The new music video for St. Vincent’s “Los Ageless,” the second single from her upcoming album, MASSEDUCTION, is a vibrant, sci-fi satire of Hollywood superficiality. The video, directed by Willo Perron in partnership with Red Bull Music, finds singer-songwriter Annie Clark going to the extreme in her quest for Tinseltown perfection, enduring an ectoplasmic pedicure, swallowing slug sushi, and, in a nod to a scene from Terry Gilliam’s dystopian 1985 film Brazil, getting skin-stretching plastic surgery.
St. Vincent (#1–10 of 19)
After three documentaries noteworthy for their humanity-affirming lyricism, Bill and Turner Ross step outside their comfort zone with Contemporary Color. It’s a filmed record of last year’s David Byrne-organized celebration of color guard, the flag-spinning dance form usually associated with high school and college marching bands. For the event, held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the former Talking Heads frontman matched 10 color guard troupes with 10 musicians, from classical composers like Nico Muhly to old- and new-guard indie darlings, among them Ad-Rock, St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, and Zola Jesus, commissioning them to choreograph routines based on original music.
1. “The Decline of the American Actor.” Why the under-40 generation of American leading men is struggling—and what to do about it.
“It’s a keen and peculiar pleasure, and one that, in the livelier young minds, can grow into a desire to keep organizing the world that way, understanding by pretending. If they’re driven enough to try to do this for a living—to become actors, and dedicate themselves to searching for truth in make-believe characters—they have to find a way to retain at least a portion of their original delight in the let’s-pretend game. In acting classes, play takes the disciplined form of directed improvisations. Those who haven’t been to acting school aren’t always comfortable making things up when the cameras are rolling, and it shows: there’s not much spontaneity in their readings or gestures, none of the pleasant illusion of life just happening that is, or should be, the aim of their art. (On the sets of big-budget movies, spontaneity isn’t highly prized, so nobody objects.)”
All this week we’re predicting the winners in the so-called Big Four categories at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, airing this Sunday night on CBS. We kick things off with our picks in some of the smaller genre categories:
Best Rock Album: NARAS loves to reward long-overdue veterans, particularly in categories like Best Rock Album, where past winners include the Rolling Stones (who took home the inaugural trophy back in 1995), U2 (who’ve won twice, and are nominated again this year), and Led Zeppelin (whose live album Celebration Day triumphed over Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and Neil Young last year). It might seem foolish to bet against U2, but the Irish icons only have a 50% success rate in this category, and Songs of Innocence was notable mostly for its controversial rollout—which, unlike Beyoncé, was met with a cool reception. The Black Keys won here two years ago, and while the academy is fond of repeat winners (just ask Foo Fighters, who possess a whopping 20 percent of all of the metal handed out in this category), it will be hard to resist rewarding Beck’s Morning Phase, the Album of the Year-nominated sequel to his beloved 2002 album Sea Change. And yes, he’s a “veteran.” Feel old? Sal Cinquemani
- annie clark
- arcade fire
- best alternative music album
- best country album
- best dance recording
- best r&b performance
- best rap album
- best rock album
- clean bandit
- drunk in love
- Eric Church
- Grammy Awards
- iggy azalea
- Miranda Lambert
- morning phase
- songs of innocence
- st. vincent
- the marshall mathers lp 2
As if taking a cue from Daft Punk’s nothing-but-nostalgic triumph at the Grammy Awards, 2014 was the year of the late arrival. Two years after its release, Disclosure’s “Latch” suddenly and belatedly became a wedding-reception staple. (Though, as Sam Smith could now attest in no less than 35 states in the Union, sometimes the wait’s worth it.) Pharrell Williams’s “Happy,” which first appeared two summers ago in the utterly inconsequential Despicable Me 2, rode a surprise Oscar nomination to rule the charts throughout spring, before ultimately winding up as the year’s preeminent song for everyone to pretend they hated all along. And Taylor Swift finally admitted to being the pop artist the rest of the country-music world already knew she’s been the entire time. Of course, the industry’s default mode remains as ever the hot new preferably young thing. So it’s hardly surprising that, despite Swift’s many magazine covers, Ariana Grande emerged as arguably the most ubiquitous force of perk on the pop charts, her melisma sounding freshly trained like the first-in-class graduate of the Mariah Carey Arpeggio Academy she is. Ultimately, none of these artists came within earshot of making our list, which only goes to show that finding the gems in popular music, the songs with freshness and vitality, is as much a burrower’s game as ever these days. The songs we chose share with Grande that sense of emergence and discovery. Only they’re darker, with a disinclination for showing their faces until you reckon with their imposing talent, or, conversely, zeal for giving listeners uncompromisingly violent sexuality at face value, leaving more dead bodies strewn in their wake. And more references to masturbation.
1. “The Interview: Olivia de Havilland.” The actress gives an inside account of the most successful film of all time.
“Vivien Leigh and I were deeply attached to George [Cukor] and secretly sought his help all during the filming. But Victor [Fleming] really was the right director for this epic. The first time we worked together was when we filmed the scene where Melanie, engaged to Ashley and therefore the future mistress of Twelve Oaks, greets Scarlett. We rehearsed and I was warm, pleasant, and polite. He drew me aside and very gently observed, ’Every word that Melanie says, she means.’ That direction was an invaluable key to her character, and it served me throughout the film. Victor, with all his virility, was sensitive and insightful.”
1. “Smile, You’re Speaking EMOJI.” Adam Sternbergh, for New York magazine, on the rapid evolution of a wordless tongue.
“This elasticity of meaning is a large part of the appeal and, perhaps, the genius of emoji. They have proved to be well suited to the kind of emotional heavy lifting for which written language is often clumsy or awkward or problematic, especially when it’s relayed on tiny screens, tapped out in real time, using our thumbs. These seemingly infantile cartoons are instantly recognizable, which makes them understandable even across linguistic barriers. Yet the implications of emoji—their secret meanings—are constantly in flux.”
1. “Bill Murray Interview.” For Variety, Ramin Setoodeh speaks to the actor about St. Vincent, fame, and the “virus” of Oscar season.
“Even if Murray may have a beer with strangers, he won’t be hobnobbing with the press during this year’s awards season, despite the Oscar buzz he’s generating for St. Vincent. Don’t look for him to be joining the other awards-season hopefuls on the campaign trail, either. ’I’ve never done that,’ he says. ’I know that’s something Harvey (Weinstein) does—he forces you to do these things. I’m not that way. If you want an award so much, it’s like a virus. It’s an illness.’ When Murray was nominated for Lost in Translation in 2004, he convinced himself he would take home the Academy Award. ’Six months later, I realized I had taken the virus. I had been infected.’ He says the careers of some of his peers have faltered because of the golden statue. ’People have this post-Oscar blowback,’ he says. ’They start thinking, ‘I can’t do a movie unless it’s Oscar-worthy.’ It just seems people have difficulty making the right choices after that.’”
Theodore Melfi’s debut feature, St. Vincent, is a heartwarmer that never insults—exactly the opposite of what its protagonist, Vincent (Bill Murray), is supposed to be: a disgruntled drunk who nobody likes. Trading in the quiet, aloof, melancholic persona of his Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers characters, Murray at first seems to be going full grouch. Ultimately, though, Vincent turns out to be just the kind of character who aging actors play regularly these days: a curmudgeon with a heart of gold. (Fitting, then, that Jack Nicholson was apparently interested in the part before Murray.)
1. “Paul Mazursky R.I.P.” The filmmaker, who captured a changing America throughout films such as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, dies at 84.
“Paul Mazursky, an innovative director and screenwriter who both satirized and sympathized with America’s panorama of social upheavals in the late 1960s and ’70s in films that included Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Blume in Love and An Unmarried Woman, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 84. A family spokeswoman, Nancy Willen, said he died of pulmonary cardiac arrest at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Mr. Mazursky lived in Beverly Hills. As the nation’s counterculture revolution shattered traditional norms of sex, marriage and conformity, Mr. Mazursky made his most popular and commercially successful films: lighthearted sendups of wife-swapping, yoga classes, group therapy, pot-smoking, midlife crises and other self-absorbed, middle-class indulgences that reviewers said he crafted with even-handedness and generosity. Some critics complained that his satire wasn’t cutting enough. Others called his comedies crisp at a time when behavior was at its fuzziest. Vincent Canby, in a 1976 analysis in The New York Times, acknowledged: ’Mazursky is a tough man to handle critically. He is alternately witty and brilliantly sarcastic, then suddenly, soddenly sincere and self-centered, only to explode unexpectedly as a first-rate social satirist.’”