Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Nov. 30 2015 9:24 PM

Coldplay’s New Single With Beyoncé Continues the Band’s “Free and Happy” Phase

Coldplay’s latest album, A Head Full of Dreams, has been described by Chris Martin as a “free and happy” record. That description bore out in the album’s first single, and it’s even more applicable to its second one, a Beyoncé collaboration called “Hymn for the Weekend” that was recently shared on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show.

Honestly, the best description for the track is its title: It’s a prayer-like party tune that melds a tinkling piano riff, a full-force symphony, and Jonny Buckland’s chiming guitar into a peppy slice of club pop. Queen Bey’s involvement is limited to some sublime backing, but bassist Guy Berryman notes that the singer came into the studio and “did her thing” in a mere five minutes. Praise be.

Video Advertisement

Nov. 30 2015 8:07 PM

The First and Final Shots of Game of Thrones Characters, Side by Side

As is well known by now, Game of Thrones is not a sentimental show. Your favorite lord, kind and noble and true? He’ll die. That smart, sequestered princess? She will also die. Most painfully, these (often literal) stabs of fate usually come when one is most attached to a character.

There are plenty of supercuts of these deaths, but in the above video Fernando Andrés takes a different, more insightful approach, placing characters’ final moments next to their very first close-up appearance in the show. In practice, that means we see a lot of people go from grim and gloomy to grim and gloomy and dead, but watching both kings and commoners expire also highlights Game of Thrones’ unique, equal-opportunity view of death.

Nov. 30 2015 6:13 PM

God Bless the #PopeBars Meme, Because His Holiness Spits Hot Fire

Pope Francis is not your average pope: On top of his (somewhat) progressive stances on certain issues, he has also released his own rock album and inspired pizza likenesses of his image. Now, Twitter has taken his Cool Papa reputation to the next level with a new meme. Prepare thyself, because His Holiness is about to drop some seriously slick #PopeBars.

Nov. 30 2015 4:26 PM

Surprise! Transparent’s Season 2 Premiere Hits Amazon Tonight.

Transparent fans, rejoice! Though it wasn’t expected for another couple of weeks, Deadline reports that the Emmy Award-winning show's Season 2 premiere will hit Amazon at 8 p.m. Eastern time tonight for U.S. Prime users. (The rest of the season will debut on Dec. 11 for the U.S., UK, Germany, and Austria.) Just in time to help you recover from Thanksgiving with your own dysfunctional family.

Read more in Slate about Transparent:


Nov. 30 2015 3:32 PM

The Best (and Only) Nigerien Remake of Purple Rain: “Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red in It”

Prince fans might doubt that anyone could recapture the theatrics, energy, and distinctively ’80s sexuality of Purple Rain, but director Christopher Kirkley decided to try anyway. Set in Niger, his Purple Rain remake had to get past a couple road blocks—like the fact that the people it follows, a nomadic group called the Tuareg, don’t even have a word for purple. So he ended up with a title that NPR reports translates to “Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red in It.”

Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, like Prince’s iconic film, follows a (now Tuareg) musician, as he fights for musical greatness. According to NPR, the struggles he faces along the way “are every bit as resonant in Niger’s desert community as they were in Prince’s Minneapolis.” But because some of the actors held conservative Muslim beliefs, some of the aforementioned ’80s sexiness had to be trimmed from the plot.


From NPR:

“We obviously couldn't do a kiss on the screen,” Kirkley says. “We even had problems with a hug. I thought, ‘Well, maybe we can just end the film with the two of you hugging,’ and they said no.”

As the film makes the film-festival rounds (where it’s getting some great reviews), Kirkley told NPR he hasn’t heard from Prince yet, but “I'm hoping that if and when we do, it’s, uh, it’s a positive experience.”

Read more in Slate:

Nov. 30 2015 3:03 PM

This Is What It Looks Like When 300 Kate Bush Impersonators Re-Enact Her Video for “Wuthering Heights”

No one frolics in a field quite like Kate Bush. In the iconic music video for 1978’s “Wuthering Heights,” Bush dons a red dress and dances solo in a misty field for the song’s entire four minutes and 26 seconds. Bush wrote the song when she was just 18 (after watching the 1967 BBC miniseries based on Emily Brontë’s novel), and it’s still her biggest hit.

Bush’s squeaky soprano and performance-art–style videos gained her a global cult following, and back in May 2013, a U.K.-based performance troupe called Shambush! decided to pay tribute to her “Wuthering Heights” video—and Open Culture just unearthed the result. After the troupe invited resident Kate Bush fans to meet at Stanmer Park in Brighton to recreate it, more than 300 people turned up for the re-enactment, evidently causing a shortage in red gowns. The resulting video of hundreds of Kate Bushes—both tall and small, male and female, bearded and two-year-old—giving “Wuthering Heights” their all is, well, just watch it.

Nov. 30 2015 12:43 PM

Creed Director Ryan Coogler on Reimagining Rocky and Convincing Stallone

This article originally appeared in Vulture

With Creed now in theaters, Rocky fans can finally see how helmer Ryan Coogler, the brain also behind 2013's acclaimed Fruitvale Station, and star Michael B. Jordan, who plays Stallone’s fervent protégé, have shaken up the big-screen boxer's legacy. To shed light on the much-hyped film, our friend John Horn, host of the KPCC radio show and podcast “The Frame,” interviewed Coogler about the shift in direction with the Rocky spinoff, the challenges of pitching the Creed concept to Sylvester Stallone, and his commitment to diversifying today's cinematic landscape.

Nov. 30 2015 12:10 PM

Watch My Morning Jacket Cover Eagles of Death Metal in Tribute to the Victims of the Paris Attacks

Ever since terrorists killed an estimated 89 people at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan in Paris two weeks ago, musicians around the world have come together to show their solidarity with the fans of the band who were attacked—with covers of “Imagine,” with visits to the venue, and more. The band members themselves have since given their own chilling accounts of the attacks and resolved to be the first to play the venue once it reopens. In the latest tribute, on Saturday night in New York, My Morning Jacket followed in Pearl Jam’s footsteps and covered the Eagles of Death Metal’s “I Love You All the Time.”

Before the cover, My Morning Jacket’s lead singer, Jim James, called for a moment of silence to honor victims of the attacks. “Every note we play and every syllable I sing is for peace, and for understanding, and for love,” James told Rolling Stone while discussing the attacks in an interview last week. “The music must always go on and fear must never win.”

Nov. 30 2015 8:33 AM

Why Leonardo DiCaprio’s Turn in The Revenant Will Be Hard to Beat at the Oscars

This article originally appeared on Vulture.

One of Oscar season’s biggest question marks, the survival drama The Revenant, finally screened for press in Los Angeles last week. Reviews for the film were embargoed for several days, but awards-season analysis was not, and given that the film is made by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who directed last year’s Best Picture winner, Birdman, expectations were running high. So, which Oscar categories could this mammoth movie factor into? We’ll break down the races and their odds below.

Let’s start with the big one, Best Actor. Four-time acting nominee Leonardo DiCaprio has famously never taken home the gold, and it’s been presumed all year that The Revenant, where he plays out-for-revenge fur trapper Hugh Glass, will give him his best shot at an Oscar. Having seen the film, I’m inclined to agree, not just because DiCaprio gives his all to the role, but in large part because he doesn’t have overwhelming competition this year. (DiCaprio’s two strongest rivals may be former co-stars Matt Damon and Johnny Depp, neither of whom feels like a front-runner just yet.)

Nov. 30 2015 8:02 AM

When Did TV Dogs Stop Rescuing Humans and Doing Tricks—and Start Just Acting Like Dogs?

Look around at the pets that populate the current TV landscape, and you’ll see some pretty average hounds. There’s Mrs. Voorhees’ purse dog in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, tasked with little more than looking cute.There’s Chuck’s post-breakup companion dog, Monkey, in Gossip Girl, who is a pretty standard dog, aside from supposedly being trained to sniff out fake Prada. There’s Stella the French bulldog on Modern Family, whose most (in)famous trick is plopping into the family pool. These dogs don’t blow out candles, communicate complex messages to their human companions, or fetch and carry rabbits in their mouths. Like human actors, their role is simply to make scripted actions look natural and real.

This is a far cry from the Hollywood canines of yore.  In the first half of the twentieth century, Rin Tin Tin made a name for himself in movies and radio decades even before his show debuted. Some of his tricks were so dangerous, Jack Warner reportedly said he had a “kennel full of doubles.” And then Lassie arrived on the scene in 1954, whose uncanny communication skills would save Timmy and others from countless dicey situations.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, the highly-trained family dog gave way to feisty, anthropomorphized domestic pets. Consider Comet on Full House, who briefly ran away and fell in love with a street collie. He also had some gimmicks of his own—blowing out birthday candles and eating important wedding-related notes among them. Then there was Eddie on Frasier, whose notable trait was that poignant, soul-piercing stare.

But you won’t see today’s pooches performing circus-like stunts or preternaturally communicating with humans. (Except on more imaginative kids' shows like Dog With a Blog.)  Instead, they are more similar to our furry friends at home—they eat things they shouldn’t, are fascinated with our shoes, and jump in the pool at the most inopportune moments. So what’s behind the evolution in TV dogs, from Rin Tin Tin and Lassie til today?