DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
The Weeknd – “King of the Fall”
syvo: I loved The Weeknd’s last album, but I’m not sure I’m nuts about this song. There’s somewhat of a fine line between the Weeknd as brooding, emotionally thoughtful creep and the Weekdnd as outright asshole. He skirted that line proficiently with Kiss Land, but I’m not so sure the same balancing act has been achieved here.
But, um…is that Sky Ferreira? Wow. Yes. Amazing.
BK: The Weeknd has had a strange career, even by modern/digital music standards. He burst onto the scene with two phenomenal mix tapes (and a third, slightly-worse tape), all of which were free and rightfully made him the next artist to watch. His next release was a compilation album of his tapes, which is understandable even if it is a bit of a cop out. He got into it with former-mentor Drake. They made up. He released Kiss Land, which was more hit-than-miss but not at the same level as his tapes. and now we have this, “King of the Fall”…
I’m a Weeknd fan, and I hope his next album is a smash. This track is solid but not great. He still has the signature vocals, but the lyrics have lost something since he blew everyone away with House of Balloons. I’m hoping it will get better from here, and I’m not doubting it will considering he was recently one of the most promising artists in the world.
Banks – “Drowning” Video
syvo: While we’re on the topic, here’s the newest release from LA-based R&B singer Banks, who was on on tour with The Weeknd last Fall. “Drowning” is an absolutely brilliant, perfectly bitter breakup song that I’ve had on repeat all week. Banks sounds like what Lana Del Rey would’ve sounded like if she had gone in the complete opposite direction following Born to Die, embracing the trip-hop vibes and gloomy synth-tones rather than opting for the live-instrument approach we got with Ultraviolence.
She reminds me of a lot of other artists too, including the criminally underrated English duo AlunaGeorge, Halcyon-era Ellie Goulding, and yes, channeling the early work of The Weeknd himself. Most recently, another excellent track of hers “Waiting Game” was featured on the soundtrack to tween mini-sensation Divergent. In other words, she’s pretty much doing everything right at this point. Expect big things from this girl. Her debut full-length Goddess is out this September.
BK: This track is excellent, without a doubt. After hearing this and “Beggin for Thread” I’m ready for her album in September and the extensive coverage she’ll get on this very site.
HOWEVER! As me and syvo discussed (and I’m sure caroline would agree) there is only ONE Banks to rule them all, and he spells it with a $. Lloyd Bank$, the man, the myth the legend. I humbly suggest that this new and wonderful Banks shorten her name to something just as awesome: BK. Right?
The Flash as Reimagined as an Ingmar Bergman Film
syvo: I imagine there is probably little crossover between DC comics enthusiasts and lovers of classic foreign art films. But if you are, like me, part of that small, proud community, you’re really going to dig this. It’s actually very good. The bleak meditations on meaning and mortality most outwardly suggest Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal (1957) (although thankfully, we’re spared the “chess game with Death” cliché, the definitive embodiment of which happened in 1991). But plenty of other Bergman references pop up throughout, including a few nods to Bergman’s deconstructionist opus on fragmented identity and transference Persona (1966). But the clip also penetrates rather cleverly into the psyche of the Fastest Man Alive himself, with introspective conundrums like, “Am I too fast, or not fast enough?”
If you’re more a fan of cult novelties like the abysmal laughingstock The Room (2003), check out Batman via Tommy Wiseau.
BK: Fake trailers are a dime a dozen on Youtube, and I generally have low expectations whenever I see them. That said, this was a very pleasant surprise! It’s funny and surprisingly engaging. Who knew the Flash was so morose?
Also got me pretty excited for The Flash TV show, even though they are obviously unrelated. I don’t think The CW would spring for mopey-Flash.
Preserve.us by Blake Lively
caroline: Look at what we have here! I think Serena van der Woodsen has officially left the Upper East Side, you guys. Blake Lively’s new lifestyle website “Preserve.us” officially launched this week and the internet is (predictably) having a hay day. I’ve always liked Blake Lively, so I was a bit worried when I found out this was happening – thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goopy mess, I knew she was going to be ripped a part. Unlike the elitist Goop, Lively’s intention is to celebrate and preserve (get it?) the idealized “Main Street USA” of yesteryear; a place where the shops are independent and the goods are all artisanal. The “shop” section features an extremely random assortment of pricey condiments, accessories, knick-knacks and clothing, all crafted by the bare hands of down-home American individuals. There is also a blog section, as well as a “Greater Good” section dedicated to the importance of philanthropy.
I’m not trying to join the gaggle of internet haters, but I’m truly perplexed as to how Lively and her team settled on this site design, as I find it to be messy and difficult to navigate. The lack of fluidity and organization seems especially detrimental for a lifestyle website- I couldn’t even find her blog section! Not good, Blake. Not good at all. I could go into how bad the writing is, or how absurd some of the photos are, but there’s plenty of mockery on the world wide web about that stuff already.
What I want to know is; do we really need this? In her “letter from the editor” she writes, “I’m more intimidated than I should probably admit. I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert”. Ok, sooooooooo…why am I reading this? How did Blake Lively, of all people, become an authority on Americana? Since when does she travel the Country and approach “a 6’5 saffron haired, tatted biker sporting more rings than Liberace”, that she knew she “needed to be friends with”? Who will be spending $70 bucks for this “everyday bowl“? WHERE THE HELL IS RYAN REYNOLDS?
I don’t know, and none of this would matter had she done an overall better job with the site. Better luck next time, baby girl
BK: I don’t think it’s too bad! Or at least the layout of the site isn’t.
I’m all for Blake Lively. Gossip Girl was good teenage nonsense. Marrying Ryan Reynolds was genius. I didn’t even hate her in Green Lantern (sorry to bring up the GL movie, syvo.) I’m just not sure what about this site represents her – or at least the version of her we’ve seen in public thus far.
Maybe the site will help reinvent her image and I’ll be eating my words, but the version we have now is strange. (Pretty solid collection of artisan ketchups though.)
Spoon – Inside Out
BK: I’m a big fan of Spoon, even though it freaked me out to see how long they’ve been recording. I only got on the bandwagon in 2005 when Gimme Fiction was released, but they’ve been together and evolving their sound since 1993.
Their newest track continues the band’s maturation, even as the music becomes minimal. I do miss the syncopated guitar riffs of yesteryear, but I am digging the back track here. Well done, Spoon.
DOPE Digest Throwback: Busta Rhymes- Gimme Some More
caroline: I spent a greater part of the mid- late 1990’s watching music videos, and this right here is an example of the best of the best. In my opinion, there wasn’t and still hasn’t been a finer collabo in music video history than Hype Williams and Busta Rhymes. This video is Williams at his very best, with the fish eye lens and the dreamy candy colors, it’s truly nothing short of mesmerizing. As I watch this, all I can think about is how far MTV has come; they do not make music and they especially DO NOT make music videos like this anymore (not to be a traitor to my general and all). If Hype or Busta happens to be reading this, thank you for playing a big part in making the 90’s the last great decade for music television.
BK: Let me take this opportunity to say welcome to Dope Digest, caro! Glad to have you on board, and thank you for picking one of my favorite jams EVER for your first Throwback.
I had Busta’s first album, The Coming and instantly fell in love with “Woo Ha!! Got You All In Check”. That single was just the tip of the goofy, fun-loving Busta Rhymes iceberg, and would become his signature sound on his follow-up When Disaster Strikes. By the time he released Extinction Level Event, I was hooked. My analysis at the time was something like ‘HE RAPS SO FAST IT IS AWESOME!’, and I stand by that 100%. There is more going on though, and sonically this track holds up well.
Busta is still putting out new tracks and I always give them at least a cursory listen, but nothing can match his late 90’s peak. I’ll be listening to this one on repeat today.