My Top Three MCU Movies

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The stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are told mostly through good movies. Some of the MCU films though, are better than others. Here are my top three.

Captain America: Winter Soldier

The second of the Captain America movies is my default choice for the best MCU movie of all-time. The plot was nothing short of amazing, and the story itself contained the best plot twist in the MCU saga, by far. Captain America: The First Avenger was already good by industry standards, but The Winter Soldier was well on another level. And it remains in that level even up to now.

The Avengers

The first Avengers movie wasn’t a movie so much as it was a global event. Never before had people seen a movie of such magnitude that it needed five separate movies from four separate superheroes to set it up. And it wasn’t a disappointment. Master director and writer Joss Whedon turned this into a spectacle for the ages.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Both GotG movies are by far the most fun the MCU has ever had. James Gunn’s messy, visual space opera about how a group of caricature-like misfits saves the galaxy is filled with rib-splitting jokes and great music from start to finish. These are the movies you guys can watch over and over again and still spit out water in laughter.

Hi, I’m Bradley J. Sterling. If you love music and superhero movies as much as I do, then subscribe to this Twitter account for more fun articles.

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Did Wonder Woman Change The Superhero Landscape?

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Wonder Woman has now beaten Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad at the box-office. So far, it’s the only DC Expanded Universe movie to receive favorable reviews (and man, were they favorable). Now, is it safe to say that WW indeed changed the superhero landscape? Let’s take a closer look shall we?

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It certainly isn’t the first female-led superhero movie. We’ve had Tank Girl, Barbed-Wire, and Catwoman, albeit all of which were, to put in the nicest way possible, wastes of film. WW is probably the first great female superhero movie. And having been directed by Patty Jenkins makes it all the more significant for girl power the world over.

It’s more or less the best post-Nolan DC movie (not counting LEGO Batman because Batman) according to Rotten Tomatoes and almost everyone. That’s huge since DC’s been coming out with duds. Now, they finally have a winner – not enough to compete with Marvel, but enough to get them started.

And speaking about competing with Marvel, they’ll need a lot more of that to be competitive at the box-office. Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been known to break the billion-dollar barrier, which DCEU has yet to do.

Image source: rottentomatoes.com

So, has WW changed the superhero landscape? In a way yes, but they’ll need to follow it up, or else things will go back to the way they were.

Bradley J. Sterling is into a lot of things, with superhero movies being one of them. Visit this page for more discussion on the stuff he loves..

The Great Guitar Players Of Our Times

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Though I’m used to playing guitar for electronic dance music, and sometimes musical scores, I still draw inspiration from the greats who have paved the road for guitar players everywhere. Here are some of the great guitar players from the past few decades.

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Steve Vai

You can’t have a great modern guitar players list and not have Steve Vai. Many guitar players regard him as a god among men. His guitar skill is often considered by musicians worldwide as the pinnacle of rock guitar playing.

Tuck Andress

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a guitar player who can arrange acoustic guitar parts and play the acoustic guitar quite like Tuck Andress. His innovative style uses harmonics and unusual tapping to create multiple guitar parts on a single guitar. You may say it’s been done before – but I assure you, not like Tuck.

Stanley Jordan

Another innovator on the guitar, Stanley Jordan has a very curious and jaw-dropping way on how he plays the guitar. While most people use one hand to create chords, and the other to pick, pluck, or strum, Stanley uses both hands to tap. The result is a magical blend of bass and lead riffs played simultaneously, all through tapping, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and other unorthodox methods.

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Hey there! I’m Bradley J. Sterling a theater student at UCLA. As I mentioned earlier, I play guitar a lot and produce music with it. For more on the stuff I love, follow me on Twitter.

Exploring The Brave New World Of Adaptational Musicals

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Throughout the decade, musicals based off animated and live-action film franchises have become rather popular as of late. Ostensibly a trend started by Disney in Broadway with the Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (both being recursive, with the Lion King itself based on Hamlet and Beauty and the Beast being remade in live action and released just this year).

Musicals based on films rather than the other way around are not unknown. We’ve had Footloose and the Disney musical spectaculars on Broadway. What I do notice that they’ve began to become more common. Here are a few notable examples I’ve seen in the past few years alone.

The Addams Family

Seven years ago, we were treated to the live-action iteration of that famous family of wealthy weirdos with an eye for the macabre. The Addams Family musical plays hard and fast with the popular tropes we’ve come to associate with the first family of horror-comedy. Paired with exciting music and a de rigueur plot about Wednesday Addams finally getting engaged, this is one musical that one can either love or loathe.

Anastasia

The 1990s were known for studios creating beautifully animated whimsical tales… based on source material as inappropriate for children as the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. This tale, a fanciful what-if telling the story of the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanova, ditches some of the original animated film’s whimsical elements (namely the satanic corpse of Grigory Rasputin) and replaces it with a more period accurate Soviet official. Does that make things better? You decide.

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Freaky Friday

Arguably the most famous body switcheroo story, Freaky Friday was adapted as a musical is yet another Disney endeavor (being the company that made the 2003 cinematic remake starring Lindsay Lohan). The musical opened in 2016 and while it maintained the same plot elements of the 1976 and 2003 films, the protagonists are not named for their counterparts in either film. Likewise, this is an Off-Broadway production, currently held at the La Jolla Theater, in spite of its impressive Tony Award-winning pedigree.

Bradley J. Sterling, student and theater geek, at your service. Follow me here for more on my thoughts on theater and music.

Music Mix: How To Sound Like a Pro

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Mixing music is a hobby I really, really enjoy doing. I’m not an expert yet, but I’ve spent countless hours producing music, so I’ve learned tons of concepts and ideas about how the pros do it. Here are some of it.

1. Know the song’s theme.

You want to work around the message that song is trying to convene rather than go against it. Take cues from the lyrics of the song. You’ll also get creative directions from what the song is trying to say.

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Know the context

Study the song’s background. Know the artist’s genre or style. Exemplifying the artist’s style in your mix not only amplifies the concept but also makes the artist appreciate your work more.

Label and color code tracks

If you’re working on multi-track sessions, be sure to color-code and name your tracks. You can thank me later. It’s just a huge waste of time trying to figure out which track is for. Label it, so you’ll know what’s it for in a glance.

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Remove noise first before anything else

Before you go through the meticulous process of mixing music, be sure to go over the song and remove unwanted noise such as clicks and taps and headphone bleed.

Bradley J. Sterling here. Music is my hobby. I do it when I need to energize. I’d like to be a professional mixer in the future. Visit my page to know more about me.

Entry-Level Apps For Newbie Producers

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I’m so thankful for today’s technology. These days I can study music production outside of a traditional studio. Thanks to computer and mobile apps, I can also practice what I have learned and produce it in less than a day. If you’re also an aspiring producer like me, here are some entry-level apps that will surely help you make that song:

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Apple GarageBand

If you have a MacBook then perhaps you can start producing your material through this app. Though this is a paid app for iPhone and iPad, it has a wide range of instruments and loops to choose from. True to Apple’s style, the app is very straightforward and easy to use. If you have a plug and play instrument, you’ll have more fun exploring what you can do with all the available effects.

FL Studio Mobile HD

This is another full-on music workstation. This app has hundreds of presets, loops, and other filters that newbies and pros alike will enjoy exploring. Users can also record, mix, and edit easily. Just like the first app on the list, users can also connect their laptop keyboards and other plug and play instruments if they want to create melodies from scratch. There’s also a desktop version that is perfect for equipped home studios.

DM1: The Drum Machine

You need a decent drum machine to get the beats you’ve always wanted for an original song. Thankfully, there’s an app like DM1 that allows newbie producers to set the backbone of their compositions. I don’t know about you but I’m serious about percussions. I think they add texture and emotion to a song. So if you’re building up your production arsenal, you gotta check out this app.

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Investing in music apps will make learning and producing music easier. What’s even better is that these apps allow you to compose even outside of your studio. When an idea hits, you can just whip out your tablet or your smartphone to start making the track. Amazing.

Hi there! Thanks for reading. I’m Bradley J. Sterling, theater student from UCLA. Right now I’m into producing tunes for theater events in my university. Follow my updates on this page.

Awaiting Avicii’s Return

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For fans of Swedish musician, DJ, remixer, and record producer Tim Bergling or Avicii as the rest of the world knows him, 2016 was bittersweet. Although Avicii performed at various stages around the world, making people dance the night away with his signature EDM tunes, his emotional announcement last April that he will be retiring from doing live shows left fans heartbroken.

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Avicii can’t be faulted for his decision to quit performing and touring. As he explained to Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Roxborough, he had to do it for his health. Avicii’s bouts of serious health problems in the past, including acute pancreatitis due in part to excessive drinking, put a heavy toll on both his professional and personal lives. In fact, in 2014, he was forced to cancel a series of shows so he can fully recover from the removal of his gallbladder and appendix. And even though he was enjoying massive success and international fame for his music, the 26-year-old was extremely stressed. Hence, the decision to quit was an attempt on Avicii’s part to “have my private life back and [focus] on myself for the first time in a long time.” The Swedish EDM superstar bid the live stage farewell in August, performing his last show at Ushuaïa Ibiza.

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2016 also marked the end of a fruitful relationship between Avicii and his long-time manager, Ash Pournouri of At Night Management. Pournouri played a critical role in Avicii’s growing global fame after the release of dance music hit “Levels.”

Still, fans have a lot to look forward to in 2017. Although Avicii would not be touring anytime soon, followers of the Swedish DJ can revel in the fact that he signed up with Universal Music Sweden and is expected to release an album this year. As Avicii posted on Instagram on New Year’s Day, “2016 was a rough year for many of us, but tonight we get a fresh new start. My new year’s resolution is to make the best damn album of my career.”

Let’s raise our hands to that and dance.

Aspiring music composer Bradley J. Sterling cites Avicii as one of the artists he looks up to. More on his interests here.

Be music: Writing the Greatest Songs

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The greatest songs hook listeners from the first line. Think of the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Queen. People know their best hits from the get-go. Nowadays, it’s Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Adele. Their most popular songs can make people’s toes start tapping even before they know what they’re listening to. It’s because of their songwriting. The greatest songs were written in such a way that unites people from all walks of life.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock (3580757b) Bruno Mars Bruno Mars in concert at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, America - 16 Feb 2014

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Aspiring songwriters should learn from the all-time greats. They should have an engaging rhythm, a sublime mix of lyrics and melodies that attaches itself to people’s brains, and a topic that’s universal.

Rhythm makes people dance and move and bob their heads. Melodies and words can create moments in a song that listeners can lose themselves to. Terms such as hooks and earworms pull at the listener’s hearts and minds. This combination is mainly responsible for last song syndrome. Relatable topics are what bring people together. Themes such as love and sex comprise a huge percentage of the songs that have topped the charts throughout time.

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Aspiring songwriters should be able to combine rhythm, melodies, words, and themes seamlessly to create a great song. And aspiring songwriters shouldn’t stop there. They need endless hours of practice to learn how to twist and shape these factors like a painter mixes colors to create a masterpiece.

Bradley J. Sterling is a theater student at UCLA. He loves the arts and music. For more on Bradley, follow him on Twitter.

Blue Man Group: Where EDM and Theater Meet

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One of the best things about theater is that shows can be quite electrifying. The best example of this is Blue Man Group show, a performance art experience that combines frenetic dancing and visuals with experimental music and of course, my favorite genre, EDM.

Yes. This theatrical sensation, which has been running since 1991 (and still growing strong), features a lot of electronic dance music in its shows to accompany the mind-boggling, colorful, and futuristic extravaganza. Blue Man Group’s songs like “I Feel Love,” “Rods and Cones,” and “Shake Your Booty” have roots in EDM. The group also notably collaborated with some popular artists from the EDM genre like Moby, DJ Tiesto, and electronic pop music artist, Venus Hum, whom Blue Man Group performed with during the first Electronic Music Awards. The group was also supposed to perform with Steve Aoki, one of EDM’s leading personalities, in the Electric Daisy Carnival in 2012 but the show was canceled due to high winds, which was a shame for fans.

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Image source: wikipedia.org

For some reason, Blue Man Group’s dancing, paint-splashing, marshmallow-tossing, and all-around zaniness, while already jaw-droppingly amazing to begin with, are just further improved by the electronic sound of synthesizers, keyboards, and electric guitars, in addition to the occasional robotic voice-overs.

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Image source: nytimes.com

Which is not to say that Blue Man Group’s forays into rock and roll, blues, and other genres are any less exciting, of course (case in point: the song “The Current,” featuring vocals from Bush front man Gavin Rossdale, which is one of my favorites), it’s just that EDM really just speaks to me and watching the blue guys dancing makes me want to join in.

Hello! Bradley Sterling, theater student, EDM fan, and future music producer here. Subscribe to this blog for articles on my various interests.

How ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ set the bar for the MCU movies

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Robert Downey Jr. is probably the face of the Marvel Studios’ film franchise, as he has been since 2008’s “Iron Man” commenced the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) era. And every movie that involves the Avengers is the studio’s moneymaker, raking in billions of dollars worldwide.

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But financial success aside, what is considered by critics and a considerable percentage of the fans as the best film the studio has had to offer is the least expected one: “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Downey Jr. has even said himself, “Galaxy in some ways is the best Marvel movie ever – and it’s odd for someone with, on occasion, an ego the size of mine to actually say that!”

When Marvel Studios announced it was producing Galaxy, many were understandably skeptical as to how the film would fare. The heroes – or adventurers – that comprised the team were largely unknown to casual filmgoers. But it did have the “Marvel” brand attached to its title, so the appeal was there.

With the critical acclaim the film has received, Marvel had found a blueprint for how to create the subsequent MCU movie.

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Now, the studio can, with utter confidence, produce new films even if fans are not that much familiar with the featured comic book characters – starting with Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel. Even with the eventual retirement of the current crop of Avengers, the franchise is in good hands.

Hi there! Bradley J. Sterling here. At present, I’m a theater student from UCLA, but I have high hopes of eventually working in a grand-scale musical production. I’m also a huge fan of the Marvel Studios movies. To read more about my passions, check out my blogout.