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Why is Sade So Underappreciated?

13 Aug

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I’m pretty much convinced that Sade is the most underrated singer/group of all time (Helen Folasade Adu, Sade for short, is the full name of the famed lead singer, and group’s name is actually Sade).  Sade and her group have been out for 25 years, produced 6 iconic albums, and some of the most ethereal tours in the history of music.  To get a better understanding of how slighted Sade has been, I’ll examine her success versus some of her contemporaries.

I used to appreciate the hallowed company and dignified distinction a Grammy award provided, but then I dug deeper.  In terms of success, I fully understand that Sade is not in the same company as the Beatles, Michael Jackson, U2, Stevie Wonder, or Frank Sinatra.  That being said, what sense does it make for such a talented singer to only have 4 Grammy awards?  What’s worse, she only has 8 career nominations!  Her four victories are in the following categories:

  • Best new artist (1986)
  • Best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals- No Ordinary Love (1994)
  • Best pop vocal album- Lovers Rock (2002)
  • Best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals- Soldier of Love (2011)

 

The two most interesting conclusions I can make are that she wins an award roughly every 8 years, and the committee isn’t sure if she’s an R&B artist or a pop artist (further confusion is that she has won only one American Music Award … and it was in the category of favorite adult contemporary artist).  Matched up to artists with similar time spans, she rates fairly well considering comparative success.  Michael Jackson has 15 Grammys, Prince has 7, and Madonna also has 7.  That is acceptable, but how does Beyonce have 4 times the number of Grammys as an iconic singer?  I won’t argue with Beyonce’s commercial success, but I’m fairly sure anyone who actually knows anything about music will agree that quality wise she has nothing on Sade (by the way, doesn’t it seem strange that Beyonce has more Grammys than Michael Jackson, and more than Prince and Madonna combined?!).  To put Sade’s paltry 4 awards in perspective, the Black Eyed Peas have 6 Grammys, Amy Winehouse has 5, and Nora Jones won 5 awards at the 45th ceremony in February of 2003.  I believe that Nora Jones is a very talented singer, writer, and piano player; I even own her CD Come Away With Me, but no one can convince me she’s better than Sade.  In retrospect, it’s obvious that Grammy counts are more of an indictment on the current pitiful state of music, not the actual talent level of the artists.  To provide more examples of the lunacy of Sade’s awards, she has never won a Soul Train Music Award.  These awards honor the best in African American music and entertainment … allegedly.  Somehow Sade was able to win a Grammy for her album Lovers Rock, but wasn’t able to win a Soul Train Award despite being nominated.  In addition, in 2011 Sade won a Grammy for Soldier of Love (the single, not the album), but once again not the Soul Train Award she was nominated for.  Am I the only one confused?

 

Earlier I made reference to Sade’s 6 iconic albums; here’s a more detailed description of each of them and one of their compilation releases.

 

Diamond Life

This album came out in 1984 and includes two of Sade’s biggest hits to date Smooth Operator and Your Love is King. It made it all the way to #2 in the US, and is 4 times platinum.  Smooth Operator reached as high as #5 on the Billboard charts.

 

Promise

Just a year later, 1985, Sade debuted this album, which was also a critical success.  Two popular hits were The Sweetest Taboo and Is it a Crime. Promise made it all the way to #1 on the charts, and is also 4 times certified platinum.

 

Stronger Than Pride

Sade got lazy and waited three years, until 1988, to release this album.  Maybe they needed a little more time, as it didn’t do as well as the previous two releases.  The album did include Love is Stronger than Pride and Paradise. It reached #7 on the Billboard charts, and is 3 times platinum.

 

Love Deluxe

In 1992 Sade came out with another gem; it had the three classic hits No Ordinary Love, Kiss of Life, and Cherish the Day. Love Deluxe peaked at #7, and is 4 times platinum.

 

Best of Sade

In 1994 Sade released their first compilation album.  It contained all the hits from their four albums, as well as several splendid songs that never achieved mass acclaim.  This greatest hits LP contained 16 songs in total, reached #9 on the Billboard charts, and once again went 4 times platinum.

 

Lovers Rock

The year 2000 was graced by another awesome Sade release.  Lovers Rock the album, not the similarly named track on the disc, won Sade a Grammy thanks to such prizes as By Your Side and King of Sorrow. It got as high as #3 on Billboard, and was 3 times platinum.

 

Soldier of Love

After a 10 year hiatus, Sade returned with a long awaited album and accompanying tour.  Maybe because of the long wait people began to appreciate their artistry more, but this is the first Sade album to top the Billboard charts.  So far the only major hit is Soldier of Love, but my personal favorites are Skin and Bring Me Home. Soldier is already a platinum CD, and it hasn’t been out a year yet (that is quite an accomplishment now considering that the last time Sade released an album people actually purchased albums, not just picked and chose songs from iTunes or the like).

I may be completely off base and biased, but I think Sade is one of the most gifted singers (groups) of this generation.  Unfortunately the music they release doesn’t pander to the instant gratification, Youtube generation where everything matters about the artist except the actual music they make (examples include people care about Kanye West’s irrelevant political views and odd glasses more than his music, people are much more taken by Beyonce’s videos than her actual songs, and Lady Gaga/Katy Perry are lionized much more for their daring costumes than actual musical feats).  Despite being completely underappreciated hopefully Sade will continue to crank out music and perform tours that are more experiences than just events.  I won’t expect a new album quickly just to gravy train off the success of Soldier of Love thanks to this awesome quote by Sade herself, “I only make records when I feel I have something to say. I’m not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand.”  If more artists kept to that mantra the music industry probably wouldn’t be in the pitiful state that it is now.


Directing Movies Against the Grain

10 Aug

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The movie industry has given up making films for the sake of creating pure art in exchange for the opportunity to make a lot of money. Films that could be more authentic and compelling are commercialized and predictable. Movies that should be darker and grittier become languid and transparent.  Every movie that is being made is rated PG-13 to appeal to the largest audience possible rather than being completed where it is the best full project. Directors are being handicapped instead of being encouraged to create the best movie that they are capable of submitting. Pushing directors to explore their artistic expression could reinvigorate an industry that is now failing to captivate its audiences through its craft. In the time periods where art is suffering most, directors should be forced to attempt movies that fall outside of their comfort zone.

Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh’s films usually deal with the interaction and societal repercussions of the human condition. Movies like Traffic, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and Erin Brockovich showed his ability to display the physical and emotional ties that bond people while developing his plot. This is why Soderbergh should try his hand at a romantic comedy. With the right actors and a good script, Soderbergh could make a compelling, intelligent comedy like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Love Actually. He excels at converging separate story lines into a flowing conclusion, and he is adept at showing the effects of peoples’ relationships with one another. Comedy would suit him.

Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky has a visually stunning style that mixes harsh emotional distress into awkward social situations. He uses flawed characters to drive his stories, and his resolutions are always spectacular but often bittersweet. Aronofsky needs to direct a western with the screenplay written by Clint Eastwood. The dark way that Aronofsky directs and the way that he displays sex on film would be perfect for the old west. The Old West was a difficult, dirty place to live. It was place where prudishness and lasciviousness walked hand in hand. Sex was taboo, but could be found on the streets. Darren Aronofsky uses both stressful and contrasting situational cues and the consequent emotional turmoil of his characters to create tense scenes and dramatic finishes. In the Wild West, people faced death on a daily basis.  Gunfights, sex with unclean prostitutes, and the lack of proper medical treatment caused high mortality rates and created stressful environments for people. This setup is perfect for Aronofsky. Plus, Clint Eastwood grew up starring in westerns so he could write a compelling storyline in his sleep. He could write a story about honor and respect that Aronofsky could shape into a darker, moving film.

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg needs to direct an “end of days” movie. His eye for cinematography and his capacity for telling the entirety of stories would serve him well. Spielberg is one of the few directors who excels at parlaying the human condition through his camera while giving a great, entrancing plot line. He shows his characters’ moments of awe, despair, hopelessness, and amazement through close-ups and changing camera angles. He connects his audiences with those characters through great dialogue and sound plot development. Where other directors have failed because of focusing solely on the situation of the characters, Spielberg would succeed by telling the story of the characters in the situation. Plus, his ability to move between the gut-wrenching and heart-warming moments in his movies stand unparalleled amongst his peers. Only Steven Spielberg

Guiellermo Del Toro

Guiellermo Del Toro should try his hand at Greek mythology. His ability to give an authentic and realistic scope to fairy tale stories would serve him well in Greek Mythology. Very few directors can make a fluid connection between normalized characters and fantasy creatures. Del Toro is one of them. His work in movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hell Boy series express the humanistic approach that he takes in telling stories about things that are decidedly supernatural. He could make an epic story from a mythological storyline. Greek mythology shares the tales of the Gods who behave like men despite their divinity. Because Del Toro relays the emotion of his characters well and could probably create believable adaptations of the Greek Gods, he could also appropriately espouse the bickering that the Gods in Greek Mythology have amongst themselves and the resulting difficulty that their followers have serving them.

Peter Jackson 

Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, needs to try his hand an epic like Alexander or anything that is Grecian or Roman. He has shown a real affinity towards storytelling and displayed a talent for choreographing battle scenes. Jackson creates powerful and layered characters through dialogue and plot and drives his story with those characters. His protagonists in Lord of the Rings were flawed, but their distinct good and bad character traits also carried them through their trials. With these types of apropos plot lines, Jackson ties together ideas of destiny versus direction and makes his movies more than just a simple story about complex characters, but an allegory to life. In Grecian and Roman history, most of the great leaders were flawed characters who achieved greatness. And, they each had several lessons that are still applicable in modern times. Jackson could make a great biopic that stands above all the movies that were made before it.

Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle should direct a movie about the Inquisition or a movie about the Salem Witch Trials. Boyle is adept at showing the human condition when stressed under uncertain conditions. In movies like 28 Days Later, he showed the chaos that spurns from a rage virus that was accidentally released onto the public. The rage virus infection was extremely contagious and caused people to become irrational, violent, and most importantly cannibalistic. This zombie virus was spread through the exchange of fluids, specifically through bites of the infected, and the result of the epidemic spread of the virus was the abandonment of physical residence and of culture. People fell into a primal, carnal state when their government failed them and began to turn on each other. In the end, the panicked public killed nearly as many people as the zombies. The Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials were both marked by widespread panic. Each was set in a time when people followed their leaders blindly and were exploited because of that. Boyle could lucidly show the chaos that explodes as a result of fear and ignorance.


How to Pick An Engagement Ring

9 Aug

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The decision to marry a woman is one of the most pivotal and most important choices that a man will ever make in his lifetime. And, a man asking a woman to marry him is one of the most nerve-racking times of his life. The moment is vulnerable and intimate, and the answer that the woman gives him changes both of their lives forever. First, the guy has to find the right woman to marry, then he has to work up enough nerve to ask her to marry him, but first, he has to pick a ring. The ring decides whether a woman will blown away by her proposal or just be thrilled to get the offer. And, most men do not have a clue about finding the right ring. Buying the perfect ring is a combination of a few different factors, but the most important features of getting your girlfriend the right ring is knowing her ring size, understanding the four C’s, and finding the right price point.

There is nothing that is worse than asking a woman to marry you, hearing her say yes, and finding out that the ring that you bought does not fit on her finger. Failing to get a big enough ring is like saying that she is too fat to be your wife and proving that you do not care enough about her to find her correct ring size all in one ignorant and malicious gesture. Nothing says ‘I hate you, and you need to lose some pounds,’ like jewelry that will not fit over your woman’s swollen knuckle, so do your homework before you buy a ring. The first method to try when procuring your lady’s ring size is simply taking one of her rings to a jeweler. But, if your girlfriend is the feminine, human version of Smeagol (yes, that was a Lord of the Rings reference), a certified ring hoarder, and she counts her jewelry collection everyday, then you may have to use another tactic. You can wait until she is out of the house and trace the outline and inseam of the ring, or you can make her best friend an ally, assuming that the best friend is a woman. If her best friend is a guy, then you have another set of problems. Ask her (female) best friend to be discreet and to find out your girlfriend’s ring size for you. She will return with the correct ring size for you, and she will probably also give you your girlfriend’s preferences in order of priority for the 4 C’s of a diamond ring.

Most men have no idea what the 4 C’s are, but that acronym is actually the most important part of deciding which ring to buy for your prospective wife. Cut, color, clarity, and carat almost exclusively decide whether your girlfriend will be thrilled by your choice in a ring or just relieved that you finally asked her to marry you. As a rule, relief is not what you want from a woman to whom you just presented a diamond ring. Each category that describes the diamond represents an equally important factor in assessing the worth of the ring.

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The cut of the gem reflects your girlfriend’s specific taste. Diamonds are generally cut into princess, round, radiant, emerald, asscher, marquise, cushion, and heart shapes, and each design changes the way that light is reflected in the diamond. Clarity refers to the number of inclusions or imperfections in the diamond and is measured in order, from F1 (flawless) to VSI1 (very slight inclusions) to SI (slight inclusions) to I (inclusions). Most diamonds have mineral deposits and small fractures internally and on the surface of the stone that can only be seen through a monocular handheld loupe, so they are arranged by the number of defects in the stone. The fewer inclusions a diamond has, the better the diamond is. The color category ranges from completely colorless to yellow on a scale from D to Z. D-F is considered to colorless, G-J is nearly colorless, K-M is faintly colored, and N-Z is a colored stone. The less color that a diamond has, the more valuable it is with only one exception. Certain colors like pink, canary, and chocolate are more desirable in diamonds, but only because those colors are extremely rare. And, an engagement ring is traditionally supposed to be colorless. The last ‘C’ alludes to the weight of the gem. Diamonds are measured in carats, and the more carats a diamond weighs the more people will pay to own it.

Your girlfriend may be a size queen and want a big diamond or she maybe more interested in the sparkle and shape of her diamond. Each of the four C’s and the setting of the gem drive the price of ring up. You as a consumer have to decide what type of ring will make her proud to wear her ring and how much you can afford to spend. The rule of thumb for buying an engagement ring is that the ring should cost you three month’s salary, but that number is more of a reference point than an absolute. You have to find the type of ring that will make your girlfriend happy and allow the two of you (assuming that she is going to marry) to live comfortably after the marriage. The perfect ring should meld perfectly between  both of your desires. You should not go directly to the bigger, franchise jewelers to buy an engagement ring. Jewelers know that men come into their stores to buy a beautiful ring for their future wives, and they take full advantage of the ignorance of these guys. Always use an independent jeweler when trying to buy an engagement ring. They set their prices to compete with the larger chains, and you will usually find a better deal there. And finally, the price of a ring drops precipitously once the weight of the stone goes below one carat. A 0.9 carat diamond ring will cost considerably less than a one carat ring, plus you can dress up a smaller diamond with a halo setting (a cluster of small diamonds surrounds the bigger diamond).

Shopping for an engagement ring can be a daunting task for any man without the right information. However, with a little know-how and a little help from her girlfriend, you can pick the perfect ring for your girlfriend. Knowing her ring size, understanding the ways that rings are evaluated, and buying a ring that you can afford insures that your proposal will go well. Use those tools to your advantage.


Tattoos for Gamers

8 Aug

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