13 September 2021


Another summer is officially over, people. And so we have yet again come to the time to crown our Final Eternal Champion. This artist's name will echo across the heavens, joining the immensely illustrious crew of the greatest Summer Jam Kings and Queens of this or any other lifetime:

2007: "Umbrella" by Rihanna
2008: "Bleeding in Love" by Leona Lewis
2009: "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas
2010: "California Gurls" by Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
2011: "Park Rock Anthem" by LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock
2012: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen
2013: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell
2014: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea ft. Charle XCX
2015: "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon
2016: "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake
2017: "Despacito" by Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi ft. Justin Bieber
2018: "Never Be the Same" by Camila Cabello
2019: "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
2020: "Blinding Lights" by the Weeknd

Now for my critical time, I still think "Blurred Lines", "Shut Up and Dance", "Can't Stop the Feeling", "Never Be the Same", and "Blinding Lights" are weak entries that haven't held up. I especially don't think "Shut Up and Dance" is synonymous with Summer 2015 like it is supposed to be. But we are not ones to pick, merely ones to report the rock solid mathematical formulas that go into creating these lists. Who is the 2021 Champion?! Read on to find out:

#8: "Build a Bitch" by Bella Poarch

Weeks on List: 5
Peak Position: #2 on 8/12 and 8/19

"Build a Bitch" never made it to the top of the countdown, but it was a little too niche of a song to make it there. It operates in an odd zone, where the melody is so sweet, but the lyrical content is honestly dark and sardonic. Its first appearance was all the way back in May, but it held on for a few weeks in June before peaking in August. Decent legs, bigger boobs, it's all there. It worked because it was a really novel and distinctive song in just about every way. A great debut for Bella Poarch, who I hope may continue to stand out amongst a sudden influx of female artists exactly like her this summer.

#7: "Butter" by BTS

Weeks on List: 5
Peak Position: #2 on 6/10

Listen, I never really liked "Butter" although I will be the first to admit that it's catchy as hell. It also held the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for most of summer, but I never heard it on the radio, Spotify, or in general conversation that much. I don't know if BTS is actually popular or people just think they're popular. Anyway, it did well in June, and then had some sporadic appearances in August. Definitely not their biggest song, but significant enough to warrant mention here!

#6: "Deja Vu" by Olivia Rodrigo

Weeks on List: 5
Peak Position: #1 on 7/08 and 7/15

Olivia Rodrigo tapped into something big this summer, and her whole album ruled Spotify for pretty much three straight months until Kanye and Drake crowded all the spots at the very end. This is one of two (spoiler alert) big hits she had, which is a rare feat for anyone. This list is competitive as hell, and there are many many artists who try and fail to get even one song into Summer Jam relevance. This is definitely the slower, chiller jam of the two, but it's still pretty fun. In that break-up sort of way. It debuted in our first week back in May, then hit three straight in July. To be honest, though, I'm still hearing it and I'd probably throw it on a September 13th list if we had one...

#5: "Astronaut in the Ocean" by Masked Wolf

Weeks on List: 6
Peak Position: #1 on 6/24

You know, I didn't realize until today that this song came out like two years ago. Good on Masked Wolf for being patient and finding his niche in Summer 2021. Last summer was so hip-hop heavy, this was really one of the only true crossover hits, and I loved jamming on this beat when it came on. It debuted in May and appeared every month, peaking in June, but hanging around all the way to the final week of summer. I also hope he finds a good career, he has a distinctive cadence, although it's not revolutionarily distinct from contemporary Migos-style artists. It's some hard-hitting stuff, though, and I hope he sticks around.

#4: "Kiss Me More" by Doja Cat ft. SZA

Weeks on List: 7
Peak Position: #1 on 7/29

"Kiss Me More" was one of those staples of summer this season. It was one of only two songs to feature in both Week 1 and Week 16. Lyrically it's decently generic, but becomes an earworm from Doja Cat's effortless flow through singing, rapping, and rap-singing. This was a great summer for her after she's been present in the last couple years, notably "Say So." Her album was another great Spotify presence, and she had her share of other songs that would crawl up and down, but this is still a song I enjoy listening to.

#3: "Peaches" by Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon

Weeks on List: 8
Peak Position: #1 on 5/27, 6/03, 7/22

Now we're into the really heavy hitters. I thought this was for sure the Summer of Peaches early on. No one could touch Bieber during those first few months. It spent the first six weeks in an unbroken streak, including back to back wins when no other song seemed like a real threat. It hit the #1 spot more than any other track this season. Then it dropped off, though and couldn't really sustain through July. Of course, it won a week in July, and came back once in August, but although it proved to have a great showing, it wasn't enough. No one has EVER repeated as Summer Jam champion, but Bieber came really really close. It's still a fun song and one that I think will be appropriately associated with Summer 2021.

#2: "Leave the Door Open" by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic

Weeks on List: 11
Peak Position: #1 on 5/20 and 6/17

I struggle to get sick of this song. It didn't totally light up the charts, but I kept hearing it and it still makes me crack up as it finds that perfect zone between sexy and wacky. It was also a very strong song early out the gate, winning Week 1, and then appearing once in every other month. It was the only other song to also appear in Week 16. It "only" had a five-week streak in June and July, though, but it was in the Top 3 during eight of its eleven weeks. This was so close to claiming it all, if it had had just one or two more weeks it would have gotten it. Still, a great showing of Bruno Mars, who continues to be one of the more unique creative voices in the industry. But the undisputed #1 QUEEN OF SUMMER is...

#1: "good 4 u" by Olivia Rodrigo

Weeks on List: 13
Peak Position: #1 on 8/12 and 8/26

Yep. In the end this wasn't really a debate. This song was huge, and a bit cultural force on the Internet and in the greater real world. I was actually surprised looking back that it hit #1 crazy late in the season, and only twice. It made its butter by only taking three weeks off, Week 1, 10, and16. So basically it owned the heart of summer. We should note that "Deja Vu" was present in Week 1 and 10, so she actually only missed the final week of the season. It was in the Top Three during eight of its thirteen weeks and put together nice meaty streaks of eight and five week campaigns. It dominated Spotify for most of summer and is ultimately the kind of no brainer song that makes me proud to solidify for Eternity as THE One True Summer Jam.

Honorable Mentions:

You know I hate these but I do them anyway. We actually only tracked 39 songs this year, but we had basically cut out a lot of the riff-raff in our new system. "Levitating" deserves mention for having ridiculous legs and we had pretty much ignored it for not being a Hot Jam anymore. Same with "Girl from Rio." Lil Nas X had two pretty big songs that didn't get any radio play, insert whatever homophobia or racism you want there.

I really liked Camila Cabello's "Don't Go Yet" but it debuted too late and ran out of time. "Heat Waves" was perfect, but actually missed some of its June lyrics. Then we had a ton of great new female-led rap tracks, from "Thot Shit" to "Best Friend" to "Twerkulator" and "Whole Lotta Money." It was pretty fun that studios are actually signing and promoting these women trying to find the next Cardi B. Maybe they can just realize that there is room for all these great artists?

Alright, I know what you are thinking. Is this it? We have been cranking this out for 11 years, now, which is one more than I had planned. It is definitely taking a bit of a toll, and we're at the point where we're realizing there is no endgame. There is no exit strategy for this blog. It exists as artificial stress to complete every week. Ugh, I hate that I can't fully say no. Maybe in the way that we did it this year, without worry to hit the magic 8 number each week or talk about nothing for a while. Or maybe we just recount it in September off of feel.

I don't know if I would be able to resist the temptation to do this again next year, but these have never been popular. I like the idea of this canon of Summer Jams. Never say never, I suppose, but if so, this was a fun summer that I'd like to leave on. Better than the summer where "Blurred Lines" beat "Get Lucky."

Until May of 2022, stay honest, true believers!

12 September 2021

First Impressions: The Suicide Squad

I may have missed my window on this. But I watched Shang-Chi (2021) last night and am bound to crank that one out. But The Suicide Squad (2021) is in my queue! Maybe these don't have to be 3000+ words each? But I liked these movies. Okay, I'll try to blow through context, because it's pretty wide known at this point. SPOILERS from here on out, though.

What I do want to espouse on quite a bit is how ridiculous it is that Warner Bros notably micromanaged the hell out of all their mid-2010s DC properties, including David Ayer's Suicide Squad (2016), and this feels like the most auteur Superhero movie of all time. Did anyone say no to James Gunn on anything in this? I can't imagine what Ayer was thinking when he watched this. Now, to be fair, Ayer himself isn't the kind of wacky creative brain to really run with this concept, and Suicide Squad's generic formula, for all our whining, probably isn't wholly the fault of the studio. But we also know that WB took it out of his hands, gave it to a trailer making studio to edit, and somehow tried playing it safe and edge the whole time.

I continually get a crack at the fact that they're just allowed to redo all these movies that totally bombed. But it's somehow even more irritating that their second chances have been so good. Although it wasn't wholly without problems, the Snyder Cut demolished Justice League (2017). And I gotta say that the studio's attempt at doing this exact same concept again, except right, resulted in one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. I said it.

It works by simultaneously poking fun of its concept but also taking itself seriously. It's a weird line to walk, but one that comic book themselves do earnestly all the time. There needs to be a tacit acknowledgment that everything going on is ridiculous and far-fetched, but there are still real consequences and characters. It's not ashamed of any of its pulpy origins, but it still finds ways to imbue genuine emotion into the insanity on screen. It's a lot similar to what Gunn did with racoons and talking trees in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), except with rats and talking sharks, but it still finds its own throughline towards originality.

We ought to talk a bit about how much this is a sorta half-sequel. It's basically not, although it brings back about half of the primary cast. There's no real reference to any previous adventures, and the barest references to the greater DC universe. They use this to their advantage, though. People like Captain Boomerang who you'd think would be an "unkillable" character (even in a Suicide Squad movie) are offed in the first scene. The marketing wisely avoided that whole spoiler, by the way, which is truly commendable.

Looking back, we should have probably figured it out that the dumbest characters would all die first (well, I dunno, Polka Dot Man...), but it's a truly amazing bait and switch, especially how much it focuses on Michael Rooker as our main character in the first five minutes. For a second I was sitting there thinking, "Is this really going to be a Michael Rooker movie?" and then when they all get offed it really leaves us in the lurch. But that's also what the title promises! It's so fun to have some genuine cannon fodder, and no one is safe for this whole movie. Well, except Harley Quinn. It's pretty guaranteed that she's safe. There isn't a ton of reference to her solo movie, but that's also totally Harley. Who knows where this takes place in her life or in relation to anyone else. She's certainly broken up with the Joker, though.

This kind of story fits the Squad so well, though. It's a dirty black ops mission that the US government can legit deny. And they also completely screw it up. There's this easy going-with-the flow nature to the story where you may expect anything to happen at any time, and there's so many set-ups to left-turn payoffs. Like when Harley is captured, of course she is able to escape on her own and doesn't need saving. That was a gratifying moment - Harley should never be a damsel in distress.

The movie is also genuinely dark and funny with a surprising amount of legit gore. It again serves its premise of taking the ramifications of giant sharks seriously, but also stretching reality just enough to add some comedy to the gorefest. It also doesn't do what the original Suicide Squad did, which is constantly acknowledge that they are all horrible people and criminals. They think nothing of killing their enemies, and sometimes accidentally their friends. Still, there are surprisingly touching deaths, like Colonel Rick Flagg, and Polka Dot Man, which pairs with Yondu as touching moments. Nothing to it, but how do we feel more for Polka Dot Man than we do for Superman? Maybe because we knew Superman was going to come back? Or because his arc isn't nearly as satisfying as the man who conquers his obsession with his abusive mother and finally gets a chance to use his horrific powers to do some good in the world?

Idris Elba has pretty much the same motivation as Will Smith in Suicide Squad, so take that with whatever racial overtones you'd like. There is some nice parody there when they talk about how they all have the same origin story. But all the acting is all reasonably solid, especially John Cena who does better the more he relishes his insanity.

Finally, Starro. I can't believe they put fucking Starro in this movie. I like to think that it was a little nod to him being the villain in the first Justice League comic, which is a nice sardonic commentary on this group of idiots now being the ones to fight him. But he's also a tragic figure in the best of Gunn ways, really only wanting to journey back to the stars after years on his earthly prison. They also genuinely use tactics and powers to beat it, which is so unlike every other superhero movie these days where they have to go back in time, or flick a switch, or grab a gem or something. No, use your actual powers, this is what we came here to see!

This film is just refreshing. It's violent, carefree, funny, dark without being edge, and just very genuine with itself. I've said that a lot because it bears repeating. It's everything the first Suicide Squad wasn't, which was a hot topic try hard. That makes such a critical difference. It also finds a way to have real heart, inside all the starfish facehuggers and shark bites. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it (although it's certainly not a four corner tentpole like a normal superhero movie). Two fins up.

08 September 2021

Summer Jam Week 16: Old Beginnings with New Endings

Well folks, all fun things must come to an end, and this summer is no different. We conclude Summer 2021 with a momentous occasion. I got married this weekend! But most importantly, we boogied to some sweet salty sultry summer jams all night long. Let's go through this one last time and then we will tally up to see who will become the FINAL Summer Jam champion!

"Psycho" by Dixie ft. Rubi Rose

Our last hot drop I think will be a big one - it helps that it sounds a bit like Ava Max but it's got a fu n beat and flow to it. You can get down. Obviously it's a little bit Ms. Irrelevant blowing up in the last week of Summer, but this could be a great Fall Jam!

And that's it. Forever! We'll attack this with some math and see who comes out on top as the TRUE SUMMER ROYALTY!

Thanks folks, it's been fun.

30 August 2021

Summer Jam Week 15: Cruel Cruel Summahh

Heh, are you ready for this one?! We've got some new Kendrick, new Kanye, new uhh... Miranda Lambert. With but one week left we really don't have any chance of seeing any of these tracks doing any kind of real Summer Jam Damage. But in what is clearly going to be the last Summer of doing this crap, here is what we're ending with!

"family ties" by Baby Keem, Kendrick Lamar

You know, it's getting to be a long while since Damn. and it's about time Kendrick has some new tracks. This is fun and engaging, while also emblematic of his sly and darkly humourous style that's also not that humourous at all. It's a good track, maybe not as explosive as some of his earlier output, but it'll definitely do.

"Jonah" by Kanye

Haha, how does a song feel overproduced and underproduced at the same time? It's this weird blend of maximalism but also holding back. Dondai was big music news this week, I haven't quite yet listened to the whole thing. Modern Kanye isn't as bad as most people think, it's not nearly at late-2000s levels, but what can be?

"Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)" by Elle King ft. Miranda Lambert

Elle King is looking more like Rob Schneider's daughter. This is old as hell, but whatever, I heard it this week and it's so rare that I like a country song. Miranda Lambert does it, man. She's got the pipes. This is obviously in no state to be a real Summer Jam, but I like it. Who knows, it's probably been popular for months down south. It's fun as hell.

I'm not sure if I've ever heard a more forced collabo that definitely didn't alter the song at all except for throwing in additional vocals. Maybe the "Summertime Sadness" remix that had nothing to do with Lana Del Rey. It works that Megan's bars hit hard, the song isn't great to start with, and I love how it preserves the other BTS rap breakdown. Whatever, it does work in that I like the song a lot more now.

I was tracking it a bit this week. Olivia killed it again, and is hard pressed to not be SUMMER QUEEN.

Well, we got one week left, folks. We'll see how I do next week. I am in fact getting MARRIED this upcoming weekend, so this might not be high on my priorities. Oh who am I kidding, ALWAYS ROOM FOR A SUMMMMMER JAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

25 August 2021

Summer Jam Week 14: Birthday Week

That's right! It is my birthday week. Certainly cause for national celebration. Or just another fantastic day in summer! It's hot, though. It's not going to get cooler. We suck, destroyed this planet. ARE YOU READY FOR A ROUND OF JAMS?!

No hot jam this week. Let's just get into it:

This song is generally too long, slow, and dramatic to be a summer jam I'm into, but it's been around long enough it deserves some recognition here. Someone's listening to it.

Yeah Ed Sheeran kind of came out of no where this week. It's been around for a while and I really don't like Ed Sheeran that much so I've been conveniently ignoring it. But it just kept flapping me in the face this week, so there you go.

We've only got two more weeks left, people! This is a shorter summer for whatever reason, maybe because last year's calendar was an unprecedentedly long 18 weeks! This has definitely been an okay summer, and we'll see if Olivia can pull it off!

I really debated "Rumors" because it's hot, but honestly hasn't broken out that much yet. And Bruno Mars is always in the equation but is "Leave the Door Open" played out yet? These are all big questions. But my decision is final! See you next week!

16 August 2021

Summer Jam Week 13: Build a Summer

Mid-August! We're almost there! We've thrown in an assortment of new hot jams to jam to this week for your audial pleasure.

"Rumors" by Lizzo ft. Cardi B

It's about time these two got together! They did co-star in Hustlers (2019) after all! This is a funky beat and a great vehicle for both of their impeccable flows. I think it's deserving of the hype. Unfortunately it's dropped far, far too late to be a realistic Summer Jam contender. It hasn't totally lit up charts yet, either, but I think it could do great.

I do want to mention that "Industry Baby" came on at the Gym today and it was changed very quickly.

Olivia reclaimed it this week. It was unambiguous to me, I heard this track everywhere. I would surmise that it's going to win it all, I don't necessarily see it slowing down yet. We've got just a few weeks left to find out!

I know we don't ever do honorable mentions or anything, but I did hear (relatively) new Foo Fighters this week, but it came out six months ago and isn't popular. So I can't in good conscience list here as a Hot Jam, but I always like throwing out some Modern Rock (as rare as good Modern Rock is), and this is surprisingly solid for new stuff from a nearly 30-year old band.


10 August 2021

Summer Jam 2021 Week 12: Peaches in Rio

Here we go. Getting into mid-August now. It's hot as the devil's titty but fall is right around the corner now. We're entering into the solid last third of summer. Are we counting this right?

"Don't Go Yet" by Camila Cabello

I don't have too much commentary this week. This track is good enough. It's not nearly "My Oh My" status, but it's fun enough for a late summer jam. I'm not sure if we're getting a "WAP" this year. But the WAPserversary is coming up. Other than that, mostly sort of the same this week.

I just heard "Girl from Rio" a ton this week and I like it. Clearly Spotify, Billboard, local radio, and my own personal tastes are NOT on the same page. That's fine, I expect as much. But I really dig this song! Totally not a Summer Jam Contender.

But at this point we do have to start talking about how these points are going to add up. I think it's going to be Olivia or Bieber. At this point if either miss a week it's a huge deal! Keep blasting those sweet summer jams!

04 August 2021

First Impressions: The Tomorrow War

I had been anticipating The Tomorrow War (2021) for a while now. At least January 2020. Doesn't that seem so damn long ago? So it's been in the back of my mind for some time and I was excited that it dropped on Amazon Prime. I am such a fan of the cinema experience but to be really honest the ease, immediacy, and no-time pressure access of streaming services is such a relief. I felt the same watching this as I did Black Widow (2021) in that during the film I was feeling pretty good, but when I reflected for a split second all the flaws rose to the surface. Are you ready to complain about this film!? Let's gooo! PSOILER-OOOO!!

First of all, we need to talk about some basic questions the premise creates. The controlling idea is that in the future aliens have invaded earth and since we're losing badly. As Earth runs out of soldiers in the future they turn to draft humans from the past. This is a great concept, but as I watched it, the natural implications became apparent, but unexplored. And I will say right now that I hate this kind of bad faith film criticism - we can't say a movie is bad because of what it could have been. We should always be evaluating the art from its own merits.

I am, however, going to ask you to indulge me on this one because I feel like some of these creative issues are baked into the screenplay and emblematic of some other issues currently problematic to modern blockbuster filmmaking. So, let's start with this - future war, needs a draft of past soldiers. Cool. My first thought is that they would collect a wide array of past soldiers. Mongolians, Samurai, Crusaders, Spartans, Maori, and more and throw some sci-fi guns on 'em and send 'em into battle. It'd be easy to avoid paradoxes, same as they sort of do in the actual movie, just zap 'em up right before they die in whatever battle they're in. This gets into a little Loki territory, but they were already ripping off a dozen other movie ideas, I don't think that's egregious.

Maybe that's the problem with time travel. All the constraints imposed in this film (past and future moving in real time, sending present folks to the future at set points for a week) are all things made up by the script. Time travel isn't actually real, we can do anything we want with it. But, once you open that container it gets rough. They could have time traveled all the ancient warriors to some isolated time and location (how about like...5th Century BCE New Zealand) and trained for years, shared language, brought everyone up to speed. Make the Dream Team Army. Then zap them right where they're supposed to go. That sounds like a more fun montage that fully explores the natural consequence of a wide open premise.

Because the natural consequences within the confines of this movie makes no damn sense. They zap up folks who are going to die soon, so as to not mess with the timeline too much, but this then naturally leads to an army full of old folks dying of cancer who have no training at all. They then wonder why they're losing, after drafting only sick and old people who have no boot camp or intel about their enemy. Why then do anything at all? Get Genghis Khan in this shit.

The draft has a lot of weird implications, as I said. For such a momentous occasion, the inciting incident feels incredibly weak. People arrive from the future, say that aliens have invaded and we're losing and they need to draft current citizens. But they can't say who they're fighting or offer any proof or information. It's downright bizarre that the US alone would participate, much less global cooperation. We see this start to break down by the end of the film, but we really should have seen some kind of descension or build-up instead of the flash-forward where we're apparently all okay with being drafted. We aren't even on board when being drafted to fight our own wars, much less some one else's. What's the natural consequence? Maybe recruiting a Civil War soldier who's about to die?! Would that work?! A movie exploring the global reaction to the draft would be more interesting than this movie, or at least it should have been this clear edict from the future established through technological superiority, which places all kinds of fun implications on authoritarian desperation and what we're fighting for. THERE'S A GOOD MOVIE IN HERE.

This film is stuffed to the brim with set-ups and pay-offs, but it's all plot-related. When that kid is talking about volcanoes, I knew it'd come back in the end (I was picturing a big volcano fight to defeat the aliens. How silly is that?!). We've got the plane operator who hates the government. It's literally like, when the end comes around everything is set up so well that it's all just dominoes. Don't get me wrong, this usually makes for a good screenplay - but it did the opposite here. Everything became so dang easy to solve.

Despite all this, there's hardly any set-up and payoff to the characters. Chris Pratt is apparently all about leaving his family? No he's not. It's not a big character growth thing when he solemnly decides to stay with his wife and kid at the end. Generally I've come to the conclusion that Pratt needs to keep playing doofy characters. When he's in this and Jurassic World (2015) being the most serious dude in the room it just doesn't work. He's got too much charisma to be wasted being boring. You're Chris Pratt, not Sam Worthington. Do something here instead of being generic.

See, the core issue is that this movie has no idea how fun its premise actually is. Everything is just played super straight and serious. What is it going to take for movies to shake themselves off and just own their wackiness?! The crucial thing is that this is exactly what movies like Chris Pratt's Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) did. Audiences are savvy and cynical, and it's hard to accept a movie played this straight that could have been so much more fun. Everything about it just feels very arbitrary, which is exasperated by how much this film is just a pastiche of every other alien film ever made.

Let's go through this. The first major inspiration is clearly Edge of Tomorrow (2014). There are a LOT of similarities. The hopeless, humanity-spanning conflict, the global draft, and obviously the time trial element, although used drastically different. But not only that, the monster design is evocative of the style used here. The "White Spikes" are fast, spindly, seeming without consciousness or weapons, and have separate castes for smaller and bigger versions. That's all Edge of Tomorrow. There's also the incredibly tired bit of finding one alien to kill all the other ones. I'm so done with this.

Now, Tomorrow War isn't totally like this. Technically they go back in time, ask a High Schooler about volcanoes, and then zap a smaller group with toxin while they're sleeping in the ice. I would, however, like ONE movie where one thing doesn't kill all the aliens and we actually used tactics. To be fair, this trope affects great movies like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones and The Avengers (2012). Even Endgame (2019) falls into this a little bit. Independence Day (1996) is the classic example, and maybe the trope originator. And you're going to plotz, but the only film in history that actually uses creative tactics to defeat an established alien invading force based on tactics is fucking Battleship (2012).

The aliens in Tomorrow War are not only like Edge, but visually similar to the white scrawny Clover in Cloverfield (2008), although obviously smaller. There is a heavy lift of Alien movies, from a small covert team searching drippy tunnels like Aliens (1986) to a surprising lift of Prometheus (2012) of all things when it's revealed that the White Spikes aren't a spacefaring civilization, but rather a weapon to be deployed on a planet to wipe it out. It's exactly like the Black Goo from the Engineers that lead to the xenomorphs. Oh, and the wintery battle against a queen is like, uh, Alien vs. Predator (2004)!? They didn't think we'd remember. 

To talk more about these aliens, I had a tough time believing they would overrun the world so quickly and unstoppably. Sure, they are fast and armoured, but they're far from impossible to kill. Bombs seem to work. It's clear in Edge of Tomorrow that although the aliens ARE tough to kill, the reason they're winning is because they keep resetting time until they win each battle. It's tough to believe that they would rout humanity so quickly despite being just animals. There was maybe a little implication that the queen could see and reason, but we didn't develop any advanced weapons or higher caliber rifles to counter them? It just feels like another stretch.

This idea that they're an ancient crash landing that then rose up from under our feet is also straight out of the most recent War of the Worlds (2005), which didn't quite work there and doesn't work now. Okay, to be fair, it works better here than the pilots riding lightning down to their ships, which doesn't make sense on any level. Who was the hack director who came up with that?! No, this is more like Transformers (2007) where Megatron lost control of his ship and crashed in the ice, to be frozen for years until thawed out.

All this points towards the least subtle climate change analogy of all time. I mean, they're literally flashing monitors on the background while the younger generation talk about how their future is doomed. Then they zip down to MIAMI in 2051. MIAMI, people. Was this set in Miami? Everyone seems to be Dolphins fans. Nah, that means it can't be in Miami. The entire ending bit is also the fact that the Russian Glaciers will melt and release these bastards in the first place. I don't disagree with any of it, but subtly is an art that this movie is not trying to avoid at all. There is virtually no other reading possible

Like I said, this isn't totally a bad thing. But instead of a clever nod it's a sledgehammer. There are other things that aren't completely awful. It is surprisingly good looking, and has both great sets, great green screen, and some notably impressive shots from first-time live action director Chris McKay. I also generally don't understand how the dude behind The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) couldn't find the humor or irony here. I'm going to chaulk that up to studio fudgery. JK Simmons as a right wing conspiracy nut is solid, they present him as a quack while avoiding the kinds of easy liberal criticism that would have made him a cartoon character. And I really liked how the final queen was killed via three generations of Forester, the science of the daughter, the skills of the father, and the guts of Chris Pratt. It's cool.

I just spent 1700 words whining about this, but despite all the core problems, the actual movie we got isn't that bad on its own. It's as if we had two branching possibilities, and this great interesting, fully realized possibility is on one branch, and the safe, repetitive, yet competent film is on the branch that we got. Events happen sequentially, and characters grow and rebound. I liked when the weird fat draftees find some courage and sacrifice themselves. It's certainly too long, but doesn't super feel like it, and although the beginning is rushed and can't answer its own questions fast enough, it gets better as it goes along and I'm relatively satisfied with the conclusion, although again it avoids any kind of twist or creativity with its time travel premise.

What did you think? Am I right? Is it too much to ask for more basic fun and creativity out of our movies?

03 August 2021

Summer Jam 2021 Week 11: 11 Times the Fun

It's almost time, folks. We've got one more month of nonsense until this Summer of Jams is finally over! And this has got to be the last summer of doing this. We're just pulled in far too many directions to keep this up with ANY sort of consistency. So let's start jamming with more sincere jam than ever before.

"Skate" by Silk Sonic

I hate Bruno Mars...because he's so damn good. He's been riding this funk train for decades now and I get so amped up by all his stuff. It's so smooth and fun and ready to go. "Skate" could be a great song. Who knows if it'll catch on, everything is tough these days.

This isn't getting any radio play. WONDER WHY. It's crushing spotify, though, and that's that.

28 July 2021

Summer Jam 2021 Week 10 has Fun in the Sum

We're rounding out the end of July, people and really only have a few short weeks to go. Is this year's season only 16 weeks? Or have I just really gotten off track? Undeniably a bit of both. It's peak Summer Vacation time, time to get in all the fun things before August creeps up its dirty slimy head and all this glory fades forever. As Mayor Larry Vaughn would say, "AUGUST?!"

"Wild Side" by Normani ft. Cardi B

There would never be a world where I don't like this video, but honestly the song is kind of shit. It's not really all that wild for its wild side. It plays out like a 90s R&B slow jam, which is all fine, I guess, but the video doesn't line up with the tempo, which doesn't line up with the lyrics, which don't line up with the beat. Sexy, though.

"INDUSTRY BABY" by Lil Nas X ft. Jack Harlow

I'll give Lil Nas X all the credit in the world for 1) Trying sooo hard not to be a one-hit wonder, 2) Making one of the gayest videos of all time, and 3) repeatedly repudiating an industry after making it big on his own merits. This is just pink soaked dick-grabbing fun.

This track hasn't dominated, but by this point has become a steady feature here. I'm curious to see how well it stays and what its final rankings are.

I thew this on and left "good 4 u" off this week - I don't think the latter is done, but definitely had a little break.

Honestly a big week, this feels like Olivia's summer, but "Peaches" is a roaring contender.

20 July 2021

First Impressions: Black Widow

Yes! The streak is finally over! After 18 months of not seeing a film in theater (not counting various Vin Diesel drive-in adventures) I made it back to see Black Widow (2021). Yeah, of course, a Marvel movie sent me back to the theaters. Whatever, bow to your corporate overlords. But this is has gotten a lot of heat from reviews, because it's the trendy thing to do to trash Marvel these days. I enjoyed this quite a bit, it wasn't wholly without problems, but I would like to SPOIL everything for you and dive into this theatrical experience.

First of all, I think this film is deserving for Black Widow, who has been a supporting Avengers character for the better part of 11 years now, first appearing in Iron Man 2 (2010) which seems so long ago. She predates Captain America and Thor, folks. I never really thought the character was all that compelling, to be honest. She's just kid of...there. With some guns. Is she the heart of the team? Or the most cold and ruthless? There is always a weird line to walk that never really develops her beyond a sexpot. There is a lot of clamouring for her to get her turn in the spotlight because she has been a prominent female character since nearly the beginning, but through all that I wish she actually WAS a good character.

Seriously, she's introduced as an explicit sex object for Tony Stark. I'm not sure if we ever truly got past that. Whedon tried in Age of Ultron, but crap and a half, that whole "I'm a monster for not being able to have babies" landed terribly and looking back critically on Whedon's treatment of women (yeah, after he had crafted the illusion of inclusivity around himself), it all feels more weird and awkward.

Irregardless, this all to say that Black Widow deserved not only her own starring role, but a chance to be an actual character and human being. They sort of do this. I mean...the character is dead in the mainline continuity (yaaaay for girls dying so that sinful men may atone for their past deeds. Jeez we need to move past all these tropes), so this awkwardly sets her story in the aftermath of CIVIL WAR (2016). Listen, I didn't hate this - they needed a time when she was alive, and as a spy fugitive, Black Widow works best when she's on the run. Introducing her cast of side characters works well with this, too, since it's a moment where she can't call on the Avengers for help.

We never really got proper CIVIL WAR catharsis. The biggest aftermath was that Captain America had a beard during Infinity War (2018). It is nice to see some ramifications, and to be honest, I'd love to see more stories out this era. The Thanos movies in particular always felt like we were dropped into this story and forced to piece together what had happened, it is cool to actually see some of this stuff. It's obviously five years too late, but in all reality, all the Marvel movies will gel and slush together in the big Disney+ pot for all eternity so release order doesn't even matter any more.

The basic plot is that since BW is off on her own, she tries to reconnect with her estranged sister, Yelena Belova, who leads to her estranged father, who leads to her estranged mother. It's a good challenge for Widow. As even her name implies, she doesn't have family by nature, and centering her around her makeshift Russian Spy family is a good challenge for the character.

The opening is straight Americans and although I don't know why young Black Widow had blue hair (not like she is a punk or into wacky hair dye as an adult), it largely works. There are legit thrills here, and we also get the first of MANY impossible feats, this time David Harbour escaping Ohio on the wing of a plane. I thought the Nirvana cover during the credits was a little hackneyed, I don't know why, just didn't seem to fit, especially after such a good opening scene. But in a small time it does a great job of establishing the family unit, undercutting it as fradulent, and then demonstrating the betrayal that formed Black Widow's character as an untrusting superagent.

But...is she? She seems to trust Nick Fury and Steve Rogers pretty quick. I wouldn't have wanted to see the movie where she is an evil agent that learns to be good because that's happened plenty of times (this film already felt pretty Bourne), and we generally don't need more origin stories. This film worked pretty well with nice slices of an origin while also advancing the character on her modern adventures (we surely don't need an origin with her...eighth movie). However, that concept still isn't totally developed. Did she betray the Red Room just because...she wanted to? Surely there was a struggle there. Of course it seems like she made the choice to destroy what she believed was kidnapping and torturing young women, but it takes a lot to fight against one's country as well as psychological brainwashing. There is a lot of fodder there that's skipped over.

As I said, though, I'm happy with the movie we got. That is mostly because as I mentioned, Black Widow isn't really that interesting of a character. You know who is, though?! EVERY OTHER CHARACTER IN THIS MOVIE. Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova steals the show, and as an up-and-coming actress for years now, mostly known as being super-sad in Midsommar (2019), really stretches out here. Rumour has it that she's taking up the Widow mantle, either in film or Disney+, and I will take her over Scar Jo instantly. Her character actually has feelings and depth, and propulsive action. We get to know her and she's effortlessly charismatic.

David Harbour comes in as the Red Guardian who is perfect as this lazy boasting Russian super-soldier who also belies a lot of depth and nuance. There is a little bit of a stretch that takes him from perfect competent 90s dad to bearded-up, tattooed-up Gulag prisoner, but he's still an engaging presence. Finally, Rachel Weisz, who is totally only 14 years older than Scar Jo, is great as the cold and calculating mother Black Widow. Watching her, I actually thought she'd be an excellent early-2000s iteration of the character. Which is weird to say, because she could have definitely been cast in 2010, right? She effortlessly walks through this role and although her motivations aren't actually developed, she does a great job.

Finally there's Ray Winstone as Harvey Weinstein, who takes in lost young girls and brainwashes them into becoming assassins. The metaphor for sex slavery isn't too subtle, but that's not a bad thing. We need a sledgehammer these days. Is it weird I liked him better as the most Russian stereotype ever, with big glasses and a tracksuit in the 90s flashback?

Finally, Olga Kurylenko plays Taskmaster, Harvey Weinstein's daughter whose face got all burnt to shit by Black Widow when she was trying to kill him. There is legit trauma and regret here, that was tough to develop when they're all just fighting each other. And her brain is a computer, now, right? The red mist couldn't have just deprogrammed her, right? She needs some good Wakanda juice like the Winter Soldier got to undo her brain fuckery.

And let's get into this, because first of all, the Taskmaster is a shit character. He's got cool abilities and should be incredibly deadly, but in the comics he always gets punked out despite everything he can do. Tony Masters kind of sucks. There's a good concept in there, though. He works better as a mercenary for hire, and the technological angle rather than the metahuman angle is fine (the MCU, for all its weirdness, does at times seem reticent to just give people fun powers for no reason like real comic books. Good luck bringing in the X-Men!). Making her the burnt face daughter isn't an awful twist, but whenever you take away a character's agency, that character becomes a lot less cool. I like the idea of a daughter rightly inspired by hatred of BW relentlessly hunting her down rather than brain control. Brain control is always a cheap soap opera out that removes actual growth and catharsis.

There also just isn't enough done with the character. Sure, she has Cap's shield powers, Hawkeye's Bow powers, and Black Panther's claw powers, but kind of gets owned by fatass Red Guardian (though the fight cops out when she's locked in a prison cell instead). The film tends to tease these cool ideas rather than follow through. There WAS a cool, brief moment where she does the Black Panther triple kick. But the movie doesn't have room to develop her as an antagonist worth cheering for.

She does continually blow up Black Widow. This movie is a little egregious with characters walking away unscathed from ridiculous explosions. It's pretty much Futurama-level. There's even a helicopter crash that they just walk away from. Listen, there is a certain license when it comes to any movie, but this film did a hard job of actually stretching my suspension of disbelief.

Okay, I did actually like this movie. It works, it's one of Marvel's Top Third tier, all the fridge logic doesn't totally hold up, but it has a lot of charm and a really great cast that charms its way into our hearts. The fight sequences might be the best that's ever been in a Marvel movie, surpassing The Winter Soldier (2014). I said it. The choreography is up there.

It's also relatively quip-less. There are jokes, but to say that Marvel is the first action franchise to invent jokes is ignoring quite a bit of movie history. There are less pop culture references and sardonic replies, and it all just fits the world quite a bit better. Most of the jokes are at the eponymous title character's expense. Needless to say, going from a brainwashed Russian sleeper agent to a world-reknowned Avenger is a big leap, and one that took away a lot of Natasha's street cred among fellow dirty assassins.

The girl-power stuff is ham-fisted but also relevant and makes this possibly the most political Marvel film yet. It has a coherent message and demonstrates it well, without resorting to de facto liberal praise that avoids positive judgment solely because you'd be shunned to suggest otherwise. I'm an ally, I swear.

This is a solid return to theaters for any movie, and Marvel has done a good job once again. It is a surprisingly grounded work for a company that has The Eternals (2021), and then apparently non-stop Multi-verse nonsense on the horizon. Hoorah!

19 July 2021

Summer Jam 2021 Weeks 8 & 9: Welcome to the Sum Jam!

 Yep, this is for the past two weeks. Screw everyone!

"Whole Lotta Money" by BIA ft Nicki Minaj

We are so thoroughly in the female rap revolution by now. It's nice to see Nicki still throwing down why she was the OG (at least of this generation). She was doing all this shit and blowing up bigger than anyone ten years ago now. But I really like BIA's flow and this is a seductive beat. I'm good with these women finally getting their own voices to do their thing here.

"Twerkulator" by City Girls

This song is the shit. City Girls just seem to continue to find ways to make songs about twerking. It also makes me think of Ali G: Indahouse (2002) which I'm sure was not on purpose. I dig this a lot, even if it's totally just that kind of song that blatantly samples its source material and is popular only because it mostly makes me want to listen to the original.

This is so clearly the summer of Olivia - she DOMINATED everything this week, although she did trip up on the Billboard and Spotify charts this week. I am still convinced that no one actually listens to BTS' "Butter" though, and Bieber's new song hasn't really caught fire yet. Stay tuned, true believers!

08 July 2021

That's My Boy! America's Last Great Offensive Comedy!

I am going to level with you right here and now. I love the Adam Sandler / Andy Samberg 2012 vehicle, That's My Boy. I watched it the weekend it came out, on Father's Day, in theaters, with my dad. We had a great time. It's reliable Sandler fun, while he also ditches most of his usual Happy Madison cronies (although the film is full of truly, truly bizarre casting choices with few traditional actors), but it's also a Hard R with drugs, swearing, and nudity, which is relatively new territory for the Sand-man. Anyway, I can talk about this film all day, but let's dive into the big concept - this is the last traditional comedy that doesn't seem to mind offending people.

Now, we need to get something else straight right away. This is not an article designed to whine about PC culture or anything. Inclusion is vitally important and I find it generally amazing that the comedy world tends to have a knee-jerk reaction to make fun of SJWs instead of the block-headed people trying to preserve a woefully outdated status quo. Comedy doesn't seem to know quite where to go these days. They feel hamstrung by these concepts. This happens for a few reasons.

First, it's basically just Twitter, but all social media platforms gives everyone an opportunity to rant about whatever they want, whenever they want to. So, instead of complaining in the car ride home about a comedian, we get to complain to the entire world. By that same logic, we also have greater exposure than any other time in history. If you wanted to watch a vulgar comedian, you could, and generally, I'd say people who went to an Eddie Murphy show knew what they were getting into. In the social media age, there is not only greater sharing and exposure than ever before, but also an ever-evolving form of group-think where people can make judgments quickly and about things they would never have been willingly exposed to.

And to be sure, this isn't new. People complained about Eddie Murphy and Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and everyone. That's not really at the heart of our current issue, but it's certainly a factor - and as I decry social media for being an easy, consequence-free outlet for folks to complain about whatever they want, it is equally an easy scapegoat for complaining about how people can use it as an avenue to make complaints.

What's more is this idea that comedy, films in particular, struggle to find a voice out of a fear of offending folks. Movies face this more than television simply because they have so many more gatekeepers for any joke that gets in. It becomes difficult for auteurs to find their voice, especially as we thoroughly move past the era of Judd Apatow man-child comedies, which dominated so much of the past nearly twenty years.

This was already cresting by 2012, where we got three pretty big comedies. That's My Boy (fine, that wasn't big, no one saw it), TED and 21 Jump Street. TED worked that offensive humour as well, but it never felt as cringe as That's My Boy, which is fully of dated joke choices and really weak attempts to be woke (like making the household servants Asian instead of Black or Latinx. Like, it's still a racist deal, and when you try to look less racist you look more racist). Maybe the talking teddy bear lessened the blow of every insane line ("Yeah, whatever, thanks for 9/11" said to Norah Jones). At any rate, TED is a good movie, the sequel is derivative in that Family Guy sense where it relies more on references than constructed jokes (The Jurassic Park (1993) / weed field sequence comes to mind). That's not always a bad thing for everyone, but it's never really caught my interest.

But 21 Jump Street figured it out. And then 22 Jump Street (2014) figured it out more. I think about this article a lot. A LOT. What movie would you pick for 2018? 2019? I think 2017 belongs to Girls Trip, as many noted at the time. And so far 2021 probably belongs to Bad Trip so far, another Tiffany Haddish movie. But 22 Jump Street was honestly woke before woke was a thing and found great delight in spoofing collegiate institutions (and surely they've never been skewered before...), found a way to reflect on films themselves (at the time I commented that it was a little tooo meta, to the point where it lost its own substance via constantly commenting on itself), and turned ignorant talk about different people into one of the film's best jokes when it's turned around on less woke folks.

That's maybe the thing I most don't understand why comedians are so afraid to speak their mind. We've never been in a better age to skewer ignorant people in power. Modern comedy is only difficult when you punch down. It feels like there is more injustice than ever these days. A common refrain in the Twitterverse is "You could never make Blazing Saddles (1974) today!" which seems to ignore the fact that it was hugely controversial when it came out. I also generally don't understand that refrain, it was clearly a movie about elucidating ignorance but the kind of folks whining seem to just want an excuse for more white people to say the n-word. Memory, like ideology, is selective I guess.

There is always surely the danger in satire for people to take the wrong message. Personally I think that's just a risk you have to take. The people who are listening will get it, and those who don't weren't going to be swayed anyway. So, what about the ignorant woke people who take parody and satire at face value but are in actuality on the side of the comedian fighting for justice? I don't know, maybe you just need to be really in on the joke, like Borat: Subsequent Movie Film (2020 - another candidate for Comedy of the Year). Like, to be so unambiguous about your views in your private life that people know what side of the aisle you're on when the punches start to be thrown. That movie is probably the best recent satire of this vein, and we need more of it.

Then again we're in a weird spot. Is this satire even doing anything? As the amount of us who are moderates declines, who are we swaying to our side? Modern injustices are so obviously unjust, but there are many who disagree. Maybe that's the line, explore why this is, then make fun of them until the sun dries up into the big peach core it is.

There tends to be three major kinds of comedies these days. There are straight up dramedies, or movies close to dramedies. Something like Palm Springs (2020), which was very entertaining fits into this. But there's also The King of Staten Island (2020), which didn't even try to be funny. Dramedies can work, they really can, but there's so much fear over being funny. There are a lot of shows that fall into this as well. Every comedy is trying to do prestige character work. You're the Worst was one of the most depressing shows ever, but it was also genuinely funny. Barry hits that line. Shrill doesn't, or maybe I was just exhausted by the time I watched it, yearning for a return to silliness. Arrested Development is the greatest-written show of all time, had great continuous character work and growth and was also consistently thoroughly doofy.

Then there are movies trying to be throw-back comedies, that are mostly about older folks complaining about younger folks. This is a lot of current Adam Sandler like Hubie Halloween (2020). These movies also include revival movies like Coming 2 America (2021) which must exist in a weird zone where they are moving older characters forward, so the culture clash is really the only choice. They invariably neglect to give the newer generations a chance to shine, however. In the television zone, this is...pretty much every network show. Matt LeBlanc and Kevin James and Ashton Kutcher seem to not be able to let go of their previous personas and are far more comfortable returning to this schtick over and over again.

Then there are the films that are legitimately trying to advance the genre. I think of Game Night (2018) or TAG (2018), which never really work. It always feels like they are really trying to be funny, but afraid to go all the way. There are so many movies like this. I can't remember a thing from Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016) or Let's Be Cops (2014). They tend to feel tired and trend chasing. Kevin Hart is a slight exception. For every uninspired Get Hard (2014) he has a Night School (2018), which was super-tropey but genuinely funny.

We were talking about That's My Boy? Yeah. That was probably the first movie I watched in the theaters that I really cringed at. There was a lot of "Ooooh...you probably shouldn't say that." Around this time we were just starting to melt away all our use of "retard" and "midget" and these other expanded slurs that ran throughout the mid-2000s. The word "faggot" is used so early on in The Fast and the Furious (2001) that when I re-watched it the other day to get pumped for F9 I was genuinely taken aback. "Oh yeah, we kind of just didn't care about this only 20 years ago."

That's My Boy doesn't actually have any of those grievances or discriminatory language, but it does feature the aforementioned awkward Asian servants (The Campaign [2012] did this, too. It was as if 2012 didn't know what to do with its servant characters, panicked, and cast Asians). It is generally full of contempt towards women, and uh, oh yeah, the whole premise is that a 12-year old boy was raped by his teacher and then raised a son who hates him.

There is a sly undercurrent here that cooould border on parody. Maybe? Said 12-year old becomes an instant celebrity with no single mention ever about the mental health ramifications (except that his dad is going to kick his ass). Instead, the whole thing is played up to an extreme level. Donnie Berger is able to parlay his rape into nationwide celebrity (clearly he would be on Dancing with the Stars later in his career), and universal cheers and applause. There's even a sign behind him perfectly framed that says "Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them."

Now, you could take all this another way. The film is saying that our culture is so rotted that it praises sex with hot women, even if statutory rape that you can parlay this into celebrity. Our mental health system is so broken that adult Donnie Berger is clearly a maladapted alcoholic. Our child services system is so broken that he had to raise his son on his own, which created severe lasting psychological trauma. This is all under the surface, but to be sure, NONE of it is treated as anything more than joke fodder. There are others out there who think like me. It goes for some truly fucked up shit, too. It's hard to pass the bar set by the brother /sister secret tickle time.

It all makes for a fascinating film. Character behavior is off the wall. It is relatively well-written. Samberg brings his all, and Sandler does really dive into the abhorrent material in a refreshingly R-rated way. The stakes are clearly articulated, the tension of the relationship keeps driving the movie forward, and we are well set up Samberg's spoken and unspoken desires - a normal life with a great job and hot wife or the sheer chaos hanging out with strippers and Vanilla Ice offered by his past. It's all pretty fun, but you need to check your soul at the door to truly hop down the rabbit hole.

This was the last film that got through the gate. Pushing any further wouldn't have worked. And hell, this isn't even the kind of movie you could make today. The charm of its leads really make it watchable. I'd be hesitant to show it to any sort of woke audience today. If it is in fact a satire, it does not present itself that way. I think you had to be there and know what they were going for, and like I said, check your soul at the door and go to work. Once you do that, you get to see Vanilla Ice bang grandma and Rex Ryan talk about how much he loves Tom Brady. There are good things here.

What do you think? Are comedies dead? Where do we go from here? Am I crazy to love That's My Boy? Or does it exist now as a genuinely interesting historical artifact as the last bastion of comedy before we couldn't say and do these things anymore?*

*Oh, and just a disclaimer, I'm not complaining like "Ohhh why can't we treat women as only sex objects anymore?!" It is assuredly a good thing we've moved on and started actually caring about underrepresented groups. There are a lot of good stories there, and easy racism to skewer. Go for it.

05 July 2021

Summer Jam 2021 Week 7: Beat the Heat with these Heat Beats

This summer has been an odd one so far. There just doesn't really seem to be any major shake-ups with the top tracks so far. It's just kind of...more of the same. I keep checking multiple sources and everyone seems content in their zone, without much huge debuts or huge fall-offs so far. It's still fun to jam on these hot jams tho, spread them on your toast and shove them down your gullet!

"I am the Stripclub" by Iggy Azalea

Make no doubt about it, folks - there is no redeeming part of this song. The beat is pedestrian, the video is uninspired, and Iggy's vocals are serviceable while not being super engaging. It's not a good song by any mark. I wanted to put it here because it's not popular, and also...is Iggy doing blackface here? She's always done black voice, did she get a tan and a black hair dye job to complete the Rachel Dolezal illusion? Also, is she aping "Montero" with the gay chic dancers? I guess normalization of this stuff is cool. But watching this feels a little like how much Target is into Pride. She has Summer Jam Royalty in her blood, but I hate to say that Iggy is probably done. Oof.

Yeah, I haven't really included "Levitating" that much because it is seriously CRAZY old, but...folks, this is still a thing. It's got great radio play and currently #3 on both Spotify and Billboard. Honestly, I still dig it, too. It really hasn't met that hotness freshness criteria so integral to be honoured here, but whatever, it's clearly still in the conversation and deserves to be acknowledged.

30 June 2021

2021 Mid-point Movie Watching Review!

Well folks, we are at the half-way mark of the year once again. And once again this is a rude awakening for the movies I need to be watching! I actually really thought I was getting a big variety in years since I've watched a good handful of 80s and 70s movies, but again it's just so lacking. There's so much reason for this, mostly coming down to both availability and interest, but I do try to diversify.


What's more striking is the way I'm watching movies. Not since 2018 when my streaming percentage sky-rocketed have we seen a shift like this. And yes, I'm still streaming, but shit, I'm a total HBOMax convert by now. Last year I was 35% Netflix Streaming, by far our biggest chunk, but I'm down to 13%! HBOMax is clocking in at 39% of all movies I've watched so far this year.

Here is a breakdown of the biggest chunks:

Other Streaming Total910%
TV Total55%
Hulu / HBOMax4649%
Netflix Streaming1213%

Theater is obviously down with COVID, with my first trip being just this past weekend. TV is actually up since I invested in Sling, mostly for sports games. I have a Hulu / HBOMax bundle so I threw that together, but as I already mentioned, HBOMax is a huge chunk of that.

I've seen 93 movies total, which is on pace to juuust eclipse the 181 I managed last year, but won't take me to the heights of 2018. That was exhausting. My first-time viewing percentage is just under 60%, which isn't great, but at this point confirms to what is becoming a long-term average.

Lastly, my picks for best movies seen for the first time in the Year 2021:

The Kid Detective2020
Extra Ordinary2020
Gremlins 2: The New Batch1990
A Star is Born2018
After Hours1985
Another Round2020
Promising Young Woman2020

Yes, many of these are 2020 films. Yes, I am going to heavily update my Best of 2020 list come December, I really got screwed up with my ability to see a lot of these in any kind of timely fashion and that will be corrected. Oof, looking at this list I'm dropping the bottom five, I tell you this right now.

So, my goal is more 80s and 70s movies, I gotta slam at least one or two real old ones as usual, there are STILL 2020 flicks to catch up on, and when looking at cutting streaming services the odd one out might be...Netflix?!

I could dig into this more - I think it's the simple fact that when Netflix started it didn't have much competition so it pretty much had everything I wanted. Now that streaming deals are more diversified and contracts are ending and shifting to services of native studios, there's nothing left but Netflix original movies, and I hate to say it, but they have become TERRIBLE. I never thought I'd say this but I believe Netflix is in a precarious position. They've squandered their brand name on Adam Sandler movies and The Cloverfield Paradox (2018), and when that's gone and there's no other great movie left, why am I paying for this service?

Personally I also think that I've just had a handful of movies burning holes in my queue for ten years now. I don't know if I'm ever going to watch Defiance (2008). The new streaming service gave me such hope. No, I may never watch Conspiracy (2001), but dammit, it feels fresh to add that to a new queue. It symbolizes so much hope. Ironically both of these movies are not hopefull.

I didn't add everything I tabulated this time around, but I know you are dying to sink your gums into more. Here is a link to all our raw wriggling data for you!

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