Tragically Mainstream

No guilt, only pleasure.

The Week in VEVO: A Classic Movie Quote with Your VEVO

by williedollars

If you want to just see all the newest music videos from everyone who matters, no one’s stopping you from going to’s music video premieres page. But if you want a different gimmick each week to add a totally unnecessary new layer of meaning to these videos, well, you’ve probably come to the only place on the internet for that.



One Direction – Best Song Ever

“I’m the king of the world!” -Jack Dawson, Titanic

What else you can say when your video beats the VEVO record with 10.9 million views in one day? Like maybe you could pluralize it and make it “We’re the kings of the world!” because there are five Directioners and only one Leo, but that would be deviating from my script of pairing actual movie quotes with these videos, so I’m just going to pretend it was only Harry who yelled it and the rest just kind of nodded in agreement. I’m pretty sure the band in general works that way too.

Since it was a given that they’d break the record, 1D decided to take the self-congratulatory superstar route and make their first “concept” video with acting and stuff. It doesn’t matter whether the opening skit to this video is good though (it’s waaayyy too long), because when you’re superstars, you make your video however you like and people still watch. You name your song Best Song Ever and people still listen. Yet if I’m a Directioner right now, I’m taking heed of the lesson Jack Dawson taught us: you can say you’re king of the world now and mean it and it can still all go bad tomorrow. The fact is, Best Song Ever has a disappointingly generic hook (its only saving grace is the descending guitar riff after the drop). Too many more singles like this will mark a slow descent to irrelevancy like Jack’s descent to the bottom of the sea. And the guys certainly aren’t gonna be saved by their acting skill.

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Cancelling the Apocalypse: Why Pacific Rim would be better as a TV show

by Henry Gorman


Don’t let the title give you the wrong idea.  I loved Pacific Rim.  It’s a simple film, but, to borrow words from Terry Pratchett, it’s simple in the way that a sword is simple or an ambush is simple. Read the rest of this entry »


by williedollars

Taylor Swift’s 22 vs. Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop: which video featured the least worst fake house party, scientifically speaking. Part 1 ended with the score tied at 2-2. We have five more categories with which to decide a champion. There will be a champion. I’M SO EXCITED I’M JUMPING RIGHT INTO THE SHOWDOWN:

EXERCISE METHOD: It’s not a party until that point past midnight when people start doing weird non-party-related things. Like exercise. Because they’re drunk. When drunk people get this urge, they most typically tend to wander outside and, voila, this is where we find the lovely Ms. Swift and a few friends piggy-back racing bicycles through her backyard.

Taylor's the one raising her arm. Because she's, uhh, the "fun" one. Yeah.

Taylor’s the one raising her arm. Because she’s, uhh, the “fun” one. Yeah.

Obviously this doubles as both orthodox exercise and an odd mating ritual, but alas it’s not particularly inventive. (You might ask how I can be so harsh judging drunk people’s inventiveness, but then I’ll show you this map of the world and you’ll shut up.) While the bikes place a nice modern spin on the practice, teenagers and twenty-somethings have been playing chicken in pools for awhile now. The fact is that Swizzle’s form of exercise still perpetuates old-fashioned gender norms and is waaaay too complicated for the average drunk person to pull off. The second part is more important. I’m about to call bullshit on this ever happening because somebody had to fall down, right?

Whereas on the other hand, it doesn’t take that much concentration to put together a good twerk. I mean, it’s not like it’s simply easy–you need a modicum of consciousness to do it right–but at least no one’s going to fall off your shoulders and onto her face if you slip up a second and also it’s not like Miley hasn’t been practicing this move lately. And why wouldn’t she be practicing it? It’s of the moment, the movement of 2013, which reminds you to ask yourself: What kind of music do I want to dominate the party? The newest, hottest stuff that me and all my friends know or some random 70s Beach Boys slow jam? Taylor’s exercise is the equivalent of the latter while Miley’s is way more fun and, well, fun to watch too. Swift 2 / Miley 3

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MCHG: Jay-Z needs a mid-life crisis more than we need this album.

by sethisan

It took me a while to decide what I felt about Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

The album is currently on display next to one of the original manuscripts of the Magna Carta in an English museum. Would MCHG make it to any sort of museum on its merits? Not really.

It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. There’s a Tate Modern reference. There’s yet another foray into the dad-rap genre. There’s the (obligatory) Frank Ocean and the (new BFF) Justin Timberlake as guest crooners.

It feels almost impossible to talk about Magna Carta… Holy Grail in a void, devoid of comparisons with Yeezus. These are their first albums post the Throne collaboration, and while Kanye is going strong, crafting novel soundscapes and an exhilarating new anti-corporate manifesto, Jay-Z is another matter.

Mr. Z, for a man who once spoke the lines:

No lie, just know I chose my own fate
I drove by the fork in the road and went straight

as a promise of artistic coherence and integrity, now seems to be in a place in his career where the case for taking a wrong turn or two is getting stronger with every album he puts out.

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by williedollars

You know what’s tough? Throwing a good house party. There are lots of variables in play here: you have to have a house, friends, alcohol and… uhh… well, uhh… I guess there’s actually not that much to it. So scratch that. It’s not that hard to throw a good house party. But I’m already on this train of thought and dammit I’m going to stay on it: It is difficult to throw a house party that anybody outside of the people who attended, literally anybody, would ever care to watch a video of. Ever had someone show you some video on their phone from this one time when everyone was drunk and you watch a bunch of kids giggle for like two minutes forty seconds and finally you get a “man, you really just had to be there.” BITCH IF YOUR VIDEO HAS FEWER THAN 20 THOUSAND VIEWS ON YOUTUBE IT JUST WASN’T THAT FUNNY AND YOUR PARTY JUST WASN’T THAT GOOD AND I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT.

This guy is one of the few who've passed the test. Well done Corey Worthington. Click the picture.

This guy however is one of the few who’ve passed the test. Well done, Corey Worthington. Click the picture.

This year Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus both decided to be that girl. And well, yeah, they both got a few more than twenty thousand views, but they’re Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus and that baseline doesn’t count. Of course YouTube views alone can’t determine the quality of  house parties when we’re talking about the house parties filmed as the music videos for 22 and We Can’t Stop, both of which are great (yes, great) pop songs from ridiculously famous (and great?) pop singers. Taylor and Miley decided to film their parties for everyone to see and we just don’t have a good, objective way to determine which was the least worst. Which of these girls would I be least likely to backhand after she finally removed her S4 from my face?

I guess I’ve been left with no choice.

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Marriage Equality Week Special: Shelter

by Henry Gorman

This Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling were victories, if only small ones, in the major ongoing civil rights campaign of our time.  But another battle– the fight to bring representation of gay and lesbian relationships to the media– has continued to stall.  Although TV has made huge strides since Will and Grace, many gay characters today remain peripheral sidekicks and simpering stereotypes.   Also, television shows and movies are still reluctant to show gay characters being affectionate with one another and often seem to feel a need to “punish” them with tragic deaths.  Even good works often fall into this trap.


"I wish I knew how to quit you, heteronormative narrative tropes"

“I wish I knew how to quit you, heteronormative narrative tropes”

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Man of Steel, Urban Destruction, and Zach Snyder’s Homeric Filmmaking

by Henry Gorman

Man of Steel has a magnificent superhero film pedigree. Its story springs from the mind of Christopher Nolan. Its script flows from the pen of David S. Goyer, who helped Nolan write The Dark Knight.  Zach Snyder, whose Watchmen and 300 won the acclaim of the viewing public and Hollywood’s younger and bolder critics, directs. This film should have been a marvel.

No, not that kind of Marvel!

No, not that kind of Marvel!

A trip to Rotten Tomatoes suggests otherwise. Man of Steel hovers around 55%, well below forgettable-but-shiny fluff like Star Trek: Into Darkness, blowing-its-chances-to-be-bold-and-meaningful Iron Man 3, and Christopher Nolan’s adventurously literary yet deeply flawed The Dark Knight Rises. The critics who do sing its praises issue them quietly, or with qualifications.  This film failed. Read the rest of this entry »

Yeezus Reviewed

by sethisan

On “Ready to Start”, a song off Arcade Fire’s third album, The Suburbs, there is a line that goes:

“All the kids have always known that the Emperor wears no clothes / but  they bow down to him anyway, ’cause it’s better than being alone”

Kanye West has always been that enfant terrible who refused to “bow down”, and consequently, has often paid the price of “being alone” – a theme frequently explored and indeed, elevated to the status of messianic sacrifice, most notably in his 2010 masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

It seems only logical then that Mr. West, having dabbled in comparing himself to superheroes and pharaonic God-Kings, escalates the analogy to the ultimate apotheosis, and this bring us to Yeezus.

Right from the near-paranormal chorus in the first track, “On Sight”, Mr. West makes it abundantly clear:

He’ll give us what we need
It may not be what we want

The song begins with jarring distortions that smack the complacent listener in the jowls, forcing them to pay close attention – Yeezy is back and he knows who’s been naughty. Read the rest of this entry »

Things To Do Now that Game of Thrones has Finished: Part II

by Henry Gorman

I promised that I would give you more recommendations about what to do now that you have finished watching Game of Thrones. I struggle to be a Ned Stark and not a Petyr Baelish to you, dear readers. Today, I make good on my word.

Making good on your word is the opposite of what my next recommendation is all about. Today, I dip my pen in praise of my beloved Crusader Kings II, a medieval dynasty simulator crafted by a team of thoughtful and meticulous Swedes at Paradox Interactive, and my personal Game of The Year for 2012.

Crusader Kings II

The Cover, which you will never see because you should buy it on Steam anyway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CK II places the player in the middle of slaughterhouse Europe and hands her a butcher knife. You start the game as a landed medieval nobleman or noblewoman. You will have a motley court, consisting of your bannermen (er, vassals), your family, and a passel of assorted hangers-on. There will be a few wise councilors and dedicated servants among them, but most will be scheming vipers plotting to take each other’s lives and lands, when they’re not trying to murder or depose you. You will likely serve at the court of some greater nobleman, where, if you’re any good, you yourself will be scheming for glory.

Like the Lannisters, you will ultimately begin to chafe at bending the knee to a mightier lord. So you will gather whatever power you can to yourself. You might win glory and land on crusade against the Heathen Turk (or, if you play a lord of the Muslim persuasion, on jihad against the Heathen Frank). You might expand your domain by forging claims on your neighbors, whether or not you share a liege. Much as Robert secured Tywin’s support on the throne by marrying Cersei Lannister, you too can find yourself powerful allies with the right wedding. And, with a few strokes of the knife, the younger daughter who you married while seeking an alliance might become an heiress whose son will unite your lands.

When you finally march on King’s Landing and take your uncomfortable seat on the Iron Throne (er, rather, by accumulating enough lands or plotting a rebellion, becoming your country’s king), life doesn’t get any easier. You will constantly be pressured to expand your realm, help your allies, and give land to your children. And, after you perish and your son or daughter takes the throne, he or she will have to face the murderous ambitions of his or her siblings.

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Did you REALLY need that guest verse? Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller – The Way

by williedollars

I don’t think the question of whether Ariana Grande NEEDS Mac Miller’s guest verse on her debut single, The Way, is very hard. Here’s a set of premises which answer it empirically:

PREMISE: The objective merit of any pop song increases exponentially with each mention of Bruce Almighty.

PREMISE: Mac Miller raps the line “Bruce Almighty, that’s groovy” in Ariana Grande’s The Way.

CONCLUSION: The objective merit of Ariana Grande’s The Way increased exponentially with the inclusion of Mac Miller’s line “Bruce Almighty, that’s groovy.”

All right. I think we’re done here.

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