The incredible Darlene Love celebrates her 80th birthday today. The award winning singer has had a prolific career in the music industry and continues to tour today. Her signature song is the classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.
So tell me what you want, what you really really want! I’ll tell you what I want…to celebrate the anniversary of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. Twenty-five years ago the girl group burst onto the pop music scene with their first single. Released in their native UK, the song quickly rose to the top of the charts there before doing the same in the US. The infectious track explained everything you need to know about the quintet (Ginger, Scary, Baby, Posh, and Sporty). They were all about fun, friendship, and, most importantly, Girl Power! What’s better than that? Although the Spice Girls may not be together anymore, “Wannabe” continues to live on. Zig-a-zig ah!
Never to Young to Die poses the question: what if James Bond had a son who was also a secret agent? The answer: they’d make an incredibly bad movie about him. To be clear, NTYTD isn’t supposed to be 007 Jr., but c’mon. You have a former Bond actor (George Lazenby) playing a spy, a Bond girl (Vanity), and a dastardly villain (Gene Simmons) with a sinister plot. Plus the dramatic title that sounds like it could be a legitimate entry in the series. Director Gil Bettman knew where he was going with this. It’s just that getting there went completely left. And shitty.
While on a secret mission, Drew Stargrove (Lazenby) is killed by the evil Velvet Von Ragnar (Simmons). After the funeral, Drew’s son Lance (John Stamos, pre-Uncle Jessie) discovers his father’s spy past. This prompts the college student/gymnast to leap into action (on his little motorbike) and avenge his father’s death. Along the way, Lance teams up with his father’s associate, agent Danja Deering (Vanity). They aim to take down Velvet before she can carry out her plan to poison the city’s water supply.
The movie is truly ridiculous from the get go. We’re supposed to believe Lance can instantly become a super spy? That he can fight off Velvet’s Mad Max-like henchmen with ease? Those are some wacky action sequences, btw. But most importantly, that he can save the world? Mmmmk. Then there’s Danja (spelled how Whoopi would pronounce it). Vanity was clearly brought in to sex up the movie. Cue topless scene. Ultimately her character is flat and one-note. Adding to the blandness is the lack of chemistry with Stamos. Yes, they’re both hot, but it doesn’t translate into anything exciting. Let’s not even get into their bizarre love scene where she hoses herself down and he devours an apple. It’s the furthest thing from erotic.
Velvet is another story. A confusing one. In the film’s summary she’s described as a he/she. That’s offensive. Other reviews claim she’s a hermaphrodite. But at times she seems like a drag queen. Or possibly trans. Anyway you slice it, the character is problematic, even by 80s standards. It doesn’t help that Simmons is dialed up to a 30, on a 1-10 scale. It’s like Bettman said, “just go batshit crazy”, and he really leaned into it, creepy-flicking-tongue first.
NTYTD barely eeks into the “so good it’s bad” category because a majority of it is plain horrible. But it’s also entertaining in a weird way. The movie holds your attention with all the WTF moments, cheesy special effects, and unintentional comedy. For all of that, it’s worth checking out.
Diana Ross debuted her single “Thank You” today. This is the first time in 15 years that she has put out original music. Interestingly, the song sounds fresh and modern while also retaining the vibe of her 70s tracks. The melody and production contribute to this feeling. Lyrically, she sings about how grateful she is to have been given so much love and support over the years. It’s a beautifully positive message. “Thank You” comes from the album of the same name that is set to be released this fall. I’m looking forward to hearing more new music from Ms. Ross.
“The Lady in Red” danced (cheek to cheek) onto the soft rock scene 35 years ago this month. Chris de Burgh was inspired by seeing his wife across a crowded room looking gorgeous in a red dress. But it’s not just an ode to a pretty woman. It’s about cherishing an important person in your life and not taking them for granted. His voice and the synths come together to make a beautiful song, so it’s not surprising that this was a huge hit. You’ll never forget the lady in red.
Soapdish is a comedy about the drama that goes down behind the scenes of a daytime soap opera. As someone who read Soap Opera Digest for years, I can attest that the drama offscreen can be more interesting than the fictional stuff that airs. In the movie, Celeste (Sally Field), the star of “The Sun Also Sets”, is at the center of the strife. There’s her newly resurrected love interest Jeffrey (Kevin Kline), aspiring actress niece Lori (Elizabeth Shue), villainous rival Montana (Cathy Moriarty), manipulative executive producer David (Robert Downey Jr.), and head writer/best friend Rose (Whoopi Goldberg). A lot of chaos goes down with this crew. Here are 10 of the funniest moments.
10. Soap opera awards
The movie kicks off at the soap opera awards where Celeste wins for best actress, much to her costars’ annoyance. In the clip package, we see her character Maggie confessing while in prison. “Yes, yes, yes! I’m am guilty. Guilty of love in the first degree.” Powerful. Sidenote, Celeste has won several awards. If this character was truly based on soap diva Susan Lucci, that’s kinda shady. And I like it.
Hunky men are a staple on soaps. On TSAS, Blair (Paul Johansson) plays the studly and very dense Bolt. During a love scene with Celeste, he drops his towel revealing his full… bolt. Celeste implores him to wear a swimsuit next time. Blair: “I can’t act in a swimsuit.” He’s a method actor.
8. Casting couch
Carrie Fisher has a small role as Betsy, the show’s horny casting director. We see her auditioning with a handsome actor. Banging Betsy lands him the part, so ultimately they both score.
7. No turbans
Celeste is having a bad day after getting dumped by her boyfriend via answering machine. It doesn’t help that Tawny (Kathy Najimy), the costume designer, has put her in a turban. “Could you please tell our new costume designer that I don’t feel quite right in a turban? What I feel like is GLORIA FUCKING SWANSON!!” Nobody wants to be dressed like a dead woman. Najimy only has few lines in the entire movie, but she does so much with just her facial expressions.
6. Dinner theater
After getting fired from the show decades earlier, Jeffrey was banished to the dinner theater circuit. A horrible existence. It’s hard to perform Death of a Salesman to an audience of elderly people who are uninterested, busy slurping their dinner, and on death’s door themselves.
Everything about Montana is extreme from her voice, to her look, to her reactions. She steals each scene she’s in as she tries to take the show from Celeste. Moriarty is so good in the role. She also bounces off of (or on top of) Downey well. You don’t know whether she’s going to screw him or kill him.
4. Celeste’s explanation
The big plot twist in the film occurs when Celeste reveals that her niece Lori is actually her daughter with Jeffrey. She got pregnant years ago, hid it from everyone, invented a twin sister she passed off as the mother, and then got Jeffrey fired because she felt he ruined her life. That’s incredibly soapy. Field expertly delivers this monologue. It’s worthy of a soap award and another Oscar.
3. Nervous breakdown
The family drama with Celeste, Jeffery, and Lori spills over onto the show. All three separately go to the head of the network, Edmund Edwards (the sharply funny Garry Marshall), and declare they can’t work like this. They’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown! It must be contagious. The rapid cutting between each character adds to the comedy here.
2. Live show
During the live show everything goes wrong. Either Jeffrey, Celeste, or Lori is going to be fired, but they won’t know the outcome until they read it from the teleprompter. Jeffery is blind as a bat, so he mispronounces all his lines. Except Kopfgeschlagen. Celeste goes off script when she realizes Lori is going to be killed off. She offers to die instead. This leads to prepping for an emergency brain surgery. In a restaurant. Lori breaks character and stops it all, reconciling with her parents. It’s a great convoluted mess.
1. “He doesn’t have a head!”
Death is easy to overcome in soaps since characters come back to life on a regular basis. But some things can’t easily be explained. Like how Jeffrey’s character Rod Randall is still alive after being decapitated onscreen. Or as Rose proclaims, “He doesn’t have a head! How am I supposed to write for a guy who doesn’t have a head?!” Nothing is funnier than Rose’s exasperation and yet she manages to write for him anyways. That’s talent.
Enya celebrates her 60th birthday today. The Irish artist has a very distinct voice and musical style. When you hear it, you know it’s her. In the 80s and 90s she seemed to be everywhere; from commercials, to movies, to your doctor’s office. She sold millions of records and became the best-selling solo artist in Ireland. I particularly like her contributions to the LA Story soundtrack. It’s beautiful and transcendental.
Paula Abdul’s 1988 debut album, Forever Your Girl, was a huge success. It topped the Billboard charts, sold seven million copies, and launched four #1 singles (a record for a debut album). There must have been a great deal of pressure to match these achievements with her next project. Luckily, she met critics’ and fans’ expectations with Spellbound in 1991. Paula proved she wasn’t a one-album wonder with this new multi-platinum collection of songs.
11. To You
Too cutesy. It sounds like it was written for a teen act. Could have been left off the album.
10. Rock House
There are a lot of issues packed into this message song. Poverty, greed, war, and hunger. Paula couldn’t just choose one. Her solution is to “shut up and dance”. Sure, ok.
The album’s title track is just alright. Not as spellbinding as the others.
8. Alright Tonight
Paula takes us to Carnival with this upbeat dance track. It’s fun and unexpected.
Prince wrote the sexy “U” for Paula and you can hear his purple influence all over it.
6. Promise of a New Day
I always thought “Promise” was about preserving the environment. Probably because of the nature-filled video and the lyrics about eagles and such. In any case, it’s catchy.
5. My Foolish Heart
Paula’s foolish heart won’t allow her to let go of a guy who’s treating her badly. This is a really good song that could have been a single.
4. Will You Marry Me?
If you’re going to propose to someone this is what you need to play in the background.
3. Blowing Kisses in the Wind
Paula is trying to hold onto a relationship that is falling apart. She’s giving all her love to her man, but he’s cold in return. It’s a very pretty, sad ballad. I love the music box melody.
I’m in a funky way. “Vibeology” is a wild dance track. A mix of 90s club and big brass band. She sings about a man that has her “pumped in the groove” and “horny hard”. Ok then. Go Paula, Go Paula!
1. Rush Rush
Before focusing on singing, Paula was known primarily as a dancer/choreographer, so most of her early music was upbeat. When it came time to put out the first single from Spellbound, she threw a curveball with the ballad “Rush Rush”. Totally unexpected and the perfect choice. It’s a gorgeous love song: her voice, the melody, and those violins. Everything comes together beautifully. The Rebel Without a Cause rip-off music video co-starring Keanu Reeves was the icing on top. Paula cemented her place in the pop music world.
Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary today. The two met on the set of All My Children back in 1995. Kelly played the popular heroine Hayley Vaughn and Mark was brought on as her love interest, Mateo Santos. I remember thinking at the time that they had incredible chemistry. Apparently, that carried over into their real lives since they eloped in Las Vegas the next year. Hayley and Mateo experienced a ton of drama, but Kelly and Mark have remained fairly steady. After they left AMC in 2002, they continued on to successful careers and raised a family. They also have a producing partnership. Currently, they’re in development on a primetime reboot of AMC, taking it back to where their love story began.
Luther Vandross would have turned 70 today. We lost the phenomenal singer/songwriter too soon, but his velvet voice lives on. This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of his solo debut, Never Too Much. The album gave us the instantly recognizable title track and his cover of Dionne Warwick’s “A House is Not a Home”, which completely lives up to the original. I believe in the power of Luther.