May 24, 2017

The Search for the Summer Song of 2017 Begins Now


Summertime is the right time...for a kickass playlist.

I've been making seasonal playlists for as long as I can remember, and summer is always a special one because it's the time of year when some of the best memories are made. Road trips! Barbecues! One night stands with Tinder hotties! And memories should always come with a great soundtrack.

As for this summer, I'm holding out for sizzling British singer Dua Lipa to dominate my earbuds (she appears three times in this collection). As for Katy Perry, "Bon Appetit" desperately screams "Let me be your summer song!" but she should've just stuck to "Swish Swish" as her second official single off the upcoming Witness. As for this year's "Can't Stop The Feeling!" we don't have one yet. Sadly, there's no big summer jam in the forecast.

But as soon as one pops up (and it's worthy enough to be placed here), I'll update this playlist as needed.

@TheFirstEcho

May 22, 2017

12 Times Buzzfeed's Click-Bait Headlines Made Me Roll My Eyes


Oh, Buzzfeed.

Perpetual resource of procrastination. Receptacle of listicles. Unapologetic provider of nostalgia-driven posts...

Your headlines have lured us into your web of trivial content for some time now, and frankly, some of this shit is ridiculous, which is why I was inspired to come up with an equally ridiculous list of my own.


Really? I was more like, Oh My Yaaaaawn.


The only fucked-up thing I experienced in the 80s was discovering my grandmother's dentures sitting in a plastic cup when I slept at her house as a kid.


Hmmm...and by listing 16 different characteristics of a certain nationality, you've ironically demonstrated that Scots are a diverse bunch capable of many things.


One question that's totally possible to answer: Is one of these questions an actual, original thought?


You say "hilarious." I say, "Don't have kids."


Brilliant work there, Sherlock.


This headline is a grammatical mess. If read correctly, it backfires on itself. Fine, I WON'T watch these chick flicks tonight! Also, this might as well read: "If You Own These Movies, You're Beyond Basic."


It's true. The staff member who wrote this is a pos.


...and here's the truth: You're an idiot.


I'm sorry. I didn't realize you guys were real estate AND travel agents (but thanks for the Monaco tip).


Oh really now? Because after choosing lobster, shrimp cocktail, and potatoes au gratin (with chocolate chip cookies for dessert), I already died last year. Thanks.


And one response that says "Go the fuck away. I don't need your Keanu Reeves impression."

@TheFirstEcho

May 16, 2017

Elisabeth Shue Lives On (in the Trailer for 'Battle of the Sexes')


The trailer for Battle of the Sexes seems like your standard piece of based-on-true-events awards bait.

Yep, it's got newly minted Academy Award winner Emma Stone and Academy Award nominee Steve Carrell, and yes, it tells a fascinating tale about the politics of professional tennis in the 70s while doubling as a Billie Jean King semi-biopic.

But one thing in this trailer should make us all take pause and go "ooh." ELISABETH MUTHAF**KIN' SHUE. As in, "Hi, I'm Chris don't-f**k-with-the-babysitter Parker" Elisabeth Shue.

Hey lady, where've you been? (Besides slumming it on those last few seasons of CSI.)

Don't blink at the 1:29 mark or you'll miss her. That said, I hope this isn't indicative of her role in the film. But either way, it's Elisabeth Muthaf**kin Shue.

@TheFirstEcho

May 15, 2017

When Bad Music Videos Happen to Good Pop Songs: Zedd & Alessia Cara's "Stay"


It's basically a glorified Sliding Doors ripoff by way of a Boomerang video. That's all.

@TheFirstEcho

The 'Will and Grace' Trailer is Kinda Spectacular


An encore 11 years in the making...

NBC just released this 5-minute-long, self-deprecating musical trailer filled with tons of good stuff to get you excited for the 12-episode revival of the sitcom America needs right now.

Just watch. And love:


@TheFirstEcho

May 11, 2017

Austin Mahone Lays On The Bronzer and Desecrates Modjo's 2000 Hit "Lady"


Austin Mahone, the just-turned-21-year-old pop heartthrob who (some say) rode on the coattails of Justin Bieber, has become the latest singer to find himself ensnared in the reductive stylings of a Pitbull collaboration.

The proof is in "Lady," a milquetoast club-banger that heavily samples Modjo's 2000 international hit dance single of the same name (enjoy the original here).

The video accompanying this forgettable piece does nothing to improve things. The "narrative" (from Gil Green) involves Austin and his crew pulling up to a convenience store to rendezvous with Mr. Worldwide for a secret party. Once inside, the guys access a secret passageway -- through a soda fridge -- that leads them into a pulsating nightclub full of only female extras who are simply there to sway their hips and act as lustful objects for the young Mr. Mahone and his monochromatic entourage.


And if you listen closely at the top of the song (at the :54 mark below), something even more problematic appears: a near-subliminal message from Pitbull who utters the words (twice), "This is for the beautiful girls around the world." So, ladies who may not fit the standards of hotness on display here, please step aside. This jam ain't for you.

Insert a thousand disgusted eye roll emojis here.

Ultimately, it's an uninventive portrait of what I like to call a D.I.T. (Douchebag-in-Training).

And, I regret to say, it will probably end up on my upcoming summer playlist. Listen and see for yourself:

@TheFirstEcho

May 10, 2017

Reacting to Political News with 'Downton Abbey'


The headlines coming straight outta D.C. are enough to make any woke person's blood boil.

Most recently, the guy who's investigating the POTUS's ties to Russia (that'd be FBI Director James Comey)...was just fired by the POTUS himself. I was like...

*Yes, that's Jennifer Saunders, and technically, it's from a 2011 Downton spoof on BBC.

And did anyone feel for Anderson Cooper while he had to sit there and listen to KellyAnne Conway ramble on yesterday? His eye roll spoke volumes:


Then there's Ivanka Trump, former model and current model of white privilege, who had the gall to write a book about working women...while quoting African-American figures commenting on slavery. I'm like...


But let's focus on the tea that's about to be spilled all over D.C. 

Recent developments in this Russia-fueled scandal seem to demonstrate that the evidence against the POTUS is piling up nicely. Is anyone else in our government seeing this? Screw optics. Say what it is! Let the truth out!


Last but not least, there's Sally Yates, a Wonder Woman in her own right, a figure I see inevitably being played by Sarah Paulson in a future Ryan Murphy production. When she shut down that shit during those hearings, I was like:


#Resist, my friends.

May 05, 2017

'Dear Evan Hansen' Scores 9 Tony Award Nominations and Here's Why (VIDEO)


I had the enormous pleasure of seeing Dear Evan Hansen back in December, and to this day, I still think about the stellar music and performances behind one of the best and emotional times I've had at the theater. And now, 9 Tony nominations later...


...here's just one of the many reasons why it deserves all the accolades: The show recently put together a mashup of fans performing the gorgeous "Waving Through A Window" to demonstrate how the show has resonated with today's audiences, along with a generation that has -- dare I say -- found its own Rent.

Check it out:


@TheFirstEcho

Lena Dunham Directed the Music Video for One of My Favorite Songs of 2017


Alia Shawkat (from one of my new obsessions, TBS's Search Party) makes an appearance in the 80s-tinged, lo-fi music video for what has become one of my favorite songs of 2017, "Don't Take The Money" by Bleachers.

The offbeat direction is courtesy of Lena Dunham, girlfriend of frontman Jack Antonoff. In the vid, a bizarre wedding unfolds in a New Jersey backyard that has been decorated with plethora of items probably purchased at a 99-cent store. And it works, reflecting the song's undeniable charm.

Earlier this spring my pop culture sixth sense told me that Dunham would be connected to the song somehow. I actually thought I'd hear the song pop up in the final season of Girls, but this'll do.

@TheFirstEcho

May 03, 2017

10 Things Learned at RuPaul's DragCon 2017


Last weekend, for the third year in a row, the Los Angeles Convention Center was taken over by glitter, big heels, and even bigger hair as RuPaul’s DragCon treated attendees of all colors of the rainbow to a wide range of festivities, panels, and parties. By the time the inclusive 2-day event came to an end (with an uplifting keynote speech from Ru himself), we walked away with a few new friends and a little more hope for a world that doesn’t feel so inclusive for many. Here’s what we found out…
1. DragCon a family affair — For the first time, DragCon featured a “kids zone” on the convention floor, welcoming families of all kinds and demonstrating how the event is a safe space for anyone and everyone. After all, the Con is all about celebrating your authentic self while being surrounded by your “chosen family.”

2. The Drag Race Mad Libs Live! panel featured one of the most heartwarming moments of the weekend — Our first day kicked off with a fun hour playing two rounds of the fill-in-the-blank word game with RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Mimi Imfurst and Peppermint. Sitting in the front row was a father with his eager 9-year-old son, an obvious fan of Drag Race, who asked Peppermint why she chose to compete on the show. “Because why not, honey?” she replied and then asked, “Would you like to be on Drag Race?”  The boy responded, “Um I don’t know, but I do have a tutu at home!” The crowd cheered.
3. CeCe Peniston “Finally” speaks out on the current state of dance music — Over at the “Dance Divas of the 90s” panel on the second floor of the West Hall, Peniston, best known for her 1991 hit “Finally,” talked about the changing landscape of dance music, particularly in the age of Shazam, streaming, DJ-artist collaborations: 

“When we were out [in the 90s], it was exclusive. There were a couple of artists. You knew who those artists were. You looked forward to their videos…but there are two words that differentiate how things seem to go down [in dance music now]. And those two words are ‘featuring‘ and ‘and.’ So whenever you’re doing a record, or you’re out doing a record with somebody, this really makes a difference because when you’re [after] ‘so-and-so featuring,’ your name gets lost and you can forget your name being known. And that’s just what it is, because they’re gonna go with whatever the first name is. But if you have ‘CeCe Peniston and,’ it gives you that notoriety of what you need to have. Our job as artists is to take you away from your day…and bring you back to the 90s and smile…Our thing is to give you memories and to give you love. Just remember these two words. ‘And’ and ‘featuring’ make a big difference in how your music is distributed because that means a difference between knowing who you are as an artist, what your contribution is, and you just getting lost in the background as the extra vocalist.”
4. Ultra Nate thinks dance music has gone “off the rails” — At the same panel, singer Ultra Nate (“Free,”), who also revealed that she once went to school to study medicine, elaborated on how headliner DJs of the EDM world seem to be monopolizing the dance music scene: “The vocalist is no longer the artist, just some imaginary person that is just a voice on the track. There is no story. There’s no name. There’s no credit…so when you’re getting so much of that from one particular genre, you dial it down, you devalue it. There are no longer personalities for people to buy into…they have no relationship. All of us [up here on this panel] have been the background of a lot of people’s lives. There are certain songs we’ve put out through the years that are part of people’s stories out there. And there are certain memories attached to it. That’s the difference between being an artist and just being a nameless, faceless voice on a record singing the same line over and over again. There’s no story there. When that got lost, that is when dance music as a genre started to really go off the rails…the artist has become a second-class citizen.”

5. Pepper MaShay once turned back time — Meanwhile, fans of the woman behind LGBT anthems like “Dive in the Pool” and “I Got My Pride,” were delighted to hear that she once did backup vocals for Cher on her 1989 hit “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
6. It’s impossible to count how many times the word “shade” was mentioned throughout the weekend — Spilling T and throwing shade is practically the bread of butter of drag culture, but during our time at DragCon, we couldn’t keep track of the number of times every queen, panelist, and fan dropped the word. During a live taping of Jonny McGovern’s online talk show, Hey Qween, Jonny whipped out a fan that was especially made for the occasion (above) while chatting it up with The Princess. Meanwhile, co-host Lady Red Couture was off on the side enjoying some chicken wings.
7. Know when to pay your respects — When a drag queen performs Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” and then segues into the choreography of “If,” you stop what you’re doing and give her some respect. This obviously happened while we walked the convention floor and browsed through the dozens and dozens of exhibitors and vendor booths.
8. The kids are all right — A panel featuring young LGBTQ actors from television included Michael Willett (Faking It), Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals), Mark Indelicato (Ugly Betty), and Elliot Fletcher (Shameless). Moderated by actor Darryl Stephens, discussion topics ranged from personal inspirations to memories of their first auditions. But most notable was the panel’s views on the next wave of gay characters in both film and TV. Said Willett, “I think that the future is where…it’s not about whether [characters] are gay or straight, it’s about: ‘Are they interesting? Are they captivating? Are they believable? Do we want to follow these people?’ I’m hoping that the new generation of gay storylines are moving beyond the coming out story and is about something deeper. Who are we after we come out? What do we encounter after we know who we are?” Added Galvin: “We very often focus on the struggles before the coming out process, the internal struggles of a queer person coming out, but what happens after they come out?”
9. RuPaul gives new meaning to “guRU” — During his closing keynote speech, Ru addressed a room of hundreds, offering words of wisdom on how to avoid becoming your own saboteur and reassuring those who have felt abused and ignored by higher powers. “This is a revolution,” he said. “As we deal with what’s happening in government, it’s important to remember that our secret weapon is something that they don’t have … [which is] our love, our music, our dancing, our joy, our love of colors and beauty. That’s the thing that will get us through this mashugana.” His inspiring words continued with a rousing conclusion that brought tears to eyes and the audience to its feet: “This election, when you look under the hood of it and see what it’s really about…it’s the change over from the 20th century to the 21st century, and the people who don’t want to move into the future forward…They took on this used-car salesman who promised them that they could turn back the hands of time and bring it back to what it was. We ain’t going back, baby!”
10. DragCon Goes Bi — Bicoastal, that is. Before delivering his keynote speech, RuPaul made the announcement that DragCon will also be taking place in New York City September 30 through October 1.

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