Oscar Watch: Quincy

Focused on the legendary life of musical composer Quincy Jones, a documentary about him has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Co-directed by his daughter Rashida Jones, the pic about the man behind classic film scores and unforgettable music from Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and many more has garnered respectable reviews.

That said, I’m not sure that will be enough for Quincy to warrant attention this Oscar season. The Documentary category is already crowded with titles such as RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, and Fahrenheit 11/9 all vying for spots.

Bottom line: this doc about a man who has won 27 Grammys and been nominated for 7 Academy Awards might come up short come nomination time.

Quincy premieres on Netflix on September 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Box Office Prediction

Director Eli Roth is known for his very R rated violent tales, including Hostel and the Death Wish remake earlier this year. He changes it up next weekend with the release of The House with a Clock in Its Walls, a fantasy pic geared towards family crowds. Jack Black (fresh off the massive hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) stars alongside Cate Blanchett, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan, Owen Vaccaro, and Renee Elise Goldsberry. Its based on a 1973 novel by John Bellairs.

Looking at comps in the same genre based on books, 2016 saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children debut to $28.8 million in September. Going back further, 2007’s The Golden Compass made $25.7 million for its start. The former had the benefit of Tim Burton’s involvement. The latter came out in the midst of the holiday season.

While competition for a younger audience is light, I’m not convinced this will quite match those grosses. Unrelated fun fact: the IMAX screenings of Walls will include a 3D version of the iconic Michael Jackson video “Thriller”.

I’ll predict a low to mid 20s gross is what we’ll see here. If so, that should be enough for this to get its hands on the #1 spot.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls opening weekend prediction: $23.2 million

For my Fahrenheit 11/9 prediction, click here:


For my Life Itself prediction, click here:


Top Ten Summer Hits of 1998: A Look Back

Each summer on the blog, I recount the top 10 summer hits from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. Last week was 1988 and the sounds of three decades ago. If you missed it, you can find it here:


Today we move to 1998 and the tunes burning up our CD players (if we were lucky enough to have one in our car) 20 years ago. As with previous posts, I rank each track from 1 (summer bummer) to 10 (summer smash) and reveal the most important truth: is said song on my Apple Music?

Let’s get to it!

10. “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo

We start off quite well with this ballad from K-Ci and JoJo, who originally rose to fame with the R&B group Jodeci. It’s schmaltzy, yes, but in the best way and it gets the job done with the singers expert vocal performances.

My Ranking: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

9. “Crush” by Jennifer Paige

I must confess to having no recollection of this track when I saw it was #9. Listening to it again, it’s a pleasant enough ditty from the one-hit wonder. That said, it’s also rather forgettable.

My Ranking: 6

It Is On My Apple Music?: No

8. “Make It Hot” by Nicole featuring Missy Elliot and Mocha

Timbaland was mostly busy around this time stirring up classics for Aaliyah and Missy Elliot. Yet he concocted this gem for Nicole with assists from Elliot and Mocha. It was her only major hit, but it’s a terrific example of its producer’s wizardry behind the boards.

My Rating: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

7. “Come with Me” by Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page

Combine Puff’s love of sampling with the guitar riffs of Jimmy Page’s “Kashmir” and promoting the summer’s unfortunate Godzilla reboot? You get a hit… albeit one that is just as ultimately disappointing as the film in which it appeared on the soundtrack.

My Rating: 5

Is It On My Apple Music? No

6. “My All” by Mariah Carey

Ms. Carey has certainly had her share of powerful ballads. “My All” is an effective one, though I don’t rank it among her most memorable.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes (but mostly because I have her greatest hits and don’t listen to this one hardly at all)

5. “Adia” by Sarah MacLachlan

The Canadian singer is now mostly known for causing you tear up during commercials to help dogs, but she had a string of hits including this one. I’ve never been a big fan and this track does little for me, despite her lovely voice.

My Rating: 5 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “My Way” by Usher

The title track from Usher’s multi-platinum album is a Jermaine Dupri produced banger that spent lots of time being played loudly in my 1987 Ford Thunderbird 20 years ago. Check out Tyrese in the video as well.

My Rating: 9

It Is On My Apple Music?: Yes

3. “Too Close” by Next

An incredibly catchy R&B song from a band that didn’t produce many more hits. This one, however, could still be a massive hit today.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain

Another Canadian crooner had her first major crossover hit with this ballad. It moved Twain out of just being known as a country act to one with serious pop appeal.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

1. “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy & Monica

It’s no “The Girl is Mine” by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, but this mid-tempo pop track paired two of the era’s most successful R&B singers to hugely successful results on the charts. Looking back now, I don’t love it (I could list stronger tracks by both Brandy and Monica) but it’s decent.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

And there you have it! The sounds of 1998 in the summertime…

I’ll return soon with 2008.

Music Biopics: The Name Game

A growing trend in movies for the past few years (and a bit beyond) is the musical biopic that incorporates one of the band or artist’s songs into the title. The latest example will come out this fall with Bohemian Rhapsody, the behind the scenes story of Queen.

2019 will bring us Rocketman with Taron Egerton as the legendary Elton John.

We’ve seen this trend in years past. For instance, the 1980s saw La Bamba about Richie Valens.

The 1990s gave us Angela Bassett in her Oscar nominated role playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

In 2005, we had Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix in his Academy nominated turn as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon winning as June.

More recent ones have been in the hip hop world with Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.) and All Eyez on Me (Tupac Shakur). There’s also Get On Up with Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

So this got me thinking. What would be some other movie/song titles if certain iconic musicians got their biopic? For this blog post’s purposes, I tried to focus on artists where I feel a big screen treatment on them is at least feasible. In other words, while Rico Suave might be a spectacular title, I don’t envision two hours on Gerardo coming anytime soon.

There is already a Madonna flick reportedly in the works and it takes its name not from a tune, but from one of her tours – Blond Ambition. I suppose Material Girl or Like a Prayer could have worked, but Blond Ambition is just about perfect.

Some choices seem obvious. You gotta call the Bon Jovi story Livin on a Prayer, after all. And My Way seems like the natural fit for Frank Sinatra. And Born to Run for Bruce Springsteen. And there’s Piano Man for Billy Joel.

It doesn’t end there. Respect (Aretha Franklin) and Fire and Rain (James Taylor).

When it comes to some recently dearly departed legends, Prince presents a challenge because you can’t call it Purple Rain. And a number of his other massive hits don’t fit. When Doves Cry is probably the name the studio would go for considering it’s his biggest hit. Personally, I rather like the thought of My Name is Prince, taken from his Love Symbol album of 1992.

With Michael Jackson, Thriller would work but it’s hard to imagine Man in the Mirror not being the choice.

For David Bowie, Starman seems like the winner, but that’s also the name of a fairly well-known 1980s science fiction effort starring Jeff Bridges. That may not matter, but if so, Space Oddity or simply calling it Ziggy Stardust might fit.

Tom Petty? How about Free Fallin or Runnin Down a Dream. George Michael? Faith or Freedom. Whitney Houston? Tough one. Perhaps a studio would want I Will Always Love You. Maybe So Emotional works as well.

Some bands have more than one title that seem appropriate. Aerosmith has three great ones: Dream On, Sweet Emotion, or Walk This Way. With AC/DC – Back in Black or Thunderstruck.

Guns n Roses is an interesting one. Welcome to the Jungle is fantastic, but it was just the subtitle for the blockbuster Jumanji reboot. In this matter, you might have to go with their album name Appetite for Destruction, which is ideal.

Metallica could have For Whom the Bell Tolls or Enter Sandman. Nirvana might have Smells Like Teen Spirit as the studio choice, but I’m a little partial to Come As You Are.

I like Runnin with the Devil for Van Halen and I suppose Stairway to Heaven would be the choice for Led Zeppelin.

Let’s move off rock. How about Britney Spears? That may depend on what direction the studio goes. It could be Toxic or Stronger. Maybe Baby One More Time instead.

Stevie Wonder? Superstition or Sir Duke are possibilities, but I like Higher Ground.

With Bob Marley, maybe Get Up, Stand Up or One Love.

Circling back to hip hop, Fight the Power is the clear pick for Public Enemy and the same may hold true for Mama Said Knock You Out with LL Cool J.

And then there’s my favorite… the Rick James biopic Super Freak. Why hasn’t this been made already?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Let’s see if any of these suggested titles end up playing out in the future. Maybe there will be surprises… Barbie Girl: The Aqua Story, anyone?

Top 90 R&B Songs of the 1990s: Nos. 10-1

This evening we arrive at the crème de la crème of 90s R&B musical greatness and the final edition of my Top 90 R&B Songs of that decade. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun going over all these terrific songs and now we’ve arrived at the Top Ten!

To read over numbers 90-11, click on the Music tab of the blog and you’ll find them all there.

Here we go!

10. “Creep” by TLC (1994)

The lead single from TLC’s CrazySexyCool album is a Dallas Austin produced classic.

9. “All My Life” by K-Ci&JoJo (1998)

The duo who originated from the influential group Jodeci made this slow jam which stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 35 weeks.

8. “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson (1992)

The omnipresent Teddy Riley, who’s produced many tracks on the list, made his best MJ contribution with this one.

7. “Hold On” by En Vogue (1990)

The girl group produced many fabulous singles, but their first is still their best.

6. “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men (1992)

The ballad of the decade spent an at the time record of 13 weeks at #1.

5. “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige (1992)

Queen Mary had her best track among many with this second single from her landmark What’s the 411? album.

4. “Pony” by Ginuwine

Ginuwine’s debut single is a masterwork from producer Timbaland. The track is still highly relevant today and most recently was featured in the hit Magic Mike.

3. “Are You That Somebody?” by Aaliyah

Timbaland strikes again and creates another classic with the late singer, which was featured on the Doctor Dolittle soundtrack.

2. “No Diggity” by Blackstreet (1996)

Teddy Riley once again as his group created this timeless classic featuring rap verses from hip hop genius Dr. Dre and Queen Pen.

1. “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe (1990)

Yes, it was #1 on VH1’s own list of 90s R&B grooves. They got it right. The spinoff group from New Edition created one of the catchiest and undeniable grooves in a track… ever. It still manages to turn the dance floor into a party.

And with that – my list, friends! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I had writing it. At the least, I hope I gave you some songs for your iTunes collection. Signing off in the immortal words of BBD: “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” Until next time!

Top 90 R&B Songs of the 1990s: Nos. 40-31

We’re at day six of my personal Top 90 R&B Songs of the 1990s. For those who wish to read my previous entries, just click on the Music category of this here blog and they’ll magically show up. Today brings us to numbers 40-31 and let’s go to it:

40. “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees (1996)

This hip hop trio was tremendously influential in their too brief time together. This Roberta Flack cover is their one smash hit that can safely be classified as R&B with Lauryn Hill’s beautiful vocals.

39. “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men (1990)

The hit single that started it all for this trio. They may be best known for their slow jams, but this deserves its spot on the list.

38. “I Get Lonely” by Janet Jackson (1998)

Ms. Jackson’s single on her acclaimed Velvet Rope album also featured a remix with Blackstreet.

37. “My Love Is Your Love” by Whitney Houston (1999)

“I Will Always Love You” may be her signature tune from the decade (it made #50 on here), but this Wylcef Jean produced track is my personal Whitney favorite of hers from the 90s.

36. “Any Time, Any Place” by Janet Jackson (1994)

Janet’s sultry and unforgettable single from her 1993 janet album earns her yet another entry.

35. “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey (1990)

The great ballad that started it all for Mariah and was her first #1 single of many more to come.

34. “No, No, No Part 2” by Destiny’s Child (1997)

Most of their biggest singles came the following decade, but Beyoncé and company got off to their storied career with this gem from Wyclef Jean yet again.

33. “Scream” by Michael and Janet Jackson (1995)

The brother and sister finally got together for “Scream” and a fantastic song and video were the result.

32. “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men (1994)

Coming off a successful first album, the Boyz became a phenomenon with this first single from their second album… an unforgettable concoction from producer Babyface.

31. “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days” by Monica (1995)

This Dallas Austin production gave Monica her first of many hits. For Monica, her debut single is still her best.

And that’s tonight’s edition! We’ll get into the top third of the list tomorrow with numbers 30-21.


Top 90 R&B Songs of the 1990s: Nos. 60-51

It’s day four of my personal Top 90 R&B Songs of the 1990s and that means numbers 60-51 coming your way. If you missed my three previous installments, you can peruse them here:




Onto the next ones!

60. “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue (1992)

The first single from En Vogue’s second album hit #1 on the charts and is probably the last song a guy would want to hear a girl sing to them at the club.

59. “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” by Mint Condition (1991)

This group only put out a couple of hits, but this groove managed to stay on the chart for 34 weeks.

58. “All Around the World” by Lisa Stansfield (1990)

Stansfield’s biggest worldwide hit peaked at #3 in the United States.

57. “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson (1995)

What happens when you pair MJ with R. Kelly’s production? You get this beautiful second single from his History album which gave the singer yet another #1.

56. “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men (1991)

The boy group is on the list once again with this cover of a 1975 ballad.

55. “Baby Baby Baby” by TLC (1992)

The group’s second single from their debut album is yet another production from the hit making L.A.&Babyface duo.

54. “My Love is the Shhh!” by Somethin’ for the People (1997)

If you don’t know this one, you need more 90s R&B knowledge! This California based group had their largest hit with this track tailor made for the clubs.

53. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly (1996)

Don’t pretend like you don’t crank this if you’re alone in the car. Kelly’s monster hit from the Space Jam soundtrack is the prolific artist’s largest hit of his career.

52. “Can’t You See” by Total featuring The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)

The Puff Daddy backed female group hit it big with this track from the New Jersey Drive soundtrack featuring a killer opening verse from the Notorious B.I.G.

51. “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai (1992)

This fantastic a cappella groove spent eight weeks at #2 on the charts, being held from the top spot by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.

And that’s today’s edition, folks! Numbers 50-41 will be arriving tomorrow!

Top 90 R&B Songs of the 1990s: Nos. 70-61

It’s day three of my personal Top 90 R&B singles from the 1990s and today we’ll cover numbers 70-61. In case you missed the first two installments, you can find them here:



Let’s get to it, shall we?

70. “Someone to Love” by Jon B. and Babyface (1995)

This duet was featured on the Bad Boys soundtrack and marked the biggest hit for Mr. B.

69. “Make It Hot” by Nicole (1998)

Written by Missy Elliot and produced by Timbaland, this marks one of the mega-producer’s most memorable beats.

68. “Another Sad Love Song” by Toni Braxton (1993)

The first official single from her debut album, this L.A.&Babyface produced ballad hit the top ten in the summer of ’93.

67. “Touch Me, Tease Me” by Case featuring Foxy Brown (1996)

A highlight from the The Nutty Professor soundtrack, this groove also introduced us to Ms. Foxy Brown.

66. “All 4 Love” by Color Me Badd (1991)

It may not be their biggest hit (wait until later on this list), but it’s a personal favorite of mine.

65. “Red Light Special” by TLC (1995)

Once again, Babyface is behind this one that marked the second single from TLC’s landmark album CrazySexyCool.

64. “Hit Me Off” by New Edition (1996)

The mega-group from the 1980s reunited in 1996 and it produced this terrific first single from their comeback album.

63. “Freak Me” by Silk (1993)

It’s got some of the most gloriously raunchy lyrics of any song to hit #1 and it marked a career highlight for this group.

62. “Waterfalls” by TLC (1995)

The summer jam of 1995, this TLC joint was most recently memorably featured in We’re the Millers.

61. “In the Closet” by Michael Jackson (1992)

The first appearance by Mr. Jackson is a Teddy Riley produced banger with a great video featuring Naomi Campbell.

And that’s today’s edition, folks! I’ll be back tomorrow with numbers 60-51.

My Top 25 Michael Jackson Songs Of All Time: Nos. 5-1

All week I’ve been bringing you my personal Top 25 Michael Jackson Songs Of All Time and today – we reach the top five. Obviously MJ is one of my favorite artists in the history of music and he’s certainly one of the most significant pop culture figures of all time. This past Tuesday marked the release of his posthumous album Xscape, which has received high marks from critics. This June will mark five years since the King of Pop’s death.

If you missed my selections for numbers 25-6, you can find them here:





It’s been a pleasure writing these posts reflecting on his great career and now – the crème dela crème of his discography in my view:

5. “Man in the Mirror” (from Bad – 1987)

What many consider to be MJ’s most inspirational ballad served as the 4th single from Bad and it hit #1 on the charts. The powerful track would serve as Jackson’s closer on his tours following the album’s release. Its message of change through self resonated with listeners and still stands as one of his signature tunes.

4. “Human Nature” (from Thriller – 1982)

The fifth single from Thriller is an absolutely beautiful ballad that would serve as a highlight for MJ tours. This is #1 for me among Jackson slow tracks and it would later be covered famously by 90s R&B group SWV with their hit “Right Here”.

3. “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” (from Thriller – 1982)

Next is the fourth Thriller single. The fast-paced “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” with its propulsive and infectious beat is the track that opens the magnificent Thriller album and it’s unforgettable. Note: it’s pronounced “Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah”.

2. “Smooth Criminal” (from Bad – 1987)

The seventh Bad single would develop into one of MJ’s most famous tracks. Simply put, there’s nothing that quite sounds like “Smooth Criminal” and it’s brilliant. After a quarter century, we’re still not clear if Annie is, indeed, OK.

1. “Billie Jean” (from Thriller – 1982)

MJ’s most well-known track from his most well-known album is also the very best. The singer’s performance of “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25 celebration would cement his place his history when he introduced the moonwalk to viewers. The song has one of the most distinctive bass lines in musical history. In a career with so many fabulous tracks, “Billie Jean” stands out at the top.

And that’s my list, ladies and gentlemen! It’s been fun.

My Top 25 Michael Jackson Songs Of All Time: Nos. 10-6

We have now entered the very upper echelon of my personal favorite 25 Michael Jackson tracks with the bottom half of the top ten. If you missed numbers 25-11, you may find them here:




Tomorrow brings the top five and now – numbers 10-6:

10. “Dirty Diana” (from Bad – 1987)

A slow grind of a rock ballad about groupies, this is MJ’s fifth single from the Bad album and made it five out of five to hit #1. Featuring stellar guitar work from Steve Stevens, it’s also got a memorable live concert video.

9. “Off the Wall” (from Off the Wall – 1979)

The third single and title track from his breakout solo album, “Off the Wall” is a joyous disco groove that, in my mind, just eclipses bigger hits from the album “Workin’ Day and Night” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”.

8. “Beat It” (from Thriller – 1982)

This rocker featuring Eddie Van Halen’s brilliant guitar work is the third single from the landmark album and one of MJ’s signature tunes. It’s also got choreography from the great music video that many 80s kids attempted to copy.

7. “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (from Thriller – 1982)

One of MJ’s fastest and most infectious grooves served as the sixth Thriller single. It’s got his sisters LaToya and Janet singing backup and what sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks singing along as well towards the end. My apologies, but this is the one track I couldn’t find a decent YouTube version of (what up with that?).

6. “Rock with You” (from Off the Wall – 1979)

The fourth biggest song of 1980, Michael Jackson created one of the best disco tracks of all time just as the era was ending. It’s the best song on a wonderful album. Others from “Off the Wall” worth a spin that didn’t make the cut: “Girlfriend”, “Get on the Floor”, “I Can’t Help It”, “It’s the Falling in Love”, and the ballad “She’s Out of My Life”.

And that will do it until tomorrow when I reveal my top five King of Pop songs ever.