Tag Archives: soundtrack

Monday Memos: Movie Review of ‘Grace Unplugged’…drama, heart, music…this movie has it all!!!

Hello people of the internet, on today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we are going to talk about an AMAZING new movie that I recently saw called ‘Grace Unplugged’. This movie has drama, romance, great acting, and phenomenal music. It is inspiring and a film that will charm audiences of all ages (however there are scenes that involve drinking in the film, so parents should be careful when showing this film to young children). I truly believe that this is a film that the whole family can sit down and watch on a weekend nighttogether. ‘Grace Unplugged’ will make you cry, it will make you sing, but most importantly it will make you think. So without further ado, here is my review of ‘Grace Unplugged. Spoiler Alert! The next few paragraphs are a summary of the movie, so if you don’t want to know how it ends, please skip to the last paragraph. Enjoy!!!

 

‘Grace Unplugged’ tells the story of an 18 year old musician named Grace Trey (AJ Michalka). Grace’s father Johnny Trey (James Denton) was a one-hit wonder who found God after becoming entrenched in extreme alcohol consumption, and the various other pitfalls of stardom. After changing his ways, Johnny devotes his life to playing music for God, and installs this believe in Grace. From a very young age, Grace begins singing, and playing the piano and guitar. Eventually, Grace begins to play in her father’s band, and they travel all over the United States performing and ministering at various churches.  The movie begins in Birmingham, AL where the Trey family has been living for 3 years. Although Grace and her father have always played together, they often argue about how the music should be arranged. Johnny wants the music to be played the way he wrote it, and Grace wants the opportunity to come up with her own ideas and style. This difference in opinions begins to cause a deep rift in and Grace’s relationship, which causes to become more protective over Grace and Grace, becomes more rebellious by lying to her parents more often. One day, Johnny’s former manager Frank “Mossy” Mostin comes to town, and informs Johnny that a major record label wants to sign him after his old hit ‘Misunderstood’ goes viral. Johnny declines the offer, so Grace records her own version of the song and sends it to Mossy. She then runs away from home, and goes to Los Angeles to take meetings with Mossy.

 

Mossy tells her that the record label that wanted to sign Johnny is interested in her, but they want her to record and shoot a video for ‘Misunderstood’ in order to see how the track does before they possibly do more for her. When Johnny and his wife find out that Grace has run away, they become very upset, and Johnny tries in vain to talk Mossy into convincing Grace to come home. Not long after Grace arrives in Los Angeles, Mossy sets up a gig for her, and Grace finds out that the head of the record label will hear her perform. Grace is very nervous to perform in front of her first “bar crowd”, but once she begins to perform, she becomes very comfortable and the crowd goes crazy for her. After the show is over, Grace finds out that Johnny came to the show, and he tries to convince her to come home by questioning her motives for doing what she’s doing. Grace refuses to go home and Johnny goes home heartbroken. Shortly after the gig, Mossy takes Grace to a party with the label head and some of his team, and Grace feels pressured to drink champagne, so she does. Mossy then gives Grace an advance that the label has provided, and she buys herself a car. The label’s team continues to try to change Grace’s image little by little, and Grace begins to give into the temptation of drinking socially with them. One day when Gracie returns to her apartment form the grocery store, she finds the door unlocked, and is startled when she meets Quentin (the label’s image consultant’s intern). Soon after, Mossy tips off a popular magazine to the fact that Grace is going on a date with a famous TV star named Jay. Grace begins to slowly fall in love with Jay, and is further charmed when she receives flowers from Jay in the middle of an interview. Grace continues to go on dates with Jay, and becomes drunk on one of the dates. Jay tries to take her home, but she refuses because of her beliefs, and goes home to her apartment.

 

A few days later, Grace gets a surprise when her idol Renae Taylor who is on the same record label) shows up at Grace’s music video shoot. Renae and Grace begin to speak about Jay, and Grace is heartbroken when Renae tells her that everyone in Hollywood uses each other to get ahead, and don’t necessarily have any romantic interest in each other. The next day, Grace has drinks with Jay, and discovers that Mossy set the whole thing up, and Jay’s only interest in her is to get publicity. Grace confronts Mossy, but Mossy tells her that she needs to get over it and work on an original song that she is suppose to present to the label. Grace (who has never written a song), feels an overwhelming amount of pressure to write the song, and she copes with this by drinking excessively. Grace overhears some of the label employees talking about her in the restroom, and she has a confrontation with Mossy over the fact that she couldn’t write an original song. Grace’s drinking escalates, until Quentin goes to her apartment, and invites her over to his home to have dinner with his family. When Grace arrives at Quentin’s home, she finds that Quentin’s family is very religious, and Quentin actually found God when Grace and her father played at the church that Quentin’s family attends. Back in Alabama, Johnny views Grace’s music video online, and becomes stricken with grief because he never allowed Grace to develop as an artist and a person. Grace then embarks on a radio tour, and Mossy informs her that due to the fact that her single is doing so well, the label wants to make an album for her. Mossy gives her a song to learn on the road, and she discovers that one of her stops is Birmingham. Quentin sends Grace a care package which contains a book that Quentin said helped him find God. When Grace arrives in Birmingham, she plays a song with her dad in her dressing room, and they both begin to regret how strained their relationship is.

 

When Grace returns to Los Angeles, Grace tells Mossy that she does not want to sing the song that he picked out because its’ lyrics contain a message that she doesn’t believe in. Mossy tells her that she has to sing the song, because she was just named as the opening act for Renae Taylor. Grace talks about her problem with Quentin, and he asks her why she wants to be an entertainer (just as Johnny did after her first gig in Los Angeles). The next day, Mossy and Grace’s band are waiting for her in the recording studio to record the new single however; she leaves a note telling Mossy that she’s going home, so Mossy uses another girl that he’s recently signed. Grace goes home to Birmingham, and asks her parents and her congregation for forgiveness for the wrongs she has committed. Grace plays a song she has written (which is the first song she has ever written), and her dad embraces her with open arms. Two years later, Grace is engaged to Quentin, and she and Johnny perform as special guests at a Chris Tomlin (a real-life Christian artist show. The movie ends with Grace receiving the opportunity to share her music with the world, performing with her dad, and strengthening her relationship with God.

 

Hello again! So now that you know what Grace Unplugged is about, I’m sure that you’re ready to go get the DVD right? Well if you still need convincing, please allow me to explain why I loved the film. First of all, I really love the character of Grace, although she made a lot of mistakes that had me yelling at my computer “girl what’s wrong with you! C’mon Grace think!!!” I do like that she’s willing to take chances to achieve her dreams. I also love the emotional journey that Grace goes on throughout the movie, as she attempts to discover who she is, what her relationship with her parents and God is, and what she will risk for her dreams. I felt that AJ Michalka (who you may know from the duo Aly & AJ, the movie ‘Secretariat’, cameos in other films and TV shows, or the duo 78Violet) did an amazing job bring Grace to life, and causing the audience to fall in love with her. I honestly thought that all of the various other actors and actresses were cast very well, but the casting directors did a particular good job casting James Denton (who you may know from TV shows various TV shows, particularly Desperate Housewives, and various film) to star as Grace’s father Johnny. The relationship between Johnny and Grace was pivotal to the film, so it was nice to see two thespians that were able to connect so well, and really make you believe that they were father and daughter. Lastly, I really loved that the film was not overly cliché and did not hide the truths about the dangers of stardom. We often hear about celebrity disaster stories, but we don’t often stop to think how these stories begin. In the movie, Grace’s drinking becomes a problem for her, although it begins very innocently. Grace also made a lot of mistakes that she later had to apologize for, but was eventually able to make her dreams come true. This is the type of movie that will leave you feeling inspired, and will warm you heart. I give it 5 smiley faces (oh c’mon, you know that smiley faces are more fun than stars!). I definitely recommend this cinematic gem to EVERYONE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

  • All photos and information used in this blog belong to the writer/directors/producers/and all those involved in the production of Grace Unplugged, AJ Michalka, James Denton, the rest of the cast and crew of Grace Unplugged, trailers.apple.com, and all other original owners. I do not own anything in this blog. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own. I wrote this blog for entertainment purposes and no copyright infringement is intended.

Monday Memos: 2014 AMAs Recap

Hello people of the internet!!! On last night’s (November 24, 2013) AMAs, A LOT of stuff happened. Ok, ready? Let’s get started!

 

Host:

This year’s AMAs were hosted by Latin rap superstar Pitbull, who certainly seemed to be appreciative of his hosting gig. Pitbull said that it was a miracle that he was hosting the award show, and that he was living the American dream. Although Pitbull’s opening monologue was short, he did make a pop culture reference when he asked several female dancers to come on stage to twerk for the crowd. He also explained that twerking was not a new concept, and stated various names that twerking has been giving, previous to Miley Cyrus adopting the dance.

 

Winners:

  •  Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Justin Timberlake

With the tremendous success of his latest 2 part album ‘The 20/20 Experience’, it’s obvious why Justin tops pop this year.

 

  •  Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Rihanna

Once again Rihanna proves why she is an unstoppable force in the music industry, by adding yet another award to her long list of achievements.

 

  •  Favorite Country Album: ‘Red’ by Taylor Swift

The golden girl strikes again (and no I was not referring to her hair color) ! The first award that Taylor won last night was so appropriate and well deserved.

 

  • Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Album: ‘The Heist’ by Ryan Lewis & Macklemore

This team has had an iron claw on radio since their song ‘Thrift Shop’ made thrift stores cool (now you know you want to go to a thrift store and just start rapping…yes you do, don’t deny it!). They have had similar success with their numerous other tracks such as ‘Same Love’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’, so it’s obvious why they would take this award home.

 

  •  Favorite Alternative Rock Artist: Imagine Dragons

One thing that keeps this band on top is their constant habit to always evolve musically. Even though they had us hooked when their hit song ‘It’s Time’ first hit the airways, Imagine Dragon has continued to push their musical capabilities with their equally infectious tracks ‘Radioactive’ and ‘Demons’.

 

  • Favorite Latin Music Artist: Marc Anthony

For the past few decades Marc Anthony has been an icon in Latin and mainstream music, so it’s not surprising that fans still love him.

 

  • Favorite Pop/Rock Album: ‘Take Me Home’ by One Direction

C’mon was it ever a question that this super group would win! Since their U.S. debut in 2011 with the smash ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, this boy band has had an iron grip on the hearts of U.S fans. This was One Direction’s first AMA, and as if that wasn’t special enough, they were the only British group of the night to win an American Music Award.

 

  •  Favorite New Artist of the Year: Ariana Grande

This powerhouse vocalist has been compared to many iconic female vocalists, and if this year is any indication, she will have a very long and successful career. At only 20 years old, Ariana has had a role on a successful Broadway musical, has been on two highly successful TV shows, and has had a number 1 album. So this is a girl you should definitely keep your eye on, and if you haven’t, pick up her debut album ‘Yours Truly’.

 

  • Icon Award: Rihanna

At the ripe old age of 25, super star Rihanna won the 1st ever Icon Award last night. With many accolades which include: six Grammy Awards, 12 number one singles, and the honor of being Billboard’s highest selling digital artist of the 2000s, it is obvious to see why Rihanna is a musical icon. The award was made extra special because Rihanna’s mother presented the award to her (Ok, everyone say AWWWWWWW!), so last night was a good night to be Rihanna, good job girl!

 

  •  Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist: Justin Timberlake

Since 1993, when a fresh faced young boy named Justin Timberlake appeared on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’, he has had full control of the hearts of fans. From his time as a member of the highly successful boy band N’ Sync, to his even more successful solo career, Justin’s iron grip on the music industry has only tightened with age. And I have to say that it was so funny when Justin won, he walked over to Taylor Swift and started mouthing “Oh my god, oh my god” (yes, my words exactly Justin).

 

  •  Favorite Country Female Artist: Taylor Swift

Ok, for 1 minute we’re going to pretend that this was a surprise…ok minute over now back to the blog. Well, Taylor had such a successful night last night, adding 4 more awards to her large collections (Have you ever wondered how many award shelves she must have?).

 

  •  Favorite Single of the Year: ‘Cruise’ by Florida Georgia Line Feat. Nelly

This cross-over track has controlled mainstream and country radio for the last year, and has turned country duo Florida Georgia Line into a household name. With all of this considered, it makes perfect sense that this song won the AMAs first ever ‘Single of the Year’ award.

 

  •  Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Justin Timberlake

Yes Justin Timberlake won again! (It was a good night to be Justin Timberlake! GO Justin GO Justin! ok my fangirl moment is over).

 

  •  Favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist: Avicii

This has been a huge year for electronic dance music, and Avicii’s mega hit ‘Wake Me Up’, featuring vocalist Aloe Blacc, has certainly put him in the fore front of the minds of music lovers.

 

  • Favorite Country Male Artist: Luke Bryan

The country superstar has been burning up the charts, as well as celebrating a very successful year with a lot of awards. It seems that fans just can’t get enough of this rising king of country.

 

  • Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group: One Direction

Now when you say the words ‘favorite’, ‘pop’, ‘group’, you gotta think of One Direction. These guys have gone from reality show contestants to full-fledged pop superstars, and with the release of yet another #1 album, it’s obvious that there is no stopping these talented guys (good job Simon Cowell, we are forever in debt to you!).

 

  •  Favorite Country Group: Lady Antebellum

This group has had quite the year, from releasing a successful album, to performing with the legendary Stevie Nicks; this group is truly making their mark on music history.

 

  • Favorite Artist of the Year: Taylor Swift

Just when you think that Taylor can’t do anything else to surprise us, she does something amazing like this. Good job Taylor, after all your success with ‘Red’ you deserve this award (c’mon you know she does…don’t be mean)

 

The following awards were not presented during the actual award show:

  • Favorite Female Artist-Pop/Rock:

This award shows that Taylor’s music has now gone beyond genre restrictions, and that her fans now span an extremely large demographic.

 

  • Favorite Artist-Adult Contemporary:

From their hit 2002 album ‘Songs about Jane’, this rock band has had the hearts and ears of fans worldwide. With front man Adam Levine’s participation on the hit NBC show ‘The Voice’, this band has only gotten more and more popular.

 

  • Favorite Artist-Contemporary Inspirational: Matthew West

This super star has been taking his fans “to church” ever since his award winning 2003 debut album ‘Happy’. Matthew has also written tracks for numerous Christian and mainstream acts (such as Rascal Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus, and country music legend Vince Gill).

 

  • Top Soundtrack: Pitch Perfect

 

Ok on the count of three everyone say YESSSSS. Ready? One, two, oh I can’t wait YESSSSS! You know you’ve been spending the past year quoting every line form this movie, and singing every song. So of course it would make sense that this movie is so successful I mean it brought us Fat Amy right?! You may now jump in the air and fangirl…ok time’s up.

 

Performances:

There were so many amazing performances this year so let’s get started!

  • Katy Perry kicked off the show with a performance of her hit song ‘Unconditionally’. The performance had a Japanese theme, complete with Katy and her dancers wearing beautiful, multicolored kimonos, and dancing with fans. The screens behind Katy had visuals of Japanese lanterns rising up, which helped the overall effect of the performance. There was also a Zen garden on the stage, and midway through the performance, Katy danced with an umbrella as strobe lights shined around her. The performance ended with confetti falling from the ceiling, as some of the dancers did acrobatic tricks in the air. Katy then ascended the stairs, a smoke screen emerged, and then Katy disappeared. A very cool way to end a performance if you ask me!
  • Next up was the super group of the moment, One Direction. The guys sang the track ‘Story of my Life’ one of the singles off of their latest hit record ‘Midnight Memories’. The staging consisted of several small light bulbs which resembled candles, and gave a very intimate feel to the performance. The guys mostly stood still during their performance, but in typical 1D fashion, they looked as if they were singing to every individual girl in the audience. Such a solid performance by the guys on their big night!

 

  •  Ariana Grande was the next performer, and even though she tweeted that she was extremely nervous about her performance, she certainly didn’t show it. Ariana sang a very small portion of her hit song ‘The Way’, and then dove into a full rendition of her 50’s inspired hit ‘Tattooed Heart’. The throwback style performance was made complete with 4 backup singers, who all sang with old school 50’s style mics (you know the one’s that can’t be taken off of their stand, but look really cool. Oh and Ariana also sang with this kind of mic, so it made her performance that much more authentic). When Ariana finished performing, she received a standing ovation, and it was definitely deserved, because her voice was so strong and precise, despite the fact that she has been performing A LOT…don’t you wish you were this amazing? I sure do!
  •  Imagine Dragons were up next, and they definitely brought the rock and roll with them. Their set started with their newest hit ‘Demons’, which included cool blue lights and a lot of smoke on the stage. They then transitioned into their song ‘Radioactive’, which included red lights and yeah you guessed it smoke! At another part of the performance, all the members of the band had a drum solo, so that was so different and cool!
  • The man of the honor was up next…yup you guessed it Pitbull! Pop star Ke$ha joined him on their hit song ‘Timber’ with several dancers on stage with them. The staging consisted of two staircases, and there was a lot of really cool fire shooting all over the stage. The pressure was definitely on for Pitbull to deliver on this performance because of his job as host, and….he delivered. Two thumbs up!
  • Justin Timberlake was up next and as always he delivered. JT sang the track ‘Drink You Away’, one of the songs off of his album ‘The 20/20 Experience’. He introduced himself as Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids, and the band included several backup singers, and instrumentalist. Justin also played the guitar during his performance (he sings, dances, acts, writes music, plays guitar, seriously what can this guy not do!). The performance once again proved that this super star isn’t going anywhere!
  • Country duo Florida Georgia Line performed their infectious cross-over hit ‘Cruise’ with hip hop star Nelly next. All three guys did an amazing job performing the song, and once the song was completed, they transitioned into singing Nelly’s 2001 hit ‘Ride wit Me’, which was unexpected, but was also a very cool transition. Since Florida Georgia Line and Nelly have been performing this song on award shows all year, it was nice to see them do something different with this performance.
  •  AMA Icon award .winner Rihanna performed her super hit ‘Diamonds’ next, and she definitely “shined bright like a diamond” (I’m sorry I had to say it). Rihanna wore a beautiful black dress, a pearl chocker, pearl barrettes, and diamond earrings, which made her performance, look very elegant. Between the stunning ensemble that Rihanna wore, and her incredible vocals, Rihanna proved that she is a musical icon!
  • Next up was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who performed live from Miami via satellite feed (don’t you just love technology!). The two performed their latest hit ‘Can’t Hold Us’, and their staging had lights of various colors, and some of the lyrics appeared on the screen behind them. They brought a lot of energy to their performance (as always!), and proved why they deserved such a great year (because c’mon, 2013 was a very good year for these guys!).
  • Multi-talented superstar Jennifer Lopez performed next, with an amazing tribute to late Cuban superstar Celia Cruz. JLo performed a medley of some of the late superstar’s hit songs. Her performance showcased numerous dancers doing many Latin style dances, and JLo (who had 3 quick changes during the performance) proved that her dancing skills haven’t lost a beat during her many years in the industry. She did many difficult dances, including one move at the end of her performance where she was lifted into the air by her partner, and ended in a plank position above his head. This performance was actually my favorite of the night, you gotta love her.
  • Great Big World and Christina Aguilera performed their chart topper ‘Say Something’ next, and it was pure magic. My favorite thing about their performance was the fact that the two acts have such distinct voices; however their voices still blend together so perfectly.
  • Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar performed his hit track ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ next and showed that he is one to watch in hip hop. The artist is currently opening for Kanye West, and his performance at the AMAS last night demonstrated that he won’t remain an opening act for very long.
  •  Country superstar Luke Bryan performed his hit ‘My Kinda Night’ next, and he certainly received a warm welcome form the crowd. The back screen behind Luke had a ring pattern that grew and then collapsed (it sort of reminded me of a screensaver, it was really cool). The staging also consisted of lots of red and white lights, and of course included Luke’s signature dancing. All in all it was a very fun performance, that made you wanna get up and dance.
  • Iconic R&B group TLC made a special appearance next, and performed their hit ‘Waterfalls’ with the assistance of rap/hip hop artist Lil’ Mama. The group performed all of the original dance moves from the ‘Waterfalls’ music video, and Lil’ Mama did an excellent job performing the rapping segment of the song. At the end of the performance, the back screen showed a photo of the late Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, which was a beautiful touch to the performance. The performance itself was amazing, and showed just how great T-Boz and Chili are, due to the fact that they can still perform the iconic song with such precession and skill, even after all these years.

 

So all in all, the AMAs were full of exciting moments and amazing musical numbers. The show definitely did not disappoint, and made me excited for next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • All photos and information used in this blog belong to all those who have any part of the production, conception, implementation, or are in any other way involved with the  AMA awards, Pitbull, Justin Timberlake, all those involved in the production, conception, implementation, or are in any other way involved with the following albums or singles: The 20/20 Experience, Red, The Heist, Take me Home, Songs of Jane, Thrift Shop, It’s Time, Can’t Stop Us, Yours Truly, Same Love, Radioactive, Demons, What Makes You Beautiful, Cruise, Wake Me Up, and Happy, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Imagine Dragons, Marc Anthony, One Direction, Ariana Grande, The Mickey Mouse Club, N’ Sync, Nelly, Florida Georgia Line, Avicii, Aleo Blacc, Luke Bryan, Simon Cowell, Lady Antebellum, Stevie Nicks, Maroon 5, Adam Levine, Matthew West, Fat Amy, Rascal Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vince Gill, all of the individuals, labels, and other corporations associated with any and all artists, bands, groups, and individuals mentioned in this blog post, and all other original owners. I do not own anything in this blog. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own. I wrote this blog for entertainment purposes and no copyright infringement is intended.