Much like "Summertime Sadness" last summer and "Call Me Maybe" the summer before that, Canadian band Magic! has created this year's summer chart topper in the form of the omnipresent "Rude." You'll hear it just about every other song on the radio, and it looks like it's starting to grate on some people. "Some people" meaning the collectively highly decorated Lena Dunham and Ingrid Michaelson, who took to Twitter to poke some light fun at the song:
@lenadunham He's gonna marry her anyway.
— Ingrid Michaelson (@ingridmusic) July 14, 2014
Now with a comedic rapport like that, we should all be signing petitions for Michaelson to make an appearance on season 4 of Girls!
The Frozen soundtrack continues to wow chart experts in America after scoring an 11th week at number one on the album chart. The 2013 release, which features songs by the film's stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, has just notched up its biggest sales week yet, selling 259,000 units to rule the Billboard 200 again.
The album, which has now sold a total of 2.3 million copies in the U.S., has become one of 15 soundtracks to spend at least 11 weeks at number one since Billboard began publishing a weekly chart in 1956.
It also breaks a tie with The Lion King to become the outright longest-running number one animated film soundtrack.
August Alsina's debut Testimony enters the chart at a distant number two, while rockers NEEDTOBREATHE debut Rivers in the Wasteland at three, and Jason Derulo makes his first top 10 bow with Talk Dirty at four.
Ingrid Michaelson rounds out the new top five with Lights Out.
Meanwhile, Pharrell Williams has followed up two weekends at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California with a ninth week atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Happy makes Williams just the sixth solo male artist to spend a cumulative six months at number one on the countdown - only Usher, Michael Jackson, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney and his Blurred Lines collaborator T.I. have spent more time atop the Hot 100.
John Legend's All of Me holds onto the number two spot on the new chart, while Jason Derulo's Talk Dirty rebounds to three.
It's been 54 days since 26 people lost their lives to a disturbed shooter who opened fire in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. In the days immediately following the attack, America mourned. President Obama gave a stirring, emotional speech (and shed a few tears of his own), the NFL observed a moment of silence before each of its weekend games, and the normally raucous Saturday Night Live solemnly showed its remorse with a children's choir singing "Silent Night." But now, nearly two months later, the memory of that tragic day is kept alive by trotting the survivors out for us all to gawk at. During a time when these children should start to get back to old routines and rebuild a sense of normalcy in their lives, they are continuously shoved in the spotlight.
The chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary first performed alongside Jennifer Hudson at the Super Bowl, and now, the kids will sing as part of E!'s Live From the Red Carpet Grammys pre-show. E! reports that a group of 21 children from Newtown (only some of whom attend Sandy Hook) will be broadcast live via satellite from their Connecticut locale, singing Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." They will then be interviewed by Ryan Seacrest, about what one can only imagine. These children are now celebrities because they witnessed a tragedy, and that juxtaposition is more than a little unsettling.
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Before the kids' big Super Bowl debut, Erin Nikitchyuk, a parent of one of the children, summed up the contradictory feelings the performance stirred in her and many by telling CBS, "It’s hard to balance the thought that we’re being rewarded for the tragedies of those days, but as a friend of mine said, we're layering good experiences on top of the bad experiences we’ve had with our kids and I think they are healing." Of course she's right. And music, it seems, has been particularly instrumental in helping the children to heal.
Last month, the same chorus that will be showcased on E! recorded a version of "Over the Rainbow" with singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, which is now available for purchase on iTunes (the proceeds for all sales will go to the United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Youth Academy). The children have since performed the song on ABC's Good Morning America and at a benefit concert. The performance on Grammys night, at first glance, seems to be an extension of this musical release.
Newtown teacher Sabrina Post agrees. Speaking of the choir appearances, she told the AP, "This opportunity to do something positive lets the kids know that although a lot of things happen in our world that are not pleasant, like this that happened with us in Newtown, there are many giving people and wonderful things that can come out of life, so don't get discouraged," she said. "It teaches them to use their gifts to work through things." This sentiment is, again, admirable.
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Tim Hayes, co-producer of the "Over the Rainbow" recording, adds his voice to the chorus of supporters. He tells the AP, "We know the kids involved have had a wonderful experience, but we think this chapter is now done, and we want these kids to get back to being kids." And here, finally, we arrive at the heart of the matter: These kids need to get back to being kids.
While the morning show appearances and New Orleans excursions have surely been exciting for the children, they have prevented the kids from returning to their normal lives. On Dec. 14, the lives of these children changed drastically. Not only did the day's events impact the students emotionally — grammar-school-aged kids were suddenly confronted with a grief many adults are fortunate enough to have never experienced — but also tangibly, on a day-to-day level, when these kids were forced out of their school and in front of national news cameras. How can parents begin to help their children understand that life will one day be able to return to normal if that restoration is continuously delayed? Even if that delay is caused by fun things.
RELATED: Newtown Tragedy: Jon Hamm, Beyonce, & More Demand a Plan in New PSA
But the blame here, of course, doesn't lie with the Newtown families. (What parent doesn't want their grieving child to experience the exhilaration of the Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards? Who wouldn't, like Nikitchyuk says, want to layer happy memories over the terrifying ones?) It is the network's decision to use the chorus as a ratings magnet that is so deplorable. E! knows that viewers will tune in to watch the kids; when the satellite to Connecticut heats up, Grammy red carpet viewers will undoubtedly switch from CBS to E!. And that is exploitive.
Because, you see, the "Call Me Maybe" performance isn't really about the kids. It's not about healing, it's not about happy memories, it's not about music. It's about ratings. For E!, the rest are all just excuses and happy side effects. So let's turn off the cameras, give Newtown some room to breathe, and let these kids get back to being kids.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
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The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.