These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: January 2019

Here are some of my favorite things from January. We’ve got three movies, one tv show, three albums, one song, one musical, one book, and one video game.

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[WARNING: SOME SPOILERS DOWN BELOW]

MOVIES

1.) Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour

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This was just pure fun. I really wanted to go see Taylor Swift live during this tour, but unfortunately the tour didn’t stop anywhere around me. While I wasn’t able to physically go to the show, this concert movie perfectly captures what it was like to go to this show. Taylor gave an amazing performance, the music was fantastic, and this whole show just looked like so much fun. My only complaint is I kind of wish we would have seen more behind the scenes footage. I know they showed some stuff during the credits, but I would have preferred if it had been interwoven through the show.
Overall, this was a fun concert experience that Taylor gave to her fans that weren’t lucky enough to go see her live. I’d give Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour 4outof5Stars.

2.) Dumplin’

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I had heard a lot of good things about this movie before I watched it and after finally seeing it, I can say everyone was right. Dumplin’ is a beautifully told story of learning to accept yourself, being open to letting others into your world, and not being afraid to show the world who you are. I related to Willowdean’s character so much, and watching the story play out was so fun, and actually made me shed a couple tears. There wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would give Dumplin’ 5outof5Stars.

3.) Coco

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Coco was a movie that I had heard a lot of good things about and I had also been warned that it may make me cry. With all that in mind I decided to finally watch it and it was everything everyone had told me it was. This movie was so beautiful and I loved everything about it: the music, the acting, the animation, and the story. It was touching, yet heartbreaking. I cried way too much during this movie, but it just made it that more compelling of a story. If you are like me and haven’t seen Coco yet, I strongly recommend you see it. Trust me, you will not regret it. I would give Coco 5outof5Stars.

TV SHOWS

1.) The Masked Singer

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So, I had heard about this show on the internet because the idea for the American version came from the version in Korea and when I heard America was making their own version I was so interested to see how it would go. The Masked Singer is a very entertaining show and it’s so freaking fun to watch. Some contestants are easier to guess than others, but the real fun is trying to guess who are under the masks and the reveals are just as great.
If you haven’t checked this show out then I recommend it because it’s just really fun.

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MUSIC

1.) Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour”

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I have never listened to Kacey Musgraves music because I’m not big on country music, but this album had been receiving so much praise online and also got a lot of Grammy nominations, so I decided to give it a shot. This album was just so good. I loved her voice, how the album had a very mellow/chill vibe to it, and the lyrics were so relatable. Now, I don’t know if this album will inspire me listen to her older work, but I am interested, so who knows.
Some of my favorite tracks were “Slow Burn”, “Butterflies”, “Mother”, “Love is a Wild Thing”, “Space Cowboy”, “Wonder Woman”, “Golden Hour”, and “Rainbow”.
Overall, I enjoyed this album and I’ve enjoyed being more exposed to country music. If you haven’t checked out Kacey Musgraves album, I’d recommend giving it a chance.

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2.) Hayley Kiyoko “Expectations”

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Hayley Kiyoko is an artist that I have heard nothing, but good things about. For some reason I’ve just never had any desire to listen to her music, but then one of the ladies I work with who is a huge fan of hers finally convinced me to give her album Expectations a listen. This is a fun album, but for me it was a grower. I wasn’t a fan of it at first, I liked Hayley’s vocals and her lyrical content, but it just wasn’t grabbing me like I was hoping. Then the more I listened to it on repeat the more I began to like it. I finally understand why so many people love her music because her songs are fun, catchy, and relatable.
Some of my favorite tracks were “Feelings”, “What I Need”, “Sleepover”, “Curious”, “Wanna Be Missed”, and “He’ll Never Love You (HNLY)”.
Overall, I wasn’t in love with this album, but it definitely made me more interested in Hayley Kiyoko’s work. If you haven’t listened to her I’d recommend checking her out.

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3.) The Greatest Showman: Reimagined 

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I loved the film The Greatest Showman and the music was one my favorite things. So, when I found out they were coming out with an album where different artists were going to sing the songs I was super hyped about it. As a whole the album is fun and it was interesting to hear different artist singing these amazing songs, but I was actually a little disappointed in this album. When I heard the title and concept of the album my brain instantly thought of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s The Hamilton Mixtapes album where artist tweaked, changed the songs from the musical, and made them their own. I was expecting the same thing from this album and that’s not what happened. All the songs sounded just like how they do in the movie and while I loved hearing different vocals on these songs, I wanted to hear the arrangements changed and tweaked, but that’s not what happened. I still enjoyed it, but I guess I just expected more.
Some of my favorite tracks “A Million Dreams”, “The Other Side”, “Never Enough”, “Tightrope”, “From Now On”, and “This Is Me”.
Overall, I really liked it, but was kind of disappointed in it. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of the movie/soundtrack and form your own opinion on it.

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4.) Ariana Grande “7 Rings”

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So Ariana Grande released another single from her upcoming album Thank U, Next and this one I wasn’t instantly in love with like the previous two. This one I had to listen to a couple times before I really started to like it. I loved the sampling of The Sound of Music and the message of the song. I did feel the chorus was a little too repetitive, but overall the song was really fun and catchy. I’m hoping she doesn’t release anymore songs because I want the rest of this album to be a surprise and hopefully she’ll be releasing it soon because I’m really excited to see what direction she’s going with this new album.

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MUSICALS

1.) RENT Live!

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Going into this, I had heard both positive and negative things about this show because I wasn’t able to watch it live when it aired. While watching it, I decided to go a little easy on it because this was essentially a dress rehearsal. With all that said, I didn’t hate it.
Was it perfect? No.
Was it as good as the original Broadway show or even the anniversary shows? No.
Did they change things? Yes. Some I expected and some that made no sense.
Did it feel like RENT? Yes it did.
I think FOX was stupid not to have understudies for the whole cast in case something happened to one of the actors and hopefully this will teach them and any other network that does live musicals to hire understudies in the future.
The audience was annoying during the whole show. It would be one thing if they had promoted this as a concert like Jesus Christ Superstar did which is why I wasn’t as annoyed with the audience during that one. I get they were excited, especially with how much the actors interacted with the crowd, but it was still annoying.
The cast did a good job bringing these characters to life, I think the standout performances were Jordan Fisher, Vanessa Hudgens, and Brandon Victor Dixon. To me the weak links were Tinashe and Valentina. I think Tinashe was good vocally, but her acting sometimes wasn’t great and I felt Valentina was the opposite. I thought Valentina did a great job of bringing Angel to life, but the vocals were rough.
Overall, I enjoyed myself and hope every RENT fan at least gives it a chance.

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BOOKS

1.) Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Before I started reading Dumplin’, I watched the movie first. Now I did this because it has just become easier for me to enjoy movies that are based on books if I don’t read the book first. Interestingly, this had the opposite effect because I ended up loving the movie, but I was disappointed by the book. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book, but it was also so freaking frustrating of a read for me.
My biggest issue with Dumplin’ was the conflict between Willowdean and Ellen. I understand both sides of their fight and that they are teenage girls in high school, so everything seems a lot more dramatic, they like to be stubborn, and petty, but I wanted to throw my book across the room so many times. As I’ve gotten older I’ve just come to realize that I can’t stand it when writers need to add drama to their stories so they either have their characters have a miscommunication or just don’t talk to each other. That was my problem with Willowdean and Ellen’s fight. I understand that they needed some time apart, but the fact that the rest of the book was them not talking and neither of them just talking and explaining why they felt the way they did frustrated me so much. Also, I really hated Callie’s character and how she felt the need to constantly stick her nose in Willowdean and Ellen’s business.
Some other things I had issues with were Willowdean’s self-esteem issues, but I think a lot of that stems from how much I related to Willowdean’s feelings and I didn’t want to relive those feelings that I sometimes still struggle with. I also really didn’t like the ending. To me it felt too rushed and like Julie Murphy forgot that she actually had to talk about the pageant. I would have preferred for that to have been fleshed out a little more, and then the book just kind of ended, and I was so unsatisfied by that.
Even with all those issues I actually really enjoyed Julie Murphy’s writing and the way she told Willowdean’s story. I am interested to check out more of her books in the future, I just hope they don’t frustrate me as much as Dumplin’ did.
Overall, I liked it, but wasn’t in love with it like I had hoped I would be. I would give Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy 3.5outof5Stars.

Video Games

1.) Kingdom Hearts III

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So, when the first Kingdom Hearts came out my brother and I sat in our room playing the game. Well, my brother played it, I sat next to him and watched. The same happened when Kingdom Hearts II came out and with the release of Kingdom Hearts III, my brother played while I sat next to him and watched. Leading up to the game my brother showed me cut scenes from all the other games to get me better prepared for this new one. Now, I won’t go into it great detail because I don’t want to spoil anyone who hasn’t played the game, but I really enjoyed this game.
My only criticism is that I felt they should have spread out the story a little better and I felt they could have done a little more with Kairi’s character. The ending left me answered, unanswered, and brand new questions that I can’t wait to explore in future games. I genuinely can’t wait to see where the story goes from here and can’t wait to see what other people thought.

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