Test Spin: The Slumdog Millionaire Original Soundtrack

There is little doubt why Slumdog Millionaire has generated all sorts of positive publicity lately. However deserving the film’s acting, directorial,and cinematographic praise has been, though, its accompanying soundtrack warrants a similar sterling sentiment. The album strikes the thorny balance between poignancy and verboseness, impressively exuding the film’s effervescent qualities while staying true to its very serious undercurrents. Produced entirely by A.R. Rahman, who singer/songwriter M.I.A calls “the Indian Timbaland,” the album effortlessly blends the urban sounds of modern India with the traditional instrumentation of old.

Test Spin: Jamie Foxx

It has been three years since Oscar and Grammy award-winner Jamie Foxx released a studio album. His 2005 record Unpredictable was — despite mediocre material — a surprise hit, certified double platinum at the height of his Oscar-winning Ray hype, and produced a #1 R&B hit. Now removed from his peak acting success, Foxx aims to replicate his recording success with Intuition, an equally star-studded affair featuring guest spots from A-listers including Lil Wayne, Kanye West, The-Dream, T.I. and Ne-Yo. In interviews leading up to the album’s release, Foxx promised that this album, unlike his previous slow-jam slogging record, would be targeted more towards the clubs.

Kanye West: 808s & Heartbreak

2008 has been a difficult year for Kanye West; from the death of his mother to the splitting from his long-time fiancée Alexis Phifer, West has endured hardships that clearly have influenced his artistic vision. To add to these personal adversities, West has just come off a mentally draining hip-hop tour. Instead of opting for the more traveled path of a worn-out superstar — entering faux-retirement or simply seeking a low-profile — West unsurprisingly defied conventions and threw himself into the studio, rush releasing 808s & Heartbreak just in time for the holidays. His fourth album in five years, this record oozes with equal parts raw emotion and unfinished production.

Mysterious Student Group Throws Stellar Soiree

Saturday, November 22. Six p.m. On an evening that felt arctic — even by Ithaca standards — I anxiously stood huddled near the bus stop in Collegetown with a small gathering of Cornell University associates, waiting for my Cornell Underground Dinner Series experience to begin. What experience, you ask? This was unknown, as I stood that evening with very little knowledge about what the Underground night would bring.

David Cook: Self-Titled

Last week I reviewed little David Archuleta’s debut, and even though I gave it a positive critique, I was spurned by a plethora of Archie-loving lunatics. This week, it’s David Cook’s turn in the spotlight, and while I don’t anticipate the same back-lash from Cook extremists, treat this review as one of unbiased intention.
During much of his run last season on American Idol, David Cook drew many comparisons to season five’s resident-rocker Chris Daughtry. Not only was Cook’s style harder-edged than the competition — especially in the context of Idol — he even pulled the same advantage-grabbing stunts that Daughtry did. Cook emerged from the franchise’s most talented season primed to be the first contestant who can hold his own with his Idols.

This Is Not a Chick Flick

When telling my friends that I was going to go see Rachel Getting Married over the weekend, the best way I could describe the gist of the film to them was that it starred Anne Hathaway, and that the plot centered on a wedding. If that elucidation doesn’t jump off the page and scream “chick flick!” to you, then I’m not sure what will. And although my feeble attempt at describing this film was factually accurate — Anne Hathaway is in nearly every scene, there are a lot of wedding-related scenes — this film is the farthest thing from another big budget, sugar-coated wedding movie in the vein of 27 Dresses. On the contrary, Rachel Getting Married is an understated film of familial turmoil and thematic dichotomy.

David Archuleta: Self-Titled

If you were anything like me during last season’s American Idol, you wanted to violently vomit every time runner-up David Archuleta opened his mouth. His endlessly flowing earnestness and gosh-darn-it shtick eclipsed his tremendous vocal abilities on the show, as little David always seemed far older than his 17 years. And yet, it is this maturity level from Archuleta that makes his eponymous debut shockingly engaging. Even if it is undoubtedly the squarest record ever to come out of the Idol machine — Archie is about as hip and cool as Clay Aiken is straight — David Archuleta is an annoying indelible listen, full of swelling poppy choruses that become engrained into your subconscious.

Pink: Funhouse

If you judged Pink’s latest release simply on its hilariously campy album cover or equally light-hearted title, you would think that the album is all goofiness and good times. And while there are a great deal of appealing melodies and addictive hooks to be heard here, Pink’s Funhouse is through and through a divorce album, saturated by themes of broken-heartedness, lamentation and resentment towards her ex-husband Corey Hart. This overarching theme also makes for a paradoxical listen, as Funhouse is an amalgamation divided between oversized, obnoxious pop and modest, earnest sentiments.

Disney Ain't Got Nothing: The Animation Show 2008

Before I begin blathering about how unpredictably interesting The Animation Show 2008 is, let me make two things abundantly clear. First, this film is intentionally fragmented, consisting of about 20 shorts that are entirely unrelated and make for an unavoidable choppy flow. Second, this picture — in spite of the quasi-misleading title — does not feature any Disney variety of kid-friendly animation. So for those of you looking for a cutesy storyline that is both cohesive and G-rated, this film isn’t for you. However, those of you intrigued by a dizzying duration of sometimes raunchy, always edgy shorts from around the world, keep on reading.