15 July 2019

Summer Jam 2019 Week 10: The Heart of Summer

Ah the post-Independence Day Summer Jam Post. Truly the Heart of Summer. But with these songs, more like the FART of Summer! We're trying. It's all good fun. There are a slew of hot jams to crank out while going to the beach, watching cool Uber-related movies, making out at camp, and causing a general ruckus. Let's press that plus button to turn the volume UP!

Hot Jam of the Week: "DOLLAR" by Becky G, Myke Towers

I was hammered drunk when I found this song and despite understanding no lyrics I definitely got down. Not sure if it will get any English-radio traction, but hey, "Despacito." This is infectious, not nearly "Despacito" levels, but is still a fun jam for the spicy scorcher days of Summer. I didn't even know Becky G was Spanish.

"Cross Me" by Ed Sheeran ft. Chance the Rapper & PnB Rock

Ed Sheeran is actually having a lot of hits this summer. I really dislike Ed Sheeran. Is he a jokester? A mellow man? A crossover hip-hop artist? Is he cool? Why is he running around with Travis Scott and on Game of Thrones and shit. He's a ginger enigma. This song is cool, though. It doesn't really make any sense lyrically - like shouldn't it be obvious if someone crosses your girl that's also crossing you? That's apparently not automatic. I did Chance's bars here, though. It's an older song but I heard it a bunch this week and still like it.

"Wow" by Post Malone

Another oldie, same as "Cross Me" this just seemed to infect my brain this week. This has the sickest beat and flow of the year, though. So sick I can't get sick of it. It's a tubthumper dance, groovy car jam, and has a lot going for it. Despite at this it hasn't quite broken out to the top of the charts or anything. "Old Town Road" is a behemoth.

"Señorita" by Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello

This is another earworm song whose reign I think is just beginning. I gave Camila Summer Jam 2018 honors by a hair last year, and she could rise again with this jam. It's a charming, disarming, alarming romantic jam that soothes its way into our variable hearts. I dig it. We're very Spanish this week. Like a whole bunch of this great nation we call America. I mean this in a positive way but sense a controversy there somehow.

"I Don't Care" by Ed Sheeran & Bieber

This song won't quite go away, and that's just fine. Fine. It's kind of annoying, but not so much that it's totally irritating. I could just take it or leave it. By now it's made a nice Summer Jam name for itself and doesn't appear like it's going away. If it could continue to be present and rise up it might make a run for the Crown here.

"The Git Up" by Blanco Brown

"Old Town Road" hold my beer. Blanco Brown is fusing hip-hop and country even further, in a track that really sounds more latter than former. It's basically a line dance set to a beat, but since the artist is black it's a rap song, right? Oh, I can tell that it's country, because it's super irritating to my own precious ears. Still, it's fresh, popular, fun, and easy to listen to. "The Git Up" could become a thing.

"Talk" by Khalid

Yep, "Talk" was a thing again this week. By this point it's staying around quite a bit, although some weeks it hasn't quite been a presence. I feel like I heard it every day this week. It should be able to make it with at least one more round at the Top. Or never again. It seems like it's that kind of song.

"Truth Hurts" by Lizzo

After all my hesitation about this song because it's old af, there was nothing like "Truth Hurts" this week. The flow is so damn good and it really sounds like only its own thing. I will truly think of Lizzo in mid-July 2019 and that's what this list is all about. I feel embarrassed I ignored it for weeks this summer, but it's just undoubtedly a Summer Queen Contender right now. It's engaging enough that even if it slips from the #1 spot it ought to stay on this list for a while yet.

Next week...

I narrowly left off "You Need To Calm Down" and "Bad Guy" this week. Both are still hammer-wielding worthy. "Old Town Road" also got a new popular remix this week, but it kind of sucks so I left it at home for what might have been the first time this summer. At this point it's like "Old Town Road" is notable for being "Old Town Road" and its notoriety will keep it going. But I do think we've crested that ridge and there is finally room for some other jams to climb out and assert their case for Summer Jam Champion!

08 July 2019

Summer Jam 2019 Week 9

We've rounded the fourth of July and now in front of us is so much unencumbered, pure summer that I could just fall to my knees and cry. Warm weather, shaky rocks, and plenty of pools from here on out! There are a slew of jams as well - let's take a listen to what was hot during America Week 2019!

Hot Jam of the Week: "Mother's Daughter" by Miley Cyrus

Not to be outdone by her dad this summer, Miley scores one for the moms in this pop ballad. Sort of. It is a sign of her growing maturity that it's not totally about just getting wrecked, but it still is in a way, but there is a bit more subtlety here than usual. I will always contend the artistic merit of Miley Cyrus and get excited about any new music she cranks out. This is ultimately an okay track, I don't think it'll totally catch on, but fine for now.

"Happy Days" by Blink 182

Hey! Is it 1999? No, but Blink 182 has a new song! Mark Hoppus still can't sing, but this really does sound like vintage Blink. Is this music even popular anymore? It is punk-pop, which should have even more appeal now than before. But does an old man singing about youthful platitudes have any real weight? No, and neither should you.

"Money in the Grave" by Drake ft. Rick Ross

Drake gets another hit this week because this track is growing on me, although not nearly as catchy as anything he did last year. It's an engaging yet simplistic beat, Drake's flow is always solid, and singing about money is fun. Just ask Ariana. Is this a statement about the estate tax? Anti-bank? I don't know, who cares.

"Truth Hurts" by Lizzo

Yep, this song still earwormed itself into my brain this week, and despite it being pretty old, feels fresh enough that it could stick around for a while. It's got legs for days! It sounds very new and exciting and I dig a lot of what Lizzo is producing these days.

"I Don't Care" by Bieber and Sheeran

At this point, this jam has certainly made its presence known. It's been represented here pretty consistently, although never all that high. It's easy listening enough that it could last for quite a while longer. As "Old Town Road" fades, could it play the role as usurper? We'll be waiting! Probably not.

"Señorita" by Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello

Camila had a great year last year, but hasn't had much so far in 2019. That could change with this jam, which is sexy, spicy, and wonderful. It's definitely more a spot for Camila rather than Shawn to shine, but pretty good nonetheless. It had a great debut, enough that it could also threaten as "Old Town Road" starts dropping. We'll see if Camila can make another run at this.

"You Need to Calm Down" by Taylor Swift

It's pretty clear that this song is kind of weird and annoying, but I also wonder how much of that is weird Taylor Swift hate for no reason. It comes off as both self-serving and positioning itself at an unearned forefront of the Gay Rights Movement. Anyway, the song itself is pretty fun and the flow is summer enough that it'll keep being popular. Can it unseat "Old Town Road"? We have some pretty solid contenders at this point, as you can tell.

"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray

So I was doubting this a little, then Lil Nas X apparently came out, and I couldn't ignore this Gay Black Cowboy at the tail end of Pride Month. There's still some juice left in here and as the biggest song in America during Independence Day it's earned a spot here. Any other song would be very hard-pressed to upset this jam at this point. We haven't had a clear Summer Jam winner like this in many years. Then again, we do have eight more weeks, so things could happen. Stay tuned!

Next week...

I left off Billie Eilish, but she's still a thing. There were other random jams dropped this week. I kind of liked the new Slick Rick song, and then another by Asian rap group Loonies, but they really just weren't sticky enough to catch my ear and earn a spot. I think our contenders are set really well and it'll come down to whether or not "Old Town Road" fades and someone else takes their spot. Come back next week!

02 July 2019

Celebrate Midsummer with Spider-Man

And Midsommar (2019)! Last year Ari Aster showed us new levels of terror and emotionally draining depression with Hereditary. Now it's time to him to take a light romp through the weird Swedish summer festivals. Oh, and also a new Spider-Man movie.

I'm actually pretty excited for both of these. Aster is an exciting young director who is already building a cult following. The sophomore picture will really determine whether he becomes a Yorgos or an M. Night. Either way, this should come full circle and he'll be able to direct a Marvel movie soon.

Def more crowd pleasing than Spider-Man
Everything about Midsommar looks like classic Wicker Man stuff ('73 or '06, take your pick. TOTALLY EQUAL FILMS). Pagan holiday, the veneer of family festivals masking the darkness within. It's apparently got a handful of comedic elements that you'd have to be totally insane to laugh at. Since this is an Ari Aster film, you have to be totally insane to watch it to begin with, so that works pretty well.

It's hard to unpack much more than that. I do enjoy the fact that the movie is actually coming out right at the mid-summer date and should be good counter-programming for people who don't want to see animated toys or spandex swinging. Hereditary did surprisingly well, although a lot of that was more word of mouth and the simple fact that good horror is so rare people flock to see it (although it's becoming more common). You'd think that with that in his back pocket now, Midsommar would do even better, although the marketing belies a subtler, subdued horror, if horror at all. It's not quite as apparent as Hereditary, which could bank off itself, not just its director. And let's face it, there ultimately isn't Chris Nolan-level director worship for Ari Aster. Yet!

I can't really see this doing that well. There's no real big names in the cast (Will Poulter maybe?), an obscure premise, and nothing that really screams must-see horror. It's also two and a half hours long for some reason. Still, it ought to at least make its budget back. I will totally watch it, though, and you should too! We need more films that are content with being good movies that make their money back.

Then we have Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). There's a lot riding on this one. Not only is it Jon Watts' follow up to the wonderful Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), but it's coming hot off the heels of both Captain Marvel (2019) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Dropping three movies in four months is audacious on Disney's part, but they've all been crowd-pleasing so it works so far.

Will it be minnows, guppies, or the classic goldfish?
While Endgame gave us all kinds of catharsis and finality, that very finality left a few doors open for our newer Avengers to deal with - one of the biggest being Spider-Man's relationship with Tony Stark. No one really seems to care that it has no basis in the comics, which once again goes to show that you can actually change whatever you want from the source material as long as the end movie turns out good. And after a string of really terrible Spider-Man movies, Homecoming was a great, clever addition.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) came out fifteen years ago this past Sunday (a date forever burned in my brain - I watched it twice on opening day) and for better or worse I've internally canonized it as the greatest superhero film ever. An underrated element to all this is that Spider-Man has so many bonkers villains that they have yet to use the same one twice, besides Harry Osborn. And they still haven't touched Kraven, Carnage, Stegron, or Swarm!

That's right folks, we finally get a little Mysterio. And this damn movie better end up with Mysterio being the big bad guy. He's got to, right? Him masquerading as the hero before showing how insane he is is the premise for every Mysterio story ever. Then again, as I said, if it's a good movie, no one will care. The issue right now is that I've already crafted a story in my head of Mysterio's illusions and deception that I know I'm going to be disappointed when the movie makes a left turn. Oh well.

Mysterio is one of my favorite villains. He's weird, has a big fishbowl, and can definitely manipulate the fabric of reality, which is always waved away as "Hollywood Special Effects." It makes no sense. But he's also one of the more psychologically damaging villains in Spidey's Rogue Gallery, preferring to defeat Spider-Man by convincing him he has no powers or to trick Wolverine into killing the X-Men. Old Man Logan really elevated Mysterio in to the A-level.

So Jake Gyllenhaal  has a lot to live up to. We'll see. Still waiting on some kind of Sinister Six move, which at this point will truly never happen. Rumours abound of Venom making the jump to the MCU. Why does everyone except fans hate Venom? Let's take him, Vulture, Mysterio, Shocker, Scorpion, and then add an MCU Doctor Octopus to round out the team. You got your dumbass B-listers Shocker and Scorpion for Spidey to beat early on, Venom can go nuts and rogue half-way, and then the rest are legit threats. Perfect. Perfect movie. Spider-Man 3: Home of the Sinister Six (2021). Put it in the bag, Feige, I've got plenty more.

So what are you watching this weekend? Padding the pocketbook of the Disney juggernaut or watching weird Pagan Summer Fest movies? Leave a comment below!

01 July 2019

Summer Jam 2019 Week 8: Say Hi to July!

Ahhh July 1st. Summer is truly finally here. Of course we've been at this for eight weeks. Nine more to go! It's hot, there's sun and bugs and shit. It's time for Summer Time Jams! We have a mix of tracks old and new this week and I've gone from doubting a track to it basically being #1 again. I'm not sure what to do, but this is probably the Summer of "Old Town Road" already. Yep.

Hot Jam of the Week: "Homicide" by Logic ft. Eminem

This song kind of sucks actually, but was interesting enough to earn some talk here. #2 on Trending yesterday, and certainly a legendary meeting of the best old white rapper and the best new white rapper. That's just it, though - this song treats itself like it's an epic meeting, but it's kind of underwhelming. Watching a version of white trash Eminem also made me thinking about how that's like the prototypical blue collar white Trump voter. It's hard to picture 90s Em voting Hillary, isn't it? There is more to discuss here, but I'm curious what his fans think these days. Welcome to the age of cognitive dissonance!

"When the Party's Over" by Billie Eilish

We finally dropped "Bad Guy" this week but aren't quite done with Eilish. This song is hella more haunting and I actually dig it a little more. It's more evidence that she really is a genre all to herself. This isn't quite an uplifting boppy Summer Song, but there's more soul here than you'll find otherwise. And it's starting to get some steady airplay. It might do something.

"Money in the Grave" by Drake ft. Rick Ross

Rick Ross isn't in enough videos. That insane man. Drake has become a pretty reliable hit-maker, although it's almost exhausting how good his music is. And by that I mean, it's a point where all his shit is good so they end up all being pretty equal, with nothing exactly standing out. Also, it's all flow matching beat instead of real lyrical sophistication. Anyway, this song is cool, but I'm not sure has the crossover pop appeal of anything he made in 2018, which was a crazy Drake Summer.

"Cool" by Jonas Brothers

Once again, another middling appearance, but good enough to make the list. This track is still attractive to my earballs and even though "Sucker" is maybe a little more popular, I dig this a little more. Contrast this jam's summer-ness with Billie Eilish and there's a huge discrepancy. If I may editorialize, which I surely never do, that's also exactly what has made Eilish take off. Don't knock studio-manufactured pop, though. This is fun and catchy, and that's tough to pull off.

"Truth Hurts" by Lizzo

I've been listening to Lizzo for a while, and even though this track is pretty old, it's just catching on now. Her whole album is pretty listenable and despite its age, I couldn't ignore this anymore. It's really fresh, got a fun flow, and heralding a new spicy voice in pop! I think this will keep moving up as more folks catch on.

"Glad He's Gone" by Tove Lo

This jam also got a music video recently and was again crazily stuck in my head. Paying attention to the lyrics this song is actually brutal in all the right ways. It makes me feel sad and glad and stunned and happy all at once. Basically perfect. And no, it's not actually all that popular at all. But, we've never exactly cared about that.

"I Don't Care" by Bieber and Sheeran

Soaring in popularity this week and the only reason it comes back is these two. I heard this jam a ton this week. It's clearly not going away yet, although its streaming isn't all that great. The video is weird. It reminds me of when Katy Perry just tried to make a meme video with "Swish Swish" a few years back, but it just came off as a Grandpa trying to be one of the cool kids again. I also truly cannot tell who is singing when here. Whatever, it's #2 this week.

"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray

Yep. Again. I actually really thought this was done. But I've been reading articles and streaming and Billboard and YouTube recommendations and it's just not finished. There's no other song that is invading so much of life right now and it just needed this spot again. This has hardly been on the list not at #1. We do still have a lot of summer left, but it'll be hard for anyone to catch up. But that's kind of the point, right? Like, when Bieber and Sheeran are trying so hard to make memes, Lil Nas X just does it. Classic.

Next week...

Speaking of Katy Perry, she's on the periphery again, as she seems to always be these days. It is not 2010. I also very nearly included Cardi B's "Press" which I have many thoughts about. It's thematically very solid, although I think in reality her nudity distracts from her actual message. I also still don't quite believe her. Like, the point of this video is to obviously generate more press. Whatever. It's controversial enough that it might sneak in. Or maybe even naked Cardi is just white noise at this point. New Black Keys this week but no one cares. Stay tuned, folks! Summer! Yippee!
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