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'Empire' season finale fan react: Rating the music from 'Die But Once'

Season 1 | Episode 11 | “Die But Once” | Aired Mar 18, 2015

On the first half of Empire‘s season finale, Snoop Dogg brings an old-school hip-hop sound to the show, Lucious and Jamal put aside their differences to team up for an explosive duet, and Michelle takes us all to church.

“Die But Once” is about quality over quantity: there’s only room for three songs amid the many juicy plotlines (Hakeem and Anika hook up!) and unexpected twists (Lucious doesn’t have ALS!) that are stuffed into the jam-packed first hour—though the show makes up for that in the finale’s second half, “Who Am I”).

First up was Snoop Dogg (I guess the Snoop Lion thing didn’t really pan out, though the opportunity for a Lyon/Lion pun was sorely missed).

“Peaches and Cream”—Snoop Dogg

“Peaches and Cream” is the first single off Snoop Dogg’s (reportedly final) album, Bush, which drops May 12—the song itself was just released last week. Empire‘s take is almost indistinguishable from the original version, other than that the show doesn’t include singer Charlie Wilson, who is featured on the Bush version.

The song is classic Snoop (always the most laid-back and romantically minded crooner of the West Coast MCs to emerge in the early ’90s). It sounds perfect for a lazy summer listen, with a hook that you’re bound to catch yourself humming and, as per Snoop’s trademark style, verses that are slow enough for a layman to rap along to (though achieving his signature SoCal half-smile is another story).

“Peaches and Cream” (or “Peaches N Cream,” as it’s styled on the album’s track list) isn’t worthy of being Snoop Dogg’s last-ever single, but it fits neatly into the rapper’s catalog. And well it should: the track was produced by Pharrell, who’s worked on seven of the artist’s 13 albums over the course of Snoop’s career.

“Nothing to Lose”—Lucious Lyon and Jamal Lyon

Of the three songs featured in “Die But Once,” “Nothing to Lose” relies most heavily on Empire‘s visual accompaniment. Separated from the show’s context, it sounds a mess—though there are some great moments, if you can suspend your disbelief long enough to pick them out. This version is meant to be the first time the song is recorded and that’s how it sounds, unlike other tracks that Empire has shown as flawed onscreen, only to be perfect for the soundtrack.

However, when paired with the scene of Lucious and Jamal going toe-to-toe in a musical battle, in which each man tries to prove his talent to the other, the song comes alive. The flamenco-esque guitar brings to mind a bullfight (though who’s the bull and who’s the matador is hard to say). Lucious doesn’t show much range beyond what we heard in last week’s “Shake Down”—at times, the inflections are nearly identical—but his gritty, unique tone is still intriguing, and it’s even more fitting on this aggressive number. And even if there was nothing else positive to say about “Nothing to Lose,” that Hustle & Flow reference—which I’ve been waiting for all season—would still be enough to win me over.

Jamal, of course, sounds as controlled and beautiful as ever. He’s able to strain into lines that call for more anger or sorrow, without sounding like he’s pushing his voice beyond its natural capacity. I just wish I understood that Britney reference he makes halfway through.

“For My God”—Michelle White

This episode, Andre is converted to Christianity seemingly through the power of Michelle’s voice alone—and I’m pretty sure a large portion of the audience is ready to hop aboard that train as well. “For My God” doesn’t have quite the same searing intensity as “Remember the Music,” but it’s jubilant and it shows off Michelle’s higher register. That note at the end is one of the best moments of the entire episode. Lucious may be a genuinely bad guy, but he knows a star when he sees one. Now that Michelle is signed to Empire, we can all hold out hope that she’ll be back next season.

It’s also exciting to hear a gospel song on Empire—and considering this is a show about the culture of black music, it’s also interesting that it took nearly three months before we finally hear someone singing in church. But just because “For My God” is religious doesn’t mean that Timbaland and his music team couldn’t have any fun writing it. That choir may sound traditional, but I’m pretty sure no gospel song has ever previously included the lyric “Ain’t nobody got no time for that.” Is Michelle trolling us?

And here is my reaction to the music in the second half of Empire‘s epic season finale, “Who I Am,” which features more songs than any previous episode. Performances include a cleaner version of “Nothing to Lose” by Jamal and Patti LaBelle, a reinterpretation of one of their dad’s old classics by both Lyon artists, a Rita Ora cameo, and so much more!

Empire will return for season two next fall.

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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