DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
Zola Jesus – “Dangerous Days”
syvo: I possess a deep affection for the music of Nika Danilova, better known by her stage name Zola Jesus. She’s just the best. Last week, she teased fans with an album trailer for the upcoming Taiga, the first full-length release of new material since 2011’s Conatus. This week, Nika dropped the album’s lead single “Dangerous Days,” and it’s fantastic. Far more upbeat than what we’ve heard from her thus far, the track still boasts the signature deep vocals and surging composition that I (we) love her for.
BK: I am less familiar with Zola Jesus than I probably should be, but this song definitely has a certain unique appeal. The beat is great and I warmed up to the vocals by the third listen. This is the kind of track that I’ll be lukewarm on until I hear it at 1am in a random bar and start getting a serious fist-pump going (do people still do that?)
In the interest of saving some waffling, I’m on board already.
Kiesza – “Giant in My Heart”
syvo: When I first saw Kiesza’s video for “Hideaway,” I pissed off all my female friends by smugly tweeting that it was better choreographed than “Single Ladies.” I still feel that way. I could watch that video over and over again. In any event, the second single by my favorite Canadian ballerina-turned-singer is just as much fun as the first, with a delightful blend of pop and deep house that just works. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this girl’s career goes.
BK: This is more up my alley, even if the song is strangely reminiscent of C&C Music Factory. The 90’s are back anyway. Keep ’em coming.
Grimes – “Go”
syvo: Wow. Remember Grimes? It feels like an eternity since I first laid eyes on the grungy fairy that brought us “Genesis,” the electro-cute classic that established her (and simultaneously, as it were, introduced the world to Brooke Candy). This new track is way different from her previous material, trading in the dreamy bleep-bloops and pixie voice for a much more conventional pop sound. It’s no shock, then, that song was originally written for Rihanna. The obvious shift in style notwithstanding, I dig this song a lot and look forward to her next release.
BK: I love the new sound. I’m a sucker for a good pop track, and this fits the bill. I don’t even really hear a ‘Rihanna’ song here, which is to the benefit of Grimes. The bleep-bloops (as you so onomatopoetically put it) are some of the best that I’ve heard this summer. This is not only a good Friday jam, but has the potential to be a sleeper hit on the radio/internet too.
Dumb and Dumber To Trailer
syvo: I think there are two types of people in this world: those whose favorite movie in 7th grade was Dumb and Dumber (1994), and those who had no meaningful adolescence. Similarly, there will be two types of viewers of this film come November: those that hail the duo’s idiocy and immaturity as a long-awaited return to form for the mainstream American comedy, and those that just don’t get it. Happily enough, I’m in the former category on both counts.
BK: Dumb and Dumber is an awesome, hilarious, ridiculous movie. For me, it will always rank behind Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), The Mask (1994), and Liar Liar (1997) in the Jim Carrey canon but those are pantheon-level comedies. This sequel looks like it keeps feel of the previous movie and I will definitely see it opening weekend. I will be nervous about the layoff after being let down by Anchorman 2, but I won’t hold that one against these bros.
syvo: This movie generated some buzz at its SXSW premier this past March, and it certainly looks intriguing. It’s a creepy movie set in a cabin that focuses on a newly-wed couple’s relationship, and one of its stars is Rose Leslie (Ygritte of Grame of Thrones). And that’s all I want (or need) to know about this movie before seeing it.
It’s truly refreshing to be introduced to a movie this way -with a quick continuous clip that piques your interest but gives absolutely nothing away- rather than what seems to be the usual process nowadays. Commonly, we spend a six-month period watching multiple trailers that increasingly reveal the film’s tricks, tropes, and major plot points. This leads inevitably to disappointment with the final product, since everything noteworthy was already delivered in condensed two-minute promos. The increased supply and demand for TMI trailers has been ruining mainstream film culture for a long time now. It’ll be nice to enjoy a new movie on its own terms for once!
BK: That clip has me sold on this movie. It only took a minute and I’m already freaked out. And it is always good to see Ms. John Snow.
Eden xo – “Too Cool to Dance”
syvo: Way, way back I wrote a post about an emerging pop singer named Jessie Malakouti. At the time, she was touring with Britney Spears and going by the stage name Jessie and the Toy Boys (a group composed of herself an a coterie of male mannequins). These days, she’s going by the name Eden xo, and this newest song is another proud display of her refined and severely undervalued pop talents. Check her out, she’s headed places. Plus, she totally follows syvology on Twitter.
BK: It may not be the deepest song of the summer (or even on this list), but it is catchy as hell. She sounds like early Lady Gaga (lite) meets late Nicki Minaj. The combination is working well. This is a perfect Friday track.
The Interview Trailer
syvo: This movie looks really dumb. Ok. Maybe I’m biased. I can’t stand James Franco, and I’ve become utterly fatigued with what Seth Rogen has to offer the world of adolescent comedy features. And yes, I get it, it’s super funny to poke fun at the wacky and oppressive North Korean regime, and it’s even funnier when they take it so seriously. But in a way, it’s not funny at all. It’s naive and somewhat childish. This strikes me as a seriously idiotic premise absolutely bereft of the kind of creativity and cleverness that makes this level of satire work for guys like Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Quite to the contrary, we can probably expect more of the same recycled lowbrow humor that we’re asked to consume time and again from the same creators. Of course, I’ll withhold final judgment until I see it, but I won’t be chuckling on the sidelines as North Korea flips out, either.
BK: God I hate James Franco so much. Even the presence of Lizzy Caplan (whom I love) is not enough to distract me from all the obnoxious Franco. I have no expectations for this movie even though I like Seth Rogan and really enjoyed Neighbors (2014). I think the self-congratulatory nature of doing something quasi-edgy and current coupled with the ‘love me’-ness of James Franco is going to make this film pretty much… repellant.
Or maybe it’ll be ok. What do I know.
Happy Christmas trailer
BK: The latest film from mumblecore phenom Joe Swanberg looks like another solid entry into his catalogue of work. It features a few charming performers in Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham, and there is a baby that looks like he’s doing some great work too.
I do worry about the repetitiveness of the themes in Swanberg’s movies, but if this can match the quality of the stellar Drinking Buddies, then we’ll be in good shape.
syvo: I said some semi-mean things about Joe Swanberg in my review of Ti West’s The Sacrament (2015), so let me take this opportunity to say: I loved Drinking Buddies (2013), and I respect Swanberg as a director. But, alas, I still don’t get why he’s trying to be an actor or why he feels the need to insert himself into a leading role in his own film. This trailer itself is pretty unintelligible, so I really don’t get what the movie is about other than that it involves a bunch of characters who seem to know each other in some way. But I’m still interested, should be good.
DOPE Digest Throwback: Jay-Z – Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love) MTV Unplugged
syvo: The boring anointedness of Jay-Z’s modern persona irritates me, but there’s no question that this was a classic era for him. As a teenager, I remember being enthralled by the Nas beef and concluding that “Ether,” as densely lyrical as it was, would never match up against “Takeover,” what with its Doors sample and shrewd use of mathematics (“that’s a one hot album every ten year average”). No doubt, I’ll always respect this Jay.
BK: In honor of Jay-Z and Beyonce kicking off their tour, it seems fitting to go back to a glorious mid-point in Jay-Z’s career, and a moment where he gained hip-hop at last a few fans who wouldn’t have otherwise bothered. Backed by the omnipresent and ever-talented Roots crew, Jay-Z sounds amazing on this track and easily matches the energy that made Blueprint an instant classic. If you have some time, check out the whole performance. It’s worth your time.