Deity Swift just released her fifth studio album (earlier in some parts of the world than the US), and it is said to be her departure to the country genre to fully embrace her pop sound. And if we’ll based it on her first single this era, the infectious “Shake It Off“, it is indeed a major crossover. Is it a risk worth doing, or is it a step back to her glorious streak? In order to gauge how 1989 fared as compared to the rest of her discography, we revisit Taytay’s memory lane and rank all five of her albums.
5. TAYLOR SWIFT (2006)
It was eight years ago when Taylor Swift entered the music scene with her self titled debut album. Just like all ingenues to the music industry, Taylor’s first offering was mostly about her dreams, giving a safe offering. But if there’s one thing that’s particularly striking about her, it’s her potential for song writing. Even in her debut album, T.Swift was already giving hints of introducing her self on a deeper level with her song writing. I think she entered the country scene in the right time as there’s no solo teen country girl that has made some name for herself since Leann Rimes in the mid-90s. While she didn’t become as huge as Rimes was when she entered the scene, it is without a doubt that when it comes to Swift and this album, the rest is simply history.
Favorite tracks: “Our Song“, “The Outside“, “Teardrops in My Guitar“
4. SPEAK NOW (2010)
The follow up the the critically lauded and commercial hit Fearless will always be a crucial for any artist, but two years after, Swift comes up with “Speak Now.” If Fearless made Swift bank and bask in her youthfulness and the feeling of such, there’s certainly no place to move on but go further on her next album. Speak Now had Swift writing songs referring to Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer and Kanye West to name a few, and what one might consider as petty can be Taylor’s view of finally letting her guard down and translating her frustrations as inspirations. And to the surprise of no one, it actually works. At this stage in her career, Swift needs to prove that Fearless isn’t just a fluke, a one-album wonder and she knows that her follow up will start to solidify the great start her previous album had. But like any Taylor related story, she ends up winning having the last laugh.
Favorite tracks: “Enchanted“, “Back to December“, “Mean“
3. FEARLESS (2008)
Officially making her entry known to the rest of the music industry, Fearless is what made Taylor the youngest winner of the Grammy for Album of the Year back in 2009. Coming from where her initial album left off, she followed it with something that is a mix and match of a lot of things. Her sugary stuff was still present, but not only does she make herself relateable with the young girls, she also served as an older sister to them giving them pieces of advice (like that in Fifteen) or being message specific (like that in Hey Stephen.). She still gives homage to her country roots while simultaneously testing the water with them pop beats which probably is an indication of a crossover she’ll be doing in the future years of her career. And for an 18 year old country lady in the business, her album title can probably signify to that shift as well. If anything, in Fearless, Swift is still enjoying both worlds talking about puppy love and romance with a charm that only she can pull off.
Favorite tracks: “You Belong With Me“, “Love Story“, “Hey Stepehen“
2. RED (2012)
The thing with Taylor’s albums is that the previous one can be connected with the succeeding one especially with the personal details that she shares behind the meaning of her songs. Red, which became her second album to be nominated for the Grammy Album of the Year, follows the same suit. Red is definitely her larger than life album tackling themes and topics in her songs so bluntly and partnering it with big beats and loud thumps making you feel as if every finish of a song is the closing of a different story. Her songwriting details are more aggressive and detailed this time around including a top notch favorite of mine “All Too Well.” In this album, Swift plays a teenager, a heartbroken woman, a cool girl, a hopeless romantic and lots of other facets making the listening experience more enjoyable. In Red, she acknowledges that she is mature already but that she’d still be petty every now and then. This is also her first (and still her only) album where she did collaborations (to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Gary Lightbody), and I think one that never fails to give you all the “feels.”
Favorite tracks: “All Too Well“, “The Last Time“, “Begin Again“
1. 1989 (2014)
Yep. You’ve read that right. Well you can freely accuse me of having knee-jerk reactions, but I was just slayed by it. In Taytay’s latest, she officially announced that she’s going full throttle to pop territory. While the pop sound was already present in Swift’s previous albums, one could still hear the country twang every now and then. Yet such is the risk that she decides to take with her fifth album. And boy does it pay off big time. 1989, mixing 80s synth pop in it, is probably her most cohesive effort to date. While other songs can sound annoying as stand alone tracks (like that of album opener Welcome to New York), it is perfectly fitting in the context of the whole album. One moment you’re hearing some Lorde realness, then the other you’re hearing Lana and Tegan and Sara. But the difference is that she’s not really ripping them off, but she’s putting her own spin on them. The succession of songs from Blank Space to Out of the Woods is pure pop perfection, and she does that with probably majority of the songs in this album. 1989 is definitely 2014’s pop-gasm album if ever you have to single out one, and DeiTay knew exactly what she had in mind by assuring she’ll deliver with this pop venture.
Favorite tracks: Uhm almost everything? Lol. But “Blank Space”, “Style“, “Wildest Dreams“, “Clean“
1989 will be digitally available via iTunes Philippines starting October 28. For the meantime, just keep on bopping to Shake It Off or watch her totally actressing performance of Out of the Woods over at Jimmy Kimmel Live (maybe she got tips from her The Giver co-star Meryl Streep? :))
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
Left: February 2004, BAFTA Awards | Middle: February 2013, Oscars | Right: October 2014, Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration
The Internet community has taken a new target — and its’s Oscar winner Renee Zellweger. Making her appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration yesterday, the 45-year old actress, who rarely comes to showbiz event nowadays, showed up donning a “new face” so to speak. Gone were the squinty eyes look and now present are her puffier lips. The only thing more visible than her new look though are the negative comments judging her about it.
During the early to mid-Aughts, Renee Zellweger was one of Hollywood’s it girls. She basically fits the mold of a Jennifer Lawrence (in terms of being one of the go-to girls in terms of juicy lead female parts) meets Amy Adams (before the latter started to hit big). She wasn’t only an ideal lead for female driven films, but she was a notable actress of her generation, even picking three Oscar nods in a row and winning for her third one, as the outgoing Ruby Theses in the late Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain” ten years ago.
Throughout her career, Renee’s physical looks has always been one of the favorite topics of the media. Remember how people would make big deal of her drastic weight changes when she shot Bridget Jones’ Diary? It was during those years when they scrutinize her because she gets paid to gain weight and how she would lose them again once she’s finished filming. The same criticisms appeared again when she shot the sequel to it.
To be blunt about it, Renee doesn’t really fit the “totally pretty” mold of Hollywood reserved for the likes of Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly during the Golden Era or even those of Charlize Theron and her Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta Jones. Prior to this “transformed look”, she was mostly known for her squinty eyes as if she has chewed some sour lemon candies, and even gave birth to some puns and memes such as this one. But what one might consider as Renee’s totally unique look can be someone else’s definition of not pretty. While there’s really nothing wrong about having different perspective of beauty, the reality is that its impact transcends further than the mere spectators commenting about it.
Even in her heydays as a movie actress, Renee doesn’t seem like your “typical movie star” star. If you watch her past interviews, she’s quite the shy and timid one. I don’t know if that counts as an indication of her confidence, but it won’t take a super scientist to figure out how her career has been doing the past few years. Her last movie was way back in 2010, and it was even a VOD release. When she made her first major appearance at the Oscars last year (being reunited with the cast of Chicago), she looked a bit uncomfortable even passing the announcement to co-presenter Richard Gere. If this has anything to do with her feeling the need to “correct” one’s looks, then isn’t it every inch her right?
The truth of the matter is that Hollywood and actresses have a very strange relationship. Like many other actresses in Hollywood, some even before Renee Zellweger, to lie low for quite some time automatically means that there’s a new Barbie doll in the waiting. After all, not everyone can be a Julia Roberts or a Meryl Streep to stand the test of time. Thus many actresses resort to different means in order to guard their territory. Surgery is a very “Hollywood” thing to do. While the likes of Meg Ryan, Joan Allen, Teri Hatcher, and Nicole Kidman are some of its notorious “customers”, there’s an unspoken truth about how almost everyone subscribes to it. Whether they’re obvious or not, it’s far more “common” knowledge out there to resort to it than one can usually imagine. When it comes to actresses and looks, it seemed like when a person looks great, you commend them, but when an actress looks “weird”, you blame them for doing what a lot of them does. In fact, the only difference they have is the names of their surgeons, and not the act of undergoing surgery. It is actually a lose-lose situation for Renee if we’re being honest about it, it’s either she’d be accused as lemon girl or just a new person. And so she decides for herself.
What’s disappointing about this “fiasco” (if you can even call it as such) isn’t the fact that she changed her face. It’s her friggin face after all; she can do what the hell she wants with it. I personally think she looks happier and more confident, albeit she looks like another person so good for her. It’s more of the harmful notion that we are now quick to dictate (and not judge) on how people should appear or look. Do we really have the same option to lambast them for it? And isn’t it ridiculous how superficial that was? Halle Berry has been sporting the same looks for 20 years now, but no one’s saying a thing because she still passes the society’s notion of “appealing”. I think it’s equally worrisome when you think about it how a person has been looking the same for two decades now, yet everyone gives her a free pass because she still inhabits the people’s definition of beautiful. It is Renee’s right to do something with her face. It is her right just like many out there to do the same. It is hers to deal if she’s happy with the end result, not for us to impose how she should feel about it.
It’s really sad when you think about it — how these Hollywood actresses get criticized for not keeping up with their looks. Apparently, Hollywood isn’t the only one guilty about it — society can be harsher and more guilty of such. But hey, these are the same types of accusations that Jessica Lange received in the late 90s to early 2000s when she was “obsessed” with surgery, yet she managed to come back big time. Here’s hoping Renee follows suit. In any case, someone better cast her as Claire Underwood’s sister in “House of Cards.” For the mean time, I’m happy to learn that she herself is happy with her looks. 🙂
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
Last night, another teleserye premiered over ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida– the Philippine remake of the hit Korean drama “Two Wives.” Shown here back in 2012, this local adaptation stars Kaye Abad and Erich Gonzales fighting over Jason Abalos. And based from the previews and teasers, we will see slapping – a lot of ’em, apparently – and confrontations and “sagutans” between the two women. And if there’s one thing, these dramas are known for, it’s that we live for their over the top and melodramatic confrontations. After all, nothing snatches the interest of the TV viewing public by a showdown of two characters out-bitching each other. Thus, we revisit 12 of them in celebration of “Two Wives“‘ premiere.
01. Rose/Emmanuelle vs. Sasha in “Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon” (2014)
In the recently concluded “Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon“, we see Rose (Bea Alonzo), now as Emmanuelle, flirting with former flame Patrick (Paulo Avelino). But this does not go well with Sasha (Maricar Reyes) when she sees him wiping the wine off Emmanuelle’s legs. And as Sasha comes to warn Emmanuelle, she trips off leading to a wet encounter.
The Kabugan Scene: Emmanuelle tries to help Sasha by offering her hand to help her rise from the pool. But when Sasha seizes the moment to grab Emmanuelle and pull her down the pool, the latter suddenly moves her hand away making the pathetic Sasha more miserable. For that we give this scene 2 full slaps!
02. Sarah vs. Mia in “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo” (2012)
Childhood friends turned husband and wife Sarah (Shaina Magdayao) and Paul (Jake Cuenca) is a struggling couple which led the man to go to Dubai to experience the greener pastures for his family. Upon working there, he bumps onto former flame Mia (Bangs Garcia) and rekindled their relationship. When Sarah followed Paul to Dubai is the time she realized this inifidelity.
The Kabugan Scene: In one of the most pasabog scenes in this show (clip starts at the 2:20 bit), there’s a scene where Mia open the big gate to see who’s knocking as Sarah goes to Paul’s direction and gives him a big slap. And since it takes two to tango, she then went to Mia and gave her the other pair of the slap. It’s a slap so hard I’m sure Mia’s head shattered for a few seconds. It’s followed by some shouting yada yada, but I bet it’s hard for Mia to process it since she’s still recovering from that slap. I give this confrontation, 2.25 slaps!
03. Vanessa vs. Sara in “Impostora” (2007)
Possessing some Orphan Black realness even before the show started five years later, this GMA serye with face snatching, doppleganger realness told the story of conjoined twins Lara and Sara against their diabolical cousin Vanessa. Sharing not only their face, but also their love interests, it’s hard to keep up who’s who and what’s happening to everyone in here.
The Kabugan Scene: In that big wedding scene right before the ceremony starts. we see Sunshine Dizon stops the wedding of Mark Anthony Fernandez and …. Sunshine Dizon. So as these 2 Sunshines go back and forth between who the real Sara is, Iza Calzado’s character comes in and reveals that Nicolas is marrying the wrong Sara. Nothing beats the chaos that comes from a wedding, and with that, we rank this 2.5 slaps!
04. Chantal vs. Heidi in “Temptation of Wife” (2012)
While Angeline (Marian Rivera) and Heidi (Glaiza e Castro) have been friends since their childhood, Heidi had always developed a hidden envy to Chantal that she has kept as they were growing up. This even reached a point when they shared the same man — Marcel (Dennis Trillo). But when Angeline learned about the betrayal of the two people she loved the most, an accident that led Heidi thinking Angeline is dead is the start of the latter’s payback. She comes back as Chantal Gonzales, and she’s getting the receipts of her revenge.
The Kabugan Scene: Upon thinking that Chantal is flirting with her beau, this did not go well with Heidi as she decided to attack Chantal Mortal Kombat style. Jumping from chairs, tumbling in the carpet, tying with a hanky, and using fork as a weapon, this larger than life fight seemed to exist only in video games. It’s as over the top as it is ridiculous. But then again, it ended with a reveal of a pillow baby. So at least they’re consistent with it. This fight deserved a 2.75 slap rating!
05. Amor Powers vs. Claudia Buenavista in “Pangako Sa’Yo” (2000)
Gone were the days when we get these really over the top but serious showdowns in between characters. Nowadays, people live for the snark and the quotable quotations. But not in 2000 — as we see bitter rivals Amor Powers (Eula Valdez) and Madam Claudia Buenavista (Jean Garcia) battle out not only with money, but with men and children in this two year series. There’s a reason why these two are some of the most iconic characters in Philippine drama history.
The Kabugan Scene: When Claudia suddenly dashes her way to Amor’s house to ask for her daughter, she did it just for one reason: to slap her bitchy rival. Upon being threatened and be slapped as well, she suddenly sneaks her way out. But that’s without mentioning the stanzas of lines that they shout at each other. And the pair of slap they gave to one another (including that rare leftie slap by Claudia to Amor). This doesn’t happen to modern teleseryes anymore. And to say I miss them is an understatement. For that, I give this scene a 3 slap rating!
06. Marimar vs. Angelika in “Marimar” (2007)
Definitely one of the most memorable telenovelas in Philippine history, the Mexican version of Marimar is one that will forever be one of the most influential ones. In this GMA remake, including a star-turning performance by Marian Rivera in the lead role, Marimar’s rag to riches story is, whether it’s Marimar and Sergio’s romance, or Marimar and Angelika’s revolving fates, and the other colorful characters in the soap, is one that will never get old.
The Kabugan Scene: While weddings and preparations bring out the class in most of us, consider both Marimar and Angelika as the likely outliers. When Angelika decided to poke fun at Marimar by asking her to be the maid of honor to Angelika and Sergio’s wedding, you know that it will only lead to chaos. And chaos it is, as not only did they ruin the whole place, but they’ve also wrestled with one another ruining gowns, cakes, and involving other people in the place. Hopefully though, this type of mess only exists in the small screen and not in real life. This scene deserves a full 3.25 slap rating!
07. Vera vs. Victoria in “Magkaribal” (2010)
While most of the stories included in this lists had characters fighting over love interests, Magkaribal skews a bit as this one is a battle of power. When orphaned Anna Abella (Gretchen Barretto) thought that her younger sister Gelai (bea Alonzo) died from a hospital fire, she then made it a promise that she will take everything away from the person she thinks is responsible for those: Vera Cruz (Angel Aquino). So after his adopted father let her study fashion in Paris, she comes back to the country to snatch the title of “Queen of Philippine Fashion” from her mortal enemy.
The Kabugan Scene: Probably the start of a really famous pun — one that has been quoted many times especially during the trailer release and the premiere of the actual episode — Victoria visits Vera and informs her that she knows of the fashion designs that the latter has plagiarized and stolen from an up and coming designer. So when Vera confronted Victoria and asked her that she accepts the challenge, Gretchen Barretto, sans moving forehead, just said “You want war? I’ll give you war. Sabihin mo lang kung saan at kelan… I’ll be there in my red stilettos.” For that interaction alone, this clearly merits a 3.5 slap rating!
08. Milet vs. Sheila in “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” (2014)
GMA’s offering in the “kabitan” year of telserye, “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” featured the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano in the leading role as Milet Real, the original wife in the series. While Milet is mostly kind, patient, and calm, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned as she finally confronts the second Mrs. Real, Sheila, played by Lovi Poe in this nerve wracking elevator scene.
The Kabugan Scene: Never mind that the elevator seemed like it was stuck or that their confrontation went over 5 minutes without picking and dropping any new passengers, there will really be those times when nothing is more powerful than words. And that’s what Milet, who played a teacher in the soap, did here. Not only did she teach Sheila some lessons (“Bago mo ibuka ang hita mo, mag-research ka muna kung may asawa”), offending her parents, and doing everything as the mistress carries the lovechild, it is safe to say that the original schooled the second one here. This confrontation is deserving of a 3.75 slap rating!
09. Celyn vs. Margaux in “Ina Kapatid Anak” (2013)
Best friends turned enemies turned sisters turned rivals (whew!) Celyn (Kim Chiu)and Margaux (Maja Salvador) have all been fighting for the same things: parents’ attention, boys, interests, it always seemed like everything is going Celyn’s way. But while it seemed like the rivalry is too good to be true, well apparently it is since it’s one of those times when truth is stranger than fiction as the former real life best friends Kim and Maja aren’t really in a friendly mood during the production of this show due to some personal issues.
The Kabugan Scene: During the after party of their double celebration debut, Margaux finally had it with Celyn getting all the attention. Si while she’s drunk, she asked her if she can talk to her in which Margaux will just reiterate how much she hated Celyn following it with a really hard slap. Celyn then answered back “Para mahimasmasan ka..” and swooped up an equally hard slap. Sure, these slaps are supposed to be tame for a TV show, but in the context of what’s happening during these times, the tension in this scene alone trumps a lot of others in this list which leads to a solid 4 slap rating!
10. Catherine vs. Scarlet in “Iisa Pa Lamang” (2008)
This conflict over conflict over conflict of interconnecting stories focuses on naive lass Catherine (Claudine Barretto) and how she has smitten Miguel (Diether Ocampo) off her fingers. Miguel’s past flame Scarlet (Angelica Panganiban) came back just to meddle with these affairs and she will do everything it takes to make Catherine’s life msierable. For what its worth, Iisa Pa Lamang will never be forgotten as it pioneered the era of bitchy retorts and the endless over the top lines that have been uttered on Philippine dramas.
The Kabugan Scene: It’s difficult to choose for this one as kabugan seems to be the name of the game for this soap, but let’s go with this court interaction in which Scarlet demands Catherine to be taken off the room only to find out that the latter will be used as a witness against Scarlet for the grounds of adultery. This led to a confrontation on the stairs where the two women shouted labels at each other ranging from “social climber” to “adulteress” and “slut” to “home wrecker” until Catherine capped it off by shouting “Desperraaattteee housewife from hellll” before attempting to push Scarlett off the stairs. That intensity of the scene alone is enough to give this a 4.5 slap rating.
11. Lally vs. Vincent in “My Husband’s Lover” (2013)
One of the hottest soaps of last year, GMA 7’s “My Husband Lover” provided major buzz in pop culture because of its handling of a sensitive topic that’s rarely (or even a first of its kind) focus on the relationship of two gay men on its forefront. This Dennis Trillo-Tom Rodriguez-Carla Abellana triangle not only made them household names (in the case of Tom Rodriguez), but it also proved her acting prowess (in the case of Carla Abellana) and initiated a career comeback (for Dennis Trillo).
The Kabugan Scene: While all of us pretty much know who “bhe” already is, Lally (Carla Abellana) seems like she’s the last person to figure things out. So when she did, it definitely shook her world (probably much more than we expected). This confrontation between husband and wife isn’t snarky or bitchy like the others on the list, but for sheer scene intensity and a high point moment in the series, it is worthy of a 4.75 slap rating!
12. Monica vs. Nicole in “The Legal Wife” (2014)
And rounding up the list is from 2014’s most memorable and most talked about teleserye… ABS-CBN’s “The Legal Wife.” Angel Locsin’s primetime TV comeback not only defied the high expectations for her, but it even delivered some of the highest ratings in the history of its timeslot. But then again, who can blame the audience? The story of how Monica (Angel Locsin) dealt upon learning that her former best friend Nicole (Maja Salvador) is having an affair with her husband Adrian (Jericho Rosales) has been the topic of endless debates, arguments, and trending Twitter topics during its time on the air,
The Kabugan Scene: We already had a taste of the confrontation when Monica went to Nicole’s house and attacked the latter while asking the now catchphrase “Masarap ba ang asawa ko? Paano mo siya nilandi? Anong unang tinanggal mo: yung bra mo, yung panty mo? O yung konsensiya mo?”, but then it was all Monica getting angry at a sheepish Nicole. In this however, we finally see a fight. And a very realistic one. Hair grabbing, hair pulling, and extension snatching fight. Everything about this scene is realistically awkward, but no one can bat an eyelash considering how we’re all Team Monica, yet even fans can sympathize of how it felt like to be Maja Salvador during this specific scene. I’m certain this scene will be remembered years from now, and it will be the barometer used for the next confrontations to come. This, a full perfect 5 slap rating!
There you have it! Do you think Two Wives will soon join the list? What are some of your favorite kabugan teleserye confrontation that missed the list? Pipe them in the comments section below.
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
After a record breaking 83 submissions from different countries this year (six more than previous record 76 last year), it is safe to say that this is definitely one of the closest categories of the year. Add the fact that there is no definitive frontrunner for this year like that of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000, or “A Separation” in 2011 and “Amour” in 2012, it just makes the whole race more competitive. Below, I list down 20 countries (in alphabetical order) that are definitely in contention and are a cut above the rest in this field of 83 and has bigger chances of getting closer to that coveted golden naked Oscar trophy.
*Clicking the photo will lead you to the film’s trailer or a clip from it!
Post-submission release, here’s how I’ll assess the race in terms of countries getting closer to the Top 9 and ultimately the top five final nominations. Belgium can probably work on the “no win” narrative yet and it’s the Dardennes so it can be considered hitting two birds with one stone. But then, both Russia and Poland are in contention as well and can all share frontrunner status.
What are your thoughts on the race? Who do you think are ahead of the pack and who can still surprise? You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
We’re getting closer to the busiest months of awards prognostication as we reach the end of the year. At this point in the race, only American Sniper, Unbroken, Selma, Interstellar, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year and Big Eyes are left among those in play for major nominations this year. But then again, we’ve had word on majority of the contenders already and we’re just awaiting for other factors to have a complete look on the race. This month, I’ve already added my predictions for the Foreign Language Film category considering that in two weeks time, we’ll hear the official complete list from AMPAS.
I’m still a bit bullish on Unbroken while quite confident in Selma, despite both being unseen. And I’m quite ready to predict that American Sniper will be Clint’s Oscar comeback. It’s also interesting to see the crowded Lead Actor race, as we’re bound to get a snub or two the way Tom Hanks was last year and John Hawkes was the year before. My current bet is on Eddie Redmayne to come close but solidify his chances for next year’s The Danish Girl, but I might still change my mind in the months to come. Anyway, here are my complete predictions in 19 different categories
Total tally of nominations:
10 – Interstellar, Selma
8 – Gone Girl, Birdman
6 – The Imitation Game, Unbroken
5 – Boyhood, Into the Woods
4 – American Sniper, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything
3 – Exodus: Gods and Kings
2 – Big Eyes, Godzilla, Mr. Turner, Whiplash, Wild
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl