Today sees the release of the fourth proper Justin Bieber studio album, Purpose, an album that contains a fair amount of listenable material from Bieber (at least three songs!). Preceding this album has been a string of derpily titled singles—“Where Are Ü Now,” “What Do You Mean,” “Sorry”—that work on their own as proper songs and don’t require built-in fandom for appreciation. They’ve all gone Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 (“What Do You Mean” debuted at No. 1, in fact), which has helped shape a narrative that this album marks a comeback for Bieber. But where did he go? What do you mean, music press? And, most importantly, why should we care? Below we attempt to unravel these great mysteries.
How should a pop diva grow older in public? When your career is based not so much on virtuosic vocal ability but charisma, X factor, taste, and performance, where do you end up? What is the “age appropriate” equivalent to singing standards for the artists whose output is rooted in the dance pop of the ‘80s? How does the artist who is characterized in part by her command on culture and ability to communicate with the masses thrive when the masses stop listening? How do you make pop music when you know it has little chance of actually being popular, per the ageist standards of the music industry?
The Weeknd sings about sex a lot, and it almost always sounds like a miserable experience. Who wants that? Do you? If yes, please ask yourself why. Actually, I’m going to stop you right there and assume that it’s because you are lost. Luckily, I found you—and I’m here to tell you something: Do not do that. Do not fuck the Weeknd.
You can be mean, or you can be dumb, but only one of the two. Really, you can technically be whatever you want, but if you are both mean and dumb, you’re going to have an extremely hard time making it in a world where success often depends greatly on the ability to connect with other people. Immense beauty can render this rule of thumb irrelevant, but that’s rare and fleeting and, eventually, irrelevant itself.
At first blush, you might think that Trainwreck is not your average romantic comedy. At its center is a female protagonist whose habits include getting drunk, getting high, fucking, and breaking hearts. She’s surrounded by feminized males who enjoy tea-party settings, Downton Abbey, and cuddling. That it’s all been thought up by and stars Amy Schumer may be all you need to believe that Trainwreck has the potential to be something truly special. Well, it isn’t.
Sean Baker’s Sundance hit Tangerine was shot on iPhones, and it looks like it. Its colors are nauseatingly saturated and its angles are often strange and unflattering. It stars non-professional actors and it shows. Leads Kitana Kiki Rodriguez (she plays Sin-Dee) and Mya Taylor (Alexandra) recite their lines in a stilted manner, frequently pausing too long between cues to seem natural. Its primary plot is so simplistic it’s insulting: Sin-Dee searches for and then abducts Dinah (Mickey O’Hagan), the biological woman (“real fish”) with whom Sin-Dee’s pimp/fiance Chester (James Ransone) had sex while Sin-Dee was in jail.
The question at the center of Asif Kapadia’s new documentary Amy is: Can gossip foster compassion? Throughout the sensitive, 128-minute probe into the life of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, we see footage of (and presumably shot by) the paparazzi that plagued her, the performances that defined part of her career, the public inebriation that overshadowed it.
Jason Derulo has an anonymously decent voice, the personality of toast, and a knack for making hits. When he arrived on the scene in 2009 with “Whatcha Say,” I pegged him as a one-hit wonder and here we are, six years and four albums later, still talking about Jason Derulo. His most recent hit, “Want to Want Me,” is as infectious as anything he’s ever released and the album it comes from, Everything Is 4 (get it—it’s his fourth?!), is at least half great. I’d give it a 5 out of 12 (there are 12 songs on it; five are good), which is more than I’d give most pop albums that I’ve heard this year.
You can’t look away from Ukrainian director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s new movie The Tribe, which opens today in New York. This is true in the usual figurative sense—the movie about a gang of teen Ukrainian thugs and prostitutes is a gritty, lurid parade of shocks—but it’s also literally true. If you look away, you’ll miss way too much.
Friday Night Tykes, a ten-part docuseries focusing on the Texas Youth Football Association (TYFA), debuted Tuesday on the Esquire Network. Formerly the Style Network, Esquire re-launched in September with the goal of reaching "today's educated, upscale man." And if today's educated, upscale man is into puking, head injuries, and teaching young boys how to "make it rain" in the end zone, the series will absolutely resonate with the demographic.