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Josh Kaufman’s “Voice” performance is EVERYTHING

Last night marked the beginning of the live shows for season 6 of NBC’s hit-show “The Voice.” The night featured some amazing performances from a diverse lot of contestants. One particular contestant came out guns blazing yesterday evening, and that would be Josh Kaufman from team Usher. His cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” was perfection, and the type of performance that gives a singer a sea of popular momentum. (Think Andrew Garcia’s cover of “Straight Up” from “Idol.”)

Kaufman flaunted his radio-ready voice with all the flavor you could want: high and low, rich and silky. The thumping percussion against his dancing falsetto was pure magic. Most of what makes performers great on these singing shows is not just great voices, but great artistry and mass-market appeal. This guy is ready. Usher knows it too; the cameras couldn’t resist capturing the cheesy grin plastered on his face.

Are you currently trying to download the performance on iTunes? Me too.

And to think that Adam Levine eliminated Kaufman in the second battle round is just mind-blowing. Christmas came early for Usher this year, who snuck in and snatched up a strong frontrunner.

“Stay With Me” is resonating with the rest of America too. The song has already skyrocketed up to number four on iTunes, which will have a multiplying effect of five on his voting results.

Adam, what on EARTH were you thinking?

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One Direction releases shape-shifting “You and I” video

Calling all Directioners! Grab your party hats, tissues, stress balls–whatever it is you need to weather new One Direction material–because the new video is taking you up close and personal with the heartthrobs. If you liked the transformations in the “Best Day Ever” video, you’ll love this one too.

Is anyone else exhausted from walking the never-ending boardwalk to nowhere? Sheesh. And when did Liam age 20 years? Are they doing a “Lincoln” sequel I don’t know about?

After being thoroughly confused and slightly horrified by Niall transfiguring into Liam (Professor McGonagall would be so proud), it all started to make sense. One lyric reads:

“Not even the gods above / could separate the two of us.”

And all of the guys are in one body because they can’t be separated! Whether that means they’re in a five-way relationship or not, I don’t know, but I cracked the Direction code–a lot faster than the Da Vinci code, that’s for sure.

The awkwardly candid section of the video gave way to the presence of all five members (bad break-up?) leap-frogging and jumping into suspended versions of themselves. All-in-all, I’m still a little lost and a little weary from the journey. It’s still one of my personal faves from “Midnight Memories” though, so… yay!

What do you guys think? Love it? Hate it? Whatever, it’s One Direction?

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#Addicted: Trader Joe’s Animal Crackers

One month anniversary.

When you watch as much television as I do, you need a snack. And when you’re a compulsive snack binger, you need a relatively healthy snack to counter the disgusting amount you’re about to consume. After painstakingly criss-crossing the ends of the Earth (the one block that separates Ralphs and Trader Joe’s), I found my match: Trader Joe’s Organic Animal Crackers.

Our relationship began like most others: the first date.

I walked into the alternatively-hip Trader Joe’s on a mission to find a snacking miracle. After getting sucked into the wine vortex in the back (Why does that always happen?), I made it to the aisle of snack food paradise. It’s really unnerving how much unique junk food that store sells. And a lot of it is junk–either calorically-intoxicating, dripping in saturated fat or a sugary trip in a coma. This is L.A. and we do not stand for such health injustices!

At the very end of the row, I came to the animal crackers. I won’t say it was love at first sight–but there was undeniable chemistry. It was love when I read the nutrition label. I saw right into its soul and realized we were meant for each other:

Serving size: 17 crackers (That’s a lot!) / Calories: 120 / Cals from fat: 15 / Total fat: 2g (YES) / Sugars: 6g (Am I being punk’d?!)

There’s even 2g of protein and trace amounts of iron, so it’s like healthy too.

We began seeing each other regularly: Sunday nights for “Looking,” Tuesday nights for “New Girl” and Thursdays for “Millionaire Matchmaker.” Call it the honeymoon stage, if you will. Things were great. I was really happy and I feel like I was putting good energy out into the Universe, which is really important.

But then out of nowhere they became so controlling and so demanding. I was finishing entire containers outside of my television schedule. They went crazy! It’s hard to find a way out when you’re in the depths of a manipulative and sometimes mentally-abusive relationship–or so I’m told. They were there for me when I was sad or happy. But then they would betray me when I was trying to refrain from frivolous snacking. I try so hard to resist but I keep coming back for more. Gimme, gimme more!–And if I keep eating them at this rate, I’m going to look like Britney in her “Gimme More” VMA performance.

It’s even worse now that others are noticing the trap I’m in. Two days ago, when I went to Trader Joe’s to buy my third container in five days, the cashier looked at me and said, “These again?”

“How does he know?! Is it that obvious that I’m spiraling downward and I’m so far removed from reality to recognize it?”

I managed a smile and a meager, “Yup,” as I slowly sucked air into my mouth in awkward tension. I grabbed my lover and ran out of there as fast as I could.

Right now, we’re in a really happy place again. My roommate was super great and assumed the role of a therapist and helped us sort out what each of us really wanted. We actually see eye-to-eye on a lot of things so the future seems really bright. I love them.

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You got into college? Cool. This NY teen got accepted to ALL EIGHT Ivies.

Today, I did some shopping for my new room. I enjoyed/demolished a baracoa burrito at Millennial food establishment of choice, Chipotle. I attended class. I feel pretty accomplished in my day thus far. Oh, and I almost forgot, “The Mindy Project” starts up again tonight!

kwasi2In the mean time, Long Island, New York high school student Kwasi Enin is perched in his home debating if he will attend Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania or Yale. Yes, that is an exhaustive list of every Ivy League university in America, all of which granted the first-generation American acceptance letters…I’m assuming he won’t want to rapid-fire iMessage later about the romantic future of Mindy and Dr. Castellano?

Enin’s parents emigrated to the United States from Ghana, which proved to be a pretty great decision. Their son scored in the 99-percentile of the SAT–or Suicidal Actualization Test, for those of you who have not subject yourself to them–with a score of 2,250 out of a possible 2,400, according to NBC 4.

Now the burning question: But WHICH school are you going to choose?! I’m having mounting anxiety for you.

When he spoke with USA Today, he said he hasn’t decided, but his preference would be Yale.

Funny enough, Mindy Kaling went to Dartmouth, so I think he should choose Dartmouth. Then again, I think that’s in some small town in cold, cold New Hampshire. Both small towns and brutal cold make give me hives, so maybe not the best. I’m assuming his thought process is a lot more elaborate than mine. Hermione Granger went to Brown, so that’s kind of cool too.

In closing, I was going to attach my Harvard rejection letter, but sadly I cannot find it.

 

[images via Uptownmag and USA Today]

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“The Voice” is getting “Happy” next season

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It was just announced that Pharrell Williams (and his hat?) will be joining the judging line-up for season 7 of NBC’s hit singing show, “The Voice.”

The “Happy” singer was the first confirmed judge for the next season, with the remaining chairs to be announced soon. NBC released this statement on their ‘Voice’ Twitter account, welcoming the Grammy-award winner:

Judging change-ups are not uncommon on the reality show. Coaches Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green swapped mentoring roles with Shakira and Usher for the past three seasons now, joining the perennial bromance of Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Some of the judges took to their own Twitter accounts to show Pharrell the family love:

Pharrell has been riding quite a wave of momentum recently. The acclaimed producer wrote, produced and was featured in Robin Thicke’s 2013 summer anthem, “Blurred Lines.” Williams also wrote and featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” for which he earned a “Record of the Year” Grammy. And how can we forget the Oscar-nominated song “Happy” from the “Despicable Me 2″ soundtrack? It’s kind of the Earth’s jam right now. (It’s currently in its fifth week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100).

What do you peepz think? I personally love the choice: mainstream, fresh, acclaimed behind-the-scenes and on stage–perfect choice! I would hate to see either Adam or Blake leave though, so granted they stay, who would you like to see sitting in the last chair? Britney Spears? Sorry, I’m feeling very funny today.

But for real, Mariah Carey? Oh, there I go again….

 

[Image via highsnobiety.com]

 

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Top 10: My favorite albums

 I have found the process of ranking albums particularly difficult because, you know, my life is so hard and this is the apex of my concerns at the moment. There are two ways of looking at an album: it produced a lot of songs I like vs it’s a coherent, focused piece of work. I eventually put emphasis more on albums which were more focused around a certain sound rather than a clusterfuck of catchy tunes. So without further ado, here are my top ten albums (not that you care, but I like lists so I’m going to post it anyway):

10. Teenage Dream / Katy Perry / 2010

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This little bundle of sugary pop confectionary damn near gave me diabetes in the fall of 2010. A “dream” is an apt title for this album because it’s so all over the place that no other title would rationalize the A.D.D. on display: peacocks, melting popsicles, aliens, break-ups, fireworks, sad faces, happy faces, etc. But for a diverse album, it sure did give us some solid hits.

Pick three: “Teenage Dream” / “Hummingbird Heartbeat” / “Part of Me”

9. Closer / Josh Groban / 2003

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Can classical music be mainstream? Yes. Josh Groban made us all a little classier and worldly with this 5x-platinum sophomore release. Italian, French, Spanish, English–You name it, it’s sung. “Closer” is just such a beautiful album and Groban’s voice is like super dope and can make the hairs on your neck do the Harlem Shake. It’s a great publicity tool for Rosetta Stone too.

Pick three: “All’improvviso Amore” / “Si Volvieras A Mi” / “Remember When It Rained”

8. Confessions / Usher / 2004

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One word: YEAH! Not only was THE song of the first decade of the millennium on this album, but it was also the birth of Ur-sher, baby. Soulful R&B and Usher’s falsetto just play so well together. From dancing on table tops to dropping panties in a blink of an eye: that is the magic of “Confessions,” along with some relationship faux-pas. If only everyone could sound so sexy and amazing for being a lowly, cheating douchebag.

Pick three: “Yeah” / “Can U Handle It” / “Burn”

7. Own the Night / Lady Antebellum / 2011

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I can just smell the cornfields already. Lady Antebellum does such an amazing job at making country music that has cross-market appeal. This album in particular is so soothing and easy-going. It makes me want to bust out a flannel shirt and sit on a porch swing from dusk to dawn in the middle of October. My descriptions are very specific. So weird to think I saw them open for Carrie Underwood once and was like “Another song? Can they just get off–like, now?” How times have changed.

Pick three: “We Owned the Night” / “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” / “Wanted You More”

6. 4 / Beyonce / 2011

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This is perhaps the funniest selection on this list. I vividly remember throwing an epic tantrum after sampling this originally. I. Was. Piiiiissed. “This album is horrible. Who does she think she is now? This ain’t 1960. Who killed Sasha Fierce? Where she at?” And then time passed and mended all of my Beyonce wounds. I can now appreciate the restraint and artistic direction she went with this, it just took some time. I like to go hard to Bey and this was not affording me the chance. “4″ is just so unique and a breath of fresh air amid the dance-music revolution that was happening all around it.

Pick three: “Run the World (Girls)” / “End of Time” / “Love on Top”

5. Aaliyah / Aaliyah / 2001

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Too many thoughts to write down. I think it’s a known fact–my feelings toward Aaliyah. One of the best ever. The production on this album in conjunction with her smooth chops just slays everything. She pushed the boundaries of soul into the future on this album and it makes for such a cool vibe. Mad swag alert.

Pick three: “Rock the Boat” / “I Care 4 U” / “We Need A Resolution”

4. Hybrid Theory / Linkin Park / 2000

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Whodathunk that hip-hop and rock would sound good together for the duration of an entire LP? Linkin Park burst onto the scene in 2000 with this epic debut, pushing the boundaries of musical labels. The sound was different from anything I had heard before and I remember my dad (rock lover) playing this all summer long until the point that I even put my Spice Girls on hold to listen to it instead. It also reminds me of the time when 11-year-old me would listen to “In the End” with a heavy heart because I thought I had AIDS and was going to die. Medical hypochondria set in very early for me, clearly.

Pick three: “In the End” / “Papercut” / “With You”

3. Heal / Loreen / 2013

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I have always stood by my claim that no one does pop music better than the Swedes. This album confirms that. But it’s more than just pop; there are shades of R&B and dance interwoven throughout. I have a “thing” for chill, night songs that have dance/trance elements incorporated and this album gave me a big, fat American-restaurant serving of that. It’s just so freaking cool. I also just happen to be obsessed with Loreen, which you can read all about in my #Addicted post dedicated to her. It’s dark, brooding and magical–like Harry Potter, sexed up with a strobe light.

Pick three: “Euphoria” / “Do We Even Matter” / “Crying Out Your Name”

2. Goodbye Lullaby / Avril Lavigne / 2011

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I adore this album. Like “We Own the Night,” it’s just an effortless album to listen to. The tracks are all coherent and incredibly cute. And like “4,”this was not one of Avril’s best-selling albums by a long shot. All of the angst and screaming was stripped away and there she was, introspective and sad–I enjoyed it. It’s like Adele, I like you being miserable, because you make good music for my ears. Just a tad selfish?

Pick three: “I Love You” / “Stop Standing There” / “What the Hell”

1. Daydream / Mariah Carey / 1995

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Nothing can ever or will ever top this album. I don’t know what it is about it–it’s just an untouchable. I mean, there is the fact that this album produced three MONSTER hits–”Always Be My Baby” being my favorite song of all-time. Mariah’s voice on this album though is just in a class of its own. I also feel like this album was the perfect blending of her pop beginnings and eventual R&B persuasion, which helped push it seven-times platinum in the US (her second best, after her eponymous debut album). I have always longed for her to abandon her routine, Jermaine Dupri R&B productions and revert back to this spirited and lively period in her music, but apparently she likes the declining trend in her record sales. This album is best for sitting out on a summer’s night atop the cool grass gazing up at the stars. Try it. I can’t anymore in L.A. because a) there is no more grass and b) air pollution has killed stargazing abilities.

Pick three: “Always Be My Baby” / “Fantasy” / “One Sweet Day”

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Steamy Jelena dance routine surfaces

Are they? Are they not? The debate around Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s relationship status has been just as flighty as—well, Justin’s sanity recently. Days after Bieber posted a picture of  his ex-girl on Instagram, claiming how gorgeous she is, this dance video from their weekend rendezvous in Texas was posted to YouTube.

Yesterday, reports from the Canadian pop star’s legal deposition (something about a photog being roughed up by his bodyguard blah blah blah) claimed the Biebz got infuriated when asked about Gomez.

“Don’t ask me about her again,” he said multiple times before storming out of the room.

Whether or not it’s official, I think it’s safe to say Selena wants in on the train wreck. God bless.

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WATCH: What would English sound like to a foreigner?

Okay, so this girl needs to be my new best friend. As an avid language enthusiast, I can appreciate/loathe those who are able to speak more than two languages fluently. This means I love/hate nearly every European and about 1/3 of the rest of the world. One day my three-quarter-ass Spanish and one-quarter-ass French will be perfect.

Not that this woman from Finland is actually speaking any languages, she’s just impersonating their sound, but it still sounds just about right. After going through a few languages, she gets to U.S. English (as opposed to UK English which she also does) and you can hear the difference: we sound so tragically basic.

 

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Oscars: Let’s hear it for Adele Dazim!

The Oscars have come so far. They truly have. I’ve been watching the Academy Awards for nearly a decade now, in the beginning because I felt obliged to and now because it’s actually (mildly) entertaining. Last night’s telecast had many great moments that are making me cope with this dreadful Monday morning a little better than usual.

First and foremost, we got introduced to Adele Dazim:

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This will never not be funny. But IDINA MENZEL is a legend and killed it anyway–well, mostly, except for the grand finale note which she literally killed.

Moving on, Ellen was on fire in hosting duties, even if the pizza joke was nearly overkill. The roast of JLaw was amazing, but there was one particular bit that took the cake:

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“Did I miss it?!” Ellen yelled, running out after the “Wizard of Oz” tribute ended. I can empathize. Watching childhood dreams be crushed is never easy, like when I came to terms with the fact that I would never have a twin sibling like Lindsay Lohan had in “The Parent Trap.”

Then there was that awkward moment when one lady thought she was on “The Voice.”

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Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Actress and I was a wreck before she even left her seat. I have become so emotionally fragile in my mid-twenties.

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I also teared up because Sandy teared up.

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But enough crying. There was so much to be HAPPY about! Like Meryl Effing Streep shimmying with Pharrell, and his hat.

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All of the dancing had everyone hungry, so Ellen ordered pizza, and Brad Pitt was adorbz and assumed the role of paper-plate-hander-outter:

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And the reoccurring fact that anything JLaw does just make us love her. See Jennifer laugh. See Jennifer breathe. See Jennifer sit. Sigh…it’s love.

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Oh, and see Jennifer fall AGAIN, before she even made it inside. Maybe she’ll nominated next year in “Gravity, Why?!”

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But my favorite moment will still be hanging with all of my besties, in the best selfie ever.

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Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” music video has arrived

Hide ya Cheetos, hide yo husband! Pharoah Katy Perry is on the loose in her new “Dark Horse” music video.

Set in Egypt “a crazy long time ago,” Perry’s Celopatra figure can be seen “nope-ing” (a la Tinder) potential suitors, not before stealing their goods. Gimme those fiery hot Cheetos! Seriously. It happened. She also showed off some of those sassy bounce-with-it dance moves that have you going, “OK, Katy Perry. OK.”

Apart from the color palette explosion and gaudy outfits–and grillz–there are some pretty moments but are sadly short-lived. Check out the video and then answer the poll at the bottom: