The behooded ones are finally all in the same room again, and just in time to go super deep on the Kimye phenomenon. What starts as a conversation about the New York Times’s fascinating interview with Kanye West and the buildup to his highly anticipated sixth album, Yeezus, can't help but be colored by the tabloid circus surrounding him and his pregnant girlfriend, Kim Kardashian. Why can't we separate the artist from the person? If celebrities can't make us feel like their friends, are they doing their job sufficiently?
These big questions are dwarfed, however, by the dilemma facing the subjects of this past week's True Life: I'm Too Beautiful (and True Life: I'm Addicted to the Internet). We attempt to unpack the rich psychological drama of these latest installments of arguably the best reality show on TV. True Life is still killin' it, y'all.
If you’ve followed Grantland’s coverage of successful indie bands such as the National, Deerhunter, the Black Keys, and Grizzly Bear and found yourself intrigued, there’s good news: Each of them has a deep and rewarding discography that you can spend a good amount of time digging in to. The bad news is that you eventually get to the debut that you’ve heard suspiciously little about and realize all four of these bands have one thing in common: They all sorta sucked at one point, and did so when most people weren’t really paying any attention anyway.
The upshot is that early failure played a role in establishing the essence of these bands, one that casts them as hard-working, “doing it the right way” types, their success more truly earned than that of a band that made a knockout debut. It’s a Tom Brady–like effect, where they are clearly extremely talented and/or handsome and/or sleeping with models, yet an initial slight a decade previous makes them seem like “people’s champs,” and you fully believe they want it more than whatever band you consider to be an equivalent of Eli Manning, which is probably Vampire Weekend based on the haircut.
Here is a crowd-sourced Dunder Mifflin ad that will air during the Super Bowl in Scranton, and only in Scranton.
• Oh, and hey guys, got any hot sexy plans this weekend? Maybe gonna eat some poached veal with Larry King? Wear something trampy on your date with a pickup artist skeeve in a rape van? No? You could always try this online dating service that uses humans instead of algorithms if you’re interested in capturing the sensation of being set up by your “fabulous, drunk aunt.” Or you could save the $99 and just ask your own fabulous, drunk aunt for the hookup. Fabulous, drunk aunts have been making it happen since two-thousand-never.
While reading about The Black Keys having the best sales week of their career (206,000 first week sales; possibly related: they’re not on spotify) I got to wondering about the silent third partner on El Camino. Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse.
As you’re reading this on the internet, I can’t be sure you’re old enough to remember the song “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley (released in 2006, just before Twitter). At the time our own Chuck Klosterman did a NYT profile about Danger Mouse in which he, Burton, likened his approach as a music producer to Woody Allen making movies, “And what I realized is that they worked because Woody Allen was an auteur: he did his Thing, and that particular Thing was completely his own. That's what I decided to do with music. I want to create a director's role within music.”
1. James Blake and Bon Iver, "Fall Creek Boys Choir"
Indie-rock power couple James Blake and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon announced their union just last week, but we already get a taste. “Fall Creek Boys Choir” — featuring Vernon’s falsetto over a skeletal Blake piano run, and also some dog bark type noises — is as predictable as it is perfect. According to the never-wrong YouTube information box, it’ll be followed, in October, with something called Enough Thunder.
Björk and director Michel Gondry were fellow creatives on the journey up the ladder of fame when they first collaborated on the video for 1993’s "Human Behavior." And now, 18 years later, they’ve reunited with their careers not down and out, exactly, but definitely reduced to smaller, stranger circumstances. For Gondry, still licking his wounds from the mainstream mauling suffered while working on The Green Hornet, reconnecting with his Icelandic vinur after many years must have felt like freedom. As for Björk, she seems to have turned her no-doubt fascinating and elvish back on whatever remains of the traditional music industry, choosing to record her latest project, Biophilia, on her own and releasing it as a multimedia iPad-enabled app experience. For the "Crystalline" clip, Gondry indulges in the sort of boyish, OCD thumb-twiddling that has always interested in him more than, say, the logistics of making Seth Rogen appear to be a legitmate crime-fighter, stop-motioning the hell out of a lunar landscape in the midst of a crystal thunderstorm while Björk, in a fetching red afro wig, Dougies dreamily from on high. It’s equal parts bewitching and bold, the very sort of thing a younger, chunkier Rogen might have appreciated during a midnight showing at the Laser Dome. It’s also a welcome return to form from two like-minded artists who tend to do their best work when the stakes are simpler.
1. Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Otis”
This, the first "single" from Kanye and Jay’s Watch The Throne (single in quotes because Hov claimed there would be no official single from the album), dropped Wednesday night on Funkmaster Flex’s New York radio show (you should do yourself a favor and listen to Flex’s accompanying rant). The last time Kanye West flipped an Otis Redding sample he made the greatest song of his career (Late Registration's "Gone"). So stakes were high on this one. "Otis" doesn’t quit flip the Stax legend’s "Try A Little Tenderness" as much as it fluffs its hair and puts it front and center. But where the beat is a little underwhelming, the interplay between Jay and Kanye is stellar, as the two trade bars, and use the end of each other’s rhymes as jumping off points for their own. Jay-Z: “I got five passports, I’m never going to jail.” Kanye: “I made Jesus walk, I’m never going to hell.” Don’t sweat the technique.