Britney Spears Lip Syncs Because Humans Are Not Worthy

Britney Spears is not the first artist to lip sync on her world tour and she won’t be the last. Beyoncé will lip sync in her upcoming world tours, but her people will be smart enough to know that she has a reputation to uphold. That means she will lip sync but will perfect her craft: acting like she’s running out of breath for flawlessly dancing and singing. And people will eat up the deceit.

Britney and her people couldn’t be bothered to record ‘live’ vocals because she has had it. She can sing but her priorities now lie not in showcasing her stellar pipes, but in putting on a show. People will keep complaining like live vocals are super important, as if it’s the year 1997 or 1998 when artists must be able to both belt and bop or perish.

Britney is on a world tour, carrying around her 10 and 20 year old babies… her songs. She hasn’t been performing songs from ‘Glory,’ her last album. It’s an excellent album that’s considered a flop because it was hitless. I blame ‘Britney Jean.’

Britney Jean is one of the very few remnants from my childhood that I can fully enjoy (and have people know about such enjoyment) without coming off like an old man. The other remnants are Megaman and Archie.

Coldplay, the Crowd Pleaser

Chris Martin Mug

I’ve always thought of Coldplay as a band that everyone likes, but is no one’s favorite. They seem to be universally loved because their singles are radio- and stadium sing-along-friendly (‘Fix You,’ ‘Paradise,’ even the mellow ‘Everglow’). They’ve collaborated with the likes of Rihanna, Beyoncé and The Chainsmokers. Almost every album of theirs tops the Billboard album chart, supposedly the most important musical chart in the universe. They and their songs inspire many things and one of those things is think-pieces by music critics that were, at some point in their life, have been ashamed to be a Coldplay fan. They’ve also inspired hate (the if-you-have-nothing-nice-to-say-about-Coldplay-by-all-means-say-it variety) and they probably will continue to do so, just as they will continue being popular and rich.

Pleasing crowds is most bands’ job, but Coldplay does it much better than the Lifehouses and The Callings of the world. Christ Martin comes off as an affable lead vocalist, the kind of international superstar who would fart and sneeze and act like a normal person around you to prove that he’s capable of normal person activities like farting. Just the thought of that helps with the crowd-pleasing aspect of their job.

I’ve also thought of Coldplay as the kind of band that even people who don’t like music would fly thousands of miles to see live because they want to experience a Coldplay concert because they heard they’re great, and they are. I have one Facebook friend who was ecstatic about them even though her Coldplay anecdote was mostly about how there’s a Coldplay song that soundtracked some of the most significant events in her life. So that’s one person whose actual favorite band is Coldplay, I guess.

Coldplay is disliked for several reasons, both by serious music critics and the garden variety hater. They’ve been accused of peddling corny sentiments in very melodic songs. The dislike may also partly be due to the fact that Chris Martin is super charming. And, maybe, some people maybe find liking charming people basic? I really don’t know!

Remember when it was announced they were going to tour in Asia and some people were super excited, while others were snarky toward those who were excited? Some people were irked that some people were getting so excited about Coldplay coming to Asia. This is how the irked persons’ saw it: ‘Don’t be excited about Coldplay because you’re not a fan!’ Those who were irked probably don’t care about Coldplay, or are super fans. It was hard to tell. But, it kinda supports my suspicion that Coldplay is generally liked but is no one’s favorite. I mean, I know where the Madonna fans, the Rihanna Navies, the Britney Army, and the Lambs are at. The Coldplayers, where are they?

The Head Full of Dreams Tour in Bangkok had all the concert tropes – grand sing-alongs, the lying down and emoting on the rain-soaked platform, the soaring anthems about fixing yourself, and the boy band joke. You can totally feel the pressure of having to participate in all the tropes, but you don’t mind. You can totally sense the corniness of having to wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, but… you really don’t care because you feel like this band earns your participation, and it wouldn’t be so corny if it’s to a song you like (it’s ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ for me), because they’re really good live. So I realized, Coldplay is a band that gives the people what they want and the people take it… because they want it. And that’s nice. As nice as Coldplay.

Sundays in Pasay

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My favorite place of worship when I was young was Don Bosco Church in Makati. It had an unimposing aura about it as it is a school and church, and most importantly, it was directly in front of Makati Cinema Square which didn’t use to be a pirated DVD and cellphone repair stalls haven. It used to be, from what I recall, a decent enough mall where Catholic families such as ours could go after the extremely nourishing Sunday homily. I can’t honestly say that I cared for homilies when I was in grade school age, but Don Bosco was truly like heaven with its perfectly mowed lawns and playground-like courtyard, making it easier for young Catholics like me to suffer the burden of hearing English-speaking priests speak allegedly virtuous aphorisms. Sundays spent hearing about Christ our Lord was worth it as long as there was a promise of mall entry immediately after. If only Christopher Hitchens had some sort of reward for being inundated with religion early on in his life, he may have been slightly less vile towards religion and/or just Catholicism.

Santa Clara Church in Pasay, on the other hand, just wasn’t the right place to be taking your kids for Sunday mass if you’re a parent who wishes to have a religion or god-conscious children. I wish my parents knew this then. The best it could offer were cheese curls and popcorn stands which were hardly capable of making mass-averse children okay with going to church. In the mind of a young person, those precious 1.5 hours pouting and salivating (for cheese curls) at church could have been spent playing Rockman 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Santa Clara in Libertad held no wonders for children wanting to spend their Sundays more productively. Masagana had treats for the adults (the sleaze-infested cinemas, the cheap grocery) and teenagers (arcade games) but none for little children finding their place in the world, specifically, in Pasay City. Since I was not a special child, I behaved predictably and never had fond feelings for church-going as a Sunday activity.

Going to other churches within the Pasay-Makati vicinity was just too depressing to even contemplate, not to mention very unnecessary, and so, I believe that as child, I exercised what very little conviction I had, when I refused to go to church if the church were neither Don Bosco nor Santa Clara. I would have rather spent the remaining hours of that Sunday entertaining thoughts of befriending Satan, than go to a church that is unfamiliar and even bleaker than Santa Clara. I don’t know that this is what really went through my mind as a church-negating child, but I recall quite vividly that hearing the Apostles’ Creed is one of Sunday mass’s greatest providers of relief as it signifies the end of the homily, a 30-minute gabfest that I never once remember appreciating the existence of. Looking back now, I think priests had much more freedom to talk smack about reproductive health and similar bills and things that are supposed to be the causes of inflammatory language in most opinionated Facebook persons’ posts. Back then, there was just no way anyone could badmouth any priest who deigned to preach antiquated lessons, moral or not, in a free medium for all to see. It can be supposed that people are a lot more caring now and more enlightened.

I grew up and that meant one thing: I have become a Masagana target market. As a ten, eleven-year old boy in Pasay, I finally recognized that there are sources of joy where one dares to find them even in a place as delectably grimy as Pasay. Interest in video games transitions into a mild addiction for arcade games and Masagana had arcades, ugly though their joysticks may be. Also, ten and eleven is when I started being fascinated with cassette tapes. It could be an interest in hearing music and nice songs first before the cassette fascination, but it was great either way. I bought my first album, 4 Non-Blondes, in Masagana department store and it was great. What’s Up was such a big hit in the early 90s and Spaceman, the second single, is also wonderful.

Tapes were truly great, I soon discovered. One of the best incentives of growing up is having a genuine interest in a thing and mine seems to have been throwing away money at record store cashiers. Yes, throwing. After 4 Non-Blondes, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Cranberries, lots of Eraserheads, Alamid, Rivermaya and even Orient Pearl and plenty others. I liked my taste.

Then, I started reading. In the topmost floor of the Masagana super store, there was a stack of very randomly arranged books that were sold for 5, 10, 15 pesos. That’s when I first realized that shoplifting can be done if one puts enough thought and effort into doing it and doing it well. 1993 was a good year in literature and life education for me.

Odyssey soon appeared. With its twice as many albums and CDs, life was never the same. I was already in my teens which meant that TLC has penetrated my consciousness. Beyond the greatness of Waterfalls, I was slowly appreciating the significance of this group to a music-appreciating life. They have talked about very worthy topics such as having confidence in yourself, taking care of yourself (by not having unprotected sex), the value of creeping, dealing with unrequited love and lust, and a host of other subjects involving self-empowerment.

I wanted so much to buy the hologram version of Fanmail but that would have meant pawning one of my mommy’s jewelry, back when I still had one of her jewleries. If I were more audacious, I would have pawned the gold charmbracelet she gave me (through my daddy) and bought the Fanmail special edition which, according to rumors, had the rap version of No Scrubs featuring Left-eye. It would be so much later in life when I would learn the value of audacity, and also patience. As for patience, I thank God for providing me it early in life because having that virtue meant waiting for albums to get cheap. Sometime in the last decade, I found a Japanese edition of Fanmail with a bonus track, a track which you can never ever find in any other version of the album.

The Elusive Chanteuse Show Diaries

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Oct 4, Tokyo

Mariah is now in Asia and my excitement is impossible to contain. Tokyo is the first stop of the Elusive Chanteuse Show and all I could think of is how lucky the Japanese are in this moment and in life, in general.

But as it turns out, the opening night audience wasn’t very lucky. She didn’t sound very, very good based on several clips that surfaced. I have to be honest about how I feel upon hearing the botched Vision of Love and We Belong Together because where would I be if I don’t display honesty always? Those 15-second clips, posted by a ‘fan’, were difficult to watch.

Because Mariah has always been the object of sharp critical analysis mostly aimed at the legitimacy of her talent and sometimes, boobs, certain avenues of expression such as Twitter were set ablaze with fiery and foolish commentaries. Even people who don’t care about divas or concerts, or music felt compelled to comment on the imperfection in her vocals. But actually, these people are sort of blameless because really, criticizing great artists has always been fun and it’s extra-fun when certain admirers of these artists look visibly upset. Ours is a world where it’s fun to make fun of people who falter. It is maybe not human beings’s fault that they find hilarity, unexplainable glee when a popular, multimillionaire woman is battered and beaten and called a has-been, hag or ho. It’s a heart-stopping sport for most especially where divas and their fans are concerned. It’s the kind of sport that unites people of all race and religion.

As for myself, I surprisingly wasn’t as disturbed as some obviously were. I loved Mariah when I was 12 or 13 years old. Something I loved when I was 12 is something I love for the rest of my life, or something. I didn’t like her because in the 90s, she was liked by every living human being and I wanted to join the club. When you’re young, you don’t care very much about what you like. In fact, I’d like to have my taste in films and music back. My taste in things has been smeared with impurities and my innocence about what is enjoyable and what is shit has long been shattered. Maybe it was my copies of Entertainment Weekly that poisoned my critical sensibilities with their movie rankings and reviews and things that told me what piece of entertainment deserves an A+ or F.

More articles surfaced about the less-than-stellar performance. More social media personalities thought to bring out their inner music critic and all-around genius, in order to point out that something went wrong with the singing. It hurts to be on social media at a time like this. You can’t not take some of it personally especially when people do it stupidly which is most of the time.

When you liked Mariah at an early age, the sort of supposed devastating faltering is not something you could have prepared for. If you are now a 13 year old boy who thinks Beyonce is going to be the shit 15 years from now, you better be prepared for when she can no longer register interest in the hearts of many. That day arrived for Michael Jackson, Whitney and Madonna and it will come for her, you best believe it.

If I had known at 13 that this is what I’m setting myself up for, that this is what it means to worship Mariah, I might have thought twice. But the Butterfly era was just such a glorious period so I think there was nothing I really could have done.

For the first time, I will see her live and I don’t think I will care that much if she screws up We Belong Together or Vision of Love although I hope she does not. I think what I bought the ticket for is for the chance to be contained in a same room with her, to get the once in a lifetime opportunity to breathe the same oxygen in the same room at the same time.

Oct 6, Yokohama

The singing for the second show was still far form perfect but still none of other people’s faves could come close to Mariah Carey’s ‘imperfect voice’ and so the throne for greatest living vocalist alive still wasn’t relinquished and all is right in the world. The sport just got boring for people who played it so classily during the first show. They are waiting to retweet the first 15-second clip of Mariah singing Always Be My Baby shittily that they could get their hands on, because the second show was not going to give it to them. The moment never came and mean social media bores are still crazy.

Finally someone had the sense to record respectable clips of when she sang so gloriously. It’s so great to know some lambs are still capable of good, sensible deeds such as this because really, sometimes, it’s just so hard to fathom why some ‘fans’ would post unflattering clips. Maybe these are the lambs who are also fans of basic starlets? It can only be surmised.

Sometimes I don’t agree with some of the lambs. Sometimes, fellow fans can be stupid and needlessly shady, like as if it makes it okay for them to say nasty things about her because they’re fans, calling Me I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse (fantastic album) a flop flop flop. It’s irritating but if that’s how they deal with their grief, I’m left with no choice but to temporarily ignore their existence.

Much as I loathe some of the crazy, annoying fans, when our girl gets it right, we get to hold each others’ hands, sing praises for whatever she has done right in our own little ways, and heave a collective sigh of relief.

From now until the 30th, when she makes her last show in Asia, I will be very pre-occupied with thoughts of her. I will rhapsodize and romanticize fervidly and incessantly. I will relive the splendour of she and I because it’s not as if I have a choice.

Ke$ha Tore Through my Classiness

Photo from http://artapprentice.blogspot.com/
Photo from http://artapprentice.blogspot.com/

If I had ever thought or said before that Ke$ha is not a pop star worthy of my time, whose album I won’t even bother to steal from the Internet, I have Gawker to thank and all those ‘Kesha Is Not An Idiot’ type of articles that this animal sent me through the years, for turning things around for me, for letting me see what I’ve been missing all these years: glitter!

I may have professed loathing for her when she first came out but I wasn’t so loathy as to ignore Tik Tok, her catchy first single which I DID bother to steal from the Internet. I thought, that was it! No more  stealing Ke$ha singles from the Internet because I have a musical reputation to uphold and it will not be tarnished by some low-rent Lady Gaga whose main gimmick is a dollar sign on her name.

But then Your Love is my Drug was released as a single and it tore through the fabric of my undeniably classy musical taste. It absolutely ripped it apart, my classy taste, the one I have so long cultivated. With the arrival of Your Love is My Drug, I seriously thought about the importance of having classiness in my taste and quickly came to the realization that I should not have classy musical taste anymore. I love a Ke$ha single, fuck a classiness. But even with the release of this song, I still wasn’t convinced. Even with all the ripping apart, my Ke$ha appreciation hymen remained intact, or tried to be.

And then Warrior came. I liked Die Young. At this point, I was positively ready to take my place in the Animal kingdom. The album Warrior turned me into an animal. Specifically, a pretty pony. But despite finally converting into some sort of animal, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see her live. When it was announced early this year that Manila was included in her Warrior tour (with only two cities in Asia), I had to be hypnotized by two animals who have long seen the majesty of Ke$ha’s music, to see her live, and since I have almost no care for reputations anymore, I acquiesced.

I loved it.

Sadly, the Philippine animals seemed too tame. I simply didn’t comprehend the non-wildness of the crowd at some of the big hits. Save for a few groups of girls, I was not comprehending the lack of hysterics at Blah Blah Blah and Dirty Love. There was golden opportunity to reach for Ke$ha’s panties and it was squandered by the iPad-waving jerks nearest the stage. All that those iPad-wavers managed to do was take a million pictures of this gorgeous pop star who was live-singing her ass and vag off in front of them. I hope those people’s iPads had a great time!

Ke$ha is not a wig-snatching type of pop diva. I don’t think she has great, grand delusions about placing so high atop in pop music royalty. When you Google ‘pop music’, her name doesn’t even come up on the first search page; it comes in the second just before Chris Brown but just right after Adele. It’s not a woeful place to end up in but you get the feeling that she could get to the first with Britney, Madonna, Katy, Rihanna and Lady Gaga. With much better songs and marketing in the future, maybe she could totally evade the fate of Willa Ford.

It wasn’t quite the spectacle that bigger divas like Beyonce and Kyle Minogue are capable of; there were two scruffy, buffish backup dancers, lots of glitter, disco balls and some balloons, but no stage backdrop and very little wig and costume changes, which are what we/I expect from my crazy divas. But being in such close proximity with a wild-dancing pop star and her two pelvic-muscle baring dancers, it felt like my face and senses have had enough but can’t help but want more: more glitter, more pelvic thrusts, more underwear-only costume changes, more getting-laid pep talks.

Just before her concert, I tweeted her, told her I’m ready for her cock pop. Minutes later, I was followed by a Ke$ha-looking account which I thought was the real Ke$ha. I was ecstatic. But now as I type this, I have recovered from my great, grand delirium; it wasn’t Ke$ha who followed me but a fan account that does not seem to understand that to describe one’s self as a ‘parody account’, one must parody. I thought me and Ke$ha had a chance at real friendship. I was very close to her during Warrior Tour and I had very soft feelings about the modesty of the concert’s attendance, but it turned out she didn’t actually follow me. This is a good thing. I do not want the baggage that comes with a pop star Twitter follow. I’m happy to leave those types of baggages to actual pop stars. I can sleep at night just knowing she and I share the same fascination for strip clubs.

The Real Mes

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I bought Christina Aguilera’s Stripped Live in the UK DVD because, and only because, it was on sale at Astrovision Glorietta. If you think about it, self, the only time you ever buy Xtina is when she’s on sale which happens to be all the time. She’s cheap lately. I got Back to Basics, Bionic and Greatest Hits CDs at bargain basement prices. I was also given a Burlesque soundtrack CD as a gift because it was on sale and because the giver is poor. Joke.

The DVD starts with Stripped Intro from the album Stripped, and it’s just the sort of concert intro you’d expect from her from a song called ‘Stripped’. In it are the proclamations of breaking free, independencehood and barriers overcomings, blehlehleh, the ceremonious pop star outpouring of true feelings and the image-peddling (no make-up, no hype, no gloss, no pretense, just me… stripped…). K. It was all expectedly edgy and okay because it was a pre-taped video of the Aguilera that’s about to unfold before the probably unwitting London Wembley Arena crowd and myself, since I bought and secured for myself the company of Xtina, even though I know money is precious.

The intro nicely (or whateverly) segues into Dirrty, probably my favorite Xtina song because it has a great, ear-oppressing beat and lyrics that I like, and suddenly I’m back at a place where I don’t find her super annoying. I like Dirrty live performances because I know in my heart that each time Dirrty gets a stage performance, the result will never be short of sluttily attired ladies and gentlemen gyrations. It is for me the Xtina song that just will never stop giving.

But by the time I get to Voice Within, the song which has a Positive Message, I realize and tell myself as if I haven’t already a million times before, why I find it hard to not mock her whether in my mind or with people with the same hobby, and here are the reasons why:

1. She really oversings. It’s true what the 1,723 music critics and blog trolls have been saying. I have no freshness in my thoughts right now so let this be my contribution to that movement.

2. She flickers her fingers in her mic which I find distracting. If that was meant to give her performance some sort of character, congrats for the attainment of just such a goal.

3. Her platitudes are outrageous. They are excessive and only ever slightly less irritating than her outrageous growls. She propels causes such as female empowerment – specifically that of being allowed to behave sluttily and being regarded not as such (slut) but as equals of slutty guys. She expounds the merits of an equal opportunity-giving society while showing ass and singing semi-filthy lyrics to a crowd of thousands.

4. She’s smug. Stop me with the ‘show don’t tell’ horseshit. I’m not the DVD.

5. It’s not her exclusive territory, the spouting of The Real Me grand announcements, but she is maybe the least convincing pop star to ever profess to the public that the real me is this nose pierce having growler and not the record label’s manufactured pop star that you see in your screens or wherever. This reminds me of the one and only Glitter, specifically the sequence where the music video director tells Billie Frank’s music video people, ‘the glitter must not overcome the artist!’ (or something), which unfortunately for Mariah, the Glitter overcame her in 2001. For ‘Tina, the goth aspirations era overcame the artist.

I really, really would rather have affectionate feelings for her instead of saying all these, but she makes it so hard. She almost wins me over for things like Get Mine, Get Yours aka Skank Persons’ Theme. I would say that UK Live is maybe the first time I ever appreciated Fighter as there were some great dancing in it. It’s usually hard for me to do, not hate Fighter, because when you listen to a Xtina song called Fighter you know there will be haterade renouncements, which if that’s your thing, you’ll get plenty of in Lotus. But what really bugs me about Xtina is the I don’t give a shit posing. The problem with acts and pronouncements of non-shit givings is that the shit tends to leak one way or the other. In short, she gives some version of shit whether she’s conscious of it or not. It is my hope that she commit.

Someone once told me that I am secretly a fan of hers. Two people, actually: myself and someone keenly observing my DVD/CD-buying patterns (which is basically guided by ‘say yes to cheapness’). I reason that the Christina Aguilera-hoarding is so that I can hate her more but actually it feels more like hope. Christina Aguilera is maybe the person I encounter everyday that I don’t exactly want to tolerate because my heart is clearly a forgiving and tolerant heart, and so I tolerate anyway. None of which matters because loudly and clearly, words won’t bring Xtina down.

Tired of Eugene Domingo Yet?

Don’t be!

If you feel like you’ve been seeing too much of her in your local entertainment, don’t be spiteful now and try to see Chris Martinez’s ‘I Do Bidoo Bidoo’. It’s a sweet and colorful film inspired by APO Hiking Society songs, told through a tale of teenage pregnancy.

If APO Hiking Society is considered an expert storyteller of the Filipino way of life, how thoughtful of ‘I Do Bidoo Bidoo’ to touch on teenage pregnancy, a love story for this non-reproductive health bill-having country of ours, the Philippines! And like every other Original Pilipino Film you see these days, it stars Eugene Domingo. If Seiko Films was still making films today, Eugene Domingo will be in them – not that anyone would complain.

If you’re a fan of Ogie Alcasid’s comedy, then consider yourself blessed. If you ever needed validation of your suspicion of whether Sam Concepcion will graduate from lovely twink to doable dude, consider the suspicion confirmed. If you thought that Anne Curtis is the only talented celebrity capable of juggling acting, singing, condo-endorsing and people-charming, let Tippy Dos Santos disabuse you of the notion.

If you think Eugene Domingo is everywhere, it’s because she has every right to be; she’s the least capable singer in the cast but she does not, as always, take that as permission to be lame. Isn’t it nice when actors are not just competent but also so into song numbers they know they can’t nail but do so with all the conviction their limited vocal abilities can afford?

If you feel like local films you’ve been seeing a lot of lately are content to be garbage stuffed with contractual stars, and you feel it’s your right to claim proper spite, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you’re seeing enough movies. I Do Bidoo Bidoo will not restore your faith in local movies because in the first place you’re not the boss of local movies. But if you see a Chris Martinez film, your sense of humor will not be talked down to, and your tolerance for corny movie habits will be taken into consideration.

It will restore your faith in the Pilipino music, somehow, in a way, maybe. If you agree with what Philippine Star writer Don Jaucian said about OPM’s lifelessness, you could see why such a provocative statement argument could have been made. It’s because no one writes and plays songs like APO’s anymore. OPM was never dead, it was just languishing in purgatory where songs like Pag-ibig, Panalangin and Nakapagtataka are missing. ‘OPM Scene’, you may not be dead, but consider movies such as I Do Bidoo Bidoo your much needed adrenaline shot.