Lessons from the 2014 Billboard Music Awards

Lorde

I spent much of the time from 8-10pm last night asking myself why I was watching the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. Most of the performances were uninspired and the award winners were foregone conclusions. It’s not as if this were the only awards show featuring performances from the likes of Pitbull, Imagine Dragons, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez and Jason Derulo. And though I like Ludacris, the prospect of him hosting was not enough on its own to draw me to the show.

I realized that I’m drawn to awards shows like this because I’m fascinated by the way that organic moments of spontaneity can arise from a rigorously pre-programmed spectacle. I’m looking for two or three performances that rise above the mediocrity of the majority. I’m looking for something to reaffirm my belief that popular music and even awards shows can be thought-provoking or aesthetically satisfying. And indeed, while the 2014 Billboard Music Awards were largely forgettable and eminently skippable, I found a few topics worth discussing before I switched over to Mad Men.

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The M&M Report, Episode 12: Here a Cat, There a Cat

Inside Llewyn Davis

Listen to Episode 12 here.

Welcome to the M&M Report once again! This week, Devin Mitchell and I are experimenting with a new recording format in preparation for our monthlong break from the rigors of academia. I went to one room, Devin went to the next, and we recorded a nice Skype conversation. Next week, we’ll do the same – from opposite sides of the country. (No pressure.)

We started out this week summing up our thoughts on roughly the first half of the 2013-2014 TV season. Between the two of us, we’re watching Trophy Wife, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sleepy Hollow. Most of the other new shows failed to strike our fancy.

After that, we talked about how the broadcast networks can survive in the rapidly evolving television landscape. This season’s new shows have been largely unsuccessful in the ratings, but we don’t think networks are dead just yet.

Finally, we’re unveiling a conversation we recorded a few weeks ago: an in-depth review of the Coen Brothers’ new musical drama Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s a terrific movie and we had thoughts about Oscar Isaac, folk music and cats.

Keep an eye out for discussions of the best pop culture of 2013 in future podcasts. Until then…thanks for listening!

Keep reading for the time breakdown.

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The M&M Report, Episode 9: Must Listen

Kacey Musgraves

Click here to listen to Episode 9.

This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I talked about a variety of topics, ranging from country music and sketch comedy to pop culture criticism and the concept of “must-reads.” Along the way, we learned that Devin doesn’t much like country music, Mark doesn’t much like Florida Georgia Line, and neither of us much likes how SNL is handling its race problems.

First, Mark monologues about the highs and lows of this week’s CMA Awards, from the feuding factions to the excellent hosts. (Also, check out Mark’s CMA Awards live-blog, featuring grades for every performance.)

After that, Devin and I turn once again to Saturday Night Live, which is handling criticism of its lack of racial diversity with the maturity of a nine year-old.

After that, we dive into one of my favorite segments we’ve done yet, discussing the many purposes that pop culture criticism serves and putting the spotlight on two critics we really enjoy: Wesley Morris of Grantland and Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress. We mentioned Morris’ review of 12 Years a Slave and Rosenberg’s pieces on House of Cards and Parks and Recreation during the show. Give them a read if you have a chance – we think they’ll be worth your time.

We closed with a popular segment, returning by popular demand: Devin Doesn’t Like Things. This week, Devin takes on the concept of the “must-read.” It’s a very nice rant.

Be sure to watch out for next week’s show – our friend and colleague Rachel Lomot will join us to talk about Parenthood and Gilmore Girls. In the meantime, thanks for listening!

Stick around for the time breakdown below.

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Live-Blogging the 2013 CMA Awards

CMA

I’ll be updating this blog all night long with thoughts and grades on this year’s celebration of country music, the CMA Awards on ABC. Read on for the good, the bad and the ugly.

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