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Cappuccino with Jules

Lifestyle. Music. Film. TV. Freshly brewed.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Honey, honey, the marvelous movie musical Mamma Mia! returns for a sequel a decade after its release, and it’s a such summer delight you’ll be singing “Andante, Andante” and floating away. In Here We Go Again, we sail back to the fictional island of Kalokairi, Greece and reunite with the original cast while welcoming a number of newcomers to Hotel Bella Donna.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is now in charge of Donna’s divine hotel, preparing for its reopening and inviting her three fathers Sam, Harry and Bill (still played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) and mom’s best friends Tanya and Rosie (with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters reprising their roles) to come along while her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is learning about hotel business away in New York. As pregnancy is upon her, she reminisces about her mother with the help of Tanya and Rosie, and the film whimsically mixes present situations with flashbacks that feature young, wild and carefree Donna (magnetically portrayed by Lily James) and her adventures that led her to her first encounters with her three beaus.

Meryl Streep is still the heart and soul of the story, and though her presence is limited in this sequel (perhaps we can all pen a letter to the writers asking why they did what they did to Donna), the plot will always revolve around Donna, and Sophie is honoring her mother by keeping the family business running.

Props to the casting team for putting together a convincing group of young actors for the flashback scenes, from Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies who look and speak exactly like Baranski and Walters, to Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan as young Sam, Harry and Bill. Lily James steals the film as young Donna. Her presence is electric, and her larger-than-life persona makes it truly an iconic role for her. The way she channels Meryl/Donna is completely natural the audiences would be impressed.

With ABBA’s music being the force behind the Mamma Mia! universe, Here We Go Again does a marvelous job delivering the Swedish pop group’s more underrated hits, from “Andante, Andante” to “Fernando” (a major highlight within the film featuring Cher as Sophie’s grandmother Ruby and Andy Garcia as her former lover Fernando) while bringing in songs previously used in the original film like “Dancing Queen”, “Thank You for the Music”, “Waterloo” (a standout scene with young Harry and Donna), “The Name of the Game”, and “I Have a Dream”.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a great sequel and a wonderful addition to the first. It’s full of joy, electric acting, ABBA-licious tunes, endearing moments and Grecian magic.

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“Revamp”: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Sir Elton John is an iconic music creator who has penned a great number of hits such as “Bennie and the Jets”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, and “Your Song”. Plenty of artists have covered his tunes, from household names to Youtube stars and reality show contestants. In the newly released Revamp album by Virgin EMI Records, thirteen Elton songs get a modern update with brand new interpretations by today’s top artists and bands like Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Alessia Cara, The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Florence + the Machine, Demi Lovato and Coldplay.

What you can expect from Revamp is its current sound – very 2018 but still listenable, nostalgic and recorded with respect to Elton’s greatness. In its entirety, the record would be a wonderful, acceptable introduction to his songbook for today’s younger generation.

1) “Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John/Pink/Logic
An interesting collaboration that results in an urban pop cover. I would’ve suggested a bonus track with a “Bennie” that features Haley Reinhart who shot to stardom with her jazzy version on Season 10 of American Idol. But this one makes an exciting intro.

2) “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” – Coldplay
Very nuanced and atmospheric. It delivers the album’s very first musical moment. Coldplay is always a pro at making any cover worth your money.

3) “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” – Alessia Cara
This is one Elton tune that’s perfect for Alessia’s voice and style. It happens to be one of my top favorites.

4) “Candle in the Wind” (2018 Version) – Ed Sheeran
Mr. Sheeran was born to sing this dedication and farewell to Lady Diana. A very genuine interpretation.

5) “Tiny Dancer” – Florence + the Machine
Absolutely dreamy and inspiring. My top favorite track within the record. It’s as magnetic as Sir Elton’s original version.

6) “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Mumford & Sons
Folky and authentic, Mumford & Sons knew how to give this song their own twist.

7) “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” – Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige has been successful in giving “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” a new sound. It’s as fresh as ever.

8) “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Q-Tip feat. Demi Lovato
A marvelous duet that keeps me coming back for more. It feels like a brand new tune with the reggae influence in the intro and verses, but then the chorus takes us back to that nostalgic moment, which makes it so great.

9) “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – The Killers
Easily one of my favorites after “Tiny Dancer”.

10) “Daniel” – Sam Smith
It’s a song fitting for Sam Smith and his soulful, velvety vocal.

11) “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – Miley Cyrus
Miley truly delivers in this powerful Elton classic. Very sincere, very authentic.

12) “Your Song” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is a master at interpreting iconic songs, and her take on “Your Song” is truly a gift that we can all cherish, just like the original. Simply timeless.

13) “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – Queens of the Stone Age
The best song to wrap up the album. Very solid version.

On repeat: “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”, “Your Song”, “Candle in the Wind”, “We All Fall in Love Sometimes”.

Click here to purchase Revamp on Amazon.

TOP 14 Review ~ “American Idol”

American Idol is once again a ratings powerhouse thanks to ABC, and after two weeks of TOP 24 semifinals plus all-star duets, judges Lion Ritchie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan have picked the 14 finalists who make it to America’s votes.

Comments from viewers on the TOP 14 are going viral on the Internet, ranging from rave reviews to fiery disapprovals. Here at Cappuccino, I am celebrating all of them, as I believe these 14 finalists have something to offer to the diverse music fans around the world. It’s 2018, so let’s practice positivity as we go along.

ADA VOX/ADAM SANDERS – Electric and a powerhouse! Ada has the “it” factor and always commands the stage, making every performance look like an actual concert, and that’s what music is supposed to be… Exciting!

CADE FOEHNER – Kudos to Cade for bringing old school rock to the modern times and making it current once again. He’s the new rock ‘n’ roll pioneer and is my (and many others’) pick to WIN it all! Ever since I came across his “Rocket Man” and “Wanted Dead or Alive” videos long before the show premiered, I knew he’d be an instant favorite. That Phillip Phillips voice also allows him to give any kind of tune his own twist.

CALEB HUTCHINSON – I’m so happy to say Caleb is the very first male country singer I’m interested in on Idol. He comes across as very genuine, and for a country guy, he has such a unique tone and range. I also love the fact that he always posts uplifting, encouraging messages on his social media like many of the other finalists.

DENNIS LORENZO – Super commercial voice and star persona! Dennis can sing any tune and make it sound fresh, soulful and new. His audition plus duet with Allen Stone where he sang “Unaware” proved he has what it takes to sell records. If not Cade, Dennis could definitely be ABC’s very first American Idol!

GARRETT JACOBS – Unique and raspy voiced, Garrett is a male singer whose records I want to buy. Just look up his Chris Stapleton and John Mayer covers on Youtube, and there’s no denying his talent and distinctive tone. Inspired by iconic idols like Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams and Clark Beckham and with a performance like “Wicked Games” in Hollywood plus his subtle duet with Colbie Caillat, Garrett is way more than just a pretty face and is only going to get better. His journey (plus later career) is super endearing to follow.

JONNY BRENNS – He’s clearly very passionate in pursuing a career in music, and that shows in his originals, one of which he sang in his audition. With good looks and a natural talent followed by a lot of consistency, he will definitely add a lot of  freshness to the competition.

MARCIO DONALDSON – The universe needs Marcio and his music. With a compelling story and an even bigger voice, Marcio is very deserving of the win and make plenty of records. There’s so much pureness in his soulful voice, and he always sings from the heart. You can tell he really wants this, and you just have to love him.  So much respect!

MICHAEL J. WOODARD – Whimsical, adorable and exciting, Michael is truly an artist! He knows how to stand out, and with song choices like Alanis Moirisette’s “You Oughta Know”, the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” and the Broadway hit “Maybe This Time”, I’m beyond ready for a Michael Woodard debut album! He also seems approachable and is all about universal love. If he ever takes on a Barbra Streisand tune, it’d be even more glorious. I see him as a young, male version of Barbra in that he has a “bigger than life” appeal in his voice and an irresistable charm.

CATIE TURNER – Just like Michael, Catie with a C is an original and is socially conscious in addition to being entertaining. Everything about her screams superstar. Songs like “21st Century Machine” are instant hits with thought-provoking lyrics. With a massive following that exceeds the rest, it’s very clear that the world adores her and the messages she tries to communicate through her music, and she’s very deserving of the crown. Gotta love her jazz notes, spunky personality and cool boots too!

GABBY BARRETT – Be it country or soul, Gabby excels at both genres. With a beautiful Daenerys hair style and a strong range, this gal can sing the phonebook and slay. She truly has the power to succeed.

JURNEE – Pop star! That’s what Jurnee is destined to become. Very commercial with a crystal clear voice and a star-studded look, Jurnee could and should be “the one”. With covers like Jessie J’s “Flashlight” and “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman plus an elegant duet with Lea Michele, Jurnee’s journey should take her to the finale and Billboard charts. Super inspiring! PS. I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices she resembles a member of my favorite girl group Little Mix – Jade Thirlwall.

MADDIE POPPE – Whimsically delightful right from the start. Maddie’s music always conjures images of sunshine and rainbows, and that’s her brand. It’s syrup and honey for the ears. She deserves to be heard and appreciated. Check out her Songs From the Basement EP, and get ready to enter the wonderful world of Maddie Poppe.

MARA JUSTINE – Mara may be super young, but with a big voice and a down-to-earth personality, she’s like the Kelly Clarkson of the group. There’s so much soul and power in her vocals, followed by that expressive Janis Joplin spirit that makes you want to root for her. It won’t surprise me if the competition ends with her victory (that’d be a well-deserved win), ‘cause her massive talent and charisma truly make a strong combo. Mara is lightyears ahead of her younger self on America’s Got Talent back then and is ready to make her mark in the music industry.

MICHELLE SUSSETT – Her voice is definitely made for the radio. Easily identifiable and current with a Demi Lovato look and energy. It doesn’t matter that she’s not your average Idol contestant. The show’s original mission was to find a pop idol who’s marketable and relevant, and Michelle really fits the bill in that she can work the stage like the pro she is and entertain.

 

Photo Credit: American Idol/ABC

American Idol Season 1 (ABC)

ABC has brought back American Idol two years after its cancellation on FOX. The phenomenon that preceded other TV singing competitions is all-new and improved with fresh talents and a positive vibe. Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan – this first season’s trio of judges – not only have great dynamics, but also a strong, genuine interest in what each contestant bring. They pay close attention to all the singing and are very encouraging.

Given the super rushed schedule, tonight’s episode will wrap up the auditions segment, preparing the audiences for the Hollywood rounds tomorrow. To refresh, let’s take a look at some of the unforgettable auditions we have seen ever since the show’s March 11 premiere. Feel free to share your favorites too!

Does Idol deserve to stay another season? With such a positive direction, this competition serves as a reminder on the power of dreams, and dreams are always needed despite today’s grim political situations. So the answer would be yes. If you haven’t been tuning in, I encourage you to do so, and get ready to be inspired all over again. Spectacular talents and future stars await you.

LAINE HARDY

A high schooler with a cool, raspy voice and a bluesy rock sound? Laine’s got it. You can immediately spot that recording quality in his vocals. It’s only right that he’s topping the polls on various Idol forums and sites.

BRANDON DIAZ

This Berklee guy is definitely one of my top male voices. Very soulful. Turns out he was on The X Factor and that I’ve seen a few of his Youtube videos once like “Say Something”. I’m very interested in keeping up with his career on Idol and beyond.

GARRETT JACOBS

Another one of my favorite. Such a unique tone and so much potential. Great singer-songwriter vibe. While blues is very fitting for him, I can see him doing well covering modern male artists like Shawn Mendes and James Morrison.

MARCIO DONALDSON

Super inspiring. Powerful story and a voice that’s tender and compelling, Marcio is one to look for. There’s an honesty in the way he sings, and if he keeps it up in Hollywood, he could easily soar into the finals.

CATIE TURNER

This girl is truly an original. With an adorably quirky persona and her self-penned songs like 21st Century Machine, she’s definitely starting a revolution, and we’re all here for a lot of Catie records. She could be the one! #hashtagcatie

MADDIE POPPE

Whimsical with a relaxing tone, she’s got magic in her voice that’s reminiscent of Sara Bareilles. The ultimate female singer-songwriter in this competition, she will bring a lot of freshness to the stage.

AMELIA HAMMER HARRIS

Very retro! With a lot of funk and energy in her voice and a NYLON-inspired fashion, Amelia delivers a lot of excitement and is bound to shake up the competition. It also helps that she’s the daughter of a music icon Jack Hammer.

MARA JUSTINE

Very impressive! Haven’t seen her on America’s Got Talent but she seems ready now with her massive voice. Her expression and enthusiasm really show, and she’d make a commercial recording artist.

LAYLA SPRING

She has a delightful sound. Bringing her little sister Dixie along, there’s an immediate warmth in her that draws you in. While she could benefit with more experiences, she’s got potential. The voice is definitely there, and so is her charm.

 

CALEB HUTCHINSON

 

He comes across as unique for a country artist. It looks like he also has a magnetic personality. His sincerity and love for country music definitely shows when he performs.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird is a new classic in the modern cinematic universe. Greta Gerwig uses her fine powers in writing and directing to craft a simple, humorous yet compelling film that centers on Saoirse Ronan’s Christine McPherson, a senior student at a Catholic school in Sacramento, California, who yearns for a big, artistically rich life in the East Coast. Referring to herself as Lady Bird, the nickname given to her at birth by her nurse mother Marion McPherson (played by Laurie Metcalf), she views her surroundings from a very progressive angle, giving her that fiery, rebellious personality.

The quest for love, acceptance and everlasting friendship is a common plot in the everyday coming-of-age movies, but what makes Lady Bird a masterpiece is the unique insertion of whimsical tones followed by quirky humor that result in plenty of amusing, lighthearted moments like the many inside jokes Lady Bird shares with her best friend Jules (Beanie Feldstein) on a daily basis (their loyalty to each other serves as a powerful testament to female friendship) and the iconic drama club musical audition scenes (seeing Lady Bird tackle the lively Broadway classic “Everybody Says Don’t” is purely epic, knowing how accurate the lyrics are to her personal life). In addition to that, the plot is strongly character-driven with Lady Bird pushing the story forward as she embarks on a journey towards her high school graduation and to discover which East Coast college will accept her. Determined and fiery yet overly stubborn, she often has a row with the strongly opinionated Marion at home and continually lashes out against her, yet fails to realize that underneath it all, both mother and daughter have so much in common. Ronan and Metcalf were deserving of their Academy Awards nominations for a realistic portrayal of their characters with their all-out, energetic performances.

With such a strong film debut, Greta Gerwig has achieved the impossible by being only the fifth female director to have ever been nominated for Best Directing in the history of the Oscars, and the road can only go up from here. She has become an icon and inspiration for women directors and aspiring filmmakers who are just starting out, and Lady Bird will always soar high with its many accolades.

Now that the DVD and Blu-ray are available to buy, it’s the best time to pick up Lady Bird, especially since today is International Women’s Day, and films made by and starring powerful ladies that foster great female dynamics are always the ultimate treats. Click here for more info and follow @LadyBirdMovie on Twitter for updates.

 

How to Spend Galentine’s Day with Your Friends

Going by traditions, February 14 seems to be made for those in a romantic relationship, but looking at it from a fresh perspective, it can actually be interpreted as a day to celebrate universal love, be it for family members or even pets and best friends. For female companions around the world, Valentine’s Day can easily transform into a Galentine.

Having inserted itself into pop culture dictionary by way of style magazines like Glamour, Galentine marks a significant moment in the lives of metropolitan ladies and ultimately refers to a massive celebration of female solidarity, where girl best friends can gather together and make a toast to their friendship, whether or not they’re in the singles club (well, most of the time they’re single and happy – like me, for example). How they celebrate it is up to them.

Tons of creative ideas can lead to a Galentine’s Day that’s as sweet as sugar. Not sure where to start? Feel free to peek into the list below to help you plan that unforgettable meet-up with your gal pals. Also included are a selection of songs and films (from signature rom-coms to friend-tastic titles) to amp up your evening should you all choose to stay in.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE

  • Relax at your favorite cafe and have quality time with friends over coffee/hot chocolate/cappuccino/latte/tea. Mouthwatering snacks like pancakes and waffles also await you.
  • Visit an art museum and enjoy all the paintings and installations.
  • Make pasta together and gather around the TV for some DVD and Netflix time.
  • Take a trip to a chocolate factory and shop for lots of chocolates afterwards.
  • Go ice-skating.

FILMS

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2
  • Mary Poppins
  • St Elmo’s Fire
  • Clueless
  • Hugo
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • Legally Blonde 1 & 2
  • The Help
  • Mona Lisa Smile
  • Toy Story 1 & 2
  • The Artist
  • La La Land
  • Sabrina
  • Enchanted
  • Leap Year
  • Ballerina
  • Midnight in Paris
  • 500 Days of Summer
  • Two Weeks Notice
  • Letters to Juliet
  • The Other Woman
  • Leap Year

SONGS

  • “In the Heart of Every Girl” ~ Elton John
  • “Real Friends” ~ Camila Cabello
  • “A Little Help From My Friends” ~ The Beatles
  • “You’ve Got a Friend a Me” ~ Randy Newman/Michael Buble
  • “One Short Day” ~ from Wicked
  • “I Am Woman” ~ Jordin Sparks
  • “Salute” ~ Little Mix
  • “You’ve Got a Friend” ~ Carole King
  • “Forget You” ~ CeeLo Green
  • “Beautiful Life” ~ Nick Fradiani
  • “A Love That Will Last” ~ Renee Olstead
  • “Smile” ~ Lily Allen

Photo Credit: ElegantNewYork.com

National Croissant Day 2018

In honor of National Croissant Day, celebrate with your favorite crescent shaped delicacy. With its crisp texture and variety of fillings available at different bakeries and cafes, you can always count on a warm croissant to add a little bit of whimsy to your morning, afternoon and even evening as a post-dinner snack.

Often associated as French specialties with images of a local meandering down the classic, cobblestone streets by the Seine with a delicious croissant in a paper bag and a close view of Musee d’Orsay, croissants’ origins can actually be traced back to Austria in the early 13th century, where they were known as the ‘kipferls’, as mentioned in various bakery sites like Bakers Maison.

These days, croissants tend to get a modern update and can be enjoyed in a wide array of flavors, from classic butter and chocolate to green tea, almond and the recently trending salted egg with cream on the side.

For National Croissant Day, head to your local bakery or cafe to indulge in a croissant or two. Alternatively, you can get them to go for a delightful croissant time at home, perhaps with your favorite tea. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting mushroom slash mozarella and special green tea croissants today at Delico, a cozy little bakery and cafe I happened to stroll past. Feel free to share your favorite croissant or best croissant experience here.

 

 

Breakfast Tunes

Mornings are made for breakfast.

Starting this January, I’ve made it a habit to rise out of bed by the time the clock strikes 6 if only for the inviting aroma of bread and butter (it’s more of a personal challenge, actually) and so far, I’ve been successful. But no matter what delicacies you start your AM with – croissants, English breakfast tea, muffins, orange juice, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, grilled tomatoes, beef sausages, et cetera – light, playful tunes are bound to excite you and set you up for the day.

Let music be a savory treat for your ears. So pick a morning soundtrack and eat, listen and be jolly. No time to assemble your track list? Here are whimsical ideas you can steal for a relaxing musical breakfast. Mix them with your own for a personalized morning playlist.

Enjoy!

  • “”Jolly Holiday” – Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (from Mary Poppins)
  • “It’s a Good Day” – Peggy Lee
  • “Good Morning” – Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (from Singin’ in the Rain)
  • ”Isn’t This a Lovely Day” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • ”Boy in a Rock N Roll Band” – The Pierces
  • “Frim Fram Sauce” – Diana Krall
  • ”Chasing Pirates” – Norah Jones
  • “Lulu’s Pie Song” – Sara Bareilles (from Waitress)
  • “It’s a Wonderful World” – Joan Chamorro, Andrea Motis, Bobby Gordon & Sant Andreu Jazz Band
  • ”Mona Lisa” – Nat King Cole
  • “Another Day of Sun” – La La Land Cast (from La La Land)
  • “What a Difference a Day Makes” – Jamie Cullum
  • “A Wink and a Smile” – Harry Connick Jr. (from Sleepless in Seattle)
  • “Wonderful” – Idina Menzel and Joel Grey (from Wicked)
  • “In a World of My Own” – Kathryn Beaumont (from Alice in Wonderland)
  • “White Winter Hymnal” – Birdy
  • ”City Love” – John Mayer
  • “Goody Goody” – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
  • “My Sugar is So Refined” – Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
  • ”A Spoonful of Sugar” – Julie Andrews (from Mary Poppins)

 

 

 

#TimesUp at the 75th Golden Globes

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.31.27 AMOprah Winfrey. Photo Credit: Variety

BLL Ladies copyThe Big Little Lies ladies. Photo Credit: ABC

It’s 2018, and the annual Golden Globe Awards went into its 75th year with a fiery revolution in support of women across all industries, encouraging them to speak up in light of abuse, misrepresentation and all forms of mistreatment. The #TimesUp movement packed a lot of female punch, as stars and public figures – women and men – attended the event all decked in black as a sign of solidarity. Most of the wins and speeches on stage also reflected and acknowledged the need to continue pushing for equal opportunities for females in all aspects of their careers.

Speaking as a screenwriter, I stand by Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Chastain, Zoe Saldana, Natalie Portman, Dwayne Johnson, Ansel Elgort, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Evan Rachel Wood, and many other icons in the fight for lady power. May more opportunities open up for female writers, directors, engineers, coders, entrepreneurs, and other career fields from all backgrounds and from all over the world, for the world of storytelling and the entire workforce should always be diverse.

The 75th Golden Globe Awards presented us with tons of highlights. Feel free to list all your favorite moments. Here are mine:

  • All the Big Little Lies wins (congrats Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern) and the all-girl cast photos.
  • Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Laura Dern in the same room. The Fault in Our Stars nostalgia.
  • Queen Oprah’s all-inspiring, super important speech about hope and an inclusive future as she accepted the Cecille B. Demille award.
  • Both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor winning brought a little Moulin Rouge magic. Viva Satine and Christian!
  • The Greatest Showman won Best Original Song with “This is Me”.
  • Barbra Streisand’s surprise appearance. I’d personally want Babs to make a triumphant return to film directing and acting. The last feature film she directed and starred in was the lovely Mirror Has Two Faces.
  • Saoirse Ronan and the Lady Bird appreciation. Director Greta Gerwig deserved a nomination for crafting a powerful female-driven film.

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