by Jac Kern
at 11:17 AM | Permalink
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
"Weird Al” Yankovic pulled
a ‘Yoncé last week, dropping eight music videos in conjunction with the release
of his 14th studio album, Mandatory Fun.
As inherently corny as Weird Al may be, you have to commend the guy for
sticking with his schtick for almost 40 years — not to mention finding such
success with it. His parodies are continually accessible without hitting below
the belt. For example, his take on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” “Word
Crimes,” covers facepalm-worthy
grammatical errors running amok in our current age of emojis and 140-character
declarations — not the rape culture controversy surrounding the original,
Thicke’s pathetic fall from grace following his VMA stunt with Miley or any
other gossipy low-hanging fruit like that.Mandatory Fun, Al’s final album
on his 32-year contract, features riffs on Pharrell’s “Happy” (“Tacky”), Lorde’s “Royals” (“Foil”)
and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (“Handy”)
along with general style spoofs like “Sports Song” and “First World Problems,”
which resembles like a Pixies tune.
The Queen’s Guard performed
the Game of Thrones theme song outside Buckingham Palace, which is kind of
strange when you remember Thrones is
a show where royals are slaughtered, babies are fed to scary ice zombies and
the queen is an incestuous bitch. Happy Birthday, Prince George!
Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Glee’s Naya Rivera both got
secret-married this weekend – just not to each other. Levine and Victoria’s
Secret model Behati Prinsloo were wed in a ceremony officiated by Jonah Hill (seriously) while Rivera tied the knot
with Ryan Dorsey, a guy who is definitely not rapper Big Sean (whom Rivera was
engaged to just three months ago). All together now: “We want prenup, we want
In non-news related news, Kanye West continues
his Delusions of Grandeur tour, spouting nonsensical bullshit in his latest
interview with GQ. In the cover story, West talks
Kim K., calls himself a blowfish and quotes Step
Brothers. What is interesting, however, is this video of a 19-year-old
West, Baby 'Ye, freestyling in New York record shop Fat Beats in 1996.Someone
noticed that Joaquin Phoenix has a very expressive forehead that, when viewed
upside down, looks like a second face.
movie trailers to hit the
Interwebz: Dear White People, a satirical look at race relations from millennials' perspectives; Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the British genius/computer science pioneer; and creepy "cabin in the woods" thriller Honeymoon starring Ygritte from Game of Thrones and Dr. Frankenstein from Penny Dreadful.
by Deirdre Kaye
Posted In: Music Commentary
at 11:33 AM | Permalink
What "Pop music" has become … and why it makes for a delicious snack
You know what I like? Pop music. Some of you may be judging me right now and, for that, I’m judging you in return. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to dislike Pop.Of course, I get it. Most Pop music isn’t the well-written, deeper-than-the-ocean type stuff, but rather easy to understand and anchored by a catchy hook. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. Music isn’t supposed to be unattainable — we’re usually drawn to music because we can relate to it. Pop just expresses our emotions and situations in more simple terms than other genres.Some of you are probably starting to get nitpicky about my use of “Pop” as a genre. To a certain extent, Pop isn’t a genre at all. Historically, Pop was just short for popular, meaning it runs the gamut on genres. Listen to the current NOW That's What I Call Music collection (we’re up to about 4067 volumes, I believe) and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not full of ground-breaking musical experimentation or earth-shatteringly powerful lyricism, but every one of those songs has a damn good hook. Beyoncé wouldn’t classify herself as Pop. She’d call herself Hip Hop or R&B. “Run the World (Girls)” was certainly popular, though. Alex Clare’s “Too Close” is full of drums and synth awesomeness, lying somewhere between Rock and Electronic and yet it’s all over Top 40. Taylor Swift was, at one point, a Country artist. Now, with a little less accent and a lot less acoustic guitar, she’s lasting longer on Billboard’s Top 40 than the Country charts. The structures of their music may be very different, but they all end up on the same station.Pop has very much become its own genre. It’s the genre for all the likable and relatable music from all the other genres. Think of it as the exact opposite of “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Pop is The Genre of the Overplayed. They’re overplayed for a reason, though. Some of those songs are pretty close to genius. The best recent example is “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes (and Adam Levine). The idea is simple: Boy loves Girl … a lot. But throughout the entire song, they pull from the same stereo heart metaphor. Whether he’s referring to the trials and tribulations of a relationship via a comparison to an old-school boombox that requires tons of D batteries or the simple idea of a heart beating, like speakers, with every note, they carry the thought all the way through. In my book, that’s pretty impressive.Speaking of Adam Levine, I like “Moves like Jagger,” too. You know what Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, sang about quite a bit? Dancing. You know what “Moves like Jagger” is about? Dancing … sort of. You know what it makes me want to do? Dance. Pop songs are nothing if not danceable. Even the slow ones! If they don’t make you wish for that cute guy across the room to come and sweep you off your feet and twirl you around the room, they’re doing something wrong.Yes. Sometimes Pop can be annoying. A majority of Pop music is made by people with “outside voices.” They always sound like they’re yelling. Often they’re squeaky, too. One Direction is super excited about what makes me beautiful. For someone who adds an unsure “maybe” to the end of her pick-up line, Carly Rae Jepsen's voice is far from a timid whisper. But, I still really like that song.The easiest explanation I can give is this: It’s catchy and easy and sometimes we’re all a little simpleminded.Carly Rae and Taylor Swift may not write the kind of music that would inspire people to become “Band-Aids” or make William Miller, Greil Marcus or Lester Bangs commit their lives to writing about music. They do, however, write songs that are fun to listen to when you’re on the way to see a more substantive show. After a long hard day of deep-thinking and problem solving, what’s wrong with a little light-hearted entertainment?So, for the sake of dancers, the simple-minded, the commuters and the road trippers: Long live Pop!