Music Review >> NKOTBSB – ‘NKOTBSB’

Last summer while the New Kids on the Block were wrapping up their latest tour at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, they surprised their audience by bringing out the Backstreet Boys. singing “I Want It That Way.” A handful of months later, it was announced that the two boy bands would be joining forces on a full-fledged tour.

Before heading out on their current summer tour, the supergroup came together to release a joint collection of greatest hits as chosen by their fans called NKOTBSB. The album consists of five New Kids on the Block songs, five Backstreet Boys songs, two all-new tracks, “All In My Head” and “Don’t Turn Out the Lights (D.T.O.T.L.),” and a mash-up of both groups’ hits.

Overall, I think this greatest hits album is a fantastic mix of hit songs from both groups. The only change I would make is to swap out Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” for their lead single off their Black And Blue LP, “The Shape of My Heart.”

As much as I love both of these groups’ greatest hits, the standout track for me on this set is the collective NKOTBSB single, “Don’t Turn Out the Lights (D.T.O.T.L.).” Written by the song’s producer, Emanuel Kiriakou, along with Claude Kelly, and Jess Cates, it’s one of the best-written pop songs that I have heard in awhile. The track earned an A- from Entertainment Weekly’s Sandra Gonzalez, who said NKOTBSB “reclaim their reputation for creating perfect, infectious pop tunes with this danceable debut single.” I couldn’t agree more.

If you’re a fan of both of these groups, the NKOTBSB album is basically a dream come true.

NKOTBSB is available now. For more information and current tour dates for NKOTBSB, check out their official website.

NKOTBSB Track listing

1. Step By Step – New Kids On The Block
2. I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys
3. You Got It (The Right Stuff) – New Kids On The Block
4. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
5. Please Don’t Go Girl – New Kids On The Block
6. As Long As You Love Me – Backstreet Boys
7. Hangin’ Tough – New Kids On The Block
8. Larger Than Life – Backstreet Boys
9. I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) – New Kids On The Block
10. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) – Backstreet Boys
11. All In My Head – NKOTBSB
12. Don’t Turn Out The Lights (D.T.O.T.L.) – NKOTBSB
13. NKOTBSB Mash Up

Originally posted on Blogcritics.

DVD Review >> ‘Glee Encore’

Last month the latest Glee DVD hit store shelves called, Glee Encore. The DVD is right around 77 minutes of back-to-back Glee performances from season one. I absolutely love the idea of releasing a DVD like this, because there have been plenty of times when I’m watching Glee where I’ve been so excited to see the performances that I wished I could skip ahead to them.

The way the DVD is set up you can either watch the performances one  episode at a time, play them all at once, or you can click “Shuffle” on the menu screen and the performances will play in random order, which I think is a pretty cool feature.

As a fan of Glee, there are performances that I was looking forward to watching on Glee Encore, yet they were nowhere to be found. In particular, the performances I am surprised are not included on the DVD is the mash-up of “Halo”/ “Walkin’ on Sunshine,” the Regionals version of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and Vocal Adrenaline’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

To me it only makes sense to showcase both mash-ups from the “Vitamin D” episode, not just “It’s My Life”/ “Confessions Part II,” because both of the mash-ups were what made that episode stand out.

I feel like “Don’t Stop Believin’” from the “Journey to Regionals” episode should have made the cut for this DVD. The New Directions’ full set list from that episode was “Faithfully,” “Any Way You Want It”/ “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” To leave off the full circle moment of the season just doesn’t make any sense.

And lastly, the absence of Vocal Adrenaline’s performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” also from the “Journey to Regionals” episode is just disappointing. That was Glee guest star, Jonathan Groff’s shining moment on the show, and was also one of the best performances of the entire first season.

If you can get past the handful of performances that should have been highlighted on the DVD, Glee Encore is actually pretty fun to watch and sing-a-long to. It’s fun to kick back and relive moments from a show that add some “Glee” so to speak to fan’s lives.

Glee Encore is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Originally posted on Blogcritics.

Behind the ‘Glee’ >> “New York”

Season two of Glee comes to a close tomorrow night with it’s finale entitled, “New York.” Check out what Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith had to say about filming in New York!

Also, Michael Ausiello over at TV|Line just posted a sneak preview of the “I Love New York”/”New York, New York” mash-up performance from tomorrow night’s episode!

Who’s excited for tomorrow night’s episode?

Matthew Morrison and Darren Criss Duet on “Summer Rain”

Okay, so calling it a  duet is bit of a stretch, but Darren Criss does play guitar and sing-a-long while Matthew Morrison sings the lead single of his debut self-titled album, “Summer Rain” in the video below.

Afterwards, the two sing a mash-up of “Great Balls of Fire” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”

I’m sorry Matthew, but not even having Darren perform with you can make me like that song of yours. You should start performing, “Still Got Tonight” ASAP.

Matthew Morrison’s debut self-titled album is out today! You can download his second single, “Still Got Tonight” (co-written by Kris Allen) for FREE on iTunes!

Idol Wired >> Another Girl Bites The Dust

And so it goes, Karen Rodriguez was eliminated from American Idol this week. Not shocking in the least. And she did herself absolutely no favors by singing Mariah Carey’s “Hero” as her swansong, and then pleading to the judges for “The Save.” Ooh…girl. That save is reserved for Lauren Alaina, Pia Toscano, and possibly Casey Abrams.

In my eyes, Karen was booted for her hot mess of a performance from last week. I think sometimes when contestants have a bad performance, the audience’s opinion of them carries over into voting the following week. Not saying that it’s fact, just that it could be the case for Karen’s dismissal this week.

Let’s talk about the other two contestants that found themselves alongside Karen in the bottom three this week, Haley Reinhart and Naima Adedapo.

I figured that Haley would find her way back to the bottom three just based on the judges comments from the night before. The judges definitely can sway the vote, and if they are consistently giving a contestant a hard time, I think that translates to the audience as, “Vote for Lauren Alaina.” Ha ha, I’m kidding. But, I do think that their comments combined with her lackluster performance is why Haley found herself back in the bottom three this week.

I was legitimately disappointed when Ryan Seacrest announced that Naima was headed to the bottom three. I think the judges gave her too much of a hard time in their critiques. Her performance was nowhere near as bad as they made it out to be. She is one of the more polarizing contestants this season, and it would be a shame to see her before she reaches her full potential on the show. I think Naima is keeping the show fresh and bringing something new to the table. If she’s eliminated in the next few weeks, I feel like it could be a devastating blow to the season.

I wanted to touch on this week’s group song, which was a mash-up of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” First off, good on Idol for a live group performance! Nigel Lythgoe tweeted last week that the group performance was live, which I’m still not sure I entirely buy, but it is what it is. I felt like this week’s mic issues were done purposely to show that the contestants were singing live. You got your point across, Nigel.
Continue reading Idol Wired >> Another Girl Bites The Dust

Tour Talk With Kris Allen

As his tour with Lifehouse comes to a close this week, Kris Allen took some time to talk with me about being on tour the past year supporting different artists, the “Alright With Me” video he did for his fans, and what he thinks is the biggest misconception about his music.

I caught your show the other night in San Francisco, it was great.

Thanks, that was a really fun show.

My friend mentioned after the show that her favorite part about your set was that you’re converting Lifehouse fans in about eight songs or less.

Tell her thanks. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do.

Can you tell while you’re performing that you are drawing people into your music?

I feel like we can tell. It takes about three or four songs. You know they’re like, “Oh, this is fun,” and by the end they’re like “Wow, that was a lot of fun!” And it’s always cool when you can win over the dudes. Girls are probably the best fans that you can have, but when you can win over the guys at a show, especially the older guys, it’s awesome.

Very cool. You’ve supported different bands this year on tour. Is it a feeling of “same thing, different band” or is the vibe different on each tour?

I think it’s a different vibe, you know? We were out with totally different kinds of artists. We went out with Maroon 5, and Keith Urban, and now Lifehouse. Also, I think the vibe really depends on the venue. With Keith, we were playing those monster fairs with like 10,000 people there. With Maroon 5, it was like smaller outdoors stuff, but still pretty big. And with Lifehouse we’re doing theatres. It’s been a blast, it really has been for every one of them.

Is it more intimidating to play a small intimate show or a large venue?

The most intimidating crowd to play for is about five people. When it’s super small and you’re just sitting in a room with friends and they’ll go “Hey Kris, sing us a song,” you’re like, “Oh no, I can’t do that.” It’s really weird.

In the beginning of the tour you had “Man In The Mirror” on the set list, and then switched it out for Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” what was behind that decision?

I think that it was a conscious decision to say you know what, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is a little more upbeat of a song. And we’ve been playing “Man In The Mirror” forever. It was just nice to play something new, and I think when we introduce new stuff into the set everyone gets excited about it. It may not be perfect at first, and it may not even be that great, but we get excited about playing new stuff. Continue reading Tour Talk With Kris Allen

Video: Kris Allen & Lifehouse Perform at the Masonic Center

Last night I attended Lifehouse’s “Smoke And Mirrors” tour with special guest, Kris Allen.  One of my favorite bands, one of my favorite Idols…as you can imagine, I had a pretty awesome time.

I brought back some video clips from the show to share!

The first two clips are from Kris’s set. I filmed part of the “Everybody Wants To Rule The World/The Way You Make Me Feel” mash-up . I also taped Andrew DeRobert’s guitar solo during “Is It Over.”

Enjoy!

Continue reading Video: Kris Allen & Lifehouse Perform at the Masonic Center

Music Review >> Glee Cast – ‘Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album’

I love Christmas music. I love Glee. The combination of the two results in an album filled with a great mix of classic and contemporary Christmas songs.

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album goes above and beyond any possible expectations I had before I took my first listen. “Deck The Rooftop,” which is a mash-up of “Deck The Halls” and “Up On The Rooftop,” was completely unexpected. Glee definitely manged to put their twist on two popular holiday songs, and made it into an extremely catchy sing-a-long.

One of the tracks that is already getting a lot of buzz is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which is sung by Chris Colfer (Kurt) and Darren Criss (Blaine). It’s a very sweet duet between the two, and their vocals are superb.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” sung by the Glee ladies, is one of my favorites. The harmonizing is on point, and they seem to be reining in the glory notes a bit, which gives the song a sense of vulnerability, and allows the lyrics to stand in the spotlight.

I really liked Glee’s interpretation on “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The song features Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester) and K.D. Lang. I still watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas every year, so I really appreciated this song being on the album. Morrison and Lang really capture its spirit.

I have to make mention of Amber Riley (Mercedes), who sings “Angels We Have Heard On High.” On this song, she has a voice to be reckoned with. The arrangement for me left something to be desired, but Riley’s voice makes the song a success.

I have to say that the group harmonizing on this album is fantastic. The Glee cast really have never sounded better. There’s something about Christmas music that really brings the best out of singers.

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album really exceeded my expectations. The album has a great combined energy of Glee and Christmas spirit.

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album is available now. The Glee Christmas special airs December 7 on FOX at 8 p.m.

Originally posted on BlogCritics.