The Ikea Playlist (Revisited)
For reasons I won't get into here (use your fiendish imaginations), I've recently been sucked back into the prefab Swedish vortex that is Ikea. I feel guilty about this for several reasons, the first of which is that, in an acerbic playlist a few years back, I vowed never to return to the particleboard labyrinth. I'd been burned too many times by missing pieces, flimsy wood and related sultan florvåg. But alas, I now need quick, easy, inexpensive furniture, so I've returned. I still find the yellow-and-blue monolith utterly exasperating; John Muir didn't hike as much as I have going through that endless maze just once or twice. And it's a humbling, head-scratching lesson in geometry trying to fit long cumbersome bunk bed boxes in a car that has no desire or girth to haul home long cumbersome bunk bed boxes. ("Uhhh, try turning it that way. Yeah, yeah, now push!") And yet, arriving to my quiet home, sorting out the 4 million dowels and such, and slowly putting it together has provided a strange Zen, a surprising sense of accomplishment. It's something that I've even grown to look forward to, a calm in the storm. In fact, if my fingers weren't forever mangled by those godforsaken Allen wrenches, I might even say I like Ikea now. Besides, those Swedish meatballs (15 for $3.99!) make for killer comfort food.
1 Turn! Turn! Turn!, the Byrds
2 If I Were a Carpenter, Tim Hardin
3 If I Had a Hammer, Pete Seeger
4 About to Break, Third Eye Blind
5 Screw It, the Used
6 What's He Building?, Tom Waits
7 Put Me Back Together, Weezer
8 Blood On My Hands, the Sundays
9 Poor Man Blues, Jamey Johnson
10 Feels Like Home, Randy Newman
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Album review: The Union by Elton John and Leon Russell
Like dueling piano players goofing around after hours, well-worn ivory stalwarts Elton John and Leon Russell have pushed their baby grands together for saloony new album The Union. They're also touring together, and will play the Lakeland Center tonight for a chummy stroll down Memory Lane. Now 63, the Brit needs no introduction. The 68-year-old Okie is a different story: A longtime session player and songwriter, Russell has played with, and been idolized by, everyone from George Harrison to Eric Clapton to, well, Elton John, who inspired this melodic mutual admiration society. Super-producer T Bone Burnett oversees the duet, which has an unpolished casual air as the two stars trade lead vocals and piano pounds, the songs ranging from gritty roots-rock to baroque piano beauty and gospel fire. Sometimes they write together, sometimes apart. The album's first half is tighter than the second, but there's warmth throughout. Russell has The Union's catchiest song, the bad-love hangover of If It Wasn't for Bad. John and lyricist Bernie Taupin contribute the prettiest track, Gone to Shiloh, which was presumably written for Russell's pinched howl — but such is the friendly fun here, Neil Young shows up to sing a bit, too.
If you go: Elton John and Leon Russell perform at 8 tonight at Lakeland Center Jenkins Arena, 701 W Lime St., Lakeland. $57 and up. (863) 834-8100.
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A Daly dose: Random musings on pop
• I'm not the world's biggest Black Eyed Peas fan, but I like the idea of the boom-boom-powerful hip-hop quartet working the halftime show at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on Feb. 6. The last five SB acts — the Who, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Prince, the Rolling Stones — were certainly golden rock gods and performed admirably. But having current chart-toppers that appeal to women as much as men makes sexy sense. BEP leader Will.i.am is a clever showman, so expect to be talking about their set come groggy Monday morning.
• Bruno Mars is best known as the hook singer on B.o.B.'s hip-hop smash Nothin' on You. The native Hawaiian also cowrote Travie McCoy's Billionaire and Cee Lo Green's F--- You. Bruno's big debut single, Just the Way You Are, is nothing fancy, but it's earnest, singable, fresh — and clean. If I'm Billy Joel, I'm a little irked by the lazy song title. But the rest of us should just roll down the windows and enjoy. To hear Mars' hit, go to Pop Life online at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.