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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Midwest Tape Weekly Now Available Online

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Let’s Get This Party Started: American Idol Recap

Our marketing teams are long-time American Idol viewers. This year we decided to share our take with News & Views. Every week we’ll recap the show and share our critiques. This week, CD Marketing Coordinator Danielle Desmond and Graphic Designer Heather Brown give their two cents.

This past week wrapped up Hollywood, and the contestants had one last chance to prove to the judges (Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler) that they deserve a spot in the Top 24, which will commence the live tapings this week.

The competition’s 42 remaining contestants had to decide upon songs and whether to play an instrument. In a grueling two-hour segment, we watched the judges either make or break these aspiring singers’ dreams to be the next American Idol. We learned a little bit about each contestant’s background, watched a part of their solo performance, and saw them sit down with the judges and await their results.

My favorite part about American Idol, besides Beatles week, is hearing the background stories of all the contestants—some are single parents; some are looking to better the lives of their families; and others are from Small Town USA with stars in their eyes, ready to live their dream. The 11th season so far seems promising.

The first contestant on the chopping block: 23-year-old Lauren Gray, who shed many a tear in her performances since Hollywood week. The judges felt she got into her head a little too much and sent her packing. Don’t worry; every contestant was greeted with open arms from American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, who is back with more sugary words of wisdom.

Of course, we had to sit through the cuts—some led to breakdowns and others were more understanding. My favorite: 26-year-old Reed Grim—maybe it’s his quirky behavior or his ability to play drums or his touching story about his father, who succumbed to cancer. Either way, Reed Grim not only has great vocal talent, but an awesome sense of humor.  

In this past episode, the judges repeatedly commented on the extreme depth of talent this season. There is a great deal of talent—singing and instrumental—so we’ll be in for a good season! However, many of these artists don’t seem like they would fit into the pop/rock Top 40 of today. Hopefully, Idol can groom them, so they don’t fall to the wayside after the competition.

I hope the wayside isn’t the case for Shannon Magrane. The fresh-faced 16-year-old belts it out, sounding similar to Leona Lewis while possessing a personable stage presence like Carrie Underwood. Although young, I think she’s got the strongest pipes out of all the women competitors.

For the guys, it seems their talent is all over the map. Colton Dixon has returned to this show; hopefully he will get further than last time. He deserves that chance. Reed Grim is extremely talented, but he reminds me a lot of Taylor Hicks. Remember him?

One guy who didn’t make the cut, Johnny Keyser, seemed to be the only guy who crooned like a true ready-for-radio pop star you. For some reason, the judges opted not to keep him. As a twist to the show, though, one of four guys who had been cut will be asked back. Let’s hope it’s Johnny.

Congrats to all the contestants who made it to the Top 24. We are eager to get to know you this season. The guys will perform first on Tuesday night, and the girls will follow Wednesday night. Seacrest will unveil the results on Thursday. Three whole nights of American Idol! Will you be watching? Who are your favorites? 

Hot This Week: February 27

Happy Oscar Monday! Let's see how things are on the lists...

  1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1
  2. In Time
  3. Drive
  4. Real Steel
  5. The Rum Diary
  6. The Thing
  7. Dream House
  8. Moneyball
  9. Abduction
  10. The Help
  1. Adele, 21
  2. Whitney HoustonWhitney: The Greatest Hits
  3. Now 41
  4. Adele, 19
  5. 2012 Grammy Nominees
  6. Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth
  7. Paul McCartney, Kisses on the Bottom
  8. Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops & Hooligans
  9. Lady Antebellum, Own the Night
  10. Civil Wars, Barton Hollow
Fiction Books
  1. Private Games, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  2. Kill Shot, Vince Flynn
  3. The Wolf Gift, Anne Rice
  4. I've Got Your Number, Sophie Kinsella
  5. Defending Jacob, William Landay
  6. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  7. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
  8. Private: #1 Suspect, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  9. Home Front, Kristin Hannah
  10. Catch Me, Lisa Gardner
Nonfiction Books
  1. American Sniper, Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
  2. Ameritopia, Mark R. Levin
  3. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  4. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo
  6. Once Upon a Secret, Mimi Alford
  7. Quiet, Susan Cain
  8. Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman
  9. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  10. Hilarity Ensues, Tucker Max

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

12 Films to Look Forward to in 2012

This Sunday night we honor the great films of 2011 with The 84th Annual Academy Awards. Following that prestigious event, audiences and Hollywood will turn their attention to 2012. What movies will slay box offices? What talents will break through into the spotlight? And what films will capture the attention of the next award season? While I don’t have a crystal ball, I have managed to pinpoint 12 films to put on your movie-going radar this year.

The Dark Knight Rises
It’s the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman trilogy, and even though the film doesn’t hit theaters until July, some midnight showings are already sold out. According to MetaCritic, the rumored $250 million production features even more scenes filmed in the IMAX format than 2008's The Dark Knight, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, and Anne Hathaway join the already stellar returning cast. Needless to say, this film is way worthy of all the buzz and buildup.

The Hunger Games
This pick doesn’t need much explanation. The amazing book trilogy will now be a four-part film franchise. It will most likely satiate the movie-going needs of both Twi-Hards and Potterites alike, plus all the rest of us who love either the book series, Jennifer Lawrence, dystopian tales, or all of the above. The buzz on this film is boiling over, so thank goodness it comes out in a month. Watch the trailer here.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Cue the collective groans. I know you’re thinking “Another Spider-Man? C’mon!” But if Christopher Nolan proved anything with his Batman franchise, it’s that reboots can not only be vastly better than the originals, but bring in a lot more bucks, too.

Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and starring The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield and Hollywood sweetheart Emma Stone, the film is based more on the comic book series.Couple these factors with audiences’ overwhelming adoration for all things Spidey, and methinks this will be quite the blockbuster. Plus the trailer looks awesome.

Gangster Squad
Director Ruben Fleischer has changed his pace, switching from modestly budgeted action-comedy like Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less to a true crime drama set in late 1940s Los Angeles. Not intrigued yet? Well, I have two words for you: Ryan Gosling. Yes, the man of 2011 is staking his claim on 2012, too. Supporting the Gos is Sean Penn, who plays infamous gangster Mickey Cohen, a mogul who started as muscle for Al Capone in Chicago. Gosling and Josh Brolin play the two coppers determined to bring him down. And Emma Stone is the femme fatale coming between them.

The Avengers
Another superhero flick has made my 2012 list. But how could this one not? Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly fame co-writes and directs. In the film, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (each of whom had their own movies) team up with Nick Fury, Hawkeye, the Incredible Hulk, and Black Widow to stop Thor’s brother Loki from destroying the world. All these superheroes are sure to deliver a lot of great action. Fingers crossed this doesn’t turn into the New Year’s Eve of superhero movies, though.

Originally this film wasn’t on my radar in the slightest, but then The Early Word reported that Cosmopolis beat out Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 and The Hunger Games in MTV’s Movie Brawl for Must-See Movie of 2012. So how did it win millions of votes? While Eastern Promises was incredible, it most likely wasn’t director David Cronenberg that swayed voters. And even though he is loveable, it probably wasn’t Paul Giammati either.

More likely, voters literally went weak in the knees for R. Pat. Yes, Cosmopolis, based off Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, stars Robert Pattinson. Fans seemed to have banded together to show their support for the heartthrob’s post-vampire career. In addition to MTV, this film also made Paste Magazine and The Playlist’s film previews. Why? All the non-Pattinson reasons listed above.

The Hobbit
Fans of The Lord of the Rings franchise have long been clamoring for a big-screen, big-budget adaptation of The Hobbit. According to Yahoo! Movies, “a change of directors, lawsuits, and the aforementioned bankruptcy of MGM delayed things for a while,” but Peter Jackson is intending to deliver around Christmastime of 2012. If the Oscar-winning first three films and the teaser trailer are any indication, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should be dazzling.

Pixar is finally making way for a female protagonist. They’re also venturing away from the world of sequels. Set in the Scottish highlands, Brave focuses on a 10th century Scottish princess named Merida. Pixar delivers when it comes to movies, so it’s no surprise that Brave made just about every 2012 film preview.

After some MGM drama and many rumors, the next Daniel Craig Bond film is happening. With Javier Bardem starring as the villain and Sam Mendes directing, there’s much excitement swirling around the 23rd Bond film. Featuring a completely original storyline—that’s right, no Ian Fleming novel here—the film follows Agent 007 as he hunts down the people who attacked MI6, while struggling with his relationship with boss M.

Originally a prequel to Alien, but now simply set in that universe, Ridley Scott has returned to his sci-fi roots for Prometheus. While details of the film are fairly under wraps, we do know it stars the man who can do no wrong, Michael Fassbender, and the original girl with dragon tat, Noomi Rapace. According to The Playlist, “it’s about a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe.” Need your interest furthered piqued? Check out the teaser trailer below.

Breaking Dawn Pt. 2
Whether you’re a diehard fan or just happy to see this series end, it’s hard to deny Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 as an anticipated film of 2012. But that’s what many did. Out all the lists I reviewed, only Yahoo! Movies listed Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 on their film preview. Perhaps four movies were too many for most.

Slated for a November 2012 release, the film will follow newly made vampire Bella and her hubby Edward as they team up with other vampire clans as well as Jacob and his werewolves to protect their hybrid baby from the Volturi. Now those of us who have read the books know this whole plot isn’t as climactic as it sounds, but if the rest of the films are any indication, director Bill Condon and his team are sure going to try to make this final the most epic ever.

Additional 2012 Flicks to Get Excited About
  • The Bourne Legacy

  • World War Z

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

  • Moonrise Kingdom

  • Gravity

  • Men in Black III

  • The Wettest Country
  • Dog Fight
  • Django Unchained
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Master
  • Argo
  • Dark Shadows
  • Lincoln
What movies are you most anticipating in 2012? Did I miss any? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on Twitter: @midwesttape #filmpreview.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hot This Week: February 20

Adele mania continues with both 19 and 21 appearing on the CD chart. Surprisingly, Breaking Dawn didn't debut at the top spot for DVDdoes this mean audiences love J.T. and Ryan Gosling more than R. Pat and Taylor Lautner? While that's debatable, it's clear that Fiction and Nonfiction know no favorites as another slew of new releases further shake up both lists.

  1. In Time
  2. Drive
  3. Real Steel
  4. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1
  5. The Thing
  6. Dream House
  7. Moneyball
  8. Abduction
  9. Contagion
  10. Killer Elite
  1. Adele, 21
  2. Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth
  3. Now 41
  4. The Fray, Scars & Stories
  5. Paul McCartney, Kisses on the Bottom
  6. Whitney Houston, Whitney: The Greatest Hits
  7. Dierks Bentley, Home
  8. 2012 Grammy Nominees
  9. Adele, 19
  10. Drake, Take Care
Fiction Books
  1. Kill Shot, Vince Flynn
  2. Catch Me, Lisa Gardner
  3. Defending Jacob, William Landay
  4. Private: #1 Suspect, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  5. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  6. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
  7. Home Front, Kristin Hannah
  8. Taken, Robert Crais
  9. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
  10. Left for Dead, J.A. Jance
Nonfiction Books
  1. Ameritopia, Mark R. Levin
  2. Hilarity Ensues, Tucker Max
  3. American Sniper, Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
  4. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  5. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  6. Quiet, Susan Cain
  7. Once Upon a Secret, Mimi Alford
  8. Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman
  9. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo
  10. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Adele Sweeps the 54th Annual Grammy Awards

Danielle Desmond, our lead music selector and CD standing order expert, recaps this past weekend's Grammy Awards.

In the wake of R&B singer Whitney Houston’s sudden death, the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, had the biggest audience viewing since 1984.

Rapper and Grammy host LL Cool J opened the show addressing audience members with the painful words, “We have a death in our family.” He then led the audiences and viewers in prayer to honor the late Whitney Houston.

As they say, though, “the show must go on,” and the Grammys certainly did, honoring this year’s amazing artists, including the many greats we’ve lost this year. Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt performed Etta James’s “Sunday Kind of Love.” Tony Bennett accepted the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for his duet, “Body and Soul,” with the late Amy Winehouse. And Jennifer Hudson left us with chills after she sang Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Although no one can quite match Houston’s extraordinary and incomparable voice, Hudson did the legendary diva proud.

Another noteworthy performance? The unlikely collaboration of the Beach Boys, Maroon 5, and newcomer hipster band Foster the People. The Beach Boys will start their 50th Anniversary Tour this spring.

Missing from the awards ceremony was Kanye West as well as Jay Z and Beyonce (who were probably at home taking care of their brand new baby daughter, Blu Ivy). Still, many artists attended to proudly accept their awards.

The biggest winner of the night was Adele for her album 21, which went six for six on awards: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Pop Vocal Album, Best Solo Pop Performance, and Best Short Form Music Video.

In addition to sweeping the Grammys, Adele also blew audiences away with a stunning performance of her hit song “Rolling in the Deep.” The wow factor was amplified by the fact that this was Adele’s first performance since her throat surgery back in November. She remembered to thank her doctors in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year.

The Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Album, Rock Song, and Rock Performance. David Grohl told everyone that this was his most meaningful album because it was recorded in his garage. Chris Brown performed early in the night and then took home the award for Best R&B Album. Kanye West, who wasn’t present, won for Best Rap Album.

America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift performed her hit “Mean,” which also won the Grammy for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

The show wrapped with an unforgettable finale from Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and David Grohl, singing a medley from the Abbey Road album. What a gorgeous and refreshing compilation of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.”

What did you think of the Grammys? Were there any shocks or snubs in your book? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to shop the full list of winners here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hot This Week: February 13

Following the Grammys, it's no surprise that Adele continues to fill the #1 spot on the CD list. Meanwhile, J.T. and R.Gos battle it out for the top seed of DVD, and little changes on the Fiction and Nonfiction lists.

  1. In Time
  2. Drive
  3. Real Steel
  4. The Thing
  5. Moneyball
  6. Abduction
  7. Dream House
  8. 50/50
  9. The Ides of March
  10. Contagion
  1. Adele, 21
  2. Lana Del Rey, Born to Die
  3. Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas
  4. 2012 Grammy Nominees
  5. Kidz Bop Kids, Kidz Bop 21
  6. Drake, Take Care
  7. Tim McGraw, Emotional Traffic
  8. Fred Hammond, God, Love & Romance
  9. LMFAO, Sorry for Party Rocking
  10. Rihanna, Talk That Talk
Fiction Books
  1. Home Front, Kristin Hannah
  2. Private: #1 Suspect, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  3. Taken, Robert Crais
  4. Defending Jacob, William Landay
  5. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
  6. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  7. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
  8. Believing the Lie, Elizabeth George
  9. Raylan, Elmore Leonard
  10. The Litigators, John Grisham
Nonfiction Books
  1. American Sniper, Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
  2. Ameritopia, Mark R. Levin
  3. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  4. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  5. Quiet, Susan Cain
  6. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  7. Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
  8. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
  9. Coming Apart, Charles Murray
  10. Fairy Tale Interrupted, RoseMarie Terenzio

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 Audiobook Preview

Audiobook lovers rejoice! The year 2012 looks to be filled with a wealth of literary treasures. Now that Groundhog Day is in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at what lies ahead—aside from six more weeks of winter.

Just released on February 7 was Stay Awake, a new collection of short stories from Dan Chaon. Chaon’s last collection was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. Here he returns to the short form for the first time in eleven years after publishing two novels in the meantime.

On Valentine’s Day, readers will fall in love with a trio of books. Sophie Kinsella looks to continue her bestselling ways with I’ve Got Your Number, while Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept, returns with The House I Loved. If you like a little horror with your romance, Anne Rice has the answer with The Wolf Gift.

Finishing out February, there’s Other People We Married on February 21 from Emma Straub, daughter of novelist Peter Straub and a powerful author in her own right. On the 28th, bestseller Jodi Picoult offers Lone Wolf, while Ramona Ausubel makes a conspicuous debut with No One Is Here Except All of Us, a fable of a Jewish village in Romania trying to persevere through the horrors of World War II.

Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. On March 13 she turns her talents to non-fiction with When I Was a Child I Read Books, a collection of essays on a variety of themes. Going in the other direction, Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, tries his hand at fiction in Monday Mornings, about a group of surgeons who confront their failures in weekly “Morbidity and Mortality” meetings.

Also in March, Lyndsay Faye follows up her Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper pastiche with another work of historical crime fiction, The Gods of Gotham. Then, acclaimed writer Lionel Shriver (another National Book Award finalist) presents The New Republic, a novel about terrorism that she originally wrote in 1998 but shelved after the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.

April is the month for heavy hitters on the bestseller lists. First up, on the 3rd, is Mary Higgins Clark with The Lost Years. On the 10th, John Grisham eschews the courtroom for the baseball diamond in Calico Joe. Stephen King follows up 11/22/63 with the eighth installment in his Dark Tower series, The Wind Through the Keyhole, on the 24th. Also on that day, critical lightning rod Jonathan Franzen returns with his latest book of essays, Farther Away.

Further out on the horizon, there’s still plenty to look forward to: Deadlocked, a new Southern Vampire book from Charlaine Harris; Home, by Toni Morrison, a novel about racial inequality and the aftereffects of war; Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; In One Person by venerable author John Irving; and Mortality, the final memoir by firebrand and critic Christopher Hitchens, who passed away in December.

Of course, this is just a small sampling of what awaits us in the world of audiobooks in 2012. What new and upcoming releases are you and your patrons most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more 2012 previews, click on the links below:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Midwest Tape at 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting

The 2012 ALA Midwinter Conference took place at the Dallas Convention Center 19–23 January in Dallas, Texas. Being that Texas sure beats Ohio in January, Midwest Tape was once again proud to exhibit at the show. This show not only gave us an additional chance to meet with customers, but it was also the last time we used our current booth. That’s right. Our booth has run its course, which means there will be something very spectacular to behold at PLA. Will you be there?

During ALA Midwinter, attendees could enter to win a $2500 shopping spree at We received 91 entries for the grand prize, and after the shop wrapped up, we drew a winner. A big congratulations to Alice Neve, Public Services Manager for the Rondo Community Outreach Center Library in St. Paul, Minnesota. Be sure to drop her a congratulatory line in our comments section!

Did you attend ALA Midwinter? What did you enjoy most at the show?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hot This Week: February 6

  1. Real Steel
  2. Abduction
  3. Moneyball
  4. 50/50
  5. Killer Elite
  6. The Ides of March
  7. Paranormal Activity 3
  8. Courageous
  9. Contagion
  10. The Help
  1. Adele, 21
  2. Tim McGraw, Emotional Traffic
  3. Lamb of God, Resolution
  4. 2012 Grammy Nominees
  5. Ingrid Michaelson, Human Again
  6. Kidz Bop Kids, Kidz Bop 21
  7. Kellie Pickler, 100 Proof
  8. Seal, Soul 2
  9. Drake, Take Care
  10. Kari Jobe, Where I Find You
Fiction Books
  1. Taken, Robert Crais
  2. Private: #1 Suspect, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  3. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
  4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
  5. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  6. Believing the Lie, Elizabeth George
  7. Raylan, Elmore Leonard
  8. The Litigators, John Grisham
  9. Darker After Midnight, Lara Adrian
  10. Locked On, Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney
Nonfiction Books
  1. Ameritopia, Mark R. Levin
  2. American Sniper, Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
  3. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  4. Quiet, Susan Cain
  5. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  6. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  7. Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
  8. Fairy Tale Interrupted, RoseMarie Terenzio
  9. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
  10. Strategic Vision, Zbigniew Brzezinski