Jewish rapper Matisyahu, rocker Travis Barker and pop star Ariana Grande have teamed up for an unlikely collaboration as part of U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama's ongoing campaign to promote healthy living. The three artists have recorded a track titled U R What You Eat (Salad Bar) for a new hip-hop inspired album, Songs for a Healthier America, which was put together by officials at Obama's Partnership for a Healthier America organisation and the Hip Hop Public Health group.
Other tunes on the project bring together Ashanti, Gerry Gunn, Artie Green and Robbie Nova, while Shayna Steele, Jeremy Jordan, Our Time Theater kids and Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren have joined forces for another song.
Executives at Obama's Let's Move! campaign, which aims to fight obesity and promote fitness among kids, hope the message to lead healthier lives reaches children via the music.
Sam Kass, executive director of Let's Move! and White House assistant chef, says, "Cultural leaders and visionaries in our country can give these messages to kids in a way that's not preachy. Kids are going to be dancing and listening to the music. I think hip-hop in particular - so many kids love hip-hop. It's such a core part of our culture... and particularly in the African-American community and the Latino community, which is being disproportionately affected by those health issues."
Jordin Sparks and hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh are also among the artists featured on the album - their duet Everybody was released earlier this year (13).
The Let's Move! campaign was launched in 2010 and featured a video from Beyonce, who reworked her song Get Me Bodied and renamed it Move Your Body for the Let's Move! Flash Workout initiative.
While most of the world is out celebrating Halloween and working their way into a serious candy coma, I am sitting here at home on my couch watching the very first round of live performances on The X Factor (or as my friend Dr. Frankenstein would put it — “It’s A-LIVE show!).
So now that we’ve established how super cool I am, let’s break down just how well the Top 16 contestants fared this week under the pressure of a live studio audience and Simon’s fake vampire fangs. (Now that’s spooky.) And hey — fans were also given their first look at the show’s new hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian. And Khloe was actually really good. (Even spookier.)
Find out how your favorites stacked up below:
Paige Thomas (Young Adults – Team Demi Lovato): Kicking off the night was Paige, who decided to sing “What is Love” by Haddaway in keeping with this week’s incredibly vague theme “Made in America.” (???) So I guess everything except the Macarena is fair game. Demi wanted to shave her head to make her look “more adventurous.” She also referred to Paige as being “not the best vocalist,” which – call me crazy – but that doesn’t inspire much confidence in a singing competition, right? Regardless, she received a great deal of praise from the judges, who admired her confidence and edgy look. Britney even said, “I think you’re a true star.” Of course, Paige probably had Britney at the whole head-shaving part.
Arin Ray (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Next up was Arin, who sang “You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes. It wasn’t terrible by any means. In fact, the guy definitely has some great singing potential — however, it felt more like an attempt at a Chris Brown impersonation more so than anything else. He’s trying, but he’s just not quite there yet. Simon felt Britney put too many distractions around him for his first time out (i.e. the sexy set of girl dancers). But overall, he thought Arin possessed a great deal of swag and was very impressed.
David Correy (Over-25 — Team L.A. Reid): David chose to sing, “Your Love is My Love” by Whitney Houston. He has fun with it and really knows how to get interactive with the crowd (though this show’s audience is probably the easiest group of people to get riled up). Personality-wise, we couldn’t really ask for more, but he is somewhat forgettable in the vocals department. Simon called the whole thing a bit “desperate” and felt he needed to tone everything down. Oh Simon, how I’ve missed your snarky ways.
Sister C (Groups — Team Simon Cowel): Sister C — consisting of Carli Rayne Manchaca, Celbi Manchaca and Cirby Ryan Manchaca — performed “Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies. These girls definitely have a great harmony together and know how to hit all the right notes, but they do have one very big problem: Nobody likes them… or at least that’s how they feel. One of the girls said that they often get portrayed as “mean girls.” Of course, this then led to me trying to figure out which of them was Regina George, which was Gretchen Wieners, and which was Karen Smith. So thanks for that. Meanwhile, L.A. and Demi failed to be impressed and found the performance incredibly stiff. Oh groups — they never fare well in competitions like these. That is so not fetch!
Jennel Garcia (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): Jennel chose to sing “Home Sweet Home” by Carrie Underwood and managed to really kill it (in a good way). She nailed all the vocals and completely made the song her own. L.A. said, “You just convinced me that you could win.” But you had to appreciate Simon’s jab at Demi when he said that she’s trying to transform Jennel into a mini version of herself. It’s kinda true though, especially after that makeover.
Diamond White (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Miss Diamond was up next, singing Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” with pretty impressive results. For a 13-year-old, this girl sure knows how to handle some serious pressure and make it look easy. Are anyone else’s middle school years looking ridiculously unimpressive right now? L.A. found the performance a little mechanical at the beginning, but Demi countered saying that she has one of the best voices in the competition.
Vino Alan (Over-25 — L.A. Reid): Vino attempted Nickelback’s “Gotta Be Somebody,” which got off to a pretty rocky start and didn’t really improve much from there. Of course, the judges were all over him for it. Demi said she has a hard time seeing him as a pop star, while Simon took the less-harsh approach (for once) and remarked that the song choice was to blame, not his talents as an artist. His comment to L.A., and I quote: “You completely bleep, bleep, bleeped it up.” I’ll let you fill in the blanks (or rather, the bleeps) for yourself on this one.
Lyric 145 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): Lyric 145 — made up of Julien Joseph, Jemelle Joseph and Lyric-Bianca Barnes — did a highly entertaining mash-up of Will Smith’s “Boom! Shake the Room” and “Gangnam Style” (seriously, how is this theme “Made in America?”). Anyway, it’s fun and different, but felt more like something I would see performed at a karaoke bar. But the crowd loved it, the judges loved it (except for L.A. but he doesn’t like anything that isn’t part of his own group), so what do I know, I guess.
Next: One act makes the ladies swoon while another makes Mario Lopez blush.Cece Frey (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): Demi is all about the makeovers this week. Thinking that Cece gets portrayed as a diva, she decided to change up her look (you know, because outward appearances reflect your inner personality). She ended up singing “Because the Night” by Patti Smith. You can definitely see this girl throwing a great concert: the outfit, the stage presence, all of it was great. However, the judges felt the vocals left little to be desired. Even Demi, her mentor, said she felt she could’ve been stronger vocally. But all-in-all it was a memorable and enjoyable performance.
Tate Stevens (Over-25 — L.A. Reid): Tate selects Craig Morgan’s “Tough” as his song of choice and though I’m not a huge country fan, I was really impressed with him. He’s sweet, he’s talented and just so darn likable — which is something the judges seemed to agree on (for a change). Demi remarked, “You don’t need dancers or a band. You stand on your own.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. This guy is definitely a keeper.
Beatrice Miller (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Beatrice sang Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” despite the fact that she openly admitted in the intro package that she didn’t think it was a right fit for her. (I bet crimping her hair wasn’t her idea either, Britney.) Unfortunately, she’s correct. The performance is a little rough, which sucks because I hate to criticize the youngins like that, but it just didn’t suit her very well. However, the judges seemed optimistic, so hopefully she’ll be given another shot to really showcase her talents. Think of the kids, mentors. They gave up trick-or-treating to do this!
Jason Brock: (Over-25 — Team L.A. Reid): Jason decided to get in touch with his inner JLo by singing her recent hit song, “Dance Again.” It… was… brutal. Simon called it “utterly horrendous” and I have to agree with Mr. V-neck on this one. It was a poor song choice and did nothing to highlight his voice. Plus the Vegas showgirls and floor fog were all a little too much for my taste. Of course, L.A. loved it (surprise, surprise). But on a positive note, Jason did manage to make Mario Lopez hilariously uncomfortable by asking if he could pinch his butt. Yay for live shows!
1432 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): Formerly known as LYLAS and made up of Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello, Normani Hamilton, Dinah Jane Hansen, and Lauren Jauregui, the group decided to sing Taylor Swift’s new hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It’s always hard for me to know how to feel with songs like this. T-Swift is just so charming and adorable that she can make even the most mediocre songs seem great. But taking her out of the equation sometimes just leaves a mediocre song…like this one, for instance. Demi remarked that they need to come out of their shells a bit more and learn to work better as a group. Of course, they’ve only been together for three weeks, so perhaps they deserve a little leeway…at least for this week.
Willie Jones (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): Up next was Willie who sang “Here for the Party” by Gretchen Wilson. At first it seemed like an odd song choice, but he managed to turn it into a really great performance. His charm and deep voice (Bing Cosby anyone?) make him quite the memorable contestant. Britney loved it; Simon thought it was silly — you know, the normal drill. But I hope he sticks around a bit longer. This guy’s got potential.
Carly Rose Sonenclar (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Then came Carly, who sang FloRida’s hit song, “Good Feeling,” to mixed results. There’s no doubt this girl is a powerhouse singer, but she had absolutely no energy during the performance. It was almost like she wasn’t happy to be there, and the judges could sense it. While Demi thought that maybe it just isn’t her time to shine yet, Simon disagreed and thought she just wasn’t connecting to the song because it was the wrong choice for her. He said it would be criminal if she leaves the competition. And coming from Simon, that should definitely mean something.
Emblem3 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): Closing out the show was Drew Chadwick, Keaton Stromberg, and Wesley Stromberg, who took on Matisyahu’s “One Day.” I can totally see these guys becoming the next hot boy band someday. If you listen closely, you can already hear millions of teen girls squealing in delight. And, man, these guys are good-looking. Demi even admitted that she can’t look at them when they sing for fear of flirting with them (get in line, Demi). Even L.A. had nothing but praise to give them. I have a feeling these guys will be sticking around for a long time. And on behalf of every girl in America, I thank you for that.
That’s all for now, folks, but be sure to tune in Thursday night for the season’s very first live elimination round, where the judges will decide which 8 acts are safe and which 8 acts will need to sing for survival. Either way, by the night’s end, 4 acts will be sent packing. Who will it be? Sound off on your thoughts in the comments below!
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
[Photo Credit: Ray Mickshaw/Fox]
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.