Posts Tagged ‘Music’


Directed by Adam Shankman
Written by Leslie Dixon, based on John Waters’s 1988 Screenplay
Music Created by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Released by New Line Cinema
Date of Release: 2007
Rated PG

Tracy Turnblad is one of the best dancers in Baltimore and sets out to prove her self worth in the 1960s.

The year is 1962. The city is Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad only wants to dance on the Corny Collins Show. She has the moves and the drive to be the best dancer in Baltimore. She just needs a chance to prove it.

Unfortunately some of the other dancers don’t believe that she’s worth anything because Tracy might be a little overweight. Thanks to her friends Penny Pingleton and Seaweed J. Stubbs, Tracy becomes the star she’s always dreamed of. But like any great star, there’s someone trying to snuff Tracy’s light. With a little help from her friends, her parents, and her love for Link Larkin, Tracy is reminded that she will always have a rhythm to call her own.

Critical Evaluation:
Hairspray was originally a film directed by John Waters. The original was not a musical but still dealt with Tracy’s overweight figure and the racism that affected television programing in the 1960s. The film was later turned into a Tony Award winning musical in 2002. Using the music from the Broadway production, This 2007 version now stands as a combination of both the musical’s success with Waters original script.

The music is contagious. One can’t help but hum along to the lyrics, which at times makes fun of the racism of the 60s as well as point out the silliness of some of the character’s illogical behavior. The film still contains tongue and cheek silliness that Waters gave in the first film version.

The actors clearly love the material, which shows in their performance. Tracy Turnblad is played by Nikki Blonsky, which was her first film role. Blonsky genuinely loves the character and one can’t help but be rooting for Tracy and Nikki at the same time.

The film is a great musical and perfect for any teen looking to branch out of the Glee mentality.

Information about the Director:
From Adam Shankman’s IMDB page, Shankman was born and raised in Los Angeles. Shankman studied at Juliard and has worked as a choreographer for various projects since the early 1990s. Shankman has directed twenty films with the most recent film being Rock of Ages.

Adam Shankman on Twitter

From John Waters’s IMDB page, Waters directed the original Hairspray from which inspired a Broadway musical and the current remake. Born in Baltimore, Waters loved the fringe culture and began to make his own 8mm and 16mm films. His films continue to be cult classics amongst the indie film scene.


Curriculum Ties:
Racism, American History

Booktalking Ideas:
What can you do to stand up for yourself?
What can you do to get out of a “comfort zone”?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The film is rated PG which means that it would be better suited for teens 13 and up.

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues include racism and teen sexuality.

Why did I include this film in the title selection?
Thanks to Glee and High School Musical, drama and theatre are huge amongst teens. Hairspray is a great addition to this genre.

IMDB. (n.d.). Adam Shakman. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0788202/

Young, S. (n.d.). John Waters Biography. IMDB. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000691/

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Warrior by Ke$ha

Ke$ha Warrior

By Ke$ha
Genre: Dance/Pop
Released by: Sony Music Entertainment
Date of Release: 2012

The second full studio album by dance party princess Ke$ha.

1.   Warrior
2.   Die Young
3.   C’Mon
4.   Thinking of You
5.   Crazy Kids
6.   Wherever You Are
7.   Dirty Love (featuring Iggy Pop)
8.   Wonderland
9.   Only Wanna Dance With You
10.  Supernatural
11.  All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)
12.  Love Into the Light
13.  Last Goodbye
14.  Gold Trans Am
15.  Out Alive
16.  Past Lives

Critical Evaluation:
Ke$ha’s fun-loving, party girl musical style continues her latest album. The entire album would be better served over the speakers at an all-night party club. The tracks are fun and upbeat and you can’t help but want to get up and dance. The album still have a slight dirty tone quality that reflects Ke$ha’s devil may care attitude. The album isn’t gonna change the world but it’ll be fun while it tries.

Key Tracks:
Warrior is the opening track to the album. It sets the tone of the album with pulsing bass and catchy lyrics.

Die Young was the first single of the album. The song is upbeat tale of brief love on the dance floor. The lyrics give a slight melancholy tone as she implores her dance partner to make the most of their limited connection.

Dirty Love features a duet with famed punk star Iggy Pop. The track is a fast-paced dance track that pushes for the punk notes with guitars and drums.

Information about the Artist:
Raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Kesha Rose Sebert quit high school when she was 17. Instead of attending Columbia University to study psychology, Kesha decided to take her chances and move to Los Angeles to become a musician. Though her hard work, she made a connection with producer Dr. Luke which lead to laying down vocals for artist Flo Rida’s best selling track, Right Round.

Changing her name to Ke$ha to fit her party image, a first studio album was released when she was 20. The single TiK ToK lead to mass recognition.

Ke$ha on Twitter

Ke$ha on Facebook

Ke$ha on YouTube

Curriculum Ties:
Music, Feather Style

Interest Age:
Ages 15 and up

Challenging Issues:
Some of the tracks do contain some harsh language and sexual situations.

Why did I include this album in the title selection?
Ke$ha is my personal guilty pleasure. I have no reason why a straight-laced librarian student should love party music but here I am……a fan. When I was considering which music to include in this project, I hadn’t planned on focusing on Ke$ha at all but I noticed some very young girls were playing Die Young without headphones on their iPhones. They were singing along and dancing in line while their father was purchasing hot chocolates at my local Starbucks. Ke$ha’s music is fun and you can’t help but be happy when you find your foot tapping to the rhythm.

Ke$ha. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.keshasparty.com/us/bio

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record collecting for girls

Record Collecting for Girls: Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Time
By Courtney E. Smith
ISBN: 9780547502236
Publisher: Mariner
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
Gathering over ten years of experience in the music industry, Courtney E. Smith looks back at how music has changed her life

Plot Summary:
Courtney E. Smith has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the major musical bands in the last ten years. Building upon her love of music and her experience as a programming for MTV, Smith has created a memoir that is equal parts love letter to music and equal parts history of the medium. From essential lists to the confessions of guilty pleasure listening, Record Collecting for Girls provides a means for girls to further explore their love of music and to discover hidden gems along the way.

Critical Evaluation:
Smith’s memoir is a fun read. Yet, at times it seems that Smith delves more into the memoir aspect of her book instead of discussing music. Smith usually does bring the conversation back to music, tying her stories with music lists and recommendations.

Smith supports the idea that there are music snobs in everywhere. The chapter on guilty pleasures is an example of this in that Smith can not justify exactly why she loves the group Pussycat Dolls and not other mainstream girl groups. The reality is that it’s fine to like what you like. There’s no real reason for why we love the music we do, we just do.

The book provides great tips on searching for music information, specifically about music blogs. Smith’s knowledge of the music industry is a treat in that she occasionally delves into music history as well as pushing a discourse on the age old argument of who is better: The Rolling Stones or The Beatles.

Overall, Smith is a fun storyteller who has a lot to share about the industry. Young girls looking to expand their musical knowledge should seek this title to read. Not only will they gain an understanding of music history but an understand why it’s important to listen to music in the first place.

Information about the Author:
From Amazon, Courtney E. Smith has worked in the music industry for over a decade. As a music programmer for MTV, she was part of the team to decided on-air programming which set the tone for the music discourse in the last ten years. Her programming has helped increase awareness for bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, and Vampire Weekend.

Smith continues to blog about music and currently is a music producer for CBS.

Courtney E. Smith on Twitter

Non-Fiction, Music

Curriculum Ties:
Music, Relationships

Booktalking Ideas:
How can music influence our memories?
What songs would you use for a personal soundtrack?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
This title is a crossover, written for more adult audiences. I would recommend the book for older teens, beginning at 16 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I had picked this book when it first was published last year. As a music fan myself, Smith’s tales of music and life resonated with my own past. As music is a large part of the popular culture, a book describing music as a means of a memoir will connect with teens who use music in their daily lives.


The local music store

Amazon. (n.d.). Record Collecting for Girls: Unleasing your inner music nerd, one album at a time. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Record-Collecting-Girls-Unleashing-Inner/dp/0547502230/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301784494&sr=8-1

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Red by Taylor Swift


By Taylor Swift
Genre: Country/Pop
Released by: Big Machine Records
Date of Release: 2012

The fourth studio album by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

1.    State of Grace
2.    Red
3.    Treacherous
4.    I Knew You Were Trouble
5.    All Too Well
6.    22
7.    I Almost Do
8.    We are Never Ever Getting Back Together
9.    Stay Stay Stay
10.  The Last Time
11.  Holy Ground
12.  Sad Beautiful Tragic
13.  The Lucky One
14.  Everything Has Changed
15.  Starlight
16.  Begin Again

Critical Evaluation:
Pushing past the boundaries of her country beginnings, Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album has combined different genres in creating an album that shows more maturity than her previous work. Swift, who wrote nine of the tracks, continues to lay her heart on the line, bringing honesty to heartache and joy.

Key Tracks:
I Knew You Were Trouble channels Swift’s slight pop mentality with a dance bass background during the bridge. The song is catchy and I found myself humming along before the song finished.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was the first single released from the album. It’s sad anthem of the end of young love. The track is fun but there is pent up anger that Swift releases with each repeat of the bridge. Look to hear this often amongst girls suffering a break-up. The boy band Hanson has covered the song in live performances.

Everything has Changed, featuring Ed Sheeran, is a heartbreakingly, haunting track that has more ties to Swift’s country roots.

Information about the Artist:
Now 22 years of age, Taylor Swift took the music industry by storm when she released her first studio album at the age of 17, having written the majority of the music herself. Swift was savvy in that she used her knowledge of the Internet to connect with her fans via MySpace. Swift continues to connect with her fans with various social media platforms.

Taylor Swift on Twitter

Taylor Swift on Facebook

Taylor Swift on YouTube

Curriculum Ties:
Music, Songwriting

Interest Age:
Taylor Swift is popular amongst teens. She is considered to be both country and pop. Her music has played on Top 40 stations as well as adult contemporary channels.
Why did I include this album in the title selection?
I just discovered Swift’s music. I don’t usually follow country music but I thought I would try this album as Swift is constantly on teen magazines and media. The songs are catchy and fun and would be a great addition to a teen album collection.

Swift, T. (n.d.). My life. Retrieved from http://taylorswift.com/

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Various Artists
Genre: Soundtrack
Released by ABKCO Records
Date of Release: 2010

Music from the film directed by Edgar Wright.
1.   We Are Sex Bob-Omb by Sex Bob-Omb
2.    Scott Pilgrim by Plumtree
3.    I Heard Ramona Sing by Frank Black
4.    By Your Side by Beachwood Sparks
5.    O Katrina! by Black Lis
6.    I’m So Sad, So Very Sad by Crash and the Boys
7.    We Hate You Please Die by Crash and the Boys
8.    Garbage Truck by Sex Bob-Omb
9.    Teenage Dream by T. Rex
10.   Sleazy Bed Track by The Bluetones
11.   It’s Getting Boring by the Sea by Blood Red Shoes
12.   Black Sheep by Metric
13.   Threshold by Sex Bob-Omb
14.   Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl by Broken Social Scene
15.   Under My Thumb by The Rolling Stones
16.   Ramona (Acoustic Version) by Beck
17.   Ramona by Beck
18.   Summertime by Sex Bom-Omb
19.   Threshold (8 Bit) by Brian Lebarton

Critical Evaluation:
Featuring music from both the film and material cited in the original graphic novel, the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack serves not only as an outlet for great music but an anthem to young punk rock love.

The opening track by Sex Bob-omb is one of four tracks created for Scott’s band. The songs are indie pop with a fun, catchy beat. Garbage Truck and Summertime highlight the carefree nature of the band, while Threshold is an anthem of anger and determination. Beck wrote the Sex Bob-omb tracks as well as the Ramona tracks that Scott Pilgrim writes in the film.

Black Sheep by Metric is the highlight of the soundtrack as it was used to introduce Scott and Ramona’s respective ex’s. The track stands out because of Emily Haines’s vocals and the sexy bass beat in the background. Haines is featured later in the soundtrack with her work with Broken Social Scene.

The album was produced by film Director Edgar Wright, Nigel Godrich (who has worked on various Radiohead albums) and Marc Platt. Fans of the soundtrack will be pleased to know that there is also a score soundtrack for the film as well as a soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim video game.

Curriculum Ties:
Music, Songwriting

Interest Age:
14 and up

Challenging Issues:

Why did I include this in the title selections?
Having been a fan of Scott Pilgrim since the first graphic novel, I can’t help but constantly recommend the book. When the film adaptation was released, I was hooked and fell in love with the music. The album is great for not only fans of the film and the book series, but for anyone looking to expand their music tastes outside of the mainstream.

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If I Stay
By Gayle Forman
ISBN: 9780142415436
Publisher: Speak, an imprint of the Penguin Group
Date of Publication: 2009

Where She Went
By Gayle Forman
ISBN: 9780142420898
Publisher: Speak, an imprint of the Penguin Group
Date of Publication: 2011

Special Note:
I had thought of doing a separate review for these two books but I felt that since they are so closely connected to each other, I should treat these two novels as one complete story. Hence the double feature review.

Reader’s Annotation:
If I Stay: When a tragic accident leaves Mia Hall in a coma, she must decide if she must live or die, stay or go.

Where She Went: In the aftermath of Mia’s decision, Adam Wilde must come to terms with the accident and his place in Mia’s life.

Plot Summary: If I Stay
Mia Hall has a great life. Her parents are supportive and she loves her younger brother. She’s been accepted to Julliard and she’s in love with a wonderful boyfriend. All of this changes one snowy morning when Mia’s family is torn apart in a tragic car accident. Now Mia must contemplate a new life where everything is different.

As Mia reels from this new reality, she spends a day contemplating her past and considers her future. If she leaves this new life, she would be free from the inevitable heartache. If Mia stays, she must face a different future than she once imagined.

Plot Summary: Where She Went
Three years after Mia’s car accident, Adam Wilde is a successful rock star. Yet, despite his fame, Adam is still attached to his memories of his first love. By chance, Adam and Mia meet once again in New York City. From that chance encounter, Adam and Mia begin to connect once again, walking through the city as they look back at their past and their future. Will this random chance lead to a second opportunity for happiness?

Critical Evaluation:
Gayle Forman’s tale of love, death, and reconciliation was an enthralling read. Forman places a lot of love in the characters, which provides the reader with the means of an honest connection to the story. The story does delve into more mature themes for the second book, which is understandable in that the characters are in their early-twenties. It doesn’t distract from the story but enhances the natural evolution of the characters.

The story is a great showcase for young readers in that it provides an understanding that not all relationships are perfect. Relationships work best when each party involved are confident in themselves before they give love to another. Mia and Adam’s struggle in finding themselves in the midst of tragedy and success feels genuine in that Forman never forgets to show that these characters are still very human and feel pain and joy like the reader.

Audio Evaluation:
The method in which I read these two books was through an audiobook. The audiobook editions were fun in that both narrators gave great performances. I found myself enthralled with the manner in which the book was read, ignoring my surroundings until I could get to the end. I would highly recommend the audio versions of these books, though be careful where you listen as parts will induce tears.

If I Stay was read by Kirsten Potter

Where She Went was read by Dan Bittner

Information about the Author:
From Gayle Forman’s Website, Gayle began her writing career at Seventeen magazine and branched out to freelance work with other magazines such as  Cosmopolitan and The Nation. After traveling the world with her husband, Forman began to write stories for a younger audience. Her first book, Sisters in Sanity, was published in 2007. Her next two books, If I Stay and Where She Went, were published in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Forman’s next two books are scheduled for publication towards the beginning and end of 2013.

Gayle Forman on Twitter

Gayle Forman on Facebook

Realistic Fiction, Romance, Death and Dying

Curriculum Ties:
Family Relationships, Near Death Situations

Booktalking Ideas:
What role does music play in your life?
How has your family impacted your life?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
While the material is given a listing on Amazon for ages 14 and up, I would agree with the Kirkus Reivew that the material should be for older teens, specially for the second book with its more mature themes.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for either book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential issues would include sexual situations, after-death discussions, and the use of substance abuse in the second book.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I picked this book up on a whim while browsing the YA selection at the Kensington/Normal Heights Branch. I instantly fell in love with both the writing style and the storyline. I visited the material once again when I discovered there was a sequel to the book, which was a wonderful compliment to the first.

Amazon. (n.d.). Where She Went: Gayle Forman. Amazon. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Where-She-Went-Gayle-Forman/dp/0142420891

Kirkus Review. (2010). If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Kirkus Review. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/gayle-forman/if-i-stay/

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