CULTURE

Sharon Osbourne Might Be the Worst Person on Earth

Ozzy used to seem scary, but Sharon's story about endangering and firing an assistant is pure nightmare fuel.

The Sun

Update 3/15/2021: Following an animated rant in which Sharon Osborne defended and friend Piers Morgan from accusations of racism, CBS's The Talk has been put on "hiatus."

Among the most stunning moments from the truly unhinged outburst was the use of a questionable accent to say "I ain't racist" and the insistent questioning of her co-hosts, asking "How could I be racist about anybody? How could I be racist about anybody or anything in my life? How can I?" before angrily lashing out at Black co-host Sheryl Underwood, saying, "don't try to cry, because if anyone should be crying it should be me!"

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Music Features

M.I.A. and MBE: When Rap's Bad Girl Joins the Order of the British Empire

The controversial British rapper rose to fame in the shadows of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Does this accolade go against what she stands for?

This week, Maya Arulpragasam—the British rapper best known as M.I.A.—received her MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from Prince William.

The MBE is awarded to Brits who have made major contributions to the arts, welfare organizations, and public service; previous recipients include Adele, Jackie Chan, and Ringo Starr. Though it's a coveted accolade, M.I.A. feels like a slightly ironic choice for the award.

The ribbon given to M.I.A. was sewn by her mother, Kala Pragasam, a refugee from Sri Lanka who began working for the Queen in 1986. At the time, jobs like making those ribbons was one of the few positions women who didn't speak English could hold (M.I.A. described it as the "classiest minimum wage job ever").

Despite the familial ties, M.I.A. accepting an MBE seems to conflict with her outspoken stances on world politics. After the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, she criticized the BBC for downplaying the number of casualties. Her infamous 2010 video for "Born Free" graphically depicted a genocide of red-haired people, inspired by the real-life extrajudicial killing of Tamil males by the Sri Lankan Army. In 2012, she got into a Twitter argument with TV news personality Anderson Cooper after his blog inaccurately suggested she supported terrorism; the blog was hardly the first instance she was accused of being pro-terrorism, and it certainly wasn't the last. Throughout her career, she's had numerous spats with a number news outlets.

M.I.A. - Born Free www.youtube.com

Although the British Empire is now extinct, the Order of the British Empire has been criticized for the connections their name implies. In 1969, as part of his peace protests, John Lennon famously returned his MBE (30 years later, M.I.A. cited Lennon and suggested Obama should've done the same with his Nobel Peace Prize). In the 20th century, the British Empire was responsible for countless deaths due to famine, concentration camps, massacres, and more. Direct ties between that cruelty and the modern day Most Excellent Order of the British Empire are difficult to parse, but arguably, there's still a relation between them.

Even the record label M.I.A. founded, N.E.E.T., pulls its name from an acronym often used to describe impoverished people in Britain—"Not in Education, Employment, or Training"—a symbolic nod to her destitute, refugee roots. Just a month ago, she tweeted what seemed to be her own analysis of how England functions: "I will think only rich pretty people deserve to live...This is England now. F--k u you peasents. [sic]" Doesn't accepting an MBE clash with her opposition to class disparity? Does participating in these antiquated (and arguably arbitrary) traditions strip M.I.A. of her ruthless edge?

Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

With the launch of Pokemon Sword and Shield only a day away, Pokemon fans are absolutely fuming.

According to them, the long-standing Pokemon development company, Game Freak, lied to them about all sorts of things, and they've taken to Twitter to air out their grievances under #GameFreakLied. But what did Game Freak lie about specifically? Let's find out.

1. Dexit was a result of all new in-game models

Grookey Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

In every other mainline Pokemon game, throughout the entire history of the franchise, all previous Pokemon could be obtained in the newest entry. But, in a move that fans have dubbed "Dexit" (a play on Pokedex and Brexit), Sword and Shield will be lacking over 400 different Pokemon species including favorites like Blastoise, Mewtwo, and Garchomp.

While Game Freak asserted that this was, in part, a practical decision due to the necessity of creating new, updated in-game models of every Pokemon for the Nintendo Switch, fans aren't buying it. Dataminers have synced up newer models with older models from Sun and Moon, seemingly showing that some models were, in fact, reused.

2. Playing Pokemon will make you popular

Pokemon Go Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Game Freak has always suggested that playing Pokemon games will help you to become popular. That's why they put such an emphasis on trading and battle, to encourage social interaction, right? Maybe it's time we put this Game Freak lie to rest, too.

Talking about Pokemon games does not necessarily make you friends, and setting all my online dating profile pictures to me holding a giant Pikachu plush does not seem to be upping my game. This is just a blatant marketing tactic by Game Freak to convince lonely, socially anxious people (like myself) to buy yet another product that will increase their social clout.

3. Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide

Epstein and Trump PORTRAIT OF AMERICAN FINANCIER JEFFREY EPSTEIN (LEFT) AND REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER DONALD TRUMP AS THEY POSE TOGETHER AT THE MAR-A-LAGO ESTATE, PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, 1997. CREDIT: DAVIDOFF STUDIOS/GETTY IMAGES

Game Freak keeps pushing the narrative that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide, but that's not what the autopsy says.

Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself. Regardless of what Game Freak says, don't believe for a single second that the cameras outside the guarded prison cell of a billionaire pedophile with ties to some of the richest, most powerful people in the word, who is also on suicide watch, would just randomly "malfunction" and that, during that small period of time, said pedophile would be able to hang himself. No way, Jose. Jeffrey Epstein was murdered. Jeffrey Epstein's death was an inside job. #GameFreakLied
MUSIC

The Journey of Jai Paul

Demystifying the rise, disappearance, and return of the enigmatic producer.

The mythology surrounding London experimental R&B artist Jai Paul continues to blossom.

The elusive R&B producer returned on June 1st to share two new songs––"Do You Love Her Now" and "He"––marking his first new music in six years. Along with the double b-side, Paul also officially released the 2013 demos that leaked six years ago in a new collection, dubbed Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones), as well as a lengthy text document that demystifies the controversy and the emotional toll he suffered as a result.

Jai Paul's demo of his first single, "BTSTU," made waves on Myspace in 2010, a time when people still looked to the site as the premier place to find and share music. Part of the thrill of listening was the enigma behind its creator; Paul doesn't appear in many photos, and to this day has only done one interview ever. The song was a revelation; it seemed to appear out of thin air, and soon it was everywhere. XL signed Paul and gave the song an official release in 2011, and it continued to make the digital rounds through niche music exchanges and music blogs.

"BTSTU" sounded (and still sounds) like nothing else and everything else. The influences were detectable enough––Prince, namely––but Paul's distinct production style reshaped the contours, rendering it into something else entirely. His ability to paint a visceral mood through modulations and intricate fades was enough to turn the ears of the online music community.

Here was this densely-produced, spacey, sensual track softly confronting you with rumbling bass and a synth that snaked in and out of the mix. There's Paul's arresting falsetto––"So don't try and fuck me about /You're waste and you're on your way out, yes"—that feels intimate and aloof at the same time, like making eye contact with a stranger on the subway right before it whooshes away. It's the kind of intoxicating sound that only comes around every so often, but when it does, it's unmistakable.

The songs were passed around the digital underground en masse; online tastemakers and blogs caught on, and pretty soon the hype machine was in full whirl. Paul signed to XL, followed up with another woozy, pulsating track called "Jasmine," cementing his status as an ingenue, and then he geared up to put out a debut album. Fans anxiously waited. On April 14th, 2013, a collection of 16 untitled tracks mysteriously appeared on Bandcamp but almost as soon as they went up, the material was taken down.

Speculation and confusion surrounding the already-shrouded figure spread: some wondered whether this was Paul's way of self-releasing his songs despite his XL contract, or if someone had stolen his work and was trying to profit from it. It turned out to be the latter. Paul released a statement "To confirm: demos on Bandcamp were not uploaded by me, this is not my debut album. Please don't buy. Statement to follow later. Thanks, Jai." But the damage was done and the songs were already out in the ether (to many eager fan's satisfaction), and there was no way to stop the snowball effect. The money was refunded, and the songs were pulled, but Paul left the music scene without a trace.

The leak caused Jai Paul to withdraw from the public eye, but it wasn't clear at the time just how much of an emotional toll the entire ordeal took on his career and creative process. In the document he just released, Paul explains that he still doesn't know how the music was stolen but he suspects a burned CD. He goes on to clear up the timeline of events, which included an investigation by the London Police. Paul lost his trust in the music community after fans did not believe him, and now he's found a way to return to making music through going to therapy and founding the Paul Institute with his brother. Among other things, he discusses his decision to release the leaked tape, Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones), officially in its still unfinished state. The full statement is available to read over on Pitchfork.

Now that Bait Ones and the double B-side sequel are here, it's hard to predict how fan's perception will shift. Fans no longer have to listen to poorly mixed versions from the Reddit Black Market, but somewhere in that searching, sharing, and speculation, the mythology around Paul's legacy took shape.

The story of Jai Paul reads as both cautionary and emblematic. Born out of the proto-streaming age, rising during the end of the wave of Indie Rock, disappearing through the tyranny of social media, and returning when the Spotify algorithm reigns supreme, his music now exists in a kind of vacuum. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how and if Paul's music will mold to the current pop paradigm or if he will forever exist as an outlier whose presence is eclipsed by his absence.

MUSIC

Leanne Tennant Releases Super-8 Inspired Music Video for "Cherry Cola"

Austrailian singer-songwriter releases slice of life music video ahead of upcoming third album.

In the midst of working on her third album and after winning the prestigious Carol Lloyd Award in 2018, Australian singer-songwriter Leanne Tennant continues to branch out from her acoustic style.

She enters entirely new sonic territory in her new music video for her latest single, "Cherry Cola."

The clip, directed and edited by Jennifer Embelton, begins with Tennant getting into the back of a mysterious, vintage car. As the track's simple guitar picking starts to play in the background, the vehicle drives off to an unknown destination. The songstress croons about loving and missing someone and the feelings of loneliness that follow.

Throughout the video, viewers are shown various day and night scenes of young people skating, kissing, and going on with their lives as Tennant voyeuristically watches from inside the car. As she continues on her seemingly aimless drive, Tennant sings heartfelt lyrics like, "Once you were sweet on me/ ice cold, you're a mystery/ Now I'm not who I used to be/ Cherry Cola, your hold on me."

"The 'Cherry Cola' music video is a snapshot of life. A display of different people all experiencing different slices of life," said Tennant. The singer goes on to explain that, "The clip was filmed in various locations around Brisbane over the course of a couple of rainy days and was inspired by Tennant's love of Super 8 Film. "We tried to capture in this imagery, a feeling of happiness, yet also a feeling of something being unexplained, or not quite right," said the singer.

Viewers then follow Tennant to a tennis court where she is joined by brightly dressed cheerleaders. The dancers perform a routine to the tune of the final chorus and dance in a circle around Tennant as she looks forebodingly into the camera. This final scene is intercut with alternating shots of the dancers smiling and with shots of them similarly looking into the camera with ominous, foreboding expressions as if to say that there is more complexity to their lives than what is perceived at first glance.

Check out the music video for "Cherry Cola" below.

LEANNE TENNANT - CHERRY COLA www.youtube.com


Alessandra Rincón is a journalist, writer, and photographer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana living in New York City. She loves covering music, art and culture news and you can usually find her at a show or with her nose in a book. In her spare time she is a musician, comic book nerd and wannabe cook.


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POLITICS

Brexit Derails: Vote Postponed, U.K. Has Power to Cancel Altogether

Theresa May was laughed at by Members of Parliament when she delayed the vote due to lack of support.

Sky News

The plan for Brexit derailed significantly on Monday after reports of a delayed vote caused the value of the pound to drop to an 18-month low.

Not long after, Theresa May officially postponed the final vote that was scheduled for Tuesday, signaling high anxieties over lagging support in the House of Commons. Adding to the fray, this morning the highest court in Europe issued its ruling that the U.K. has the authority to outright cancel its plans to leave the European Union.

The Prime Minister gave an impromptu address to Commons after beginning the week with emergency calls with her Cabinet ministers. May was met with derisive laughter when she told the MPs, "I've listened very carefully to what has been said in this chamber and out of it, by members from all sides." After waiting for the noise to quell, she continued, "If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be defeated by a significant margin. We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the house at this time."

Financial Times/Dan Mitchell

Divided opinions over Brexit were recharged just hours before, when the European Court of Justice released its decision that the "UK is free to unilaterally revoke the notification of its intention to withdraw from the E.U."

May's unpopular Brexit plan was set in motion after the country narrowly voted in its favor in a 2016 referendum. The U.K. became the first country to begin the Article 50 procedure to cut ties with the E.U. in 2017, with May struggling to gain parliamentary support against vocal opponents. The European court's decision doesn't outline the exact process through which the government can renege on its exit plans, but the ruling highlights the U.K.'s power to overturn the referendum results and remain in the bloc without the approval of the 27 E.U. members.

The court statement only urged that a plan to derail Brexit should follow "a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements." However, a spokesperson for the E.U. panned the possibility that the U.K. will renege on its negotiated separation, stating, "We will not renegotiate — our position has therefore not changed and as far as we are concerned the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on 29 March, 2019."

What became clear on Monday was that no U.K. party was on track to get what they want. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, told The New York Times, "The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray." He criticized May's repeated insistence that Brexit is "the best deal that can be negotiated." Corbyn called the Prime Minister's plan "disastrous" and maligned, "we don't have a functioning government."

Debates continue over the parliament's deep divides, whether the public will be given the power to voice their opinion in a second referendum, and when or if the Commons will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. At most, Theresa May has until January 21, the voting deadline, to convince her MPs, as well as the anxious public, that she's achieved "the best deal" for the country.


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



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