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.
It's easy to prepare for most of what goes on at this festival. You know that at some point you'll nearly be run over by any of the official black sedans that could be dropping off Emma Watson then heading off to Transporter 7. You know you'll wind up trapped watching a three-hour talkathon that's two hours too long. You know you'll want to marry a movie that all your friends think is totally wrong for you, which means it's really just wrong for them. These are things you can anticipate. But even though you manage to pack two-dozen Balance bars, six neckties you won't wear, and a lint brush, even though there's this service called the weather report, what you never quite see coming is rain. It's so sunny here so often that it just never occurs to you to pack protection. This is how you end up borrowing a plaid hotel umbrella that has nothing to do with the tuxedo you're wearing — not even your socks.
Bowie's new video depicts, among other things, priests partying and a touch of stigmata; as you might have expected, the Catholic League was not amused. Writes the League's prez Bill Donohue, "The switch-hitting, bisexual, senior citizen from London has resurfaced, this time playing a Jesus-like character who hangs out in a nightclub dump frequented by priests, cardinals and half-naked women ... in short, the video reflects the artist — it is a mess." I might be reading this wrong, but is it at all possible — considering the strangely jovial and florid word choices above — that Bill Donohue is all aggy right now because his MP3 blog never took off?
1706: Benjamin Franklin is born. 1885: James Whitcomb Riley writes the poem "Little Orphant Annie." 1914: Benjamin Franklin's face makes first appearance on $100 bill. 1924: The New York Daily News begins running Harold Gray's comic strip "Little Orphan Annie." 1930: The comic strip is adapted into a popular radio show. 1932: The first film adaptation, Little Orphan Annie, is released and panned. 1938: The second film adaptation, Little Orphan Annie, is released and panned. 1969: Shawn Carter, younger brother of Andrea "Annie" Carter (frequent dresser and shampooer), is born. 1977: The Broadway phenomenon Annie opens, includes song "It's the Hard-Knock Life." 1982: The first film adaptation of Annie is released, nominated for an Oscar for "Best Adaptation Score." 1994: Jamie Foxx releases debut album, Peep This, which peaks at no. 78 on the Billboard 200. 1995: Will Smith lands his first executive producer credit, for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Season 6, Episode 1. 1997: Puff Daddy releases "It's All About the Benjamins." 1997: Jay-Z hears DJ Kid Capri play the instrumental to "It's the Hard-Knock Life" on the Puff Daddy and the Family World Tour, is reminded of childhood. 1998: Jay-Z releases "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)." 2000: Willow Smith is born to Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. 2000: Jay-Z releases "Anything," heavily reliant on a sample from Oliver! 2002: All About the Benjamins is released in theaters, starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps. 2003: "Caddy more trucks, it's Daddy Warbucks. And you orphan Annie" — Cam'ron, "I Really Mean It" (Roc-A-Fella Records). 2003: Quvenzhané Wallis is born. 2003: "From O's to opposite of Orphan Annie" — Jay-Z, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" (Roc-A-Fella Records). 2007: André Benjamin refers to himself as "Three Stacks" three times in UGK's "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)." 2009: Jay-Z joins Will Smith to executive produce Fela! on Broadway, proving his love for Broadway shows with exclamation points in their titles. 2013: A$AP Rocky makes reference to "Benjamin 3 Stack" in song "Wild for the Night."
There is an event that takes place in Washington, D.C., every year, traditionally the last Saturday of April, officially titled the White House Correspondents' Dinner and unfortunately hashtagged as #NerdProm.
An observation: This event is not a prom for nerds. It's five celebrities and six Patron shots away from being the Golden Globes. Also, as a FOUR-TIME attender of prom, the WHCD's complete absence of Axe Body Spray, 18-person dinners at Benihana, or English teachers trying to Breathalyze me while I try to grind to Chingy does not say prom to me. Not at all.
Continuing a lifelong commitment to not giving a goddamn that you hate her, Gwyneth Paltrow went on Ellen this week and did an impression of Jay-Z. I mean, technically Ellen asked her to, citing insider information about Gwyn and her husband, international recording artist Chris Martin, playing this "musical impressions" game at home. But after the briefest of demurrals Paltrow went for it, making me suspect she was really gonna go ahead and show off her knowledge of "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" the entire time. In her defense, Paltrow — after years of plugging her own hip-hop obsessive bona fides — does know the words to at least one Hov song and one 'Ye song.
Within one second of the public's first viewing of Baz Luhrmann's take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, it's clear music will be a centerpiece.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, saying "New York ... 1922 ..." over the Kanye–Jay–Frank Ocean track "No Church in the Wild." After first listen (and viewing), it didn't make any sense, and that hasn't really changed with subsequent viewings. The song, while quite effective as the backing for 2012's Safe House, seemed like an odd pick for our first impression of a film adapted from one of our most celebrated American novels.
We thought this whole kerfuffle over Jay-Z and Beyoncé's Cuba trip got good when White House press secretary Jay Carney was forced to respond. (We'll remember "I guess nothing rhymes with treasury" forever.) But we just got really spoiled. During an interview for the Today show that aired this morning, Savannah Guthrie had the cojones to ask the president about a certain bout of possibly extralegal celebrity Cuban tourism, and instead of Leo squinting at her in stone silence for 45 minutes, he actually responded. My god, this thing goes all the way to the top!
First, a couple of Florida reps flamed Jay-Z and "the diva Beyoncé" for their trip to Cuba. Then Hova responded with "Open Letter" ("Politicians never did shit for me except lie to me, distort history, wanna give me jail time and a fine Obama said, 'Chill, you gonna get me impeached. You don't need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach'"). And then things got really good: Press Secretary Jay Carney found himself in the strange position of explaining to a press conference that (a) it was a song, y'all, and (b) "I guess nothing rhymes with treasury." Sure, there are some near rhymes (wild celery, feathery, telephone directory), but they really do lack punch. I'd beg someone out there to remix this video, perhaps adding AutoTune or launching an entire web series devoted to White House press events dissecting Snoop Lion's stance on same-sex marriage or the political relevance of "Hey Porsche," but I'm sure there's a mastermind already at work.
When photos of Jay-Z and Beyoncé celebrating their anniversary in Havana first popped up, the reaction was, of course, universally positive. (It was something along the lines of, Wow, what an amazing couple. May nothing ever happen to disrupt the Carter-Knowles union. That would surely shatter all belief in the possibility of true love forever.) Over the weekend, though, things got a little more complicated.
As you may or may not know, travel to Cuba for Americans is restricted. According to the State Department, "Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba." So, technically, tourism trips to Cuba are not, you know, legal? But Jay and Bey just kind of seemed to be vibing?
"Bow Down/I Been On," the probable first single(s) from Beyoncé's next album, has been as divisive and controversial as Spring Breakers, as audiences seem unsure how seriously to take it. After all, this is Beyoncé, queen of mixed messages. One thing comes across loud and clear: Beyoncé is not here for your expectations of her. Even if her most seemingly impromptu moves are incredibly calculated (ripping the earpiece out during the national anthem!), practiced to seem extemporary, we will never be able to prove it because she is just that good at faking being real.
The Veronica Mars effect: Pushing Daisies's Bryan Fuller and Zachary Levi of Chuck are hmmm-ing about Kickstarting movie projects based on VM's recent success. Joss Whedon, on the other hand, is kinda bizzay: "I'm booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and [...] I haven't even been able to get Dr. Horrible 2 off the ground because of that. So I don't even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won't. Couple years from now, when Nathan [Fillion]'s no longer [on] Castle and I'm no longer the Tom Hagen of the Marvel Universe and making a giant movie, we might look and see where the market is then. But right now, it's a complete non-Kickstarter for me."
For 10 days, Grantland staff writer Rembert Browne is at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, collecting stories while trying not to die.
Schoolboy Q is having a phenomenal time in Austin.
As the second most famous member of the Kendrick Lamar–led Top Dawg Entertainment crew, Q had a great deal to celebrate on Wednesday, with a headlining position at SXSW staple THE FADER FORT Presented by Converse and then a cameo across the street at the Spotify Live compound to crash Kendrick's headlining set.
Beyond rapping, one of the hallmarks of Schoolboy's appeal (along with one of the reasons I didn't mind seeing him twice in less than three hours) is that he'll say anything and do anything and, more often than not, people will enjoy it.
"Remind me again why the Grammys can suck my dick?" Kanye asked on Friday night in London, during what is now his mandatory mid-show freakout/meltdown/one-man theatrical production. It was just one little moment of an eight-minute spiel — there was also a lot of stuff about how corporate America is ruining Kanye, trying to get him to meet corporate American executives' granddaughters just so he can get $3 million with which to buy a new infinity pool with a permanent chocolate fondue fountain or whatever — but it was the most apt. Because last night a bunch of rich, attractive people got together in a big room to heartily congratulate each other, and then today we're all gonna spend some time breaking down if those congratulations were handed out in the correct order, and were received in the correct manner, and if you'd much rather not care about awards shows, and would like to be reminded that it's OK not to care about awards shows by a guy who actually wins awards at those awards shows (albeit a guy who also, OK, yeah, might care the most of all time about awards shows but really doesn't wanna show it), feel free to ride the Kanye-rant train to pop-culture-contrarianism absolution.
Beyoncé’s self-produced, self-directed, and self-spangled documentary Life is But a Dream aired on HBO this past Saturday night. We brought together our resident Diva scientists Jay Caspian Kang and Rembert Browne to discuss.
Jay Caspian Kang: Before we get into specifics, how do you feel about the general idea of a self-produced, self-directed documentary?
The Internet has allowed us to all become mini-memoirists — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest have turned anyone with a smartphone into the director and producer of a non-linear, yet ultimately self-serving narrative. There’s no reason Beyoncé shouldn’t be given the same opportunity to tell her life story through a montage of flattering photos, baby photos, and motivational platitudes. And that’s what Life is But a Dream ultimately felt like to me — a sleek, well-curated series of status updates.
Rembert Browne: It’s almost an exercise in allowing Beyoncé to be as tacky as the rest of us. The documentary felt like her Tumblr had magically come to life in the form of 90 minutes of GIFs accompanied by well-filtered Instagram Vine Pinterest Etsy Snapchats.
And I couldn’t have been more pleased. Because that’s the only way this could have happened.