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Michael Jackson (#110 of 21)

Out of the Closet: Michael Jackson’s Underrated Dangerous Turns 25

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Out of the Closet: Michael Jackson’s Underrated Dangerous Turns 25
Out of the Closet: Michael Jackson’s Underrated Dangerous Turns 25

Even before everything started to go really wrong for Michael Jackson, Dangerous emerged as something of a harbinger of end times. The official Rolling Stone-canonical version of events holds that the ouster of Jackson’s new-jack album from the top of the Billboard charts in favor of Nirvana’s Nevermind signaled the unmistakable death knell for the 1980s and the arrival of the ’90s. Never mind that both albums were certified blockbusters, as was the release that supplanted Nirvana the very next week: Garth Brooks’s Ropin’ the Wind. The sense at the time, amid the unprecedented promotional push for Jackson’s latest effort and its analogous chart performance, was that the crown was slipping from the king of pop’s fingers.

Music Video Review: Madonna, “Living for Love”

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Music Video Review: Madonna, “Living for Love”
Music Video Review: Madonna, “Living for Love”

Madonna hasn’t endured such a bumpy album roll-out since 2003, when her American Life opus was plagued by resistance from U.S. radio and the last-minute yank of the politically charged music video for the title track. Last fall, an unprecedented number of demos from her latest studio effort, Rebel Heart, leaked onto the net, a development that seemed less like the act of an impatient, overzealous fan than some kind of intentional sabotage. Madonna understandably caught flack for comparing the leak to rape and terrorism, and had certain cultural critics disingenuously clutching their pearls when she later shared fan-made memes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela based on the album’s cover art. Manufactured outrage over Madonna’s (at worst) questionable social-media savvy notwithstanding, her team’s response to the leaks has seemed hasty and not very thought-out. (The 25-track super-deluxe version of Rebel Heart leaked in full earlier this week, over a month before its official release date of March 10th.)

10 Greatest Frankie Knuckles Tracks

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10 Greatest Frankie Knuckles Tracks
10 Greatest Frankie Knuckles Tracks

Though he was born and raised in the Bronx, Frankie Knuckles (née Francis Nicholls) called the Windy City home. Known in dance music circles as the Godfather of House Music, the DJ/producer is credited with helping to popularize Chicago house in the wake of disco’s greatly exaggerated demise, paving the way for the genre’s domination of the pop charts in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Cutting his teeth alongside DJ Larry Levan in the ’70s, Knuckles spun regularly at the Warehouse in Chicago, went on to open his own club, the Power Plant, and remix hits by everyone from Michael Jackson to Inner City.

Music Video Review: Lady Gaga, “G.U.Y.”

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Music Video Review: Lady Gaga, “G.U.Y.”
Music Video Review: Lady Gaga, “G.U.Y.”

Two months ago, after it became clear that the music video for “Do What U Want,” the second single from Lady Gaga’s latest album, Artpop, was unlikely to ever see the light of day, the singer took to her fan forum to explain:

“[The video] is late because, just like with the Applause video unfortunately, I was given a week to plan and execute it. It is very devastating for someone like me, I devote every moment of my life to creating fantasies for you. All my my [sic] most successful videos were planned over a period of time when I was rested and my creativity was honored. Those who have betrayed me gravely mismanaged my time and health and left me on my own to damage control any problems that ensued as a result.”

Katy Perry Walks Like an Egyptian in “Dark Horse” Music Video

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Katy Perry Walks Like an Egyptian in “Dark Horse” Music Video
Katy Perry Walks Like an Egyptian in “Dark Horse” Music Video

As the great Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II declared in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, let it be written that a 21st-century pop star shall release a music video that will ignite a torrent of think pieces examining or denouncing said clip’s cultural appropriation. And so it was.

Sinful Cinema 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag

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Sinful Cinema: 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
Sinful Cinema: 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag

You can count Joe Pesci’s star vehicles on one hand, and people will tell you My Cousin Vinny is the only worthwhile title. Don’t believe it. Just when his post-Goodfellas bankability was starting to wane, and the Lethal Weapon and Home Alone franchises had lost their nineties-defining luster, Pesci landed the lead in 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, the most high-concept action-comedy this side of Snakes on a Plane. Written and directed by Tom Schulman, who won an Oscar for his snuggly script for Dead Poets Society, and otherwise penned a lot of family-friendly stuff like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, this is the work of a debut director itching to access his inner mafioso, but perhaps not quite knowing how. Where to start? Well, with a mob hit, of course—err, make that eight mob hits. Tommy (Pesci) is an old-school gangster hired by Benny (Joe Basile) and Rico (Anthony Mangano) to deliver the titular parcel to a boss named Big Sep (Howard George), who’d better get his heads within 24 hours or “more are gonna roll, capiche?” Tommy flies commercial air with his bag full of noggins, getting past security by slipping a handgun into an innocent woman’s pocket, then nudging his luggage across the floor amid the metal-detector diversion (ahh, 1997). He then takes a seat beside Charlie (Andy Corneau), your typical square who happens to have Tommy’s very same bag. Needless to say, when Tommy is forced to check his duffel due to its massive size (and the ironic fact that a medic needs to store live human organs in his overhead compartment), the wiseguy and the wimp eventually end up with each other’s goods, making things extra awkward for Charlie when he goes to meet girlfriend Laurie’s (Kristy Swanson) parents.

True/False Film Fest 2013: Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington and Twenty Feet from Stardom

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True/False Film Fest 2013: <em>Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington</em> and <em>Twenty Feet from Stardom</em>
True/False Film Fest 2013: <em>Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington</em> and <em>Twenty Feet from Stardom</em>

True/False’s 10th year was undoubtedly its best run yet, and as the last song played at its closing concert, by Buskers Last Stand, there was a feeling of elation from a weekend having exceeded expectations. There were the name-dropping perks of up-and-coming Chicago duo MNDR DJing the annual @ction Party; Ushio, the star of Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, demonstrating one of his punch paintings on a billboard-sized canvas; Q&As with big-names such as Daniel Dreifuss, the producer of Oscar-nominated No. But there were the unexpected and discreet perks, too, like seeing the twin brothers that comprise the band Flux Bikes use their bikes as instruments to make complex beat symphonies; finding an enormous fort filled with balloons hiding in a back room at a festival party on Saturday; being entertained by volunteers cracking jokes over megaphones while waiting in a theater line. It’s the quirky, charming touches that distinguish True/False from most film festivals, transforming the experience into more than just a series of events; they turn it into a pop-up community that’s utterly engulfing for a handful of days each year.

On Trend The Year of Beyoncé

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On Trend: The Year of Beyoncé

Columbia Records

On Trend: The Year of Beyoncé

If you’ve walked through New York City lately (or, in all likelihood, any major city), you’ve probably been unable to escape Beyoncé’s face. It’s on the posters still pushing her heavily-rotated HBO doc, Life Is But a Dream; it’s on Pepsi ads that first emerged for her Super Bowl halftime show, sponsored by the soda; it’s on promos for Love Songs, the Destiny’s Child compilation album released earlier this year; and it’s on the cover of the March issue of Vogue, which unapologetically declares that the “Queen B” “rules the world.” Written by Jason Gay, the Vogue article, like the HBO film, isn’t especially revealing, and it feels as if it were shaped, to some degree, within the diva’s control, right down to the closing sentence that wholesomely acknowledges the promise embodied by Blue Ivy Carter, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s one-year-old daughter. The story—which, in a rarity for Vogue, includes a straight-on shot of its subject smiling—registers as one more part of the carefully calibrated Beyoncé machine, which is programmed to put forth an image as sexy and glamorous as it is untarnished and accessible. Such is not to say, necessarily, that Gay’s article rings false, but that it, like the artist herself, carries a constant aura of choreographed perfection, which, now, in the wake of marriage, childbirth, and continuing endorsements from the First Family, is tinged with a new layer of human transparency. Perhaps that layer was always there, and is just now more apparent. In any case, of the many affirmations made within the commendatory Vogue spread, one that leaps off the page is already clear to anyone with eyes: This year, “Beyoncé will be in your life like she’s never been before.”

Listen: Slant‘s Best Singles of the 1980s

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Listen: Slant’s Best Singles of the 1980s

Warner Bros. Records

Listen: Slant’s Best Singles of the 1980s

Listen to Slant Magazine’s Best Singles of the 1980s, except for most of Prince’s songs, because he apparently wants to pretend it’s still the ’80s.