20 August 2018

Summer Jam 2018 Week 15: A Good Taste

August is rounding the corner, baby and it's time for some hip-hop. There's still a weird mix in there and I have no explanation for our #1 Jam this week. We've rounded another corner in our mix, though, and the mix of songs here rounds corners like no other mix we've ever cornered. It's amazing how round these corners are.

Hot Jam of the Week: "Best Hugs" by D.R.A.M.



There were some high profile jams this week like Cardi B's "Ring" and a new Janet Jackson song that looks really sad and pathetic. So obvi "Best Hugs" wins. I actually legitimately dig this song. It's pretending to be so sweet but it's definitely DRAM trying to smash. We can get into it, though! Watermelons! Old orgies. It's a perfect summer song.

"Smile" by Lil Duval ft. Snoop Dogg, Ball Greezy

This has been around for a month or so but popped up on my radar this week. I tuned into Snoop, who seems perfectly content to hop on guest spots in random tracks like this and yet has the same smooth, carefree tones he's had for twenty-five years. Truly the Dogfather of Rap, baby. Also "Live your best life" has become a sort of Millennial catch-phrase, which this track captures nicely. So, at this point none of these new songs have any chance to really make Summer King status, and are mostly just taking up space from other more important songs. I still like this.

"Let You Be Right" by Meghan Trainor

I generally dislike Meghan Trainor, so I was surprised when I liked this jam and it was her. Actually, that happens quite a bit. She does a nice job of working a catchy flow or hook but her subjects tend to trend towards the more superficial and self-serving elements of the current feminist movement without the attitude or actions to fully endorse what she's saying. Anyway, this jam is cool. If it had more legs it could make a nice run here.

"In My Feelings" by Drake

I think "In My Feelings" has finally overtaken "God's Plan" then "Nice for What" to become the definitive Drake Summer Jam. As you can tell, it's been a hell of a summer for the Toronto Degrassi star. "Kiki do you love me" that works. Ultimately this may not work in his favor as his hits are all split up, but as an artist, he's had a ton of separate spots on this list. Cardi B may come close, if not more.

"No Tears Left to Cry" by Ariana Grande

Back from the dead! Yeah, this is going to push this jam over the edge, I know. Ariana made some rounds last week, since her album, Sweetener is finally dropping. That may have been why this jam popped up again, but I found myself still loving it. Now "Pete Davidson" needs to become a single.

"Girls Like You" by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B

Dropping a little but still a fine presence, this has now made a pretty solid splash all things considered. By now it's had a really long presence since it debuted and really caught on, although it may just be cresting in popularity. We'll see where it lands these last few weeks to really make a case for itself.

"Taste" by Tyga ft. Offset

This track has also been around for a little bit but seemed to click this week. Maybe it just takes a few weeks for new hip hop to sink in these days. There seems to be a lot of homogeneity amongst the B-level rappers these days. Anyway, I picture this is all about cunnilingus, which makes me happy. This has popped up here and there this summer, but likely doesn't really have a case to make itself a relevant Summer Jam.

"Africa" by Weezer

So, totally novelty song here, but I heard the Weezer version of "Africa" four times in one day, and after that it just had to be #1. This is totally just Weezer co-opting a popular older song of the moment (there are lots of weird things going on culturally here), and for some reason "Africa" is a huge song right now. I mean, it's good and classic in that obscure way. Good for Toto.

Next week...

Like I said, there were new Cardi B and Janet Jackson songs this week, but they're pretty suck. It's wide open for the next two weeks for anyone to make a dent. I also narrowly left off Taylor Swift's "Delicate" which has trended along the periphery for a while. Maybe Weird Al can put out something sweet. Stay tuned, listeners!

13 August 2018

August Movie Rundown

Listen, folks - it's come to my attention that I've been hella ignoring most of August's movies. Hell, the only movies I've even seen in the theaters came out in July. Early July. Let me be frank: I really don't care about most of these films. Clearly, nearly does America, since Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) is the only worthwhile film dominating the Box Office right now. Well, The Meg (2018) won this past weekend, but at $45 million I hesitate to call that a big triumph. It seems like August 2018 is without its sleeper hit.

Nevertheless, I feel like it's my duty to go through all these films, why they probably suck, and what cultural impact they might have. I've tried not to look up anything before going on senseless rambles. Please correct me when I'm angry and way off base. Regardless of release date, let's go through the lot:

Family Guy is all over this, right?

The Meg


We've had more a weird Deep Blue Sea (1999) revival than a JAWS (1975) revival in accordance to the release of this Jason Statham Megalodon flick. It's surprisingly hard to pull off a film like this. You've got to go either real self-aware camp like Piranha 3D (2010) or full on Monster mash like Lake Placid (1999). Even the Jaws sequels had mitigating success and failure with striking the right tone. It's weird to me that JAWS works at all, since Shark films in particular seem rife with tonal screw-ups. Deep Blue Sea is amazing, but it's pretty earnest in its ridiculousness. I don't know where The Meg ends up (based on a book...somehow), but it doesn't feel either extremely earnest or self-aware in its camp.

Crazy Rich Asians

The title of this movies just seems really weird. Like a spoof movie or something racist. But it's not... either of those? It's notable for having an all-Asian cast in an American-made Hollywood picture and seems to be getting good word of mouth. It's about a woman who meets a dude who turns out to be the Prince of Singapore or something. I'd be curious if the rich insane people are skewered or not, and what this comedy tries to poke fun at, but either way the cast is full of up and coming talent. I don't really give a shit about fish-out-of-water romantic comedies like this, but since it drops in two days maybe it actually will be that sleeper hit we talked about. It will also likely be pretty good.

Alpha

Also an upcoming release, this is about some dog and caveman or something, I don't care. It's like a sappy pet story - not only that, but the FIRST sappy pet story. First in history. I don't know why anyone would be interested in this.

Mile 22

I know absolutely nothing about this movie except that Mark Wahlberg is in it. Somehow that's all I need to know. It'll probably be some overblown grim shit that Wahlberg is really earnest in, to the point of self-parody. Again, I literally only know the title and Wahlberg is in it. I will not see this movie.

The Happytime Murders

I'm not sure if this looks good or not. I honestly don't know. I feel like the "inappropriate puppets" schtick has been done before, and beyond the initial novelty of the idea, I'm not sure what the movie can really do with it. Generally the whole thing looks like it's trying sooooo hard to be edgy. Melissa McCarthy does thrive better in R-Rated features, but moreso when she's bonkers like in Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013), or yeah, even Tammy (2014). This feels like she's more supporting a zany premise that again, may not stand on its own. Then again, folks seem excited, at least for that novelty aspect. Sleeper.

Christopher Robin

I could give less than a shit about Christopher Robin. I know, I know, this post is coming off as more and more cynical. Like, whatever, I was a big Pooh fan in my youth, but it really doesn't matter how the things we like were created. And it seems like this is a whimsical fantasy more than anything. We're in a glut of this lately, with that fake ass Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) movie last year basically being the same thing. This interpretation of the creative process drives me nuts. Like he had some bro in his fraternity named Tigger or something. It's all just contrived crap exploiting nostalgia instead of innovating anything new or interesting. I'm reflecting with some regret on my vitriol towards what is likely a sweet and innocent movie, but also really sick of people telling me I need to see it.

BlacKkKlansman

There has been this wave of "Spike Lee is back" articles, and apparently this film knocks it out of the park. The first trailer had a captivating hook and cinematically looks like some of the most beautiful work he's ever done. It'll be niche but could be driving some Oscar buzz, which is tight. That awkward spelling, though. I'm excited to see this. See? I can get excited for something.

Slender Man

This has more to do with those girls who stabbed each other rather than the actual Slender Man, right? If a "Slender Man" is really in this, that actually invalidates much of that tragedy and also makes for a far less interesting tale about how we've grown to deal with Internet culture and how we interpret facts and stories in our new shared media. This is all really interesting stuff. Slender Man has gotten next to no buzz, so I think...crap?

The Spy Who Dumped Me

I spend a lot of time staying up at night thinking about Kate McKinnon and her career. She's the current SNL anchor and the first cast member in a while to immediately be able to extrapolate into "She's going to be a star!" It feels like she hasn't found the right vehicle to launch her into the mainstream. Right now she's had the best chances to leap out in Sisters (2015), Ghostbusters (2016), Masterminds (2016), Office Christmas Party (2016), Rough Night (2017), and now this. What you may immediately think is, "Boy, are these a bunch of shitty movies." And yeah, McKinnon is the best part of Masterminds and Rough Night for sure. Office Christmas Party is drastically underrated and she plays against type wonderfully. The Spy Who Dumped Me seems to be trading more on the Mila Kunis Bad Moms (2016) train. She plays a character named Morgan Freeman! How is this not working. Notary Publix. I think this premise is just played out. It's like Knight & Day (2010) or Killers (2010) or Spy (2015) or The Brothers Grimsby (2016) or Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016) or hell, True Lies (1994) even. McKinnon needs a new agent.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

I didn't know this was a thing until weeks after it came out. Why does this exist? Mamma Mia (2008) was somehow ten years ago and was pretty popular. I guess more ABBA songs existed? Why is this a thing? Who is into this? I did not see the first one and have no desire to ever sit through an ABBA-based musical. The only ABBA song worth listening to is "Fernando" and I will freely admit that I listen to "Fernando" more than any human ought to. And I know the title is based on an ABBA song, but it totally feels like a Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) kind of lazy sequel title. I can picture saying it with such a sigh.

The Equalizer 2

Here's some trivia for you - what is Denzel Washington's #4 highest grossing film of his career? It's the fucking Equalizer (2014)! I suppose they couldn't make sequels to American Gangster (2007), Safe House (2012), or Remember the Titans (2000), so here we are. I never saw The Equalizer. It just seemed like more aging movie star vengeance Liam Neeson / John Cusack crap. Maybe it's good, I don't know. The Equalizer 2 had the #3 opening of Denzel's career. Suck on that, haters.

The Darkest Minds

How has Hollywood not yet gotten the memo that the YA fad is over? Even the final two Hunger Games movies flopped. Well, maybe $337 million and $281 million aren't flops, but the final installmetn of your epic film series shouldn't be the least grosser. I digress. Someone wrote a book and was really hopeful, and good for them, they probably got paid. No one else did.

Eight Grade

Apparently this movie is really good. I'm kind of excited. Not for the subject matter at all, I already went through Eight Grade, it was really bad. I don't need to relive that again, but I always cheer for competent new voices in cinema. Bo Burnham, better known as a comedian / musician evidently knocked it out of the park. I'm down. See? Ending with something positive. All you need to do is make good movies, people.

What do you think? Have you seen any of this crap? Pumped for Christopher Robin? Leave one below.

12 August 2018

Summer Jam 2018 Week 14: A New Big Three Takes Over

We're into mid-August now, people, and I'm feeling it. Massive ennui regarding the end of summer and the start of school. Responsibilities. Homework. Leaves changing, an air of death sweeping across the nation as we plunge into a cropless winter of endless black cold - a void to which there is no escape. So let's crank some tunes while we've still got that summer jam feeling in our heart and blood in our veins! Oh yeah!

Hot Jam of the Week: "XCTY" by Kanye



I've had a lot of new crappy Kanye as the Hot Jam this Summer, but not only is this track making a notable splash for Kanye saying he wants to bang all his sisters-in-law in the first line (I don't think it's as literal as that - well, I hope not), but it's a solid artpiece as well. Well, you can always argue one way or another, but it pushes Ye's obsession with using the human voice as a backing beat along with his Yeezy / Poopity Scoop idea of completing breaking down lyrical content. It's basically Cash Green yelling "Nigga Shit Nigga Shit" in Sorry to Bother You (2018) and people thinking it's great rap. The point is in the meta, not reality. Anyway, for a mainstream insane artist right now to be putting out this kind of song (which, by the way, fits its own title / theme of sexual ecstasy constantly and thoroughly) is kind of amazing.

"Youngblood" by 5 Seconds of Summer

I don't know too much about 5 Seconds of Summer because I'm an old man but from what I read in magazines this boy pop band is attempting to mature and make some real music. That's harder to do than it would seem - especially when crafting a more man band image rather than boy band stuff. This track does a nice job and they play instruments and shit, I don't know. Seems fine. Also summer. This jam has been kind of a thing, and more kind of a teenage girl thing right now, but good enough for this week.

"Side Effects" by the Chainsmokers ft. Emily Warren

I really like the breakdown of this track. Warren has a solid flow as well throughout the song, although I definitely sense that we won't hear much more from her. Singers on EDM tracks these days seem so interchangeable. I'm not sure anyone besides me likes this tune right now, which is weird because this is totally the kind of song that typically everyone besides me loves. That's all good.

"Psycho" by Post Malone

Post Malone basically has a standing seat at the Summer Jam Table right now. "Psycho" comes in and out, it's gone for a while, comes back on whenever it wants, it's all good. I really dig having so many bottles we can even give some to the ugly girls along with the rest of this jam's flow which is beautiful. It gets points for legs, but hasn't been fresh enough for a while now to really make a Summer Jam splash.

"No Brainer" by DJ Khalid ft. Bieber, Quavo, Chance

It took me a while to figure out that this was actually a different song than the DJ Khalid / Justin Bieber / Quavo / Chance the Rapper song "I'm the One" from last summer. Seriously, it's like the same exact crew. "No Brainer" has kind of been there for a minute, but is a relatively new debut to the Hot 100 and could make a nice splash considering how easy listening it is. Chance does the best job here, naturally, and there are some choice memorable lines. How did Bieber get in with these guys.

"I Like It" by Cardi B and J. Balvin

Before I even really noticed it, suddenly Cardi B, Maroon 5, and Drake took over a swap for the Top 3 spots instead of Ariana, Camila, and well, Drake in the beginning of the season. This is suddenly a legitimate run and we are look to have one of the closest Summer Jam races in recent memory.

"Girls Like You" by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B

Yeah this song is blasting everywhere. Either way Cardi's having a hell of a summer. I think it has a lot to do with how fragmented everyone's music outlets are. In Summer Jams past we've had only one or two outlets and usually a pretty clear winner that everyone would bow down to. That may not really be the case anymore. Everyone's Summer Jam is different! Should I give this segment up? Probably. Need to make it through 2020, though so we can say he did 10 straight years of Summer Jam Countdowns!!

"In My Feelings" by Drake

Yeah, on to the #1. Upsetting both Cardi B tracks, I actually struggled, thinking this was "Nice for What" this week, but then realized it might actually be a better track. Or it's not and all Drake songs sound the same now. Or my old ears just hear all youth music as the same thing and I'm totally out of touch. I should probably give this up. 2020, baby!!

Next week...

Oh, who knows. Bebe Rexha? This year has been bizarre. Songs I thought would break did not. Songs I wanted to break did not...then did! I'm very excited to see how the next three weeks turn out, and if things stay the way they do, we very may well see the Summer of Maroon 5, which would be crazy. Stay tuned, folks!!
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