“Happy” Trails: Can’t Bring Me Down

Happy

It might seem crazy, what I’m ’bout to say: you might be hearing Pharrell’s “Happy” for a long time to come.

After ten weeks at number one, the buoyant “Despicable Me 2” theme song bowed out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 to make room for John Legend’s “All of Me” on May 10th. Nonetheless, the song crossed over from “big hit” to “phenomenon” right around the beginning of March, when Pharrell performed the track on the Oscars, rousing the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Meryl Streep from their seats and charming a global audience with the song’s infectious energy. It’s only grown in ubiquity since – tribute videos, a charming cover by Majesty Rose on American Idol, even the source of some teary-eyed musing on Oprah. (The song even played a role in an overseas issue of free speech, as a group of Iranian youths were arrested for posting a video of themselves dancing to the song last week.)

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Grammys 2014: A Review and Three Great Performances

Pharrell

In the immediate aftermath of this year’s Grammy Awards, I churned out a 750-word review for The Eagle. I don’t have much more to say – awards shows like this one are best enjoyed and debated as they happen and immediately afterward – but I want to spotlight three great performances that are worth checking out even if you didn’t see the entire show.

First, a snippet of my review: “Last night’s Grammys proved that some things do change. Robots can win Album of the Year. Thirty-three couples can get married in a hasty ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah. A 17-year-old New Zealander with curly hair and a sultry voice can win Song of the Year for a tune that critiques the very establishment that provided her with the award. The 2014 Grammy Awards were rarely boring, but they were often baffling.”

Read on for three catchup-worthy performances.

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The M&M Report, Episode 18: The Wings of an Eagle

West Wing

Listen to Episode 18 here.

As of this week, The M&M Report has migrated to The Eagle, American University’s student newspaper. Devin Mitchell and I are very excited to bring the podcast to a larger audience, but our regular followers needn’t fear that we’ll be selling out as a result. The M&M Report will still be your source for pop culture analysis that strives to be both fun and substantive.

This week, Devin and I talked about The West Wing. Devin loves this show with an emotionally invested passion with which I wouldn’t dare compete, but we had a lively chat about the show’s merits, a few of its flaws and our favorite episodes.

After that, we ushered in the triumphant return of Devin Doesn’t Like Things. This week, Devin is fed up with the incessant parade of awards shows and their surprisingly troubling implications.

Next week, we’ll be back with special guests and much more. Until then…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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6 Performances to Watch At the Grammy Awards This Weekend

Beyonce

The Grammy Awards are airing on CBS at 8pm this Sunday night. Music’s biggest awards show is often as confounding as it is exciting, but the megawatt lineup suggests noteworthy “moments” (the Grammys’ favorite word) are ahead. Here are six performances I’m anticipating.

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2013 in Review: The Moments That Made Lame Awards Shows Worth Watching

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

What’s the point of sitting through countless awards show every year if not to celebrate the few moments on those shows that actually justify our investment? As much as I like to complain that most awards shows are poorly structured, improperly paced and ineptly directed, I watch too many of them to argue that they shouldn’t exist at all. I watch them because I’m hoping to see something that will make the time go by more quickly, be it a spontaneous reaction or an exceptional performance. In chronological order, here are five moments from this year’s awards shows that had that effect.

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2013 in Review: Justin Timberlake’s Fractured Reign

Timberlake

During the first track on The 20/20 Experience, the first of two 2013 albums from Justin Timberlake, the multi-hyphenate superstar describes the love of his life as “my drug,” “my dealer” (yes, both), “my heroin” (rhymes with “wine”), “my cocaine,” “my nicotine,” “my blue dream” and “my hydroponic jelly bean.” (OK, that last one’s just plain weird.) He could have just as easily been describing his relationship with the American public, who gobbled up every morsel on his multi-course musical comeback menu with the vigor of, well, an addict. America simply couldn’t get enough of the suit and tie this year.

Or could they? Years from now, will we remember this year as the latest triumph in Timberlake’s impressive multi-decade streak, or the slow fade of an artist with plenty of energy but little substance beneath the style? The evidence from the first half of the year suggests the former, but the second half of the year brought its fair share of disappointments, casting a shadow over the Year of JT.

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Three More Thoughts on the 2014 Grammy Nominations

Lorde

I’ve already complained about the clunky telecast for the 2014 Grammy nominations in my piece for The Eagle. Nonetheless, I have a few more thoughts (three, in fact) on the nominations in general.

First, to quote from my piece:

“Despite some oversights, the nominations reflected the wide, if scattered, range of excellent pop music in 2013. Rising country star Kacey Musgraves nabbed three well-deserved nominations including one for Best New Artist. The Grammys embraced the anti-establishment alternative hip-hop of Lorde and the irrepressible smooth of Daft Punk. Taylor Swift’s excellent album Red ended up in the Album of the Year category, suggesting that the Grammys have longer memories than they are given credit for.”

Read on for three more thoughts.

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