DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
Lana Del Rey – “West Coast”
syvo: I am getting seriously pumped for Ultraviolence. Initially, Lana Del Rey’s full length follow-up to 2011’s Born to Die was supposed to drop in May, but apparently the release date has been pushed back indefinitely. In the meantime, we can all hang out and absorb the record’s excellent lead single. It took me a few listens before I really loved it, but since then it’s been on repeat. I’m in love with this song.
LDR described the upcoming album as “a little more stripped down” than what we heard on Born to Die, “but still cinematic and dark.” This track is obviously representative of the move, and I think it’s a great direction for her. Born to Die at times actively pursued overproduction and sonic melodrama, but “West Coast” is significantly more understated. It reminds me of some of her early minimalist work, back when she went by the name Lizzy Grant, or before that, May Jailer.
BK: As soon as I heard this song, I thought two things; first, I think there is something very appealing about Lana Del Rey’s quiet, sultry mumbling (though I am not sure I could do a whole album of it); and second, the chorus to this song sounds like a mashup of the ‘Ooh baby ooh’ from Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen, and the guitar riff from The Beatles’ And I Love Her. Neither of these are bad things necessarily, unless you are a stickler for copyright law, but both parts are so noticeable that it is all I can think about when I hear the track.
The fact that we are still talking about LDR and that she has a great song on the Maleficent Soundtrack is remarkable to me. I thought she would be flash in the pan and then gone forever. The fact that she is still doing anything, especially producing potentially interesting music is way beyond anything I expected.
Eli Roth’s Green Inferno Teaser
syvo: Eli Roth hasn’t directed a film in seven years. Since Hostel: Part II (2007), he’s directed an episode of the semi-crappy Netflix series Hemlock Grove, co-wrote The Man with the Iron Fists (2012) with the RZA, acted in a Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009), and he’s even gotten involved in producing. But his directing career, which looked so promising in the early aughts, has been frustratingly put on hold.
I’m hoping his return to directing with The Green Inferno (2014) is worth the wait. Roth’s new film appears to follow in the neo-exploitation footsteps of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, this time adapting (or paying homage to) a critical subgenre of exploitation film: the cannibal flick. “The Green Inferno” is a reference to the original Italian title of the unofficial sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980), easily one of the most controversial and transgressive projects in the history of cinema. Whether Roth will be able to balance the conventions of such a notoriously offensive subgenre with mainstream cinema’s reliable insistence on political correctness, I don’t know.
Did I mention Sky Ferreira is in it?
BK: Pretty sure that last line just wiped out any semblance of objectiveness in your analysis, but this trailer definitely creeped me out so I’m with you there.
I’m only familiar with Roth’s work on the surface, but he does run with a very talented and subversive crew (Tarantino, Rodriguez). Cabin Fever is an absolute classic and a must-watch, and Hostel is good too if you can stomach the gore. Obviously the way he handles the demonized cannibals is going to be very important in the mainstream acceptance of Green Inferno, but I’m confident he can pull it off.
Elliphant – “Revolusion”
syvo: This song is pretty dope, but I’m mostly psyched about the video. I saw it on at the gym the other day, and literally every bro in the place stopped and stood captivated (including yours truly). I’m a big fan of singing meat-packaged severed heads, demon fox makeup, and prim young ladies enjoying a spot of tea. But the most interesting effect in the video is the bizarre blurring of the adult artist’s face with that of a young girl through framing and fast cutting. Very spooky.
BK: Hold on, still recovering from this bizarre video (which could not be any more if you’d directed it)…
… Ok. Phew.
The track is excellent. The beat stands out on the first listen with arresting breaks and a steadily building, gritty backing track. After the third listen, all I can focus on is the passionate superbly-accented vocals. After the fifth listen I was ready to take this ‘Revolusion’ to the streets. An ideal Friday track.
Charli XCX – “Boom Clap”
syvo: Charli XCX continues her streak as a bona fide pop visionary with her new single “Boom Clap” to the soundtrack of The Fault in Our Stars (2014), which appears to be a sweet film about cancer survivors falling in love. The song’s title may sound stupid, but once you realize she’s talking about the way the song’s romantic object makes her heart sound, it makes a whole lot more sense. Charli tends to make dark, moody electro-pop songs, but here Ms. XCX shows the genuineness of her more conventional pop influences like the Spice Girls. In fact, if “Boom Clap” sounds like it’d make a great Britney song, that’s probably no coincidence.
The track is short enough to keep you wanting more each time it ends, so take my advice: Just keep it on replay, all day. It works, trust me.
BK: Preach, my man! This track is a wonderful little pop niblet. Charlie XCX hasn’t quite blown up as much as we might have expected by now, but her excellent song with Iggy Azalea and her consistent writing credits should serve her well when she finally gets the airplay she deserves.
22 Jump Street Trailer (Red Band)
BK: I think the ‘self-aware sequel’ angle is decent, if unoriginal. I did not expect much from the original in this series and was extremely surprised by how good it was. The expectations for this one will be much higher, which could definitely lead to disappointment.
T-pain on the soundtrack? Yes. Jillian Bell (from Workaholics)? Yes. Two-time Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill putting a grenade in his pants? Yes.
There’s something to work with here. I think it’s going to be a solid 63% on Rotten Tomatoes by the time it debuts.
syvo: If this trailer is any indication, I think this one can’t miss. Both Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have made significant efforts in recent years to “be taken seriously” and engage in “some real acting,” for which they’ve gotten a little more credit than they necessarily deserve. I respect the hell out of both of them, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they are both their most comfortable, and hence their best, in relatively straightforward buddy comedies that are big on crude humor. That’s not a knock- it’s a compliment.
Lily Allen – “Sheezus”
syvo: This song isn’t terrible, I actually kind of like it, but Lily Allen annoys the hell out of me. “Sheezus” is a stupid name for a song and an even stupider name for an album, even if we ignore the blatant coattail-riding posture of the song’s lyrics. I mean, where does she get off going all Kendrick on the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lorde, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga? She’s not nearly relevant enough to inject herself into their conversation. This is like when Sole dissed El-P.
BK: Yeah this song is mediocre for me, and I consider myself a Lily Allen fan. I generally don’t like songs that shout-out too many other artists, especially contemporaries. The chorus here drives me a little nuts.
I will say, its catchy as hell and she has a cool voice. Hopefully she comes out with some more guy-bashing stuff soon and we can move on from this ‘experimental’ phase in her career.
DOPE Throwback: Björk – “Big Time Sensuality”
syvo: In 1993, American audiences were mystified by an Icelandic pixie dancing on a flatbed truck as it passed through the streets of Manhattan. The magical creature’s name was Björk. She later became known for her highly produced, highly inventive music videos with frequent collaborator Michael Gondry, which often drew heavily on opulent costuming, set design, and animation. But looking back, “Big Time Sensuality” stands out for its deliberate simplicity and reminds us that beneath all the avant-garde exhibitionism, at the core of Björk’s appeal is a fantastic personal charisma that is positively anarchic in its exuberance.
The album version is a lot more upbeat and accessible, but the video uses an ethereal house remix by The Fluke. But whichever version you prefer, just remember: “It takes courage…to enjoy it…”
BK: I still haven’t hit my Björk phase, and while I certainly respect the most famous Icelandic musician in the world (sorry, Of Monsters and Men), I am not exactly her biggest fan. That said, The Starting Line is a band I can get behind, and they have a cover of “Big time Sensuality” that is music to my pop-punk ears.
Björk, you still have the coolest hair.