Published April 09, 2008
Mariah Carey’s "E=MC2" comes out on Tuesday -- it’s the follow-up to her smash 2004 "Emancipation of Mimi" album that had a bunch of hits on it. And let me tell you, even I’m surprised. "E=MC2" might be an even bigger chart-topping monster.
A few weeks ago, I told you I’d heard some tracks, but now the album is done and sequenced. There are songs on it. Remember songs? You will be in love with "Side Effects," one of several real R&B tracks with a gorgeous vocal, a cool rap by Young Jeezy and lyrics that should make Mariah’s ex, Tommy Mottola, do a spit-take.
In the song, Carey sings about "waking up scared some nights, still dreaming about the violent times." Is it about Mottola? The lyrics begin: "I was a girl/You were ‘the man’/I was too young to understand/I was naïve/Believing everything you told me."
And apparently she’s still living with "side effects" from "the private hell we built" — "sleeping with the enemy/aware that he was smothering every last part of me." She even addresses Mottola directly: "Said you were strong/protecting me/then I found out that you were weak/keeping me there under your thumb."
Mottola may be hearing that song a lot on the radio since "Side Effects" has a Top 40 hook. The Young Jeezy rap only makes it better.
Even more than "Emancipation," "E=MC2" sounds like a jukebox full of singles for the best summer party ever. "I Stay in Love" is a killer ballad, and "Wish You Well" is a gospel-tinged ode to Aretha Franklin’s "Natural Woman" that shows off the best of her range. Another track, "Bye Bye" is almost a sequel to Carey’s long-ago hit with Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day."
The almost certain No. 1, I think, to extend Carey’s long string: "I’ll Be Lovin’ U A Long Time," in which her production team marries a sample from DeBarge with the hook from "Hill Street Blues" and adds just enough of a new twist to create the most elusive thing of all: a radio smash. "OOC (Out of Control)" is set to shake up dance clubs.
Carey has two weeks on the charts to herself until Madonna comes rolling through with her "Hard Candy." Already the Material Girl is getting a massive amount of airplay for her single with Justin Timberlake. The one-two punch of Mariah and Madonna might be just what the nearly dead record biz needs to pick itself up before it’s too late.
After seeing a new non-fiction film starring Comedy Central’s Ben Stein, you may not only be able to win his money, but also his career.
Stein is that whiny little guy with the monotone voice that makes him seem funny and an unlikely "character" for TV appearances. But that career may be over come April 18, when a movie he co-wrote, narrates and appears in, called "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," is released.
Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, "Expelled" is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) "expose" of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.
To wit: Stein, Frankowski and pals say in "Expelled" that perfectly good scientists and educators are being stigmatized for wanting to teach their students creationism and "intelligent design" — in other words, junk science — in addition to or instead of conventionally accepted Darwinism. You see, Stein, like some other celebrities, finally has shown his true colors and they aren’t so pretty.
The gist of Stein’s involvement is: He’s outraged! He believes in God! God created the universe! How can we not avail our students of this theory? What do you mean we’re just molecules?
What the producers of this film would love, love, love is a controversy. That’s because it’s being marketed by the same people who brought us "The Passion of the Christ." They’re hoping someone will latch onto an anti-Semitism theme here, since there’s a visit to a concentration camp and the raised idea — apparently typical of the intelligent design community — that somehow the theory of evolution is so evil that it caused the Holocaust. Alas, this is such a warped premise that no one’s biting.
The whole idea of Stein, a Jew, jumping on the intelligent design bandwagon of the theory of evolution begetting the Nazis is so distasteful you wonder what in — sorry — God’s name — he was thinking when he got into this. Who cares, really, if "Expelled" is anti-Semitic? It will come and go without much fanfare.
But Stein is another matter. Can he really be amusing selling eye drops or acting like a nebbish on game shows if we now have this new insight into his thinking?
You know Ben Stein from his voice. He used it to intone Ferris Bueller’s name iconically at the beginning of that 20-year-old Matthew Broderick movie. His laconic delivery and deadpan presence have given him a benign celebrity — until now.
But this is what he wrote last fall on the "Expelled" movie Web site:
"Darwinism is still very much alive, utterly dominating biology. Despite the fact that no one has ever been able to prove the creation of a single distinct species by Darwinist means, Darwinism dominates the academy and the media. Darwinism also has not one meaningful word to say on the origins of organic life, a striking lacuna in a theory supposedly explaining life.
"Alas, Darwinism has had a far bloodier life span than Imperialism. Darwinism, perhaps mixed with Imperialism, gave us Social Darwinism, a form of racism so vicious that it countenanced the Holocaust against the Jews and mass murder of many other groups in the name of speeding along the evolutionary process."
In a word: Urgggh. Suddenly Stein is not so amusing anymore. I want my eye drops from someone else.
PS: Following "The Passion" release pattern, "Expelled" will open wide on the 18th, but mostly in rural and poor neighborhoods. It’s got just one theater in all of New York City, in Times Square, none in places like Beverly Hills or wealthier, better-educated urban neighborhoods where more "evolved" people might live.
According to the film’s Web site, the producers are in a whopping 45 theaters in North Carolina, and a mere seven in Massachusetts, 35 in Georgia, 11 in New Jersey, four in Connecticut and one in Vermont. And so on. There are huge numbers of screens in Florida and Texas taking the film, particularly seven in San Antonio. If I lived in the Deep South, I’d boycott the filmmakers for thinking of me as this gullible and unsophisticated.
Congratulations to Bob Dylan. America’s rock poet laureate was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize on Monday for a lifetime of achievement. He’s the first "rock" musician ever to receive a Pulitzer. No one deserves it more.