Have You Heard The News?

Huey Lewis & The News photographed in Marin County, CA April 20, 2013©Jay Blakesberg

2013©Jay Blakesberg

Having recently seen the American Psycho musical on Broadway got me to thinking about something that I have in common with Patrick Bateman. No, I am not secretly butchering people at night in an attempt to quench my bloodlust and feel alive (well, as far as you know anyway). Rather, the lead character and I have an affinity for the pop band Huey Lewis and the News.

 

I may not dissect (ha!) their songs to the degree that Patrick does, but I do enjoy their music. I was a kid when Huey Lewis and the News was popular and I remember listening to their cassette tapes over and over again. And then…I kind of forgot about them. I got older, discovered grunge and hip hop, and the band just slipped completely off my radar for about 20 years. It didn’t help that they went into hibernation, only releasing one new album from 1995-2009 so there was nothing to keep them culturally relevant.

However, since I am now an old lady, the music of my youth is now nostalgic enough that it is getting attention again. There has been a sudden proliferation of radio stations that focus primarily on music of the 80s and 90s, which means a resurgence of bands on the airwaves that I hadn’t given a second thought to since I graduated from high school. Huey Lewis and the News was a band that has been in heavy rotation on these new stations and hearing those songs again rekindled my affection for the band. Now I look forward to one of their songs popping up, which usually happens at least once a day on my commute. I’ve even been known to jump among these nostalgia stations, trying my luck at happening upon a Huey Lewis song. When we went to see American Psycho, my only benchmark for success was that the scene above somehow be incorporated into the musical. This was accomplished, so my threat of “Huey Lewis or we riot” did not have to come to fruition.

In honor of my recent Huey Lewis and the News renaissance, here are my top 5 songs from the band. I don’t know if Patrick Bateman would agree with my assessment, but I probably shouldn’t be too worried about the approval of a fictional serial killer.

  • “Doing It All For My Baby” – Fore!

 

  • “Do You Believe In Love” – Picture This

 

  • “The Power of Love” – Back to the Future Soundtrack

 

  • “Stuck With You” – Fore

 

  • “If This Is It” – Sports

 

I probably could have done a top 10 or even a top 15; in looking for the videos for these songs, I realized just how many Huey Lewis and the News songs I really and truly enjoy. It might not do much for my street cred, but the heart wants what the heart wants. If I did karaoke – and be thankful that I don’t – I’d predict that a Huey Lewis song would probably be in repertoire. It appears that he is on the retro touring circuit now, so I think I kind of owe it to myself to go see him live.

Do you have a favorite Huey Lewis and the News song? Are they a band that just doesn’t do it for you? Let us know in the comments.

American Psycho – Gerald Schoenfield Theater (New York, NY), 4.23.16

14294-3

When Bret Easton Ellis’ book American Psycho came out in 1991, a lot of people were just not sure what to make of it – was it a misogynistic story that glamourized violence against women or was it a satire of the consumerism and emptiness of the 1980s? Was it a little of both? Add in an ambiguous ending and American Psycho was a divisive novel. The film adaptation in 2000, starring Christian Bale, earned cult movie status but not mainstream success; I am one of the few people I know who both read the book and saw the movie, preferring the former to the latter (I fall into the satire/social commentary camp). A story about a shallow man who works Wall Street by day and kills by night is a lot of things, but doesn’t necessarily scream (ha!) to me source material for a Broadway musical. When I heard that was exactly what was going to happen I was intrigued, as I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to pull this off. It turns out that I didn’t have to wait long to find out; the musical debuted on April 21st and my friends and I were able to snag tickets to the first Saturday evening performance.

2016-04-23 19.35.30

Like the book and movie that proceeded it, the American Psycho musical follows the story of young investment banker Patrick Bateman (Benjamin Walker) in the late 1980s. He is a narcissist who is obsessed with appearances and status; the show opens with him walking the audience through his morning regimen and he and his friends spend their time picking out the trendiest places to go for lunch and arguing over who has the more impressive business cards. Patrick has a trophy girlfriend Evelyn (Heléne Yorke) who he doesn’t much care for, an assistant (Jennifer Damiano) who is in love with him and a general emptiness and dissatisfaction with his life. He decides to fill this void, as people are wont to do, by murdering people. A lot of people. Underneath Patrick’s perfect exterior beats the heart of a serial killer.

I was vaguely familiar with Benjamin Walker as he played the titular character in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. He also starred in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which unfortunately closed on Broadway before I got the chance to see it. Walker is really fantastic in American Psycho; he has just the right charisma to pull off a character like Patrick Bateman (and the body to do a lot of scenes in his underwear). Bateman isn’t a likeable character – nor is he supposed to be – but thanks to Walker’s stellar performance you can’t really take your eyes off Patrick. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you ever emphasize with Bateman, but Walker does an excellent job of bringing this character to life. The musical version of Patrick is slightly different in demeanor than his film personification – a little more man-child than scary psychopath – but Walker sells it all beautifully. The rest of the cast is enjoyable as well; I particularly enjoyed the performances by Yorke and Theo Stockman. The staging and choreography in American Psycho is also quite mesmerizing and helps to advance the story and overall mood of the musical.

What surprised me the most about American Psycho was the campiness of the production. I guess I was expecting an attempt at a more serious or scary tone, but instead American Psycho is much funnier than I would have bargained for. I guess there is now enough distance from the 80s that a lot of what Ellis’ was commenting on when he wrote the book has become something of a joke; we are all much more self-aware in 2016, so making references with a knowing wink is probably the best way to go. As a society we’re still kind of obsessed with wearing the right label or getting a table at the right restaurant, but we at least more openly acknowledge the ridiculousness of it all. Serial killers have also become sort of a mainstay of popular culture, so the inherent scariness of a man that hunts New Yorkers by night is much less transgressive and shocking than it might have been 25 years ago. A certain segment of the audience was definitely looking forward to when the killing actually started; when Patrick puts on his trademark raincoat, a definite cheer erupted from the theater. So when you are going to base your musical around a guy like Patrick Bateman, campy is probably the way to go (especially since a lot of the people that can afford to go see a Broadway show are members of the class that you are poking fun at).

Despite the strong performances and compelling choreography, American Psycho winds up being more style over substance. The story is very uneven and goes on way too long; nearly three hours with intermission is too much to ask of this story or the audience. The second half, in particular, drags a lot and many of my friends were bored by it. The first act is clearly working up to a particular climax, but after that, it’s like the musical isn’t quite sure where it wants to go or what it wants to be. The subplot with Patrick and his secretary in particular took up way too much time and never felt organic to the rest of the storylines. The decision to explore Patrick’s backstory also seemed forced. The ambiguous ending of the book was always going to be a challenge, but I really think that there has to be a more satisfying resolution than they gave us; for me, the final fifteen minutes of the show didn’t work at all and left a disappointing final impression. I’m not a huge fan of Duncan Sheik’s lyrical work – I was underwhelmed by Spring Awakening – and while the songs that he creates for American Psycho were enjoyable enough, they weren’t very memorable. I did appreciated that they used both original songs and pop songs from the 80s in the production (I had threatened to riot if Huey Lewis and the News wasn’t part of the show), but I don’t know that this is a cast album that I would ever listen to again. Like much of the 80s, it is very disposable.

Despite the uneven finished product, I am glad that we saw American Psycho if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity of how this could possibly be a musical. While there were aspects that I really enjoyed, ultimately American Psycho just didn’t live up to its potential. Scary seems to be a difficult thing to court on Broadway – Misery wasn’t able to pull it off either- but I think American Psycho would have benefitted from a little more terror and a little less meta commentary. For me, bringing an American Psycho musical to the stage was an interesting but ultimately failed experiment. Perhaps the gravest sin that you can commit is making a musical about a serial killer boring.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Getting Old Edition

It’s my birthday this weekend, which is usually cause for celebration, at least in my eyes. Everyone else just kind of humors me. This year, however, I’m just not feeling it and am kind of dreading having to say that I am a year older. There is not legitimate reason for this apathy – it isn’t a “milestone” birthday or anything – and I know turning a year older beats the alternative, but I’m just not in a celebratory mood at all this year. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten over the excitement for my birthday that everyone else got over when they were a kid. Perhaps it is because this year a lot of people have yet to respond to my unofficial party or can’t come. Perhaps it is because I do so many awesome things throughout the year that I don’t really need this excuse to make a big deal out of one particular day. Whatever the reason, as Saturday approaches, instead of my usual giddiness, it’s being greeted with a shrug. I’m happy to see my friends, but that’s about it.

Pop culture, on the other hand, still makes me excited and I had a lot of fun compiling your biweekly roundup of all the pop culture goodness that you might have missed. I just kept finding all sort of cool things to include. So while I attempt to determine what exactly is bumming me out, kick back and enjoy:

  •  Congrats to Bob Newhart for winning his first Emmy! The full list of Creative Arts Emmy winners can be found here. The Primetime Emmys will air on September 22. There may be a live blog.
  • The West Wing fans – Allison Janney performed “The Jackal” last night on the newly revived The Arsenio Hall Show.

 

  • Everyone that I know that watched the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez fight last weekend was disappointed. Snoop Dogg Lion, however, won over a pound of weed on that fight.
  • After a lackluster performance at the box office, the planned sequel to The Mortal Instruments has been delayed indefinitely.
  • A new season of Key and Peele debuts tonight:

 

  • Best. Parents. Ever.
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, will be released next Tuesday.
  • People keep making Breaking Bad musicals. Check out Walter White and the Mazing Blue Crystal Meth:

 

  • This is probably NOT a good sign: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 has been shut down indefinitely for script maintenance. Probably for the best; this movie is wholly unnecessary.
  • Eddie Murphy did a reggae song with Snoop Lion. I have no idea if this is supposed to be a joke or not:

 

  • The O.C.’s Sandy Cohen and Ryan Atwood (Peter Gallagher and Ben McKenzie in real life) reunited at Gallagher’s daughter’s concert.
From @petergallagher

From @petergallagher

  • The O.C. is getting a a remake – in Turkey.
  • I am a fan of both Metallica and bluegrass, so I really enjoyed this cover of “Enter Sandman:”

 

  • The first three hosts for SNL have been announced; Tina Fey kicks the season off, followed my Miley Cyrus and Bruce Willis.
  • Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video is greatly improved with the addition of Nicolas Cage:

 

  • Watch this guy do 13 Muppet impressions in a minute:

 

  • Speaking of Muppets, they did all sorts of great stuff since the last round up. Cookie Monster spoofed some movies:

 

  • Elmo (or a reasonable facsimile) hung out with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen:
@SirPatStew

@SirPatStew

  • Grover sang with Dave Matthews:

 

  • Cookie Monster also found some time to hang out with Loki:

 

  •  UC Irvine is offering a free online course on The Walking Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I may have to take this just for kicks. I’m thinking that could really spruce up my resume.
  • Ha! Watch Todd from Breaking Bad gun down Justin Bieber:

gif_300x355_f5681a

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

  • He’s still really good looking, but I’m not digging Joe Manganiello as much without his beard.
  • Eminem turned up during the Michigan/Notre Dame game. It was awkward, to say the least.

gif_300x355_fa666e

  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller recreated with LEGOs:

 

  • Britney Spears is rumored to be earning $15 million per year for her Vegas residency. Seems as good a reason as any to finally plan my first trip to Vegas.

 

  • This local sports anchor worked 41 Seinfeld references into his segment:

 

He also did a segment full of old school rap references and wrestling references. I think this guy and I could be fast friends.

  • Also announcing tours: Robin Thicke, Jay Z and Kanye (the latter who I am going to see in Madison Square Garden!)
  • Cecily Strong is joining the soon departing Seth Myers at the SNL Weekend Update desk. The last few people to sit at the desk (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon) have gone on to some pretty great things.
  • A writer at UPROXX wrote a tribute to one of the greatest episodes of It’s Always SunnyChardee MacDennis. I wholeheartedly concur.
  • The Ohio University marching band preformed a rendition of Ylvis’ viral sensation The Fox during their game against Marshall.

 

Haven’t see the video for The Fox yet? Here it is, in all it’s weirdness. Watch it now, thank me later.

  • Breaking Bad fans are the best. Los Pollos Hermanos now has its own Yelp page, full of reviews.
  • Fiona Apple covered “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka for a Chipotle ad:

 

Trailers! Get your trailers here:

  • Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco:

 

  • National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy, starring Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin:

 

  • Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall (that’s kind of a weird combo):

 

  • Will Forte and Bruce Dern star in Nebraska, the latest from director Alexander Payne:

 

  • James Franco and Jason Statham are in a movie together. Yes, I’m serious.

 

  • A photo of Justin Bieber holding a script for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie almost broke the Internet.
@justinbieber

@justinbieber

No – he isn’t playing Robin.

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups:

  • Who knew that Marty McFly was such a screamer?

 

  • A Billy Joel/Kanye mashup sounds way better than you would think:

 

  • Blurred Sanford mashes up Blurred Lines and the Sanford and Son theme song:

 

  • This supercut proves Bill Murray is an awkward kisser.

 

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail gets a modern trailer remix:

 

  • Les Miserables…..with light sabers:

 

  • Good Will Batman (NSFW):

 

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gets the Cheers opening credit treatment:

 

  • And finally……The Dukes of Heisenberg:

 

Have a great Wednesday!