with a bang
By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 30, 2006 - 9A
With a single shot, what seemed like another stellar
season of a landmark show trans-
formed into something more. The Sopranos
The heavily hyped final sea-
son of "The Sopranos," now Sundays at 9 p.m.
three episodes in, has moved the HBO
series down a new and completely
unexpected path. Family boss Tony Soprano's (James
Gandolfini) shooting at the hands of his senile uncle
may ultimately become the signature moment for a show
already renowned for its unpredictability.
On an average episode of "The Sopranos," it's rela-
tively normal to see a central character get whacked.
But Tony always seemed safe, at least until the series'
eventual finale. Executive producer David Chase and
company took a solid yet unextraordinary premiere
centered around an ancillary mobster's desire to retire,
and shook it up with the explosive cliffhanger ending
that left the family patriarch in a coma.
The second episode proved even more contentious
than the first. Viewers hoping to turn in and immediately
learn Tony's condition were instead treated to an extended
dream sequence. While the surreal segments did little
for the arc, they set the groundwork for Tony's internal
struggle. The following episode handled them even better,
making Tony's (or his nocturnal identity, Kevin Finnerty)
purgatory all the more lonely.
The real treat of the surprise shooting is each fami-
lies' responses. On the domestic side, Carmella (Edie
Falco) completely breaks down, but maintains the
strength that enabled her to stay with him for so many
"She poppin,' she rollin.'"
C.ourtesy of A-yodele AMI
LSA junior Ayodele Alli will perform at the League Underground Friday.
Student debuts CD
years. Falco's performance is more remarkable than
ever, which is surprising considering how great her
work has been until this point.
Meadow and A.J., Tony and Carmella's kids, also
receive more attention than they have in years. Meadow
responds by reverting to a sad, yet attentive little girl,
while A.J. shirks responsibilities and hides his true anger.
When A.J. finally reveals his true feelings, we learn that
he's much closer to falling down the dark path of his
father than ever before. He doesn't feel helpless; he wants
revenge on his uncle.
As illuminating as the familial response is, Tony's
other family is dangerously close to falling apart. On the
surface, it appears as though everything is fine, but under-
neath, everyone from Silvio to the newly slimmed-down
Vito want more power and money. With Tony out of the
picture, it becomes evident just how opportunistic each of
his underlings really is. As every made man makes a play
for more stakes, Tony awakens from his coma.
This may be the biggest fault of the season thus far.
Many fans were quick to criticize the show for keeping
Tony out of so much of the action, but the series found
completely new drama in his absence. Let it build and see
what happens after Sil makes one too many bad decisions
in his place. Let Vito and Paulie fight for whatever extra
dimes they can take. Let Carmella discover how difficult
her life is without Tony around and start to worry about
providing for her future when he goes.
None of these storylines will be pushed much fur-
ther with Tony slowly recovering. Instead, the focus will
be on him and his reactions to the changed landscape.
While that will provide some great stories, it's hard to
believe that there wasn't more to examine with such a
dominating figure on the sidelines.
The change in the status quo will still open up a host of
possibilities to carry the series to its inevitable conclusion.
And with the endgame in sight, and Tony already having
to dodge death, no one's truly safe from the next bullet.
KT Tunstall's latest frustrates with potential
By Anthony Baber
Daily Arts Writer
Behind the arguments of where hip
hop began is the basic ideal that it was
formed as a move- _
ment of free speech
and expression for Ayodele Alli
social growth and Friday at
change. 9:30 p.m.
In similar fash- Free
ion, the genre of At the Michigan
spoken-word poetry League Underround
mirrors the themes
found in hip hop's creation.
Spoken word - also known as slam
poetry - was created without the need
of catchy hooks or beats, formed on just
the raw power of language and voice.
This art form has become a passion
for University students Gabe Peoples,
Walter Lacy and, most recently, Ayodele
Alli, otherwise known as "The Nigerian
LSA junior Alli is well known in the
arts community for his empowering
and introspective messages. He has per-
formed at poetry shows sponsored by the
F-Word, the MLK Symposium and at the
HEADS Second Annual Salute to Profes-
sional Women of Color. Now, he has the
opportunity to perform for an audience
of his choice Friday night at 8:30 p.m. in
the Michigan League Underground.
Alli will host a release show for his
album, featuring student-dance groups
NVR Flo and Climaxx, music group
Uday & El-Wahdi and an open-mic
"It feels absolutely phenomenal to
be able to put out an album," Alli said.
"Words can't even describe how it feels
to have my poetic blood, sweat and tears
on a CD you can purchase for $10."
"For me, writing gives life meaning,"
he said. "It's like therapy for me, and
through my writing and poetry, it serves
as therapy for others."
Alli has recently released his first
album titled after his moniker, Nigerian
"The name was given to me by a
friend, Jesse Hurse, after a football player
from the '80s, but since then it has come
to mean so much more," he said. "It's the
name of my album, a poem I wrote and it
now personifies my poetic character."
Alli said he uses poetry as more than
a way to spend his free time - he pro-
motes strength to all within the sound of
"I try to promote love, appreciation
of life and possibly social and political
change, because you never know who
may be in your audience" he said. "You
never know the kind of power you may
have on a person in power. It's sort of
like saying, 'Pass it on,' but I can pass my
own through a poetic vision"
He also has noticed the profound
impact his writing can have on the dif-
ferent people who hear him speak.
"People come up to me after a show
and tell me how much my poetry moved
them, and it's flattering, but it amazes me
even more to know how much I can do
mentally" He's especially upbeat about
his Friday performance.
"The most important thing about put-
ting on this show is to introduce myself
to those who aren't familiar with me and
to reintroduce myself to those who are,"
he said. "It's a stage for me to openly
express myself without limitations."
By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Features Editor
Despite whatever Lilith Fair-hating
chauvinists might say, the world needs
another Ani DiFranco.
It needs a new Tori Amos. Twelve-
year-old girls everywhere are idolizing
all the wrong peo-
ple. No one knows
where to find the
next Alanis Morri-
sette, who, despite
in 1995. When was
songs from Kelly Clarkson, misogynis-
tic dance-hall king Sean Paul, and whiny
country balladeer Keith Urban. With
more credible female vocalists like Cat
Power barely registering on the main-
stream radar, who are young women
supposed to look to these days?
For a while, Scottish songstress KT
Tunstall looked promising. Her romping,
stomping single, "Black Horse and the
Cherry Tree," made numerous appear-
ances on VHI's "You Oughta Know" art-
ist-awareness spots. Since its release here
in the states, Tunstall's debut, Eye to the
Telescope, has sold some 130,000 copies
and counting, and peaked just days ago at
No.40 on the Billboard Hot 200.
All this sounds fairly respectable, and
hints at Tunstall's potential to take back
some of the glory pop culture once reserved
for strong female vocalists who have more
topical range than failed hookups.
But that fleeting moment of hope for
a sassy new female vocalist may soon
dissipate. She can growl like Janis Joplin
and bulldoze through verses like Fiona
Apple, but Tunstall's debut is as much
fluff as it is rough.
Too many of the album's 12 tracks bor-
der on comatose. Though Tunstall obvi-
ously took some cues from jazz and folk
staples, she's still only using snappy beats
in vocally and lyrically boring songs.
Despite her vocal capability and emo-
tive capacity, Tunstall truly sounds best on
the album's up-tempo "Cherry Tree" and
the windows-down confession of "Sud-
denly I See." When she slows down for
songs like "False Alarm" and "Universe &
U," she sounds bogged down.
It is, however, refreshing to see a musi-
cally candid young woman play her own
instruments - in Tunstall's case, tambou-
rine and guitar, among others.
Which leads to Tunstall's obvious
and undeniable selling point: She's real.
She has a fire to her voice, tousled hair,
a mismatched wardrobe and a past full
of stories and longings. Tunstall seems
like a pretty cool chick - someone you
might meet in real life. "Her face is a map
of the world / Is a map of the world," she
sings three-fourths of the way through her
debut, "You can see she's a beautiful girl /
She's a beautiful girl"
Which is true. Maybe one day she can
earnestly share a stage with other female
greats (and in no way should that imply
Vanessa Carlton or Avril Lavigne).
Unlike some of the late '90s female
singers, Tunstall is a true songwriter.
But for now, she still needs more time to
incubate her sound.
Eye to the
the last time a song as effective as "iron-
ic" hit the Top 40?
Instead, it's filled with tired, banal
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