TV News

Sarah Palin Was on "The Masked Singer" and America Is Doomed

The former vice presidential candidate sang "Baby Got Back," because she's #relatable.

The Masked Singer is simultaneously a mysteriously popular reality show and a furry's wet dream.

The singing competition series combines the celebrity appeal of Dancing With the Stars with the good old-fashioned talent contest of American Idol or The Voice. Notable public figures sport particularly frightening head-to-toe ensembles and take turns singing songs, and the judges must guess who is in the suit. And, as is the case with any reality show, things get cringey—especially when a costumed Sarah Palin gives a rendition of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back."

That's correct: The one-time vice presidential candidate (and Most Famous Alaskan Probably Ever) removed a monstrous bear head (as the entire crowd yelled "take it off," which isn't at all creepy) to reveal her identity before diving into the 1992 hit. She made sure to note that she tweaked the lyrics to be about men's butts instead. Because we can excuse a former governor for opposing same-sex marriage and being a life member of the NRA if they're funny and relatable, right? Right?

Before host Nick Cannon signed off, Palin assured the crowd: "This is something that our country needs right now, too." I can't say I agree, considering I'm typing this through an anxiety-ridden self-quarantine, but to each their own. Funny and relatable! We are in hell!

Watch the haunting performance below:


Eminem Struggles for Relevance on "Music to Be Murdered By"

His talent is unquestionable, but his antics have aged horribly.

DJ Booth

Eminem has always prided himself on his ongoing feuds with, well, pretty much everyone.

On the rapper's tenth studio album, Kamikaze, no one was safe from condemnation. He dismissed Soundcloud rap as "mumbo jumbo," called Tyler, the Creator a gay slur, vaguely criticized the president and vice president, and poked fun at Joe Budden's domestic abuse allegations. Drake, Lil Yachty, and, more prominently, MGK, were also insulted. Eminem's calculated assault on modern-day hip-hop was brazen, unsolicited, and painted the emcee as a bitter old man.

On Music to Be Murdered By, Eminem has calmed down a little, but not completely. He still periodically pokes fun at MGK and litters the 20-track offering with numerous critiques for his critics. "Once I was played in rotation at every radio station," he says on the intro track, "Premonition." "But then when I put out Revival, and I had something to say/they said that they hated the awake me/I lose the rage, I'm too tame, I get it back, they say I'm too angry." He still sees himself as an underdog, even though he's remained within the upper echelon of rap for over a decade. "I won't topple, I'm giving it to anyone who wanna come and get it," he spits on "Unaccomadating," and I'm not gonna stop."

But the issue remains that Eminem's most recent high profile feuds, including his laughable exchange with Nick Cannon last month, was caused by his own doing. He is a battle rapper at heart, and undoubtedly performs best when faced with opposition, but his continuous antagonization of his peers and genre make for an exhausting listen when put into an album. "I leave you stymied, that's why they still vilify me like Bill O'Reilly," he raps on "Yah Yah." "I'ma show you what I mean when they call me the Harvey Weinstein of 2019."

Problematic rhymes are everywhere, and while fans of "old Eminem" will enjoy controversial metaphors like "I'm contemplating yelling 'bombs away' on the game / like I'm outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting," it doesn't change the fact that comparing your talents to the crimes of serial sexual predators and terrorists remains in poor taste. On "Darkness," Eminem compares his own mental health struggle to that of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who opened fire on concertgoers during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, killing 58 people, and wounding over 400. The music video features a Stephen Paddock look alike reenacting the traumatic ordeal and ultimately attempts to sympathize with the mass murderer. It's reminiscent of another established pop star, Madonna, who tastelessly attempted to draw attention to gun control by recreating the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in a music video last year. In both instances, mass shootings were glorified and victims are retraumatized.

Moments of vulnerability remain fleeting on Music to Be Murdered By, and when they do appear, they offer anecdotes that are more puzzling than they are reflective. "Get your shit stole, and your lip swole, I became bitter," he raps on "You Gon' Learn." "As I got a little bit older, my hate was making me get cold, and began to get a chip shoulder." Eminem appears to be a man well-aware of his toxic tendencies, which begs the question as to why he still remains on such a destructive path.

It's when Marshall Mathers leaves the antics at the door and focuses solely on rapping that Music to Be Murdered By opens up to breathe. On "Godzilla," which features a fantastic hook from the late Juice WRLD, Eminem reminds listeners of his quick-fire talent by way of sheer demonstration, rather than insensitive anecdotes. On "Those Kinda Nights," Eminem dips back into his uncanny knack for awkward humor: "Had her like, "Oh my God, my whole iPod's filled with your songs, I mow my lawn to 'em!" I said, "Oh my God, you know my songs? That's totally awesome, I'm Marshall, what's goin on?"

But lighthearted moments are sparse, and are immediately diluted by crude shock and awe tactics, which in 2020 just haven't aged well. Eminem additionally remains one of the most highly decorated misogynists in music, ("Stripper walk by, I'm like 'Goddamn,' she's like 'that's harassment,' I'm like, 'Yeah, and?'). He remains bitter, isolated, and dismissive; and as a result, continues to struggle to find a place within the culture he clearly loves so much.

Eminem's brevity is still his most indisputable talent. His lyrics remain well-oiled and concise and his wordplay unmatched, but as he continues to weaponize his craft at the expense of others, it's a schtick that's become tiresome. While veteran rappers embrace the budding young talent of the modern-day, Eminem remains a curmudgeon traditionalist. He reaffirms throughout Music to Be Murdered By that it's his way or the highway, despite having guest appearances from Juice, Young M.A., and Cactus Jack newcomer Don Toliver. "Rest of these youngins of mine, time to start throwing some shade, this time I'm shutting the blinds," he says on the album closer "I Will." "Cause when I'm looking at y'all, shit, it's no wonder it's why I need a visor, 'cause y'all are just suns in my eyes." His legacy is established, but if it’s riddled with unending instances of beefs and controversy, what kind of legacy does it become?


"Chixtape 5" Is Absolute Joy, but Where Will Tory Lanez Go from Here?

The multifaceted musician has become a sort of hip-hop Annie Oakley, but his artistic identity remains a mystery

Tory Lanez has always been incredibly multifaceted.

He's demonstrated a quickfire lyrical ability as a rapper and has proven he can go bar for bar with some of today's best rappers. He's an equally talented producer and is a versatile, self-taught singer with a powerful range that has only improved over the years. He can dominate radio-ready R&B with the ferocity and commercial sensibilities of Chris Brown, but he can also co-exist in an Afrobeats soundscape with ease. Lanez plans to release his first Spanish Reggaeton album, titled El Agua, in October of next year. But his musical ambidexterity has been cultivated out of a need to demonstrate his prowess. His Grammy-nominated breakthrough single, "Luv," is interpolated in a Tanto Metro and Devonte song. One of his most highly streamed tracks is a remix of Drake's "Controlla," with over 17 million listens. He is frequently accused of ripping off other artists and has, in the past, fielded accusations of plagiarism.

But that's why the Chixtapes platform has been the perfect format for Lanez. It's exactly as advertised–each of the projects offers a modern interpretation of a different era in R&B– and gives Lanez the creative liberty to expand on and flip the songs of his R&B idols without having to worry about accusations of mimicry.

Tory Lanez and T-Pain - Jerry Sprunger (Official Music Video)

Chixtape 5, the latest in the anthology, is a culmination of everything that made the series so endearing in the first place. Its call back to the early aughts is perfectly correlated with today's cultural climate, and his eye for detail, all the way down to the Sidekick in Ashanti's hand on the album cover, is uncanny. His powerful guest list only adds to the project's nostalgia. Hearing T-Pain back in action on "Jerry Sprunger" is an absolute joy, and regardless of your current stance on Chris Brown, hearing him and Tory bring new life to the former's 2007 smash "Take You Down" is electric. While the charm does wear thin at times—a few tracks meander for a tad too long—overall, Chixtape 5 does its job and reaffirms that Lanez can, indeed, do anything.

But four albums in, and it still seems like we're no closer to knowing who the real Tory Lanez is. "I've always wanted to say something along the lines of 'I did this'...I always wanted to have those accolades and accomplishments," he told Billboard. Tory Lanez has a habit of getting in his own way, and over the course of four albums he's chosen to flex his muscles rather than carve out his own identity. He has demanded respect for years and has fought tooth and nail to paint himself as a hip-hop Annie Oakley, but in the process he's backed himself into a creative corner. The indecisiveness of where he wants to go as an artist becomes slightly more apparent with each release, but then again, whatever he's doing is working, and that indecisiveness is not necessarily a bad problem to have.

TV Reviews

"The Masked Singer" Is America's Favorite Joke

With 10 million viewers tuning in, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition has claimed the ratings' top spot.

Every contestant on The Masked Singer is a cross between a Vegas showgirl and the monster under your childhood bed.

Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in for the singing competition's premiere last week. Viewers' reactions range from horrified to conversion to furry fandom, as twelve so-called "celebrity contestants" compete while costumed as: Deer, Lion, Monster, Peacock, Unicorn, Rabbit, Alien, Raven, Poodle, Bee, Hippo, and Pineapple.

Official Trailer | Season 1 | THE MASKED SINGER

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the bizarre show is the American version of the popular South Korean competition, King of Mask Singer (on which Ryan Reynolds has appeared as a unicorn singing "Tomorrow" from Annie). The concept is both simple and over-the-top, as costumed singers introduce themselves to give hints as to their identities–and not only are they dressed as giant anthropomorphic creatures, but each costume is replete with a ridiculous voice-changing filter. After each contestant karaokes America's most overplayed songs, a panel of C-list judges evaluates their performances and takes a stab at guessing who could be under the mask. At the end, whoever displayed the least amount of talent is eliminated and forced to remove his/her disguise.

With "celebrity" judges including Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, and Jenny McCarthy, the qualifications seem lax. As the judges make increasingly outlandish guesses, from Beyoncé to Barack Obama, social media has certainly enjoyed the joke. #TheMaskedSinger remained a trending topic on Twitter during both weeks' airtimes, with posts ranging from reality TV personalities to common, decent people.

But The Masked Singer could very well become America's next favorite joke. After last week's premiere garnered over 9 million viewers only to reveal the identity of Hippo was NFL player Antonio Brown (he sang Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative"), the show's second episode still entertained over 7 million viewers. The contestant unmasked Wednesday night was Pineapple, revealed to be Tommy Chong of beloved Cheech and Chong's Adventures (he sang "I Will Survive" and it was brutal).


The Seattle Times

Ridiculous as it is, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition still held the ratings' top spot for Wednesday night among viewers from 18-49 years old. The Masked Singer airs every week at 9PM. Who do you think is Alien?


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.

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