Morning Countdown #21 (9/12/09)

dg_film1In true L.A. style, today’s Morning Countdown was conducted as I soaked up the rays poolside. I’m finally over my cold, and I’m feelin’ pretty good, playing tennis, working out, and living it up California-style.

My week here has been a total reminder on the whole American lifestyle. You work 9 to 5 at a tolerable job, bantering with your co-workers, then come home, hang out with family and friends, have fun on the weekends, and repeat. It’s nice, and it’s predictable.

But as much as I’m enjoying my time here, I don’t think it’s for me, at least not yet. As much as Korea drives me crazy at times, there’s still a charge in the air there, a sense that I’m really livin’, a sense that ANYTHING can happen. Living in Seoul is kinda like living in a blender, with a whole lot of thing poppin’, and I think I’m still into being blended, if that makes any sense. Now on with the Countdown:

1) Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Dance Remix) – Madonna: Solid effort from Madonna, just as you’d expect from a Madonna dance song. So let’s discuss Madonna’s acting career for a moment, shall we? Let’s face it, the lady has not had much luck with the silver screen. In Evita, I though she was decent, but still not great, hampered by the same affected mannerisms that have plagued most of her movies. When the script calls for her character to be angry, you can see the wheels moving behind her eyes, as she grimly sets her jaw, blinking a lot because she’s determined to be SO angry, angrier that anybody has ever been, because she’s Madonna, and she’s gotta do things more than anybody else. Unfortunately, great film performances require a kaleidoscope of shades, with moments of subtlety and holding back. And subtlety has never been Madonna’s strong point, to say the least. Interestingly, Madonna’s most natural film performance came in a little-seen bomb called “Dangerous Game.” The movie was absolutely terrible, but Madonna actually managed to connect organically with a character (as opposed to just playing herself, which she did in “Desperately Seeking Susan” and of course “Truth Or Dare”). In fact, she was far, far more effective than her male co-stars (one of which was critics’ darling Harvey Keitel), who hammed it up and overacted like there was no tomorrow.

2) From Clare To Here – Ralph McTell: I love this song. I’m still not exactly sure what it’s about, if Clare is the name of a woman or a place, or what the heck’s going on. But Ralph sings it like he’s telling you a story for the ages, and it’s that sweeping feeling that gets to you and takes you to a time and place far, far away.

3) The Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston: A winning ballad from Countdown standby Whitney. It’s really less a song than a showcase for that Voice of hers. It’s crystal clear and absolutely stunning, so much so that you don’t register how corny and cliche the lyrics are. Of course, Whitney’s voice has deteriorated worse than the American economy, but I must say, I really LIKE Whitney’s new album. Whitney has found herself some great beatmeisters to hide her vocal limitations, and the uptempo numbers are irresistibe. Million Dollar Bill and Call You Tonight are two of the best pop songs so far this year.

reamonn4) Tonight – Reamonn: Who? You may not have heard of them–I sure hadn’t–but apparently, they’re big in Europe, especially in their native Germamy. I’m not sure why they haven’t hit it big in the States, because this song is just about perfect. A great melody, understated but effective vocals, moody, introspective, just awesome.

5) Heaven – Bryan Adams: I like Bryan Adams. He’s this blue-collar figure singing for the working classes, kind of a Canadian Bruce Springsteen–uh, okay, maybe he’s not THAT talented; let’s make it a Canadian Richard Marx. Yeah, that sounds about right. Unfortunately, upon this listen, “Heaven” isn’t really his best moment (that would be “Summer of ’69”). It’s a bit too repetitive, a bit too juvenile. Still, it’s better than that “The Only Thing That Looks Good On You Is Me” crap he later came out with, all decked out in mascara and glam rock threads. Not too surprisingly, that was the last I ever heard of Bryan, I believe.

An interesting mix of songs this week, I think, with a mix of superstars and relative unknowns. And in an upset, I’ve gotta go with the underdogs this time, just because their songs are the best ones. “From Clare To Here” is a close second, but the ultimate win goes out to Reamonn’s “Tonight.” Of course, most Americans have probably never heard this song. It’s time to remedy that.

Winner: Tonight – Reamonn

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