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David Bowie (#110 of 27)

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 15

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 15

Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 15

Though it opens with the ecstatic consummation of one of Twin Peak’s longest-running thwarted love affairs, “Part 15” of Twin Peaks: The Return soon after plunges again into a nightmarish spectacle of self-destruction and shrieking madness. The episode also marks the most explicit reference yet to one of the show’s most poignant and haunting themes: the looming specter of ineluctable mortality. Oh, and David Bowie’s Phillip Jeffries finally makes an appearance (of sorts) in the form of a giant, steam-spewing teapot. Even better, we finally get to talk about Judy!

The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles

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The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles
The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles

If any single thread connected David Bowie’s now sadly completed half century-long musical journey, it was irrepressible restlessness. Bowie never, ever stopped exploring new musical avenues, which has historically been interpreted in one of two ways: that he was rock’s ultimate chameleon, refusing to be contented with any past success and constantly pushing himself to reach new heights, or that he was a shallow trend-hopping whore who parlayed a keen ear for ever-shifting popular music trends into commercial success.

If it’s ever permissible to call pop artists geniuses, then Bowie is indubitably among them; the fact that he managed to remain a giant of popular culture for decades while completely overhauling his sound every few years is a testament to that. To dismiss him as a mere copycat would be like calling the Boeing 747 a piece of hackwork because the Wright brothers existed. Marc Bolan may have been wearing makeup and playing glammy guitar first, but he didn’t come up with the invention that was Ziggy Stardust. Kraftwerk may have pioneered the cold, cerebral electronic aesthetic that influenced Bowie during his Berlin period, but they never wrote “Heroes.”

These 20 singles, not all of them chart hits, but invariably essential entries in the rock canon, span from Bowie’s first iconic song to enter the public consciousness in 1969 to the remarkable title track from his just barely pre-posthumous swan song, Blackstar, thus proving that his quest to turn and face the strange never ceased so long as there was a breath left in him. Jeremy Winograd

American Horror Story: Freak Show Recap Episode 1, "Monsters Among Us"

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American Horror Story: Freak Show Recap: Episode 1, “Monsters Among Us”

FX

American Horror Story: Freak Show Recap: Episode 1, “Monsters Among Us”

American Horror Story: Freak Show opens on a strikingly cockeyed image of a woman’s head sticking out of the bottom corner of the right side of the frame in such a fashion as to suggest an ambulatory human mushroom. Even if you haven’t seen any of Freak Show’s publicity photos, you instinctively know something’s off. The woman appears to be profoundly uncomfortable, contorted, the remainder of her unseen body walking toward the camera with dreamy slowness, a title telling us that we’re in Jupiter, Florida in 1952. In this one image, the majesty and dread that leaked out of Coven by the end of its season is restored to American Horror Story. It’s clear that creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have returned ready to play.

Berlinale 2014 The Midnight After

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Berlinale 2014: The Midnight After
Berlinale 2014: The Midnight After

Midway through Fruit Chan’s batshit-insane apocalyptic survivalist comedy The Midnight After, a character remarks, “Hong Kong doesn’t do sci-fi.” Chan’s film feels like a riposte to Hong Kong cinema’s supposed allergy to the genre. It’s also a departure. Not just for a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker more associated with telling small, intimate stories about the relationships between people and their community, but for cinema writ large.

First off: The best credit for a film playing at the Berlinale so far goes to The Midnight After’s “Based on the novel by PIZZA.” Adapted from a sci-fi novel original published online (and authored, yes, by “Mr. Pizza”), the film opens with frantic crosscuts showing a group of strangers boarding a late-night bus running between Hong Kong’s Mong Kok and Tai Po districts. Chan’s breathless pace seldom relents as the passengers emerge on the other side of the Lion Rock Tunnel to find the city abandoned. As in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, it feels genuinely weird (even uncanny) to a see a city defined by its populous hustle-bustle emptied out. It’s by far the neatest trick Chan pulls off.

Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions

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Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions
Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions

Starting tomorrow, we’ll predict the winners in all four General Field categories of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Sunday night on CBS. To kick things off, though, here are our thoughts on some of the smaller categories:

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: If this category is indeed meant to honor performance and collaboration, it’s hard to argue with the crossover synergy of Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines,” whereby Pharrell supplies the Marvin Gaye sample (plus those all-important head-bobs), while Thicke brings the yelps, grunts, and falsetto blue-eyed R&B flourishes that critics have admired for a full decade, even as Thicke failed to drop a #1 single. That single is here, and we suspect it means Thicke will be taking home at least one tchotchke on Grammy night. Ted Scheinman

Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography

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Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography

Sire Records

Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography

“Between thought and expression lies a lifetime,” Lou Reed sang on the Velvet Underground’s 1969 song “Some Kinda Love,” but after his death last month prompted a notable spike in album sales, a new generation is likely realizing Reed’s thoughts didn’t really wait that long for expression. He sang far faster than his consciousness could censor, a difficult and necessary skill for a writer, rare in a rock star. He kept the drug and gay references blatant, back when it meant no airplay, no Ed Sullivan. He’d received shock treatments as a teenager to “cure” his bisexuality and found solace in narcotics, and if it left him divided against himself, such tortured transfiguration was also the stuff of great literature, a la Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, and he knew it. “I always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record as a chapter,” he told Rolling Stone in 1987. “They’re all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel.”

Arcade Fire Unveils Single & Video for “Reflektor”

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Arcade Fire Unveils Single & Video for “Reflektor”
Arcade Fire Unveils Single & Video for “Reflektor”

Arcade Fire has been more than a little bit coy about their new album, Reflektor, which drops October 29th on Merge Records. The band first began dropping hints about the project on their new Instagram account last month, suggesting something was imminent, using images to spell out “9pm 9/9,” the intended release date of the first single from their follow-up to 2010’s Grammy Award-winning The Suburbs. A couple of teaser trailers and an interview with Dutch photographer/filmmaker Anton Corbijn later, the Canadian indie rockers have finally released the single (and accompanying video). Also titled “Reflektor,” the song, co-produced by James Murphy, is nearly eight minutes long and features David Bowie on backing vocals and some sparkly electronic flourishes, while the video is quintessential Corbijn, shot in inky black and white and employing spectacular use of a disco-ball glass.

Video: M83’s “Claudia Lewis,” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

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Video: M83’s “Claudia Lewis,” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard
Video: M83’s “Claudia Lewis,” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

M83 has teamed up with actress turned director Bryce Dallas Howard for the music video for “Claudia Lewis,” a track from their 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Part of MTV’s “Supervideos” series, which, according to the former music channel’s blog, pairs a “cool director” with “cool actors and even cooler music,” the video stars The Blind Side’s Lily Collins as a blue-wigged teen alien who infiltrates a local high school and The Bling Ring’s Israel Broussard as her terrestrial paramour. Dallas Howard was reportedly inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth, the 1976 Nicolas Roeg film starring David Bowie, and even makes a nod to Dad’s 1984 hit Splash.