Hello Fangirls and welcome to part 3 of the Fangirls Fall Guide by yours truly and Miss Julie Kushner author of TV Recappers Anonymous (where you will also find this series cross-posted).
Speaking of recaps – so far we’ve talked about TV we love and movies that excite us and today we’re pleased to present our top picks in music for your listening enjoyment. In the words of Billy on the Street Billy Eichner: And away – we – go!
Music you should listen to: I watch a show online called Out of Ireland. I like to save a few episodes and then put them on while I’m puttering around my kitchen on a weekend morning. I pretend I’m in my house that happens to be in Dublin! An episode this summer featured a video by the band Walking on Cars. I didn’t pay too much attention to the visuals as I was doing something domestic, but the song “Speeding Cars” sent tingles along my spine. Then I watched the video which is gorgeous and mystical (although not the visuals you expect for a song about an affair!) Finding their debut CD Everything This Way was difficult stateside and I ended up with an import. But this is the kind of music that gets me in the heart and soul. Driving, majestic, U2-esque melodies and emotional lyrics. I don’t think I singlehandedly am going to make Walking on Cars “happen” in the US, but I highly recommend checking them out on Spotify. Some really beautiful and energetic songs perfectly suited for being heard in a stadium full of chanting voices.
Music I am beside myself excited for: America I will never forgive you for not embracing Robbie Williams. The English mega pop star sells out stadiums throughout Europe, yet I saw him in a club venue in Boston in 1999 which, is likely the last time he ever toured here. Robbie is cheeky and outrageous. His music is often bombastic and ridiculous and he delivers it with such smirk on his face and sparkle in his eye you can’t help but get into it. Plus it’s catchy as HELL. I don’t think anyone captures the ups and downs of fame better in contemporary pop music: the love/hate of adulation, the dangers of temptation and the thrills of celebrity. On one track he’ll tell you, “I am scum”(Come Undone) and the next he’s proclaiming “I’m the one who put the Brit in celebrity” (Handsome Man) He has a new album called The Heavy Entertainment Show coming out on my birthday although sadly, I won’t be in England to get it so I’ll have to patiently wait for my lovely friend Felicity to supply me with a copy which I will play endlessly while proclaiming, “DAMN YOU AMERICA!!!”
Music you should listen to: Meghan Trainor. For those of you out there who may have wrote off this young ingénue as a teeny bopping pop star after her first album, which, most notably, included the catchy ear worm “All About That Bass“, and the 50’s nostalgic “Dear Future Husband,” take another look. Meghan’s second album, Thank You is edgy, sassy, mature, and will make you dance uncontrollably, even when you are in places you shouldn’t be dancing (like at work, or on the NYC subway). And the song lyrics are just great. Are you having an off day? Feeling down on yourself? Check out “Me Too” (“If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.”), and your confidence will resurge in no time. Heading for a night out with the girls, you need to be playing “No,” while you are getting ready. It will make you laugh and put you in a great mood just in time to hit the dance floor. (“My name is No. My sign is No. My number is No. You need to let it go.”) Indeed!
Music I am excited to hear: The Weeknd – Starboy It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to predict that this is going to be the album blowing up everybody’s Spotify this winter. Every song these guys put out there almost automatically seems like chart topping gold. And their range is so diverse. The sultry “Earned It” feels like it comes from a completely different universe from the haunting “The Hills,” and the bass thumping, booty shaking “Can’t Feel My Face.” Need more evidence? The first single off the album came out on September 28th, less than three days later it had 19 million hits on YouTube. That’s insane! Out: November 25
Bonus! Our fave podcasts for your listening enjoyment!
I have a very particular taste in podcasts. I don’t like anything of the genre I call “Two Guys Pontificating” in which two dudes like hearing themselves talk for over an hour. This is not sexist as I also don’t like “Two Girls Pontificating” either. I prefer my podcasts to have a narrative and structure. I don’t want to spend an hour with two people of any gender basically having an often tedious personal conversation that they somehow believe should be shared with a larger audience. That is why I am such a huge fan of You Must Remember This, which “explores the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I LOVE The Golden Age of Hollywood and all the stars and scandals so already I was sold on this concept.
But creator Karina Longworth does the work. Every episode is meticulously researched and when she does series, such as “MGM Stories” or the recent “Six Degrees of Joan Crawford” each episode is a chapter that builds on the last and prepares you for the next. Not only is the material fascinating but it is one of the best constructed podcasts I’ve ever heard. If you think the Brangelina divorce is explosive, you should hear what some of the original movie stars were up to behind closed doors in our supposedly “more innocent” history. Recommend: Star Wars Episode III Hedy Lamarr, Frank Sinatra in Outer Space.
Serial, Season 1: Before Making of a Murderer gained a cult following, and took Netflix by storm…before True Crime became as mainstream as reality talent shows, there was a much beloved, but little known by the general public podcast called This American Life, produced by an enterprising woman named Sarah Koenig, who introduced us to the obsession we now know as Serial. In 1999, 18-year old Hae Min Lee, then a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, was murdered. Her body was found in the nearby Leakin Park, hastily buried in a shallow grave. The cause of death: manual strangulation. The chief suspect: Adnan Sayed, also a senior at Woodlawn High School, and Hae Min’s former boyfriend.
There were a number of “bad facts” that pointed to Adnan as Hae Min’s killer. Cell phone towers pinged his location to be close to the murder site around the time the murder was said to have occurred. Witnesses saw Adnan offer Hae Min a ride home from school in his car that day. And, perhaps most damning of all, an associate of Adnan’s Jay Wilds admitted to helping Adnan bury Hae Min’s body.
Adnan was eventually arrested, tried and convicted of Hae Min Lee’s murder. But did he actually do it? Was the trial against him fair? Did he receive adequate counsel from his lawyer, who was disbarred shortly thereafter? Throughout this binge-worthy series that has spawned thousands of obsessive fansites to catalog and extensively discuss each aspect of the case, Sarah Koenig does an excellent job of exploring and unpacking, what, up until this point was a locally known “cold case” mystery. Without taking sides or placing blame, Sarah, through her investigations raises some very important questions, about the reliability of eyewitness testimony, particularly when most of those witnesses are teenagers, the accuracy of cell phone records, particularly in 1999, when the technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now, and the necessity of a good defense attorney, and whether the lack of one prevents an accused person from receiving a fair trial. Sarah even interviews Adnan himself from jail numerous times, allowing viewers to judge for themselves whether he is, in fact, guilty.
The popularity of Serial (to date the podcasts have received over 80 million downloads) and its reinvigoration of interest in Adnan’s case, actually turned the tide of justice, resulting in Adnan receiving a new trial, nearly a decade after his initial conviction. So, if you aren’t one of those 80 million downloads, I highly recommend you jump on this bandwagon and enter the cult that is Series 1 of Serial. I promise you, you won’t sleep until you’ve heard the entire series from start to finish…
Get your tablets and smartphones ready because next time we tackle websites and apps!
For more check out Amy’s book The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines and Julie’s novels on Amazon.