Let's take a moment to admire those four topics of discussion brought together so harmoniously on this week's podcast. So Hoodies-wave. We start off chatting about the HARD Day of the Dead electronic music festival that Molly and Emily attended over the weekend, with its wealth of amazing PLUR vibes and, of course, our patron saint and theme song supplier Sonny "Skrillex" Moore closing out the first night. We talk about the bad rap such events get in contrast with their downright cuddly reality, and explain why Skrillex is, in fact, a genius. Next we talk about the premiere of the fourth season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and why it's gone from fascinating-depressing to just boring-depressing, no matter how innovative new housewife Carlton's baby-naming system is.
In the second half of the pod we take a cruise up the fjords to discuss Norway's "Slow TV" phenomenon and how badly we wish we could watch 24 uncut hours of snail footage here in the States. Speaking of things we Americans will probably never get, we finish by talking about the gender-bias ratings system being used by some Swedish movie theaters, and the insights and drawbacks of the Bechdel test. Good stunt though, Sweden!
With weeping and moaning and the gnashing of teeth, we move closer to determining a champion sound. Round 2! Almost every vote I cast in this one felt like a betrayal. But it's like in that poem where the guy comes upon the beast in the desert, eating its own heart, and the guy asks the beast how its heart tastes and the beast looks up and says, "It's just — I mean, like, this is exhausting, y'know, like ... ?"
The first day is always the hardest. But we're through it now. It can't hurt us anymore.
That's a lie. As a now-six-time Grantland Bracket participant, as someone who has watched good soups die facedown in the minestrone muck and stood by impotently as his harpoons deflected off his white whale without leaving so much as a second blowhole, I can tell you that the hurt never truly goes away. It fades some, yes, but it lingers forever. Ask the architect about how well he sleeps after the teddy-bear hospital he designed collapses upon an urgent-care department full of rainbow-tummy aches. He will tell you he hears only the terrible rending of fuzzy limbs, the crying of the Ruxpins. We all hear them now. They sound a lot like Skrillex.
So, since we've decided we're just telling the uncomfortable truth here, everything about Day 1 has been awful: The choices were engineered to be nigh-impossible, the results crazy-making, the outcry pitched somewhere between "colicky baby with an undiagnosed breast-milk allergy" and "banshee stubbing its toe on a volunteer firehouse siren." We know this going in. And yet we come back for more — hold on, "Jesus Walks" just came up on the Spotify playlist. Holy crap, what a JAM.
This past weekend, Grantland editors Robert Mays and Emily Yoshida went to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Because we couldn't just let them go and have a nice time among the rave kids and B-list celebrities in Indio, we decided to make them do a scavenger hunt. Who won the weekend (other than Daft Punk)? Join us and find out!
Yoshida: We arrive at the box office to get braceleted up. Girl working the booth in the press line does not seem to be enjoying her job very much. I am starting to understand the exact level of mental and physical punishment I am about to endure, and am already worried about how to acclimate to it. This will be a complicated mental exercise.
Mays: Eight minutes. That’s exactly how long it took from the start of my first set of the weekend until I spotted my first ownerless cowboy boot. You can imagine, then, how upset I was when I realized that points for loose cowboy boots weren’t included when the final list was pared down. This could’ve started better.
"F**kin' Problem," the song that bumped A$AP Rocky into the mainstream, is still hanging onto the midsection of charts, and sounds more and more like a Linkin Park song with every replay, but today I'd rather talk about Rocky's would-be other single "Wild for the Night," which has been struggling to get an airplay foothold for a few weeks now (where is 2 Chainz when you need him?) and which I have just had to resort to playing on repeat in my car. Rocky released a big-budget on-location video for the track earlier this week (see above), which included a bonus Skrillex mini-track at the end and got people talking about the song again for about 24 hours, but its time seems to have already passed, and the video hasn't even cracked 1 million views on YouTube yet. It's a reminder that in the chart world "Problem" is still bigger than A$AP Rocky, and with his Vegas days nearly upon us, the Skrillex Factor may no longer be quantifiable, if it ever was.
1. The Barden Bellas ft. The Treblemakers, "Riff Off: Mickey/Like A Virgin/Hit Me With Your Best Shot/S&M/Let's Talk About Sex/I'll Make Love To You/Feels Like The First Time/No Diggity" (Pitch Perfect)
Pitch Perfect, Kay Cannon's comedy about college a cappella groups, has quickly established itself as a cult hit worthy of sitting alongside slumber party classics like Bring It On, Empire Records, and Grease. Personally, even the best a capella rendition of a song just makes me want to listen to the actual song. Of the various medleys and covers in Pitch Perfect, the sex song medley from the "Riff Off" sequence is the clear standout. And let's all just agree to put Rebel Wilson in everything from now on, OK?
Best YouTube Comment: "idk about anyone, but I got really excited when Ester Dean (Cynthia Rose) sang S&M…considering it's her song that she wrote for Rihanna" — Kaylaa1DAllstar
K-Pop tasted world-conquering glory in 2012, but it was bittersweet: Instead of one of the genre's many meticulously manicured supergroups, it was Psy, a portly second-stringer, who won hearts and minds. That means K-Pop's got some unfinished business to take care of — namely, breaking one of Korea's top names in America. And seeing the exactitude with which the industry whips its subjects into shape, there's no telling what kind of repercussions are on hand for the subjects if this fails; I believe a sort of modern-day musician's version of a debtor's prison is not out of the question. On that note: How are you feeling about Girls' Generation's latest? It's got about 19 songs jammed into one, which is nice; also, according to the subtitled version, the lyrics feature the phrase "deep eyes like a scarred beast."
As the Grantland staff looks back this week on the highlights of the year in music, TV, film, and sports, we would obviously be remiss if we left out the one medium to rule them all: the Internet. Here are our picks for the best (and worst) of the Information Superhighway in 2012.
Every week, Hollywood Prospectus editor and masochistically devoted mainstream-radio listener Emily Yoshida will pick an aging Top 40 hit that she has heard enough times to render the song meaningless, and thus likely to inspire otherwise inaccessible epiphanies.
Remember Evanescence? You should; they were immensely popular more recently than you probably think — their last no. 1 album was in 2006; "Call Me When You're Sober," from that album, broke the Hot 100 Top 10. You're not really able to laugh about how awkward you look in your sophomore high school yearbook when you're a junior; similarly, we haven't yet gained proper hindsight to say that the society that gave Amy Lee a bunch of money to squeeze out the most laborious vocals this side of Rick Ross (seriously, has anyone ever sounded more loath to use her voice while simultaneously bashing you over the head with it?) is so very far removed from our own.
Rihanna and Chris: "Of the 100 people gathered gathered to ring in Rihanna's 24th birthday at a Beverly Hills mansion the day before Valentine's Day, only one stood out: her abusive ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown." A witness says, "Rihanna and Chris were very much together. He was touching her butt, rubbing her arm, and they kept dancing with each other. They seemed like a couple to everyone." But while they have "been covertly hooking up for almost a year" they have finally "become more open about their mutual affection." A Riri pal says, "Chris was a strong first love for her that she wants to hold on to. They had a violent, stormy relationship. Her friends obviously think this reunion is crazy — but nobody can tell Rihanna what to do." And since it was her birthday, nobody said an unkind word about Brown's presence, who "kept his gaze on Rihanna until past 4 am," saying "Isn't Rihanna beautiful?" to fellow party guest LaLa Vasquez Anthony. Chris "will always love Rihanna" and would drop girlfriend Karrueche Tran (whose face he recently had tatted on his arm) if Rihanna asked — but Rihanna prefers the control and power she currently has over him, even if Chris still has the upper hand. "She likes the loose nature of it and she doesn't want a boyfriend. This is dangerous, and she likes playing with fire."
A few years ago, I sat in a living room, surrounded by some of my closest friends, and made a now-infamous statement among my inner circle. I stated that Jessica Alba was "attainable" and meant it with every fiber of my being. It goes without saying that I was immediately laughed out of the conversation, the living room, the apartment, the building, and midtown Manhattan, but I have stood by my belief since that evening in the fall of 2009.
Since then, I've found that it's a lonely world out there for laypeople who have strong opinions on the attainability of celebrities. Luckily for me, and potentially only me, I stumbled on Chelsea Fagan, who is my delusional female doppelganger and shares in my polarizing beliefs.
In the first installment of our "Celebrity Attainability Exercise in Futility," we tackle the Grammys and ten of last night's nominees and winners.
One thing about being 27 is that you’re definitely old enough to be allowed to flippantly dismiss things high school kids are into, but not necessarily old enough to want to flippantly dismiss things high school kids are into. Which brings us to last night, when Skrillex — the 23-year-old dubstep king beloved by a giant mass of those who are young and impetuous and full of life, to the confusion of sensible adults everywhere — played New York’s Webster Hall, and I was there.
Ah, dubstep. You’ve been the hip subgenre of choice for snooty Anglophiles for roughly a decade now, all the while dreaming of crossing over into mainstream — the day when the average American pop-music consumer would have to formulate opinions on BPM counts. That dream took a major step forward recently, with the success of indie heartthrob James Blake and producers like Skrillex nabbing major magazine covers. But this week, it took a step back. Blake, the genre's poster boy, has disowned dubstep’s latest wave. The blasphemy: