Every week, I will post what I have been listening to, watching and reading lately.
I was not going to listen to this but every media outlet rushed to get a review and/or thinkpiece out about Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz in the 24 hours after she announced its arrival at the VMAs (streaming here). I didn’t love “Dooo It!” (too repetitive, too many weed references—WE GET IT NOW) but when I read a few of the songs sounded like outtakes from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, I was almost intrigued.
I cannot believe I am typing these words, but the Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is almost… good? Well, it would be if it was not 23 tracks long. “Karen Don’t Be Sad” is more interesting than anything she’s done before. “Tiger Dreams” is the first thing Ariel Pink’s been involved with in ages that I don’t hate. It comes as no surprise that the songs I like the best are co-writes with Wayne Coyne–those she wrote herself or were produced by Mike Will Made-It, end up sounding more traditional in comparison, as they are mostly sparse, synth-y R&B/pop songs, often about sex.
I like a few of the weirder tracks though, especially “Pablow the Blowfish,” a sweet song about the loss of her pet fish. She sings about going out for sushi and she didn’t like that her friends were eating her friends. Totally silly but endearing. So many songs are reminiscent of other artists–Best Coast, Lana Del Rey–that I think we are witnessing a rich girl with too much time on her hands try to find herself through a self-indulgent, bloated record that has a few gems on it. It’s fascinating to see but much of this record is non-essential.
I’ve read some reviews that said this is her one-off record and she will go back to releasing another “Wrecking Ball” after this (note: I also read this about Bruno Mars, who after Unorthodox Jukebox, worked with genius pop auteur Mark Ronson, for fuck’s sake). But here’s the thing: even with the contract she has, making music like this changes people. Everything she does after this will be different. Maybe she will stop acting like such an asshole? One can only hope.
Lastly, let me be clear on something: my near-enjoyment of Miley Cyrus and the Dead Petz is completely independent of how I feel about Miley as a (racially appropriating, tacky, rude) person. I just wanted to listen to this. For you.
A lot of what I am listening to will be covered in next week’s Hopscotch Fest preview, but here are some quick bits:
I still haven’t found the best listening situation for the new Angel Deradoorian LP, The Expanding Flower Project, a bit of psych pop weirdness. I’ve tried in the car, at work, and while blogging, but its densely layered music just is calling out for some one-on-one time. I will be coming back to this LP for a long time.
While reading about her, I rediscovered this AMAZING song:
The other thing I’m listening to is a lot of pop music, because I’m always trying to get the perfect playlist for running. Aside from the One Direction output, “Hair” is my favorite song EVER released by a former X Factor UK artist–and this is coming from one of the five people who enjoyed Aiden Grimshaw’s Misty Eye.
And even if you’ve seen this, you can surely watch Tacocat covering The Ramones again.
Due to my increasing disappointment about the diversity in film, I am consciously trying to watch more movies directed by women, especially women of color. I will be highlighting some of the great movies I’ve seen, and hopefully I’ll be able to make some deeper connections in a future post.
Middle of Nowhere
What made me fall for Ava Duvernay was an interview she did on Fresh Air, talking about making independent films, and how her work before Selma was “people in rooms, talking.” Well, I LOVE movies that are all talking and little action. MoN told a story I hadn’t heard before: a woman sacrifices herself for her husband in jail, which leads her on a journey of self-discovery. It is just a lovely, touching film, and I hope more people see it now that Ava Duvernay is (almost-ish?) a household name.
It Felt Like Love
I know Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love was a well-done movie: unusual, emotional story; fantastic actors; beautiful directing… but it made me incredibly uncomfortable. Worse than anything involving Larry David. Maybe that’s because I related so much to the young protagonist who has confusing ideas about sex and older boys and things don’t go so well for her. I don’t want all my movies to be sweeping happy endings–I like ambiguity A LOT–but teenage pain is not something I want to relive.
Both of these movies are available to stream on Netflix, and while I preferred Middle of Nowhere, I can’t NOT recommend It Felt Like Love due to the craft–it is beautifully filmed–involved.
So here’s my stack of books for vacation:
A little ambitious, no? I added Great Granny Webster and the two Nora Ephrons because all three can be read in like five hours total, so I could feel accomplished, even if I didn’t get enough reading time (though I BETTER).
96 Covers Kelly Clarkson’s Performed Live, Ranked. I had no idea that Kelly did this and now I have to listen to all of these to form my own opinions.
32 Pieces of Flair. I usually don’t post these kind of consumerist links here, but I WANT ALL OF THESE.
Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus at the VMAs: A Case Study of Intersectional Feminism. And this is why I cannot be all in on Miley Cyrus, ever. This is a really well-written piece and brings in so many of the things I have gone over in my head since Nicki’s first tweet a few months ago. If you want a breakdown of intersectional feminism, this video comparing it to pizza (!!!) is wonderful.
What pop culture have you been getting into this week?