The M&M Report: How COVID-19 Will Affect Pop Culture

SOderbergh.jpgDevin and Mark, still in quarantine after a month, take stock of how the pandemic has temporarily (and perhaps permanently) transformed the entertainment industry and our relationship to it.

Topics include: Film and TV production; SNL and late-night shows recorded remotely; movie theater closures; scrambled release calendars and canceled events; what the future may hold for pop culture devotees like us; and, finally, Drake.

Some further reading:

  • Deadline: What will happen on film/TV sets once they do eventually resume production
  • New York Times: Reporting on possibilities for fall movies and the Oscars
  • IndieWire: Steven Soderbergh leading a DGA committee on restarting production
  • Los Angeles Times: Film sets are notoriously unsanitary
  • Vulture: What happens for the rest of the year?

Listen here. And subscribe to The M&M Report!

Goodbye, 2017

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I couldn’t let 2017 slip away without indulging one more look back at the year in pop culture. Here are a few things that brought me joy. (And here are a few more.)

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The M&M Report: Highlights from a Tumultuous Year

hero_917d0d43fac07d9b38e726d62367ffb766cc8a26cd0834013c0b7e93b2d06dd18ff73654868ecfcbf425d91d95ffece5.jpgAs 2017 draws (crawls? barrels?) to a close, the time has come to reflect on what made us laugh, cry and think — or all three — in the last 12 months.

Devin Mitchell and I recorded 19 episodes of The M&M Report in 2017. Highlights included all-out fisticuffs over La La Land, a look back at the pop culture legacy of President Obama and a look ahead at the impact of President Trump; a long-awaited deep dive into Game of Thrones; a sober reflection amid the Harvey Weinstein allegations; and a truly revolutionary take on the acclaimed movie Lady Bird.

But there’s plenty more entertainment we didn’t have time to address on air. Here’s a look back at a few more of our favorite cultural items of the year.

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The 2017 Billboard Year-End Hot 100, Ranked in 100% Subjective Order

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The Billboard Hot 100 in 2017 was filled with mainstream and underground hip-hop, emergent Latin pop that straddles language, and sadness. I’ve been listening.

Just like last year, I took valuable time out of my life to rank every song on the year-end Billboard Hot 100 in order of my preference. There is nothing definitive or objective on this list, and I often felt no need to explain my choices. Some things speak for themselves.

I disqualified the following songs because I hadn’t heard them enough to make a “fair” “judgment”: Ayo & Teo’s “Rolex”; YFN Lucci’s “Everyday We Lit”; Blackbear’s “Do Re Mi”; and XXXTentacion’s “Look At Me!”

I disqualified the following songs because I associated them more with 2016, or because they appeared on my ranking last year: The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” feat. Halsey; The Weeknd’s “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming,” both feat. Daft Punk; Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side” feat. Nicki Minaj; DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber’s “Let Me Love You”; D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli” feat. Lil Yachty; Hailee Steinfeld & Zedd’s “Starving” feat. Grey; Shawn Mendes’s “Treat You Better”; Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”; Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens”; and Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” feat. Gucci Mane.

Without further ado…

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Thankful

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One of the essential functions of popular culture is to provide relief from the stresses of everyday life. Another is to offer thrills, joy and insights from unfamiliar perspectives. Here’s a sampling of moments from this year that accomplished those goals for me. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Tracing “Reputation” to…Kanye West (Who Else?)

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A few people who know me know that I love Kanye West’s “Bound 2.” For those reading this, congratulations — you now have something in common with those good people.

I can’t entirely justify my love for this song, which arrives at the end of West’s aggressive, oppressive 2013 album Yeezus like a splash of cold water on a humid summer day. The rest of that album is striking and nasty; “Bound 2” is bracing and cuddly.

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On President Obama’s First Day in Office…

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As of Jan. 20, 2009:

Jimmy Fallon was not the host of a late-night show on NBC.

Conan O’Brien hadn’t even hosted The Tonight Show yet.

Michael Jackson was still alive.

There was no such thing as Snapchat.

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The M&M Report: The Pop Culture President

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On the eve of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Devin and I look back on eight years of President Obama’s radical, unprecedented interactions with American popular culture. Topics include late-night talk shows, podcasts, stand-up comedy, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the NBA draft, Black-ishKey and PeeleHamilton and more.

Listen here. And please subscribe!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A couple months ago, we made a behind-the-scenes change. If you’re already subscribed to The M&M Report on iTunes or the podcast provider of your choice, and you haven’t done so already, you need to RE-SUBSCRIBE in order to receive new episodes in your feed. We know this extra step will be annoying, but we’re excited about what it means for the future of the podcast. Tell your friends!

Things I Loved This Year: Small But Not Forgotten

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: two movies that ought to have been huge hits, but weren’t.

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Some movies seem destined to falter at the box office — they’re bad, they’re lazy, they’re weird, they lack star power, they’re in another language. It’s often a shame to watch those movies’ inevitably meager box-office returns, but you saw the disappointment coming, so it’s easier to manage and rationalize.

But other movies seem tailor-made for runaway blockbuster success and yet struggle to find it. Often, you can blame the marketing, or the distribution, or an accident of fate. The best you can hope for is a fruitful run on home video and streaming.

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Things I Loved This Year: Shedding a Tear for Kacey Musgraves

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: feeling some feelings with one of country’s brightest young stars.

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If Christmas makes you cry, “Christmas Makes Me Cry” will make you cry. If Christmas doesn’t make you cry, “Christmas Makes Me Cry” will make you cry, because Christmas makes Kacey Musgraves cry, and when Kacey Musgraves cries, you feel it.

Kacey Musgraves wrote this song with Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark for A Very Kacey Christmas, which came out on Halloween this year. Christmas sets are a dime a dozen, but the whole set is lovely, and this song takes the cake.

That trio of songwriters is also responsible for this and this. They are good.