Yesterday, with his career now in its fifth decade, Weird Al topped the Billboard charts for the first time. If you had said such a thing two weeks ago, people would've looked at you kind of, well, weird. While Vulture's Jody Rosen nodded at the modern godfather of pop parodies in his review of the latest Lonely Island record last year ("Isn’t it also Weird Al’s world? There’s the president of the United States, slow-jamming the news. There’s Bruce Springsteen, wearing his mid-eighties bandanna-headband, singing LMFAO. There’s Katie Couric, her voice awash in Auto-Tune, 'duetting' with T-Pain. There, God help us, is Jay Leno, sending up Taylor Swift’s '22.'"), there was still something surprising about the news. But there are several concrete factors that led to the success of Weird Al's Mandatory Fun. Seven, actually.
Yes, "Rude" is still at the top of the Billboard "Hot 100." No, that doesn't mean it's automatically our new Song of Summer. The title for Song of Summer still pretty much belongs to "Fancy," which really only fell one spot to No. 2. Another reason why "Fancy" is still our Song of Summer? Because Questlove says so:
Well, would you? You have a choice in this. You can scroll down and click each one of these Instagram videos, posted by Biebs last night from what appears to be the recording studio. Here's a quick preview: Some songs sound chill, some songs sound blip-bloopy, and in one song he sounds like a robot! Biebs threatened to "retire," but let's face it, he's 20 years old! He's not retiring. Sorry, y'all.
It’s mid-summer, it’s very hot, and we need to conserve fuel. So for this installment of Somewhere in Time, I’m taking my Delorean GIF back exactly seven days, to the glorious week of July 14, 2014. What strange customs and trends will we encounter there? Slip into your colorful Bonobos pants and let’s find out, shall we?
Despite the song's persistence, Pharrell is moving steadily away from a "Blurred Lines" past and toward a future that looks more like a Dove commercial. In a good way! The video for "Come Get It Bae" has Pharrell "shooting" a slew of diverse ladies ... And then hanging out a bit with Miley. It's a little confusing, but the idea here is that Pharrell wants to you to know that he loves women in a positive way. He also wants you to learn what bae means. (It means "before anyone else," i.e., it's a term of endearment. Use at will!)
With divorce rumors swirling around Jay Z and Beyoncé, it looks like the unthinkable might actually happen: Everybody’s favorite powerhouse duo may be headed for splitsville. Then again, it’s always been hard to tell what’s going on with the Carters. From the very start of their relationship, the two have been remarkably cryptic about their private life, managing to keep their most intimate aspects of their life sealed away despite being one of the world’s most talked-about couples. In honor of the epic saga that is Bey and Jay, Vulture takes a look back at the musical icons’ entertaining history together, beginning when she was Destiny’s Child’s front woman and Jay Z still had his hyphen, and charting their many collaborations (e.g., "Bonnie and Clyde," "Drunk in Love"), the birth of Blue, the infamous elevator video, and onward, toward their now-uncertain future.
To be fair, he did say it was mandatory. After a 12,000-year career, Weird Al finally has his first No. 1 record with Mandatory Fun. Maybe even more amazing is that with 104,700 copies, this is the most albums he's ever sold in a week. Fun is also the first comedy album to top the charts since 1960's The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. "How did this happen?" you might ask if you were under a rock last week or simply on vacation. Al owned the internet and, apparently, you can buy things on the internet nowadays. Weird has said in press that this will possibly be his last record ever, as his contract is up and he instead will focus on making more timely one-off parodies. The man is going out on top. It is literally the best thing ever to happen to someone with curly hair in the summer.
There's a lot of stuff Jack White likes: hand-crafted vinyl, the blues of Son House, covers of early-2000s hip-hop anthems. One thing Jack White apparently does not like? Baseball games — or that's what this jumbotron capture from Tuesday night's Cubs-Padres game at Wrigley field would suggest. Seriously, what's wrong, Jack? Cheer up! The Cubs are up 6-0! Did you see a member of the Black Keys in the crowd? Were there too many people taking photos with their cell phones? It's going to be okay, we promise.
Every week, members of the Vulture staff will highlight their favorite new songs. They might be loud, quiet, long, short, dance-y, rawkin', hip, square, rap, punk, jazz, some sort of jazz-punk-rap fusion — whatever works for the given person in that given week. Read our picks below and please tell us yours in the comments. Enjoy!
Welp, Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally got its flashy end credits song, and ... I don't know. "Shell Shocked" is a wall of noise, with Juicy J hogging all the cringey TMNT references ("All my brothers tryna get some cheddar / We all want our cut like the Shredder"). Although it must be said that Ty Dolla $ign does mention pizza.
After covering Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" in Dublin earlier this month, Jack White is showing some love to the other half of the Watch the Throne duo, teasing Jay Z's "99 Problems" during a performance of "Icky Thump" at Louisville's Forecastle Festival (starting at around 3:00). Is it too much to ask for a "Pretty Hurts" rendition next?
In Boyhood, Richard Linklater's opus to male adolescence and Texas, Ethan Hawke's character gives his son a homemade mix CD — "The Black Album," a compilation of the best work of John, Paul, George, and Ringo post-Beatles — as a graduation gift. Turns out Hawke gave his real-life daughter Maya the very same gift. As Hawke writes in the real liner notes (posted on BuzzFeed) and pretty much says this in the film: "When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S."
Read the rest of the very sweet, very thoughtful liner notes on BuzzFeed. (And get that tracklist!)
Nothing says summer like Scandinavia, which is why Robyn and Röyksopp's Do It Again EP's May release was perfectly timed. Today double-R released the sprawling, dynamic video for the title track. Shot around Mexico, it shows partying going so right and so wrong, all at the same time and all in black and white. Robyn herself isn't in the video much — she periodically flashes onscreen in a fury of dance moves. Still, we'll take it!
In this morning's GQ Q&A with Kanye West, we learned so many things about dinosaurs and blowfish — but we also learned just how much Kanye adores his new bride. Is it her beauty? Sure. Her fame? Clearly. But what Kanye feels most strongly about are her skills: "In order to win at life, you need some Kim K skills, period." And where else would you be able to learn some Kim K skills (without having to marry her): Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. So we added some of Kanye's greatest Kim musings right into the game; they are easily digestible and way less expensive than adopting a pet.
Sometimes Weird Al's parodies are more general, capturing the pastiche of an artist as opposed to a specific song. This weekend's Pixies send-up, "First World Problems," is an example of this. Another is today's "Mission Statement," which is done in the style of Crosby, Stills, & Nash's “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” but instead makes the song about meaningless corporate mumbo-jumbo. It's the perfect soundtrack for your next trust-fall exercise. (Currently, you can only watch the video over on The Wall Street Journal's page. You can go there, or just listen to the song below.)
In a rare moment of concession, Kanye West admits that he doesn't think he's the King of Rap right now. Drake is, he tells GQ's Zach Baron in a Q&A so filled with perfect Kanye-isms that it can barely be broken down (although here we are, trying): "Yeah. He got last summer. And I'd never given it up till last summer ... It's a real question for me. Do I want to?" And while you should probably read the entire thing, here are some of the important things to know:
It's day seven of Weird Al Week (which has already brought us parodies of "Happy," "Blurred Lines," "Royals," and "Fancy"), and we have a song in the style of the more obscure Southern Culture on the Skids. Shot as a stop-motion pop-up book, Weird Al lays claim to all the ways "he" is marginally famous: He threw up in an elevator with Christian Slater; he shares the same birthday as Kim Kardashian (we looked it up: not true). The best line? "I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows guy who knows Kevin Bacon."
What, you thought Weird Al Week would take a break during the weekend? Following his parodies of "Happy," "Blurred Lines," "Royals," and "Fancy," we have another Weird Al original: "First World Problems," a tune produced in the musical style of the Pixies. In the music video, he plays a "douchey character" — hence the blond wig — who whines about everything from people who call instead of texting to the thread count of his sheets. We can't embed the video because it's on lockdown over at Pop Crush, so you'll have to head there to watch it. First world problems indeed.
A few hours before their “homecoming” concert in Queensbridge Park last Thursday night, Prodigy and Havoc, the two halves who make up the whole of the rap group Mobb Deep, were philosophizing as to why “The QB,” which is what the giant public-housing project adjacent to the park is often called, has produced so many hip-hoppers. It is a roster that includes the great Nas, Capone (of Capone-N-Noreaga), Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté, and Mobb Deep itself, whose 1995 album The Infamous is considered a classic of hard-core urbanity, a formidable East Coast response to Dr. Dre’s immortal Cali-based The Chronic. The QB’s fecundity was a product of “time, space, and motion,” said Prodigy, the erstwhile boy genius who, like his equally diminutive partner (neither tops five foot six), turns 40 this year. Much is owed to the Queens housing project’s sheer size, said Prodigy; it was the biggest one not only in New York City but in the entire country. But more than that was “the location.”
Do you think Danny Trejo thought he was auditioning for Snowpiercer, a movie about a train, when he was actually auditioning to lip-synch a Train song in a Train music video? I know that's a stretch, but I really can't think of a better explanation as to why I'm sitting here watching Danny Trejo lip-synch these Train lyrics. (Also, is there not a more Train-sounding song title than "Angel in Blue Jeans"?)