Friday, February 23, 2024

A Taylor Swift Post That's Not About Taylor Swift

You may have heard of a singer named Taylor Swift. She is currently taking her talents to Australia as part of her Eras Tour. Singer Rita Ora, her husband filmmaker Taika Waititi, and singer (and Sean's Ramblings favorite) Katy Perry attended Swift's Sydney concert which took place yesterday/today/tomorrow (I don't know the time difference between Sydney and the Eastern time zone of the US). So why I am writing about this? Check out Rita Ora's hat for the show.

Clearly, Rita Ora is excited about the Pirates signing Mitch Keller to an extension!

For more Celebrities in Pittsburgh Gear posts (this is my second this week!), please click here.

Photos from The Era Tour Twitter page (here and here), the Taylor Swift Updates Twitter page, and a screenshot of a brief video of Ora and Perry by Cooper.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Drake And J. Cole Support The Panthers

Not a great time to be a Pittsburgh sports fan. The Penguins lost on Jaromir Jagr's number retirement night and are looking to miss the playoffs for the second straight season. The Steelers appear to be an above average team. Good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to compete for a Super Bowl. That would be a dream for many teams, but this is unacceptable for many Steelers fans. While the Pirates have some potentially excellent young players, even the most optimistic fans acknowledge that reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2015 is doubtful. Any hope right now is with the University of Pittsburgh's men's basketball team. Under head coach Jeff Capel, the team reached the round of 32 in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. After a slow start this season including losing 5 of its first 6 ACC games, Pitt is now 8-6 in conference play with wins at Duke and at Virginia. The team is definitely in the mix for a NCAA tournament spot. This has not gone unnoticed by some major players in the hip-hop world. 

In Pittsburgh last week, J Cole visited Pitt's basketball facilities. 

In addition, after rocking a Penguins jersey at a 2016 concert (resulting in me getting a cease-and-desist email), Drake sported a Panthers football jersey.

Steelers' Cam Heyward also got to meet J. Cole

Hail to Pitt!

J. Cole's picture at Pitt is from Pitt's men's basketball team's Twitter account.

The photo of Drake with Fridayy is from DJ Akademiks on Instagram.

The Cam-J. Cole picture is from Heyward's Instagram page.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

A Message For Anti-Taylor Swift Pittsburgh Sports Fans

Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest current musician in the world. Travis Kelce is a future Hall-of Famer football player who just won his third Super Bowl in the last five years. Naturally, the relationship between these talented individuals has garnered some attention. Too much attention? Maybe. Is that the fault of Swift and Kelce? Again, maybe. 

Surrounding the Super Bowl, I have seen numerous mentions of Taylor Swift from Pittsburgh sports fans critical of the attention she has received, and the amount of screen time she gets during football games. Swift ended up appearing on screen for 55 seconds during the Super Bowl. That's less than the amount of time that Tom Brady appeared on screen during commercials. While that number increased during the post-game celebration, 55 seconds of a 3+ hour telecast is insiginificant. So to those Pittsburgh sports fans mad about Swift, why are you upset? Do you think she takes attention from the game, or do you just want to admit that you don't like her?

Now if a Pittsburgh sports fan says that they hate how the attention on Swift takes away from the game, they clearly forgot about the Cole Tucker-Vanessa Hudgens relationship. Maybe Hudgens didn't get much (or any) screen time during Pirates games, but that had more to do with Tucker only playing 43 games with the team after the relationship started.

Maybe Hudgens-Tucker is a bad example. So what about all of the media coverage and camera shots of Evgeni Malkin's parents during the Penguins' Stanley Cup runs? Did you find that distracted you from the games? How dare the cameras cut to Geno's parents celebrating after he scored a big playoff goal! The focus needs to be on the game, right?

Let's not act like Pittsburghers are immune from being starstruck. Joshua Axelrod of the Post-Gazette, who I like and enjoy his work, regularly writes about television and movies being filmed in Pittsburgh. My guess is these are some of his most-read pieces. There are countless stories about where Tom Hanks had dinner or what gym Emma Watson visited or Ed Sheeran making pizzas during their time in Pittsburgh.

The same people critical of the screen time Taylor Swift receives during football games didn't complain about Jay-Z attending a Pitt-Duke game at The Pete. They don't scream about in-game interviews of Steelers players attending Pirates or Penguins games. How many times did Ben Roethlisberger get on TV during Pens games? Where was the outrage then? What about the many celebrities (such as Wiz Khalifa and Michael Keaton) who throw out the first pitch of a Pirates game and then are shown during the telecast? The Pirates even had a K-Pop superstar throw out the first pitch of a 2015 game. Never seen any complaints about in-game interviews with or television shots of Joe Manganiello or Billy Gardell. I remember people celebrating Sofia Vergara becoming a Steelers fan after she started dating Manganiello. 

Admit it. You're mad about Taylor Swift. Maybe it's her politics or her music or the attention, but it’s about you not liking Swift. Now if you're consistent in your belief that players' significant others, parents, or kids or any other celebrity should never appear on screen during sporting events, feel free to share. Show me receipts as the kids say. (Do kids say this?) And if you don't have any, start now with the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Pitcher Paul Skenes was baseball's #1 draft pick in 2023. If he lives up to his potential, Skenes will be an all-star and one of the best pitchers in the National League. Assuming (and I know it's a big assumption) that the Pirates make the playoffs thanks to great performances by Skenes, Oneil Cruz, Bryan Reynolds, etc., Skenes' girlfriend Olivia "Livvy" Dunne might appear at playoff games. Although she doesn't sell out stadiums like Swift, Dunne is a big deal. She is a gymnast at LSU, appears in TV commercials and magazine covers, and has nearly 5 million followers on Instagram and more on other social media sites. 


If it’s not about Taylor Swift, start posting on social media everyday how you hope that Dunne is never shown during Pirates games. Start telling all your friends that any Pirates loss or Skenes bad start is because Dunne is a distraction. Let’s see the videos about how Dunne was hired by Pirates owner Bob Nutting to help Joe Biden get re-elected (or something). If the Pirates make the playoffs, please complain about how Dunne is attracting more people including young women to become Pirates fans. I’ll be here to read all about it!

* Photo of Taylor and Travis from AFP via Getty Images. Not 100% certain, but I think it was taken by Patrick T. Fallon.
Photo of Vanessa and Cole from Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty.
* Photo of Olivia and Paul from her Instagram page.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Random Ramblings

* The Moose just started his second semester of 7th grade and is taking Family & Consumer Science. Part of this class is a cooking unit, and after watching the first two seasons of The Bear, I fully expect him to swear a lot and start yelling "Yes Chef" at all times. 

* I started wearing contact lenses in 9th grade and while I don't wear them everyday like I used to in my teens and 20s, I still wear them more than my glasses. That ended recently. I started getting headaches if I wore them too long, so I haven't worn my contacts since January 1st. That needs to change. 

* While The Moose doesn't do this, there is a high percentage of middle schoolers (both boys and girls) that wear pajama pants to school. I don't get it.

* We won at trivia a few weeks ago, and one of the prizes was the socks pictured below. Most of my socks are black or brown or your standard Nike or Adidas socks. I want to become a fun sock guy. These socks will start it all!

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see only brown hair. I mean, I'm mostly bald at this point, but the hair that I have is brown. However, at a recent haircut, there seemed to be a lot of gray on the cape.I think (or at least hope) that all the gray is from my sideburns.

* I didn't shave for several days, and I only shaved my neck so I didn't look like former quarterback Kyle Orton. When I picked up Pedro Tulo and Luigi, the after-school teacher complimented me on my beard. While I already shaved and aren't planning on growing a beard soon, it's nice to know I can grow a good-looking beard almost instantly.

* Over the last few months, I've binge-watched Yellowstone. While I'm almost done with season 4 and overall enjoyed the show, I'm getting a little tired of the messaging that cities, government, environmentalism, and in some cases education (for Jamie but not Beth) are bad and just living as a cowboy and vigilante justice solves everything.

* The other show I'm watching is Only Murders In The Building. I'm in the middle of season two and love it. So much fun!

* Finally, Pedro Tulo and Luigi wanted to watch the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, so I watched it with them. Anyone complaining about the amount of airtime Taylor Swift gets during Kansas City football games must also be going crazy about how much Peyton and Eli Manning appeared on the ESPN telecast. Yes, they were the coaches in the game, but ESPN showed one or both of them after EVERY SINGLE PLAY and sometimes even during the play on a split-screen. When they weren't on the screen, ESPN showed Ray Lewis instead. Would have been nice to spend more time with current players.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Unlikely Song Duets

Some of the biggest songs in pop chart history feature collaborations between artists. You probably know songs by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, and Beyonce and Jay-Z. All of these artists are superstars.* But what about songs where one artist is a star (or becomes one) and the other isn't quite on that level? That is the point of this post.

Before I share videos, there are a few rules. Both artists need to be listed in the credits. One of the obvious songs for this post would be “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell. Although Michael Jackson sings the chorus, the song is credited only to Rockwell. Same with "Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul. MC Skat Cat is wrongfully not listed.

I'm also only including songs that made an impact on the charts. Deep album cuts like a song by Taylor Swift featuring a random family member don't make a list. (I'm not aware of any song, but if there's a Taylor Swift-D'Andre Swift collaboration, it didn't make the cut.

Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko - Stay

Rihanna performed at last year’s Super Bowl, has sold about 250 million albums worldwide, and has over 30 top 10 hits. Mega star! While Mikky Ekko is a very successful music writer, his singing career is probably best (and maybe only) known for Stay.

Coolio featuring L.V. - Gangsta's Paradise

The late Coolio won a Grammy for this song and sold nearly 5 million albums in the US. Plus, he performed the opening sequence to Kenan & Kel and has multiple television and film credits. Meanwhile, L.V. released five albums with one peaking at #59 on the R&B album chart, another reaching #100, and the remaining three not charting at all. 

Elton John, Kiki Dee - Don't Go Breaking My Heart

I learned that Kiki Dee released 22 albums. 22!! While she's had plenty of success in the U.K. and reached #12 in the American chart with the 1974 song I've Got the Music in Me, it's not fair to compare her success with the resume of Sir Elton John.

Lady Gaga featuring Colby O'Donis - Just Dance

Just Dance is Lady Gaga's first song and with Colby O'Donis having some success with his own first single with Akon just prior to this song, perhaps she or someone at the studio thought a different voice would give the song a little extra attention. Two relatively new artists coming together. Of course, Lady Gaga followed this up with Poker Face and never looked back on her way to mega-stardom with Grammys, an Oscar, and a Super Bowl halftime show. Meanwhile, Colby O'Donis may or may not have hooked up with Hulk Hogan's daughter on the Hogan family reality show. I should also mention that Just Dance gave me the idea for this post. 

Shaggy featuring RikRok - It Wasn't Me

This was a smash hit. Shaggy has two Billboard Music Awards and two Grammys, one for It Wasn't Me and another for his collaboration with Sting. He appeared on The Masked Singer in 2022 and toured with TLC, En Vogue, and Sean Kingston last year. Ricardo "RikRok" Ducent doesn't appear to have a Wikipedia page.

Sting featuring Cheb Mami - Desert Rose

Since I mentioned Sting, you may be familiar with his musical career. He also has an acting career including appearing in several episodes of Only Murders in the Building which I just started watching. When not being accused of murder on the show, he's done pretty well for himself. Born in Algeria, Cheb Mami released over a dozen albums between 1985 and 2006, though none appear to have significant sales in the United States. Is it fair to include someone with international success but not success in the US on this list? Maybe. For example, No Doubt won Grammys with Jamaican DJ/singers Bounty Killer on Hey Baby and Lady Saw on Underneath It All respectively. I should also mention that Cheb's music career seems to have ended after the 2006 album. He went to jail for doing some bad things in 2011 and later had to pay an artist for plagiarism.

Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown - She Ain't Worth It

The Hawaiian singer had a #12 song with 1987's Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You and his collaboration with Bobby Brown went to #1. Medeiros had five other singles reach the lower ranks of the charts between 1987-1990, the highest charting song being All I'm Missing Is You featuring Ray Parker Jr. (hold that thought) at #32 and released several albums. Then, he turned to education becoming a teacher, principal, and professor and earning a doctorate. I'm sure at least one student told him that she ain't worth it during a meeting in the principal's office! After New Edition, Brown embarked on a successful solo career with 8 top 10 hits including On Our Own from Ghostbusters II in case you were waiting for that Ray Parker Jr. connection. Of course, Brown also received enormous attention with his sometimes turbulent marriage to Whitney Houston. And this gives me the perfect opportunity to share this video of Brown meeting The Dalai Lama and getting introduced as Whitney's husband.

Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida - Troublemaker

This is another case of someone being successful internationally but not domestically. Olly Murs was on the UK version of The X Factor and has a string of hits there as well as numerous television appearances including as a judge on The Voice UK. His success hasn't transltaed to the United States where Troublemaker is his only top 40 song. Meanwhile, Flo Rida has so many songs over the last 15 years featured in films and commercials. You probably know a lot more of his songs than you think. 

A few others for your consideration:

Santana featuring Alex Band (from the band The Calling) - Why Don't You & I

Drake featuring Majid Jordan - Hold On, We're Going Home

I'm sure that I've missed others. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.

* While you probably wouldn't include Boyz II Men in this group, they won 4 Grammys and have 9 top 3 hits. Not too shabby!