Queer interest with the Grammy nominations

Gay pop icon Adam Lambert is a Grammy nominee for “Whataya Want from Me.”

Nominations for the Grammy Awards were announced last night, and among the predicted big-name contenders are some of special interest to the gay community:

• Lady Gaga received six nominations, including best female pop vocal for “Bad Romance” and best album for The Fame Monster.

• Margaret Cho’s Cho Dependent is up for best comedy album against Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt.

• Two Sondheim albums are competing for musical show album: The revival of A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim. They contend against the revival of Promises, Promises with Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth.

• Best compilation soundtrack album pits Glee: The Music, Vol. 1 against True Blood: Vol. 2.

• Michael Jackson received a nomination for pop male vocal for This Is It. Creepy. He’s competing against Adam Lambert for Whataya Want from Me.

• Best pop group vocal includes the cast of Glee for Don’t Stop Believin’ against Train for a live version of Hey, Soul Sister … which Glee just did better than Train.

• Elton John and Leon Russell, who were just in town, go up again Gaga and Beyonce and Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg for best vocal collboration.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Review: Elton John in Fort Worth

When Elton John stepped onstage of the big but charmless auditorium that is the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena on Saturday, the near-sellout crowd went crazy. But it would be another half-hour before he played or sang a note. Instead, he introduced his co-headliners for the evening, Leon Russell. And thus began a rollicking and nostalgic marathon of music.

Russell, whose snowy mane and white Resistol made him look like Gandalf interpreted through a western idiom, banged out some piano-based acoustic bluesy folk songs given an acid-electric background — think “Layla.” Or for that matter, Elton himself. Russell has the same nasally wail that Willie Nelson has perfected, and took to five songs in his 20-minute set — including his signature “A Song for You” to a respectful, sometimes enthusiastic audience – before Sir E emerged. Then things went wild.

Elton kicked off, appropriately enough, with “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting,” and proceeded through 40 minutes of his classics: “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and most impressively, a The Who-length (18-minute by my count) extended version of “Rocket Man” that generated several applause lines. (Watch video below.)

In the current AGE (by which I mean, of course, After the Gaga Era), the two badly placed screens and retro graphics were old-fashioned, even quaint, but not bad. In fact, the images took me back to my early youth during the bicentennial, when Elton reigned alongside The Captain and Tennille and The Carpenters. (Indeed: He is still standing.) It conjured the great ’70s era of what we thought flamboyance and showmanship was — only there were also great lyrics.

There were some great lyrics, too, when Russell joined him for another set off their new T-Bone Burnett-produced album, The Union, which has some beautiful melodies and rockabilly soul, but old or new stuff one thing’s clear: Elton still has it. Sure, he couldn’t hit the highest notes of the register (he didn’t even attempt the “no, no, no, no” on “Rocket Man”), but he looks good (if heavier) and sounds even better than he deserved to. The bitch is back? Damn, seems like he never left.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

That ’70s Show vs. Show

2 music icons who rose to stardom in the disco age — Elton John and ABBA — face off (sort of) with modern takes on classic sounds

In the decade of disco, ABBA was at the top of the charts with hit after hit on the radio and the dancefloor. At the same time, Elton John was making his mark taking glam rock to new levels with his touch of gay flamboyance.

Both have endured — ABBA mostly in nostalgia, John with new albums on a regular basis. And they both hit North Texas this week — in a manner of speaking.
ABBA Mania recreates the live ABBA experience, while John’s tour stops in Fort Worth for his newest album, a collaboration with Leon Russell called The Union.

So which will you lean toward?

In The Union, John teams with Russell, the legendary R&B Okie, and producer-of-the-moment, Fort Worth’s T-Bone Burnett, combining John’s piano boogie and Russell’s bluesy roots — with mixed results. He’s been quoted as saying he’ll make real music now instead of pop fodder. The live show has won raves, with the first half devoted to the new CD and the last filled with John classics.

With John’s new “serious” outlook, will you have as much fun as you could at ABBA Mania? It was hard enough to sit still through Mamma Mia! without singing along while dancing out of your seat. The tribute show has toured the world with the absolute goal of giving the ABBA concert most people under 50 never got to see.

We broke down the best about John and the actual ABBA to see if it could help us make up our minds, but we may just flip a coin on this one. Tough call, for sure.

— Rich Lopez

………………………………

Elton JohnElton John (with Leon Russell)

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes and glittered glasses in the ’70s.

…. won an Oscar for the song “Circle of Life” for the Disney film The Lion King.

…. Does gigs with anti-gay personalities. At the Grammys with Eminem (forgivable) then performing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his $1 mil fee went to his AIDS foundation — still deciding)

…. recorded “Hello, Hello,” a duet with Lady Gaga for the upcoming Disney movie
Gnomeo and Juliet about  garden gnomes in love.

…. conquered Broadway with The Lion King and Billy Elliot; won a Tony for
2000’s Aida.

…. being a gay man, had no ties to disco music during the rocking ’70s, with fellow community member Freddie Mercury of Queen.

…. lost a whole lotta street cred performing a Diet Coke commercial with Paula Abdul in 1990.

…. is a gay icon for being a diva, a legend and even kind of a bitch. He’s not much of an advocate for the community but stands by its side enough.

…. performs at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, 1201 Houston St. Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. $53–$173. Ticketmaster.com.

………………………………..

ABBAABBA Mania

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes, but with the occasional ascot and lederhosen. Not cute.

…. had a hit movie with their old songs in Mamma Mia! which turned out to be the No. 1 movie of all time in Britain. Oscar their ass.

…. sidestepped most public drama. Even the marriages and divorces within the band weren’t all that controversial.  Snore.

…. inspired the 1990s clones Ace of Base who subsequently inspired the beat behind Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.” OK, that’s reaching, we know.

…. had a fling with Broadway when Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus received acclaim and award noms for Chess and Mamma Mia!.

…. were all straight and the epitome of disco alongside the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. So straights do better dance music while non-straights can rock your face off. Who knew?

…. maintained their dignity by rarely, if ever, doing anything outside of performing their music.

…. are gay icons for their work on the dancefloor. All they really had to do to secure a spot in the gay pantheon was release “Dancing Queen.” Yes, ABBA, thank you for the music.

… plays at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. $40–$65. EisemannCenter.com/Tickets

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

FREE STUFF: Wanna see Elton John and Leon Russell in Fort Worth? We got tickets

In case you missed the announcement on the DV’s Facebook page, we are giving away a pair of tickets everyday this week to the Elton John and Leon Russell show. The two perform Nov. 13 at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena.

The two collaborated on the just-released album The Union, which was produced by Oscar-winner T. Bone Burnett. In the album, John delves into roots rock with Americana icon Russell. Now they are on the road together and the show makes its way here next weekend. In the video below, they discuss the making of the album.

To win your tickets, email “Elton John” in the subject line to Tickets for your chance to see the legends live. Good luck!

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: Elton John and Leon Russell coming to Fort Worth in November

I was a little caught off guard when I saw the headline, “Elton John and Leon Russell to play Fort Worth Convention center Nov. 13″ online over at PegasusNews.com. I mean, it’s not a pairing that immediately springs to mind when you think about performers singing and/or recording together.

But then again, I guess neither was the duo of Elton John and Eminem.

I was also caught off guard because Elton John is coming to Fort Worth in less than two months, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Not that I am always “in the know” about upcoming concerts. But you’d think an impending concert by someone of Elton John’s prominence would have gotten more publicity sooner than this. Even Rich Lopez, Dallas Voice’s go-to guy on all things musical, didn’t know until I asked him about it on Tuesday.

The concert is part of Elton and Leon’s joint “The Union” tour, and it will include songs from their joint album, also called “The Union,” which is due out Oct. 19. The album was produced by T Bone Burnett and includes “a variety of musical genres, from R&B, soul, gospel, country, pop and rock.”

So anyway, the Elton/Leon concert will be Saturday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena. Tickets go on sale Monday, Sept. 27, and range from $39.50 to $149.50. Get them online at Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Don’t forget those prices don’t include “applicable service charges,” and there is a limit of eight tickets per customer.

—  admin

Grammys Live Blog: Chris O'Donnell is hot, Leon Russell jams a cameo

Best Rock Album: Green Day. OK, their Grammy darlings now but I can roll with this a lot more than if Dave Matthews won.

Ummm, hellooo Chris O’Donnell.

The Zac Brown Band just went up in my book bringing in Leon Russell. But really, I’d like to see a ZZ Topp/Russell collab. Beards for days. ZBB is doing the whole America thing but lines about chicken fried and cold beer are all right with me. OK, Zac Brown’s acoustic shredding is pretty solid and I think he’s just gone up in my hottie bear column.

Upcoming, Carrie Underwood honors…Michael Jackson?

—  Rich Lopez