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.

The M&M Report: 2016 in Review

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Devin and I reflected on a turbulent year for world affairs and a fruitful year for pop culture in the final M&M Report of 2016. Thanks to all who have listened this year. See you in 2017!

Timecodes

Frank Ocean’s Blond (0:00-9:40)

the Longform podcast (9:40-18:15)

Atlanta (18:15-33:40)

O.J.: Made in America (33:40-42:20)

The Lobster (42:20-47:30)

Hell or High Water (47:30-54:50)

Moonlight (54:50-End)

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ve made a behind-the-scenes change. If you haven’t done so already, you need to RE-SUBSCRIBE to the podcast on iTunes or the podcast provider of your choice in order to receive new episodes in your feed. We know this extra step is time-consuming, but we’re excited about what it means for the future of the podcast. Tell your friends! (And if you’ve already done it once, no need to do it again.)