22 May 2017

Katy Perry Does Double Duty LIVE Summer Jam Week 2!

Once again we're coming at you LIVE on Week 2 of the Official Norwegian Morning Wood Summer Jam Countdown - our destiny is here until Labour Day - let's get into some funk, baby! We have eight songs that are ready to pop like candy-coated dynamite here just for you, the loyal listener. Let's jam.

Hot Jam of the Week: "Swish Swish" by Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj

Two weeks, two Hot Katy Perry jams, but what can I say? She's bringing it. Nicki doesn't bring a ton to this track that a random group like Migos do, but it's a good enough song that continues to firm up Katy's new brand. This takes about a minute to get interesting, and is in every way a lesser track to "Bon Appetite" but it's trending enough this weekend to earn a spot here.

Dropped: "iSpy" by Kyle ft. Lil' Yachty

Our #1 last week is barely holding on - this just wasn't an earworm this week. There's a lot of competition right now as everyone settles into their summer jam hood. "iSpy" was never destined for a crown, having dropped far too early, but it should still have some juice in it going forward for a few months.

SWE: "High" by Sir Sly

Here's your random track for the week. I heard this jam this week and was digging it hardcore. There's of course no real hope this number catches on, but I like highlighting some random alt jams like this from time to time. It has a fantastic, cutty rhythm and almost feels like an old Foster the People song.

Issues Need Tissues: "Issues" by Julia Michaels

This jam seems like it's been around for a bit, although just this week it started really chugging forward. I have no idea who Julia Michaels is, but she can sing the hell out both the hook and verse work of a song like this. The lyrical content is very whatever, we've heard this a million times from anyone who's ever sung anything ever, but the way it straddles in between ballad and upbeat dance number is engrossing. I bet this could stay for a minute.

Bone Ape Tit: "Bon Appetit" by Katy Perry ft. Migos

This ain't going anywhere. It's a beautiful EDM / Pop / Rap song that merges everything like a bountiful buffet. I'm fearful of Katy dominating all of Summer forever, which is totally possible right now. I don't really know if this is supposed to be goofy Katy or serious Katy, but it's surely sexy Katy, and that always works. Let the assault begin.

Like Kellyanne Conway: "Bad Liar" by Selena Gomez

I almost slotted this in the Hot Jam slot, but it works better here, because it totally legit took over a ton this week. This is kind of like that Julia Michaels song in that it's been around for a second without exactly making a name for itself. Like "Same Old Love" a few years back she does a really nice job with the progression of her vocal work and it's totally sexy even if at 24 years old she still looks like she's in middle school.

Rebel Just for Kicks: "Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man

Now this is this week's earworm. Portugal. The Man has had a few jams here and there but this is by far their biggest jam to date. It's a little old, but rock songs always seem to have a delayed reaction from release to prominence. This has such an engaging and fun beat and vocal work that makes for a great summer contender. Can it hold on? I'm inclined to say no, but for now and maybe here and there this will pop up.

The Old Man: "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars

Definitely an old song, but it's hung around and was good enough to earn that Top Spot this week. It assuredly won't last, but in this state of flux, it's got it. It's been around long enough that its hotness gets even hotter with mouthed lyrics at dance clubs and a knowing nodding approval. For some reason Bruno Mars is the only one really pushing funk these days, or is at least the most successful at it. I'd be eager to see what else he might drop to secure a Summer Jam Kingdom.

Next week...

What new song with Katy Perry drop? Can GaGa surge back ahead? What about everyone else? These are the questions that have plagued humanity for all of history. I also narrowly kicked out "Rockabye" this week which is still knocking on the door. Altogether these really are the hot ones right now, and I struggle seeing much besides a shuffle of the order next week. Stay tuned, true believers, the Summer's just starting to sizzle!

21 May 2017

Elites, Grunts, and Xenomorphs: Alien: Ark of the Covenant

Usually this is a Friday thing, you know, as to be relevant, but I'll be honest, this was a bit of a ludicrous week for me. I did not get to that shit. Nevertheless, we got another Alien movie coming out this week, which is a big deal. There have only been eight of them, and two are universally accepted as pretty good, so that's something to get really excited about. We've got Alien: Covenant (2017) today, which I don't totally care about, but if it's creepy scary good filmmaking we may have something worth talking about here. Let's get into the preview for a film that came out two days ago:
Get away from her you bitch!

The Alien Franchise has existed in this realm that straddles a lot of different genres and expectations. It's not totally weird for a horror film to have a dozen crappy sequels that excel in camp over artistic merit, but Alien is at least as much action as it is horror. Aliens (1986) was actually the first major blockbuster sequel to just trade up genres, and it did it in a brilliant simplistic way that's still worthy of emulation today, even if we've never really seen another franchise pull it off.

Really, though, this thing goes back to 1979, which is actually kind of an amazing longevity. No film in the series has really been great since Aliens, though. David Fincher's Alien 3 (1992) has its moments for sure, it's never really caught on as iconic as any other film in the series. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection (1997) is actually a pretty fun grimy flick, but is by no means what I'd call a good movie. Still, there's Ron Pearlman, Winona Ryder, that weird basketball scene, and of course the super creepy white alien / human hybrid whatever. It's got some stuff.

In the 2000s all we got were AVP films, and while the first one is kind of cool in that same Resurrection way of campy ridiculousness that more or less delivers, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) has next to no positive features of any kind. That's actually despite being the only one of eight films that's set in the present day within the confines of the United States. That's clearly the issue here. Despite all this, there has actually been a decent continuity in terms of the Weyland-Yutani's history and all that crap.

Then there's Prometheus (2012). Listen, sitting in the theater I liked Prometheus a lot. I wrote more about Prometheus at the time than I had about any other film in Norwegian Morning Wood history. Five years gone I think a lot of that love has evaporated, but culturally the film did actually make a sizable impact, even if it was ultimately negative. I had a lot of rationale for it at the time, but after five years of intense thought and deliberation, fuck that, this movie made no sense, no motivation or interaction lands with conviction, and the inconsistencies and unfulfilled mysteries are too grand to ignore. After some close examination that's more Damon Lindelof than Ridley Scott's direction, which is pretty great. The production, cast, and general themes all land pretty hard and I wouldn't call it a terrible waste.

Then we get to the present day. Ridley Scott, somehow at age 79 is coming back to a more Alien (1979) level of thrills rather than Prometheus level of bullshit. That's just the issue, though - by all means this looks like an exact retread of Alien rather than anything interesting. That's the Star Wars Prequels - Disney sequels argument - as bad as the prequels were, they were new and different. The sequels may be better as films by adhering to what made the originals great, but that's still somehow not satisfying. Scott is also a notoriously finicky director who cuts and re-cuts his films all the time, and whose recent work has ranged from pretty awesome to pretty shit. It's hard to have any real exceptions about Covenant at all.

One thing that is cool is the cast, which is pretty sweet. Billy Crudup, Demian Bichir, and especially the bizarre casting of Danny McBride and James Franco in a horror movie (even if the latter apparently isn't around for too long) is intriguing. Above all, though, is Katherine Waterston, who I've been cheering for getting a big mainstream role since Inherent Vice (2014). Sure she's got Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) too now, I guess, but that's a bunch of bullshit and you know it. She's got a Ripley haircut here, what more do you need.

There's also Mike Fassbender, but as a different android? Or maybe David's head shows up again? I don't know. I'm also unsure if Noomi Rapace shows up again, I think I read she does, but if it's a minor or cameo part, that's also a kind of thumb in the ass for the genuine Prometheus fans, right? Like, it sucked, but that was because it ended and promised all the answers to its horse shit in its sequel. Covenant seems to be like, nah, that sucked, we're doing some different shit now. That's fine and could make for a more satisfying cinematic experience, but it's also getting rid of a reason why we might have retro-actively liked Prometheus. It all goes to show that Lindelof really didn't have any fucking idea what he was doing or secretly cool underlying mystery here. Maybe there will be some kind of pay-off. Who knows.
At least it brushes its teeth.

Typically the point of this post is to present the impending culturally, critical, and commercial potential of upcoming big blockbuster films. We've already seen the commercial impact, and it did pretty decent in the sense that it ousted Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), but that's no huge feat in its third week of release. Critically it seems to have done okay, and there is some cultural impact with advancing the Alien narrative and that shot of the buggy on the roof is creepy and iconic. Good enough, right? I would have suggested it does just fine, and probably better than I thought it might have after seeing the first trailer a few months ago, which was all sorts of whatever. It'll at least be good enough until Baywatch (2017) drops, which I really think will take over Memorial Day and kick off summer.

What do you think? What's the best Alien movie? Is Covenant's shirking of Prometheus a positive leap forward or a cheap shot against those who wanted a delayed payoff? Sound off below.

15 May 2017

Here We Do! SUMMER JAM 2017 WEEK 1 LIVE!

Let us begin! Coming to you live on the first Monday after the Summer Season officially begins, it's that age old time to once again recount all the hottest jams of the country each week until only one remains to be crowned THE Summer Jam of 2017! We've been doing this...for many many years and this has clearly evolved into one of our least popular columns, but dammit if it isn't still a thrill to dig into the sexiest jams each week.

So the magic number is eight - always has been and always will be. Think of this more like whatever jams I really wanted to talk about more than whatever's actually hot. That always makes the end of the year tally more valid. Now, we've only got seventeen weeks, so every notch counts!

HOT JAM OF THE WEEK! "Bon Appétit" by Katy Perry ft. Migos

This will definitely rise fast, and even though there are many possible candidates this week, it's clear that Katy Perry has been priming a mini-comeback from her mini-sort of hiatus lately with "Chained to the Rhythm" then this, which blows everything out o the water. Her new style seems to be somewhere between more traditional Lo Fi Chill-Hop beats and a really engrossing vocal rhythm, with some healthy rap collabos. Migos are the hottest hip-hop group around right now, and their inclusion is very natural to make a killer summer jam. This song is debuting at a perfect time and won't go anywhere till mid-July.

Old Jam Holding On: "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars

Bruno has also had a great pair of songs in the past six months - following up the wonderful "24K Magic" with this smooth jam that comes close to being superior. It's definitely on the tail end of its cosmic journey across pop culture, but still getting airplay and notoriety enough to be worth a mention here. It may even survive a few more weeks, but likely not a true Jam candidate.

Smokin! "Mask Off" by Future

Future blows, as does this song but I really wanted to mention this because a friend of mine was telling me the other day that Future was trying to steal his friend's girlfriend. This of course makes no sense outside of an insane lifestyle that I want to learn much more about. This song is doing alright and Future's stock is rising. We'll keep an eye on it.

Oppam One-Hit Wonder Style: "New Face" by PSY

I really love non-"Gangnam Style" PSY songs for two reasons: 1) The 2012 smash was a ridiculous worldwide YouTube-driven novelty song and 2) He's actually equally insane and hilarious in all his videos, and "New Face" preserves a lot of that "Gangnam Style" weirdness and sick dance moves. It will of course not catch on, but it's still a sweet jam to crank out this summer. You'll at least get a lot of fun quizzical looks! He also dropped "I LUV IT" this week but that's a bit weaker to me.

A Star is Born: "The Cure" by Lady GaGa

It's been a few years since she was a serious Summer Jam contender, and whether she sees this herself or not (I doubt it), I've always pictured GaGa as eternally pining for a Summer Jam Crown. "The Cure" is a little old but still pretty fresh, and from Super Bowl LI it's been clear that she wants 2017 to become the Year of GaGa. Unfortunately that may have been 2009 or maybe 2011, which is getting to be a minute ago. I think this could keep tracking for a few weeks or at least set up another single off Joanne, but once again, she's dueling Katy this summer.

Interchangeable Pop Ballad of the Week: "Rockabye" by Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie

This was a big jam this week but totally also a random pop song that no one will care about in three weeks' time. You can always tell the songs like this since the amount of artists you need to credit is longer than the song title. Nice to hear Sean Paul here although I was totally just thinking Pitbull the whole time. I just realized that Pitbull took over the career that Sean Paul was building. That's fucked up. There's nothing really special about this song, but it's cool for now.

Speaking Of: "I'm the One" by DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne

It may be weird to hear, but I actually don't have anything at all against Justin Bieber. In fact I dig most of his tracks, especially "Love Yourself" which I still tune everything else out to jam to. This is a pretty stupid song, though, even if it's #1 on the Billboard Charts this week. There's a lot going on here and it doesn't come close to some of Chance the Rapper's great hits like "No Problem" that he cranked out last year with Lil Wayne. He's still probably the best part of this jam. It could stay around a while since it has the momentum, but I don't think it'll ever really threaten for Summer King.

Cosby or Eddie Murphy: "iSpy" by KYLE ft. Lil' Yachty

I had to look up a few things - namely, KYLE, and the stylization of "iSpy" for some reason, but this is far and large the catchiest song of the week. There's not an artist that more embodies 2017 to me than Lil' Yachty, who just seems to get this generation, probably because he's actually of this generation. This is a little bit outdated and will probably only ride until June or so, which makes its Summer Jam status a reach, but we'll see what it can do.

Next week...

I was tempted to shout out DNCE's new jam with Nicki Minaj, but the song sucks hard. Kendrick Lamar has also had a lot of big awesome jams drop lately, but I'm not sure any of them are actually Top 8 yet - "Humble." is the chief, but that's definitely a bit played out by now. Still, it could easily creep back. Stay tuned! We got 16 more weeks of this crap!
Related Posts with Thumbnails