Random YouTube K-hole: Thespians Thesping Thespily

August is coming around the bend like a freight train, and the year is more than halfway through. I’m getting whiplash just watching the months pass by. Where’d all that time go? The summer blockbusters have come and gone and true to form, the Oscar contenders are lining up for the fall season, where everyone is expected to do an about-face from frivolous explosions and superheroes to grown-up adult fare. No, not me. Everyone else.

Still, I’m up for a few serious dramas, just to cleanse my palate and remind myself that I am an adult and not everything needs to be Marvel-inspired. Full disclosure, I’m not the best at catching up with award-season contenders; I end up waiting for them to hit Netflix or go on sale on iTunes (i.e. I, Tonya, Three Billboards). So here are a few I just might watch, with emphasis on the word might:

First Man – Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy / D: Damien Chazell

I’m on the fence about this one. On the one hand, Claire Foy! On the other, The Gosling being all method and things. I’m not a big fan when The Gosling goes all method and things, I prefer him standing in front of Steve Carrell with his schwantz hanging out, teaching him how to pick up women. Or standing in the rain, proclaiming how much he’s not over someone. Damien Chazell brought us singing, dancing, tortured artist Gosling via La La Land, and now he’s bringing us studying, practicing tortured pilot Gosling as Neil Armstrong in First Man. Do I really want to see another behind-the-scenes reimagining of the events that lead to some major NASA space mission, even if it does have Claire Foy, who makes everything better? I’m torn.

Beautiful Boy – Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet / D: Felix Van Groeningen

Speaking of Mr. Carell, he’s in Beautiful Boy, as a loving father who doesn’t quite know how to fix his tortured son in a film by Felix Van Groeningen. How could Steve Carell have dysfunctional children? There’s just no way. Not in my head. Anyway, if like me you’re scratching your head, unfamiliar with anything Felix Van Groeningen has done, IMDB says he’s a Belgian director, which could be the reason I haven’t seen his films. (It’s films in Europe, because they’re classy and mature. Which makes Felix Van Groeningen an auteur, thankyouverymuch.) Anyway, here’s sweet, tormented young boy of the moment Timothée Chalamet – who last made a splash as a sweet, tormented young boy in Call Me By Your Name – as yet another sweet, tormented young boy with what looks like white people problems. Someone’s being seriously typecast, you guys.

Mary, Queen of Scots – Saiorse Ronan, Margot Robbie / D: Josie Rourke

Accents? Check. Period drama? Check. Costume extravaganza? Check. This, I am definitely on board with Like Claire Foy, Saiorse Ronan is great in everything she does, and this should be an interesting clash of queens – one who followed her heart, and the other who followed her head.

Young, pretty, the former queen of France, Mary, Queen of Scots’ claim to the throne of England lay in her descent from the sister of Henry VIII, which made her and Elizabeth I first cousins. As Elizabeth I was seen by some as a bastard and, despite her clear resemblance to her father Henry VII, by some as a product of Anne Boleyn’s alleged affair with her lute player, her claim to the throne was precarious in the eyes of the French and the Scots, who were allied through Mary’s first marriage to the Dauphin. This is for anyone who loves the Tudors and a good old-fashioned catfight, and I’m all in on this one!

Random YouTube K-Hole: Tank Girls

What is with being a mermaid these days? Everyone is like my childhood friend who was so obsessed with Ariel from The Little Mermaid, he grew up, moved to Australia, became a drag queen and put together a show called The Little Merdrag. I’ve never been one for a tail, but I can see the attraction. Half naked, perpetually wet, sings like a nightingale? Boom, sex. And sex sells. Mermaids are everywhere, and my only explanation for the obsession with this particular magical creature is that we all came from the sea and some buried part of our subconscious yearns for it again. Or it could just all boil down to one word: pretty!

Cher, The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)

What better way to introduce this particular k-hole’s theme than Cher, with the theme song to the movie Mermaids? My mom rented this on VHS back when Tops and Bottoms had a whole section devoted to movies you could rent, like Dumaguete’s very own bootleg Blockbuster. (In hindsight, I don’t think any of those tapes were originals at all.) She got this along with Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, and I remember a young me having a raging crush on Michael Schoeffling, the cute gardener Winona Ryder obsesses over. I don’t blame her one bit for going crazy and seducing him in a bell tower on the day JFK was shot. To this day I still have no idea why the movie was called Mermaids although Cher dons a mermaid costume for Halloween and little Christina Ricci is a swimmer who almost drowns, but who cares?

Sade, No Ordinary Love

The alluring Sade Adu is a sea siren who seduces a sailor during Fleet Week. I’m assuming it was Fleet Week, why else is he in that fun little costume? Running barefoot through the gritty city streets because mermaids are immune to tetanus, Sade throws her own rice grains in anticipation of her own wedding, but Fleet Week is over, the sailor is gone and she’s left on the dock sadly chugging seawater, unaware of how plastic bottles would soon come to pollute the ocean. (It was the nineties, we hadn’t trashed this world quite as much just yet.) With that lovely, seductive beat, Sade’s sultry vocals and the alternating themes of sadness and hope, this is still the best depiction of a music video mermaid.

Lady Gaga, Yoü and I

Never mind Nebraska being completely landlocked, here’s Lady Gaga with fins and a tail thrashing around in a bathtub somewhere outside Omaha, because art! Art, and Taylor Kinney. Although anatomical realities make human to mermaid sexy times an impossibility, I’d try doing it anyway if it was with Taylor Kinney, wouldn’t you? Yoü and I is a mess, but it’s a glorious mess, all bionic haute couture, boy drag and piano-playing in the middle of a cornfield. Gaga toes the line between avant-garde and just plain weird, a balance only she could get away with. Ah, the halcyon days before Artpop.

Nicki Minaj feat. Ariana Grande, Bed

And finally, the clip that started this particular k-hole. Nicki Minaj goes from one slithery creature to another in her latest music video, from anaconda to mermaid! Bed, which features preternaturally pony-tailed Ariana Grande, has all the hallmarks of a Nicki Minaj video – boobs, butt, and highlighter for daaaaaaayyys.  Other than that, it’s your standard girl on the beach/sea-side condo, inviting you over for a little Netflix and chill. If Sade’s version was about true love, Nicki’s version is a drunken Tinder hook-up that’ll last for all of two hours before you’re both bidding each other goodbye, washing the sand out of your nethers and booking an appointment at the free clinic the very next day. Oh well. Mermaids!

Random YouTube K-Hole: Tears for Fears

I’d been waiting for the official video of Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty before posting this particular k-hole about songs that deal with a specific kind of emotional catharsis. But before getting to the country queen’s latest oeuvre, I’m getting in a time machine and going all the way back to the past when Aerosmith and Alicia Silverstone ruled the video airwaves…

Aerosmith, Crying

I don’t know what you’re all going on about us being oppressed, female power was just as alive in 1993 as it is today. Alicia Silverstone and her healthy blonde mane acts out after seeing a very young, very attractive, Stephen Dorff inhabiting his standard persona of douchebag-you’d-still-bone cheating on her in a movie theatre. Proving to him and everyone else, including the guy who attempts to steal her backpack (look, Josh Holloway!), that she’s not going to take any shit unless it’s on her terms, this was the first of Alicia’s video collaborations with Aerosmith. She would go on to star in Amazing, and Crazy, to similarly enthusiastic acclaim. With a killer video and sweet vocals, Cryin’ is the Teenage Dream video of the 90’s, before Katy Perry (intentionally? unintentionally?) got her revisionist mitts all over the disaffected teenager storyline.

Justin Timberlake, Cry Me A River

Way before he became the Man of the Woods, Justin Timberlake was living out a revenge fantasy featuring Britney Spears a blonde who famously breaks his heart. He denied the song was about Britney of course, but we all knew he was lying, Liza Minelli! For a brief moment in the early aughts, those two turned a number of pre- and post-pubescent teenagers into a screaming Tyra Banks meme. (We were all rooting for you in matching denim, damnit!). With the help of Timbaland, Mr. Timberlake breaks into a not-so-mysterious blonde’s home like a crazed stalker, tap dances all over her furniture, has sex with a stranger in her bedroom and spies on her while she’s in the shower. Rude! Also, creepy. This video would’ve aged pretty well if it wasn’t for that bulky-ass cam-corder, reminding us all of the lengths we used to go to just to record things for posterity.

Ariana Grande, No Tears Left to Cry

Known more for her vocal chops than eye-catchingly original music videos, Ariana Grande doesn’t do anything to upset that particular status quo in this, her latest video for No Tears Left to Cry. The concept is pretty much blonde Inception on the discarded set of Marvel’s Dr. Strange and it’s a complete disconnect from the song, but who needs concepts and connectivity when you have a new hair colour? It could be the bleach, it could be having a perpetual ponytail, whatever the cause, Miss Grande’s state of mind is up, down, and all around. A bit of a surprise banger, No Tears Left to Cry  is probably going to go on heavy rotation from here to eternity. And by eternity, I mean for the rest of the summer. She’s here, it’s queer, get used to it.

Carrie Underwood, Cry Pretty

And finally, the blonde that kickstarted today’s quintet. Round of applause for Miss Underwood (no relation to Frank) who is back with another country ballad about falling apart, wasting mascara into the process. I’m not sure what she meant by saying her face got all fucked up and she doesn’t look the same; I only hope she’s not suffering from some extreme form of body/face dysmorphia, because girl is still looking good. I know some people who are so gay they practically sweat glitter, but Carrie Underwood is going the extra mile by actually crying glitter tears while singing Cry Pretty. A bit on the nose, but way to commit to a concept!

Random YouTube K-hole: Vertical Horizon

Back in the day, the leadup to the premiere of an anticipated music video was an event, awaited eagerly the way we wait for trailers for a summer movie tentpole. Artists were expected to come out with something worth the wait, and anything less was an insult to the diehard fan.

Not anymore. Not really, anyway. It’s the age of throwaway culture and handheld computers, so anyone can skip the middleman, spend five minutes and make their own music videos. Like these three.

Nicki Minaj, Chun-Li

Does anyone remember when Jennifer Lopez was the one with the booty? We were babies. Look at this. Camera? Check. Giant ass? Check. Nicki Minaj definitely puts the ass in asset and I can’t hate her for working that moneymaker, because if you’re going to commit to having a butt that big what’s the use of not shaking it? While bonered-up fanboys may forgive the crappy lighting, I think it could’ve done with a little less neon pink wash. I don’t get why Chun-Li needs the wi-fi password and Barbie Tingz is lyrically stronger than this, but eh. It’s no Super Bass, but it’ll do for a few replays.

Taylor Swift, Delicate

In a bid to make the world forget that the original video for Delicate is a blatant reenactment of a Kenzo perfume ad, Swifty releases a Spotify video version of Delicate, featuring just… her. In a field. Mouthing lyrics in the sunlight. Lighting-wise it’s loads better than Chun-Li, but its still the visual equivalent of not giving a fuck. It’s clearly the one take, it’s a wrap, I gave people effort with the other video and they shat on me so here ya go kind of vibe. While the video sucks, the single does not and its tropical chill vibe makes it very easy listening.

Maroon 5, Wait

Leave it to notoriously narcissistic Adam Levine to nail the vertical selfie video on the head: utilize an entire array of Snapchat filters, pretend your band doesn’t exist, and just wander around your huge mansion rocking out to a catchy song and being cute. I know a few girls and gay men whose ovaries regularly explode over Adam Levine, and this video for Maroon 5’s Wait isn’t going to help their already battered reproductive areas any. The band did release another professionally shot video for Wait, which features the many looks of Alexandra Daddario and a truly fantastic closing montage, but this first one is a lighthearted romp full of charm and whimsy.

Random YouTube K-hole: Cathode Ray of Light

I used to have a rule about liking a particular single: I had to like the music video. It was essential, and a huge influence on whether or not I enjoyed the track. But that rule went out the window with the advent of Spotify. In this, the era of the playlist, music videos seemed like an afterthought. It also felt for a minute like the music video as an art form was no longer really being celebrated, the way it was when MTV put the music in television, so for the past few years, I’d given up checking out music videos.

But like the nineties, music videos are back and having a moment. Lady Gaga, Beyonce and yes, Kanye West, ensured the form was still to an extent, kept interesting and hopefully we’re beginning to surface from a morass of boats, hoes, stripper poles and cash raining down from the heavens. And just like the nineties, CRT televisions are having a moment. With the following music videos, I explore the answer to the question, “where do cathode ray televisions go to die?” (The answer: music videos of early 2018.)

Hey, at least we’re recycling.

Justin Timberlake, Supplies

Not my favourite cut off of Justin Timberlake’s largely panned Man of the Woods album, the single may not be a standout, but its accompanying music video is a smorgasbord of visual stimuli. Illuminati! White gators! Flashlights! Watching the collapse of a way of life just doesn’t feel the same unless it’s viewed on a wall of old school television sets, does it?

Cardi B feat. 21 Savage, Bartier Cardi

For what it’s worth, Cardi B’s Bartier Cardi only gets a mention because its current. And features a video wall. I can’t get with this single at all. Cardi is fun but so far the only rap she’s done that I really liked was her turn in Migos’ Motorsport. I would just as happily use Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me for video wall purposes, but it’s not in keeping with our theme, and lordy I don’t want to admit how old I really am. Even if I just did.

The Weeknd, Call Out My Name

The music video that jumpstarted this particular k-hole, word on the street is Call Out My Name is about Selena Gomez. Whomever it may be about, I’m loving this single, and the fantasy of the accompanying lyric video. You can watch a world burn through the eyes of cathode ray televisions and you can also watch a heart break. Somehow this with a wall of flatscreens would be like being at Best Buy. At any rate, this video fully belongs in The Weeknd’s wheelhouse – it’s dark, moody and ever so slightly sad. It’s fitting that his latest album is called My Dear Melancholy.

Flashback Finesse

The year is off to a good start if this is what we have to greet it. Bruno Mars reworks Finesse – the original being a fave off of his album 24K Magic, which as a whole sounds like it was triple dipped in the goodness that was 90’s RnB – into the perfect nostalgic trip back in time. He throws in a little Cardi B in this outing, even managing to make her make a little more sense than usual (what, exactly, is Bodak Yellow? I feel so old). Giving her her props for making that sassy mid-90’s look pop. Everything about this video is perfect, from the music, to the choreography and the outfits. Doesn’t everyone look cute, happy and innocent?

Christmas YouTube K-hole

Apparently Jose Mari Chan doesn’t have a video for Christmas in our Hearts, which is a shame because that song dominates the Philippine airwaves the way Bing Crosby does on this side of the Atlantic. I know that song inside and out, and whenever they play it in September, you know the most wonderful time of the year is just around the bend.

Since I couldn’t put up a Jose Mari Chan video that wasn’t just random pictures cobbled together like a well-made videoke segment, here in no particular order are three music videos that I turn to come Yuletide. Hope they get you in the mood!

98 Degrees  – This Gift

Fake snow? Teddy bears? Handsome, clean-cut, corn-fed troubadours? I’m all in! This video gave me a weak spot for guys in cable-knit sweaters singing about giving gifts. This criminally overlooked Christmas song will forever and always be at the top of my list for the Christmas season. You guys can have Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber, I will take my cheesy, well-meaning boyband and hold it close to my heart. This Gift never fails to delight, even if it could use a little less Nick Lachey.

Troy & Abed – Christmas Infiltration (Community Rap)

Troy and Abed doing Chriiistmaaas! In an episode that melds the purity of Christmas with the underlying evil of the glee club (showrunner Dan Harmon wasn’t shy about how much he hated Glee), Christmas Infiltration is a standout and instantly became one of my favourite songs about Christmas. It was a wrench deciding between this, Baby Boomer Santa and Happy Birthday Jesus. I can’t help it. Troy and Abed always win out in the end. Actually, this whole episode wins out in the end. Community always aced their holiday episodes and Regional Holiday Music was no different. It’s Christmas viewed through the twisted lens of a music lover who wants to mean well but somehow can’t seem to find the strength to make the devil on his shoulder go away. It’s hilarious, it’s irreverent, it’s perfect.

Billy Mack – Christmas is All Around

Forever tardy to the party, I discovered Love, Actually a year ago on Netflix, while using some holiday downtime to do movie research for a project I was working on. It turned out to be a choice I thank the fates I made because  it has Bill Nighy as an aging rockstar with all the sleazy moves, Hugh Grant as an endearingly floppy-haired Prime Minister who has no idea he’s cute, Alan Rickman being Alan Rickman, a pre-Taken Liam Neeson as a grieving widower,  Andrew Lincoln before he moved to Atlanta to fight zombies and Colin Firth with a typewriter! I don’t give a rat’s arse what anyone says, Love Actually is an awesome holiday movie. It can’t be anything but, not with such a charming all-star cast and a truly hilarious script filled with that dry Brit humour we all know and love. Here, Billy Mack remakes his signature song into a wannabe Christmas staple, but even he knows it’s a “festering turd of a record.” I’m making a tradition out of watching Love, Actually every Christmas. I haven’t laughed as hard at a British ensemble movie since Ang Lee’s Four Weddings and a Funeral.