buzz

Leonard Cohen and the Art of the Love Song

Fifteen years ago this week, Nick Cave gave a lecture to the Vienna Poetry Festival called “The Secret Life of the Love Song.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, because it’s a fascinating insight into the process of songwriting, but I’m bringing it up today because over the course of the lecture, Cave mentions Leonard Cohen precisely once. He does so in the context of discussing the concept of duende: “All love songs must contain duende,” he says, “because the love song is never simply happy… Contemporary rock music seems less inclined to have at its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that [Federico García] Lorca talks about. Excitement, often, anger, sometimes — but true sadness, rarely. Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically with it.” … Read More

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Robin Thicke and Pharrell Depositions Highlight Blurred Lines of Pop Songwriting

Just when it looked as though Chris Brown would win “pop star wang of the week,” Robin Thicke re-emerged via formerly sealed deposition from his ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit with Marvin Gaye’s estate over “Blurred Lines.” Back in April, Thicke and co-writer/producer Pharrell Williams gave “incredibly hostile” depositions regarding the No. 1 hit’s similarities to Marvin Gaye’s 1977 classic “Got to Give It Up.” Transcripts of their legal questioning have now surfaced, thanks to a new ruling from a judge just as the Gaye family filed a summary motion paper. In addition to revealing a Vicodin addiction at the height of Thicke’s fame, the depositions shed light on a common trend in pop music: Frankenstein songwriting. … Read More

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‘The Zero Theorem’ Is Terry Gilliam at His Gilliam-est

The 2000s haven’t been so good to Terry Gilliam. He’s a filmmaker of singular style and distinctive vision, one whose pictures are immediately identifiable, and unmistakable for anyone else’s; he’s one of the few directors whose surname has become a description of its own, and “Gilliam-esque” demands as little explanation as “Hitchcockian” or “Fellini-esque” in movie geek circles. But after a run of jaw-dropping quality and unparalleled imagination in the 1980s and 1990s, his recent output has been uneven and problematic. Now there is a new Gilliam film, already available on demand and in theaters tomorrow; it’s called The Zero Theorem, and while it doesn’t match his previous masterpieces, it frequently manages to recapture the anti-authoritarian spirit and whirling dervish quality of his best work. … Read More

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Revealing Photos of Burlesque Performers In and Out of Costume

Speak to enough burlesque dancers, and you’ll learn that many of them began performing in hopes of finding not a full-time career but a creative outlet — a way to inject a dose of glamor into their daily lives. Sean Scheidt, a photographer who works out of Baltimore, New York, and LA, captures the fascinating and sometimes incongruous relationships between performers’ onstage personae and civilian identities in his series Burlesque, which pairs in-costume photos with shots of the same ladies (and the occasional dude) in their street clothes. … Read More

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I Went to Central Perk Alone and Didn’t Make Any Friends

Can you believe it was just 20 years ago that Friends debuted and, along with Seinfeld, totally invented the sit-around-and-talk sitcom? Well, it’s true: Friends – and Central Perk along with it – turns 20 next week, and so Eight O’Clock coffee has partnered with NBC to recreate Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey’s favorite coffee shop, right down in Soho. Even James Michael Tyler, the man who played the perpetually grumpy barista Gunther, is said to be making random appearances. As a mild-to-moderate Friends fan who works a few blocks away, I had to check it out. Unfortunately, my coworkers had yet to arrive at the office, so I embarked upon the journey alone. … Read More

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‘This Is Where I Leave You': Score One for TV in the Film vs. Television Debate

There’s a part of this superhero-fatigued moviegoer that wants to just endorse This Is Where I Leave You on general principle and be done with it. This is, on paper, everything I hope for from mainstream, middlebrow cinema these days, the kind of movie tentpole-obsessed studios rarely bother to make anymore: a mid-budget, R-rated, serio-comic drama with a brain, a heart, and a good cast. “Good” is an understatement, really; this is a movie all but bursting with terrific actors. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk, Abigail Spencer, Ben Schwartz — even the bit players are terrific. And it speaks volumes about the current shortage of this type of project that so many talented people were willing to attach themselves to a picture as subpar as this one. … Read More

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‘The Mindy Project’ Finally Commits — For Better and Worse

The Mindy Project‘s romantic comedy aspirations have been iffy at best. The genre is certainly in Mindy Kaling’s wheelhouse — she details her love for rom-coms in her memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and clearly understands the type of characters and the emotional beats that go along with it — but the general inconsistency and weak characters that plague The Mindy Project hinders these aspirations, causing the entire Danny/Mindy narrative to fall flat. It’s a shame, because their storyline is often the bright spot in a dull show, largely due to Chris Messina’s performance. As The Mindy Project enters its third season, tonight, it’s continuing to take small steps to better itself but still isn’t quite sure how to do that. … Read More

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Even When Kanye’s Screwing Up, He’s Still a Savvy Social Critic

Another week, another manufactured “controversy” surrounding Kanye West. Yeezus’ recent tour stop in Sydney, Australia garnered a fresh round of publicity — read: media coverage with ugly subtext — when a standard order for the audience to stand up left West momentarily frustrated with a couple of disabled fans. After a few minutes, West got the message and the show went on, but not before Kanye-“yells”-at-innocent-wheelchair-bound-fan became the latest piece of micro-evidence in the “crazed/egomaniacal/[insert loaded descriptor here]” narrative that’s been a part of West’s image from Hurricane Katrina through Yeezus. I won’t link to any of the write-ups, but if you’d like to watch a decent performance of “The Good Life,” the footage is available here. … Read More

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25 Mountain Goats Songs That Could Be John Darnielle’s Next Novel

This week, John Darnielle will publish his first novel, the psychological thriller Wolf in White Van. This is of note because Darnielle has already released hundreds of narratives, but most in the form of songs with his band The Mountain Goats (he also previously penned a 33 1/3 book on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality). The novel seems like an inevitability from the man whose music has always leaned literary, and got us thinking about some of the very best stories he has told within his music, and how the tales have become the backbone of one of the very best catalogs any songwriter in contemporary music has to offer. … Read More

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