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'Empire' fan react: Rating the music from 'Dangerous Bonds'

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “Dangerous Bonds” | Aired Feb 4, 2015

The boys are back. After an underwhelming showing last week, both Hakeem and Jamal dig deep for Empire‘s fifth episode, “Dangerous Bonds.” In addition to new songs from the Brothers Lyon, we’re also treated to a cameo appearance by R&B hitmaker Anthony Hamilton, who stops by Lucious and Anika’s (Grace Gealey) surprise engagement just to make sure the special moment takes place in typical Lucious fashion: as audaciously (and expensively) as possible.

Hamilton’s number, “The Point of it All,” opens the episode. This ballad is remarkable not only for Hamilton’s supple, understated vocal, but also because it’s the first song to make it onto Empire that wasn’t created specifically for the show. Hamilton first recorded “The Point of It All” in 2008 for his fourth studio album, which shares the song’s title.

Lucious installing his girlfriend’s favorite Grammy-winning R&B artist in their living room just for his proposal is exactly the kind of power move that makes the over-the-top CEO so much fun to hate. Fox has not yet released video or audio of Hamilton’s performance online, though the track (like all of Empire‘s music) is available on iTunes. You can listen to the original recording below.

During the episode, we only get to hear a snippet of “The Point of It All” (seriously, Lucious, I’m gonna need you to pipe down the next time you talk over a singer). That’s a shame, because Hamilton is an artist who deserves a whole lot more attention. His warm, throaty vibrato—which is more apparent on Empire‘s pared-down version of the song—acts as a welcome counterbalance to the rest of the show’s slick, ultramodern jams. Yes, the lyrics are a little sappy (“My days seem long whenever we’re apart / It’s like someone has thrown away my heart”), but the singer/songwriter/producer’s earnest delivery more than makes up for a little cheese.

Instead of giving us Hakeem and Jamal’s newest songs all in one go, “Dangerous Bonds” teases their respective releases throughout the episode, a strategy the show has used several times before. We heard most of “Drip Drop,” Hakeem’s big new single featuring Tiana, during a shoot for his first music video. Here’s the entire track:

I have plenty of good things to say about this record, but before I get to them, let’s all acknowledge one thing: “Drip Drop” has a cringe-inducing chorus. The icky imagery it evokes, while less explicit than the rest of the rap’s lyrics, is somehow made more repellent because of the immature language it employs.

I can jam out to a song with the words “Got me obsessin’ / the sex, undeniable / Don’t let go / You wanna get it when you on that pole,” and I find Hakeem’s second verse, “You hella pretty / Are you from the city? / Let me put you a viddy / Maybe later on say Hello Kitty” positively playful. But that fun mojo is totally lost every time I hear the rapper whisper-sing the phrase “drip-drippity drop.” Gross, man.

For all that, however, most of the track is still bangin’. Hakeem is back in top form, his swaggering bravado somehow made charming by his talent. Some of that energy might have been lost on viewers, because Hakeem spends most of the video shoot lying down. But hearing the song out of context reaffirms its dance party, scream-the-words-along potential.

For the first time all season, Jamal also gets to perform an upbeat song this week—though his is more of the angry, “I hate my daddy” variety. You can hear “Keep Your Money” below:

More than any other character’s, the content of Jamal’s songs directly relates to his storylines throughout the show. Since he gave up his cushy, Lucious-sponsored life and moved to Bushwick, the middle son has had two things on his mind: sticking it to Papa Lyon and banging on the sides of dumpsters.

The two are more connected than you might think. Jamal uses the sounds of the city he hears around him—like dumpster percussion and screaming hookers—to give “Keep Your Money” its unique sound. The technique (with the addition of synthesizer beats and a heavy hand on the effects) creates a sound that is less reliant on Jamal’s strong voice and focuses more on his message. When he sings, “It’s time to be a man now,” it’s his conviction that wins you over. While I prefer the tone he showed in earlier songs like “Tell the Truth,” it’s exciting to see him shrug off the musical mopey face and get fired up. Cookie was right about one thing, though: that voice over at the beginning of the song has got to go. Listen to your mother, Jamal!

Next week, Hole singer and professional mess Courtney Love finally makes her Empire debut, Hakeem is back in the studio, and Jamal performs live on Sway’s radio show.

Empire airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on Fox.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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