Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jamie Lynn Spears...has talent

Britney Spears has been a singer/dancer/entertainer for more than a decade now. "Work B*tch" has been growing on me, but let's face it: Britney Spears isn't known for her singing talent.

She's a decent dancer. She looks good. I still remember her 2003 American Music Awards outfit. That's one hot woman right there.

Some of her early work featured more vocal range -- or attempts to display singing talent. These days, she gets her British on, has throw some club beats down and she releases a single.

You don't ever see her doing AOL Sessions or performing an a cappella version of "Oops!... I Did It Again."

Considering she makes her living as a singer, she's not the best actual singer. It all makes a lot more sense now.

Her kid sister -- 22-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears -- just released her first single, "How Could I Want More." Guess what? She can actually sing. Who would've guessed?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fall Out Boy: Save Rock and Roll - reviewed.

Fall Out Boy returned this year with an entirely new album (Save Rock and Roll) full of tracks that have the kind of energy only they can provide. Their second single -- "Alone Together" – is picking up some traction after “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Their album is full of energetic rock and roll. They branch out in some ways, but stick to their roots on every track. Here’s the track-by-track review:

The Phoenix

This one kicks off the album. It’s a good start. It’s got lots of high impact beats and some good vocals.

It’s the kind of song one would expect from Fall Out Boy. The fast-paced music and high-impact drums kick in right away. After a short bit of soft-spoken words, the chorus kicks in:

"Hey young blood
Doesn't it feel like our time is running out?
I'm gonna change you like a remix
Then I'll raise you like a phoenix"

Very good track. It wouldn't be my first, second or even third choice as a single, but it's definitely radio-worthy.

My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark

This was the band’s first single and it was a wise choice. Whenever a band or singer comes back with a new album, their first single is usually a fast-paced, upbeat rock song. My Songs fits that criteria to a T.

It’s impossible not to rock out to this song, whether you’re listening to it on your iPod while working out, in your car while driving to work, or when it comes overhead at the gas station while you’re filling with gas at the pump.

Word of advice, though: if you do choose to rock out at the gas station, you may get a few looks. Personal experience speaking there.

This song is more than a toe-tapper. It’s a freak the F’ out kind of song.

Man, did I miss these guys!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Red 2 - reviewed.

Amidst all of the movies I was looking forward to seeing this year (Man of Steel, G.I. Joe 2, Thor 2, etc.), there’s one that fell off my radar: Red 2.

I’m not sure why I forgot all about this one, but I did. I enjoyed the first one.

Red was about a group of retired special agents who were trying to be taken out of action permanently.

Red 2 is every bit as hilarious as the first one.

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, I was laughing out loud. So was the rest of the theatre.

It’d been a while since I’d seen Red, so I’d forgotten a good deal of the specifics of that movie. Thankfully, you don’t need to know much about Red in order to enjoy Red 2.

There’s some typical action movie scenes, including car chases, sneaking into a high-security government facility, and explosions. Somehow it didn’t feel like it was ‘been there, done that’ though.

Just like in Red, this time around the characters find themselves dodging bullets (literally) and trying to avoid several enemies.

They’re also trying to clear their names after a WikiLeaks type of situation occurs.  A document is published online, people start shooting at Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and Marvin Boggs (John Maklovich).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ke$ha: Warrior – reviewed.

I got this album several months ago, when it was still on the end cap in the music section at Target. I wasn’t blown away by the songs, but here I am, several months later, and I find myself singing along to a lot of the songs when they come across my iTunes shuffle list.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I figured I may as well give credit where credit is due and deliver a review of Ke$ha’s sophomore album: Warrior.

After the success of Animal, Ke$ha came back with electropop music and more politically incorrect, outlandish lyrics. All in all, it's a lot of fun.


This song was somewhat lackluster. It’s a Ke$ha party track, but it doesn’t have a distinguishable hook or chorus – at least not compared to the other ones on the album.

The main chorus of “Warrior-ior-ior-ior. Warrior-ior-ioooor,” doesn’t really stick inside your head.

That being said, Ke$ha’s vocals are pretty good on this one.

"Warrior" utilizes a lot of forms of music distortion including some rapid-fire beats. It's not a bad starting song for the album.

Die Young

One thing Ke$ha can do is put together catchy tracks. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this song when it was first released last summer, but it quickly became one of my favorites.

Every time I hear it on the radio, I crank the radio.

During the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Ke$ha said it wasn’t her first choice as a single. Some radio stations even took it off of their cycle for several weeks.

I’m glad that didn’t last too long. I’m also glad Ke$ha isn’t in charge of picking out her singles because this is one of the catchiest tracks on the entire album.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Batson's Favorite Things 2013

I checked out Oprah's Favorite Things list recently. Sorry, O, but I can't say I'm intrigued by almost any of it.

To counteract that list, I'm presenting to you today: Batson's Favorite Things 2013.

10. That 70's Show (the complete series)

You can find this series at various places online, but I got this for under $40 at Sam's Club recently. Talk about an amazing deal! Considering The Big Bang Theory is going for around $30 a season, I was thrilled to see this deal.

I know it's all about supply and demand. That 70's Show ended in 2006 has been played several times over in syndication since then. One day the complete series of The Big Bang Theory may be going for $35 too.

If Sam's Club is offering up That 70's Show for $39.95, I'm taking it!

Outside of a handful of other sitcoms, That 70's Show is my favorite. It's one of those shows that you can put into the DVD player and watch at all times, no matter what you're doing. You can watch it while you're busy cooking, while you're doing laundry, while you're hanging out with friends, or while you're by yourself and relaxing after a day of work.

Charlotte Cupakes - Bowtie Bakery

Wow! I almost didn’t stop at Bowtie Bakery. That would have been a huge mistake.

I was up at Concord Mills Mall and I decided to check out Purple Cow Bakery. I arrived at the address I had for Purple Cow, but there was no bakery there.

I Googled the store and one of the search results that came up was “Bow Tie Bakery.” It looked like Bow Tie Bakery was near the Carolina Place mall.

Frustrated that Purple Cow evidently moved or went out of business, I was going to call it a day and head home.

While driving towards Interstate, I passed the mall. I did a u-turn and found Bow Tie Bakery – located next to Sogo Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse in a strip mall.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, if anything, when I walked inside. What I got was a huge selection of cupcakes. Each one was a different, enticing flavor and was visually impressive.

I probably spent 10 minutes trying to decide which cupcakes to get. I ended up choosing five of them. I ended up sharing them since I bought so many, but I had a few bites of each one.

Maple Pancake Cupcake

I was unfortunately expecting too much out of this cupcake. With it looking the way it did, who could blame me? It looks incredible.

Essentially it was a vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting. The mini pancakes on top provided the ‘pancake’ portion of the title. There was syrup on top and a little cinnamon mixed in with it.

The cupcake was good. It was a typical, fluffy vanilla cupcake. The frosting was tasty too. I was expecting more of a maple overload though.

I think it would have been better if there was more maple and cinnamon included. A vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting, maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon isn't a bad thing, but it's certainly not amazing either.

Blackberry Wine Pound Cake Cupcake

This was not my favorite flavor of the bunch, but it wasn’t bad. There was a very vivid berry taste in the cupcake.

There wasn’t much sweetness included that taste. I don’t know if they didn’t use very much sugar while making the cupcake or if the wine counteracted the sugar that was used.

The result was a good cupcake – probably very good if you like wine. When it comes to wine, or cupcakes for that matter, I like a little sugar.

Thankfully the blackberry cream cheese frosting provided that. Without the frosting I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the cupcake too much.

I definitely give them props for experimenting with flavors and going forward with this cupcake though. It was the one that I was most intrigued by while I was looking at the dozen or so flavors available.

Sweet Potato Cupcake

This was a delicious cupcake. Of the five it was my favorite. I’d never had sweet potato pie before, but I was pretty sure it was similar to pumpkin pie.

I’d had two pumpkin cupcakes in October and while this sweet potato cupcake was similar it had its own flavor.

There must be a different spice used with sweet potato flavoring.

The frosting was marshmallow like. It was sticky as if it’d been roasted over a fire.

That made for a nice change. Usually frosting is frosting, but the different consistency with this frosting made the cupcake.

I could have eaten a couple more of these cupcakes easily, but there were too many other choices to choose from.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcake

When I was in the store, I eagerly picked out the raspberry lemonade cupcake as one I wanted to try.

After being a little disappointed with the maple pancake cupcake and the wildberry wine cupcake, I was a little hesitant to eat this cupcake. On paper and in the display case it looks like it’d be good, but I didn’t know if it would turn out that way.

It had an interesting taste to it. It had a flavor that would make Willy Wonka proud.

The first flavor my taste buds picked up on was the raspberry (probably from the frosting). Then came the lemonade flavor of the cupcake. Each bite ended with a raspberry flavor though.

The drizzly syrup that covered the frosting and ran down the side of the cupcake really cemented the raspberry flavor.

While I wasn’t blown away by it, I’d buy this cupcake again.

Caramel Apple Cupcake

This cupcake really tasted like a piece of apple pie. The caramel was plentiful and I was thankful for every bit of it.

There's rarely anything as good as homemade apple pie, but when it comes to caramel apple cupcakes, this one did its job.

Like the previous two cupcakes, the caramel apple cupcake was edible all by itself. It was tasty. It was moist. The caramel is what I enjoyed the most though.

The positives: the variety of flavors and the ambiance of the shop were even more appreciated than the good flavors

The negatives: not every cupcake was a must-have

The price: most of the cupcakes are $2.25, but they have specials

Bowtie Bakery
970 Branchview Dr NE, Concord, NC 28025
Check out their Facebook page for daily deals and new flavors.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Daughtry: Baptized – reviewed.

When I heard that Daughtry was coming out with new music I was ecstatic!

Besides the fact that he's a fellow Batman fan, I was a impressed with Daughtry, the 2006 album Chris and the rest of the band released.

Their 2009 follow up -- Leave this Town – was even more impressive with more of a rock sound on several of the album’s tracks.

Break the Spell was far and away their best work though. That album has more plays than any other that I have imported in iTunes.

This time around, Daughtry apparently worked without his band mates.

How does Baptized compare to Chris' previous work? There are some decent songs on it. I don’t know that it quite measures up to Break the Spell. It’s a solid effort though.


"It was one of the first songs written for the record and it's probably my favorite song on the album," Chris told The Hollywood Reporter.

It's not my favorite, but it works.

I was waiting for that high note -- the climax of the song -- but it never happened. Daughtry has the vocal chomps to pull it off, but it's like he only went to a certain level and held back from that point on. Kelly Clarkson belts out notes. Pink belts out notes. Daughtry does the same. That's part of the deal with them. It's what I like to hear.

The song works without the big moment, but not as well.

Waiting for Superman

This was the first single from the album. It’s probably the catchiest song of the album, so it seemed like a good comeback song. The song peaked at

It got a lot of people talking because of the "more electro-pop" sound. I honestly didn't notice a difference compared to some of his other songs. Sure, there's electro-pop, but Daughtry's stellar voice and rock vibe are still alive and well on this song.

If you like Lifehouse and Matchbox 20, you'll probably like this song too. It's radio-friendly, but still has more of a rock edge than a lot of songs on the radio these days.

Watch the video


The song has a nice, ear-pleasing melody, but almost lacks that certain something that makes it stand out as a 'must hear' song.

The lyrics seem somewhat juvenile...

"And I don’t wanna fight this war
Bullets coming off our lips
But we stick to our guns and we love like battleships.
Like battleships.

Boom, ba-boom, boom, ba-boom, boom, boom
Boom, ba-boom, boom, ba-boom
And the cannon goes"

Hearing that 'boom, ba-boom, boom, ba-boom, boom, boom' seems a little silly, but, on second and third listenings, you get used to it.

La Roux's "Bulletproof" is still probably the best pop song featuring lyrics that use weapons and warfare to describe their relationship.

I’ll Fight

This song is almost like a follow up to "Start of Something Good," from Break the Spell. I guess it makes sense. Daughtry and his wife had twins on November 17, 2010. "Start of Something Good" is about the birth of his children. "I'll Fight" is about the love he has for his children.

"When the going gets rough
Right when it's hurting I will be there
To help any burden
Any place any time
You gotta know for you I'll fight"

It's a decent tune that's borderline-sappy, like many of the songs on the album. Daughtry's convictions make the songs work though. He believes in them so you somehow do too.

Wild Heart

You know those songs where you can't wait for the chorus to play because that's the best (or sometimes the only good) part of the song? This song is the opposite of that.

My least favorite part is actually the chorus.

"Take me back
To those barefoot summer nights
Take me back
Running down those highway lights
Remember when
We said don't let go to it 'til we die
Take me back
To that fire in your eyes
'Cause I know it ain't gone too far
Take me back to you and to your wild heart"

The rest of "Wild Heart" is really good though. It's kind of got a lite elevator feel to it, but Daughtry's killer vocals make up for the softer sound.

Long Live Rock and Roll

I’m not typically a fan of songs that praise a certain genre of music because they can result in a corny song. “I Love Rock and Roll” and “Old Time Rock and Roll” are and always will be classics.

“Long Live Rock and Roll” is Daughtry’s best effort to pay homage to the genre. Thankfully, it’s certainly a better result than Brad Paisley’s “This Is Country Music.”

Some have compared Daughtry's new sound to Bruce Springsteen. While I can see that comparison, this song vies me John Mellencamp vibes.

"I would have never picked up a guitar and wrote this song. I never would have gone the folk route. I just thought the irony of it was hilarious. Long live rock and roll and big guitars, and it doesn't have any loud guitars," Chris told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's all like this folky, country vibe, and very rootsy. I loved that"

Me too. When genres successfully blend together this way, I'm a fan too.

The World We Knew

This is another folksy/rock song. It's basically a throwback, remembering simpler times and happy times in a romance of the couple that the song is about.

"The world we knew
It was all set for good
Maybe if we knew
Fighting would never end
Oh what I wouldn’t do
To get back to
The world we knew"

The background vocals sound like the background vocals out of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

Chris Daughtry can sing any kind of song, so no issues there. I think the country vibe and background vocals end up making “The World We Knew” a little bit underwhelming though.

Chris’ powerful voice doesn’t really match up with the airy background vocals.

High Above The Ground

Chris shows off his range in this song, utilizing some high-pitched vocals for the song’s main chorus.

"It’s feeling like we’re high above the ground
It’s feeling like we never coming down
Til we want to
But why would we want to?"

The song starts off as being about a couple that come from different worlds, but the lyrics quickly transform into mentions of stars, the moonlight and other mystical elements.

Essentially, this couple is on cloud 9 because of their love for each other.

It’s a nice, positive, lovey-dovey song, but seems lyrically familiar to "Wild Heart" and musically similar to "The World We Knew."

Broken Arrows

Accompanied by the piano, Chris starts this song off as a ballad. It's about a man who is not at all on the same page as his woman:

"Seems like every little word I say
Keeps getting twisted
Coming out wrong
So baby hold on
I'm tryin' to hit the mark
But I'm shooting with broken arrows"

The high-pitched, soft chorus makes this song sound similar to “The World We Knew” even though the musical elements are completely different.

The beautiful piano accompaniment and Chris’ always impressive emotional vocals make this one worth listening to.


Daughtry is one of the few groups that’s able to make inspiring music that doesn’t come off as preachy.

His Christian faith wasn’t showcased much on Break The Spell, but it’s present on Baptized.

Like I said, it’s not preachy, but there's a little bit of southern flare on this song.

"Now you’re letting your confusion take control
leading you down a dark and lonely road
Even that won’t last forever
Just look around and see you’re not alone
If you can’t find love
but you’re still not giving up
can I get a witness?"

The music fits with the lyrics – with a nicely paced, upbeat tempo.


I love this song! It’s got such a different sound than anything Daughtry has done before. It’s a gritty and vengeful relationship-gone-bad song.

Daughtry goes on the defense here, essentially saying ‘bring it on!’

“The only thing worse than hater is a traitor," Daughtry sings.

Daughtry may have several sentimental, romantic songs on Baptized, but they also included a couple of rock tracks -- this one being the best of them.

18 Years

It took me a couple of listens to come around to this one, but I did.

If there's a 'Lifehouse song' on this album, "18 Years" may be it. It's a song that's about two childhood pals and wanting to hang onto the friendship they've built up guessed it...18 years. It's a pretty high-energy song, while still maintaining a soulful, softer side.

There are three more songs included on the extended version:


This is another uplifting song. Someone get Chris Daughtry some drama in his life!

Seriously, though, it's not a bad song. It's a Phil Phillips type of song – but better because it has Daughtry’s vocals.

It's, yet again, a different sound from Chris Daughtry. He does it well.


This one should have been on the main album. It has a nice Hawaiian style melody and showcases a refreshing bit of humor on an otherwise pretty straight-forward, serious album.

The music sounds like something you’d expect from Jason Mraz while the lyrics are something that would fit right into a song by Train.

"Check out those stars
I picked em up one day on Mars
And you thought I was at the bar
Well okay maybe there’s a little truth to that

As I would say
And if you squint a certain way
You’ll see they kinda spelled your name
Just a little
But okay maybe that’s a stretch

But you’re my Cinderella
We’re two birds of a feather
I’ll even sing to you acapella
Oh until you’'ve had enough"

Battleship (acoustic)

Honestly, I think I like the regular version better, not that there’s much difference.

The acoustic version utilizes the background vocals and piano and guitar rather than whatever they used on the album’s version. The result is a version of the song that doesn’t sound as polished as the one on the album.

Like I said at the start of this review, Break the Spell is on a pedestal that is hard to reach. I still prefer Break the Spell, but the two albums are hard to compare.

Break the Spell is a rock album, through and through.

Some of the background vocals and instruments used on Baptized make it more soft-rock than Break the Spell.

It’s still a Daughtry album, so you hear belting out lyrics, even on the softer songs and ballads.

My biggest complaint is probably that “Wild Heart,” “The World We Knew,” and “High Above The Ground” are all a little too similar – in themes and sound. They could’ve probably cut one or two of those songs and replaced them with a song that stands out a little more.

Overall, Baptized shows a continued evolution in Daughtry, both in their sound and their lyrics. It’s nice that they’re experimenting with their sound, successfully and seamlessly mixing folk, country, rock and pop.

They’ve chosen real world topics to sing about and show that they have some new tricks up their sleeves.

Unfortunately I don’t think many of their songs will make much of an impact when it comes to top 40 music. Since Daughtry didn’t partner up with a European producer who generates top 40 hits that all sound the same, this album will probably go unnoticed by most people who aren’t Daughtry fans.

Their most radio-friendly song is “Waiting for Superman” and I heard that maybe twice on the radio since it was released in September. That’s not a good sign. Rock just isn’t ‘in’ right now. Paramore’s “Still Into You” is surviving, but not really thriving. Even Fall Out Boy’s return album had trouble getting air time this year.

It seems people would rather listen to music they can dance to in the clubs rather than what Daughtry is offering up.

I’m hoping, however, that Daughtry will catch a break and land a hit again. They’re too good, even when they’re not at their best, for people to miss out on them.

Songs worth checking out:
-Waiting for Superman

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Friday, November 22, 2013

When Actors Are Replaced - Terrence Howard opens up about Iron Man

Terrence Howard opened up about being replaced by Don Cheadle in the Iron Man movies.

He was on Watch What Happens Live and hinted at the reason he was replaced by Cheadle as Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes. The reason? Apparently it's Iron Man himself.

Yep. Howard says Robert Downey Jr. is the reason he got booted...more or less.

He told host Andy Cohen: "It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man ... when it was time to re-up for the second one, (he) took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out."

Iron Man, of course, is Downey.

I guess he and Downey had some kind of falling out.

"We did a three-picture deal, so that means that you did the deal ahead of time," Howard said. "It was going to be a certain amount for the first one, a certain amount for the second one, a certain amount for the third.

They came to me with the second and said, 'Look, we will pay you one-eighth of what we contractually had for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.' And I called my friend — that I helped get the first job — and he didn't call me back for three months."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jewell Treats moves to Uptown

I reviewed Jewell Treats way back in April, but this summer they moved to a new location at Hearst Tower in Uptown.

I stopped by to check out their new digs.

The new location on the second floor of the Hearst building is handy if you’re in Uptown and need a cupcake fix.

Outside of the regular flavors they feature, they experiment regularly.

In fact, one of their customers recently won a ‘you pick the flavor’ contest. She chose a chocolate cupcake with whipped cream in the middle, a Nutella/vanilla frosting and some caramel drizzle on top of that.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - Savannah's Bakery

I'd been to Charlotte Cupcakes - Cupcrazed">Cupcrazed before, located right off of I-77 in Fort Mill, but I'd never been to the actual heart of the town.

I decided to change that, so I sought out the only other cupcake shop I could find in the entire town: Savannah's Dining, Bakery and Catering.

Taking the back roads into Fort Mill on a sunny Fall day? Very relaxing.

Well -- except for taking a couple of wrong turns and then my GPS telling me I was at Savannah's when I was actually three blocks away. Other than that -- very relaxing.

Savannah's is house-turned-cafe, located in a brick home on Confederate Street. When I went they didn't have a very large collection of cupcakes. Like a lot of bakeries I've been to, the focus isn't just on cupcakes, so the selection seems to be smaller. With a smaller selection, there obviously wasn't a lot of unique or interesting flavors either.

There were actually only two options to choose from: vanilla and vanilla -- each one with different frosting and toppings.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lady Gaga: ARTPOP – reviewed.

How the mighty have fallen.

Lady Gaga has always been unusual, but when she first took the world by storm a few years ago, she at least made good music.

“Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance,” “Alejandro,” “Paparazzi,” and even “You and I” were all great, catchy songs. They were different than what anyone else in pop or rock music were doing at the time.

Her latest album – ARTPOP – proves that she’s run out of tricks. With Gaga essentially making claims of being a large part of pop culture in “Applause,” I was hoping she’d innovate on this album. Instead she’s settling for the techno, ‘futuristic’ sound that Christina Aguilera bombed with on Bionic.

There are incredible vocal abilities put to use on Gaga’s fourth studio album, but it’s painfully obvious that she has nothing meaningful left to write or sing about. The ruling theme on ARTPOP is about sex and drugs. Considering Miley Cyrus has already owned that market this year, I’m not sure where Gaga is hoping to fit in.

Even though she sings in different languages and utilizes different accents on several tracks, that effort isn’t enough to save the entire album.

I hate to say it, but ARTPOP is more like ARTFLOP.


This song starts off nice and light – almost like a Colbie Caillat song.

The lyrics change that mood as Gaga sings, “I killed my farmer and left her in the trunk on Highway 10. Put the knife under the hood. If you find it, send it straight to Hollywood.”

The vibe then turns to an avant-garde Western that you’d expect Quentin Tarantino to be involved with.

Then it’s the all-to-common futuristic club music. Gaga’s vocals impress, though, as she sings, “Do you want to see me naked, lover? Do you want to peak underneath the cover? Do you want to see the girl who lives behind the aura?”

At the end of the 3:56 song, I’m not entirely sure what the theme of the song was. I guess it’s about offering someone insight into yourself – opening up and all that. Overall, it’s an odd song with a mish-mash of sounds.


There’s the same kind of background music on Venus as there was in “Aura” – until Gaga starts singing “Take me to your planet, your planet, your planet. Take me to your leader, your leader, your leader.”

Gaga wonders if it could be love because “you’re out of this world.”

The vocals aren’t bad, but, again, I’m too confused by the what I’m supposed to be getting out of the lyrics to fully pay attention to the music.

Gaga starts naming off the planets in random order. Eventually she gets to Uranus – pronounced as “Your anus,” and follows it up with “Don’t you know my ass is famous?”

Dr. Seuss came up with better rhymes than that! Lady Gaga has gone into Pitbull mode – throwing out any random rhyme together and calling it a lyric.

Interesting song. 3 out of 5 stars as a rating for this song is probably being generous.


The initial 25 seconds of this song grabs your attention. Mother Monster mentions Aphrodite again before advising listeners to “lay back and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions.”

G.U.Y. stands for 'Girl Under You.'

The theme of this song is straightforward: Gaga wants the sexual power in her relationship.

“I want to be the G.U.Y.," she sings. “I’m gonna’ wear the tie. Want the power to leave you. Aiming for control of this love.”

She reuses the pacing she used on “Alejandro” as she sings, “Touch me. Touch me. Don’t be sweet. Love me. Love me. Please retweet.”

Sexxx Dreams

As you can probably guess by the title, this song is about sex once again.

“Last night, I was thinking about you and it was kind of dirty. And the way you looked at me – it was kind of nasty,” Gaga explains.

The vocals are breathy and soft during the main chorus.

It’s like a mix between Mariah Carey from her “The Emancipation of Mimi” era and Janet Jackson on “All For You.”

“Last night, damn you were in my sex were making love in my sex dreams.”

At certain points you’d be hard pressed to figure out if it’s Gaga or Mariah Carey singing.

As quickly as she transitions into Mariah Carey mode, Gaga goes into Marilyn Manson mode, singing, “Heard your boyfriend was away this weekend. Wanna meet at my place?”

It was a somewhat interesting song with more lackluster lyrics.

Jewels N’ Drugs (feat. T.I., Too Short and Twista)

T.I. starts this track off.

Gaga joins the party about 30 seconds in.

“Don’t want your jewels, I want your drugs. Don’t want your money, I want your love,” she sings. To be honest, the song kind of sucks. There’s some old school Nintendo-type sound effects in the background for no explained reason.

I wasn’t a fan of Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious” song featuring Slim Thug. This song vaguely reminds me of that one, but this song makes “Luxurious” sound worthy of a Grammy.

I've seen others call it a 'typical thug song' and that seems like a fair enough description.


This one starts off with an electro-pop, rocker vibe. It’s the best part of the album so far.

“I’m gonna be MANiCURED. You wanna be MANiCURED. Ma-ma-ma-MANiCURE.”

If you can figure those lyrics, more power to you. I guess she’s wanting sex because she sings later on, “I’m the chick whose been coming around looking to love-in-you. You’re the medicine I need to heal the way, the way you make me feel.”

More odd, seemingly incoherent lyrics, but it’s a decent tune at least.

Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly)

I was surprised this was her choice for a second single. You’ve probably heard it on the radio by now, so there’s probably not much need to describe this song.

It’s more of the Swedish club sound, mixed in with Gaga’s Mariah Carey impression and, at times, her best Michael Jackson impression, loudly belting, “Do what you want with me! What you want with my body!” near the end of the song.

R. Kelly lending his smooth vocals to this song is actually my favorite part about it.

It’s not the worst song in the world, but I can’t help but be disappointed in the lyrics.

A woman who won’t let a man have her heart or use her mind or stop her voice – sounds like female empowerment in a way. Then she goes on to invite him to do whatever he wants to her body.

Apparently this song is about what the media prints and says about Lady Gaga. If that’s the case, I’m not sure why her duet partner is singing about doing shots and doing what he wants with her body in the back of the club.

Maybe it’s an attempt to do a double entendre. The result is confusing lyrically and mediocre vocally.


Some outer space-type sounds to kick off this song. Hmmm…should be interesting.

“We could, we could belong together. Artpop, artpop, artpop,” she sings repeatedly.

The musical elements of this song aren't too bad, despite being a little boring, but the lyrics aren't captivating enough to hold my attention.


More European techno sound on this one.

The vocals aren’t amazing, but I like how Gaga transforms her voice, adding emphasis to certain words. She's not afraid to growl on this gritty sounding track.

"Do ya I know, I know, I Annotateknow, I know you want me. You're just a pig inside a human body. Squealer, squealer, squeal out, you're so disgusting!”

She ends the chorus by emphasizing disgusting. Her vocal abilities are always impressive, whether she's singing or throwing in an accent or singing in another language.

"Swine" -- although no classic -- at least sounds somewhat different than the rest of the songs on the album.


“I am so fab. Check out, I’m blonde, I’m skinny, I’m rich and I’m a little bit of a bitch,” Gaga says at the beginning of this track.

She drops a lot of various and eventually goes into the chorus, “What do you want to wear this spring? What do you think is the next thing?”

The mish-mash of electropop, odd lyrics and respectable vocals just doesn’t do it.

“Donatella” comes off as a poor pop artist’s “Vogue.”

Madonna covered that over two decades ago. I was never a fan of that song either.


This song is a major tease. It starts off with some great piano work. Then it busts into another “Vogue” type of song.

“Looking good an feeling fine,” Gaga repeats several times over.

Plus, two songs about fashion on the same album? Right in a row? Gaga really has run out of ideas hasn’t she?

Maybe they’ll use it as the soundtrack for a fashion show in Milan. If her goal is to make money by collecting royalties from designers using it at their shows, then more power to her.

4 minutes of a song about fashion adds to a lackluster album though.

Mary Jane Holland

You’d think the first several seconds of this song was straight out of Miami Vice or Beverly Hills Cop. That would, quite frankly, be a welcome change.

It’s not long before her electropop comes into play again though.

Evidently Miley Cyrus isn’t the only marijuana lover on the charts right now.

“I think that I could be fine if I could be Mary Jane Holland tonight. I think we’d have a good time if you’d meet me and Mary Jane in Holland tonight.”

The somewhat psychedelic sound does grow on you. The structure of the song isn’t so bad – but by the end of the 3:42 song, it kind of feels like you’ve been on a trip and you’re waiting for it to end.

More disappointing, boasting lyrics on this track too: “I know that Mom and Dad think I’m a mess, but it’s alright because I’m rich as piss.”


This song wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the ridiculous main chorus. It’s hard to take the impressive emotion serious when Lady Gaga is singing, “I need you more than dope.”

I guess druggies may be able to relate?

Gaga puts her bass and vibrato to use – almost imitating Elton John – as the piano is the main instrument used in this song.

I think it may be the only ballad on the album. Typically female popsters end up overdoing it with the ballads. That’s not the case here.


Gaga can definitely sing. This song proves that fact to any haters and reinforces it to any of her Little Monsters. Set to a fast-paced beat, Gaga dials into her loneliness as she’s singing about taking the road less traveled.

“I don’t want to be alone forever, but I love gypsy light. I don’t want to be alone forever. Maybe we can see the world together.”

There’s an element of and sadness to the song, despite the fast-paced, upbeat music.

Unfortunately, it’s not a song that will end up as a classic. She seemingly ran out of lyrics as she started repeat-repeat-repeating: “Cuz I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m a gypsy, gypsy, gypsy.”

Take that and multiply it by four.

She ends the song by listing off a bunch of different countries and says, “Be my home for just the day. I’m a gypsy, gypsy, gypsy. Hey…”


As is the case all too often, the lead single off of an album is the best song on the entire CD. That’s the case with “Applause.”

It has a fun, different sound. It reminded me of some of Gaga’s earlier work. This song deservedly did well on the top 40 charts, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Gaga’s 12th top ten single.

The thing I like about this song is the energy it gives off. It’s a song you can tap your feet to, snap your fingers to, clap your hands to or dance to.

This entire album would’ve been served better if there were a couple more songs as good as “Applause.”

I thought Born This Way was a letdown after The Fame Monster. ARTPOP makes me appreciate Born This Way a little more.

ARTPOP seems like Lady Gaga’s best attempt to compete with the likes of Britney Spears, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus in trying to reign supreme as pop music’s most scandalous female. Sex and drugs make up the themes to most of her songs, while they’re set to overused club beats. The result leaves Gaga as just one of crowd – not a standout.

Songs worth checking out:
-Mary Jane Holland

Related Content:
Miley Cyrus: Bangerz - reviewed.
Cher: Closer To The Truth - reviewed.
Pitbull: Global Warming - reviewed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Murder, She Wrote reboot -- good idea or mistake?

Angela Lansbury, perhaps best known for her role as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, voiced her opinion on the reboot of the 1980’s TV show.

She’s not happy about it.

Last week, NBC announced that it would be rebooting the Murder, She Wrote show with Octavia Spencer playing a nurse/self-publishing author/mystery solver.

I wasn’t sure what to think about it, myself. A lot of times Hollywood likes to remake and reboot and sequel things to death. Sometimes it works.

The Amazing Spider-Man was an awesome movie, despite being released just 5 years after the last Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie.

Ben Affleck will be the new Batman, just a few years after Christian Bale owned that role.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kassius Ohno gets released; the story of my failed WWE storyline pitch

News broke this week that Kassius Ohno (formerly Chris Hero of Ring of Honor fame) was released from his WWE contract.

I don't think anyone who's been following the newsboards would be too surprised by this announcement.

WWE signed Hero and Claudio Castagnoli in September 2011. While Castagnoli debuted as Antonio Cesaro in April 2012, Hero never appeared on Raw or Smackdown. He was stuck in NXT.

Rumors began circulating that WWE management wasn't happy with his efforts. Whether that's true or not, it was put out there. Given that Hero has now been released, there was evidently some truth to WWE management not being happy with his progress.

Hero addressed his release on his Facebook page, saying:
"I’m leaving WWE on good terms so, if it’s meant to be, I’m sure I will be back. If it’s not meant to be, I can guarantee you that I will still be trotting all over the globe doing what I love (and what I’m damn good at) at the highest level possible."

It's too bad because I think Hero is a good wrestler. Not every wrestler fits in with WWE's style though.

Rest holds, always keeping your eyes on the hard camera and working with limited time isn't something every successful independent wrestler can (or wants to) adjust to.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thor 2: The Dark World – reviewed.

Wow! I’m so glad I saw this movie! Star Trek 2: Into Darkness was, by far, my favorite movie this year so far, but Thor 2: The Dark World could give it a run for it’s money. The Dark Knight is probably my favorite of all time. Hmmm...maybe it has something to do with the word 'dark?'

Anyway, let’s get this out of the way first: stay until the very end of the movie! Even when you think it’s the end…stay a while longer. That’s right. A movie with two extra scenes, mid and post-credits!

Back to the beginning though.

Sometimes it’s hard to set up the background of villains, but this movie wastes no time doing that. They make it clear right away: beware of the evil elves.

Malekith the Accursed, played by Christopher Eccleston (though you wouldn't know it, thanks to the make up and effects), isn't the best villain of all time. I don't know if he'd crack the top 25. He fills the role for this movie and does it well though.

Mostly, I was just intrigued to see an evil elf. Whether it's Lord of the Rings or some Christmas movie, elves are almost always good, little creatures. That's not the case in Thor 2.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrity (look-a-like) sightings - part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 were good, but I think there's some definite look-a-likes this time around. I'll get right to the comparisons, but let me know what you think? Am I spot on or what?

I saved the very best (and closest comparison) for last this time, so make sure to scroll to the bottom of the page.

On the left: Edge
On the right: Jamie Campbell Bower

May as well start with a wrestling-related one. It seems those pro wrestlers have doppelgängers all over. I'd mentioned before that Wilson Bethel resembles Edge. I still stand by that statement.

However, I think Jamie Campbell Bower looks even more like Edge. Jamie Bower, for those who are unaware like I was, is an actor who has quite an impressive resume already.

I just watched The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (review to come later) and that's the first time I saw him...or so I thought. Jamie was in the final three Twilight movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2, and the Sweeney Todd movie that starred Johnny Depp.

The hairstyle, obviously, has a lot to do with the resemblance. However, I think the bone structure is there too. I'm not expert on the matter, but that's the same exact chin there, a similar nose and the same shaped head. A solid celebrity look-a-like for sure.

On the left: Krysten Ritter
On the right: Katy Perry

This pair doesn't have similar bone structure. In this case, I think a lot of the similarity is in the hair style and color. They don't have the same color eyes and Katy Perry's face is more full.

Yet, if you take a quick look at them, one could probably pass for the other.

The only thing I can figure is that it's the hair that does it. It probably doesn't hurt that there aren't that many Hollywood ladies with jet-black hair, so automatically kind of looks like the other.

Outside of that lady on N.C.I.S., I can't think of any others.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - The Sweet Life

It's back to Concord this week. After trying DOUGH Bakery last week, I went closer to the downtown area and found The Sweet Life.

I had to double check the address. My GPS said I was at 196 Church Street, but it the building didn't look like a bakery from the outside.

After getting out of the car I realized there were two large banners with a cupcake and the words, "The Sweet Life," on it. However, when driving by, trying to pay attention to traffic (minor details, you know...), the sign didn't jump out at me.

The Sweet Life is located inside an old house-turned-business. Apparently there's an invitation/graphic design business inside as well. I'm not sure if it's run by the same people as the cupcake shop or not. When I went inside, the only thing I spotted was the bakery.

The first thing I noticed was the interesting choice of flavors. They had banana pudding, vanilla chai, peanut butter and jelly, and caramel apple.

Each cupcake looked fairly large with a pile of frosting on top. A good first impression, indeed.

I passed on the banana pudding cupcake, but got the vanilla chai, caramel apple and peanut butter and jelly.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

5 Awesome TV Shows You Probably Forgot About

With shows like The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory dominating current TV ratings, it's easy to forget about some pretty awesome shows from the past.

Friends, Seinfeld and C.S.I. will probably forever have prominent spots on syndicated television, but other shows aren't that fortunate. Some shows, for whatever reason, aren't shown in syndication as often. If you don't stumble upon them on Netflix or at some random department store, you may forget they ever existed.

Here are five awesome shows you may have forgotten about:

5. Father Dowling Mysteries (1987-1991)

I recently found the Father Dowling DVDs at BJ's for $9.99 a piece. I bought the first two seasons and hunted down the third season at Barnes & Noble (for a hefty price of $40!). I remember watching this show when I was a kid in the early '90s.

I'm a fan of murder-mysteries, whether it's Murder, She Wrote, C.S.I. or the more contemporary Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey Jr. Father Dowling was one of my favorites though. The idea of a crime-solving priest and nun? What's not to like?

At first the concept seems a little far-fetched. After all, how many homicides does the typical Catholic priest or nun encounter? Factor in that it's Chicago and that Father Dowling is an armchair sleuth, however, and it makes sense.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Henchmen: a villain's best friend

I haven't seen Thor yet (it's out today!), but I did see one of the production photos.

Whoever the villains are in this movie look pretty cool. I'm a fan of the masks and the gold and black color scheme. I'm not sure how effective these troops will be, but chances are they'll make good henchmen.

Of course, there's some pretty large shoes to fill in that territory.

When it comes to spectacularly mediocre henchmen who end up being good punching bags for the hero of the story, there's a decent group of candidates out there already.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Top 10 Coolest Super Hero Weapons

Thor 2 is in theatres tonight! I’m very excited to see this movie.

I’m more excited to see Thor 2 than Man of Steel actually. Thor has always been a fun super hero. He’s kind of like a mix between Superman and Hercules.

It’s been impossible to completely avoid the trailers (I have been trying!), but from what I’ve seen it looks like it won’t disappoint.

It also looks like there will be some cool fight scenes involving Thor’s trademark hammer. I came up with a list of the coolest super hero weapons. Thor’s hammer was one of them that made the list.

Check out the rest of them below.

10. Ghost Rider’s chain

When fighting demons and the dead, you need to have a few good weapons handy.

Ghost Rider’s flaming chain is his go-to weapon. I’m not sure exactly how long the chain is, but it looks to be a decent length.

Ghost Rider uses it like a whip sometimes. Other times he uses it as a lasso, wrapping his enemy up in it. The chain is essentially unbreakable. Once the Rider has his enemy chained up, the chain will light up with soul fire, causing the victims' soul and body to burn.

Heaving around a heavy, lengthy chain could be cumbersome, but the chain wraps itself around the upper torso of Ghost Rider's body, making it easy to transport and always accessible. It makes a pretty bad-ass fashion statement too!

9. The Planeteers’ rings

Captain Planet’s planeteers summon him by combining the power from their rings, which were given to them by Mother Earth.

Individually, their rings have pretty cool powers too. Each ring has it’s own power: Earth, fire, wind, water and heart. Kwame’s Earth ring can make the ground beneath someone’s feet move. He can basically restructure the ground. Wheeler’s fire ring, as you can probably guess, blasts fire.

Linka’s ring can create a windstorm that rivals Storm’s mutant ability to do so.

Those are probably the three most useful of the five rings.

Gi’s water ring, opposite of Wheeler’s fire ring, can control water. The problem with her ring is that it won’t create water. In order to use her ring, water has to be present. Monte’s ring – heart – was always my least favorite, though he was able to tame a few vicious animals by using his ring.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - DOUGH Bakery

It's a double dose of cupcakes today since I missed posting last week.

I'd heard about DOUGH bakery several months ago. I was at an event they provided treats for and ended up with one of their business cards.

I went online to the DOUGH website, but it didn't list cupcakes as one of the goodies they bake. That left me with the old fashioned option: I called them.

I asked if they had cupcakes and the man on the other end told me they did. They had chocolate, vanilla and, the new standard, red velvet. Obviously, they didn't have the selection of a shop that's dedicated specifically to cupcakes. I figured I'd give them a shot.

When I got to the store, it was just as the man on the phone had said. There were a handful of cupcakes available in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and red velvet.

They added some variety by mixing up the frosting. Some chocolate cupcakes had chocolate frosting while others had vanilla. Some vanilla cupcakes were topped with vanilla frosting, while some were topped with chocolate.

The red velvet cupcake was the only one without an additional frosting option.

The red velvet was a no-brainer for me. Typically, I'd probably go for a vanilla cupcake, but it's hard to turn down a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting.

Charlotte Cupcakes – BW Sweets Bakery

This week I made another stop in Cornelius. I’d been to Just Baked and Maddy's Fatty's, but somehow I missed BW Sweets Bakery. The funny thing is: it’s right on Catawba Ave., one of the main streets that goes through the town.

Free parking is available on either side of the street, though crossing the street proved to be difficult because there’s no stoplight nearby.

Thanks to a driver who slowed down for me, I made it across the street after about a minute of waiting for the traffic to break.

It's a small shop inside, but there's a decent selection of cupcakes available. It wasn't hard to choose three different flavors to get.

Cinnamon Roll Cupcake

I’m pretty sure Granny Mac’s forever ruined me with their massive cupcakes. What this Cinnamon Roll cupcake lacked in size, it made up for in flavor though.

I love cinnamon, so the abundance of cinnamon flavor on and in this cupcake made it an exceptional treat for me.

The frosting was probably the only downside. It was crusty. That being said, it tasted good. The frosting stayed on top of the cupcake too. With some cupcakes, the frosting tower that bakers construct ends up toppling over. There was no struggling with the frosting here. It wasn’t going anywhere!

The cupcake didn’t take long to eat, but it was tasty.