DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
Broken Bells – Holding on For Life
syvo: So I saw this on at the gym the other day, and was like, “Hey! That’s Kate Mara.” It made me really want House of Cards back. The video is actually pretty good. Generally, you can’t go wrong mixing sci-fi with melancholy romance. I’m divided on the song, though. Male singer? No thanks.
BK: Let me decide this one for you, syvo. This song is absolutely awesome. The band is composed of Shins’ lead singer James Mercer and Producer/genius Danger Mouse, channelling their inner Bee Gees and going all neo-disco (if that is a real thing) in the best way possible. The video is excellent, with Mara and Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin staring in a sci-fi romance. Kate Mara is always great, and I agree about House of Cards. It’ll be a great Valentine’s Day evening when that show returns. In the meantime, I’ll be watching this video on repeat.
Transformers: Age of Extinction Trailer
BK: Every time a new Transformers movie comes out, I always get a little bit excited. This was no different. A movie with dinosaur robots, machine guns, AND Mark Wahlberg!? Sign me up! Except the thing is, these movies are always some of the absolute worst entertainment imaginable, and this is coming from a guy who saw Aeon Flux in theaters. I will not be seeing this movie when it comes out, but the trailer is solid. Maybe this is the one Michael Bay finally gets right, but i doubt it.
syvo: Let me be clear about a few things: I love Michael Bay. I hate Transformers movies. I love Mark Wahlberg. I love dinosaurs. If you add that up, I’m pretty much seeing this movie. But deep down, I want this movie to fail like no movie has failed before. That way, they can stop making Transformers movies, and Michael Bay can get back to making movies like The Rock (1996) and Pain and Gain (2013). This zillion dollar franchise is only holding him back.
Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX – Fancy
syvo: Ok. If I said I’ve been listening to anything but this song since 7 p.m. yesterday, I’d be lying. This is it. This is precisely it. Charli XCX is one of my primary obsessions, and anything she’s involved with has my implicit approval. But what really surprised me about this is how great Iggy Azalea sounds. A few years ago, when she dropped Ignorant Art, I was incredibly excited about her. But since then, her output has been garbage. But this track is more than a return to form. She’s never flowed better.
BK: There is nothing I can say that will hold a candle to the amount of excitement you have for this track. It is a great song though.
Ellie Goulding feat. Angel Haze – Life Round Here
BK: Life Round Here is the rare kind of song that works in any environment. At a Party? At the office? Driving around town? Sitting around playing video games ? (That’s pretty much all there is, I think.) This is the jam for you. The beat is minimal, allowing the vocals to stay in front and center, especially the song-ending rap of Angel Haze. I can’t say I was very familiar with her before this, but I will definitely keep an eye out for her in the future. Her flow is exceptional and the song is a great way to kick off the weekend.
syvo: I love Ellie Goulding. Halcyon was a masterpiece. She’s completely underrated. This track is chill. Almost reminds me of Chris Brown’s “Deuces.” A friend of mine actually introduced me to Angel Haze a few days ago. She’s obviously talented, with a frenetically enunciated flow and intelligently constructed lyrics. Refreshingly, she’s a female rapper that we can seriously. I’m glad to see these two working together.
Disney’s Maleficent – “Dream” Trailer
syvo: Man. I am really on board for this. I generally maintain that Angelina Jolie is severely overrated, but this is no ordinary role. Even in this short teaser, it’s abundantly clear that Jolie sells the character’s cold maternal dread like no one else could. If this movie lives up to expectations, Jolie could be looking at her third Oscar nom. You heard it here, folks.
I’d be utterly remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing the film’s theme song is. Lana Del Rey’s hauntingly hypnotic rendition of the Tchaikovsky jam is transcendent. Listen to it once, and your whole day is altered.
BK: I haven’t been this excited for an Angelina Jolie movie since Wanted, and lets be real, this looks better. The soundtrack to the trailer is perfect. (soundtrack to the trailer? What am I talking about?) This looks like an absolute lock to be a huge blockbuster this year, and I am definitely onboard.
Emily King – Distance
BK: Apparently Emily King was nominated for a Grammy in 2007 for Best Contemporary R&B album. Who knew?! I heard her for the first time this week and I am very anxious to hear her back catalogue. ‘Distance’ is a wholly unique listening experience, and I have been playing it for days nonstop. The track is deeply layered but instantly accessible, like a good 7-layer dip. It is also a free download on her site or Soundcloud, so please go listen and thank me later.
Justin Bieber feat. Chance the Rapper – Confident
BK: The Biebs has been getting a lot of heat lately, and rightfully so. A rich, famous 19 year-old doing drugs and drinking? Someone lock him up and throw away the key.
But seriously, he should take some time out to lay low, enjoy the riches, and maybe not get arrested for a little while. Simple advice to give, harder to follow. The main point here is that ‘Confident’ is an absolutely DOPE track, and the video came out last week. If you hate Justin (as so many do), please watch just for the phenomenal Chance the Rapper. He’s aptly named, and has one of the best albums of the year (#7 by my count).
syvo: This isn’t the best song on Bieber’s compilation album Journals. That title goes to “Backpack,” a homoerotically charged track about his repressed childhood feelings toward E.T. But this is still a very good track. Bieber does his thing, and Chance does too. But what I’m really trying to say is…
PROTECT BIEBER. Defend him. At all costs. He needs our help. It’s way, way too early in his career for the world to turn on him. He’s going to retreat into a Citizen Kane-esque downward spiral, and then we’ll lose him forever. The world will have one less corrupt, androgynous male pop singer. I don’t want that. Do you?
DOPE Digest Throwback: Robyn – Do You Know What It Takes
BK: Let’s go back to 1997, shall we (Think Titanic, Tiger Woods winning the Masters, and a new band called Backstreet Boys)? Robyn (yes, this Robyn) bust on the scene with a sound and video that would go on to be the signature of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera just one year later. Robyn had another hit with ‘Show Me Love‘ before disappearing from the American music scene for almost 10 years, before reemerging as the eccentric, eclectic, dancing personification of awesomeness we know and love today. In an alternate reality, Robyn would be co-hosting X-Factor today, having had a typical pop music career, churning out forgettable radio fodder for 5 years before fading into obscurity. I’m partial to the way things worked out in real life.
syvo: The alternate reality you describe sounds like a nightmare. I like Robyn just the way she is.