Sunday, August 7, 2016

Series: Summer Lovin' -- Week 18

We've spent a good chunk of this summer soaking up sun at the beaches, taking vacations, catching up on some Netflix shows (as well as binge-watching new ones), and reading books upon books. As summer begins to wind down, the Olympics are ramping up and there are still plenty of things that the staff is lovin' that we want to talk about. (As we celebrate these final few weeks before our favorite shows return for their new seasons.)

This week, we talk about the aforementioned Olympic Games, as well as some of the stuff we're listening to and enjoying. Joining me are:

Let's get started!

What Jenn's lovin': The Waitress cast recording

Why she's lovin' it: Based on the completely underrated movie of the same name, Waitress tells the story of a — you guessed it — waitress named Jenna, who is stuck in a loveless marriage and dreams of leaving her life behind in order to start anew. The one place where Jenna finds solace is in the kitchen: she's an expert pie-maker whose renowned creations make her feel close to her deceased mother, who taught her everything she knows about baking. An unexpected pregnancy throws Jenna for a loop until she meets her charming and attractive gynecologist named Jim, beginning an affair with the man. The rest of Waitress is the story of love, loss, and finding the courage within yourself to stay and fight, rather than run away. I also love that Waitress features love stories but recognizes that the most powerful love story is often not one of romantic love.

Waitress' music was penned by the incredible Sara Bareilles, and I'm obsessed with her stuff on any given day, but even more so with her music for the cast recording. There aren't many overt nods to Bareilles' usual style ("Everything Changes" is the song on the soundtrack that sounds most like her singles on other albums), which is a good thing in this instance — not because Bareilles' songs are bad, but because she completely embodies the tone of the musical with every song on this soundtrack, making each distinct from her typical voice. Waitress' music is really diverse: there are big, Broadway songs ("Opening Up", "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me") mixed with soft, emotional moments ("You Matter to Me", "Dear Baby"), and powerful ballads ("She Used to Be Mine"), along with songs that are just fun ("Bad Idea", "I Love You Like a Table"). I know that this year was the year of Hamilton, and with good reason, but I think so many have overlooked just how incredible Waitress actually is. (I, for instance, have had "Bad Idea" stuck in my head most of the week and am already sort of in love with Drew Gehling.)

And what I love more than the music itself is that every song is seeped in emotion. Every song is important, and every song is meaningful to some character in the show. Jessie Mueller does an incredible job bringing Bareilles' music and lyrics to life, and if you can get through "She Used to be Mine" without chills, you're likely a robot. The most incredible thing though is that the story Waitress tells is tied so closely to the songs themselves. So you hear the strength within Bareilles' lines as Mueller delivers them, and as Jenna learns how to harness the courage within her that she thought had been dead and gone for so long, we — the audience — feel stronger somehow too for listening.

If you haven't checked out the cast recording, it's available for free on Spotify. Go, and have your life changed by this delightful and poignant musical.


What Chels’ lovin’: The Rio Olympics

Why she’s lovin’ them: I will be the first to admit I do not care about sports. I don’t understand them and they only serve to merchandise more franchises. But there’s always an exception to the rule, and that exception for me is the Olympics. What makes them more appealing to me is that it’s not just Americans beating each other up and throwing balls at things. Every four years, I get a small glimpse into the rest of the world and all the skilled people it has to offer. Also, women can compete in every sport that men do. And they’re almost always way more fun to watch.

This round of summer games are being held in Rio, and has been plagued with controversy over housing and conditions of the country (amongst other things). The country did not have the money to spend on a flashy opening ceremony like Beijing, or feature a tour through pop culture like London. Instead, they decided to tackle their controversy head-on and used the opening ceremony to talk about climate change, their own past of slavery, and somehow managed to have a dance party before the walk of the countries. The low-key but personal affair felt like the right route to go and kept myself and the rest of the world engaged.

Of course, I love Team USA gymnastics. Raisman and Douglas have owned my heart since London in 2012. The USA ladies team is full of insanely talented kids. From the prodigy Simone Biles, to the adorably strong Laurie Hernandez, to the jaw-dropping Madison Kocian, the team is guaranteed gold this year. I’m already working on a script rebooting them as The Avengers.

Some highlights of the games so far for myself though have been the mix gymnastic teams. Watching Armenian-American Houry Gebeshian represent Armenia was the most fun I’ve had watching the games so far. A medical assistant by day, she was asked if she would like to represent Armenia as their first female gymnast in the games. Gebeshian was all smiles and looked to be having the time of her life. Her routines were full of energy, and though she wasn’t the best, she was easily having the most fun. Watching her root for her fellow mix team and kiss each apparatus after completing made me fall in love with her spirit

Another great competitor is Yusra Mardini from the Refugee Team. If you haven’t heard the story of her journey to the games, please take a moment and appreciate this child. A Syrian refugee that saved the lives of 18 people a year ago with her sister when their dinghy motor broke is the real hero of these games. While she won her first 100m Butterfly heat on Saturday, she wasn’t quite fast enough to continue to the next round, and she was fine with that. She still has one more heat to come, but Yusra is another person that is just happy to be there. I look forward to seeing more of this young one.

(The one tragedy of this Olympics is that beautiful idiot Ryan Lochte will only be competing in one event. Jaime and I are so upset about it.) Aside from that tragedy, there are still more than two weeks of Olympics left, and I cannot wait to discover more beautiful humans from across the world. Watching these super humans have the time of their life, and the world be a nicer place for a small amount of time is why I’m loving these games.

What Megan's lovin': "Hair" by Little Mix

Why she's lovin' them: Once upon a time, I fiercely loved (LOL. JK, I still fiercely love four of them) five British boys. They stole my heart and gave me so many happy memories. They also gave me another group to love: Little Mix.

Little Mix fell together exactly the same way One Direction did. They all auditioned separately for The X-Factor and were thrown together at the last minute by Simon Cowell. Unlike One Direction, they won the competition and all of our hearts. They gave us fun tracks to bop along to on their first album before seriously stepping it up and reminding girls of their own power and how it’s okay to be vulnerable on their second album — an album I still totally listen to on the regular.

When my little-boy-band-that-could toured, they would play the same five songs by different artists over and over again between sets to really make us want to listen to that artist. One year they played "Wings,” the next "Salute," and finally, last year, they played "Black Magic" on loop. It was the leading single from Little Mix’s new album — the first I was hearing of it, and it made me sad. I was mad at my girls for coming in lackluster after the INCREDIBLE Salute album. They came off of that with this not-so-great, run of the mill, boring pop song with an equally underwhelming video? These couldn't be my girls! I surely would skip this album.

And I did up, until recently. After having it in my Dropbox for a while, I finally downloaded it and realized what I was missing. The first song I stumbled upon was "Hair" and immediately fell in love. It tells the story that literally every girl in America fully understands: a boy does you wrong, he breaks your heart, and it's off to the salon you go to wash, cut and blow-dry that man right out of your life.

Essentially, it's "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" from South Pacific for millennials. It's fun, it's poppy, it's relatable and reminds every girl that listens to it that you can feel great about yourself after a break-up and move on, looking and feeling amazing. It's a break-up anthem without screaming it in your face. (But watch out. It seriously gets stuck in your head.)

I'm sorry for being so snap-judgey, my fearsome ladies. One bad song does not a bad album make. And "Hair" has been my jam for weeks.

What are you lovin' this week? Let us know in the comments!


Post a Comment