Nick wall/projector pictures
This week, Jennifer Hudson achieved EGOT status, a group of top Hollywood storytellers pledged to portray guns more responsibly, and boy band BTS announced they were going on hiatus ( temporary).
Here’s what NPR’s pop culture happy hour team was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
During the pandemic, I revisited my love for video games. I like playing online with other people, though – I get scared when playing alone and a character walks into a house. So I came back to this little known indie game called Fortnite. I got interested because my nephew plays it, so I started playing with him. But it destroys me.
The game is a third person shooter in which you can also build houses and jump from place to place. It’s a lot of fun, but I never got to grips with the building aspect. Although recently, in one of the new updates, the game developers got rid of this aspect, so now there is a “no construction” mode. I’ve played with other adult friends who don’t like building either, and Uncle Ronald kills it in this universe. If you want to find me I’m @ohitsbigron. I will play with you. — Ronald Young, Jr.
BTS Album, Evidence
BTS, my favorite group in the world, just released an album, Evidence. It’s an anthology that contains three different CDs with both older songs and new songs they made before their recent hiatus. It’s truly a journey of their music throughout the nine years they’ve been together. Their new single, “Yet to Come”, is a beautiful tribute to this story and to the next chapter. —Laura Sirikul
Good luck to you, Leo Grande
I’m in love with Good luck to you, Leo Grande, which came out this week. It’s such a beautiful movie about a woman’s sexual awakening, and it goes against Hollywood ageism – the way women are viewed when it comes to their sexual needs.
It’s great to see Emma Thompson in the lead role. Her character really opens up to who she is and her sexual desires. With Daryl McCormack playing Leo Grande, the sex worker she hires, this body positive movie felt like a play and I absolutely loved it. —Laura Sirikul
shape up by Leikeli47
It’s the time of year when every music publication starts rating the best albums of the year, and 2022 has been extremely successful. Right now I’m in love with shape up by rapper Leikeli47, which is one of the best albums to date. She released some great records a few years ago that were part of a trilogy of beauty albums. It’s been four years since the last one came out, and shape up complete this trilogy.
It’s a remarkably bold, catchy, dark and eerie record, yet has so much verve, life, energy and grit (my favorite song on it is “BITM”). We at NPR Music hosted a listening party for the album, and Leikeli47 has a fascinating conversation with NPR podcast co-host Sidney Madden. louder than a riot. Leikeli47 is such a striking presence, and she’s awesome live. But we don’t know his real name. She’s still masked — she wore masks before we had to. —Stephen Thompson
More recommendations from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter
here are some broadway moments who will make you better all week long: the cast of A strange loopwhich won Best New Musical, and the cast of The music manwho brought in stunt double Max Clayton when star Hugh Jackman tested positive for COVID.
STAND OUT: An LGBTQ+ Celebration is a 96-minute Netflix special capturing a jam-packed evening of stand-up comedy hosted by Billy Eichner, assisted by Bob the Drag Queen. With 26(!) performers means each only gets about four minutes of stage time so sets are tight and if you don’t find yourself rocking with a comedian just hang in there and a new one will come out that is likely more your thing. It’s a feast of smart and funny comedy, so indulge yourself: Mae Martin, Margaret Cho, Trixie Mattel, Joel Kim Booster, Sam Jay, Tig Notaro, Scott Thompson (as Buddy Cole), Gina Yashere, Matteo Lane, Eddie Izzard, Patti Harrison, hilarious Happy Hour pop culture friend Guy Branum, Solomon Georgio, Judy Gold, Wanda Sykes, Sandra Bernhard and many more. (Too many favorites to choose from, but Marsha Warfield’s ensemble is fiercely beautiful and wild.)
People I Respect Have Talked About the Bird ID App Merlin for a while now, but I’m not an ornithologist, so I just jotted this down in passing. Then I heard the app added a feature where you don’t have to worry about identifying marks or coloring (for people with my type of color blindness, most birds are classified as “Sort Of Mostly Brown-ish I Guess”, which is not taxonomically useful). No – you just hold your phone and record the song of the bird in question, and zap: That there is a wood thrush, baby! It’s Bird Shazam, and it’s spectacular. Also, somehow, vaguely disturbing.
I did not care spider headthe new Netflix movie based on George Saunders Short Story 2010 about a prison in which inmates volunteer to test various psychoactive drugs. The film is overworked, overdriven, tonal muddled, and reaches for emotions it can’t grasp, but the story? The story is lean, propulsive and darkly funny, a marvel of precision and economy, and you can read it on the New Yorker website. Disclaimer: If you read the story and, against my explicit advice, choose to watch the movie anyway, you will be angry and puzzled as to how the makers of the movie could so completely and deeply fail to get it.
Oh and: @billdancestonpr. Pretty awesome. I still haven’t tackled the theme of Pop Culture Happy Hour, but you know all the same: rather well. —Glen Weldon
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