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Machine Gun Kelly’s newest album transcends his former rap concentration and launches the artist into his newest exploration: pop-punk. Based heavily on popular music of the early 2000s, “Tickets to My Downfall” marks the genre’s return to popularity with a new edge that makes it stronger than before. With over 66 million streams, Kelly has seen more commercial success from this album than any of his previous work, proving his versatility by successfully making the difficult jump to a new genre.
Until recently, Annie Clark’s — who goes by the stage name St. Vincent — most personal album was “Marry Me,” her debut album, which came out in 2007. Since then, she’s leaned more and more into her St. Vincent persona. Even songs that explored her personal struggles, like “Marrow” or “Strange Mercy,” feel detached from the real Annie Clark, distorted through the filter of St. Vincent. For a long time, this strategy worked well, as much of her best work can be found on albums like “Actor,” “Strange Mercy'' and “St. Vincent.” However, the culmination of this style was 2017’s “Masseduction,” a deeply impersonal album that felt sanitized and cold, both lyrically and musically. However, St. Vincent reverses course with her most recent album “Daddy’s Home,” that features much more personal lyrics.
If every genre but romantic comedy suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth, absolutely nothing about my media consumption would change. I scan book reviews waiting for a hint of romance in the narrative. My streaming service recommendation algorithms have given up on selling me anything without at least a secondary plot of romance. I am indiscriminate as to whom, where or how fictional characters profess their love for each other — I only insist that they do. I love indie rom-coms about people falling in love while wearing overalls and studying at liberal arts colleges. I love blockbuster movies starring celebs with shiny teeth and perfect hair. I love love, period.
The popular reality television series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is a rare staple in both queer and mainstream culture, appealing to a wide range of audiences through its blend of drama, comedy, heartwarming moments and true artistic talent. Following season 12, a fan favorite, audiences had high hopes for season 13. Ultimately, however, the latest installment was unable to live up to its potential. Despite the talent of the drag queen contestants, the stylistic and structural production of this season was notably lackluster.
In the beginning of this year’s award season, many awards shows had trouble adapting to the virtual setting necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. After watching the trials and tribulations of the Grammys and the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards executed their show quite well in comparison: The part-in-person, part-virtual show progressed without any major technical difficulties. For the third straight year, there was no host; instead, the Academy rotated awards presenters. Even with the success of the format, though, the ceremony had only 10.4 million viewers, making it the least-watched Oscars since the Academy started recording views in 1974.
Over the past few years, Netflix has capitalized on people’s fascination with the macabre. From the 2015 hit “Making a Murderer” to “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” “The Ripper” and then this year’s “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel,” recent Netflix originals have focused on a darker side of human nature. On April 2, this trend continued with “The Serpent.”
Whenever I walk into a party, I can’t help but ask myself how each person is experiencing the party themselves — the couple in the back curled into an embrace, the gaggle of girls infused by music, their hair a silky blur; a half-drunk group with hands raised as a pong ball sinks into stinky froth. In the colored lights and thrumming bass of a party, it’s practically impossible to see anyone clearly — to see the world through the eyes of those disguised by makeup and alcohol and fake smiles.
“Cherry” by Nico Walker, while refreshingly candid and meaningful in book form, suffers from its prolonged length and an overreliance on tropes in its adaptation to the big-screen. The directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, clearly tried to create something profound out of Walker’s sincere story, yet the two-and-a-half hour film ended up cheesy nonetheless. Every moment in the film is self-conscious, hindering the genuine story from shining through.
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards, which took place on March 14th, marked the continuation of this year’s socially distanced award season. Unlike the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, the Recording Academy chose to hold its ceremony outdoors where it could host nominees in person. The format worked well, making the ceremony feel more like a normal, pre-COVID event.
Martin Scorsese once said that Marvel movies were more akin to theme parks than cinema — a claim that drew the ire of many passionate nerds who rushed to the defense of the $22 billion grossing franchise. His rationale was that the films were predictable and didn’t convey the unique emotional and psychological experiences of its characters in the way that he believes true cinema does.
“Two of Us,” a French film directed by Filippo Meneghetti, feels at first like a simple love story. However, the film quickly evolves into a complex portrait of queer love, familial distance and loss. Meneghetti’s debut film is a harrowing yet stunning exploration of what it means to love in secret.
Frontwoman Tamara Lindeman takes a grand leap on The Weather Station’s fifth album, “Ignorance.” She departs from the band’s previous indie-folk sound to undertake an emotive art rock project brimming with existentialism. Lindeman interweaves personal storytelling with reflections on climate change and urbanization, bringing emotional weight to easily depersonalized issues. Despite a sometimes simplistic sound, the masterful lyricism of “Ignorance” offers a poignant take on the ongoing destruction of the natural world.
No other band has had as inconsistent a career as Weezer has. After achieving critical and commercial success with the power-pop of their 1994 self-titled first album, the darker direction of Weezer’s second album, “Pinkerton,” initially drew negative reviews, despite later achieving cult status. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s embarrassment over “Pinkerton” led to a long series of albums in the 2000s full of safe, boring pop music that lacked the magic of Weezer’s early work. While the band did produce a couple of albums I enjoyed during this period, particularly 2016’s “White Album,” they reached a low with 2019’s “Black Album.”
A decade after Argentinian director Juan José Campanella’s “The Secret in Their Eyes” won the 2010 Academy Award for best foreign film, Campanella made his return to live-action cinema with “The Weasel’s Tale” — a remake of the 1976 film “Yesterday's Guys Used No Arsenic.” Campanella’s dark comedy, offered through the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ “Film on Demand” series until Wednesday, follows former starlet Mara Ordaz, played by Graciela Borges, who lives with three filmmaking colleagues in a secluded mansion on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Since the release of his debut album in 2015, Chris Stapleton has made a name for himself in country music — opting for the grit and rough edges of the genre’s earlier days rather than the bikinis and pickup trucks of its pop iteration. Gifted with masterful songwriting and a powerful voice, Stapleton knows how to write an affecting song and drive home its emotions with his distinctive, raspy tone. With his fourth solo album, “Starting Over” — which debuted in November — Stapleton has truly mastered his craft, tugging at heartstrings with the lyrics of one song and excoriating your soul with his vocals on the next.
From beginning to (almost) end, 2020 has been the most unconventional year in recent memory. And naturally, the music released this year has been strange. While those who released music at the beginning of the year largely finished recording before the pandemic began, many artists releasing albums at the tail-end have had to work around stay-at-home orders and general shutdowns. As always, art has found a way to overcome, and these 10 albums represent some of the best music released in this otherwise difficult year.
On Oct. 3, Netflix released the sixth and final season of the Canadian comedy series “Schitt’s Creek.” Originally aired in Canada on CBC and in the U.S. on Pop TV, the show deftly and hilariously tells the story of the once-wealthy Rose family, who have fallen from grace and must live in the small town of Schitt’s Creek.
For the better part of the decade, experimental hip-hop group Clipping — stylized as clipping. — has played a pivotal role in the revitalization of horrorcore. Consisting of rapper Daveed Diggs — known for his role as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the 2015 Broadway hit “Hamilton” — and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, Clipping prides themselves on taking elements of horror films and transforming them into musical form. The trio’s name perfectly encapsulates their production style, as harsh, industrial noises overlay unnerving, spine-tingling screams and discord.
The much-anticipated “Borat” sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” is as politically timely as it is funny. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and directed by Jason Woliner, the film, released Oct. 23, outdoes its predecessor with its bold, high stakes pranks and rich political satire. At its core, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” makes a powerful critique of how misogyny is frequently overlooked in President Donald Trump’s America.
Over the past few years, former YouTube star George Miller — better known as Joji — has become one of the most popular internet artists in the mainstream world of music. Given his background, a career in serious music sounds unlikely; under his YouTube personality “Filthy Frank,” Joji was known for his dark, gross-out humor and his wild alter ego, Pink Guy. However, Joji’s transition from fringe YouTube comedian to mainstream R&B artist was more successful than anyone could have imagined.