Saturday, November 29, 2008

Last week, I went to a Best Buy and bought Chinese Democracy and reported back to Idolator about it. And I have to admit, when I got back to the car and put the disc in and flipped through the liner notes, I got a giddy little rush that I probably haven't felt about buying a new album in years, possibly not since back in the '90s when this album was originally supposed to come out. Guns N' Roses were pretty much my first favorite band when I was 9 and the Use Your Illusions came out, and even though they were quickly replaced with more enduring musical obsessions for me, I've always had a big soft spot for GNR. I've also never thought for a second that the band would be what they were or anything close to it with just Axl and a bunch of hired hands, or that the album could possibly justify the wait. But fuck it, I still wanted to hear it, to own it.

Of course, like a lot of people, I downloaded a few of the leaks in 2006 that sufficiently lowered my expectations further from what they had been after 1999's "Oh My God." I loved "Better" (and I'm still kind of pumped about it being the new radio single and hoping it becomes a bigger hit than the lame title track), but most of the other songs sounded kind of weak and aimless, and at the most those were just rough demos that would sound much more beefed up on the official album. Unfortunately, after all the years and millions spent, the songs still sound kind of thin and poorly produced. And it's all kind of downhill after the first 6 tracks that I was previously familiar with, and even those are somewhat hit and miss. It's just kind of a bad record, but not outrageously bad like we all kinda feared or hoped it would be. Some people are slick enough to spin this as a good album, but you really can't spin it as a great one.

And while Chinese Democracy sounds nothing like the Slash/Izzy/Duff version of the band, I do kinda like the Buckethead and Bumblefoot guitars on here. Mostly, I'm annoyed that even Axl, after he wrestled all the control from everyone else, doesn't seem to be working very hard or singing well. There's a good amount of piano tinkling, but he doesn't even seem to be trying for something as epic and over-the-top as "November Rain," and the most ambitious-sounding song, "Madagascar," is also the worst. But as fucked up as Axl's voice sounds, possibly more from underuse than overuse (the most illuminating fact in Slash's book about the beginning of this album's creation is that he didn't hear Axl sing once in the last 3 years he was in the band), one of my favorite moments is that weird-ass a cappella intro on "Scraped."

Friday, November 28, 2008
Review of Four Christmases in the City Paper this week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ace Hood is, in a way, a test subject for the whole dubious premise that DJ Khaled is some kind of tastemaker (or at least, any more of a tastemaker than any drivetime radio DJ in a major city). Fact is, he's a guy who's spent the last 3 years building an empire off of the work of MCs and producers who were already very successful before he did anything with them, and aside from managing the Runners and helping to break Rick Ross's first hit, he doesn't really deserve any credit for their success. So when Def Jam gave him an imprint for, god knows why, other than name recognition, he probably realized that all the rappers he knows are already signed, and had to set about finding some unknown get to throw on a bunch of Runners and T-Pain tracks. And to his credit, he could've done a lot worse than Ace Hood. In fact, he might be the best MC out of the whole new school of Florida radio rappers (OK, being better than Plies and Flo Rida is not a huge accomplishment, but still).

But what sounds impressive in short bursts on "Cash Flow" and random Khaled posse cuts inevitably wears pretty thin over the course of Ace Hood's debut album, Gutta, and after a pretty strong opening cut, "I Don't Give A Fuck," even the good stuff eventually becomes wearying. And really, there's not that much good stuff. On the Drumma Boy-produced "Get Em Up," Ace spends the entire song biting Jeezy's "Put On" flow in the most unimaginative way possible, even using a lot of the same rhymes, while on "Stressin'," he bases his flow off of the hook by Plies (which doesn't even sound like a hook so much as a random 4 bars from Plies verse looped up), and both tracks make a MC who usually seems almost too polished and competent sound like a rank amateur, which he pretty much still is, since he barely got called up to the big leagues a year ago.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This month on the City Paper's Noise blog, I interviewed DJ Frie (pictured above) for my Club Beat column, and reviewed the following shows: McCracken/Scholarman/Soulstice/Wordsmith @ Bedrock, Sonny Brown/UnReal/Kane/Midas/Labtekwon/Skarr Akbar/B.O.M.B. (and many others) @ The Baltimore Crown awards, the "Music & The Brain Salon (with Shodekeh) @ the American Visionary Art Museum, The Oranges Band/Gary B. & The Notions/Deleted Scenes @ The Ottobar, the Cameron Blake Band @ the 13th Floor and Mike Pursley/Neil Cotterill @ Frazier's.

In My Stereo

Monday, November 24, 2008
Guns 'N Roses - Chinese Democracy
Pearl Jam - Washington D.C. 6/22/08 Bootleg
Portastatic - Bright Ideas
The Oranges Band - Are Invisible
Arbouretum/Pontiak - Kale
E.Joseph & The Phantom Heart - All The Medicine In The World...
Wilderness - (k)no(w)here
J.S.O.U.L. - Love Soldier
Born King as Killa Fifth - The Secret Order
DJ B-Eazy - The Blue Print EP Vol. 1

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slim is definitely the most recognizable voice in 112, its most visible member and the one most likely to have a solo career, but he's also the kind of guy who's made for a vocal group, his weird, almost freakishly high voice always sounding better enveloped in harmonies. And he probably wouldn't have released a solo album, Love's Crazy, last week if not for the fact that 112's last couple albums were kind of flops and the group had been losing members and squabbling the last few years, and he happened to release a pretty great single, "So Fly," that took off and became a hit. The follow-up, "Good Lovin'," might be even better, but that doesn't really change the fact that the album is kind of a shaky proposition, and of course rarely reaches the heights of those 2 singles. Still, his voice doesn't sound awkward without 112's backing as often as I thought it might, and there are some nice downtempo jams, including "Don't Say It," which I never would have suspected was one of T-Pain's rare outside productions that he doesn't appear on.

Friday, November 21, 2008
New Corpsepaint, er, Corporate Rock Still Sells on Idolator.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A year ago, I was pretty much in the tank for T-Pain and his takeover of the radio, and put his second album Epiphany on all my year-end ballots and everything. And while I haven't really felt compelled to backlash against him (backlash against other artists biting his AutoTune style badly is another story), I've been generally a lot less excited about his work in 2008, more for the quality of the work than its ubiquity. Most of his biggest hooks since "Low" have been monotonous club chants, with none of the personality he exudes on his best songs, and my favorite singles he's been featured on lately have generally been flops (Charlie Wilson's "Supa Sexxy," Lil Mama's "What It Is"). He's still a talented producer, and he still sounds ten times better than anyone else playing with AutoTune in his wake, he's just a lot more hit'n'miss than he used to be. And Thr33 Ringz, while a good and frequently enjoyable album, is not as good as Epiphany, and has some pretty serious flaws.

The main problem with the album is the skits, and I'm not the kind of guy who bitches about all contemporary rap albums having too many skits. Literally six minutes (that's almost TEN PERCENT) of the album are given over to incredibly dull skits, mostly featuring Eddie Griffin in a tedious extension of the record's circus theme, that aren't very funny the first time, and get worse on each additional listen. Plus, the actual funniest part of the album is when T-Pain covers the Eric Clapton/Babyface joint from the Phenomenon soundtrack and Akon passionately sings about how he'd change the world so that "hate crimes would never exist/ I'd turn every bullet to a Hershey's Kiss/ AND WE COULD EAT AWAY OUR FEARS!"

A few duds aside, though, the actual songs are pretty strong. "Freeze" is a big ball of cheesy featuring Chris Brown that I enjoy way more than I would ever expect to, and "Reality Show" featuring Musiq and Raheem Devaughn is a pretty strong indication that the king of ringtone rap hooks could do nice and proper R&B if ever wanted to. I said this about a John Legend song last week, but it bears repeating here: the breakup song featuring Kanye West, "Therapy," is way way better than anything I've heard off 808s & Heartbreak. Only "Long Lap Dance" really falls short of its potential, mainly because Pain doesn't full commit to the gimmick with a 7-minute epic and wraps it up in just 4.

The 2008 Remix Report Card, Vol. 11

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"Addiction (Remix)" by Ryan Leslie featuring Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, Trey Songz & Fabolous
This is kind of an overstuffed mess, since you've got one guest rapper that was already on the original single, another rapper with a new verse, one R&B singer doing a verse, and another R&B singer redoing the hook. And really, Cassie's hook on the original just sounded ridiculously hot, Keri is of course better but having her sing those 2 lines is kind of a waste of her talent. Trey Songz does a nice little flip on the melody, though, and the song is pretty damn good to begin with so even Officer Ross can't ruin it.
Best Verse: Trey Songz
Overall Grade: B

"Bust Your Windows (Remix)" by Jazmine Sullivan f/ The-Dream
OK, I may not be the best person to judge something involved The-Dream (because hate that fuckin' guy), or this song (which I didn't much like in the first place), but this is a pitiful display even by his standards, with him making that retching sound from "I Luv Your Girl" all over the intro and starting out his verse with a showy bit of melisma that he comes nowhere close to pulling off, taking the predictable male role in the song and whining about his car being in the shop.
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: D

"Can't Believe It (Remix)" by T-Pain featuring Justin Timberlake
For months, I kept thinking that pretty much any version of this song without that horrible, strung out Lil Wayne verse would be an improvement, but I neglected to consider the possibility of yet another superstar using the song as a vehicle to jump on the AutoTune trend. Justin just sounds stupid on this, lord I hope he doesn't do more of this shit on his next album. The Kardinal Offishal version is kinda nice. The silver lining comes at the very end, though, when T-Pain announces "start signin' them papers, people...AutoTune is on its way out." He better not be kidding.
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C

"Gettin' Up (Swizz Beatz Remix)" by Q-Tip featuring Eve
Swizzy's old school beatjacks have been perhaps my favorite trend in remixes in 2008, but putting Q-Tip on the "Benjamins" beat is not nearly as inspired as Mary J. on a Chubb Rock track or Leeshakeez on a Slick Rick track, and he doesn't really flip it very well here. I'm still excited to hear what Swizz does for the "Green Light" remix with T.I. though.
Best Verse: Eve
Overall Grade: B-

"Ride (Remix)" by Ace Hood featuring T-Pain, Rick Ross and Juelz Santana
The first time I heard this song I called it "Bust It Baby Pt. 3" because it sounded like such a shameless knockoff of the Plies hit, so if anything Ne-Yo should've been the guy to re-record the hook on the remix, but T-Pain sounds better than Trey Songz, who was pretty irritating on the original. I kinda feel bad for Juelz, as awful as he is, because he had some real momentum going a couple years ago until his career apparently got stopped in its tracks by some label bullshit and he pretty much disappeared for a while. His 'comeback' songs haven't really been shit to sneeze at, though.
Best Verse: Ace Hood's second verse
Overall Grade: C+

Monday, November 17, 2008

Over the past 9 years that Q-Tip constantly seemed to be recording albums that went unreleased, and then shuffling over to a different label and recording another album that would inevitably also get shelved, I felt bad for the guy, and thought he really deserved to get to put a record out. But at the same time, I wasn't really chomping at the bit to hear what he was doing, and it's not like I really hated "Vivrant Thing" or The Love Movement, I just wasn't that interested. But once he finally did get to release The Renaissance recently, and the buzz on it was all pretty positive, I kinda remembered that, oh yeah, this guy was the primary creative force behind 2 of my favorite rap albums of all time, I should really give it a shot. And it's pretty damn good. Usually when a rap album gets delayed a billion times and the artist keeps scrapping material and replacing it with new stuff (Tha Carter III for instance), I constantly feel like I might've been cheated out a better record that got lost somewhere in that process, but The Renaissance feels like it's actually a culmination of what he was doing the whole time, an arty but danceable hip hop record somewhere between that indulgent Kamaal The Abstract and the boring Pharrell/Busta single he put out a few years ago, songs like "Manwomanboogie" that aren't quite radio-ready, and aren't quite a retro Tribe vibe, but remind you that the guy always had a knack for beats and rhymes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008
In last week's Baltimore City Paper I had reviews of Role Models and Soul Men, the latter of which was my first review to be picked up by one of the paper's sister publications, the Detroit Metro Times. Apparently the Metro Times run letter grades with their film reviews, so a B- got slapped onto Soul Men, which I guess I agree with more or less, but hey, extra money.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I never much cared for Pink's big hits during her early LaFace R&B period or the more pop stuff that followed, but I always liked her voice and kind of appreciated the weird persona she was going for when it wasn't too annoying. I didn't really start to like her music until "Trouble" off of that one album that totally flopped, though (Breihan swears by that album, I should check it out some time), and she really won me over with the singles off her last record, especially the sleeper hits "Who Knew" and "U + Ur Hand." So I was pretty primed to like Funhouse even before I really figured out if "So What" is awesome or a mess (it's kind of both, but I like it), and the whole album, it turns out, is really solid, and one of the more emotionally resonant breakup albums I've ever heard, possibly because she can't resist throwing in some sleazy, manic pop songs to balance out all the songs about her divorce, which are mostly more sad and serious than "So What." My favorite song on the album right now is one of the Max Martin jams, "It's All Your Fault," which sounds like one of those shiny pummeling techno-rock singles that Garbage used to make circa "Special" and "When I Grow Up." But really, there's good shit all over the place, from the piano ballad closer "Glitter In The Air" to the tear-streaked country rock of "Mean," and I hope it spins off a ton of singles. It's really a shame her label vetoed the title Heartbreak Is A Motherfucker, though.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Firewater megamix:

1. Bourbon And Division (mp3)
2. Green Light
3. Fell Off The Face Of The Earth
4. Dark Days Indeed (mp3)
5. Diamonds And Gold
6. Three Legged Dog
7. When I Burn This Place Down
8. Dropping Like Flies
9. Seventh Avenue Static (mp3)
10. Anything At All
11. I Often Dream Of Trains
12. One Of Those
13. Whistling In The Dark
14. The Man With The Blurry Face
15. Don't Make It Stop
16. The Drunken Jew
17. So Long, Superman (mp3)
18. Woke Up Down
19. Some Strange Reaction
20. Another Perfect Catastrophe
21. Balalaika

I have to say, even though I wasn't crazy about the album that Firewater released this year, it and the show I saw them play of mostly songs from that record at the Ottobar have really reminded me what a great band they can be sometimes. Tod A. may sometimes seem to be playing Tom Waits karaoke (OK, on "Diamonds And Gold" that's literally what he's doing), but he's a pretty damn consistent songwriter and he's always had solid musicians who can pull off all the middle eastern/klezmer/spy film music vibes that get thrown into the pot.

Maybe the problem with Firewater is that they nailed a specific sound so well right away that there was nowhere to go but down -- in fact, I realized that pretty much every album they've made has been weaker than the last (that's not entirely true, since I like the 2nd, The Ponzi Scheme most and the new one The Golden Hour, slightly more than the two before it). So when J.G. heard some Firewater when I played them on a long drive recently and immediately took a liking to them, which I probably should've expected but somehow never thought to play for her for years and years, I decided to make a mix that reflects the diminishing returns in the band's catalog. That is to say, the first 6 songs are from each of the band's 6 albums, in order, and then the next 5 songs are from the first 5 albums, and so on, so the whole mix is weighted toward the early stuff that I like best.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

John Legend's last album, Once Again, was a great little trad R&B album with nods to rock and '70s singer-songwriter territory, so I was skeptical when he announced the change of direction with his new one Evolver and its uptempo dance single, "Green Light" (and I kind of have an aversion to R&B albums evoking the concept of artistic 'evolution' after Ciara and Robin Thicke's respective abuses of the word). But "Green Light," much like Ne-Yo's also dance-y "Closer," slowly grew on me over the last few months and became one of my favorite singles of the year, and I ended up pretty primed for the album. And while it's definitely not any competition for Once Again, it's a pretty solid record. "It's Over," the breakup song featuring an AutoTuned Kanye West, is way better than anything I've heard off of 808s & Heartbreak (which doesn't necessarily mean it's great, that stuff is just plain bad). But my personal favorite might be "I Love, You Love", for the way it blends the roots rock vibe of Once Again (via a Dire Straits sample) with the Evolver aesthetic, with a ticking drum machine beat that comes in at the end of every fourth measure, then quickly disappears again, giving the whole song this swaying, disorienting groove that I just love.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Corporate Rock Still Sells #25 up on Idolator, all about Framing Hanley's cover of Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" and their destiny to become the new Alien Ant Farm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Parts & Labor - "Wedding In A Wasteland" (mp3)

Parts & Labor has been on a hot streak that even a substantial lineup change can't stop, adding a guitarist and switching drummers but keeping the essentials of their distortion-drenched sound. Their third full-length in as many years, Receivers, might be their best yet, to the point that I'm starting to feel like it was premature for me to put the last two records in my year-end top tens. As good as the band was with Whiney G. Weingarten on drums (and I did worry they could only change for the worse with his departure), his power drill approach had been stretched about as far as it could go by his last release with the band, the relentless mini-song avalanche Escapers Two, so it's a little refreshing to get someone with a different approach behind the kit. Joe Wong is a sturdy drummer, but not a dull one, and his steady hand guides the chugging grooves of Receiver's longer songs. But the real progression on the album is just that their melodic facility is catching up with their desire to make big anthemic songs as heard through an abrasive noise-rock prism. And most surprisingly, the album's theme/gimmick, of incorporating dozens of fan-submitted sound clips into the album, is completely seamless and integrated into the songs, at least as much as that can be said of a band that's always filled its tracks with random noise bursts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My latest local music review on is of Yukon's new EP, Medallion. In related news, there's a nice article about Mobtown in the current issue of The Urbanite Magazine.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Prodigy f/ Big Twins - "In The Smash" (mp3)

It's kind of amazing how quickly Prodigy has turned around from being a subservient G-Unit foot soldier to being a pretty dependable solo artist who's dropped 3 albums in 2 years (I guess it's a foregone conclusion that by the time P's back out, Mobb Deep won't be on G-Unit, possibly because there won't be anymore G-Unit, right?). The latest, Product Of The 80s, probably wouldn't have come about, at least not just 6 months after the previous one, if not for the fact that he rush recorded yet another album just before beginning his prison sentence. And yet, it might be better than H.N.I.C. Pt. 2, even with lesser but not bad weed carriers like Un Pacino and Big Twins guesting on 4-5 songs each and appearing on the album cover, Iron Man-style. What really makes the album, though, is the production team Sid Roams coming into their own; after Alchemist handled all of the semi-classic Return Of The Mac, and only half of H.N.I.C. Pt. 2, it was hard to give the other guys their props. But now, Sid Roams handles most of Product (along with a couple of Jake One tracks), and their trebly, minimal sound is really growing on me.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

So the Baltimore Crown was a lot of fun last night, and one of the highlights for me was that Government Names won the "best blog/website" award, so thank you to The Baltimore Scene and anyone that voted for me. Congrats to all the other winners (Kid Connect, Ogun, Labtekwon, Shaka Pitts, J5, Kane Mayfield, etc.), my full report will follow on Noise after the weekend.

In My Stereo

Friday, November 07, 2008
Pink - Funhouse
My Brightest Diamond - A Thousand Shark's Teeth
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
Rod Lee - Volume Seven: Club Armageddon
Bossman - Obama Or Else!!
Pro & Reg - Life Of A Vagabond
Kane Mayfield - Prelude To BladeRunner/Dealer EP
Wordsmith - The Revolution Begins With a Takeover Vol.1
various artists - WMMG Presents Mania Takeover
Beach House - Devotion

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Termanology f/ Paula Campbell - "Please Don't Go" (mp3)
Statik Selektah f/ Reks, Ea$y Money, Royce Da 5'9 and Paula Campbell - "Take It All Back" (mp3)
It's been 6 years since Paula Campbell released her first local hit in Baltimore, 4 years since she released her independent album, 3 years since she signed a major label deal, 2 years since she made a record with Three 6 Mafia, and 1 year since Ne-Yo signed her to his production company and started writing songs with her. And even though she keeps making progress, it doesn't seem like she's any closer now to releasing an album or getting real mainstream exposure. But does sing on two fairly high profile independent albums that have dropped in the last two months, Termanology's Politics As Usual and Statik Selektah's Stick 2 The Script, both of which are pretty good. And as a side note, "Hard Out Here For A Pimp" was recently included at #80 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs, and it was the version with Paula that was listed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This week in the City Paper, I wrote a feature about Gearie "The Grench" Bowman of Sleepin Giant Media, a Baltimore music video director who's been making some really impressive videos over the past year. I've posted some of his work on Gov't Names in the past, including Heavy Gold's "Drug Dealer," 100 Grandman's "Take It 2 The Top," and Bossman's tribute to K-Swift, "I Wonder." You can see them all on Sleepin Giant's YouTube channel, along with other videos for Tim Trees, DG2 and WildOutCamp, and above is the video for D.O.G.'s "Emergency" that literally landed in my inbox just this morning. I feel that this guy's work really speaks for itself, his videos just look great, especially for the budgets and types of artists he's working with. I get a lot of inquiries from people that make videos and DVDs who want press, and I usually brush them off because that's not really my area of expertise, I'm really only interested in music usually, but these Sleepin Giant videos are so good that I sought them out to write about them, so I hope people see how much they need to step their game up visually to compete around here.

Also in this week's paper, I review Changeling, which had its moments but was pretty much a wash.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Pretenders - "Almost Perfect" (mp3)

If I tried to imagine a physical representation of the sound of The Pretenders' new album, Break Up The Concrete, it would something like thin, solid sticks strung together with a narrow little thread. That's not really a value judgement, just an expression of how wispy and minimalist the aesthetic is, chunky percussion strung together with trebly slide guitar licks and Hynde's silkily androgynous voice way further to the front of the mix than it's ever been. The original lineup was always one of the most muscular of the new wave bands, and over the years subsequent iterations of the band have been even more riff rock-y, including the version I saw live in September before the album's release. But on Break Up the Concrete, even the uptempo rockers have a dry, sparse sound more akin to a White Stripes record than a Pretenders record, at least in terms of production. And though I like some of the rockers, particularly the single "Boots of Chinese Plastic," it's really the lilt of songs like "Almost Perfect," one of Hynde's many odes to her native Ohio, that works better within that sound.

I never heard the Pretenders' last album, 2002's Loose Screw, but I understand it was a hard turn into the reggae and dub influences that had been minor but evident from the beginning. And in that sense, Break Up The Concrete is also an expansion of a latent genre strain of the Pretenders sound, the twang of "Back On The Chain Gang" stretched all the way over slighter songs that still maintain a bit of that spark and attitude, but not all of it. Of rock's old fogeys that I've bought albums by this year, the Pretenders' belongs somewhere in the lower middle, above Elvis Costello and Little Feat, but well below Jonathan Richman, Walter Becker, David Byrne, the B-52s and R.E.M.

TV Diary

Monday, November 03, 2008
1. "My Own Worst Enemy"
In an absolutely dire post-strike slate of new fall shows, this might be my favorite by default, mainly because it fills the kooky sci-fi niche in a much more fun way than "Fringe." The premise is, of course, ridiculous, and derivative of many spy movies, but there are a couple of twists that are fun and they've got a big enough budget that it doesn't feel like you're just watching a scaled-down TV version of a spy movie. Having a more compelling lead actor than Christian Slater would be the only thing to bump it up to a seriously promising show, but he's still kind of entertaining and likable.

2. Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
I wasn't super impressed with the first DVD movie "Futurama" came back with, Bender's Big Score, but I thought this one was pretty solid. J.G. is a much bigger fan of the show, though, and was really creeped out by the the whole high concept tentacle Heaven theme, which I found at least more interesting than the usual half hour "Futurama" plot.

3. "Sports Soup"
I have been singing the praises of "The Soup" as an aggregator of trash TV for years now, and these days it feels like other people are actually watching it, to the point that other networks are creating their own spinoffs. I haven't seen the one the Style Network that's hosted by Topanga from "Boy Meets World" yet, but E! previewed the sports version that the Versus channel recently, and it doesn't seem very funny. I mean, granted I'm not a sports buff at all, but most of the humor didn't require any real knowledge, I think the host is just kind of dull.

4. "Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins"
I have long griped that Tompkins is by far the best thing about "Best Week Ever" and deserves to break out with his own show more than those "Human Giant" hacks, but having him host a slightly different format of BWE's same old crap isn't really what I had in mind. And him being onscreen more isn't really much of an improvement if he's just reading more scripted stuff from the show's lousy writers than staying within his more off-the-cuff usual persona. He's still better than the really annoying announcer voice that the show has finally rid itself of, though.

5. "Real Chance At Love"
Speaking of trash TV! It really is getting kind of amazing how successful VH1 has gotten at eating its own tail, and abandoning even the basic concept of 'Celebreality' to make a dating show about guys who lost a different dating show about a girl who lost a different dating show about Flavor Flav, who himself had a dating show not because he was once in a popular rap group but because he broke up with the other has-been he fell in love while taping "The Surreal Life." The only real entertainment value coming from this one, though, is that these guys have gone completely overboard with the nicknames for contestants, which include Meatball, Corn Fed, Bay Bay Bay, So Hood, Sexy Legs, and Stalker.

6. "Scream Queens"
This might be my favorite VH1 crap in a while, though, possibly because, while it's always fun to watch pretty girls compete for something meaningless, horror movies (and the thematic games the competition lends itself to) are a lot more interesting to me than if they're all just after a modelling campaign or dating some minor celebrity. And honestly, winning a role in a movie franchise that banks $30 million every opening weekend is not a bad prize at all.

7. "Samantha Who?"
I have to say, this is probably the best sitcom on TV that you aren't watching, assuming you're not watching it, and that you are watching "30 Rock" and "How I Met Your Mother." It's staying pretty solid in the 2nd season, still getting mileage out of the premise without completely exhausting the inventory of amnesia gags, which you'd think would get old really quick.

8. "Chocolate News"
David Alan Grier has had his moments over the years, but seriously, fuck outta here with this shit. It's no "Chappelle's Show" like the ad campaign has been trumpeting, but worse than that, it doesn't even offer something as smugly ballsy as "Mind of Mencia" for racial humor, it's just weirdly defanged and boring.

9. "The Daily Show with John Stewart"
Even though they've done a pretty good job at occasionally poking fun at Obama, and I'd always always always rather have a good president than a funny one, I have to admit that it's going to be a slight bummer that the hot streak the show's been on most of the year is inevitably going to stop, or at least slow down, after this week, especially with 3 of the better correspondents (Jones, Bee, Riggle) going off to do sitcoms in the next few months, although hey, more room for my fav at the moment, Aasif Mandvi.

Saturday, November 01, 2008
Friday on Idolator, I wrote a silly Halloween-themed list about Ozzy's title as "the Prince of Darkness" and other potential heirs to the throne.