Jay Z might have to start going by Jay V after announcing on his website that he and Beyoncé are going vegan throughout December. While mortals might wait to start their strict new diets until after New Year's, Jay and Bey have chosen the month that traditionally involves holiday overindulging to demonstrate their commitment to health, one another, and seitan. For Jay's 44th birthday, the power couple, who usually spend their special occasions eating at Cipriani or drinking champagne on a yacht, celebrated by eating at the trendy California vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude.
It was supposed to be a later Friday, November 28, 2003, but by the early days of that month, tracks on the album began to leak, much to the delight of the Kazaa-affiliated populace. "Due to individuals illegally distributing my album, I have no choice but to move the release date," Jay Z said in a statement, with the album then pushed up two weeks to November 14.
That was 10 years ago today.
The Black Album came out a decade ago, which means it's been 10 years since we were supposed to be done with Jay Z, the rapper, because of his retirement.
There's no need to build up suspense as to what happened next, because we all know the retirement was short-lived, and we are still living in the era of that reversed decision. But it's important to remember — as far-fetched as it seems in hindsight — that for a period of time, we all thought it was over.
I can see now that we've made a grave mistake. This bracket, this choice we made in the dead of summer to celebrate the fun and foolishness of popular songs, was all wrong. There were other opportunities, dismissed without a second thought. Great brackets. Brackets you'd never forget. The Coolest Cats Ever. The Best Sitcom Stars of the '90s. The Coolest Cats Ever Who Were Sitcom Stars in the '90s. The possibilities for cats and sitcoms were endless. But we went Big Tent. We wanted people to join us in the yelling and the crying and the pain. And now we're here. Left with these songs. Four days have passed and voters have turned out in droves. But have we done right by a generation? Are these songs really the Songs of the Millennium?
[YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN RECAPS AND WOULD LIKE TO PROCEED DIRECTLY TO THE FINAL FOUR VOTE, WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE, SO PLEASE DO SO NOW.]
Last we heard, Beyoncé was having problems. "I think she scrapped the record," Diplo told the Sun in July, about the highly anticipated follow-up to 2011's 4. "The record was supposed to be done and they have been hitting me up for brand-new ideas." And before he even had a chance to clarify, a full damning report followed: "Beyonce Scraps 50 Songs Amid Endless Album Delay," The Hollywood Reporter’s online headline screamed.
Word was Columbia Records had hoped for the album in spring, then the fall; now, it wasn't even publicly discussing a timeline. Just today, it seemed the stagnation had reared its ugly head again: "Grown Woman," the track understood at one point to be the probable lead single from this theoretical forthcoming album, reappeared in finished studio form — and then, seeing that the SoundCloud stream has been unavailable, has apparently leaked back off the Internet.
In its report, THR delivered the news grimly: "It wasn’t initially the plan to take a singer around the world for an ambitious eight-month trek … while trying to juggle time in the studio. In turn, the label is getting increasingly more anxious as it looks back to the costly 2011 album, 4. … Beyoncé was given nearly complete autonomy over the finished product, which also was her first release since excising her father, Mathew Knowles, from her business dealings. 4 was her lowest seller at 1.4 million copies .… and it failed to produce a buzzy pop hit."
It's such a cruel joke when you see a parody of something that should be real, as is the case with Daria's High School Reunion, starring Aubrey Plaza in the titular role. Thanks a lot, College Humor. You told me to "GET EXCITED" and I got excited. We need the remaining 115 minutes of this fake feature, like, real, real bad. Want to go deep into the Plaza like Eloise? GQ is happy to oblige with this interview spread, complete with an awkward I'm-biting-my-sweater-and-wearing-a-bikini photo and angry-masturbation chat.
I have a few theories about why this particular moment in Beyoncé history is so compelling, and yes, a lot of it has to do with our love of/frustration with the perfect android of professionalism Mrs. Carter-Fierce becomes when she is onstage. But I think what makes this a truly special moment is that this is a rare occurence in which we can see Beyoncé interacting with another entity in an unscripted, genuine way. And I do not think that it's a coincidence that that thing is a high-powered mechanical object. I see Pacific Rim sequel written all over this.
Watch it from every angle, because you were born recently enough to be alive for this kind of technology, after the break:
For a nation that claims not to give a hoot about the royal family, we sure did give a lot of tweets (and Facebook real estate, media coverage, and gender guesses) in honor of the occasion of the birth of the son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. The Prince of Cambridge weighs a respectable eight pounds, six ounces and his name will remain a mystery until the family departs from the hospital. The crowds waiting outside of St. Mary’s Hospital and Buckingham Palace for a first glimpse of the neonate celebrity are a varied mix of reporters, younger fans of the “modern couple,” and old-school royalists (an 82-year-old man told a reporter for Time, “I love the ceremonial aspect. I am retired now, so that is all I have” — and now I hope you, too, are picturing him as the soup man from Groundhog Day). Celebrity babies — be they third in line to the throne or the youngest person to get on the Billboard charts, as Blue Ivy Carter did when her first gurgles and cries appeared on “Glory” — are important by virtue of bloodline, and unlike people who have to whittle themselves into interesting figures to score attention and wealth, proving their talents and slowly morphing into people who seem worthy of note, the presence of these extra-special babies is written into our cultural narrative as soon as Us Weekly goes on bump watch.
Calling the Essence Music Festival, held in New Orleans, my "little secret" feels ridiculous. It's a massively attended four-day event that turns hotel lobbies, French Quarter streets, and the behemoth that is the Superdome into vibrant spaces filled to capacity.
But in comparison to other festivals, like a Coachella or a Bonnaroo or a Lollapalooza, it flies under the radar. More often than not, it's absent from "summer music festival guides" as if it doesn't exist. This is a reckless oversight and something that has nothing to do with the lineup.
Hollywood Turns Against Gwyneth Paltrow: Paltrow was the pink-dress princess of the ’90s, "earning rave reviews for her performances in Flesh and Bone and Sliding Doors." You mean Emma and Se7en. "She dated heartthrobs like Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt, who called her 'my angel' and even proposed to her. And she won an Oscar for 1998's Shakespeare in Love. She was the ultimate Hollywood golden girl." BUT. "But somewhere along the line, Gwyneth let all that success go to her head." That was at the beginning of the line. Now "she has gained more notoriety for her shamefully out-of-touch comments — often bashing the film industry and American culture or preaching about her over-the-top healthy lifestyle — than for her acting career." But that's what she wanted! Gwyn "has always been pretentious, but over the past few years she has gone from pretentious to just unbearable." Gwyneth was once a removed icy presence, but in 2008 she started "Goop, her lifestyle website and newsletter that regularly touts the merits of $800 designer leather iPad cases, impromptu trips to Morocco to stay in converted palaces, and all-natural organic everything, from food to skincare products." But people need to knowwwww! Goop has been called "too elitist," full of recommendations for frivolous items that are "way too expensive." Gwyneth "grew up privileged, after all" and doesn't understand that she's out of touch. Let them eat gluten-free cake! Goop has "more than a million subscribers" who love following Gwyneth on her journey to make "life interesting, finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu." Gwynnie says she is a study in contradictions. "I use organic products, but I get lasers." She means on her face, but how cool does it sound? SHE GETS LASERS.
Did you happen to wake up this morning thinking You know what would really get me through this week is if a buoyant IDGAF Beyoncé banger leaked? Good news, then! "Grown Woman" — the track that Miss Knowles has already been playing on her Mrs. Carter world tour, and that appeared, in snippet form, in her Pepsi commercial — has now entered the world in full.
There's still no official word on any thing to do with the fifth Beyoncé album, and so no certainty that "Grown Woman" is even on it. But what is a sure thing is that "Grown Woman" is here, right now, for you to rock with. Produced by Timbaland and co-written by The-Dream, it's a joyous little shoulder-shake affair, all chutzpah and freedom and sex-pace preferences. ("I can be bad if I want / I can say what I want / I can live fast if I want / I can go slow all night long.") When titans like Beyoncé release lead singles, they're supposed to be world-changing, face-melting, traditions-of-music-history-shattering affairs. And if "Grown Woman" does end up being that lead single, we'll have to scrutinize it as such. For now, though, we get to enjoy it in the fuzzy comforts of lowered expectations.
"Multiple sources" report that Beyoncé is pregnant with her second child. After canceling a performance in Belgium (and citing those old mythological maladies "dehydration and exhaustion" as the cause), rumors began to swirl, as rumors do. Beyoncé has said that Blue Ivy "needs some company" with whom to watch Nets games at her Barclays crib, so I guess they've decided to create their own playmates for her instead of adopting one of us (we offered). Have fun with that diaper pail, Bey. Adults come house-trained and won't try to put your diamonds in our mouths. I'm just saying.