Showing posts with label jason mraz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jason mraz. Show all posts

Friday, December 21, 2012

Adios, 2012!

As the year draws to a close - and I still have a pulse despite all the doomsday predictions - it is time to do my annual review of the past 12 months, as I look forward to 2013.

It's been a good one for sure, though not as spectacular as 2011, which featured once-in-a-lifetime experiences with Kevin Spacey and David Foster, as well as a spectacular week of Broadway shows.

Still, 2012 was equally exciting in many ways, and here's a summary of the highlights:

Without a doubt, the best thing that happened to me this year is Jersey Boys! If you haven't bought tickets yet, PLEASE don't delay any further. This South African production is top-notch, with many who've seen the Broadway version reporting that they're equally impressed by this cast.

If you need another nudge, how about the fact that the 4 leads are unbelievably nice chaps? I've got an interview lined up, so keep your eyes peeled. :)

A close second is Pangdemonium's Spring Awakening, which I reviewed in February. It's bloody brilliant!

In third place, God Of Carnage.

Kudos in particular to Adrian Pang, whose production company staged Spring, and who also starred in GOC. I'm a huge fan. :)

The concert scene was jam-packed this year, and I was ecstatic when the opportunity to catch 2 of my favourite musicians came up. However, both gigs failed to live up to expectations.

Jason Mraz sang flawlessly at The Meadow, but an emotional connection with the audience was sorely missing. I don't know what the underlying reasons may be, but it came nowhere close to his power-packed 2009 performance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and is way below his mind-blowing Singapore debut at the Esplanade in 2006.

I'm always grateful when he returns to our shores, but if the organizers stick him at The Meadow again next time, I'm going to have to give it a miss. So let's hope that doesn't happen!

Sting's Indoor Stadium concert on 13 December fared no better, personally speaking. Again, I am a long-time fan of his music, and had seen him twice previously, but that night, the audience was absolutely intolerable! I won't go into specifics, but in a nutshell, it was a nightmare.

Sting's vocals were impeccable, as always, and his band was super-slick. Sadly, the repertoire was a rehash of old hits, without much variation from his studio recordings or prior live renditions.

The emotional tone was also lacking, resulting in a conveyor belt-like feel to the proceedings. There's no question about his technical prowess and amazing stamina ( 22 songs in a row, no intermission! ), but I was really hoping for an acoustic set, as suggested by the tagline "Back To Bass".

David Foster's show was much more enjoyable in terms of audience behaviour and artistic performance. I had a such a great time! His annual birthday celebrations and gigs in Singapore have become a tradition, and I fervently hope he will bring either Josh Groban, Chris Mann or Clay Aiken in 2013.

No luck with formal meet and greets 3 years in a row. I hope to change that soon. :)

And speaking of Chris Mann, he is my favourite new artist for 2012! Loved him on The Voice season 2, and downloaded digital versions of his new albums the minute they became available.

By the way, he has 2 releases, not one. He may have come in 4th, but he is clearly doing extremely well. Congratulations, Chris, you deserve it!

I've listened to Roads, and am now moving on to Home For Christmas. Both are overflowing with beautiful tracks, mostly covers, but interpreted in the most inspiring ways, with that all-important ingredient - Chris' gorgeous voice.

I can't quite describe how wonderful he is, only that every note he sings puts a huge smile on my face. I can listen to this man forever. :)

2012 was also a fantastic year for movies. I've lost count of just how many there were, but my personal top 3 are Life Of Pi, The Hobbit and The Bourne Legacy.

p.s. I love Skyfall, but Jeremy Renner is hotter than Daniel Craig. It's true. :)

Click on the individual titles to read my film reviews.

Les Miserables may very well displace one of them. Am looking forward to watching it at the cineplex!

Next, TV shows.

Hands down, Suits is the champion. Granted, season 1 was only screened in Singapore in May, a year after it debuted in the U.S. But it... is... AWESOME. :D

So awesome I couldn't wait for season 2 on local cable ( which probably won't screen it till 2013 ). Thank God for the Internet!

Other worthy contenders: The Voice season 3, The Good Wife season 4, Hawaii 5-0 season 2 and American Horror Story Asylum.

My all-time favourite, Dexter, has lost its way a little with season 7, but remains in the top spot until the story finally concludes in season 8. The cliffhanger finale opted for emotional heft rather than shock tactics, and still almost gave me a heart attack.

Next year, please let Dexter find happiness at last. I won't be happy if he dies...!

True Blood season 5 was wacky as hell, but the cast has never been stronger, nor the chemistry more scorching. It also doesn't help that I had an odd but pleasant dream about Alexander Skarsgard a few nights ago. Can I have another? :)

Rising stars on the horizon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt ( robbed of an Oscar nomination for 50/50, and rumoured to be the next Batman, hmmm ), Richard Armitage ( glorious as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit ), Rick Hoffman in Suits, and Suraj Sharma in Life Of Pi.

Other events worth mentioning: a trip to breath-taking Switzerland; another to fabulous Japan; my cool new car ( I don't talk about it much, but 4 words are good enough :)); meeting the casts of Jersey Boys and Swimming With Sharks!

Things to look forward to in 2013: a couple more trips overseas; finally enrolling in an ultrasound course I waited more than a year for; hopefully, more great concerts and theatre experiences, maybe celeb meet and greets? :D

I've had a blast; hope you enjoyed 2012 as well.

( Am so glad the world didn't end. Not a fan of doomsday prophecies!)

My next entry may be in January. Thanks for reading, and click on this to see and hear something amazing. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Love Is A Four-Letter Word

Many of us have been waiting anxiously for the release of Jason Mraz's new album, and I finally got to listen to it a couple of days ago.

Yes, he's my favourite musician - and will remain so as long as I still draw breath :) - but the effect his music has on me never fails to surprise.

Although We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things hit stores in 2008, fans were spared withdrawal symptoms thanks to constant tidbits these past 4 years, e.g. an acoustic version of WSWDWST, the Beautiful Mess - Live On Earth CD/DVD, intermittent spurts of new singles, plus the Life Is Good and Live Is A Four-Letter Word EPs.

Some may call these crafty marketing stunts designed to empty pockets, but in the age of digital downloads, one song may cost only 10 cents, so you do the math. :)

If anything, the albums highlight Jason's sheer artistry. How else can you describe 5 versions of a song, all of which are clearly different, yet equally awesome? I've attended 3 gigs and own every single concert CD/DVD I could get my hands on, and never tire of his performances.

This review of Love Is A Four-Letter Word is preliminary. I've listened to it straight through a couple of times, but am now hitting repeat on a number of tracks to dig a little deeper. It usually takes more than 10 replays before I'm able to identify real favourites, but here's what I thought after round 1: ABSOLUTELY SUBLIME. :D

One of the reasons I derive such great pleasure from Jason's music is that I've been lucky enough to follow his career from the very beginning. ( Thank you again, G, for introducing me to Waiting For My Rocket To Come. :))
Many musicians crash and burn after 5 years, but Jason keeps getting better a whole decade after his debut.

My general impression of Love is that it's more introspective. The trademark upbeat JM ditties are still present, but the slow and sweet melodic ballads are especially prominent here, and only one piece can be considered just a tad on the unconventional side. Compare this to WSWDWST, which featured The Dynamo of Volition, Only Human and Coyotes, which aren't exactly singalong-friendly.

Not that I'm complaining, of course! My admiration for Jason has reached the stage where I'm able to digest anything he sings. But after 10 years, this is without a doubt the JM album I've been wishing for.

His maturity shines through in many aspects, but most notably in the lyrics and musical arrangements. Certain melodies may sound deceptively simple, but then you wonder why no-one else has come up with similar tunes!

An early fave - sure to be a crowd pleaser at concerts! - is Living In The Moment ( track #2 ). Jason loves to share positive messages with fans, and the lyrics are guaranteed to put a spring in anyone's step:

"I will not waste my days / Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things / That will not happen to me

I'm letting myself off the hook for things I've done
I let my past go past / And now I'm having more fun
I'm letting go of the thoughts / That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone

Living in the moment / living my life
Easy and breezy / With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart / Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home"

I can already picture the scene at his June 29 Gardens by the Bay gig - 12,000 fans belting the song with Jason, waving whatever glow-y objects we have available ( gadgets, lighters, etc ). You can bet I'm going to sing my heart out! :)

Another current fave: The Woman I Love ( track #3 ). I'm familiar with the 'live' version, but the studio recording moved me immensely. As always, Jason has a knack for noticing a relationship's subtle nuances and little moments, putting beautiful words to a gorgeous tune to produce an instant classic.

To complete the hat trick, next comes I Won't Give Up ( track #4 ), which Jason readily admits he wrote for Tristan Prettyman, a long-time love whom he was engaged to for a time before it was called off. Again, I've heard this before, but for some reason, the album recording reduced me to a teary mess. I was initially shocked by the reaction, but also realized how far my journey with Jason has progressed. I've never connected with his music so deeply before. What a breakthrough! :D

Other worthy contenders: 93 Million Miles ( poignant ), Frank D. Fixer ( outstanding ), In Your Hands ( intensely romantic ) and Be Honest ( I liken it to seeing 3 rainbows all at once :)).

Yes, Love Is A Four-Letter Word is phenomenal! Sensational! Brilliant! Which is why I'm going to try my best to memorize all the lyrics and heartily participate in the mass karaoke sessions at the show. ( I'm very bad at this, but there's always Google on my mobile for easy reference. :))

In 2009, when Jason was nominated for a few Grammys but didn't win, I predicted that his luck would quickly change, and it did ( he picked up 2 awards in 2009, in addition to being inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame ).

For 2012, I have 2 more: that Love deserves and will win the Album Of The Year Grammy, and that Jason will seriously consider writing a Broadway musical.

I also hope he will duet with Sara Bareilles someday. They're perfect for each other. :)

Thanks for reading, and if you're going to the June 29 gig, I look forward to seeing you there! It's gonna be awesome!