Slate's Culture Blog

April 17 2014 3:54 PM

“Tuition” Turns a Beyoncé Hit Into a Plea for Student Loan Forgiveness

There's no shortage of Beyoncé "Partition" parodies on the web, but one recent entry into the canon hits particularly close to home for many: "Tuition," a plea to Sallie Mallie about forgiving student loan debt. Chanel Carroll's re-written lyrics are clever ("Senior year I was "Flawless," couldn't touch my crown/ Now I'm going under trying not to drown"), and while the video production leaves much to be desired, that's likely the point--her character probably can't afford anything newer than Windows '98, what with all those loans.

And for further proof of the issue's relevance, here's yet another "Partition" parody tackling the same theme:

(Via Jezebel.)

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April 17 2014 3:32 PM

Why Tina Belcher Is a Folk Hero for Anxious Young People

There’s a wonderful scene in season three of Bob’s Burgers, in which the eponymous restaurateur lets his 13-year-old daughter Tina drive the family’s car in a nearly-empty lot. “Let’s make this kitty purr,” Tina monotones, glancing nervously at her dad from the driver’s seat. She pulls out of the parking space at a snail’s pace, and starts to groan with anxiety. Bob talks over the groan, calmly reassuring Tina, his voice rising as she sets them on a glacial collision course with the only other car.

“OK, Tina, you’re kinda headed toward the only other car in the lot,” he says. “You have plenty of time to turn, Tina, so just go ahead, turn one way or the other.” Tina’s groan intensifies. “You’re just swerving back and forth,” Bob says, now alarmed. “Turn one way and stick with it, Tina. Tina for the love of God, turn away or stop! The brakes, Tina, the brakes!”

Needless to say, Tina totals the car.

April 17 2014 3:00 PM

Gateway Episodes: Parenthood

The first thing you need to know about Parenthood is that you will cry. You will cry early, you will cry often, and, for some reason, you will love it. The second thing you need to know about Parenthood is that almost nothing happens. (Think Seinfeld, if Seinfeld were a highly dramatic show about an unnaturally close family in California.) For some reason, you will also love this. Fans of Friday Night Lights will recognize the show’s style thanks to shared executive producer Jason Katims—the shaky camera moves that signify realism and the improvised-sounding dialogue that does the same. Even if you’ve never seen Friday Night Lights (go do that), this too you will love.

All this makes it easy to jump right in with an episode well into the series, even if you haven’t spent the last five years of Thursday nights singing along to the show’s catchy opening credits cover of “Forever Young.” Specifically, you should start with Episode 5 of Season 3, called “Nora.” And since tonight marks the show’s Season 5 finale, and with a Season 6 renewal uncertain, now is as good a time as ever to get hooked.

April 17 2014 2:34 PM

Hear Chromeo’s Surprising New Song, Featuring Ezra Koenig

As Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo prep the release of their fourth album, White Women, out next month, they’ve previewed the album with a slew of songs, including the excellent Toro y Moi-assisted “Come Alive.” Today, Dave 1 and P-Thugg join forces with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig once again for a surprise duet, aptly tiled “Ezra’s Interlude.”

April 17 2014 12:22 PM

John Mayer Covers Beyoncé Surprisingly Well

While the slick, echoey electronic production of Beyoncé’s ballad “XO” perfectly complements the singer’s light, wistful vocals, the song also feels highly suited to other styles and instrumentations.

That’s probably why John Mayer’s recent live acoustic version of it works so well—the singer-songwriter has long been a purveyor of lilting vocals and nostalgic lyrics (as in “1983,” e.g.). For those, like me, who still enjoy listening to Room for Squares from time to time, his cover of “XO” is definitely worth a listen.

(Via the Huffington Post.)

April 17 2014 10:21 AM

The Second Season of Orange Is the New Black Looks Dark

It should not be surprising that a series set more or less entirely in prison would go to some dark places—and it’s true that Season 1 of Orange Is the New Black had its grim and heartbreaking moments. Still, the overwhelming impression created by this trailer for Season 2 is that much more difficult times are ahead, especially for the show’s ostensible protagonist, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). And Lorraine Toussaint as the new character Vee certainly looks like bad news (though that could be a fakeout, given the way this show likes to upend expectations).

April 17 2014 8:17 AM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Okra

I am glad that no one ever forced stewed okra on me during my childhood, because the stories I’ve heard from stewed-okra veterans have been traumatizing. Friends and colleagues have described memories of okra that was sulfurous and slimy and yet left a cottony feeling on their tongues and gums. (This is no coincidence: The okra plant is related to the cotton plant.)

Many people will tell you that the best way to mitigate okra’s slime is to batter and deep-fry it. Naturally, deep-fried okra is good, just like deep-fried anything is good. But okra isn’t enough of a flavor powerhouse to make fried okra an exceptional dish. Sure, fried okra is great alongside fried catfish and hushpuppies, but it doesn’t hold its own in the pantheon of fried foods.

The truth is, okra needs two main things to be outstanding: It needs to be de-slimed, and it needs assertive spices to augment its mildly peppery flavor. Only one dish nails both of these imperatives, and that dish is bhindi masala, the okra curry native to the Punjab region of India.

April 16 2014 10:39 PM

Eli Roth Combines Cannibals and Peruvian Jungles in The Green Inferno

Eli Roth hasn't directed a film in seven years. It doesn't seem too long ago—mostly because, for better or worse, his works tend to scar the viewer permanently—but his last effort at the helm was 2007's Hostel: Part II. Horror's favorite son has returned, though, and his latest film, The Green Inferno, just released a trailer today. The premise: a group of student activists travel to Peru to help a dying tribe, crash in the middle of the Amazon, and are then imprisoned by said tribe. Even more unfortunately, the tribe happens to be comprised entirely of cannibals.

April 16 2014 5:41 PM

Hear Soundgarden's Gritty Demo Version of "Black Hole Sun"

Soundgarden is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their breakthrough album Superunknown this year with a “Super Deluxe” reissue this summer. Included among the B-sides and other additional extras is a demo version of “Black Hole Sun” recorded by Chris Cornell in 1994, which the band has just shared.

We haven’t noticed a lot of variation here from the version you’re familiar with, though it is notably rougher and grittier-sounding than the final version. Have a listen and decide for yourself which one you prefer.

April 16 2014 3:29 PM

This Songwriter Made Jesus Christ Superstar Even Better, By Adding Muppets

Justin time for the upcoming Easter weekend comes Muppet Christ Superstar, an “album” of nine songs from the 1971 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar—with the lead characters recast as Muppets. Kermit plays Jesus, of course, with Gonzo playing his backstabbing friend Judas and Miss Piggy filling the role of Mary Magdalene.

And voicing all those roles is 20-year-old songwriter Christo Graham, the mastermind behind the parody and a drama and film student at Bishop’s University in Quebec. Grahamtold us he recorded the album over a couple nights in his bedroom, and although he plays several instruments and has already released five albums of original music (available on Bandcamp), he used karaoke tracks for Muppet Christ Superstar, singing all parts (even the backing vocals, ostensibly from the Electric Mayhem, and Gonzo’s chickens). “It makes it a little less impressive,” he said, but his voices are a feat on their own, especially considering the original Muppets were voiced by several actors—Dave Goelz as Gonzo, Frank Oz as Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear, and Jim Henson as Kermit. In fact, I’d argue that Graham’s Kermit gets even closer to Henson’s original Kermit than Steve Whitmire, who has voiced the frog since Henson’s death in 1990.