Lady Bird is good, so Devin and I talked about why.
I’ve never met Anna Kendrick. I don’t know what she wants out of life. Maybe she’s content with what she’s doing now. But as a pop culture consumer and general appreciator of her output, I want more.
My proposal: next time a late-night talk show host departs, Anna Kendrick should (at least be in talks to) replace him. (Or her…but Samantha Bee just started this year and has been killing it on TBS. Leave her bee.)
This proposal is far-fetched and unlikely for several reasons. None of the late-night hosts appear close to the end of their respective tenures. Kendrick is a Movie Star settled somewhere between the A- and B-lists, and to the best of my knowledge, she’s never expressed interest in a full-time, nightly gig. And, most unfortunately, television networks, presently and historically, don’t have a great history, or much of a history at all, of hiring women for such positions.
Last night’s Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special began with a musical tribute to the show’s iconic characters performed by two of its most currently camera-ready stars. Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake “History of Rap”-ified forty years of surreal catchphrases and gross-out gags before intoning the show’s now-infamous opening salvo.
“Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
It’s been a year of Pharrell, and this week is particularly Pharrell-y. The number one song on the pop charts? “Happy,” by Pharrell. The best musical performance on the Oscars? “Happy,” by Pharrell feat. Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The most talked about hat? Pharrell’s Grammy hit, which just sold for $44,100 to Arby’s.
Oh, and Pharrell has a new album out this week. Is it any good? As I wrote in my review for The Eagle, it’s good enough. No one’s calling this a breakthrough for Pharrell, and for good reason. Some good songs, but nothing game-changing. It’s more The 20/20 Experience than FutureSex/LoveSounds, to put it in terms of Justin Timberlake, as the album’s throwback aesthetic does frequently.
No matter. “G I R L” will sell well, and it will keep Pharrell in the pop-culture conversation for at least a little while longer. Meanwhile, he’ll have to work a little to pursue that EGOT. Judging by his eternally fresh-faced complexion, he’s got plenty of time left.
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.
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.
It’s easy to look back at the year in music and only see images of Miley Cyrus twerking, Robin Thicke skeeving and Pharrell dominating. With this list, I’m shining a spotlight on the best that pop music had to offer this year, whether it involved blurred lines or diamonds in the rough. I combed over every Billboard Hot 100 chart from this year and picked my favorite songs that cracked the Top 40.
You’ll notice there are 12 songs on this list. Why not? Ten is just as arbitrary. These are 12 songs I really like. I hope you’ll find something worth celebrating here. No use cutting corners. (To make my life easier, I did my best to exclude songs that made bigger splashes in 2012 than they did in 2013, including Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank).”)
You’ll also notice that these songs are in alphabetical order by the artist’s first name. Why? Because it’s too difficult for me to decide which of these songs is better than the others. They’re good for different reasons, and I don’t see any value in fussing with which reasons matter more.
(The playlist isn’t in alphabetical order – in fact, it’s not in any order at all, except my vague attempt to create a pleasurable listening experience.)
Without further ado, my favorite Top 40 songs of 2013.
Listen to Episode 13 here.
Welcome back to The M&M Report, Cross-Country Edition. Devin and I have temporarily migrated to opposite sides of the country, but the miracles of technology allowed us to have a fun conversation nonetheless.
We started with some discussion of Beyonce, who stunned the music industry on Friday when she dropped a new album entirely without promotion.
After that, we revealed our holiday plans for pop culture consumption. Devin hopes to marathon every episode of a highly acclaimed AMC drama about a man who makes meth (guess which one) and Mark is going to honor Devin’s demands and dive into the first season of a political drama that rhymes with “The Best Ring.”
From there, we reviewed Amazon’s first scripted series, the political satire Alpha House. We were underwhelmed, despite the presence of John Goodman.
Because the holiday season is in full swing, Devin and I simply had to discuss our feelings about holiday music, including our theories about Christmas albums and some of our favorite tunes.
And finally, we had a heated debate about Love Actually, which is either the best or worst Christmas movie of all time, depending on who you ask. Keep your eyes open for a special appearance from Devin Doesn’t Like Things.
Next week, we’re starting our look back at the year in pop culture. Until then, thanks for listening!
Click through for the time breakdown (and a bonus blast of holiday cheer from Mariah Carey and Jimmy Fallon):
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.