December 10th, 2009
07:14 PM ET

The jazz musician Obama wants you to know

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Judging by some of the tweets fired off this morning, there were quite a few left clueless by President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize concert performance pick. The young woman grooving with the bass like only a prodigy could was none other than 25-year-old Esperanza Spalding. Never one to be boxed in by convention, Esperanza entertained guests with jazz instead of the usual classical.

“We have a new kind of laureate, we’ll have a new kind of music,” Nobel Committee Secretary Geir Lundestad said of the shake-up.

Esperanza, originally from Portland, Oregon, has appeared everywhere from jazz concerts to Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live in the past few years, but if you’ve somehow missed this multilingual, musical phenomenon, here are five things to know.

1. It's no surprise that Esperanza was hand-picked for Oslo by the President himself since she goes way back with the First couple - both of whom are said to be huge fans. In May of this year, the young musician was invited to the Obama’s “Poetry, Music and Spoken Word” event and offered an impressive rendition of Lauryn Hill’s “Tell Him” in the White House’s East Room.

2. Her lifelong love of music was inspired by none other than classical cellist Yo Yo Ma, who appeared on an episode of “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood” when Esperanza was four. By the next year, she was playing the violin – yes, at the age of five she was rocking the strings – and would continue for the next ten years.

3. Home schooled as a child, Esperanza found school easy and boring. She stumbled upon bass when she was 15, fooling around in the music room when she was supposed to be in class. By 16, Esperanza had earned her GED and was in dogged pursuit of a musical passion that led her all the way to Berklee College of Music where she's now an instructor - the youngest the institution has ever had.

4. If you try and contain her sound to jazz musicians of the past, she just might give you the side eye. As she said in an interview with Afrobella, “Jazz is not gone. Mos Def is jazz; Aretha is jazz; Jill Scott is jazz. I see no point in reemphasizing a period of jazz from the 40s and 50s because it’s evolved and permeated everything.”

5. Leave Esperanza stranded in the soul section of a music store and make her pick up a few CDs for purchase in the span of mere minutes, she turns up with everything from Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles to Adele and M'Shell Ndegeocello, as she happily demonstrated for Amoeba.com.


Filed under: Music
December 10th, 2009
04:55 PM ET

Paul McCartney: Marriage to Heather Mills was a bad decision

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Anyone who followed the nasty divorce between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills shouldn't be surprised that the former Beatle believes his last marriage to be one of his biggest mistakes of the past decade.

No one could look back on how the six-year union ended between the singer-songwriter and the former model last year, with tears, name-calling and a massive divorce settlement and think on it fondly.

But now for the first time, McCartney is telling Q magazine that it indeed was not the best of times. Asked whether the wedding was one of his worst decisions in the last decade, the music legend said it was a "prime contender". FULL POST

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Filed under: Music • The Beatles
December 10th, 2009
01:38 PM ET

Adam Lambert returns to ABC on 'The View'

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In a pre-taped interview and performance, Adam Lambert finally made a return to ABC on “The View” Thursday morning, proving once again that his racy performance at the “American Music Awards” last month was a one-time deal and that he is able to act like a perfect gentleman on-camera and onstage.

Co-host Whoopi Goldberg took on the elephant in the room, that Lambert’s interview and performance on the morning show had been pre-taped a couple of days earlier because of network concern over what could happen during a live taping. Lambert shocked ABC and America with his AMA performance where he kissed his male keyboardist on the mouth and simulated oral sex with a dancer.  FULL POST

December 10th, 2009
01:30 PM ET

And the new 'Top Chef' winner is....

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The perpetual little brother of the kitchen, Michael Voltaggio has been crowned Bravo’s newest Top Chef.

The producers really turned last night’s finale of “Top Chef” into a  family affair, capitalizing on the shtick of having two brothers in the finale. Not only did the cooking competition pit Bryan and Michael Voltaggio against one another but the show flew in the finalists’ moms to offer last minute support and then brought them to the dinner table to taste their son’s creations. Cute, but also a little awkward! FULL POST

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Filed under: television
December 10th, 2009
12:04 PM ET

'Glee' finale sings

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Say what you want about “Glee,” but the show knows what fans want.

In the season finale, we got some cheer-out-loud performances mixed in with a few it’s-about-time moments.

Who could resist Mercedes (Amber Riley) belting out “And I’m Telling You” along with Rachel (Lea Michele) singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” like her life depended on it?

The trip to the sectionals came out exactly how I expected, with the kids of McKinley High triumphing, but their getting there was so enjoyable that I didn’t mind the lack of a twist. I especially loved the peek inside the judges room and their decision-making process which was not only hilarious, but I suspect, also pretty spot on.

Watching Jane Lynch get her comeuppance as the deliciously evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester was not only satisfying for her banishment (have fun at your condo in Boca while you brown up Sue!), but also for her show down with teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison.)

Lynch’s character has some of the best lines on the show (“You are about to board the Sue Sylvester Express. Destination: Horror”) I was reminded as to why I love to hate Sue so much.

Thank God the wrong baby daddy/fake pregnancy plot line was resolved. And who didn’t want to see Will and Emma Pillsbury end up together? When he ran down the hall to stop her from leaving and finally kiss her I yelled “Yes!”

Some of my friends have been lamenting that the lack of any overt cliff hangers might portend that Glee is over, but with all of the buzz and the ton of cash the show is making via iTunes downloads I have no fear of that happening.

Rather, I believe the powers behind the show realize that with a long hiatus until Glee returns in April viewers needed something to tide them over and leave that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Now we can look forward to a possible appearance of Broadway star Idina Menzel who The Hollywood Reporter writes is in negotiations to guest star, the reported return on my personal favorite Kristin Chenoweth and the further machinations of Sue Sylvester.

Four months and counting….

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Filed under: Glee • television
December 10th, 2009
11:37 AM ET

Husband and wife set for 'SYTYCD' finale

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SYTYCD competitors group routine

It was a double shocker as spouses Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello were sent through to next week's "So You Think You Can Dance" finale, while another possible contender got sent home.

After the Las Vegas callbacks, I thought that Ryan had a shot, though he has fallen down in my estimation, but I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that Ashleigh would make it this far - especially after having to sit out due to an injury the night before.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Kathryn, who was in danger last week, was safe this week, while Russell deserved to go through after such a strong Bollywood performance on Tuesday night. Jakob being safe was the safest bet of all (his former partner Ashleigh is the only other dancer not to be in danger this season).

Between Ellenore and Mollee (yes, I did a double take seeing that - Ashleigh wasn't even in the bottom two), I feared that Ellenore might go home early. Instead, it was the other way around as Ellenore was told she would be in the finale ... though she seemed a bit confused on that point for a moment. Poor Mollee didn't take it well, in tears for the rest of the night. Cat Deeley was there with a hug and comforting words - and that's why she's the best reality show host in the business.

When it came down to Ryan and Legacy, however, I immediately assumed that Ryan would be going home. Once again, I was dead wrong about the Di Lellos as Legacy's journey came to an end. I definitely felt like he was more deserving of being in the finale, but it looks like Ryan's smoking hot cha-cha with Kathryn made a big difference (and his plea with the audience to save Ashleigh didn't seem to hurt).

So, despite a strong performance by Legacy in the "War of the Roses" routine - and, for what it's worth, his solo Wednesday night - two lackluster hip-hop routines sealed his fate.

So, let's hear your thoughts on this next-to-last results show. Did Ashleigh go through because of Ryan's plea, or was it more of an anti-Mollee vote? Are you shocked to see Ryan in the finale as well? Who are you rooting for next week? Share your thoughts on video, or in the comments below.

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