Wednesday, September 23, 2009

september 29

Hello, and Happy Birthday, whenever it is. I've got more under-celebrated celebrities, one-hit wonders, and oddness. Actually, I'll start with the oddness, today...

Happy Birthday to Brian Ash, subversive animator. He cut his teeth on Internet animation before working on shows like "The Boondocks" and "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil." Here's one of his more notorious works, a promotional piece for the 2005 "House of Wax" remake, entitled "See Paris Die!" (Obviously, NSFW)

Slightly more family-friendly (but still kinda NSFW; it is promoting an R-rated film) was the award-winning prequels to "3000 Miles to Graceland." I heartily recommend checking out these clips; I wish I could have embedded them; they really feature Kevin Costner, Christian Slater, Kurt Russell, etc. from the film. If I'd seen these cartoons back then, I might have tried to see the film in theaters.

Oh, man; Kurt Nilsen is my hero. He's the guy who broke the Idol-making machine.
See, by 2004, the Pop Idol franchise had become a juggernaut, and almost every nation in the world was on its way to having their own Idol show. So, why not a World Idol? On Christmas Day, 2003, winners from eleven nations, including American Idol Kelly Clarkson, competed in a one-off globally broadcast special. In a monumental upset, Clarkson took second place to Norway's Kurt Nilsen, a victory so controversial that they never had a World Idol competition again.
Many reasons are bandied about (erratic voting, price gouging, not using Clay Aiken) but what's unspoken is the fact that the Powers That Be got a World Idol that they had no idea how to sell to the world. His songs have never been released in the United States.
Why? Because he doesn't look like a rock star. The nicest way to say it is, he paved the way for the Paul Potts and Susan Boyles of the world to start taking over. He looks very ordinary, but his voice is definitively not.
Had a hard time picking a video, because the produced music videos don't do him any favors (dressing him like Rascal Flatts,) and the concert videos have too much screaming (he is still a massive star in Norway.) But this clip of the Norwegian supergroup The New Guitar Baddies doing a live rendition of "Hallelujah" should do the trick. [Kurt's in the denim jacket, all the way to the left] Watch for him to sing the last verse, and you can see - and hear - what I'm talking about.

His last album, a team-up with Willie Nelson, had him back on top of every chart Norway has. The world just might be ready for Kurt soon, after all...

Here's another phenomenal voice that deserves better. Debelah Morgan was a vocal prodigy (as in, 5-octave vocal range) who became a one-hit wonder, thanks to the 2000 track, Dance With Me. In a decade-long recording career, she never found her footing, and disappeared from the business altogether by 2004. Seriously, if anybody knows what happened to her, let me know. I figured, she'd be on Broadway, or releasing a gospel album by this point...
The song suffers from sounding too much like a Marc Anthony tune, I know...

Finally, Happy Birthday to the Last Man Standing, Jerry Lee Lewis. A rock n' roll legend, Lewis is the last of "the Million Dollar Quartet:" the songs of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Lewis built Sun Studios, and rock n' roll itself. To this day, nobody tears up a piano like Jerry Lee Lewis at 74 years old, which says more about the sad state of the world we're in.
Now there's a piano man. Damn you, Billy Joel. Damn you, Elton John...

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