New Releases

Spencer Ludwig Releases New Single "Watch Me Walk"

He will be joining Fonseca on a tour starting with a double-header in NYC on November 20th and 21st.

Put on your heels and get ready to strut across the runway after you listen to Spencer Ludwig's brand-spankin'-new single "Watch Me Walk."

Released Friday, the new song by the Los Angeles-born, half-Filipino vocalist and instrumentalist takes the listener out on the town, mixing funky pop beats with his signature trumpet sound. Your feet will tap and your head will bop as this pulsating single instantly conjures up a great night at the club with your friends.

"Watch me walk, in all my greatness," goes the main melody of the song. It becomes a rallying cry to be yourself and give the middle finger to anyone who says otherwise. "I am just the way I is," it screams.

The dance-inspired song is the follow-up to Ludwig's sexy single "Honeymoon" featuring Z & Drü Oliver, which debuted on Billboard.

Starting off in the multi-platinum band Capital Cities from 2012-2015, Ludwig has gone solo in recent years, starting off 2018 with his independent debut single "Just Wanna Dance," which debuted at #47 on the Spotify U.S. Viral Charts. He also spent time this year opening for The Chainsmokers, Jason Derulo, and Betty Who, and performing at Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Pride festivals across the country.

He was chosen as one of YouTube's ten acts for its "Artists in Residence" program this year, and will be joining Latin Grammy Award-winning artist Fonseca on his tour, starting with a double-header in NYC on November 20 th and 21st.

For ticket information and upcoming announcements, please visit www.spencerludwig.com.

Follow Spencer on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.



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'Toy Story 4' is Coming Next Summer… But Why?

Disney/Pixar

The first teaser trailer for Disney and Pixar's upcoming Toy Story 4 hit the internet on Monday showing off the old crew—Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Slink, Hamm and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head—along with a scared-out-of-his-mind new character named "Forky," who is apparently not a toy at all, but a plastic spork with pipe cleaners for arms.

With Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" playing in the background, the teaser plays a bit like an LSD trip, with the characters we know and love spinning around in a circle and looking like they're feeling colors. We think we know how Forky feels— get me the fuck out of this mess.

Even eight years later, the final scene of Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 still makes us weep like our childhood puppy just died in a terrible accident. In the perfect send-off, Andy passes on his favorite toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear, along with Jessie, Bullseye, Rex, and the others, to an adorable little girl named Bonnie. It's a fitting end to a trilogy that paralleled the journey its target audience—millennials—were undertaking themselves, growing up and out of our childhood ways and attachments, and ultimately having to say goodbye to our favorite toys as we move on to adulthood.

But of course, nothing gold can stay. Disney announced their intention to release a fourth installment to the Toy Story franchise way back in 2014, and the movie has had a rocky life since, facing multiple release date delays and key staff changes amidst Pixar chief John Lasseter getting #MeToo'd. All we know by way of official synopsis is that the film will follow the intro of new toy Forky to Woody and the gang, and a road trip that "reveals how big the world can be for a toy." I guess three films didn't give any indication of the big, bad world outside of Andy's house.

Toy Story 4 | Teaser Trailer Reaction www.youtube.com


Throwing another strange wrench in the mix, we also have a second teaser/promo trailer that came out Tuesday featuring two new plushy amusement park-prize characters voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele who are allegedly Toy Story fans themselves. Disney has been on the self-referential craze for a while now, starting first with Enchanted in 2007 and most recently taken to its zenith in Ralph Breaks the Internet. We see the trend emphasized here as new characters Ducky and Bunny rave about Woody and Buzz and continually misquote Buzz's famous line "To infinity and beyond." When Buzz and Woody come on screen to correct them, the furry duo exclaim the catchphrase is "the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" Gag me with Forky, please.

"Like most people, I assumed that Toy Story 3 was the end of the story," explains Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley. "And it was the end of Woody's story with Andy. But just like in life, every ending is a new beginning."

Sadly, the reverse is also true: every beginning is an ending. The ending of good humor, good story, and good taste.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.


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Bow Down to your Season 4 Queens on "RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars"

This season will go down in Drag Race her-story. Facts are facts.

EW

Dear plebeians, get ready for some "goopery" and ShamWows from your newly-sequined royalty on season four of RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars.

Your favorite queens who sashay'd away are back and ready to "shantay you stay" for a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.

The next chapter in the reality competition series will pit former queens from RuPaul's Drag Race's ten seasons against each other. Beginning Friday, December 14th on VH1, these ladies will assemble divine outfits in the Werk Room and battle it out afterwards on the runway. Queen Mother, RuPaul herself, told Entertainment Weekly (EW) that, "The girls on All-Stars 4 are exciting and they have so much more to show."


Last time we left All-Stars, the fandom was sharply divided over the controversial season three finale, where the presumed frontrunner Shangela was given the boot by fellow contenders Kennedy Davenport, BeBe Zahara Benet, and ultimate victor Trixie Mattel. Angry diva-fans widely criticized the season as giving us weekly installments of "RuPaul's Best Friend Race," since the competing queens were bequeathed the power of eliminating their sisters through popular vote.

Ru hopes All-Stars 4 "will shock fans, although I don't think they'll be as disappointed. We always try to do something fresh and interesting, and sometimes it turns out in a way that you don't really expect. I love Trixie. She's a real superstar, but I really didn't count on the other girls who came back being so vindictive [and voting against Shangela]."

Facts are facts, however, and how the competition will shape up on All-Star 4 remains to be seen. What we do know is that we are here for the newest crop of our favorite returning divas. Her-story will be made. Bow down to your queens, bitches:

Monét X Change

Monét X Change (Season 10, 6th place): Sweeping into Drag Race on a quest to make sponges couture, our season 10 Miss Congeniality is ready to "[clean] up the motherfucking competition" with a new battery of cleaning products including "some ShamWows and some yellow gloves," she told EW.

Monique Heart

Monique Heart (Season 10, 8th place): Monique captured our hearts with her spirit and made us keel over with her legendary catchphrases. Whereas season 10's phrase was "facts are facts," All-Star 4 is all about "the goop." We don't know what it means, but we like it!

Trinity Taylor

Trinity Taylor (Season 9, 3rd place): The pageant queen famous for her capital-T tuck is ready to "finish what [she] started." She promises edgier looks than her usual showgirl fare and may even be getting a bit religious.

Valentina

Valentina (Season 9, 7th place): She's finally back. Widely considered a frontrunner in her season, Valentina was booted after her infamous lip sync when she covered her face from the judges. "If I lip sync again, I'm going to have to redeem myself," she says, adding that she's running on a "different maturity level" this season.

Farrah Moan

Farrah Moan (Season 9, 8th place): Known as more of a "whiny, obnoxious" queen, Farrah tells fans (and Valentina) to watch out: "Farrah Moan on All-Stars 4 is more of a force to be reckoned with."

Naomi Smalls

Naomi Smalls (Season 8, 2nd place): The queen who almost had it all is back, and one thing is for sure on the menu: LEGS.

Jasmine Masters

Jasmine Masters (Season 7, 12th place): Famous for her memes, Jasmine Masters says fans should expect the comedy gold to continue this season: "We get a lot of jush in there. There's a lot of jush going on, so you're going to get your jush!"

Gia Gunn

Gia Gunn (Season 6, 10th place): Remembered for her rebellious eyelash malfunction during her season 6 exit interview, Gia's return will be her first after coming out as a transgender woman. Some fans are wondering whether RuPaul's inclusion of Gia is the Queen Mother attempting to make up for her controversial anti-trans comments made earlier this year.

Latrice Royale

Latrice Royale (Season 4, 4th place): This is mother Latrice's fourth Drag Race appearance after sashaying away on Drag Race season four, All-Stars season one, and professor-ing on the third season of RuPaul's Drag U. She isn't taking no shit this round: "This whole new sisterly thing we got going on where everybody's like 'sis,' that's some bullshit. You ain't really my sister because my real sister would let me know the real tea," she said.

Manila Luzon

Manila Luzon (Season 3, 2nd place): And last but not least—welcome back to a queen whose last broadcast on Drag Race was in standard definition. "Drag has changed so much," Manila told EW. "It's nice to come back and show what I'm capable of after I've had the opportunity to become a drag superstar."

We don't know about you, but we're ready for some eleganza extravaganza, honey! Catch the premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season four at 8 p.m. ET Friday, December 14th on VH1.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.


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Sabrina Fights the (White, Straight) Patriarchy in Netflix's “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

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Sabrina Fights the (White, Straight) Patriarchy in Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

While a dazzling reimagining of its source material, the show isn't as "woke" as it thinks it is.

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Part One of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Stories that explore the occult are rife with opportunities to explore identities typically "othered" by white patriarchal society, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Witches and warlocks can inhabit our world as seen through the eyes of outsiders, and thus provide the perfect opportunity for storytellers to take a hard look at what (or who) we give priority, meaning, and power.

It's clear from the first episode of Netflix's The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that this retelling of Sabrina Spellman's, the half-human, half-witch orphan who must choose between the two worlds, story is not a reboot of the ABC '90s sitcom. In the first ten minutes, a lonely, socially-awkward schoolteacher is murdered and possessed by a demon-witch, which gives the audience a small indication of the show's shift toward the comics' darker inclinations. The episode ends with a vision of hanging witch corpses and the horrifying goat-man Baphomet, AKA the Dark Lord, rising from the pits of hell. Oh, and there are no talking cats (Praise Satan).

Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Chilling Adventures takes a bold approach to the teenage witch's choice between life as a mortal and life as a spell-casting sorceress, framing her decision to inhabit both worlds as a middle finger to the patriarchal Satan. As Sabrina approaches her 16th birthday and prepares for her long-awaited dark baptism, a witch's rite of passage where she signs her name in the "book of the beast," she is told that the ceremony is largely symbolic. However, when she realizes that one must wed Satan and obey his every whim to join the coven, Sabrina chooses to flee and keep her freedom instead. Throughout Part One's ten episodes she casually plots to dethrone the Dark Lord—an intriguing idea despite its inherent lunacy.

Netflix

Sabrina's human squad has also been reimagined. In the age of #MeToo, they are in charge, mad, and not willing to put up with their bully white guy principal any longer. Watch out, because they are "woke" teenagers adept at analyzing the influences of "civil rights" and the "collapse of the nuclear family" on zombie D-movie plotlines. Together with her black best friend Roz and gender-non-conforming Susie, Sabrina founds the first-ever WICCA club at Baxter High, which stands for the Women's Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association. This is where the eye rolls begin.

Sabrina is a White Feminist Ally™ and while the show relishes its "intersectional" tag, it's mostly just paying lip service. This is Sabrina's story, and any character who isn't straight or white is sidelined for her arc, which again and again reinforces the myth that only white people are powerful enough to solve the world's problems. For a show that spins itself as a feminist manifesto, it misses many opportunities to highlight race and LGBTQ+ issues for its large and diverse cast.

There are a number of warlocks and witches of color in the series, including Ambrose Spellman, Sabrina's pansexual English cousin, and Prudence Night, the leader of the antagonist witch trio the Weird Sisters. Neither character is used to their fullest capabilities.

Ambrose is maddeningly on house arrest for most of the story and is thus relegated to Sabrina's helpful, rule-breaking warlock sidekick. His pansexuality is referenced by his romantic and sexual interests with both men and women, which is refreshing to see, but also could be explored more deeply since pansexuality is likely an identity your average viewer is still confused about. The character feels like he's being tokenized, thrown in to pander to its socially liberal viewership.

Netflix

Prudence on the other hand is a hell-raising, devoted witch who has it out for half-blood Sabrina. Of course, while audience members are invited to grow attached to Prudence throughout the series, her character is clearly the evil counterpart to Sabrina the "good witch." This dynamic is tired in 2018, as it paints yet another woman of color as the "angry black woman," and another white person as her moral superior. Too often the subtle choices we make in casting characters for television or film can reinforce inherent racial prejudices. Prudence is even surprisingly lynched by hanging (but does not die) in a tone-deaf choice by the show's creators in the fourth episode.

In a recent io9 piece, Beth Elderkin and Charles Pulliam-Moore critiqued the scene perfectly: "This should not have to be explained, but it is in extremely bad taste to depict black people being hanged on television without an extraordinary amount of context and care that make it clear that (a) the creators of the television show understand the significance of that imagery, and (b) said hanging serves a narrative point."

Like most cultural representations of witches, Chilling Adventures focuses on white women both as heroes (Sabrina) and also as the victims of social prejudice, as with the case of the Thirteen, a group of white witches who were hung and seek revenge in the show's final episodes. This ignores the victimhood of slaves and other people of color who had non-Christian religions that were demonized as witchcraft in real life. For example, Tituba, an enslaved woman of color, was accused of teaching and using curses on the girls on trial in historical Salem, and some historians think the racism against her was a great source of the mass hysteria that ensued.

Netflix

The show also doesn't seem to know what to do with its much-touted non-binary character Susie. While the inclusion of the character seems to be well-meant, especially since they are played by non-binary actor Lachlan Watson, they are written to be a sad, misunderstood teenager who is constantly harassed by bigoted boys at school for not being feminine (Susie's pronouns are never revealed, but Watson prefers they/them pronouns). The word "non-binary" is never even spoken in the show, but Susie's identity struggle is obvious, especially with their nightly visitations from a cross-dressing ancestor whose ghost spills the tea on the Spellman family's secret witchcraft. Audience members feel a bit like they're in the '50s with the handling of gender identity on the show. And again, Sabrina is cast as the savior, ganging up with the Weird Sisters to taunt Susie's bullies with a weirdly homophobic gag, tricking them into thinking they're making out with the witches when they're really kissing each other (the horror!).

At the end of the day, Netflix's Sabrina is a teenage melodrama, so perhaps some of these critiques are unfair. It has its positive aspects, like its, at times, terrifying supernatural flare, a cast that gives mostly rock-solid performances, and an interesting take on Sabrina vs. the patriarchy/Satan.

However, the show is too obviously catering to millennials and Generation Z-ers in the age of #MeToo and hyper social justice. It screams its feminist intersectional allyship from the mountaintops, but clearly doesn't know what it's talking about. Rather than investing in meaningful plot lines that heighten the outsider's perspective of characters that are LGBTQ+ and people of color, it treats them as puppets to indulge its youthful base and make them feel "woke."

In reality, viewers are being fed the same old inequitable narratives that keep those at the top and bottom in their "rightful" place. If you're going to take the time to create a show with as much diverse, fantastical potential as this one, then you need to act on that promise.

Take note, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Do more with season two.

Rating: ⚡⚡


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.


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Daniela Brooker's New Single "Body Language" is Steamy and Soulful

The 24-year-old singer just hit 3.5 million views on YouTube.

On Friday, Half-Venezuelan and half-British 24-year-old singer Daniela Brooker released her new single Body Language.

Looking for a new song to add to your bedroom mix? Look no further than this sexy new tune about falling in love with someone new. The song's low beats and Brooker's sensual voice will heat up any candle-lit date romantic evening. Sung in both English and Spanish, you don't need to be bilingual to understand the language of attraction.

Brooker told Twelv that she defines her music as "R&B but with influences from different genres." She just started writing in Spanish this year, and finds singing in both English and Spanish fresh and exciting.

When asked what she hopes people take from her music, the singer said: "I hope they hear sincerity in all my music... I really try and be honest and always write about something that means a lot to me... I just want people to get lost in the music for those 3 minutes and feel good!"

Follow Daniela Brooker on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.


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Shawn Mendes Wants to be Bill Murray When He Grows Up

The pop star's new music video for "Lost in Japan" parodies Sofia Coppola's 2003 film "Lost in Translation."

Vevo & Universal

"Let's never come here again because it would never be as much fun," a 17-year-old Scarlett Johansson says to a man three times her age, and I was thinking the same thing, except maybe only the first part.

Released late last night, Shawn Mendes's new music video for "Lost in Japan" takes its plot from the 2003 romantic-comedy film Lost in Translation starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, where a lonely, aging movie star has a foreign love affair with a conflicted newlywed. The prolific Canadian singer-songwriter is the stand in for Murray, which makes the situation less creepy, but doesn't make it less tired.

We start off the video with Mendes driving through the neon-bright streets of Tokyo, where he sees himself on a billboard selling whiskey. Same as the film, he's in town to film a whiskey commercial Dos Equis-style. But while Mendes is many things (wink), he's definitely not the gritty masculine type who drinks scotch, as evidenced by the later scene where he "shaves" his perfectly hairless face.

Shawn Mendes, Zedd - Lost In Japan (Original + Remix) www.youtube.com

The video skims along, featuring most of the iconic shots from the movie, including the oft-parodied picture of Murray in an ugly-but-silky-looking yellow bathrobe. He eyes his love interest in an elevator, played by 13 Reasons Why actress Alisha Boe, and pursues her karaoke-style (as you do in Japan). We are at least treated to a steamy shower scene, however that doesn't last long enough.

"Lost in Japan" is the second official single off Mendes' 2018 self-titled album, and at the end of the day is still fun and catchy. It has Mendes' usual boyhood romantic charm, leaving the tweens screaming and the gays speechless. The video smartly mixes both the original version of the song and the popular remixed version featuring Zedd.

Still, if the shower scene were extended and all the other scenes were taken out, it wouldn't have hurt the video. It may actually have improved it.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.



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