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Back in March when I got the word that Prince would be performing at the Ogden Theatre I thought for sure it was a joke. One of the biggest artists of all time is going to play at a 1,700 capacity venue on Colfax? You’re jerking my chain. Luckily I was wrong.
Following his SXSW performance in Austin, Prince announced a West Coast nine-city, 17-date tour of theaters called “Live Out Loud” and each night he was going play two shows –at 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. with the grand finale taking place on May 13 at the Ogden. Ticket prices were astronomically high and everything was general admission. I didn’t care. I had to see this.
In August 2004 I was lucky enough to see him at the Pepsi Center on his Musicology tour which I assumed would never happen again and it was a great show. We got to hear an acoustic version of “Little Red Corvette,” he blasted through “Baby I’m A Star” and “When Doves Cry” and we got what we paid for – a two-hour arena extravaganza. And nine years later I’m still talking about it so I figured it was worth the money to do it again with one tenth of the people.
Although the show was slated to start at 11:30 p.m. we arrived at 9:30 p.m. to get in line. So old school but that’s what you do when it’s GA and the artist you’re going to see has 10 platinum albums, thirty Top 40 singles and has sold over 80 million records worldwide. As we waited in line on Colfax, the event staff – contracted by the Ogden because they clearly needed more help – checked our IDs and gave us wristbands while we waited. Smart move considering everyone, including us, was anxious to get inside and grab spots. As we waited we learned a few things: 1) There was no merchandise for purchase. 2) No photos or video or they would kick you out.
At 10:30 the doors opened and we immediately went upstairs. We wanted front balcony seats and we got them. An hour later Prince appeared and he, along with chick trifecta band 3rdEyeGirl, came out guitars blazing. Clearly channeling Jimi Hendrix, he was sporting an afro and a black sequined outfit that might have made Slash blush. Speaking of Slash, the girls Prince found for this tour shredded their guitars and went hardcore Dave Grohl on the drums. It was unreal. Featuring guitarist Donna Grantis, bassist Ida Nielsen and drummer Hannah Ford, 3rd Eye Girl is a badass trio that really brought the rock and roll that would have made Angus Young/Slash/Nikki Sixx proud. And they brought it out of Prince too. This was more than a concert – this was a rock and roll party that didn’t stop for 90 minutes.
The show kicked off with “Let’s Go Crazy” and we knew it was going to be quite a ride. Prince, who is 54 years old, sounded great. The notes he can hit are incredible and the screeches and pops in his voice are like a separate instrument. It could have been 1999 or even 1989 – that’s how good he sounded. And not that anyone needed to be reminded of the fact that he is one of the greatest guitarists of all time but he made that very clear last night. Balls to the wall guitar with Grantis keeping up every step of the way – especially during their snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.” Mind. Blown. I also loved the neon-colored lyrics that appeared as the backdrop during his new song “Screwdriver.” The chorus is “I’m your driver, you’re my screw” which is so hilariously Prince-esque and one of the funniest lines is “Everywhere that we go now, there’s a show now, people pay money for the rock ‘n’ roll.” We sure did! And it was worth it!
We also got to see him play piano – something that didn’t happen at the 2004 show – and when the lights dimmed and all we saw was his silhouette with purple backlighting it gave me chills. I couldn’t believe it was happening – a stripped down “Purple Rain.” I’ll never forget it. Especially since Prince loves his medleys – he will tease a song and only play the first few notes or will just play snippets of hits and combine them together which is fine but you never know if you’re going to get the whole song. Needless to say “Purple Rain,” which is by no means is my favorite song, was one of the most memorable moments in my concert-going history. In fact this whole experience was remarkable and I think Prince had just as much fun as we did.
Best Prince quotes of the night:
While sitting at the piano and playing the first few chords of “Purple Rain”: “Colorado, listen to me. Strange times in America now. We gotta try to get along. You’ve heard before, but now more than ever, that’s what we need. We also need your voice. You can sing if you want to.”
(And the whole place sang along…)
Also during “Purple Rain”: “I can’t argue with anybody anymore. I’m too happy. I’m too blessed. Aren’t we all? You know times are changing. They’re not the same any more. It’s time we all reach out for something. Something new. Something different.”
(As someone who was notorious for fighting with his label, having copyright issues, going by a symbol and being a weird guy in general, it was nice to see him really having fun and connecting with the audience.)
After the “Nasty Girl” section of the medley: “Ain’t no party like a purple party. Purple party don’t stop.”
(It sure didn’t…)
Let’s Go Crazy
The Love We Make
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?
I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
When Doves Cry
Sign O the Times
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
I Would Die 4 You
A Love Bizarre
Hot Thing (with a few other snippets of songs included)
She’s Always in My Hair
U Got the Look
Twelve years of comments like “Yo,” “Dawg,” “In it to win it” and “pitchy” are finally over! Randy Jackson, the sole holdout from the original cast of judges on American Idol, is leaving the show after this season comes to a close. Randy I beg you; please take the show with you when you go! American Idol needs to put to rest along with all its bloated, over-dramatic nonsense and let The Voice be the only signing competition on television.
The only aspect that’s remotely interesting about Jackson’s departure is that the other judges are leaving as well which means that after only one season Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban are done with the show. Could it be because Minaj and Carey hate each other and are always trying to out-diva one another? Or is it because they can’t seem to make it to the show on time? There were several instances where Minaj arrived halfway through the show or Carey’s entourage was blamed for her tardiness. Get a grip. You’re making millions just to give your opinion and you can’t bother to get your ass in the chair on time?
Salaries: Carey raked in close to $18 million, Minaj made almost $12 million and Urban’s take was a reported $6 million for the season.
While I think shaking up the cast of judges is a generally a good thing (i.e. bringing in Shakira and Usher to replace Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green on The Voice) at this point I don’t think anything can save this show. Between the cheesy car commercials, transparent attempts at showing the audience how Idol “gives back” to the community and making the contestants sing songs that are part of a theme rather than what works for their respective voices, it’s become the equivalent of a middle school talent show.
And it’s not just me who has this opinion – last month American Idol averaged a 4.3 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic, its worst showing since its debut season in 2001. Conversely, The Voice reached a 5.2 rating in the same demographic while Idol dropped to a series low 2.8 in the same week.
Hey Television Powers That Be: Take a hint and let’s make this a one singing competition world. Trust me; we’ll all be better for it.
Before CDs became obsolete when iTunes was invented in 2001, soundtracks were kind of a big deal. Why? Because during a time when we did not yet have the technology to make our own mix CDs, soundtracks (or compilation discs), were the only way to hear a variety of artists on one disc. If you wanted to choose your own artists you’d have to make a mix tape (pause for nostalgic sigh).
This Friday, the highly-anticipated Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film The Great Gatsby will be released at a theater near you. While the movie itself has already gained a great deal of hype due to the big names (Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire complete the trifecta) and the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is an iconic piece of American literature, what’s surprising is how much hype the soundtrack is getting. Why? Check out a few of the heavy-hitters who contributed: Jay-Z, Beyonce and Andre 3000 covering Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black,” will.i.am, Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey, Gotye, Kanye West and Jack White, just to name a few.
How the hell did this happen? How did Gatsby garner such big music industry names and since when do these big names care about being on a soundtrack? Released today in retail stores and on iTunes, it will be interesting to see how many units the album sells or if people will just buy specific tracks instead.
In the meantime, here’s a trip down soundtrack memory lane…
The five top-selling soundtracks of all time:
1) The Bodyguard – Featuring Whitney Houston’s most iconic and best-selling song “I Will Always Love You,” the soundtrack won a Grammy for Album of the Year and has been certified 17 times platinum. To date, the soundtrack has sold over 45 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling soundtrack of all time.
2) Titanic – Released in November 1997 and riding the wave of the film’s success, the soundtrack shot to the top of the charts and sold over 30 million copies. It is also the highest-selling primarily orchestral soundtrack ever and gave Celine Dion her best-selling single ever – “My Heart Will Go On.”
3) Purple Rain – Published in July 2008, Entertainment Weekly’s 1,000th issue listed the album at number one on their list of the top 100 best albums of the past 25 years. It has gone platinum 13 times, features two number-one songs and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
4) Saturday Night Fever – Certified 15 times platinum, the album has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress. It stayed atop the album charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978 and stayed on Billboard‘s album charts for 120 weeks until March 1980.
5) Dirty Dancing – Spending 18 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 album sales charts, the soundtrack went multi-platinum and sold 32 million copies worldwide.
A few more thoughts:
-Two of these soundtracks (The Bodyguard and Purple Rain) feature singers that were also actors in the movie. Does that make a difference in their success?
-Titanic’s soundtrack was a big deal because the movie was an enormous hit – in fact it is the second-highest grossing film of all time with a worldwide total of over $2 billion. Yes, billion with a “b.” As a result, people rushed out to buy the soundtrack because they wanted to own the Celine Dion song. In fact I remember working in the music stores and dealing with a perpetual line out of the door because of this album.
-Will the Gatsby soundtrack make money even if the movie sucks?
-This soundtrack features arguably two of the biggest names in music right now – Jay-Z and Beyonce. With such popular singers featured on the album will customers view it as a “collection” of songs or just buy the ones they like by the artists they like?
You tell me….