she liked Imaginary Men best of all


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Gotta Have Some Faith in the Sound

2016 was an all-around shitty year. Personally I dealt with a family health crisis, relationship challenges, work and house stress and an overabundance of terrible things happening to people I know and love – accidents, illnesses, multiple deaths of people and their pets. It was unrelenting and I was counting down the days until it was over. And then George Michael died. On Christmas. I mean, REALLY WORLD???

At the start I had no love for George Michael. This particular 13-year-old found Wham! cheesy and deeply uncool. I loved English Pretty Boys in bands and Duran Duran occupied my walls and my record collection. Even though there seemed to be enough similarities between the two bands, for me there were none and I had no place in my heart for two goofballs dancing around in short shorts and fake trumpet playing in pools d879d5e12ec2938f1aadfe3ce81ad5a4(however, saxophone playing on beaches was a-okay. Such is the mind of a fickle teen girl!)

My junior high best friend and I were downright hostile about Wham! Their songs were lame. They were so dorky and they just were trying so damn hard which was probably the ultimate Wham! trait that cynical girls like ourselves with a growing appreciation for The Cure found most unforgivable. My mom and I giggled over George’s dramatics (see, “Everything She Wants”) and the fact that they let themselves get into absurd photo shoots like this:

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Yet despite not liking them I had a copy of this postcard!

Then George went solo and became a massive, MASSIVE superstar. He was all over the radio and MTV, he was spoofed on SNL (I still randomly quote Dana-Carvey-as-George’s “look at my butt! It’s hypnotic! You can’t look away!”), he was friends with Elton John and ultimate A-List. His songs started worming their way into my head and staying there. I still remember sitting in the front seat of our school van with my heart aching over every word of “One More Try” on the radio, despite the fact that I hadn’t yet had a boyfriend or any sort of heartbreak (and now decades later with plenty of both under my belt, these lyrics are even more painfully true). I can vividly recall a party at my first college where I was outside cooling down with friends and the first notes of “Freedom 90” came thumping from inside the campus center causing me to race back inside so I wouldn’t miss a single opportunity to holler “YOU GOTTA GIVE WHAT YOU TAKE!!!” while doing a fist pumping dance.

(Sidebar: How fucking GREAT is this song?? IT IS FUCKING AMAZING. End of story!)

When I transferred to Smith College and met my friend Heather that’s when all Wham! Hell Broke Loose, so to speak. Heather and I share a lot of pop culture trivia, Fangirl obsessions, Royal Family knowledge, and deep, deep adoration of 80s music. Being faced with her joy in George Michael’s music made me realize what I already knew but had been held back from admitting by my grumpy 13YO self for so long: I loved George Michael and every damn song he did. We applied for a radio show at our college station and were refused because our eclectic proposed playlist included disco, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam and Wham! (BTW, we are still bitter). We had a pledge that if Wham! ever reunited for a tour or even just one show, we were going to go no matter where it was or how much it cost. To this day, in all honesty only days before his death, we were discussing whether George had reunited with his ex Kenny Goss and I was agreeing to make sure “Wham Rap!” was played at her future funeral, should she pre-decease me.

And that’s the thing that has hit us the hardest: George Michael and Wham! were not just music we liked in our youth and had an appreciative nostalgia for. We talked about, listened to and quoted his music weekly. For us he is an artist who is just as relevant in our current lives and playlists (if not more so, at times) as if it was 1988 right now.We are devastated we will never be able to go see him in concert and clutch each other with joy while singing “I’m Your Man”. For us there was no sadness or bad day that couldn’t be polished up by the appearance of a “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” gif or even a simple text bubble reminding the other “I Love Wham!”

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George Michael was rich with talent, a beautiful voice and a complicated personal life that gave him the fuel to write so many iconic songs that we are lucky to have with us forever. I recently watched a 1990 documentary  about George and this moment was so very poignant:

I don’t believe I’m important as a pop star…I don’t believe that I will leave a great mark as an entity. I think I’m more realistic than that. I do believe now that I’m a lot better singer than I ever thought I would be but at the end of the day I want to leave something as a writer. And I think to have a passion or to have something that drives you on through life in a creative sense, most of us want to leave something, want to have something that will be remembered without having people really having to search in their memory and I want to leave songs, I believe I can leave songs that will mean something to other generations.

Every few months it seems I find myself seeking comfort in his hit “Praying for Time” which is in fact, timeless given the state of the world today.  I post these words after a lot of mass shootings, terrorist attacks and all around awful news because they capture the hopelessness I feel in such a beautifully accurate way:

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You were wrong George. You’ve left us so very much and I hope you knew how grateful we were, THANK YOU. XOXO.


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Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Music Edition (and bonus picks!)

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Hello Fangirls and welcome to part 3 of the Fangirls Fall Guide by yours truly and Miss Julie Kushner author of TV Recappers Anonymous (where you will also find this series cross-posted).

Speaking of recaps – so far we’ve talked about TV we love and movies that excite us and today we’re pleased to present our top picks in music for your listening enjoyment. In the words of Billy on the Street Billy Eichner: And away – we – go!

Amy’s Picks

Music you should listen to: I watch a show online called Out of Ireland. I like to save a few episodes and then put them on while I’m puttering around my kitchen on a weekend morning. I pretend I’m in my house that happens to be in Dublin! An episode this summer featured a video by the band Walking on Cars. I didn’t pay too much attention to the visuals as I was doing something domestic, but the song “Speeding Cars” sent tingles along my spine. Then I watched the video which is gorgeous and mystical (although not the visuals you expect for a song about an affair!) Finding their debut CD Everything This Way was difficult stateside and I ended up with an import. But this is the kind of music that gets me in the heart and soul. Driving, majestic, U2-esque melodies and emotional lyrics. I don’t think I singlehandedly am going to make Walking on Cars “happen” in the US, but I highly recommend checking them out on Spotify. Some really beautiful and energetic songs perfectly suited for being heard in a stadium full of chanting voices.

 

Music I am beside myself excited for: America I will never forgive you for not embracing Robbie Williams. The English mega pop star sells out stadiums throughout Europe, yet I saw him in a club venue in Boston in 1999 which, is likely the last time he ever toured here. Robbie is cheeky and outrageous. His music is often bombastic and ridiculous and he delivers it with such smirk on his face and sparkle in his eye you can’t help but get into it. Plus it’s catchy as HELL. I don’t think anyone captures the ups and downs of fame better in contemporary pop music: the love/hate of adulation, the dangers of temptation and the thrills of celebrity. On one track he’ll tell you, “I am scum”(Come Undone) and the next he’s proclaiming “I’m the one who put the Brit in celebrity” (Handsome Man) He has a new album called The Heavy Entertainment Show coming out on my birthday although sadly, I won’t be in England to get it so I’ll have to patiently wait for my lovely friend Felicity to supply me with a copy which I will play endlessly while proclaiming, “DAMN YOU AMERICA!!!”

Julie’s Picks

Music you should listen to: Meghan Trainor. For those of you out there who may have wrote off this young ingénue as a teeny bopping pop star after her first album, which, most notably, included the catchy ear worm “All About That Bass“, and the 50’s nostalgic “Dear Future Husband,” take another look. Meghan’s second album, Thank You is edgy, sassy, mature, and will make you dance uncontrollably, even when you are in places you shouldn’t be dancing (like at work, or on the NYC subway). And the song lyrics are just great. Are you having an off day? Feeling down on yourself? Check out “Me Too” (“If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.”), and your confidence will resurge in no time. Heading for a night out with the girls, you need to be playing “No,” while you are getting ready. It will make you laugh and put you in a great mood just in time to hit the dance floor. (“My name is No. My sign is No. My number is No. You need to let it go.”) Indeed!

 

Music I am excited to hear: The Weeknd – Starboy  It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to predict that this is going to be the album blowing up everybody’s Spotify this winter. Every song these guys put out there almost automatically seems like chart topping gold. And their range is so diverse. The sultry “Earned It” feels like it comes from a completely different universe from the haunting “The Hills,” and the bass thumping, booty shaking “Can’t Feel My Face.” Need more evidence? The first single off the album came out on September 28th, less than three days later it had 19 million hits on YouTube. That’s insane! Out: November 25

Bonus! Our fave podcasts for your listening enjoyment!

Amy’s Pick

I have a very particular taste in podcasts. I don’t like anything of the genre I call “Two Guys Pontificating” in which two dudes like hearing themselves talk for over an hour. This is not sexist as I also don’t like “Two Girls Pontificating” either. I prefer my podcasts to have a narrative and structure. I don’t want to spend an hour with two people of any gender basically having an often tedious personal conversation that they somehow believe should be shared with a larger audience. That is why I am such a huge fan of You Must Remember This, which “explores the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I LOVE The Golden Age of Hollywood and all the stars and scandals so already I was sold on this concept.

But creator Karina Longworth does the work. Every episode is meticulously researched and when she does series, such as “MGM Stories” or the recent “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford” each episode is a chapter that builds on the last and prepares you for the next. Not only is the material fascinating but it is one of the best constructed podcasts I’ve ever heard. If you think the Brangelina divorce is explosive, you should hear what some of the original movie stars were up to behind closed doors in our supposedly “more innocent” history. Recommend: Star Wars Episode III Hedy Lamarr, Frank Sinatra in Outer Space.

Julie’s Pick

Serial, Season 1: Before Making of a Murderer gained a cult following, and took Netflix by storm…before True Crime became as mainstream as reality talent shows, there was a much beloved, but little known by the general public podcast called This American Life, produced by an enterprising woman named Sarah Koenig, who introduced us to the obsession we now know as SerialIn 1999, 18-year old Hae Min Lee, then a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, was murdered. Her body was found in the nearby Leakin Park, hastily buried in a shallow grave. The cause of death: manual strangulation. The chief suspect: Adnan Sayed, also a senior at Woodlawn High School, and Hae Min’s former boyfriend.

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There were a number of “bad facts” that pointed to Adnan as Hae Min’s killer. Cell phone towers pinged his location to be close to the murder site around the time the murder was said to have occurred. Witnesses saw Adnan offer Hae Min a ride home from school in his car that day. And, perhaps most damning of all, an associate of Adnan’s Jay Wilds admitted to helping Adnan bury Hae Min’s body.

Adnan was eventually arrested, tried and convicted of Hae Min Lee’s murder. But did he actually do it? Was the trial against him fair? Did he receive adequate counsel from his lawyer, who was disbarred shortly thereafter? Throughout this binge-worthy series that has spawned thousands of obsessive fansites to catalog and extensively discuss each aspect of the case, Sarah Koenig does an excellent job of exploring and unpacking, what, up until this point was a locally known “cold case” mystery. Without taking sides or placing blame, Sarah, through her investigations raises some very important questions, about the reliability of eyewitness testimony, particularly when most of those witnesses are teenagers, the accuracy of cell phone records, particularly in 1999, when the technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now, and the necessity of a good defense attorney, and whether the lack of one prevents an accused person from receiving a fair trial. Sarah even interviews Adnan himself from jail numerous times, allowing viewers to judge for themselves whether he is, in fact, guilty.

The popularity of Serial (to date the podcasts have received over 80 million downloads) and its reinvigoration of interest in Adnan’s case, actually turned the tide of justice, resulting in Adnan receiving a new trial, nearly a decade after his initial conviction. So, if you aren’t one of those 80 million downloads, I highly recommend you jump on this bandwagon and enter the cult that is Series 1 of Serial. I promise you, you won’t sleep until you’ve heard the entire series from start to finish…

Get your tablets and smartphones ready because next time we tackle websites and apps!

For more check out Amy’s book The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines and Julie’s novels on Amazon.


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I’ve written a book!

So it is clear that my attention to this blog has fallen by the wayside the last few years. There are many reasons for that including, but not limited to: a real, non-imaginary-man boyfriend, a house and a dog.

There is another reason that will be far more interesting to you which is that I have been writing a book! If you’ve liked what goes on here (when things were, you know, actually going on) then I guarantee you will like

The Fangirl Files

True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines!

Click to connect to my new book-centric website!

Click to connect to my new book-centric website!

The book is an expansion of this blog so if you enjoyed my tales of chasing Brandon Flowers on his Flamingo Tour, unapologetic love for Boy Bands, devotion to Pacey Witter and all things that celebrate being a Fangirl then get your copy and join the Fangirling Revolution!

May I interest in you a fabulous book trailer?

Buy now in Paperback or Kindle!

And follow along with #fangirlfilesbook on my social media (just look over there to the right, and up, and there you are!)


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New Album Crush: Mumford & Sons

Before David Letterman retired he had Mumford & Sons on to perform from their latest album. I don’t know a lot about them other than I didn’t like much of their previous work and that they were vaguely associated with hipsters (this may be more my own judgement and less fact).

The song, “Believe” stunned me. I rewound about 4 or 5 times because I kept falling more in love with it. In the last few weeks I have been listening to the album Wilder Mind a lot and I absolutely love it. It is rare for me to find an album where I like each and every song and yet that is exactly what has happened with this one.

In doing some poking around I’ve found that perhaps the reason I am loving M&S so much is that this album sounds very different than their previous ones! I always thought of them as sort of folksy and twee but now they sound like a catchy hybrid of U2 and Foo Fighters which I know sounds totally bizarre but they have got the soaring anthemic guitars of U2 happening (“Believe”, “Tompkins Square Park”) and the slow burn to a loud crescendo “whisper to a riot” that Foo Fighters are masters of (“Snake Eyes”, “Only Love”)

The other thing is that there’s a lot of sad-relationship-bitterness-heartbreak in this album. The songs are all about painful realizations and last moments and it’s making me feel heartbreaky even though my heart is fully safe. THAT is a mark of good songwriting and songs if it’s making you feel something that you’re not actually experiencing at that moment. It’s evocative and makes me long for a good Cheesy Teen Drama to watch and then enhance with these angsty lyrics!

So I guess I’m one of those annoying johnny-come-lately-fans that hardcore fans always hate. Does liking Mumford & Sons make me a hipster now? Please advise.


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Band Dynamic Documentaries

Tonight VH1 is premiering the Backstreet Boys documentary Show em What You’re Made Of and I think you should watch it. I say this not as a BSB fan but as a fan of anything that involves uncovering the fascinating world of band dynamics.

I recently read Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac because for my money there is no band with more incredibly complex, deranged inter-band dynamics then Fleetwood Mac. Marriage between members? Check. Affairs between members? Check. Break-ups between members who then make the person they dumped sing songs about how awful their break-up was on-stage to thousands of fans? CHECK. Their episode of Behind the Music is well worth 45 minutes of your life.

Less romantically tangled but just as fascinating to this U2 fanatic is the near destruction of the band pre-Achtung Baby detailed in Bill Flanagan’s U2: At the End of the World and explored further in the band’s own documentary on the experience in From the Sky Down. Coming off of a decade of unparalleled success the members find themselves on opposing sides when it comes time to define themselves for the 90’s and nearly fall apart until they stumble into One.

And the king of all band dynamic documentaries is surely Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster which details abrupt departures, rehab stints, long buried animosities, and the band partaking in some of the craziest “group therapy” you’ll ever see. I am not a Metallica fan but I was enraptured by this film and the exploration of the complexities of being in a band and staying in a band, sharing your life, livelihood, emotions and talents with multiple other people who may not always have the same agenda or investment.

Which brings me back to the Backstreet Boys and their documentary detailing the making of their latest album In a World Like This and the subsequent tour. I watched it on VOD when it as released a few months ago and it hits all the sweet spots of a good band dynamic documentary: the camaraderie and frictions, the long-standing tensions and love for each other and the music. There was always a lot of backstage drama with BSB – the contract lawsuits, Brian’s heart problems, AJ’s addictions, Nick’s arrests – they were basically a documentary waiting to happen. The group visits to each member’s childhood home reveals a lot about each guy not just to the audience but to their other band members (the one to Nick Carter’s elementary school and his reunion with a teacher who supported him is heartbreaking as Nick’s very raw breakdown at the memory of what a lonely little boy he was and what kindness and faith this woman showed him is difficult to watch.)

So I don’t think you have to be a fan of a particular band to find their story and their relationships interesting. In some cases seeing the non-glossy, not-so-glamorous reality of what being in a band is actually like makes me appreciate them in a way I wouldn’t have if it was just about listening to their music. Check out any of these docs I’ve mentioned and you can start tonight on VH1 🙂


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“The Era of Boy Bands Never Ends”

Heaven knows I love Boy Bands and I especially love when Boy Bands mix it up to form Mega Boy Bands. Well now to add to the mix we have a new Boy Band duo Nick & Knight!:

I’m loving the album and also enjoying the PR Tour the boys have been doing this week. They’ve been pretty tireless on TV and even in fancypants Time Magazine! And I love this bit on CNN because presenter Lisa France knows her stuff and has a quote I want embroidered on a pillow:

The era of the Boy Band never ends – it just ebbs and flows

Hell yeah! (and BTW the dude interviewing her is such a dick. Don’t give me the dismissive, “they don’t play instruments” line – WHO CARES! They DANCE which takes a whole lot of talent and they have had far longer careers than many instrument players!)

I’m really excited to see them in October and the show should be awesome with the new songs which are great for dancing, some Backstreet and New Kids stuff and a whole lot of nifty dancing from two of the best dancers in their respective groups. Plus they seem to be having so much fun together and you can really see they have a great chemistry and are excited about doing something different. And they are really good sports about some of their less cool history!

You can follow the Boy here and the Kid here (and obviously they need no introduction if you’re reading this blog 😉 )


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Tonight we’re gonna party like we’re actually 39

I pride myself on looking younger than my age. I attribute it to two things: not acting my actual age and very good genes. One of my favorite things at nearly 42 is to still get carded. When the Carder asks me as the Cardee, “Really?” I often want to respond, “If I were going to lie about my age why would I pick this one?!”

But despite my youthful appearance and embracing of my Inner 14 YO, I do feel my age in many ways. One of those ways is that while I love to go dancing I kind of hate all the places one goes to dance. I was never really a club person but at least 10 or 20 years ago I felt like it was a place I could tolerate for a few hours of good tunes and overpriced drinks and sometimes – a disco lit dance floor like the one in Saturday Night Fever! (this absolutely existed in Boston in the late-90’s!)

However I am long past the period when going to a bar or club to dance holds any interest for me. So where does one go to dance? Maybe at a wedding? Sure but you can’t always count on a quality playlist. How about a friend’s party? Why not! But sadly the number of friends I know who have fun dance parties is at about one. To that end I find myself having a One Woman Dance Party in my living room far more often than I probably should admit (actually it’s a Two Woman Dance Party because Kelly Clarkson is often there!)

Jen, my one girlfriend who can be depended on to throw a good dance party has a great idea – one that she shares with my friend and fellow blogger Sarah and they’ve both described basically the same place to me in separate conversations: a dance club for people over 35 years old! Here’s the deal:

  • Open 4-9PM – perfect for stopping at on your way home from work or take a spin around the floor while your kid is at soccer practice and still be home by a reasonable bed time!
  • Music is not too loud – by this point we’ve all been to a lot of concerts, clubs in our 20’s and various other places where screaming was the only mode of communication. Fuck that noise (literally!) The music is at a pleasing level that allows for gettin’ down AND hearing your friend bitch about their a-hole of a boss, clueless husband or the annoying Overachiever Mom at their kid’s school
  • Music is from the 80’s-’90’s – Sure you may be into the current stuff on the radio (if you enjoy a constant diet of Katy Perry and more Katy Perry) but when you want to dance you want to hear the songs you know, the stuff you partied to in college or with your friends at high school sleepovers. You want the music you love and the warm fuzzy nostalgia they provide
  • There’s a lot of comfy seating – booths, easy chairs, couches – and there’s no shame in taking frequent dance breaks to just sit around on them and enjoy your refreshing beverage from…
  • A decent bar – we’re grown-ups! We like a nice wine and decent beer and we don’t want to binge drink we just want a nice Malbec to smooth out the edges of our day while we dance to Duran Duran! (Or tea – you know whatever floats your boat. There’s no judgement here :-))
  • It’s not a pick-up scene – we’re either married, with a significant other, over with dating altogether or happy on our own. If you’re looking to get lucky go look somewhere else – like the 20-something bars. No one wants to do THAT again
  • The bathrooms are nice and don’t make you want to disinfect every single thing (including yourself) that was inside them
  • Dress code is casual – back in the day going out meant getting dolled up in uncomfortable shoes and sexy dresses to have a good time with your girlfriends and maybe snag looks (or more) from some cute boys. Now? Just be comfortable. Is it cool to dance around in your Lands End Slip-ons? Absolutely not. Does it feel good and much better for your back? ABSOLUTELY

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Look, nothing about this is sexy or cool but WHO CARES??! One of the best things about getting older is that there are so many things you simply stop giving a fuck about. It’s liberating and makes you review allllll the crap you wasted energy worrying about in your youth and think, “I wish I could go back in time and punch younger me in the face.” But you can’t so instead get on your yoga pants, grab your girlfriends, order a glass of wine and get your dance on with Prince!