There were a couple of podcasts that I chose to listen to for the blog post, really just three. I’m always interested in anything that has to do with Pop Culture, so these ones stood out to me the most. And pop culture had a prominent influence on my decision when it came to declaring my major. I always hoped to land a career in the entertainment industry, specifically working behind-the-scenes on either movies, or television shows. Speaking of movies, the first podcast I chose actually has to do with a very popular one right now.
1. Pop Culture Happy Hour: “Black Panther and What’s Making Us Happy”
Stemming from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) comes the long-awaited movie Black Panther. As much as I want to go into detail about this podcast, it will be extremely difficult to elaborate on it without spoiling anything… which is frustrating because I always want to talk about this movie, but a lot of people I talk to haven’t seen it yet. But I will do my best to just scratch the surface, spoiler-free.
The podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour is a podcast that is described as “a fun and freewheeling chat about the latest movies, television, books, comics and music.” The hosts are Stephen Thompson and Linda Holmes. For this episode, they featured special guests Glen Weldon, an author of Superman and Batman books, and Jean Demby, from NPR’s Code Switch – another podcast that discusses issues involving race and identity. Essentially, the main focus of the podcast was a an overall review of the movie. A lot of the talking points involved various topics that the movie touched on, such as institutionalized racism, privilege, the significance of the women’s roles in the movie, the African Diaspora and how it’s represented in this movie, etc.
Another interesting thing the movie touches on is the concept of Colonization. The story takes places primarily in a fictional African country named Wakanda, which is technologically advanced all on its own, and was never colonized.
2. Pop Life: “Singing TV Shows & Stranger Things”
So this podcast is a little different from the first one. Of course, it relates to Pop Culture, but with different hosts, and different topics. Hosts Joe Lee and Geoff Herbert discuss the slew of singing/talent shows. American Idol and The Voice, being the two most popular, America’s Got Talent, which allows contestants to perform, but doing different things aside from singing, and in addition, The Four: Battle for Stardom, which is the most recent singing competition show. Following that conversation is the hype surrounding the show Stranger Things.
Specifically with the singing shows, Joe and Geoff talk about how these shows have a specific structure to them. The structures are sort of similar: you audition, and then work to rise out of the whole group of people that were chosen at the time of auditions. One important thing that was pointed out was that regardless of how similar the shows were, millions of people would still tune in to watch the shows.
Upon talking about Stranger Things, the hosts discusses the second season, and gave their reviews and critiques of it. It seems that Stranger Things appeals to a lot of audiences. It seems to appeal to those in the older generation, maybe due to the retro atmosphere of the show, and also because the attitudes and activities that the kids portray seem to be relatable, and fun to watch.
3. Pop Culture Happy Hour: “The 2018 Grammys”
The hosts of Pop Culture Happy Hour, Stephen Thompson and Linda Holmes, take on the Grammys! They discuss the big night full of wins (some that they felt should have belonged to other artists), unforgettable performances, and get some insight from those Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden from NPR Music.
The Grammys is one of the most watched award shows on television. Usually anything that has to do with music, especially mainstream music, is going to get a lot of attention. This year, no doubt, a lot of people I know were tuned into the Grammys, sitting at the edge of their seats upon waiting on who would win the most notable awards, like Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. There seems to be an ongoing pattern where a lot of people feel that the Grammys awarded to certain artists aren’t done rightfully so. People often predict that a certain artist will win, and then it goes to someone else, who is almost always usually unconsidered by the audience.
One of the best examples of that was the Best New Artist category. There’s usually 5 artists that become relevant throughout the year, and are chosen to be nominated. This year, the nominees for Best New Artist were SZA, Khalid, Alessia Cara, Lil Uzi Vert, and Julia Michaels. A lot of people believed that SZA should have won Best New Artist. In 2017, she released a pretty groundbreaking project called Ctrl (Control). Guest host Sidney Madden makes a statement in the podcast, commenting on her belief that SZA had addressed various topics on the album, often unspoken of, as well as having the genre change up throughout, and setting a new standard for upcoming R&B artists, as well as establishing what it means to be a woman within the genre. But, the award was given to Alessia Cara. Not to mention, SZA was nominated for 5 different awards in different categories and lost every single one.
Another one was the award for Album of the Year. The nominees were Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.”, Lorde’s “Melodrama”, Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic”, Jay-Z’s “4:44”, and Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!”. Stephen Thompson makes a comment on how Bruno Mars won this category. He states how displeased he was with the result, regarding the fact that it won over Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” Rodney Carmichael also made a statement on how the album didn’t really fit the climate of the country, even considering the fact that Bruno is an exceptional artist. Most people felt that “DAMN.” would have probably been a better, and more fitting candidate for the category, or Jay-Z’s “4:44.” Carmichael also made a comment on how Hip-Hop albums often do not win the award title for “Album of the Year”. Could it possibly be because of the fact that they often address serious issues in the country, like racism and injustices that involve it?
In addition to these wins, there were some attention grabbing performances. Ke$ha had a very memorable one, where she performed her single “Praying” that was released last year. She had a large group of women, with some singers like Camilla Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, and Andra Day, singing along with her. It was a musical representation of the #MeToo movement, which resonated with a lot of people, and proved to be a pretty powerful performance.