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Charlie B. "Charlie" RSS Feed (Washington, D.C.)

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Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse
Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse
Price: $16.88
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mariah: "You Don't Know What to Do", May 27, 2014
This album is very uneven, and as a die-hard Mariah Carey fan/lamb for life, it bothers me when she does releases like this. Since "Butterfly" she'll miss the mark for the subsequent album ("Rainbow," "Charmbracelet," "E=MC2") but come back strong thereafter ("The Emancipation of Mimi," "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel"). This to me represents another one of those "she lost it" moments: the album as a whole is not cohesive and she tries to use a formulaic approach that quite frankly hasn't worked to her advantage since the late 90s.

Examples of this include in particular the slow, Gospel-tinged tracks such as "Cry." "Camouflage," and "Heavenly." Mariah in the 90s would have murdered these tracks, but the Mariah of today whose vocals are not as strong as they used to be a decade plus ago leaves you hungry and wanting more; it feels like there is something missing, and throwing in [recycled] headnotes just never saves the day. The George Michael remake of "One More Try" is another example, i.e. her propensity to historically throw in a cover on an album. I had no idea at first what I was listening to, then I realized, and I felt let down because she just never pushes herself vocally where I know good and well she can go on a track like that.

Another issue with the formula is the hip-hop/R&B/urban tracks. At some point Mariah needed to be reminded that she was embraced for this during the "Daydream" and "Butterfly"-eras because it was a departure for her, vocally she was immaculate, and it worked because producers back then were actually creative compared to today. She has never been "that" R&B/Hip-Hop vocal artist, like a Mary J. Blige, but she seems to believe that she is when she tries to do these contemporary R&B/Hip-Hop tracks and adds insult to injury by throwing a rapper into the mix. "Dedicated" and "You Don't Know What to Do" actually aren't that bad, but she adds rappers Nas and Wale respectively into the mix and the appeal is gone. Maybe as a remix, but not as the actual track. It would be wise for her to stick to traditional R&B such as on "The Emanicipation of Mimi" and her other songs of the past and throw in something like that for good measure rather than try to go there every single time. Or better yet, not forsake her pop roots.

But there are highlights. Tracks like "#Beautiful" and "Meteorite" are excellently crafted pop tracks and throwbacks to her roots as an artist. Why "#Beautiful" never took off like her previous singles puzzles me still to this day. "Faded" produced by Mike Will Made-It is impressive at it shows his versatility and puts Mariah in a comfortable spot vocally, similar to another standout "Supernatural" featuring vocals from her adorable children. "Thirsty" and especially "Money" are two of the hip-hop/r&b tracks that actually work, while "Make It Look Good" revisits the similar sound of "Its A Wrap" from "Memoirs..." "You're Mine (Eternal)" should not have been a single; it's one of those songs from an album that you know is too good to be single worthy because only a real fan or listener of music could understand how great of a track it is, but unfortunately it too failed upon release.

The bonus cuts in my opinion are unnecessary but clearly for the fans. "It's a Wrap" featuring Mary J. Blige is delicious, while "Betcha Gon' Know" featuring R. Kelly is just okay. It would've been nicer to see the other cuts from "Angels Advocate" such as "Inseperable" with Trey Songz and "Angels Cry" with Ne-Yo on here instead. "The Art of Letting Go" was another misstep in terms of singles, and vocally as well as production wise all over the place. Even more unnecessary is the "explanation" of the album featured in promos as the final track.

I knew this project was in trouble when Mariah kept releasing underperforming singles. I also sensed further problems with her Def Jam partnership when "Angels Advocate" was nixed. I don't know what's going on, if the powers that be aka the label are trying to sabatoge her, or if Mariah has just lost all sense of direction, but I hope to some extent that she will get it right on her next or future project because this is not her worse, but definitely not her best.

Chipmunk Adventure BD Combo [Blu-ray]
Chipmunk Adventure BD Combo [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ross Bagdasarian Jr
Price: $12.49
35 used & new from $7.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Expected a bit more from this latest release, April 30, 2014
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It's sad when you buy this movie every time it comes out to have it in all video formats like myself (when I was younger, we recorded it from a movie channel, played the VHS tape out until it could play no more, then bought the newer VHS release in the mid 90s; I myself purchased the DVD years later as an adult), but this movie just never gets old. There are so many "moments" in this film that every time I watch I find myself literally losing it with laughter. From Ms. Miller's presence to Alvin's very intense and "I'm over it" expressions, this movie was hilarious. And in my 30s now, I still can remember every song and line verbatim.

I thought the Blu-ray transfer was great, much clearer than the previous DVD version I had. The only thing I didn't like about this release is that there were no real extras. The little bonus clip that is included did nothing for me, when the last release that came out, the DVD version, included the full movie soundtrack, which was a major step up from the original VHS release which only included a bonus CD of about three songs from the movie.

It would've been nice to see a bit more as a hardcore fan of the movie, but at least there is a clearer version to enjoy for years to come!

12 Years a Slave [Blu-ray]
12 Years a Slave [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Chiwetel Ejiofor
Price: $17.99
54 used & new from $7.37

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Fell For the Hype, March 11, 2014
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I am fully aware that movies affect people in different ways, but "12 Years a Slave" just did not do it for me. After months of hearing all the buzz and all the hype, finally having the opportunity to watch it, I just was not that thrilled or impressed. Now don't get me wrong, it was beautifully shot, the cinematography had me floored, but after I got past that, I found that the acting was just average and the script paltry at best. There were no standout scenes or performances in my opinion. Chiwetel Ejiofor was good, but he wasn't great, which showed in his loss of the Academy Award. Lupita Nyongo'o was okay, but those she was up against in her respected category of Best Supporting Actress from what I've read may have been slightly better. As long as "12 Years" was, the movie was painstakingly slow. Movies in this genre such as "Roots" and "Amistad" kept a steady pace and had several pivotal scenes throughout, but this movie almost made me lose interest several times due to its lack of ability to engage.

For me, this movie proves the power of the Hollywood machine at its best. All it takes is the right people behind a film, namely Brad Pitt and his Plan B company, and a campaign like no other that I've frankly never seen before, and the average can become exceptional. We've seen this movie before, Hollywood has made this movie before, so what are they telling us that we don't already know or get? But a movie like "Fruitvale Station" that depicts these same ideas and misconceptions and shows that they are still happening today as opposed to 150-something years ago gets no recognition or put on a pedestal to ignite social change. Definitely there is some work that needs to be done, but until then, I'll just say this movie was okay.

G  I  R  L
Price: $9.99
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like It, March 11, 2014
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This review is from: G I R L (Audio CD)
I'm really feeling this album. I have everything N*E*R*D and by Pharrell equally, and this does not disappoint. I've really noticed more than anything on this album that Pharrell's voice sounds better than I've ever heard all these years. The album as a whole reminds me of The Neptunes early work with their own N*E*R*D albums and artists like Kelis. It's very funky and retro, with that old school vibe.

Tracks like "Hunter" and "Gush" really build the momentum of the album following the appetizers "Marilyn Monroe" and "Brand New" featuring Justin Timberlake. Then of course the album wouldn't be complete without "Happy" which appears to be his biggest solo track to date. "Come Get It Bae" really gets the party started and sounds like his Part 2 version of Miley Cyrus's "#Getitright." "Gust of Wind" is very mellow and cool and "Lost Queen" just sounds like something I can't ever say I've ever heard before, something that only Pharrell could come up with. Love "Know Who You Are" featuring Alicia Keys, it has that chill, laidback Caribbean vibe, and "It Girl" sounds like something he's done before that we've never heard before.

Overall, I'm not impressed, it was expected, and Pharrell delivered! I hope this album and the success of "Happy" allow a new set of fans to get into and appreciate his musical prowess because he is just beyond talented and "G I R L" proves it.

Price: $6.96
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haters Gon' Hate, December 3, 2013
This review is from: Artpop (Audio CD)
I was not a fan of "The Fame," and I didn't get on the "Fame Monster" bandwagon until after the EP's popularity had fizzled. "Born This Way" came out and I was thoroughly impressed, so I had high expectations for "ARTPOP." At first listen I felt like "This is not Born This Way, I'll pass" but then I kept getting into it more and more and my appreciation grew. While I can admit that it sounds nothing like "Born This Way" and is not as lyrically and conceptually groundbreaking like its predecessor, "ARTPOP" feels more like an experimental effort and return to Gaga's dance and EDM roots, which is simply alright with me.

Of the more progressive EDM tracks, I love "Aura," and "Swine." From beginning to end, these tracks go off immediately and grab your attention. "Donatella" and "Gypsy" even, she holds back on these more modern dance tracks in a good way, but it works in my opinion.

When she gives me that rock edge, "MANiCURE" and "Mary Jane Holland" satisfy. You just want to let loose and let go, and it's expressed through the lyrics.

That throwback [David] Bowie she delivers on "Venus," "ARTPOP," "Fashion!" and "Applause" is so nostalgic I just lose it every time these tracks come on. You're listening and wondering if the material is really hers because it sounds so authentic and classic, vintage even.

Her hybrid of Dance and Pop are her finest works to me with "G.U.Y." as well as "Sexxx Dreams," more so because a casual listener will probably ignore the R&B tinges in each of these, though it is most prominent in "Jewels N' Drugs" (an odd and seemingly out of place track on the album if you ask me) and "Do What U Want."

"Dope" is the only song that I'm not too in love with as much as I try. Maybe eventually, but just not right now.

Overall I think the album is solid. Does it seem a bit rushed and not as thought through as her previous efforts? I think so. Is it her best? I guess it depends on who you're asking, as I've mentioned, to me, "Born This Way" was a heavy hitter, but this isn't far behind. I've admired Gaga the most for her lyrical content, as well as her musical talent. So for me, the lack of depth of the songs was just slightly disappointing. Conceptually, I was also unsure, but upon further listen, most notably the many different layers and meanings to the songs (as art can be, an interpretation not necessarily of the artist, but of the viewer, listener, etc.), I began to see what it was all about.

This album truly isn't about trying to please, gain a number one single, etc., apparent in her choice of the first couple of singles that have been released (if she wanted that, we might have gotten "G.U.Y." as her reintroduction, it seems the most radio-friendly despite its suggestiveness). And I don't think that this will be a mainstream success since the appeal of who she is has faded, and is apparent by how fickle the North American market has responded to this project. But what I do know is she's an artist, and you either appreciate it, or sit back and hate because you just don't undersatnd or get it.

And this listener appreciates it. Paws up.

Ice Cream Everyday
Ice Cream Everyday
Offered by Blisslife Store
Price: $17.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tasty and Delightful Comeback, November 26, 2013
This review is from: Ice Cream Everyday (Audio CD)
This album reminds me in many ways of Amel's 2004 release, "Bravebird": edgy, funky, eclectic, ahead of its time. To me, it feels like a departure from "Morning" and the covers album "Lovely Standards," the follow-ups were a little more pure and organic, and to my tastes, not as grabbing. But "Ice Cream Everyday" reconfirms musically that Amel is in a class all her own and remains one of the most interesting and notable neo-soul acts around.

The lead single and first cut on the album, "Afraid," is an innocuous groove about an intense obsession and desire for another while not knowing exactly what will be. I was immediately hooked when I heard this over summer; it was so hot the DJ spun it at least twice and everyone was on the floor. "A Million Sapphires" follows, and puts Amel back into her comfort zone with that ethereal and angelic sound that she is so known for. The beautiful and magnetic "I Do Take" warrants several listens, it's a beautiful song and I always think "wedding song" when I listen to it. It has a Prince-esque vibe in some of the rifts, just amazing. She turns it back up with "You Don't See Me," an almost infectious go-go track about wanting to be noticed by someone, is just as calming as its counterpart "Ur The Shhh." Lyrically, "Berries and Cream" is on point, and another groove that is similar to the lead single.

"Danger" is an eerie, gothic track with a serious message. Very haunting yet mesmerizing especially the way her voice just calls to you. "Moment to Reflect" and "See Where You Are" are a conscious track, while "Have You" finds Amel flirting possibly with adult pop and is another surprising, stand out track. "Orange Glow" a track that was offered a while ago some time last year finds itself on this release, very funky and a classic jam. "Don't Let Me Down" is a ballad and somewhat jazzy, and "Trapped Being Human" is another funky, but instrumental track. Like her prior releases, Amel includes a "2," reworked versions of previous songs on the album: "I Do 2" and "Danger 2." In between them is "Soon," a cosmic and funky track which matches her vocals against echoes.

The album overall is great, it exhibits her artistry and longevity since she first burst on the scene. Job well done!

Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream
Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream
DVD ~ Beyonce
Price: $16.88
58 used & new from $2.75

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Concert DVD is Not Full Show :-(, November 25, 2013
This review is from: Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream (DVD)
I thought the documentary was very insightful and allowed you to see a lot of what the public doesn't see when she is on stage in her zone. It was beautifully filmed, executed, and edited. It was pure and honest. If you're not a believer of this woman's dedication and soul, then I pity you if this didn't change your mind!

I think the concert was an added bonus, but I was a little disappointed with the editing being as I saw this live and it was amazing (and quite frankly better than it's parred down reincarnation, The Mrs. Carter Show). For one, it's a very scaled down version of the show, which clocked in at nearly if not slightly over two hours. Several songs from the second half of the show are omitted like "I Miss You," "Resentment," the Goo Goo Dolls "Iris" cover, "If I Was a Boy," the Lauryn Hill "Ex-Factor" cover, "Countdown," "Irreplaceable," "Jumpin' Jumpin'," and "Why Don't You Love Me." Two, I preferred the show without the editing. "Love On Top," came after "End of Time" but is played at the end during the credits. "Countdown" was a stand-out performance from the show and only the intro was shown here. "Run the World (Girls)" was also edited with the solo dancer intro shown first though it was performed at the end.

Besides that, a great 2-for-1 bundle for any fan of Beyonce!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2014 2:30 PM PST

The Skinny (Director's Cut)
The Skinny (Director's Cut)
DVD ~ Jussie Smollett
Price: $15.41
26 used & new from $11.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressed, January 26, 2013
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This review is from: The Skinny (Director's Cut) (DVD)
What was most enjoyable about this movie was the fact that it was honest and really depicted life for the typical African-American gay male of today. Although Noah's Arc broke barriers, it always lacked that sense of depth and identification that its general core audience expected, and to some aspects, seemed very dated. The Skinny is young and fresh, and Patrick-Ian Polk nails capturing that essence in this tale of 5 friends' romp in New York City during Pride. The writing is very smart, the dialogue at times marring the lines between witty and emotional; the acting was on point, which made its translation seamless. The characters, though stereotypical of these types of films, were not over-exaggerated to the point that they became more like caricatures and less like real people, something I felt his previous projects were guilty of. We've all encountered the hopeless romantic (Magnus), the selfish playboy who knows he can get anything he wants (Kyle), the naive and susceptible youngin (Sebastian), or insecure and self-absorbed perfectionist (Langston and Joey) at some point in our life, and being gay makes these qualities no less easier to abandon. There's not much bad to say about this movie. Informative, not a whole bunch of skin to the point it bordered soft-core porn, and just overall a joy to watch. I only hope Polk continues to use this format as a platform for his next project. A must see.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection
DVD ~ Cam Clarke
Price: $89.98
7 used & new from $74.99

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE!, November 17, 2012
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Just received mine today, and was definitely impressed. The box reminds me of the way the actual turtle van used to be packaged back in the day, which was a nostalgic plus for me. It's packaged beautifully, a plastic barrier on top containing the episode guide keeps it in place, and all discs were in their slots perfectly. I like this better than separate cases because I can just pull seasons/episodes accordingly. The case is not economical, mine is just sitting on a table for now, but I'm sure I'll find some creative way to display it, or possibly store it and put the discs in sleeves. From the episode guide, everything seems to be in order as they were aired (although some of the episodes may not have been in correct order during the original presentation). Watching as I type, and everything is all good, no complaints! So glad Lionsgate finally did this, great send off for a phenomenal series.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2013 12:43 AM PDT

Kaleidoscope Dream
Kaleidoscope Dream
Price: $11.88
72 used & new from $3.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only as Good as Your Last..., October 18, 2012
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This review is from: Kaleidoscope Dream (Audio CD)
When "Adorn" debuted earlier this year as part of Miguel's Art Dealer Chic Volume 1 mixtape in an edited form from the official version that became the lead single, I was excited for a new album. His debut release was an unexpected surprise and subsequent hit given the Usher and Trey Songz dominated airwaves of 2010. His music was humble, honest, and most importantly fresh. With this album, "Kaleidoscope Dream," I'm not too sure where he's coming from, or where he's going.

This album comes off as if he's trying too hard to push the envelope and be different. A handful of the tracks have that alternative/rock-pop R&B edge, heavy on synths, electric guitars, and an industrial sound that is hard to stomach given his great voice. Next to the lead single, "How Many Drinks" is clearly the other stand out track on the album and destine to be a single I'm sure. Much of everything else I just can't see being released as singles, or appealing to the fanbase he garnered with the first album. Ther are no Salaam Remi tracks on here either, which is disappointing because I felt that they worked really well together. "Don't Look Back" is a powerful record, and "Where's the Fun In Forever" compliments the more R&B vibe Miguel gave the first go round. "Use Me" is decent, but the rest come off as fillers. "Candles in the Sun" compared to the Art Dealer Chic Volume 3 version is less appealing here, which I was disappointed about because the original version was hotter.

I hope he comes harder on the follow-up. I suspected this was going to be a so-so album when he dropped the next two mix tapes (Volumes 2 and 3) and the vibe was slightly different. At least one other song featured there ("Gravity") should've easily replaced something on here as it sounded more like Miguel, as he's seemed to include one song from every mixtape on this release. And with the release of the two previews, it left much more to be desired; I was thrown when there were only an additional five songs left for the album after the previews and the mixtapes, he basically released most of the album.

This is just an okay album to me, the first one exceeded my expectations. I hope Miguel wakes up from this dream, and gets back to business soon.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2012 3:03 PM PDT

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