REVIEWS: Nick Jonas, Idina Menzel

HMO120814IDINAIdina Menzel, Holiday Wishes.  Idina Menzel is the luckiest person to have ever been called Adele Dazeem. The awkwardness of having her name butchered by John Travolta during this year’s Oscars telecast gifted the Broadway icon with newfound clout, boosting her out of the gay niche and into mainstream notoriety. Now, Elsa the Snow Queen rides the snowy wave of her wintertime success and releases a Christmas album (because there’s nothing else you should be doing after your inner drag queen surfaces and all your repressed powers turn everything to ice). If you’re expecting some kind of Christmas version of “Let It Go” from the Frozen superstar, well, let it go. Holiday Wishes is focused on simple, classic Christmas nostalgia: for instance, “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night” (not exactly the silentest of nights as Menzel can’t help but belt). Producer Walter Afanasieff, who made magic with Mariah Carey in the early ‘90s, and also co-wrote “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” heads Menzel’s project, which includes a jazzy and not-quite-as-magical version of Carey’s staple (with Kenny G on sax). And because Idina knows you want her to sing something Disney, she doesn’t let you down. Her lovely rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” is designed as a big ol’ fashioned mega ballad that makes everything shine a little brighter. 

HMO120814NICKNick Jonas, Nick Jonas. It’s basically impossible to stay hydrated amid all the crotch-grabbing, butt-exposing sexiness Nick Jonas has so generously donated to the thirsty people of the world. Giving you yet another reason to suck down some H2O is the former Jonas Brother’s self-titled solo album, the sonic component to the never-ending parade of partial nudity (but really, how many times do you think he cups his junk to reach falsetto?). Nick toys with his sexed-up image on “Teacher,” an R&B-tinged, love-gone-sour song where he sounds like he’s ready to get the ruler out and give you a nice spankin’. “Take it off for me,” he urges on the funky soul number “Take Over,” referring to your “disguise” (i.e. clothes).  With “Numb,” he instigates a bump-and-grind; “Avalanche,” with Demi Lovato, shows he’s got soul — and not just vocally. There’s a beating heart beyond that flirty façade. Then it’s back to the bedroom for the Mike Posner-assisted slow jam “Closer.” “Open up and let me in,” he demands, making dreams come true. So yeah, if you think you’re getting Justin Timberlake vibes, you are. If you’re ashamed to get aural pleasure from a Jonas Brother, you shouldn’t be. Like his clothes, Nick’s shed the Disney act for this rite-of-passage project, indicative of his journey into maturity, into desire, into a girl’s pants. The purity ring is off; he’s literally and figuratively more naked than ever before. Dig in.

Trisha Yearwood, PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit. For over two decades, Trisha Yearwood’s been more than just another pretty voice. Beyond those powerhouse lungs are something equally as noteworthy: Songs to compliment them. A culmination of her most popular tunes, along with six new ones, Hit After Hit demonstrates that fact time after time. From 2005’s standout single “Georgia Rain,” to recent recordings like faith parable “Met Him in the Motel Room” and her spirited collaboration with Kelly Clarkson, “PrizeFighter,” Yearwood proves once again she’s still one of the best in the business.

 — Chris Azzopardi



—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LISTEN: Male singer covers ‘Let It Go’

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 9.54.49 AMCaleb Hyles, a 22-year-old thrash metal singer and student at Auburn University, also has a YouTube channel devoted to his cover songs, including some Disney ballads. In this one, he tackles the frontrunner for the best song Oscar, “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. As a charter member of Theater Queens United, I am required by bylaws to love Idina Menzel, who sang the song in the film. But even I think she gets blown out of the water here. Listen (and watch), and be wowed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Idina Menzel to perform at Fair Park in June

OK, we’ve been here before but I’ll take it this it’s true: Idina Menzel will be appearing in Dallas.

This isn’t the first time she was scheduled. Menzel, who won a Tony Award for Wicked, was supposed to perform her show at Fair Park Music Hall last fall, but the shooting schedule for Glee forced her to postpone. She’s now set to bring it to the Park on June 13 — just in time, we don’t mind noting, for National Pride.

Like all gay men, we love Idina, because she (a) starred in Rent; (b) starred in Wicked, (c) appears on Glee and most of all (d) married Taye Diggs. That’s basically the life and career I’d like to have. Tickets for the show go on say Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster. Please don’t disappoint us, Idina! And if Taye wants to sit with me, well, I won’t complain. And if you don’t already know why you should love her, check this out:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Top 10 Broadway Diva solos

The other day, my publisher asked me to recommend some songs to bolster his iPod library: The top 10 female Broadway diva solos of all time. (He told me not to spend too much time researching it, even though he doesn’t pay me by the hour, but just give him an idea off the top of my head.) Obviously, if this is going on an iPod, the songs need to be, at least in principal, readily available, so that means no replacement casts of concert performances of Babs doing “The Music and the Mirror.” I limited myself only to cast albums of Broadway shows, not movie soundtracks, and of course I am limited to solos by women.

Below is the list I came up with, roughly in chronological order. What do you think? Any obvious ones you would have included? (P.S My boss said the list was just the ticket.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones