I am usually on top of the major sports and pop culture news and able to comment in a timely fashion, but the past several days have flooded my inbox of disposable time. Let me try to reconcile…
The final Game of Thrones season four trailer was released yesterday. The devil is inside indeed. Bran needs to make it. Arya must be careful because Brienne is after her. Why have the Gods made Jamie love a hateful woman? Have I ever been more excited for the return of television series? Answer: probably not.
Chris Martin is the new mentor this season on The Voice. Interesting move for the Coldplay frontman with their new album, Ghost Stories, out in May and the “best band in the world” championship belt up for grabs. The Voice has been a wise career move when you are not at the top of your commercial and cultural game, but when you are, it seems a little ill-advised.
As announced yesterday, the band leader for Late Night with Seth Meyers will be…Fred Armisen! The Lorne Michaels Empire for the win!
Beyond the obvious irreverent musical possibilities (a Garth and Kat reunion from time to time will be most appreciated), Armisen is a legit musician whose fearless creativity and history with Meyers will be a natural fit for late night audiences. As a bonus, Meyers, on the straight and narrower end of comedic performers, will surely utilize Armisen’s acting chops in occasional bits as a rich man’s Andy Richter.
With a Parks and Recreation early renewal, everything currently going on with Jimmy Fallon’s last week of Late Night and first week of guests slated for The Tonight Show, and now this sound decision to add Armisen to Late Night with Seth Meyers, something positive is afoot. NBC, I hardly recognize you.
From time to time, I need to get a few things off my chest…this is the second installment of 2014.
• Last night’s Super Bowl, a 43-8 Seattle defensive annihilation of Denver’s historically good offense, was a bit of a surprise for all. It wasn’t as much about what they did, but more so how they did it. From the opening offensive play safety, to the Peyton Manning cold weather lob interceptions, to the second half opening kickoff return by Percy Harvin who managed to complete a game without injury for the first time this season, there was just a whole lot of weird (Russell Wilson’s consummate game management aside) going on. Even “talk of the nation” and notable Stanford grad Richard Sherman was carted off the field in the early fourth quarter before he could have a fair shot at an Erin Andrews post-game interview reprise. On the non-football end of things, the national anthem was delivered by an opera singer not exactly aligned with the pulse of the football viewing audience (Renée Fleming was stunning. It just speaks to how different one of the world’s best classically trained singers is compared to your average pop star. On the converse, it speaks to how good Whitney Houston is compared to other pop stars.). The halftime show, featuring an admittedly exhilarating performance by Bruno Mars, managed to fit in a brief Red Hot Chili Peppers cameo that made no sense next to the retro Motown stylings of Mars. The New Jersey winter weather, promoted as a major Super Bowl headline, was a non-factor during the game. Again, there was just a whole lot of weird going on. In many ways, I am glad that the New England Patriots sat this one out.
• One Super Bowl moment lost in the shuffle of strange was a commercial for the new U2 song “Invisible.” Released yesterday during the day as a free download for 24 hours, Bank of America, an at times challenging pillar of American big business, will donate $1 to (RED), Bono’s incredible organization attempting to put an end to the AIDS crisis in Africa, for every download. “Invisible” is announced to be a track on U2’s long awaited (five years next month since their last studio album release, No Line on the Horizon) 2014 album (When? Who knows. June, maybe?). The song itself, although not cutting down any Joshua Tree’s as “The Fly” once did, is my favorite “first song from a U2 album” release since All That You Can’t Behind’s “Beautiful Day1” (sorry “Vertigo” and “Get on Your Boots”). We can all hope that this will be a harbinger for the album to com
• I finally got around to see Frozen this weekend. I usually try to be on the precipice of a pop culture phenomenon as the Disney animated feature and the “Let it Go” movement have become, but on this one I missed the reindeer ride. Over two months after its original theatrical release, it was so well worth the wait. A little late for its own post, here are a quick five things you need to know about Frozen:
1. The direction by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee is outstanding and some of the best I have ever seen in an animated feature.
2. The songs by the Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are classic and indelible melodies that will quickly find their way into your humming, whistling, and shower singing selves.
3. Kristen Bell has a gorgeous voice and plays Anna most beautifully. Idina Menzel continues to be a vocal force. In a career of musical hits, could “Let It Go” be her most beloved?
4. Olaf the snowman, performed brilliantly by Josh Gad, is the best comedic sidekick in a Disney animated feature since the Timon and Pumbaa tandem from The Lion King.
5. Frozen is a movie, that along with Tangled, would fit perfectly in the Disney animated feature renaissance row ofThe Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and the underrated Pochahontas. It’s physical form will someday reside on my DVD shelf.
• Saturday Night Livesaid goodbye to Seth Meyers this week as he prepares for his new gig at Late Night, beginning later in the month. As is SNL tradition, some old family members came by to honor his departure. Amy Poehler, as she often does, said it best when she described him as “the heart of this program for the past twelve years.” He will be missed.
• Mostly a teaser for what is to come, the exes arrived on Real World: Ex-Plosion this week in the last segment of the episode. I will share some of my thoughts after the next episode.
• And finally, I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. One of my first posts on this site was a “Five Things You Need to Know” on The Master. I described him as “America’s (qualifying the nationality of Daniel Day-Lewis) best living film actor.” I stand by what I wrote at the time. There was no one better. My heart goes out to his family and friends, especially to his three young children. What a momentous loss.
David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company.