Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"No One" by Alicia Keys

Her performance of this very song at the Inauguration of Barack Obama only served to underline what her fans already knew about birthday gal Alicia Keys - that no one* can deliver an inspirational lyric with the same gusto she can.

Speaking of No One - which originally appeared on her third album, 2007's As I Am - it has become her most successful single to date, which bodes well for the talented singer and pianist, as it means her career is not in a long downward trajectory from her first smash hit Fallin', but rather moves upwards from strength to strength as she does.

*'No One', get it? Like the title of the song?

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Gratuitous Brunette: Robinho


Seeing as this portion of the day is all about Brazil, I thought I'd take the opportunity to bolster my sports coverage with a photo of the footballer and noted paulista, Robinho, the Manchester City footballer born on this day in 1984 in the coastal city of São Vicente, in the state of São Paulo. Often called 'the new Pelé', Robinho was actually mentored by the football great both as a youth and when he played for Santos; his transfer from Real Madrid was the richest in history, worth a reported £32.5 million.

Robinho's success has brought the issue of São Paulo's robust gang culture into the world's headlines, as his mother Marina de Silva Souza was kidnapped from her home in Praia Grande in November 2004. She was released unharmed six weeks later after he paid a substantial ransom.

Oh, and by the way... The trademark thumb-sucking he does whenever he scores a goal is a tribute to his infant son; while it seems to draw considerable ire to him, in the opinion of the Pop Culture Institute it's quite sweet.
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World City-Zen: São Paulo


On this day in 1554 two Jesuit missionaries named Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta founded a mission, with the intention of 'saving' the area's indigenous Tupi-Guarani people; from its humble beginnings as the village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, São Paulo became what is today the second most populous city in the Americas, and one of the five largest in the world. Given its prime location in the Brazilian Highlands close by the Tietê River - at the mid-point between the resource rich interior of the country and the port at São Vicente, overlooking the port city of Santos - São Paulo has always played a crucial role in the life of the country.

Formally recognized as a city in 1711, São Paulo's early economy was born from coffee; in 1822 it was also the birthplace of the country's independence, when the Prince of Beira defied his father João VI's order to return from exile to Portugal by declaring Independencia ou morte (Independence or death!) to became Pedro I.

Modern São Paulo - from its name alone, the most logical capital of the State of São Paulo - is centred on Avenida Paulista; a paulista, of course, is the name for a person from the state of São Paulo, while a resident of the city is both a paulista and a paulistano. The avenue is the location of some of the tallest buildings in Brazil, and has frequently been compared to Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. Among the other tourist attractions the city boasts are its highest point, Pico do Jaraguá, Ibirapuera Park, and the São Paulo Museum of Art - which was opened by Elizabeth II in November 1968. Tourists also flock to the city for the São Paulo Gay Parade, which makes its way down Paulista Avenue each June.
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"At Last" by Etta James

Birthday wishes go out today to Etta James, whose best known song made the news in 2009 when it was performed by Beyonce* at the Neighborhood Ball following the Inauguration of Barack Obama, during which performance the new president shared a romantic dance with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Here we see James herself performing the title track to her breakthrough album in a fairly recent clip, since old school footage of her is tragically rare. Yet her 1961 version of the ballad At Last, while far and away the most famous**, wasn't its debut; the song was first performed in the 1941 Sonja Henie vehicle Sun Valley Serenade, whereas it was first sung by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday in the same year's film Orchestra Wives, with music in both instances supplied by Glenn Miller.

*Who played Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records opposite Adrien Brody, and somehow or other managed not to screw up the arrangement when she sang it.

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What's The Occasion? Burns Night

For most of us our birthday is a private occasion, into which we occasionally invite a few friends; still others of us are needy lucky enough to have the anniversaries of our birth noted in media, even (horror of horrors!) exploited as the subject of posts on obscure blogs. The rare few, however, are still having their special day celebrated centuries after it's technically been rendered redundant by death...

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1759, Robert Burns definitely falls into the final category; not only was the Bard of Ayrshire wildly successful in his life, his fame continues to grow apace since his early death in July 1796, at the age of 37.

An excellent example of a person born at the right place and the right time, Burns' legacy has not only grown in his native Scotland but was transplanted all over the world thanks to that country's invasion of the world following the Highland Clearances; they called it the British Empire, but let's be realistic... The English left just as soon as they could, took all the money they made and went back to London, leaving Scots and Irish in their wake.

Which is why there's no worldwide celebration of St. George's Day, but there are Burns Night suppers throughout the Scottish Diaspora on or around January 25th throughout North America, in Australia and New Zealand, and many other places besides. Even more startling is that Burns' fame has grown despite the fact that he was a poet, a profession whose death knell has been sounding for years.
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POPnews - January 25th

[From a sleepy village located in the Brazilian Highlands beneath the Serra do Mar cliffs and centred around the Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga (from whence the Roman Catholic Church would systematically rob the indigenous Tupi-Guarani people of their religion and way of life) São Paulo has grown into the richest, most populous city in the country - with a population above 11 million - as well as making itself home to many of the tallest buildings in Brazil.]

41 CE - After a night of negotiation, Claudius was accepted as Roman Emperor by the Senate.

1494 - Alfonso II became King of Naples.

1533 - England's King Henry VIII secretly married his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

- The Brazilian city of São Paulo was founded by Jesuit missionaries Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta.

1573 - At the Battle of Mikatagahara Takeda Shingen defeated Tokugawa Ieyasu.

1792 - The London Corresponding Society was founded.

1858 - After the Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn was played at the marriage of Victoria, Princess Royal (Queen Victoria's eldest daughter) to Frederick of Prussia, it became the de rigeur recessional at most subsequent weddings.

1879 - The Bulgarian National Bank was founded.

1881 - Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company.

1890 - Nellie Bly completed the round-the-world journey she'd begun '72 days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds' earlier, in November 1889.

1909 - Richard Strauss' opera Elektra premiered at the Dresden State Opera.

1919 - The League of Nations was formed.

1924 - The first Olympic Winter Games were held at Chamonix, France.

1937 - The soap opera The Guiding Light made its debut - on NBC radio!

1949 - The first annual Emmy Awards were presented at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

1971 - Charles Manson - along with 'Family' members Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten - were found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders.

1993 - Following a shooting outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, two employees - Lansing H. Bennett and Frank Darling - were killed and three others wounded by Mir Aimal Kasi; Kasi was executed for his crimes in November 2002.

1994 - The Clementine space probe was launched, with the intention of studying the Moon and the near-Earth asteroid 1620 Geographos.

1995 - During what has been rather blandly dubbed the Norwegian Rocket Incident Russia almost launched a nuclear attack after it mistook Black Brant XII, a Norwegian research rocket, for a US Trident missile.
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