere in 1984. ("Breeze Off The Pond" is a close second.)

Upon listening to the entire album, I've come the conclusion that this thing screams "PLEASE GIMME AN ALBUM OF THE YEAR GRAMMY IN 2019!"

The 30-second bridge in "Supplies" is what the entire song should have been.

The older I get, the more I realize my pop idols are gradually slipping into self-important Adult-Contemporaryhood.

"Young Man" -- as adorable and well-intentioned as it is -- is a ripoff of Christina Aguilera's intro, "My Heart," on 2010's Bionic. Just sayin'. (Both tracks include cameos of each pop star's toddler offspring.)

I could've done without the Jessica Biel-voiced interludes.

"Midnight Summer Jam" is trying so hard to be a cookout anthem.

The following lyric in "Sauce" is a jawdropper: "I love your pink, you like my purple." Say what? Um, no.

And really, was "Filthy" just a leftover from FutureSex/LoveSounds or what?

@TheFirstEcho

February 01, 2018

#TBT: Writing for the Ladies of 'Claws'


Finally getting around to sharing a fun, little teaser I wrote for TNT's Claws last year. Produced by the awesome team at Stun Creative (shameless workplace shoutout), this was, ahem, shot last spring down in New Orleans with Niecy Nash and the rest of the fierce female cast.

Check it out:

@TheFirstEcho

January 11, 2018

Oh "My My My!" Troye Sivan Drops a New Single


The Australian YouTuber-turned-popstar (and subject of my inaugural HuffPost piece) whose devastatingly gorgeous Blue Neighborhood was one of the best albums of 2016, has dropped a new single and music video.

"My My My" is the track, and it's an adequately catchy electro-pop number about young passion...and intertwining one's tongue with the teeth of a lover. "I die every night with you" goes the chorus, and it's a line that will undoubtedly launch a thousand memes, GIFs, and various posts among the singer's 7 million-plus followers.

As for the video, Troye sings and shakes his hips in an abandoned warehouse that could arguably double as an underground sex club. It's an artsy, black-and-white piece with enough strobe lights to warrant a seizure warning at the top. Enjoy:

@TheFirstEcho

January 05, 2018

Song of the Month: January 2018


Properly kicking of the new year requires a proper track.

And that track is "Say Anything" from Australian quartet MOBS. The single takes its name from the beloved 1989 John Cusack movie that was written and directed by Cameron Crowe and even incorporates a few sampled notes from the film's signature song, Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes."

The result is an irresistible slice of electro-pop that feels nostalgic and fresh all at once.


Then, once you've fallen in love, try their latest, "Growing Up."

@TheFirstEcho

January 03, 2018

An 'American' Theory


Is it me, or has there been a sudden surge of the word "American" in the titles of movies and TV shows over the past 20 years? Seriously, take a look...

American Gigolo 
An American Christmas Carol
All-American Christmas Carol
American Graffiti 
An American Tail
American Beauty
American Pie
The American President
American Gangster
American Psycho
American Hustle
American Ultra
American Sniper
American Dreamz
American Heart
American Splendor
My All-American
American Violent
American Ninja
American Idiots
American History X
American Made
The American
American Satan
American Vandal
American Ninja Warrior
American Gods
American Assassin
American Crime
American Crime Story
American Horror Story...

I ask this question because I have a theory. Hear me out...

I believe the increasing appearance of the word "American" in titles is a result of a growing sentiment in the United States, pride, which is, in itself, a result of an increase in nationalism. We're living in a time when the rest of the world is portrayed as scary, unwelcoming, and harmful, a time when "globalism" has become a dirty word. And when something is "American," certain people will invest their time in buying it, consuming it, experiencing it.

One could then argue that blatantly slapping on the word as an adjective is a lazy marketing exercise, an attempt to lure in a certain group of people that won't bother consuming content that appears to be foreign or unfamiliar. Throw in the word "American," and people will know what they're getting. This was made here in the US of A, dagnabbit! This is for the red-blooded citizens of The Greatest Country on Earth!

In other words, this could very well be another example of the dumbing down of consumer culture -- or society -- selling something in the most digestible, accessible, approachable manner.

I can't think of any other country that exhibits its nationalistic pride in the titles of its own film and TV shows to this extent. There's no German Horror Story. No Australian Beauty. Not even a Brazilian Psycho. So what gives, America? Why the need to label "American" so much? Do you feel compelled to mark your property, to make it clear that America makes the best stuff? Huh?

*This was written in a drunken stupor last year.

@TheFirstEcho

The 'Slender Man' Trailer Is Just As Terrifying As You'd Imagine


The trailer for the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of the myth behind the Internet's most popular boogeyman, Slender Man, has dropped.

It's an eerie mood piece that sets the tone nicely. Little dialogue. No gratuitous title cards. Just pure, dread-filled imagery that promises a horror blockbuster for 2018 (and of course, a frightening, new franchise for Sony).


P.S. - Congrats Sarah!

@TheFirstEcho

January 02, 2018

TWENTY18: The Winter Playlist


Not only is January a time for people to preoccupy themselves with resolutions that will fall apart by Valentine's Day, it is also a time for post-holiday doldrums, continuously dreary weather, and for Hollywood to dump crap movies into theaters. That's why you need to inject some fresh music into your life.

Starting with these (check back for new additions throughout the season)...

@TheFirstEcho

Obsession of the Week: Janelle Monáe's "Make Me Feel"

Take some art direction from  Black Mirror 's "San Junipero," inject it with some very Prince-esque funk, and you get the g...