Fox Adds The Band Perry To Its Super Bowl Pre-Game Party Performers List

Photo Credit:  David McClister

Photo Credit: David McClister

The Band Perry will join American Idol Season 11 winner Philip Phillips at this year’s Super Bowl.  The Perry siblings—Kimberly, Reid, and Neil—will join Phillips at the NFL Tailgate Party.  The NFL Tailgate Party is part of the FOX Super Bowl Sunday broadcast.  Parts of both Phillips’ and The Band Perry’s performances will appear on the network’s pre-game broadcast.

The Band Perry achieved major success with its most recent full length studio recording.  Pioneer has garnered two consecutive #1 Country hits in ‘Better Dig Two’ and its Gold certified follow-up ‘DONE.’  Pioneer as a whole record has been certified Gold.  It debuted at the top spot on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart and #2 All Genre.  ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely’, the band’s latest single, currently sits in the #2 spot at Country radio.  The siblings have enjoyed numerous sold out shows on its first ever worldwide headlining “We Are Pioneers” tour and just as many awards.

The Band Perry and Phillip Phillips will be joined at Fox’s pre-game party by cast members of the Broadway musicals Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys.  Renee Fleming will perform the National Anthem before the game.  Bruno Mars will headline this year’s Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show.  More information on The Band Perry is available online at http://www.facebook.com/thebandperry and http://www.thebandperry.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Power Of Three Has Potential Staying “Power”

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

2014 is only a week or so old.  Despite the infancy of the year, things are already picking up within the music industry.  If the many lists of the year’s most anticipated albums are any indication, there is a lot to look forward to this year.  That’s especially the case in the world of rock and metal.  Albums from Slipknot, Tool, Earth Crisis, Corrosion of Conformity, Foo Fighters, Mastadon, Black Label Society, and so many others are already making purist rockers and metal heads the world over excited about the months to come.  Now, yet another performer has added his name that already extensive list of bands and artists whose albums are highly anticipated this year.  The performer in question is Monte Pittman.  Pittman will release his new album The Power of Three.

The Power of Three is quite the interesting listen for those that might be unfamiliar with his body of work.  While Pittman has had the honor of recording and touring with veteran New York based metal band Prong, he is most well-known for his work with none other than Madonna and former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert.  He has also recorded with former Spice Girl Melanie C. on her 2003 album Reason.  Considering that he has spent more time recording and touring with pop artists, Pittman’s new record, which will be released via Metal Blade Records on January 21st, will shock audiences.  That’s because it is anything but a pop record.  Rather, he and his band mates—Kane Richotte (drums) and Max Whipple (bass)—have crafted a ten-track record that is an early contender for a slot on this critic’s list of the year’s best hard rock records.  The album’s second song, ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ is a pummeling song that hints at influences from the likes of thrash pioneers Pantera.  This is the case at least in terms of the song’s musical side.  Pittman’s guitar work, alongside Kane Richotte’s solid drumming, make this an excellent first impression from Pittman and company.  Pittman shreds with the best of them.  And his vocal style may even lead some to compare it to that of Fireball Ministry front man James A. Rota III.  Whipple adds just enough low-end to bring everything together in this song.

Just as interesting to take in on this record is the album’s opener and lead single, ‘A Dark Horse.’  What makes the song so interesting is that there almost seems to be an old school Black Sabbath influence mixed into the song’s more prominent modern metal sound throughout its bridge and verses.  One wouldn’t think the two sounds would gel.  Low and behold, they work quite well together.  As a matter of fact, there’s no doubt that Pittman and company will have listeners putting their horns high with pride.  Yet again, all three members of the band work together here to make a song that will leave listeners breathless by the end of its near five-and-a-half-minute run time. And as with the album’s other songs, the production is just as solid as the music itself.  Not one member of the three-man organization overpowers the other at any one point throughout the song.

For all of the heavier material that comprises this record’s body, Pittman also proves that he can hold back even if only a little bit.  That’s evident in the almost Alice in Chains style ‘Everything’s Undone.’  Even more intriguing about the song is that the setup in the song’s opening moments may even conjure thoughts of Aerosmith’s ‘Back in The Saddle Again.’  It’s only momentary.  But it’s there.  On its lyrical side, it comes across as being rooted in the standard relationship issues that make up so many songs.  He sings, “Driving faster/getting closer/But I feel farther from you/Here we go again/Who’s to blame/Am I gonna get closure from you/Now you’re gone/Is there something I’ve done wrong…Now everything’s undone.”  It’s pretty obvious that Pittman is delving into a personal realm here.  The catch is that unlike so many songs that are rooted in relationship issues, this one takes that lesser travelled road, opting for a less “oh, woe is me” vibe and more for something with energy about it.  This is the case even in the song’s chorus. The song as a whole is just one more that makes this upcoming album well worth the listen and a definite early contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock/metal albums.  Fans will get to hear even more music from Pittman and his band mates when they perform February 22nd at Los Angeles’ famed Whisky A Go Go.  Tickets for that show can be purchased via Pittman’s official website, http://montepittman.com. Fans can keep up with the latest addition to Pittman’s tour schedule and all of his latest news online at http://montepittman.com, http://www.facebook.com/MontePittman, http://www.myspace.com/montepittman, and http://twitter.com/montepittman.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Live BD Completes Sedaka’s U.K. Concert Experience

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

The newly released Blu-ray release of Neil Sedaka’s The Song Goes On: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is an excellent companion piece to its CD companion released in 2012.  The Blu-ray completes the concert experience started with the double-disc CD release in question.  It does so by giving audiences the visual recording that they otherwise had not had until now.  And Sedaka’s fans will most definitely appreciate getting to not just hear but see him perform so many of his hits.  The experience is completed not just through the main performance, but also through the bonus interview included with the new Blu-ray release of this concert.  The interview sees Sedaka sitting down one-on-one with fellow songwriter Paul Gambaccini.  The pair discusses Sedaka’s music, his career, and his influence in their in-depth interview.  It’s both insightful and entertaining as the men make their way through many of the songs featured in the main performance.  The main performance and the bonus interview do so much to make this new release a completion for fans of Neil Sedaka that had been hoping for a video companion to the already released CD recording of his performance from the U.K.  One can’t look at this new release (or any live release) without examining said performance’s audio and video mix.  Those charged with manning the boards both for the concert and for the final product put the finishing touch here on what is one more expert live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.

The Blu-ray companion to the audio release of Sedaka’s live performance from the Royal Albert Hall completes the concert experience started last year.  That’s because it is a video recording, and not just an audio recording.  Instead of just hearing the performance, audiences get the full effect of the concert with this presentation.  It allows viewers that were not there to make a full emotional connection both with Sedaka and with those that were in attendance for the taping.  One prime example of that ability to connect lies in Sedaka’s performance of ‘I Go Ape.’  The excitement and energy on Sedaka’s face as he channels Jerry Lee Lewis can be felt even just watching at home.  By direct contrast, the emotional depth of ‘The Hungry Years’ is sure to move even the strongest person to tears.  That’s thanks again to being able to not just hear the motion in Sedaka’s voice, but also to see it in his face.  One can tell that he really felt the music and the lyrics as he sang.  These are just a pair of examples of how the show’s recording makes this concert experience complete.  There are plenty more songs from which fans will be able to choose.  They’ll be able to do so when they pick up this new Blu-ray themselves.

The main performance included in Neil Sedaka’s new live Blu-ray is the main component of what makes the entire concert experience complete.  There is more to consider in what makes it complete, though.  Audiences will also appreciate the bonus interview between Sedaka and his songwriter friend Paul Gambaccini.  The in-depth interview sees the pair discussing Sedaka’s own career, his music, and his influence on today’s pop music culture.  Through the course of the interview, the pair shares some laughs when they bring up Sedaka’s history with Carol King.  There’s also a humorous moment shared in the discussion over the song, ‘Stairway to Heaven.’  Sedaka laughs as Gambaccini asks him wouldn’t he love to have Led Zeppelin’s royalty checks for the song, even though they are two entirely different songs.  That in itself raises another interesting discussion topic in the inability of songwriters to copyright song titles.  Apparently, songs themselves can have a copyright, but not a song title.  There is also a discussion on whether Neil would have the hungry years or the successful years.  This is one of the more insightful moments shared by Sedaka in his interview, and will definitely have audiences thinking.  Again, these moments and the interview as a whole collectively make the interview between the old friends make for one more way this Blu-ray makes Sedaka’s live performance from the Royal Albert Hall complete.

Sedaka’s live performance at the U.K.’s Royal Albert Hall is a complete experience now thanks to the main performance and the bonus interview between Sedaka and friend Paul Gambaccini.  There is still one more factor that fans and audiences should consider in the concert experience presented here.  That factor is the show’s audio and video mix.  Those charged with balancing both the audio and video are to be commended for the job that they did with the recording.  This applies both to the original live recording and the final post-produced product.  The audio and video presented here are just as impressive as any recording released by Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.  Those with a surround sound home theater system will appreciate the mix just as much as those without one.  From the high notes to the low notes and everything in between, every song is crystal clear both in terms of its video and audio.  Along with the main performance and the bonus interview it brings everything full circle and makes this one more top notch live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

AI Finalist Signs Motion Picture Deal

Chris Medina first came to national attention during his time on the hit Fox singing competition, American Idol.  Now the singer is taking the next step in his career.  He has officially signed a major motion picture deal with MCS41 (Metropolitan Creative Studio) to star in a movie about himself and his fiancée, Julianna.  For those who don’t know, Medina was a contestant on the tenth season of AI.  His story was one of the more moving of that season.  He revealed to the judges that before coming to audition, Juliana had been in a wreck and had been left with brain damage as a result of the accident. 

The planned movie, What Are Words? is taken from the song of the same name, which Medina had written for Juliana after the accident.  Medina explains the signing in his own words in a video posted to YouTube.  Medina is visibly moved by this new development in his career.  Audiences can view it now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llS0hICCUQA.  After checking out his announcement, fans can also pick up his new EP, Letters to Juliet now on iTunes.  Just go to http://itunes.apple.com/us/artists/chris-medina/id422369479.

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Pitch Perfect A Hit For Tweens And Teens

Courtesy:  Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Pitch Perfect is one more in an ongoing stream of TV shows and movies attempting to cash in on the success of the song based shows and movies currently being seen all over TV and theater screens across the country.  Needless to say that considering this it is anything but an original work.  It’s another of those works in which an unlikely group of protagonists comes together despite its members’ differences to come out on top and be the best of friends in the end.  Though to its defense one can at least say that lip synched or not, the musical numbers are catchy enough to make the rest of the tween and teen centric story bearable. 

Pitch Perfect is hardly perfect.  Audiences have already seen similar plotlines in the likes of Fox’s Glee.  Even NBC has its own singing contest in which groups compete by singing a capella for a major financial payout at the show’s finale each season.  And anyone who has seen Lindsay Lohan’s starring vehicle, Mean Girls, will see a hint of that movie here, too.  There’s even a touch of Romeo & Juliet with the two a capella groups feuding just as the Capulets and Monatgues, while young Becca (Anna Kendrick) and Jesse (Skylar Astin) play the roles of Romeo and Juliet.  Seeing all of this, one can’t help but wonder how in the world this story managed to stay afloat.  But somehow it did manage it amazingly enough. And thanks to that, it will appeal to its key tween and teen audiences.  Those same audiences will especially enjoy the movie’s musical numbers.  The covers of the familiar pop tunes will have said audiences dancing and singing along in their own living rooms now that the movie has been released to DVD, Blu-ray and digital. 

The movie’s key audiences will no doubt enjoy its musical numbers.  They will also appreciate the dynamic between the movie’s largely female cast as each member brings something different to the table.  Each girl comes from a different background, leading them to have to learn one another and learn how to coexist as a group.  It also leads the Bellas’ long running leader Aubrey (Anna Camp) to learn a rather valuable lesson herself, which eventually leads to the story’s happy, sappy and largely predictable ending.  Sure, its ending is sappy and predictable.  But that can be forgiven considering the lesson it teaches its viewers.  It teaches viewers that by accepting each other for who they are, a group can achieve anything.  It’s for that reason and for the standard romance story and songs that Pit Perfect will hit the right notes with its intended audiences.

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Ella Enchanted A Funny Fairy Tale Spoof

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Miramax

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Miramax

Actress Anne Hathaway recently took center stage in what could be argued to be one of the biggest roles of her career as Fantine in the latest big screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.  Ironically enough former American Idol star Adam Lambert has just come out, slamming Hathaway her Les Miserables co-stars, claiming that they can’t sing.  The young Mr. Lambert obviously showed his ignorance as Hathaway shined throughout her performance here.  And her performance in Les Miserables isn’t the first time that she has shown her vocal talents.  She also showed her ability in the 1994 Lionsgate/Miramax Films presentation of Ella Enchanted.

 Nearly two decades have passed since Ella Enchanted first debuted.  When it first debuted, it was met with mixed reviews.  But hindsight is twenty-twenty.  Anyone who saw the recent Julia Roberts/Lily Collins Snow White spoof, Mirror Mirror can attest to this.  The similarities between the two movies are rather obvious.  Considering that, looking back on Ella Enchanted, it’s actually quite the enjoyable fairy-tale spoof.  What audiences get in this movie is a story that pokes fun at the classic, Cinderella.  While it may be a fairy tale at its most basic level, Ella Enchanted isn’t one of those fairy tales that’s aimed at a specific audience.  Being that it’s a spoof of a fairy tale, it’s actually enjoyable enough that both boys and girls will enjoy it as will parents.  Most interesting of all is that what makes Ella Enchanted so enjoyable isn’t so much Hathaway’s acting here, but rather her supporting cast.  Audiences of all ages will love the comedic timing of the ogres and the elves throughout the story.  At one point late in the story, the ogres are helping Ella to save Prince Charmont.  They take down one of the guards and start to “season him” just as Ella stops them.  They look at her, and one of them asks in one of the story’s funniest lines, “Can’t we get him to go?”  In other darker movies, this would have been an unsettling moment.  But in the context of this story, it’s just one of many laugh out loud moments presented for audiences.  The elves make for their own laughs with their antics, too.  The musical number put on by the elves when Slannen brings Ella back to his village will have any audience laughing.  And that Slannen is entirely unlike the other elves is even funnier.  In a bizarre way, his mentality is reminiscent of Herbie the elf from the classic Rankin Bass holiday special, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

The ogres and the elves make for their own share of laughs throughout the length of Ella Enchanted.  They aren’t the only supporting cast that makes the movie enjoyable.  Fellow co-star and veteran actor Cary Elwes makes for even more laughs as the vile Prince Regent Edgar.  It’s fitting that Elwes was cast for the role considering his previous roles in The Princess Bride (1987), Hot Shots (1991), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).  All three movies were themselves spoofs, just like this one.  So being at least his fourth time in such a movie, putting on his comedic best was already old hat to him.  But despite that, he still put forth his best foot and added so much enjoyment to the movie.  He even makes it clear in the movie’s bonus behind the scenes feature, “The Magical World of Ella Enchanted” how much he enjoyed working on the movie. Of course the movie’s main bonus feature offers more than just Elwes’ own view on being cast in the role of Edgar.  It also goes into a discussion on the seriousness with which director Tommy O’Haver took helming the movie both from the vantage point of the acting and the production.  It also serves to provide a tidbit of information that further disproves the uneducated and illogical view spewed recently by former American Idol finalist Adam Lambert regarding the talent of Hathaway and her cast mates in Les Miserables.  Viewers will get that and more in checking out “The Magical World of Ella Enchanted.”

In watching the main bonus feature associated with Ella Enchanted, viewers will gain more appreciation for the movie in seeing how seriously director Tommy O’Haver took helming the project.  Through both his own words and those of others who worked on the movie, it’s obvious that he wanted to get the most laughs possible without being too over the top silly.  He did just that, too.  His guidance on every aspect of the movie helped to make it one of the spoof genre’s funnier movies from the 90s.  Along with proving his devotion to the movie and the resultant effect, “The Magical World of Ella Enchanted” also reveals that when Anne Hathaway takes on Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ in a musical number during the movie, it actually is her singing.  In a business in which so many actors do little more than lip synch to a track, she proved here (and later in the movie) that she really can sing.  This comes across as something minor when examined by itself.  But when examined in tandem with her performance in the recently released big screen adaptation of Les Miserables, audiences will appreciate even more her talent as both an actress and as a singer.  It proves that the comments recently made by former American Idol finalist Adam Lambert about her and her cast mates in this major motion picture are entirely baseless and thoughtless.  She is definitely a talented singer and an equally talented actress.  Both Les Miserables and Ella Enchanted prove that, using hindsight.  And now thanks to Lionsgate, both a whole new generation of audiences will understand that as will the generation who grew up with this underappreciated fairy tale spoof flick. That’s because it has been re-issued on a two disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack by Lionsgate and Miramax.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=27239&TitleParentId=7229

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Aerosmith Set To Celebrate New LP With Surprise Performance

Boston’s favorite sons (aside from the Boston Red Sox) are set to tentatively release the new Aerosmith album in two weeks.  Music From Another Dimension is currently set to hit stores and online outlets on Tuesday, November 6th.  In celebration of the band’s upcoming new release, Aerosmith will perform on the streets of Boston Monday, November 5th.  The performance will not only be a way to promote the band’s new album, but also a way to get everyone to do their civic duty and vote.  The band is scheduled to appear in a surprise location around noon on November 5th and play.

Courtesy: MSO PR

The upcoming performance date is also a pre-party for the band’s upcoming month-long tour in support of its new album.  The tour will take Aerosmith to fourteen arenas across the country along with Cheap Trick.  The first pair of singles from the album has already been released together to radio.  Other highlights from Music From Another Dimension include a duet with American Idol star Carrie Underwood and another song with actor Johnny Depp on backing vocals.

Aerosmith fans can get the band’s full tour itinerary and the band’s latest news online at http://www.aerosmith.com, http://www.aeroforceone.com, http://www.facebook.com/aerosmith, http://twitter.com/#!/Aerosmith, and http://www.youtube.com/theofficialaerosmith.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/ 381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.