the Music Lounge by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A & E Writer
Lady Ga Ga, Jay Brennan, Maroon 5, Coldplay
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

On Sunday night, Gay men around the world will tune in to watch the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant taking place for the first time in Vietnam. While the event is relatively low-key in the United States, it commands huge attention and coverage throughout Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. Gay men in Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Argentina, The Philippines, Chile, and the Dominican Republic will throw grand parties similar to Oscar bashes to cheer for their national delegates. Making the event just a tad Gayer this year is a scheduled appearance at the ceremony by electro-pop singer Lady Ga Ga. The Interscope recording artist will perform her global hit "Just Dance" during the competition, which is expected to draw over 500 million viewers. I remember when I lived in Hawaii, my Filipino Gay friends hosted an amazing Miss Universe party complete with scoring sheets and a cash prize for whomever guessed the winning contestant. Lady Ga Ga's debut album, Fame, is slated to land in record stores this fall. The Miss Universe Pageant airs live from Nha Trang, Vietnam on July 13 (NBC, 9 p.m.) with 80 women competing for the crown. The current titleholder, Riyo Mori of Japan, is very active in the fight against AIDS and serves as a worldwide ambassador for HIV research and awareness.

If you loved the film Shortbus (and who didn't, with its gratuitous amount of graphic sex and Gay subplots), then you might want to circle July 26 on your calendar. One of the movie's co-stars, Jay Brennan, will be in Seattle to introduce music from his just-released debut album goddammed. The disc includes "Soda Pop," which was not only performed in the film but continues to be the number-one downloaded cut from the soundtrack. The openly Gay Brennan began a grassroots campaign to promote his music by uploading songs and videos onto MySpace, YouTube and Facebook, resulting in over 3 million hits worldwide and selling out concerts in Paris, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, and New York City. An EP entitled Unmastered has sold 30,000 copies on iTunes thus far. Brennan performs July 26 at The Triple Door ( Check him out on YouTube, and help support this budding Gay singer-songwriter. And if you haven't seen Shortbus, rent it this weekend and watch it with a bowl of popcorn - and a very open mind.

Every Gay guy I know has a crush on Adam Levine. The lead singer of Grammy-winning group Maroon 5 is indeed one of the sexiest guys in music, so hot that I'd pay just to see him eat a bowl of cornflakes. It's quite possible that I'll share a conference call with him this week when he and Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows, speak to select press-media representatives via telephone to promote their upcoming joint tour. The road outing begins July 25 in Virginia Beach and winds its way through the country, arriving at White River Amphitheatre on September 21. Tickets priced between $30.50 and $126 are on sale now at all Ticketmaster locations. While I'd love to speak directly to Levine, and I'm hoping to wiggle my way backstage since Maroon 5's concert is a day before my birthday, it looks like I'll have to settle for the shared conference call for now. Maroon 5's latest recording, the multi-platinum selling It Won't Be Soon Before Long contains the smash hit "Makes Me Wonder." Counting Crows, who've actually interviewed with Seattle Gay News before, released Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings this spring. Get your tickets now to see these two great bands together, and load that memory card on your digital camera for multiple shots of the quite delicious Mr. Levine.

How good is Coldplay's new album? Very, very good. The British quartet's previous effort, X & Y, didn't match the intensity of Parachutes or A Rush of Blood to the Head, but held its own and furthered the band's climb to superstardom. Viva La Vida (full title: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends) is a craftier and less pop-sounding album than X & Y. It starts with a short instrumental piece, "Life in Technicolor," and then surges into a melodic and beautiful number called "Cemeteries of London." The drumbeat-led "Lost!" is fine, as is the slower "42," but the true standouts are back-to-back offerings of "Viva la Vida" and the initial single "Violet Hill." The album is a less moody journey than other Coldplay efforts, going for more of an upbeat feel. Chris Martin's vocals are consistently infectious, and what I love most about this disc is the string arrangements, primarily on the title track. In its second week atop Billboard's albums chart, Viva la Vida is a must-have for summer listening or any Coldplay follower. The group delayed its tour due to production problems, yet they're still expected to perform at the Pemberton Festival in late July.

I want to plug a few more shows this week besides the Jimmy Eat World concert on Tuesday night. British heartthrob Ed Harcourt plays Chop Suey on July 15, someone who'd appeal to fans of Damien Rice, David Gray or Pete Yorn. Watch his video for "She Fell Into My Arms" on YouTube. Another gig to consider is Flobots at El Corazon on July 16, a band that just played Marymoor Park for 107.7 The End's "Summer Camp." And finally, goth rockers are in for a treat on July 16 as well when veteran group The Jesus and Mary Chain perform at The Showbox SoDo. Fellow writer Jessica Price will attend that show, so look for a review of it in next week's issue.

That's it for this week. Viva la Vida!