Saturday, December 31, 2016

BM5's Favorite Music of 2016 (Video)

Favorite Music of 2016
Instead of doing a top 10 type of list, I decided that I would do it in categories. I hope you enjoy and check out the reviews for many of the projects mentioned in the video. Here's to the future of music in 2017. Hopefully, we'll have even more wonderful tunes for our ears!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Awaken, My Love & Atlanta Video Review

Awaken, My Love - Childish Gambino
(Genre: R&B/Soul/Funk)

Links related to Awaken, My Love:
Me and Your Mama LIVE (One of first previews of the project)
Redbone (The second "single")
Stand Tall (My favorite song from the album)
The Needle Drop's Review (He actually likes the project)
Dead End Hip Hop's Review (Even though they mainly do hip hop) 

(Genre: Comedy/Drama)

Links related to Atlanta:
Black Hollywood Live (Their review of Episode 8, "The Club")
AfterBuzz TV (Their review of Episode 7, "B.A.N.")
Brian Tyree Henry Interview (On Sway in the Morning)
FX Live Event w/ the Cast (Talking about Atlanta)
LaKeith Stanfield Interview (On Breakfast Club...I semi-hate this interview. lol)
Dead End Hip Hop on Atlanta (A discussion from people in Atlanta)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quick Movie Review

Thinner (1996, USA) | Rating: 2/5

I think it's common knowledge among Stephen King fans and horror movie lovers that sometimes his movie adaptations can be a bit hit or miss. I'm not huge on King films, but there are some that I've been wanting to see and this is one of them. I believe Syfy was doing their usual Halloween marathon in October (obviously) and decided to do a different theme each week. I decided to put off my DVD binge watch from my workplace to finally catch it on air. Unlike It, I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Before coming into this movie, I knew that our main character would be cursed with rapid weight loss and...that's about it. Watching it was unfortunately not as entertaining as I thought it would be. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, which made it hard for me to care about any bad thing that happened to them. I guess I felt like our main character and his associates were kinda...jerks or something, I really don't know, but I hate feeling disappointment during and after a movie.

Emelie (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I picked this movie up expecting it to be a cheap thrill or something, judging by the cover art. Surprisingly, this babysitter made my jaw drop and creeped me out a little. Sure, babysitter impostors aren't a new concept to the horror genre, but as I've said time and time again that execution of said concept is what makes it interesting and entertaining. This movie was a bit of a slow build, but definitely not a slow burn. It knew how to set up suspense very well, in other words. Emelie wasn't obviously a creepy babysitter. She definitely had a sweet demeanor and if you already knew something was off with her in the beginning, you still got that feeling with a hint of dark aura surrounding her. The thing I really enjoyed about this movie is that Emelie didn't physically torture these children, she went beyond that to their innocent mental state. These situations was where my jaw dropped. They were quite bold with these babysitting activities. Despite my enjoyment of this movie, it definitely had some imperfections, mostly at the final act of the movie to its conclusion. Something about movie resolutions seem like the most difficult thing. Nonetheless, I think people should give this movie a chance as I thought it was quite fun and had just the right amount of disturbing.

The Darkness (2016, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

I admit I was planning on seeing this movie in theaters as I thought it looked kinda exciting and fun, but I didn't quite make it and just resolved to waiting for the DVD release. The good thing about that, and this seems to be a pattern with movies I've missed in the theaters, is that it wasn't very good. There was something sloppy about the plot and execution of the whole thing. The beginning was okay and the rest of it was just unremarkable or as I would usually say "meh". Pretty much someone picked up something they weren't supposed to, curse comes upon the family, and they stupidly try to deal with it or simply just believe in it. Oh, there's also an autistic kid in the mix as well to make things "interesting", but he just ends up being kinda useless in a lot of situations. Really I couldn't connect with this family, which is quite unfortunate. Even though the plot seemed mediocre, there's a tiny part of me that still thinks this movie could've been interesting in some way...but I can't think of how without majorly changing everything. If you skip out on this movie, you're not missing out on anything as there are way better horror movies that came out this year.

Swiss Army Man (2016, USA) | Rating: 4/5

Oh, Daniel Radcliffe, you're trying so hard to get away from your Harry Potter image. I don't think that'll ever happen as that's what made him the man he is today in Hollywood. For me, I think I have a small advantage coming into this post-Potter films and being able to separate that character from him...after a certain amount of time has past of course. Anyway, I had this movie in my queue to watch before I saw any previews or trailers, then it popped up in another movie I rented and I knew I made the right choice. I expected it to be weird and funny and that's exactly what I got. Yay! This movie was very weird and it has a lot of sexual humor, so I wouldn't suggest bringing the kids around to see this one. I can't see everyone enjoying it either, because of its weirdness and perhaps lewd humor, but there's something deeper beyond what's on the surface. One of my favorite theories on IMDb made think of the movie in a whole different light compared to what I've rationalized, which makes it a fun movie to discuss among friends and movie analysts. The chemistry between our two main characters and the various situations is what kept me thoroughly engaged. I guess if you want something different with weirdness, crass humor, and hidden meanings under the humor and dialogue, then I would check this one out. I think it's one of Radcliffe's better post-Potter films.

Into the Forest (2015, USA) | Rating: 4/5

Going through a list of releases, I came across the synopsis of this Ellen Page movie and lately I've been really loving what she's been doing this year. I was very pleased to see that my workplace was carrying this movie and I immediately jumped on the request list. Since post-apocalyptic worlds are still trending, this film's story is based in that world, but kinda not. No one knows what's going, except that the power has gone out in several places in the area our main characters live in. I can also tell by the way their cabin is designed that it's possibly in the future, considering the technology is more advance than what we have currently. But in a way, it could be set in present day or the near future, I'm honestly not gonna look that up and keep the mystery to myself. Nonetheless, people are becoming desperate and perhaps aggressive for survival and supplies as necessities are running low. We've seen humanity panic as a whole, but this movie focuses on one single family and how they deal with this unexpected outage. Everything seems to go smoothly, until one event throws off the balance and creates a domino effect of unfortunate events...and really that's an understatement. What's great about this film is that it focuses on the characters' reactions and developments to each obstacle thrown at them. It easily pulls you in and makes you feel something for these characters and you're just waiting for things to go back to normal; whether normal is having the power back on or that their relationships will be repaired. It doesn't feature a lot of action or flashy moments; it's very subdue and emotionally driven, which is a nice change of pace for the genre. The acting is very convincing and the chemistry is definitely real and engaging. I would definitely give this one a couple glances if you're looking for something new in the post-apocalyptic genre.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fair Shake Review: 24K Magic - Bruno Mars

24K Magic - Bruno Mars
(Genre: R&B/Funk)

When it comes to artists that I hear in passing that I enjoy but haven't gotten a proper look at, Bruno Mars has definitely been on that list. His throwback style and vocals were always pleasing to the ear ever since the "Just the Way You Are" & "Nothing on You" days. Yet, something seemed to hold me back from going past the singles I'd hear. Then the album title track was released this year and it was the impetus I needed. The nostalgia and fun in the delivery was too much for me not to anticipate this project. Which brings us to this review today.

This short LP follows much of the fashion of last year's hit, "Uptown Funk", with a sound that harkens back to 70's funk and continues to travel through the decades with small touches of modernization. Being just a little over a half hour long, each track is presented knowing it has to hit since there's little room for error. You get some James Brown funk in "24K Magic" & "Perm", late 80's/early 90's R&B with "Versace on the Floor" & "Straight Up and Down", and even New Jack Swing with "Finesse". The one song I feel is the most modern sounding song would be "That's What I Like". Mars emulates each sound with near flawlessness with each track.

In my opinion, there's only one track I feel Bruno missed the mark and it was only with the lyrics. That song would be "Calling All My Lovelies", with it's almost Lonely Island silly lines akin to "Dick in a Box" & "Mother Lover". "Perm" almost panders a little too much in the same manner, but Bruno adds enough character to make it bearable. Absolute favorites of mine would certainly be the title track, "Finesse", & "That's What I Like". Yet, it's uncanny how much of a Jackson 5 feel I get from "Too Good to Say Goodbye".

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who would like a taste of the old days with a modern kick. It's honestly a project full of fun songs for the dance floor and grooving in the car. Matter of fact, the sonics of songs like "Chunky" can make you wanna strut down the street like a player. But all jokes aside, this is a remarkable ode to the past of R&B, funk, & soul. I do not regret finally giving Bruno Mars a chance to work his magic on my eardrums. Now to listen to his back catalog!

If this post is "Too Good to Say Goodbye", here's something else to check out:
The Needle Drop Review (Another balanced look at the album)
24K Magic (The music video)
24K Magic Singoff (Conor Maynard & Alex Aiono Cover)
24K Magic Live (@ the AMA 2016)
Radio Interview (Good interview)
TV Interview (Cringey interview)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Notable Female Rookies of 2015

I've done a couple posts on the notable rookies of 2012 and there were some in 2014, but I never made a post for them for some reason. I guess I was distracted by doing a follow-up for 2012 and other things. Who really knows? I sure don't. Anyway, I feel like so much news about 2015's rookies made a bit of a stir and deserve their own post. This time, I've split them into female and male groups as one list would be too long. I also will only be focusing on 2015 releases and solely basing my opinions of them from last year.

I must admit I wasn't extremely impressed with this group. For the most part, their sound reminds of those jpop girl groups I usually avoid. It's interesting that a kpop group could have such a sound. Their debut song, "Glass Bead", reminded me a lot of a rare favorite SNSD song of mine, "Into the New World", which isn't a terrible thing. I found their debut to be okay and I preferred this song to their follow up "Me Gusta Tu", if I had to choose. It probably will be no surprise that I'm rather picky with girl groups and you'll notice that with further reading of this post. In short, I won't be following these girls too closely, but they're not terrible. From what I heard, they bring back some of kpop's roots back to the forefront.

Rubber Soul
Well, this group isn't exactly kpop, but more khip-hop with a dash of R&B. I want to say I ran into this group on a list of nugus or something. I could be wrong, but either way, I'm happy they've entered my range of vision. This trio of talented women bring back the soul and spirit of American hip-hop and R&B from the late 80s to early 90s. It makes me so happy and warm inside listening and watching videos such as "Life" and "Lonely Friday". I'm looking forward to hearing more of their music beyond the videos and hopefully some new material in the remaining 2016 and into 2017.

Let me surprise you by saying I was very happy with "Pepe". In fact, I'm sure I've shared it with a few friends around the time it was released. I liked the retro and fun sound of the song, the vocals are pleasant, and the visuals were bright and very animated. Sure, it was something I've seen and heard before, but I enjoyed CLC's execution of it all. Unfortunately, "Like" was a bit too cutesy for my liking. The song wasn't as catchy, but it wasn't bad. Sadly, their styling was atrocious and being infantized did become increasingly annoying. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to following these ladies and seeing whether "Pepe" was a fluke or that I will be actually seriously following them.

The Ark
When this group debuted with "The Light", many kpop sites I regularly check went crazy for The Ark. Naturally, I had to check out what the hype was all about. They gave me a similar vibe as D-Unit when they debuted, which is good. These ladies have some impressive rap skills and lovely vocal talent. The video is simple and sweet. I'm not sure if any of the members are featured in the video or not, but the story was very intriguing and different than your typical debut music video, especially for a girl group. Surprisingly, there isn't a follow-up video. So, I hope there's more to come from The Ark.

Oh My Girl
With a name like "Oh My Girl", I was expecting another sugary sweet girl group that I'll be rolling my eyes at and...I was pretty much right with their debut video, "Cupid". It was full of pastels and cuteness you would find in your typical jpop PV. It's not overly infantile and the song isn't that bad. Really, they fit in that same category as early SNSD and GFriend. It wasn't until "CLOSER" was released that the group really gained attention, including myself. "CLOSER" was a brilliant follow-up to the bubble gum colored cuteness of "CUPID". The video reminds me of FLOWER's semi-ballad PVs, which is always a good thing. The choreography is good and the visuals are soft and sophisticated, like a fairy tale. This was a welcomed vulnerable and classic side of the group that I don't get to see often from kpop girl groups.

Pocket Girls
Remember when Wa$$up gained all this attention for their twerking debut music video? Well, Pocket Girls had a similar debut. I believe the members used to be car models or something and you can kinda tell from their physiques that they're not your average girl group. "Bbang Bbang" isn't a terrible song, especially if you're used to the party electronic pop tunes that had been trending for a while and perfected by T-ara. It is a little lackluster, but their vocals aren't that bad. I don't see these girls going too far with their music career. The choreography is overly pandering and awkward in many places, like they didn't practice enough or are missing members. In short, I think Pocket Girls should stick to modeling or something because this music thing has to be a joke. I feel kinda bad for them.

I thought about leaving this other gimmick group that'll probably disappear off my list, but they caused a bit of a stir online as well. I thought they had a music video out for their song "Oppa Oppa", but I could not find anything. So, this dance practice video will just have to do. The song is decent, but it's nothing special. It's pretty catchy and the choreography is...okay. So, what makes this group a gimmick like Pocket Girls? Well, this group is mostly known for their infamous "no panties" fancams. I guess their agency is really pushing the sex thing on them. If that's the case, they'll definitely disappear deeply into nothing this year and probably next year.

With a group name like that and having a debut song be the same title as the group, I was a little skeptical. To my surprise, I honestly enjoyed this cute, upbeat track. The video was brightly colored with neon and pastel colors. Sure, majority of the gestures and imagery featured throughout the video are very cutesy, but it looked like the girls were having fun with each other. Ultimately, there was something about the chorus that was catchy to my ears and the girls had a sweet, yet mature charm about them. I'm looking forward to what else they have to offer their fans.

With a name like "Unicorn", I was tempted not to check this group out. I expected something super girly and cutesy and while there is some of that, there's more than that. In their debut video for "HUK", I had no idea what to expect from the minimalistic introduction, but what I got I was surprisingly pleased with. It was a colorful video filled with plenty of personality. It gave each member their own scene to shine with different glamorous and fun set pieces. It's really a cute song that features the girls' vocal harmonies and range without being obnoxiously cute about it. I'm really curious how this group will develop this year, despite their slightly unfortunate name.

One of the major labels JYP Entertainment was releasing a new group in 2015 and I was obligated to check them out. There was such a big deal made about them. "Like OOH-AAH" proved to be different than their predecessors under the label, Wonder Girls and miss A. They were a young, fresh faced group with a chic and stylish street style that most kpop fans would normally associate with YG Entertainment. I wasn't completely blown away with their cute, sassy, zombie infested debut, but I didn't dislike it in the least. I enjoyed the concept, mixing a fun high school feel with a zombie invasion. Each member had their moments of cute interactions with each other and spotlight scenes to display their unique and quirky personalities. The song is very catchy and I thought the choreography was very fun and suited the mood of the song. I hope JYP gives them the proper care they deserve, because they are rather talented.

Dia Girls
Not to be confused with DIA, this is quartet was one I thought I checked out during their debut, but it was in fact...well, it's obviously DIA. As you can tell that group didn't make the list, even though I think they have more music videos than this one, which is kinda unfortunate. Judging this group by the only music video released, the opening is a little strange, but everything else is golden. I love the sensual, angelic, and mature vocal range of these ladies and it really matches the mood of the song. The visuals are soft and sensual as well. I can't think of that many kpop girl groups that start off with such mature visuals. Usually, they'll go with the typical cutesy and vibrant route, then show off how much they've grown with something more sultry and vocal dependent. So, it was refreshing to seeing something like this right off the bat. I'm not sure if I'll delve further into their music, even though I'm really enjoying this first video from them.

Awesome Baby
Sometimes the most talented groups have the most silly names and this is one of them. When I watched their first music video below, I feared it would be another boring ballad filmed in a sound studio, but it ended up being more than that. Despite the lack of visual appeal, these ladies have voices and I love that! The video switches between a sound studio, street performance, and some solo shots of each member. Their sound was definitely something different compared to the other entries in this list and it made me think of female R&B groups of the 90s. With soulful vocals and energetic beatboxing, these charming ladies definitely kept my attention and make me excited to hear so much more from them. I'm really hoping that other people give them a chance as well, because they do offer something different compared to the big agencies and polished appearances.