MUSIC

Is Morgan Wallen Just a Scumbag?

This morning it was revealed that Wallen's use of a violent, racist epithet seemed to give his career a boost.

Morgan Wallen

At a maskless pool party in Tampa, Florida, last night, Diplo caught the attention of TMZ after he spun "Heartless," his country-pop duet with singer Morgan Wallen.

The performance came mere days after Wallen was caught on camera drunkenly spewing the n-word, the latest controversial act in what has become a tiresome cycle of lewd behavior from the singer.

Wallen's career briefly hit a snag as a result of this particular incident. He was not only suspended from his label, but his music had been removed from multiple radio outlets.

Keep Reading Show less
Music Features

On This Day: Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon" Was a Weird Album

Here are a few unknown things about Pink Floyd's Magnum Opus

On this day in 1973, Pink Floyd's magnum opus, Dark Side of the Moon, went #1 in the US, kicking off a record-breaking 741-week reign on the Billboard charts.

It has now sold over 45 million copies worldwide and is the most dissected rock album in the history of the genre. Its odyssey explores death, drug use, the human condition, and more fittingly, how modern existence leads to madness. The album was groundbreaking in its instrumentals and sampling, but the road to its creation was littered with weird happenings. In honor of this masterpiece, let's look back at some of the weird things that happened thanks to Pink Floyd's eighth studio album.

Keep Reading Show less
CULTURE

Grimes Doesn't Get It: Elon Musk Is Nothing Like Bernie Sanders

In a recent interview she said that their "end goals are very similar" but goals are not the point—the power imbalance is

Rolling Stone

Not too long ago the idea of a full-electric vehicle that could deliver performance and style seemed like a pipe dream.

Then, in 2008, one of Elon Musk's post-Paypal pie-in-the-sky vanity projects turned out to be legit—the Tesla Roadster came out, and (despite some media efforts to smear its capabilities) it was widely lauded. What followed was a string of successes that have resulted in Tesla now being the most valuable car company in the US.

Meanwhile, SpaceX was making tremendous strides in developing more commercial space flight that could launch satellites—and even wealthy space touristsfor a fraction of what it would cost NASA. SpaceX is so much more efficient, in fact, that there is a real prospect of providing free Internet access to hundreds of millions of people via a network of satellites known as Starlink.

Roadster in Space

It's legitimately impressive how much Elon Musk has pushed these fields forward by pumping his money into overworked legions of engineers and factory workers. On top of that, he does seem to have some actually lofty goals, so maybe his girlfriend—when she's not creating apocalyptic zombie pop—can be forgiven for thinking that people should like Elon as much as they like Bernie Sanders. After all, they both want to fight climate change, connect people, and ensure the future of humanity. That's all good, right?

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Grimes argued that Elon Musk and Bernie Sanders really aren't so different. "When I look at the aims of my boyfriend and I look at the aims of Bernie, like, their end goals are very similar. Fix environmental problems, reduce suffering." While those may, in the abstract, be values that the two men share, Bernie has not built a resurgent left movement in the US on the basis of abstract values.

What has set Bernie apart is the diagnosis of unrestrained capital as an underlying cause of human suffering and environmental degradation—along with his prescription for collective action and redistributive economics. Bernie Sanders doesn't just want to fix the symptoms, he wants to address the tremendous imbalance of power that got us here. That's what has made him the most popular politician of our era. So when Grimes follows up her comparison by saying, "It's worth dissecting the wealth gap, it's worth dissecting the existence of billionaires, but situations have nuance," she's clearly of missing the point.

Wanting to "fix environmental problems" with methods that benefit his bottom line more than they help anyone else is hardly grounds for the kind of worship that Musk seems to crave—and Grimes seems to think he deserves. The fact that he has made solar power and electric cars more viable is hugely important. But is it fair to say that he is "tangibly, visibly" solving problems that "the government does not truly have the capacity to?" Maybe it would be if he had managed to do so while treating his workers well, pushing for broad reductions in consumption, and resisting the urge to personally enrich himself at an unconscionable rate. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Bernie Sanders Not me us

In fact, Tesla has developed a reputation for pushing its underpaid workers to an unsafe degree, for suppressing worker organization, and for wasting a tremendous amount of raw materials in the already environmentally destructive process of manufacturing cars. When a whistleblower called the company out, Musk himself retaliated with measures that could be characterized as the billionaire version of swatting. The more the company can cut corners, squeeze its workers, and cement its brand as the kind of luxury that's worth moving last year's model into storage, the more Elon Musk can line his pockets.

Of course, Musk grew up in Apartheid South Africa, lining his literal pockets with literal emeralds from his father's Zambian emerald mine. So maybe he's not exactly as in touch with working people as someone who was arrested in the fight to desegregate Chicago public schools in the 1960s, who prevented developers from tearing down affordable family housing as the mayor of Burlington, and who's fought for unions to defend workers' rights his entire adult life.

Bernie Sanders slogan is "Not Me. Us." Elon Musk's is something more like "Just let me take care of it." While Bernie Sanders has devoted his life to giving voice to the downtrodden. Elon Musk has devoted his life to being a rich weirdo with a messiah complex. If Grimes is happy being his SO, carrying his child, and defending him against haters like me, that's fine. But when she argues that he shouldn't be taxed because he's better than the government, she sounds more like a member of his technocratic-philosopher-king cult—the kind of Twitter Stan who would jump on-board with accusing a rescue worker of being a pedophile (because that rescue worker said something critical of Elon Musk…).

Musk pedo guy

It may be true that, for now, the government lacks the capacity to address problems in the way rich weirdos like Elon can. But for every "benevolent" billionaire trying to supplant combustion engines or cure malaria, there are 100 more who are purely focused on the other stuff—squeezing workers and keeping their tax rates low. Musk's apparent altruism provides good PR, not only for his own companies, but for the billionaire class as a whole. And when those 100 others succeed in knee-capping government reforms, people like Grimes cosign their sabotage by calling the government incompetent.

Are we supposed to wait around for the rest of the ultra-wealthy to get "woke" like Elon? Or beg them for their charity? Are we supposed to trust that their personal whims and hunches about how to save the world won't actually make things worse—like Bill Gates did with education? No. The kind of power these few individuals wield cannot be unaccountable to the needs and wishes of humanity writ large. Considering the scale of the problems we face, the government's incapacity to act cannot be tolerated. We need to build up that capacity by taking things—and wealth—out of the billionaire's hands. The Green New Deal, for example, is exactly the kind of legislation we need, and the best way to fund it—and similar steps toward progress—is to tax billionaires out of existence. That is how we "fix environmental problems" and "reduce suffering."

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal

Of course, if the world goes to sh*t and all the poor people are being killed off by famine and flood and drought and disease, Elon Musk won't have to worry about it. He will be the withered old patriarch with new hair plugs, helming the Cyber-Arc on its way to a luxury, terraformed dome on a moon of Saturn. All the wealthy passengers and their personal assistants will heap him with praise (or risk being jettisoned from the airlock) for solving the problem of being stuck on a dying planet.

If Grimes is still by his side when it happens, will she join in the chorus of adulation? Will she tell him he has finally succeeded in ensuring the future of humanity? Or will she remember the crowds of bright faces that used to cheer for her music? Will she imagine those abandoned and dying proletarians back on Earth, whose lives Elon always valued so dearly—second only to his own wealth and power?

TV Reviews

Hulu's "High Fidelity" Finds Its Groove with Zoë Kravitz

The new series about a lovelorn Brooklyn record store owner nods at the Nick Hornby novel and John Cusack film but successfully goes its own way.

Zoe Kravitz plays Rob Brooks in the Hulu reboot of "High Fidelity."

Phillip Caruso/Hulu

Zoë Kravitz's well-produced, gender-flipped reboot of High Fidelity plays out far better than the usual remake.

The 10-episode Hulu series, which began streaming today, takes its framework and other elements from the 1995 Nick Hornby novel and the 2000 movie starring John Cusack and builds something surprisingly relevant and new.

In the new take on High Fidelity, Rob is still an intelligent but rudderless music-loving thirty-something record store owner navigating a string of bad relationships with the help of amazing soundtracks. Only now, she's a bisexual black woman in Brooklyn, rather than a straight white male in Chicago.

However, that doesn't entirely explain why the Hulu version of High Fidelity feels so different from its other iterations.

Maybe it's Kravitz. She plays Rob with warmth and brains, tempered with awkwardness in emotional situations. It makes for a far more likable lead character than Cusack's "sad bastard," whose rage occasionally boiled over.

And because she's more likable, the people around her are also more likable. Her record store employees, Simon (David H. Holmes) and Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), are far more nurturing than the ones in the film, which included a scenery-chewing Jack Black in his breakout movie role. Unlike previous versions, Rob now also has a seemingly normal, supportive family and her ex-boyfriends don't generally seem that horrible – though her ex-girlfriend, Kat (perhaps a nod to Catherine Zeta-Jones, who played the analogous role in the film) does seem pretty awful as an Instagram influencer.

Maybe the improvement is in the writing. In the new version, the clever banter from the movie and the book have deeper ramifications. For example, to start the second episode, Rob and her employees debate whether or not to sell Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album to a customer.

"How does it benefit society to hold Quincy's genius hostage because the dude who sang over his sh*t ended up being a full-blown child molester?" Rob says, swayed by her love of producer Quincy Jones' horn charts on the album.

"Where'd you get that from, Rob?" Cherise asks. "'Convenient Opinions R Us'?"

"You still listen to a dude who raps in a MAGA hat, so..." replies Rob.

"Having sh*tty politics and a second-grade understanding of American history is a tiny bit different than being a goddamn child molester," replies Cherise.

They keep going, touching on Charles Manson, mental health issues, and the idea that few artists are unquestionably good people, then quickly changing the subject.

Thanks to the luxury of being a series rather than a film, High Fidelity can spend some time on these interesting characters and their interesting lives and ideas. In fact, though Rob counts down his "All-Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks" in this version like all the others, the series improves the further it deviates from that original framework.

Kravitz has clearly lived with this material for a long time. (Her mom, Lisa Bonet, played the small, but memorable role of musician Marie DeSalle in the movie, and Kravitz names the club the characters hang out in DeSalle's as a homage.) She also knows its shortcomings. Though Hornby's novel was influential in popularizing the idea of boiling pop culture down into lists, 25 years later the Internet is overflowing with Top 5 lists, and every listicle imaginable has already been written. Luckily, though that construct seems a bit dated, Rob's issues with her love life—and her worries about not having one—feel timeless. And once again, the crisp writing serves her well.

"Next week, on 'The Sad Lady Show,' we're going to team up," Rob says one bummed-out night, watching her neighbor across the street also smoke a cigarette alone. "Fight the loneliness together with cats and cigarettes and reruns of 'Murder She Wrote.'"

But in this "High Fidelity," those moods never last long. Rob believes in the transformative power of playlists, and her life is always one great song away from turning around for good.

MUSIC

The Strokes Debut Stunning New Music Video and Songs at Bernie Sanders Rally

"This is what a Bernie Sanders presidency looks like."

Last night, the Strokes headlined a massive Bernie Sanders rally at the University of New Hampshire.

The legendary indie rock band took the stage before 7,500 Sanders-supporting students and volunteers, coming on after a stacked lineup that included Dr. Cornel West, Cynthia Nixon, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the indie band Sunflower Bean, and of course, the Senator from Vermont himself.

"This is no ordinary campaign," said Dr. West. "This is a movement that has a spiritual, strong coming together. It's part of the genius of Hebrew scripture—I don't care if you're Muslim, I don't care if you're Christian, I don't care if you're Buddhist, Hindu—it says the spreading of Hasid, the spreading of that steadfast love to the orphan, the widow, the fatherless, the motherless, the oppressed, the occupied, the dominated—it's rooted in the best of America… That's a moral and a spiritual dimension, and I thank god my dear brother Bernie Sanders has got the courage and the vision to bring us together."

"We're moving forward," said Ocasio-Cortez in her introductory speech for Sanders. "Forward to a multiracial democracy. Forward to guaranteed health care. Forward to a living wage. Forward to indigenous rights and honoring sovereignty. Forward! That's where we're gonna go! We're not going back to the days where people had to hide!"

Sanders is currently surging in nationwide polls and is expected to spar with Pete Buttigieg for the top spot in the New Hampshire primaries, which will be over by 7PM on Tuesday, February 11th. He took to the stage to cheers and the sound of "Power to the People," and delivered his typical invectives against the 1% and his calls for unity.

The Strokes, who performed last, remained relatively apolitical throughout their raucous set, which consisted of the infectious indie rock that made them into legends of the New York downtown scene in the early 2000s. They played some of their classics, like "Someday," and debuted a new song called "Bad Decisions." At one point, frontman Julian Casablancas announced that his album was coming out April 10th. At another, he launched into a tirade about pirates, who represent the "evil people" that "stole and r*ped for money" who "Bernie Sanders would knock out of office." He made sure to clarify that he meant "no disrespect to pirates" and added, "modern businesspeople? Way worse." The banter was strange, but the energy was undeniable.

www.youtube.com

Near the end, Casablancas asked fans to look at a screen hanging above the audience. He then played a new song, "At the Door"—an autotune-heavy, synthy number reminiscent of his work with the Voidz—while a psychedelic animated video played in the background.

The video "At the Door" appears to follow several disparate science fiction-inspired storylines, and uses vintage Disney-style animation. There's a little boy who leaves his house with a Grim Reaper-type figure after watching his parents fight. There's a superhero-esque woman who kills her captors and embarks on a heroic journey in a racing car. There are a couple of rabbits reminiscent of Watership Down who are forced to run from both an enemy mutant rabbit and a massive dark sun. And then there are a host of aliens, who seem to live in a paradise world on the other side of the real one. Filled with starry, surreal imagery, the video blends science fiction and fantasy with reality and seems to present different possible futures, some apocalyptic and some Elysian.

www.youtube.com

There are a lot of ways to read this video in the context of the rally. It could have little to do with the burgeoning political revolution that Sanders is leading. Then again, the rabbits, the little boy and the trapped woman could also represent some of the fear and suffering that occur in America—ecological disaster looms, suffering reigns, and mutations land people with incurable illnesses—and Sanders' campaign promises to fight these realities with environmental movements like the Green New Deal and beneficial programs like free college and Medicare for All.

Whether or not the Strokes' new video was a symbol of political revolution, it struck more than a few chords. But it was far from the end of the show. Casablancas had been complaining periodically that the lights had been turned on, and when someone told him that the cops were to blame, he launched into a version of the song "New York City Cops," an anti-police number. Perhaps frustrated by their presence and disruptiveness, and inspired by general frustration with cops, he invited audience members to jump onstage (much to the disdain of the present police).

www.youtube.com

When the show finished, crowds poured outside and launched into an impromptu ice skating session on a frozen pond, writing "BERNIE 2020" in the snow.

Prior to the event, Casablancas released a more political statement that said, "We are honored to be associated with such a dedicated, diligent, and trustworthy patriot — and fellow native New Yorker… As the only truly non-corporate candidate, Bernie Sanders represents our only chance to overthrow corporate power and help return America to democracy. This is why we support him."

The Strokes—with their private school backgrounds and rockstar ethos—might not be the most obvious representatives of Sanders' campaign. But something in the gritty energy of their music seems to perfectly embody the spirit of hope and determination that's carried Sanders' campaign from obscurity to the front lines of the future.

MUSIC

Brent Faiyaz's New Album Is Haunting and Mildly Concerning

The singer's sophomore LP is a candid reflection on how elusive happiness can be.

Vulnerability has remained Brent Faiyaz's greatest asset, and on F*ck The World, there is no shortage of it.

The budding R&B crooner who modestly sang about how things could always get worse ("As long as I pay rent/ I don't even whine 'bout my paycheck") has since garnered a relative amount of fame, partially thanks to big-name co-signs from Drake, Tyler, the Creator and the self-proclaimed "King of R&B," Jacquees. So now, he has a different kind of problem. "Spent like ten thousand, twenty thousand, thirty thousand, forty thousand," he lists off on "Clouded," before going on to describe how he had sex with a girl in his bedroom closet cause he "doesn't give a f*ck about it."

www.youtube.com

But vanity doesn't sit well with Faiyaz; after all, this is a guy who penned a song titled "First World Problems/Nobody Carez," and he finds it hard to indulge in the perks of fame without feeling guilty. "Do you know what makes this world go round?" he asks on opener "Skyline." The answer remains elusive, as his question appears genuine.


It's ironic that in Faiyaz's most disconnected personal moments he's able to put forth his most coherent artistic work. "Been Away" is vibrant and alive, and "F*ck The World" is the equivalent to lighting a joint on a dreary Sunday afternoon. Faiyaz's penmanship is at its best when the clutter is cleared away. Minor flexes like "Took a trip to London just to hear how they talk" ring loud and clear, and questions like "Who can I love when they tell me I can't love myself?" are poetic when Faiyaz asks them.

Faiyaz remains as candid as ever, and his moments of braggadocio are minor shrugs, as the singer admits none of it makes him happy. "I've been down, but I hope to make it out" he sings on the outro. Whether there's a light at the end of this tunnel has yet to be seen. Brent Fayiaz kinda thought fame was the answer. "I can't help but feel like I don't give a f*ck," he sings. "Might just take this sh*t and blow it up."