Over/Underrated 2013: Part Four

4 Jan

Overrated

Twerking

–Brook (@brooklynhofstad)

The Oxford English Dictionary announced “selfie” as the word of 2013. However, another popular word form 2013 got honorable mention: twerk. For those living under the proverbial rock and have no idea what “twerking” is, allow me to explain. Twerking is a type of dance, considered sexually provocative by some, in which one assumes a semi-squatting position, and thrusts his/her hips.

What most people don’t know is that twerking isn’t new. Some say the term was coined as early as 1993 by DJ Jubilee in a song called “Do the Jubilee All.”

So why is a word that’s been around for twenty years just making its way onto everyone’s radar now?

To say Miley Cyrus had nothing to do with it wouldn’t be right. After her performance at the VMAs, twerking was all anyone could talk about for days. She definitely played a role in its explosion in mainstream pop culture. Yet giving her all the credit isn’t right either, since twerking has its roots in the 1980s New Orleans bounce dance scene.

And we should not forget that Beyonce was twerking when Miley was still Hannah Montana. Some say Beyonce helped make it popular with the video for her 2003 single, “Crazy in Love,” and lyrics in her 2006 song, “Check On It,” mention twerking.

Regardless of origin, it seems twerking is to millennials what the Charleston was to flappers, and the Mashed Potato was to baby boomers–a dance that seems sexy and seductive at the time, but in 30 years will probably seem quaint.

Twerking is inescapable. Jimmy Kimmel even did a spoof of twerking where a girl started on fire, and Glee devoted an entire episode to the dance.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a pop culture fanatic, it’s that mainstream success is often the kiss of death, especially with hipsters hellbent on staying ahead of trends.

I hate to break it to you, but twerking is so last year.

Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus

Underrated

Matt Nathanson

— Andrea (@prettyandink)

Matt Nathanson is hardly a figure new to the music scene. With ten full-length albums, Nathanson has been blessing eardrums everywhere with his poetic lyrics and soulful voice for over a decade. So how is it, then, that it seems like I’m the only one who knows what a gift he is to music? It’s an atrocity that I hope to help rectify tonight.

Nathanson’s newest album Last of the Great Pretenders was released on July 16, 2013 and debuted at number 16 on the Billboard Top 200. He was even featured on VH1’s You Oughta Know Concert alongside artists like Lorde and Ed Sheeran. Despite being one of the best albums (imo) of 2013, Pretenders has not garnered nearly half the acclaim it deserves. While more original and honest in content than the “big name” albums of 2013, it’s artists like Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Lady GaGa that continue to overshadow the unique artistry that Nathanson brings to the table. While they’re busy pumping out generic nightclub staples and self-empowerment anthems, Nathanson is busy penning inventive tunes with smart and clever lyrics that mention San Francisco, “Auld Lang Syne”, the Kinks, the New York Times and Alfred Hitchcock. Just to name a few.

As if his music weren’t enough to make you love him, his ability to connect with fans on a personal level is something every publicist ever should be trying to unlock the secrets of. His heart is a candidly open book that he invites you to read at your leisure through his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Even more impressive than his refreshing candor is the fact that his social media interactions are not one-sided; if you write him a comment on Twitter there’s a fair chance that he’ll respond to it. Furthermore, to see him in concert is much more than a live viewing of someone singing songs. It is an experience rich with storytelling, an extensive back-and-forth with audience members, and selfies. Lots and lots of selfies. Plus did I mention his hips? The man has moves.

I guess in a way I’m grateful that Nathanson has remained quietly under the pop culture radar. It’s meant smaller venues, more facetime, and less girls to have to elbow in the face while I try to push my way closer to the stage. But that’s just me being selfish. What I really wish is for Matt (as I affectionately call him in my head) to have every success in the world so he can keep writing music to shake those hips to. Yes World, I’m that selfless. You’re welcome.

Matt-Nathanson

Off the Mark

Dexter

–Brook

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

For Christmas a year ago, I got five seasons of Dexter on DVD. In two weeks I tore through all of them. I went through the days in a zombie-like trance, annoyed by anything that took me away from the TV, including my job. I was obsessed, counting down the hours until I could watch the next episode.

When I finished the five that were gifted to me, I borrowed season six from a friend. By the time I finished it, it was barely mid-January, and I had a long, painful wait for summer and season seven.

I knew shortly after I started the series that season 8 would be the final season, but in the midst of the Ice Truck Killer drama and Doakes’ “Surprise Motherfucker!”s, I was praying for Showtime to give us more.

In yesterday’s post, I compared Breaking Bad to Dexter, and I’m going to do it again. Throughout Dexter, the title character is always in control of his urge to kill people. He never fully gives himself over to his “dark passenger,” and the show suffered for it. Despite his murderous extra-curricular activities, Dexter is forever the good guy.

On the other hand, the viewer knows pretty early on that Walter White is not a good guy. He’s not even a bad guy trying to be good. Vince Gilligan and his team were not afraid to explore the darkness of the character, and therein lies the major difference between the two dramas.

In a vacuum, Dexter could be considered a great drama, even with all the problematic plot elements (yes, all of them). But in comparison to Breaking Bad, Scott Buck’s drama of vigilante justice plays out like amateur hour. What’s even more tragic about the whole thing is that their final seasons happened almost simultaneously.

Obviously there are high points in every single season of Dexter, (and since Andrea hasn’t finished this one either, I can’t unveil too many plot twists) but the high point of the series was by far season four. A recent post by Entertainment Weekly even ranked Rita’s death at the hands of Arthur Mitchell as the most shocking on TV.

But for every peak is a valley, and ever since the Trinity Killer wreaked havoc in Miami, the show sadly ran on creative fumes. And despite my wanting more, season 8 proved beyond a doubt the show had long ago worn out its welcome. I had such high hopes that season 8 would right the ship, but I was wrong, and what could’ve been one of the best dramas will likely be remembered as a laughing stock.

Dexter

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