By: Darren Ranck, Brennan Carley, Charlotte Parish
The winter doldrums finally seem ready to fade into the abyss, making way for a spring with plentiful opportunities to indulge in the arts. So, in the spirit of March Madness, we decided to put our own twist on that all too familiar bracket that sports fans obsess over for weeks. Here, readers can find the four biggest categories in spring entertainment pitted head to head in a search for the season’s most important work of art. The process was a difficult one in which many favorites had to be eliminated early on to reach the Top 16. Lady Gaga was dashed aside in favor of a classic pop icon. Sequels and remakes didn’t make the cut, instead leaving four exciting comedies and dramas to take the empty slots. Hundreds of musicians will be taking the country by storm on tours this spring, but only four of the most promising made our list. Boston will be home to countless cultural opportunities in the coming months. Ultimately, the following list contains stops on our trip through spring entertainment that you won’t want to miss, lest you be left behind.
Wiz Khalifa has emerged as a heavy hitter in the last two months, exploding on the rap scene with “Black and Yellow.” His recent collaboration with Chris Brown on the R&B singer’s new album F.A.M.E. brought about stunningly simple yet enticing results. Khalifa’s debut disc, Rolling Papers, is slated for release on March 29 and could solidify his place in the industry. Two more alternative bands will also release new albums this spring. The folksy Fleet Foxes made a calming splash onto the scene with their 2008 self-titled debut. Meanwhile, London-based rock outfit The Kills is finally delivering on its promise to follow up on the stellar Midnight Boom. In April, The Kills will release Blood Pressures, and its first single, “Satellite,” is absolutely electrifying.
Judging by her new sound, Britney Spears will most likely electrify the charts with her newest effort, Femme Fatale. With an upcoming promotional whirlwind (like Good Morning America and Ellen), Brit is in it to win it. When Femme leaked last Thursday, her team went into a frenzy of planning and decided to officially release more tracks on iTunes. It’s that type of smart thinking, and her infectious and especially catchy new sound that propelled her to a victory.
After a disappointing year for the touring circuit, concert lovers should look out for a fruitful spring. With some of the most innovative acts making rounds across the nation, we pit four of the industry’s hottest and most diverse musical acts against one another in an effort to pick the best.
Rihanna returns to Beantown with The Loud Tour, featuring the wily and talented Cee Lo Green. Both artists are hitting a creative stride, with Rihanna giving some of her most engaging performances yet and Cee Lo offering strong vocals and spectacle (check his Grammy attire for proof). Rihanna has strong ammunition with the release of her catchiest songs yet. Katy Perry waits in the wings with the Teenage Dream Tour, a pop extravaganza. Perry’s charm along with her supporting acts, Robyn and Marina in the Diamonds, promise to keep it fun and danceable. Country act Sugarland brings its Southern flavor to what is bound to be a rowdy show. Carried by Jennifer Nettle’s vocals and her rockabilly band, the group holds the candle for country acts. They face the goofy, serious, and legendary alternative group of the ’90s, Weezer. No matter the age, though, Weezer guarantees a hip show.
Boston Arts Division
Although Shakespeare on the Common has been a phenomenal tradition descending on the Boston Common along with the warm weather, the theatre must-see this spring is hands down the nation-wide tour of Hair that is coming to Beantown. The musical revival has already received acclaim for the incredible performances of the cast and is heading to Boston amidst much hair whipping and high energy.
The Globe Trotters may fit most closely with the traditional March bracket, but Chihuly unequivocally is the most noteworthy addition to Boston’s spring scene. With enormous glass structures of swirling colors and impossibly intertwining pieces, each hand placed, Chihuly brings his mesmerizing works to the MFA. These masterpieces will take over every atrium of the museum and can be seen in all stages of assembly, as these areas are not being shut off.
Coming up against the equally vibrant Hair, Chihuly is a slam-dunk for the best spring event in Boston. Plus, the MFA is always free for students while good seats will cost quite a bit, so there is no excuse for missing out on this spectacular exhibit.
Two of the spring’s biggest dramas, Sucker Punch and Super 8 are shaping up to be incredible, visually stunning films. Stacking up the players on either side, 8 carries more weight with the extraordinary Kyle Chandler and rising star Elle Fanning, each who is likely to give an incredible performance. However, Emily Browning may prove her own mettle, and given the uniqueness of director Zach Snyder in bringing graphic novel’s the duel worlds of harsh reality and sensational imagination to life, Sucker Punch scrapes out the win. And while Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher both boast hilarious clips, the cast of Bridesmaids – Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm, anyone? – and the newest trailer give it the edge. Although Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz can be funny, they just as frequently fall flat. Wiig, however, has yet to deliver anything less than sheer hilarity on SNL and was arguably the best part of recent release Paul.
Coming down to the final movie bout, Bridesmaid decidedly beats Sucker Punch to the gold. Although Sucker Punch looks to be intriguing and dynamic, it’s impossible to beat a truly good comedy, assuming that Bridesmaids lives up to all the buildup, to kick off the spring season.
In the concert division, Rihanna’s Loud Tour goes up against Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream Tour. Both crowd-pleasers, Rihanna’s arsenal of hip-shaking hits takes her to the next round. Between the two band acts, Sugarland’s Incredible Machine Tour handily trumps Weezer’s Memories Tour with its fun performance style. Sugarland falters, though, against not only Rihanna, but funky Cee Lo Green, sending the Loud Tour to the final four.
In film, starry female comedy Bridesmaids, given an advantage with Kristen Wiig’s first lead role, picks off Cameron Diaz’s nastily funny Bad Teacher. Similarly, the bad girls of Sucker Punch, with the help of special effects, beat Steven Spielberg-produced fantasy Super 8. In the battle of the female ensembles, the impressive comedic weight of Bridesmaids lands it a spot in the final four.
Upcoming albums finds newcomer Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers against pop veteran Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale. Despite Khalifa’s rap prowess, Britney’s album promises a new sound for the pop icon. Critical favorites Fleet Foxes and The Kills proved an easy victory for the latter’s album Blood Pressures, giving laurels to the more exciting band. While both Britney and The Kills offer excitement, Femme Fatale wins in a sentimental victory.
The arts scene in Boston offers the match-up between trick basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters and the new museum exhibit by Dale Chihuly at the Museum of Fine Arts, its most expensive one to date. Chihuly’s exhibit wins in a landslide for its visual splendor. The theater scene pits the touring production of ’70s musical Hair against the annual Shakespeare on the Common. With its buzz and limited run, Hair moves on. In the race of Hair vs. Chihuly, though, Chihuly takes another easy victory.
In the final four, Britney wins against Bridesmaids because of early positive buzz against the promising but unseen film. Despite Loud Tour‘s certain success, the Chihuly exhibit is a huge coup for the museum, giving it the edge to get to the finals. With a close race in the finals, Chihuly’s exhibit trumps Femme Fatale. This hip, sophisticated exhibit is the must-see of the spring season.