After the unexpected turn that the games on Monday night took, the Miami Heat locked up the second seed of the Eastern Conference for the playoffs this year after beating the currently fifth seeded Atlanta Hawks while the Boston Celtics surprisingly lost on the road to the Washington Wizards in overtime. After last night, the Eastern Conference has been mostly determined, where the top seeded Chicago Bulls will play the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat will face the Philadelphia 76ers, the old rivalry of the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks opens a new chapter while the Orlando Magic and the Hawks will have another playoff series.

Once again, another first round series, given the fact that the Heat are starting to develop that team chemistry that everyone has been talking about. But hasn’t this happened already? When the Heat beat the Cavaliers the first time, and they went on that long run where they were unbeatable, didn’t everyone say that they finally clicked? Then they went on that losing streak and the “Cry-Gate” incident, and their eligibility to be contenders was questioned again. Now they seem to be on the right path, and the Heat along with their fans are hoping that this may be it.

Meanwhile, after a 3-13 start where most critics thought that will be another disappointing season from Pennsylvania’s lone representative in the NBA, Philadelphia’s coach Doug Collins was able to switch their fortunes around, giving them one of the best records in that period since the disastrous start despite the fact that they don’t even have a current Top-40 scorer in the NBA and no “legitimate superstar”.

Coach

From the beginning of the season, this man has always been on the rumors page and on the hot seat.  Everything seemed to be pointing that Miami coach Erik Spoelstra will be fired. The 9-8 start, the five game losing streak that included a loss to the Chicago Bulls (whom eventually swept the Heat in a three game series), losing the season series 3-1 to Boston Celtics, blowing leads in the stretch, unable to win close games in the last minute, and other things worth noting. Yet team president Pat Riley never said that Spoelstra’s job was in danger, although there seemed to be conflicts at times between team star LeBron James and the coach. I still have doubts that the Heat will win it all this year given that they have a lot of inconsistencies to work on.

The season series that took place between the two teams was one sided, where the Heat won all three games at a margin of at least 9 points, but not more than 12. Yet if you take into consideration when the games took place, two of them which were very early in the season, you cannot judge how this playoff series will play based on the season. The Heat got their first win of the season in Philly, and the Sixers’ 13th loss was in Miami before they had that massive turnaround. Coach Collins, first year with the team who formerly coached the young Michael-Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, somehow managed to work things out with the team, and was able to put them on a huge run from that point on, after the second loss to Miami.

Winner: A little nudge to Doug Collins

Star Power

The Big Three of Miami are doing a great job considering this is their first season and all the scrutiny and criticism they had to go through, although they are unable to execute down the stretch against the big teams (which matters most). After the second worrying losing streak that the Heat endured during March, Chris Bosh wanted the ball more and made it clear publicly, and when they played the Los Angeles Lakers next, despite how “soft” he is, he was still able to make a difference. Miami's Big ThreeThese three, on any given night, are able to put up between 70 to 90 points easily. The third game of the season series indicated so, was one of a kind, where the Miami’s Big Three had 91 points, including a monster game by Dwayne Wade (39 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks and 3 steals) that has a very unlikely precedence of happening again.

When the highest scorer on your team averages 15 points a game, you know that these players are all about the team. There is no really one star on this team, since every night, someone seems to play star when he’s on a roll. Elton Brand is one of six players on the Sixers that averages double figures (10+ points a game). Andre Igoudala is finally playing the lockdown defense on the perimeter that he should have been playing ages ago. Yet after seeing them throughout the season, the Sixers still lack a true star, a center I believe, that can play next to Brand in order to compete against the big guys.

Winner: Miami’s Big Three

The Rest:

At the beginning, Miami had James Jones knocking down all those threes for them. Then he got kicked out of the rotation. Udonis Haslem went down early in the season and has yet to play since. Mario Chalmers has been ineffective. Carlos Arroyo was released, and eventually signed with the Celtics. Zydrunas Ilgauskus has diminished a lot this year, Joel Anthony is Canadian, and Juwan Howard, well he’s Juwan Howard. Mike Miller has yet to play a decent game since he recovered from an injury, and Mike Bibby is starting to clearly look his age, although he is having some good games. When your fourth best player is some old veteran that has his ups and downs, that has to be worrying enough.

As mentioned above, the Sixers may not have the best players in the NBA, but they are full of role players that know their position on the team. Having four starting players that are under the age of 24, they have a very promising team in the future and although they won’t be able to compete now, one should have an eye out for them in the future. Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young are all look-out-for players that should be taken into consideration.

Winner: Sixers

It’s true that you cannot win with your stars only, but this series is likely to indicate otherwise. The Miami Heat are definitely winning this series, just don’t expect the Sixers to go down without a fight.

Final (Projected) Result: Miami 4 -2.


[Important Note: If you’re of the conservative or sensitive type and still haven’t heard the song (good for you!), I wouldn’t suggest you watch the video at the end of this post.]

Rihanna and Chris Brown concert. Brisbane Ente...

Rihanna in Concert (Image via Wikipedia)

One day after Rihanna took her Twitter to announce that she would collaborate with non-other than pop princess,  Britney Spears, a remix of RiRi’s international hit S&M popped up on YouTube, and I’m sure many people’s fantasies just came true (especially considering how Spears has perfected the art of moaning through most of her songs).

The tune, an ode to everything sadomasochism, is not for the faint-hearted or the conservative. The original version has been playing on the radio for a while, even though in the UK the title had to be changed to the refrain “Come On” to make it less shocking.

Though named as a “remix,” there isn’t much change in this edition. The opening beats and synths are slightly changed and the the “na na na come on”s are stronger and more forceful because there’s two voices getting them out there. The alternation of which performer sings what part is definitely very-well thought out and just adds to the intensity of the whole thing.

The second verse of the song though gets the most significant update as the lyrics are changed to “just one night full of sin, feel the pain on your skin, to promise me mercy, it’s your turn to hurt me. If I’m bad, tie my down, shut me up, […] cause the pain is my pleasure, nothing comes better.” This is most probably because Britney does the singing here and her vocals are not as high as Rihanna, or they just felt like changing things for this new release.

I am not going to comment on the overall lyrics and message because I don’t find this song to be representative of what music should be nor do I like Rihanna, especially after she went all pixie-cut and transformed her R&B style to pure club-pop. It’s a pure exploration of fantasies but should not be as commercially spread as it is right now because it caters to a small population. Plus, imagine your little sister singing that song while she doesn’t understand the lyrics!

But do I like Britney and Rihanna duetting?

Of course I do!

It’s a match made in pop music heaven!  Spears is certainly a hot commodity right now with two new singles and an album, Femme Fattale, topping the charts and receiving much critical acclaim. Rihanna, on the other hand, has been riding out the success of 2010’s smash collaboration with Eminem, though her album Loud has not been up to par.

So this music fan right here is hoping that the two get together really soon and make something from scratch because if they were individually able to take the music world by storm, there’s no end to what they could do together!


Album Cover for Roxette's Charm School (Image Via Wikipedia)

Although it is not set to be released  until April 18th, Roxette’s second single from their eighth studio album Charm School is destined to become a worldwide hit mainly because it reminds faithful fans of the band’s most famous songs from the 80s namely, It Must’ve Been Love and other songs from the Joyride age.

Many fans, like myself,  have taken to the internet to express their desire of having this song released as a single and thankfully, the duo have listened. No word on when and if a video will accompany the release, but regardless, this is a flawless song that can stand on its own, and can directly attract listeners despite its placement as the fourth track on the album, right after the very weak but enjoyable She’s Got Nothing On (But the Radio).

The Swedish duo, formed of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle have been making music for a while now but took a long, well-deserved ten-year break to work on their own projects and sadly, because Fredrikssion had brain cancer and has suffered some permanent damage to her cognitive abilities. Thankfully, she’s all better now and her vocal abilities are still intact, as demonstrated throughout the album.

Written and composed by Gessle, who is known to be a musical mastermind,  this song follows the tradition of vocals alternation that Roxette have been known for. Per’s smooth, lower register singing opens up the track, with Marie slightly doing back-up duties before the whole thing is transferred to her on the bridge. She does a stellar job here, with her contrasting high notes and incredible power in delivering the most important lines of the song. They continue to go back and forth, joining their voices together on the chorus to bring the whole song full circle.

Gessle does a great job in putting the music together. It’s definitely a rock song, with elements of electric guitar- especially at the end of the track as Fredriksson belts out the last note- drums, and some piano. The way he puts these together to make a fantastic rock-pop ballad is undoubtedly one of the strengths of this song. It’s no Listen to Your Heart however, but they’re not trying to do that anyways.

As for the lyrics, it’s about finding that one person who can be your consolance and hear you in times of distress, thus the speaker calls out to be spoken to about the significant other’s problems, with love, as the refrain keeps saying. Even though that person wants to hide, Fredrikission, in her very mighty voice, draws him near and eases him out of his vulnerability.

Would I recommend this song to someone who is just getting to know Roxette? Yes and No. Yes because the song is magnificent and such a breath of fresh air from everything we’re exposed today but no because they simply would not get what we’re all raving about. I would instead recommend that they take a listen to my ultimate favorite by this duo Listen to Your Heart or anything from their 80s body of work.

For fans of Roxette, this song will just reaffirm why we’ve fallen in love with Marie and Per and appreciate that a rare few make music like this today.


A greyscale illustration of a chimpanzee wearing a dress shirt, pants, and sunglasses. The animal is seen reclining, with his or her feet outstretched and in the foreground. In black, the words "The Lazy Song" appear in minuscule below the words "Bruno Mars" in majuscule font.

Single cover for Bruno Mars' The Lazy Song (Image via Wikipedia)

After he told you he loved you just the way you are, after he vowed to catch a grenade for you, after he jumped into a spur-of-the-moment-wedding with you, Bruno Mars now just wants to leave everything behind him, and have a long day at home doing, you guessed it, nothing.

Peter Hernandez, better known as Bruno Mars,  originally started off as a songwriter/producer in the Smeezingtons team, but has been flooding the airwaves since he collaborated with Travie McCoy on Billionaire in 2010. Though he’s vocally talented, I really can’t stand him because he’s pioneered “fiction-pop,” meaning that all of his songs have to do with something that won’t ever or very rarely come true. His latest single, now playing on all radio stations,  is no different.

Just like the title “The Lazy Song” suggests, the song is very laid back, mainly because its draws its elements from reggae music. It’s also heavily influenced by the general feel of Hawaii, where Mars hails from.

The guitar cords may seem very familiar because they’re very close to the ones he used on Billionaire and sounds very easy to play. Regardless of that, it’s still classified as a pop song because of it happens to be very catchy.

Unlike his past singles, Bruno makes no effort to hit any screechy high notes and just sticks to his simplistic approach towards things. This is a definite welcome change and keeps the song at its lovable state.

Lyrically, its fun and upbeat, and tackles on our everyday desire of just not being disturbed. As a college student, I can completely relate and there have been many, many days that I have felt this way or have stayed at home and not combed by hair.

He goes through all of the motions of a perfect lazy day like lying in bed, not picking up the phone, defying everyone, chilling, and being the king of his own castle- and that’s where his fiction pop kicks in. He’d rather blow off getting a college degree to be lazy- wow, that does not resonate well with me at all.

Though thew single has been released on February 15, the video is still not out yet, as is the case for Marry You, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted when it does. It’ll be very interesting to see how the approach he takes here is going to translate into visuals.

My final verdict? I really want to hate this song because it’s a Bruno Mars one and I really don’t like his style but it’s so catchy and spot-on that I’m very sure I’m going to keep replaying it over and over again as the summer approaches.

Here’s a clip of the song being performed acoustically via Billboard.com


With the NBA playoffs starting a week from today, there is only one matchup that is certain until now after the Chicago Bulls’ win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night helped them clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference since the great Michael Jordan’s last year with the Bulls. The road to the NBA Finals for the Bulls will kick off with the eighth seeded Indiana Pacers, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2006.

I normally don’t get excited about first round series, since a lot of sweeps take place, and this series may happen to be one of them. Given how the Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics Thursday night, I highly doubt with that consistency any team in the East can take them down. The Indiana Pacers, who are going to have another losing season this year, should be grateful to be found in the Eastern Conference, as teams like the Houston Rockets and the Phoenix Suns would have easily taken their places had they been in the East. Also, the race for the eighth seed was a disappointing one, as the Milwaukee Bucks and the Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats never manned up to the situation or played with the necessary power given what was at stake, making the Pacers’ road to the playoffs not match the intensity.

Coach power:

Everyone knows who coaches the Chicago Bulls :Tom “Thibs” Thibodeau. This is the guy who, as a coach assistant, instilled the word “defense” in the Boston Celtics ever since they acquired their Big Three back in the 2007-2008 season and led them to play with such intensity. And if it comes to me, I believe he deserves more credit than Doc Rivers for the Celtics’ success in the past few years and that focus on D.  So it was no surprise to me that so many teams, including the Chicago Bulls, wanted to land him as a coach after he decided to give interviews. From early on in the season, Coach Thibs had his leader, MVP candidate Derrick Rose, bought into the concept of defense, and when you got your leader in, the whole team follows, which was the Bulls’ case. I would have Thibodeau as a candidate for Coach of the Year, given what he did to this team and how he made the most out of what he had given the absences of power forwards Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah due to injuries for extended periods during the season.

Before the All-Star break, no one really saw the Indiana Pacers fighting for the eighth seed, given that at a time they were 10 games below .500 and things weren’t going smoothly. Then the Pacers kicked off coach Jim Brien and put assistant coach Frank Vogel instead, and suddenly the team took on a whole new identity and had a strong start with Vogel. Given also his first coaching year after serving as an assistant fo

Soaring to the MVP

r the Pacers since 2007 after serving with teams like Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics as an assistant or video coordinator or even scout. Vogel maximized seldom-used center Roy Hibbert’s abilities and got the Pacers on a whole new run. Yet, the Pacers’  8-10 record in March, which included a 26 point loss to the cellar ranking Minnesota Timberwolves, also makes you question how much he can get out of them.

Winner: Tom Thibodeau

Star Power:

“MVP, MVP, MVP!” That’s the kind of chants you’d hear if you were at the United Center in Illinois or rather any game that the Chicago Bulls are playing in. Why? It’s simple. Derrick Rose, who questioned at the beginning of the NBA season why wouldn’t he be considered in the MVP race, is playing like an MVP all right. Averaging 25 points and 8 assists a game, Derrick Rose has carried the Chicago Bulls on his shoulders despite missing both Noah and Boozer for over 60 games combined and had his team slowly rise in the standings to eventually take reign of the East. Sweeping the Miami Heat 3-0 and beating the Celtics in the last two games, including playing around Celtics’ guard Rajon Rondo all night, I can’t see how he can be stopped.

Danny Granger has been the leader the Pacers needed, but let’s face it; nobody’s playing like Rose is playing right now, including him. Granger’s 20 points a game can be easily outmatched by any other Bull, and not necessarily Derrick Rose. Also, I’m expecting small forward Luol Deng to make Granger’s life a bit hard on defense.

Winner: Derrick Rose.

The other 11 players:

What else could you want more when you have a front line of Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Kurt Thomas? Add to the mix Luol Deng, and you got one hell of a long team. One has to admit that the shooting guard position in Chicago is a bit weak compared to the rest, but the other 4 players on the floor will definitely more than compensate for that. The chemistry that both Boozer and Noah are slowly developing on the floor and the fact that they got the average-defender Rose’s back on defense makes this team seem like an unstoppable unit with the team first mentality.

In the last game vs the Bulls on March 18, the rest of the Pacers team had to step up in order to earn that lone victory vs the Bulls in overtime. How often will Tyler Hansbrough be able to knock down 29 points against the Bulls? Darren Collision doesn’t really have much of a chance overtaking Derrick Rose at the point guard position. Given also that the Pacers aren’t that consistent, although in that particular March mentioned above, they were also able to knock down teams like the Boston Celtics. Yet I still have to give my nod to the Bulls here.

Winners: The rest of the Bulls.

In conclusion, given that the season series ended 3-1 for the Bulls, with the lone Indiana victory coming as previously mentioned in OT, I hardly doubt to see a Cinderella story, much less an Indiana win in any of the 4 games, given how consistent the Bulls have played all season and not letting their guard down.

Final Result of series: 4-0 (A 4-1 is feasible, given that the Pacers may win the first one at home.)


Pop singer Britney Spears gained her second U....

Britney Spears (Image via Wikipedia)

Even though I strongly associate with rock music, I can’t deny that growing up, I used to obsess over every little thing that Britney Spears used to, wear, or say. Her breaking-up with Justin Timberlake had to be one of the saddest moments of my young life-no kidding. And so, even though I don’t want to admit it, I’ve always been a fan of Britney’s even though her latest efforts can never compare to what she used to do in the 90s- maybe it’s all her familial and personal problems, but that’s another topic for another day.

Till the World Ends, Brit’s second single from her seventh album Femme Fatale, and is one of her better songs as of late. Catchy, danceable, and written by people who know how to do this best (Max Martin, Dr. Luke, and not-so-surprisingly Ke$ha), it’s no surprise that this song will be a hit in no time.

The video, directed by Ray Kay of Bieber’s Baby fame, simply takes on the premise of the world ending-as shown by the opening screenshot of December 21, 2012 and has a whole lot of dancing and energy going on while the whole universe as we know it comes to a halt. It was only made available on Vevo 2 days ago, and yet has over a million views.

DISLIKES:

  1. Playing on the world ending in 2012. Okay guys, this whole thing has been blown out proportion. None of us knows when the world is going to end or anything of the like-we can’t even tell if the Mayans are right are not. I’ll admit it’s a very smart move to use because now everyone associates the date with the world ending, but for someone whose known to be creative, I would’ve liked to see something else.

    No words can describe this awful mess! (Via Socypath)

  2. Barely there clothes. It’s Britney and Britney is known for not holding it back when it comes to her clothes. Case in point, what she wore to the Grammys in 2010. Here it’s no exception. Neither her or her dancers are wearing anything decent, but then again, this does serve a “purpose” that isn’t clear to me. If the world was ending, I would choose to wear something I’m comfortable in, not that.
  3. Poorly placed cuts. When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was watch pop videos and learn every single dance move. But it never actually happened because a-I’m a bad dancer and b-there’s always a scene that comes right in the middle of a major move. The case is actually true here. Okay, so the world is ending and stuff are falling. Great. What does this have to do with the whole concept? I want to see more dancing (probably the best thing about this video) without random stuff that just doesn’t make sense. There’s supposedly a choreographer’s cut that should be out soon, so if it doesn’t end up the way it’s supposed to, I am going to be very disappointed.
  4. Highly sexualized scenes. Though nothing really happens, and in the end, sex sells, it just takes away from all the dancing. Maybe it would’ve worked with another concept, but it’s not really fitting here.

LIKES

  1. Britney has never looked better! I don’t know about her live performances, but she wasn’t really nailing her videos before Femme Fatale. Not the case here. She looks so radiant and energetic, and it can’t just be the makeup. I think things are finally picking up for her and it’s showing in her work.
  2. The Choreography. Brian Friedman might be mostly known for his appearances on So You Think You Can Dance but he should equally be recognized for his amazing work on video clips. Of course, we have to give credit to Brit for still having such a lithe body to pull off almost all the moves that are thrown her way, and the supporting dancers who elevate the standard.
  3. References to old Britney Videos. When you’ve been in the business as long as Spears has, it’s only fair to dig up elements that have made you famous, especially when they’re so iconic like the red jumpsuit she wore in Oops… I Did It Again. Of course,  there’s a modern twist on it, with the jumpsuit being all sparkled out. The whole clip is an homage to the I’m a Slave 4 U video, and I really love it. I always love taking the old stuff and using them in a new way, and with all the dancing going on, this is a subtle reference that Britney’s career has always been bright despite all the speed bumps she’d hit and all the competition she’s facing from different artists.

All in all, this is a very good video and an equally catchy song. I guarantee that it’s gonna be one of those “summer songs” despite its release in April. It’s also a strong follow-up to the wonderful Hold It Against Me.


Shannon, Jared, and Tomo on the set of This Is War (Image via Ace Showbiz)

In June 2010, a teaser trailer for the title track from 30 Seconds to Mars’ second single from their album This is War was released onto Youtube showing the band decked out in military gear and carrying weapons, as inspired by the song’s central theme of war and peace. For almost a year, the very fate of that video was unknown and fans anxiously waited for any news about it. The wait, however, is now over.

On April 1st, the band, and through their social media sites, asked all their fans to refrain from watching any leaked videos and that they would be posting the official clip very soon. That came true on April 6th, when the full-fledged video was uploaded to their Vevo channel, and has already managed to garner an impressive number of views.

After watching it extensively over the past few days, here’s what I like and do not like about the video. [SPOILER ALERTS]

DISLIKES:

  1. Where are Shannon and Tomo exactly? Although they’re in the video, it’s at rare instances that you see their faces, and even then, they’re wearing sunglasses/goggle. I would’ve loved to see more of them because the dynamic that this trio have-in terms of their music-is beyond incredible.
  2. Where do all the flying objects come from? I know I know, this all serves an eventual purpose, but it just seems so random!
    Jared Leto at the 66th Venice International Fi...

    Bartholomew Cubbins (Image via Wikipedia)

    They’re in a very deserted area and out of nowhere, tanks d are flying. This would’ve been so much more believable if we see whose launching these things at them. I know most, if not all, of the Echelon would’ve loved to play a small part in the video.

  3. The typeface. I can tell its a Bartholomew Cubbins “movie” just by the lettering he uses in the historical scene. He doesn’t have to include the opening or end credits for us to know that it’s his work of art. For those of you who don’t know, Bartholomew Cubbins is nothing but a pseudonym for Jared Leto. On a side note, this isn’t a Cubbins film, but rather was directed by Edouard Salier- something that Leto isn’t keen on repeating in the future.
  4. Why is there a censored and uncensored version? Unlike Hurricane, where an uncensored version for the more sensitive/conservative viewers was needed,there’s nothing in This is War that needs censoring, not even blood.

LIKES:

  1. The theme. Definitely spot-on. For a song with such powerful lyrics and obvious discontent at the state of the world, there would’ve been no better theme to use than fighting in Afghanistan. Although, I do have a hard time believing that pretty-boy Jared would ever be engaged in such kind of combat.
  2. A Screenshot from the video (Via Tom and Tal)

    The historical shots. Because the issue is so contemporary, it would completely make sense to use images and clips from the huge historical archive available. What I like the most about this is that it’s very blunt, like putting the image of George W. Bush with the words “moment to lie” set on it. There’s no doubt about what the group thinks about the state of current affairs.

  3. Incorporating little elements: If you look very closely, you’ll see that each of the helmets has a little inscription it. Jared’s has This is War, the name of the album and the very song, Tomo has the very inventive Mars logo, while Shannon has L490, the one track on the album he wrote, and also says that in the short break from the song scene. No real idea what it signifies, but if you do, do tell!
  4. The cinematography. Wow! This is a common thread in all of Mars’ videos- they’re just a spectacle. Whether it’s the chilling Hurricane, the inspiring Kings+Queens, or the for-the-fans Closer to the Edge, there’s always something that draws you into their videos. Here, they take something so bare as a battleground and turn into more than just an area of discourse and disruption: it’s more of a beautiful chaos. In the end, the coming together of the triad and the guys observing it, it’s only a thing you can fully comprehend if you watch the entire video.

These are my thoughts on this video. I am very much enjoying the whole 30 Seconds to Mars fandom, especially when they’re making such great videos (excluding the very strange but beautifully shot Hurricane). I only wonder what they’re going to do next.