Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 5/17/19

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CREDIT: Hulu

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
Catch-22 Miniseries (Premieres May 17 on Hulu)
Beat Shazam Season 3 Premiere (May 20 on FOX)
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ (May 22 on ABC)

Music
-Carly Rae Jepsen, Dedicated

Best Songs of 2017

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CREDIT: ToveLoVEVO

It’s early March, so it must be time for me to post my list of the best singles of the past year!

1. Tove Lo – “Disco Tits” – A woman doesn’t have to be modest to earn respect, and don’t Tove Lo know it.
2. Kesha – “Praying” – The gospel-tinged anthem we all need right now.
3. Lorde – “Green Light” – If you’re looking for euphoria, Lorde has you covered.
4. Jain – “Makeba” – This guaranteed toe-tapper/hip-spinner was technically released in 2016, but while it may have taken off in Jain’s native France that year, it didn’t really hit in the U.S. until that Levi’s commercial debuted in late 2017.
5. Marian Hill – “Down” – A deceptively simple piano-driven trip-hop jam from this Philadelphia duo.
6. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Cut to the Feeling” – We all need to just follow the Tao of Carly.
7. St. Vincent – “Los Ageless” – St. Vincent is still the master of combining genuine chops with super scuzzy distortion.
8. Beck – “Up All Night” – Put this track on if your house party’s tunes are bringing everyone down.
9. Miley Cyrus – “Younger Now” – Is this what agelessness feels like?
10. Dua Lipa – “New Rules” – Dua Lipa’s anthem attempt = anthem success!
11. Miguel – “Told You So” – If there is one singer above all others belting out tunes right now about whom I would say, “You’ve got to listen to what they’re saying,” it’s gotta be Miguel.
12. Alice Merton – “No Roots” – There may be no roots to Alice Merton’s disposition, but there plenty of roots, powerful ones at that, to her musical influences.
13. Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – “Havana” – This song makes me sweaty. But it’s the sweat of passion, so I don’t feel gross.
14. Zedd and Alessia Cara – “Stay” – Zedd is the kind of DJ so skilled at bottling up those moments you don’t want to let slip away.
15. Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean – “Feels” – Just some tropical vibes to get you by.
16. Portugal. The Man – “Feel It Still” – The sort of generational rock song with lyrics that might mean something profound or nothing at all.
17. Katy Perry ft. Ziggy Marley – “Chained to the Rhythm” – Direct, but also pointed and bopping.
18. The Killers – “The Man” – One thing we can count in this life is songs entitled “The Man” being silly but also kind of anthemic.

This Is a Movie Review: Leap!

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This review was originally posted on News Cult in August 2017.

Starring: Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Carly Rae Jepsen, Maddie Ziegler, Kate McKinnon, Mel Brooks

Directors: Éric Summer and Éric Warin

Running Time: 89 Minutes

Rating: PG for Lightly Disturbing Stage Motherhood

Release Date: August 25, 2017

Hey guys, I know there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world that we need to be worried about, but there is yet one more thing I need to alert you about. Apparently the French are not so keen about orphans joining their prestigious ballet companies. Luckily, an animated movie now exists to inspire aspiring ballerinas to keep their heads up no matter where they are from! That movie is Leap!, but alas, its cookie-cutter CG animation, far from inspirational itself, is instead liable to call to mind the most bizarre cartoon you only discover in your most desperate Netflix binges. Oh well, at least it gives us an excuse to start a campaign to get Carly Rae Jepsen a Best Original Song Oscar.

The plot is the same as any inspirational animated kids movie: a misfit tries to sneak her way into the big time, where she must withstand the arrogance of the gatekeepers and the ruthlessness of her rivals, but she stands just enough of a chance for success, thanks to her own boundless gumption and a somewhat mysterious mentor figure who finds the room in her heart to train her. The whole affair is kind-spirited enough that even the most morally lacking characters in the ballet world are easily redeemed by the end. If you are an aspiring ballerina yourself, or have one in your life, you may derive value from watching Leap! For everyone else, the whole endeavor may be too disorienting to have any demonstrable results.

Leap! is an international co-production with two French directors, and accordingly it often has a vibe of being lost in translation. Characters respond to each other with lines that do not quite make sense. Dialogue is often offscreen, frequently resulting in a weird sensation in which the words sound simultaneously nearby and far away. These are the sorts of uncanny valley effects that slightly subpar CG animation always runs the risk of featuring. At least the conclusion is a satisfying reprieve from all that: as Jepsen’s sublimely buoyant “Cut to the Feeling” cuts in during the credits, it is like a marvelous return to the real world.

Leap! is Recommended If You Like: Ice Princess, Hallucinating from Inexplicably Weird Animation, Carly Rae Jepsen completism

Grade: 2.25 out of 5 Depressed Elephants

9 Best Music Videos of 2015

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I almost exclusively picked dance videos this year. Go figure.

charli-xcx-famous-music-video

1. Missy Elliott ft. Pharrell, “WTF” [Director: Dave Meyers] – If more music videos were reminiscent of Being John Malkovich, this would have been a harder decision.

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The Best Albums of 2015 That I Listened To

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As my best albums list is the “Best Albums I Listened To” as opposed to just the “Best Albums,” it is more pointedly subjective than my other best of lists. I usually do not listen to enough albums each year to really be able to definitively say which are the absolute greatest. Thus, instead of focusing on objective critical analysis, I am concentrating more on my own personal experiences with each of these entries.

Currents

1. Tame Impala, Currents – The Australian psychedelic rockers’ latest gets my top spot because it is one of those vaunted albums in which I wanted to listen to every track over and over, both as a whole and individually. Tame Impala’s previous release, Lonerism, is one of my favorite albums of all-time; I am counting my blessings that its follow-up is now in the same category.

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Best Songs of 2015

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All songs on this list were released as singles in 2015, or late 2014, or earlier in 2014, but didn’t make an impact until 2015.

LetItHappen

1. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen” – Tame Impala are just about singlehandedly keeping psychedelic rock alive, with their good vibe-filled soundscapes keeping minds as open as possible. This 7 minute-plus magnum opus is a crunchy, lovely, hooky, addictive ode to allowing the best possible future to come into existence. Settle in, let it wash over you, and watch the fear slip away.
2. Miguel – “Waves” – Hands down, Miguel is currently making the sexiest music on the planet. This cowbell backbeat-driven paean to lovemaking is the cream of his crop.
3. Wolf Alice – “Moaning Lisa Smile” – Alternative rock can actually call for an end to gloominess, as in this story of a Lisa Simpson-type.
4. Major Lazer ft. MØ & DJ Snake – “Lean On” – An American DJ, a French DJ, and a Danish singer break out the moombahton for Major Lazer’s hottest beat yet.
5. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” – This is what pop music needs to thrive: someone who can write killer hooks and isn’t afraid to grunt alongside his silky falsetto.
6. Beck – “Dreams” – My dream for 2016 is that Beck’s new album will be released as soon as possible. In the meantime, this funky little psychedelic number from Mr. Hansen’s dancy side played on repeat will tide me over.
7. Taylor Swift – “Style” – Tight, tingly composition and hauntingly resonant lyrics about the path of love in an endless night’s journey.
8. The Weeknd – “The Hills” – An intro of pure distortion and an outro sung in Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) makes for the most unusual Number One hit in ages.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away with Me” – That sax intro – and everything else featured in this beautiful pop number – makes it clear that you will be swimming in bliss for four minutes.
10. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta” – Kendrick follows the examples of Edwin Starr and Public Enemy in demonstrating that the best protest music is also a lot of fun.
11. Selena Gomez – “Same Old Love” – With an assist from Charli XCX on the snappy lyrics and a deliciously wonky piano, Selena shot for the cranial stars with this earworm.
12. Disclosure ft. Lorde – “Magnets” – The Lawrence brothers provide the wooshy tropical beat as Lorde gets in too deep with her lover.
13. Florence + the Machine – “What Kind of Man” – Florence Welch has a knack for making 3 ½-minute ditties feel like 8-minute epics.
14. Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding – “Outside” – If Calvin Harris is not singing on his own tracks, then it ought to be Ellie Goulding, as on this nugget of emotionally tense dance music.
15. Tove Lo – “Talking Body” – Tove Lo realizes that part of being healthy is fully and lusciously embracing our physical desires.
16. The Pretty Reckless – “Follow Me Down” – The Sing-Along With Attitude Anthem of 2015.
17. Cold War Kids – “First” – The Cold War Kids have found their niche of tight riffs guiding the way through everyday existential crises.
18. MisterWives – “Reflections” – Mandy Lee’s infectious vocals set the irresistible tone for this burst of indie pop effervescence.
19. Elle King – “Ex’s & Oh’s” – Groovy, bluesy guitars + feisty, funky attitude + snappy, playful wordplay = a no-brainer addition to your rock playlist.
20. Modest Mouse – “Lampshades on Fire” – It sounds like something that was written over the course of the raging party recounted in the lyrics.
21. Adele – “Hello” – Spare, unfussy production just gets out of the way of one of the most powerful instruments on the planet.
22. U2 – “Every Breaking Wave” – The beautiful, heartbreaking lyrics are as bottomless as the ocean from Bono and company.
23. Halsey – “New Americana” – Halsey gets away with brazen bluntness in this anthem for a new generation by making the straightforwardness part of the message.
24. Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You” – Incessant repetition should be avoided most of the time, except when you really, really, really, really, really, really cannot say it any other way.
25. Joywave – “Somebody New” – It’s a whole new genre: Sleepy Alternative Power Nap Rock.

SNL Recap April 4, 2015: Michael Keaton/Carly Rae Jepsen

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My full review of this episode can be found on Starpulse: http://www.starpulse.com/news/Jeffrey_Malone/2015/04/05/saturday-night-live-season-40-episode-

Final Four Postgame – C+

Michael Keaton’s Monologue – C

CNN Newsroom – B

Prom Queen – B

Call Your Grandparents – C+

Wallace Advertising (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+

Church of Neurotology Music Video – B-

Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You” – B+

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B-
Pete Davidson – C-
Jebediah Atkinson – B-

Smart House – B

Carly Rae Jepsen – “All That” – B+

Easter Basket – B

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