Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

All Things Reconsidered

Wednesday, December 10 2014

Weapons of Bass Destruction: Mondo Marcio’s ‘Musica da Serial Killer’

Italian rapper Mondo Marcio turns the bass on Musica da Serial Killer into a weaponized element. Never before have the sensations of death, dread and groove been so synonymous in music.


Wednesday, November 12 2014

A Few Codes of the Western Protagonist

The “true” codes of the Western hero, as borne out in an excavation of the subtleties in major films of the canon, are really more perverse than moral, more calculating than artless.


Monday, October 20 2014

Waiting for the Rails to Rumble: The Cycles of Rock Music

The romantic sentiment that rock was better in the past and has, as they say, given up the ghost, is a charming but misguided notion.


Tuesday, September 16 2014

An Artist Capable of Making Something Magnetic: Matt Johnson on Jeff Buckley

Drummer Matt Johnson shares his reflections 20 years later on working with Jeff Buckley and recording what turned out to be a masterpiece, 1994's Grace.


Monday, September 15 2014

The Road to ‘Grace’: How Jeff Buckley’s Debut Album Remains Timeless 20 Years Later

Drawing from 20 years worth of reviews and books, in addition to new interviews with those involved in Jeff Buckley's music, David Chiu looks back on Grace, which two decades later remains just as impactful.


Thursday, August 21 2014

‘I’m Not a Teacher, But I Play One in the Movies’: The Movie Teacher Myths

Movies create iconic, mythical teacher figures who, in two or so hours, do both more harm and more good than any actual human could achieve in a lifetime.


Tuesday, August 19 2014

The Blissful Simplicity of Indie Rock

The goal of indie rock is to make something real, even at the expense of decades of music tradition.


Thursday, August 14 2014

Bruce Cockburn’s 1968: Electrocution to Revolution

Being in the orbit of a group of eccentric artists helped to create a transformative year for Cockburn that would further his path toward becoming a world renowned solo artist.


Tuesday, August 5 2014

Seasick, But Still Floating: Blur and ‘The Great Escape’

Blur's masterpiece The Great Escape examines the costs—for young lovers or pop stars—of trusting in stasis.


Monday, July 28 2014

The 18 Ways of Beginning and Ending an Album

Whether by chance or by careful planning, there is an observable pattern to intros and outros in albums. PopMatters breaks down 18 of them.


Friday, July 25 2014

Just Hate Nostalgia: Revisiting the Misanthropic Genius of Luke Haines

The Auteurs transcend the music of their time and place and subvert the notion of Britpop, Britishness, and the whole darkness of humanity.


Wednesday, June 25 2014

The Anti-War Panels: Underground Comix and Vietnam

Although some comix generally avoided the topic, many artists and writers signaled their opposition to the Vietnam War in creative and daring ways.


Monday, June 23 2014

Optical Illusions: The Problem with OK Go’s Accidental Legacy

They started out with great songs. Then they made amazing music videos. Now, their songs serve as soundtracks to viral meme-fodder and little else.


Tuesday, June 3 2014

Ordinary Magic: Suzanne Vega’s ‘Days of Open Hand’

If Days of Open Hand is an album of dreams, then there's surely the awareness of awakening, a consciousness hovering outside of the songs that is longing to be identified.


Monday, June 2 2014

Spindizzy Jangle: The Reivers’ “In Your Eyes”

Over 25 years after its release, the band and the video’s director reflect back on a song full of promise.


Wednesday, March 19 2014

Rich People Have Problems Too: Teenage Angst in ‘Sixteen Candles’

A film like Sixteen Candles suggests that wealthy teenagers are not immune to life’s harsh caprice, and that no amount of affluence can cure high school’s sense of alienation and anxiety


Monday, March 3 2014

The Slow Samba Escapism of Michael Franks’ “Tiger in the Rain”

There’s something to be said for escapism, for the armchair-travelling Michael Franks’ music offers.


Monday, November 18 2013

Like the Man Says, When the Face Got Revealed, Game Got Real

Ghostface Killah rose through the ranks of Wu-Tang Clan, paid his dues, and deserves his rightful place as the savior of the Wu-Tang regime.


Monday, October 28 2013

Celebrate: Fields of the Nephilim’s ‘The Nephilim’ at 25

Celebrating its silver anniversary,The Nephilim is one of the UK goth scene's masterpieces, a seamless, hour-long trek into a surreal land populated by chiming guitars, hypnotic bass, found samples, and occult themes.


Wednesday, July 17 2013

Confronting Ang Lee’s “Hulk”

One year on from the phenomenal success of Joss Whedon's The Avengers isn't it time to reconsider his most unlikely Avenger, the Hulk? Particularly the lavish treatment offered the Hulk in auteur Ang Lee's 2008 outing The Incredible Hulk.


Sunday, June 9 2013

When the Music’s Over: Oliver Stone’s Tribute to Excess and the God of Rock

"There are things known. There are things unknown. And in between are the Doors."


Wednesday, June 5 2013

A Tragedy Requires a Little Greatness to Begin With: Harvey Danger’s Unsung Masterpiece

In 1998, Seattle rock group Harvey Danger had a hit song with "Flagpole Sitta", a hyper-literate alt-rock dissection of the stupidity of the modern age. They were written off as one-hit-wonders. Two years later, they released one of the best albums of the decade. No, really.


Tuesday, May 21 2013

Have Fun: A Tribute to Diana Ross, Nile Rodgers, and the CHIC Groove of ‘diana’ (Parts 7-9)

While Broadway gets Motown and Daft Punk gets lucky, more than 25 artists and producers explore why Diana Ross and Nile Rodgers still turn us "inside out".


Monday, May 20 2013

Have Fun: A Tribute to Diana Ross, Nile Rodgers, and the CHIC Groove of ‘diana’ (Parts 5-6)

While Broadway gets Motown and Daft Punk gets lucky, more than 25 artists and producers explore why Diana Ross and Nile Rodgers still turn us "inside out". Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of the chapters in this story.


Sunday, May 19 2013

Have Fun: A Tribute to Diana Ross, Nile Rodgers, and the CHIC Groove of ‘diana’ (Parts 1-4)

While Broadway gets Motown and Daft Punk gets lucky, more than 25 artists and producers explore why Diana Ross and Nile Rodgers still turn us "inside out". Stay tuned tomorrow and Wednesday for the rest of the chapters in this story.


Tuesday, May 14 2013

In Defense Of… The Greatness of the Gatsby

Kathryn Schulz’s failure to appreciate F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterwork, as professed on Vulture.com, is a contemporary case study for how not to assess literature.


Wednesday, May 1 2013

Hey, Old Sport, (Again): Hollywood and ‘The Great Gatsby’

Here comes another adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Why should this one succeed where its predecessors have failed?


Tuesday, March 12 2013

Looking Back (and Forward) on Jethro Tull’s ‘Thick As a Brick’

Groundbreaking in its form, length, packaging, lyrics, and concept, the work remains one of the most significant and beloved albums of its genre 40 years onward.


Tuesday, May 29 2012

“Different Rules Apply”: On Pure Filmmaking and ‘After Hours’

Martin Scorsese's singular, absurdist comic nightmare from 1985 demands a second (and third) look.


Thursday, February 16 2012

Love, Death and Bananas: The Early Woody Allen

Woody Allen's early career is a window into his development both as a filmmaker and as an artist. Rarely are an early filmmaker's works so rewarding, where even the most lighthearted farces can be poignant and brilliant, even for a moment.


Wednesday, January 4 2012

Howard the Duck: Trapped in a World He Did Not Make

Howard smokes cigars, uses profanity, indulges in pornography, and drinks. Despite his downfalls, Howard is not a villain by any definition of the word. If anything, these imperfections make him more human than any of his Hollywood alien peers.


Monday, December 5 2011

The Beauty and the Horror: Peter Jackson’s King Kong - Part 2

Jackson's film is as unwieldy and difficult as it is gripping and moving, expanding upon the exotic spectacle of the original while simultaneously steering the tale into the realm of tragic lament.


Wednesday, November 30 2011

The Beauty and the Horror: Peter Jackson’s King Kong - Part 1

This film is keenly aware of the myriad meanings embedded in its cinematic myth and sets about re-contextualizing and commenting upon the implied politics while offering extravagant thrills and tragic, classic romance.


Tuesday, November 29 2011

Money, Sex, and Power: Contemporary Adaptations in John Guillermin’s King Kong

The 1976 King Kong updates this modern myth’s meanings for a vastly different social, economic, and cultural milieu, but it does so with a leaden obviousness that undermines its conclusions.


Monday, November 28 2011

The Past Is Calling: Reconsidering The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’

Everything Pete Townshend did up until 1973 set the stage for Quadrophenia. It’s all in there: the pre-teen angst, the teenage agonies and the post-teen despondency.


Sunday, November 27 2011

From Spectacle to Elegy: The Cinematic Myth of King Kong

Like many of the Hollywood blockbusters that followed in its footsteps, King Kong was a barometer for its troubled times, a clear crystallization of many lurking social anxieties in Depression-era America.


Thursday, November 10 2011

Why Not Pink Floyd?

Pink Floyd is perhaps the first truly underground band that cultivated a sound that was too remarkable to remain obscure. They willed themselves to be huge, and their influence is undiminished today.


Sunday, October 23 2011

Drag the Dream Into Existence: Reassessing Rush’s Masterpiece

Moving Pictures is, without any question, not only Rush’s masterpiece, but one of those rare albums that epitomizes an era. It's a template of sorts for the way rock albums were made in the early '80s.


Tuesday, October 18 2011

True to the Game: Ice Cube’s ‘Death Certificate’

It was during the period between the Rodney King beating and subsequent court verdict that Ice Cube cut Death Certificate, a chilling glimpse into the anger and frustration South Central Angelinos were feeling.


Monday, October 17 2011

‘Screamadelica’ and the Altered State

In the context of Primal Scream's prior and subsequent career, Screamadelica is a miracle.


Friday, October 14 2011

The Album That Changed Everything: Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’

Even now with all our understanding and acceptance of genre-mashing, Massive Attack’s opening salvo remains as bold and eclectic, as utterly assured a musical message as it was upon release.


Wednesday, October 12 2011

“Something in the Way”: ‘Loveless’ and the Un-Invention of Cock Rock

My Bloody Valentine's Loveless stands as an album of (at least) equal importance to Nirvana's Nevermind, garnering a great deal of its importance for the way that it offers a gender-bending sonic style that severed the entrenched connections between the electric guitar and masculine phallic power.


Tuesday, October 11 2011

It’s All Right, It’s All Right, Alllllll Right: U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’

Pretty much everyone under the age of 35 views U2 as a bunch of overzealous assholes, but this 25-year-old can't help but still blast the group's 1991 masterpiece.


Monday, October 10 2011

An Album Found in a Trashcan: De La Soul Is Dead

Listening to De La Soul Is Dead means immersing oneself inside a funny but terrifying universe, where brutality and self-destruction exist side by side with smart-ass jokes and sex talk and good music.


Wednesday, October 5 2011

R.E.M’s ‘Out of Time’ Over Time

On Out of Time, R.E.M. wasn't too big to be cool -- yet.


Tuesday, October 4 2011

Exquisite Corpse: Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Use Your Illusion I and II’

If there was a gravestone for MTV-style '80s metal, it would probably be Guns N' Roses' 1991 opus Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.


Monday, September 26 2011

Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’, 20 Years On

Released alongside Nirvana’s Nevermind, the importance of Pearl Jam's Ten has been somewhat overshadowed by that record. Here is a young band, barely together for a year, yet confident enough in it style and aware of its strengths to release a cohesive debut album that would serve as a fine indicator of its potential.


Thursday, September 22 2011

Miles Davis: LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

This essential box set from Davis's second quintet, represent the last purely jazz sounds we get from Miles, his final statement on the music he grew up on and would soon outgrow.


Sunday, September 11 2011

The Strokes’ ‘Is This It’ Ten Years Later

After 9/11, the Strokes offered rock escapism, three minutes at a time and they were not just a rock band, they were a New York rock band.


Monday, August 29 2011

The True Call of Slacker: 20 Years Later

Richard Linklater's Slacker commemorates its anniversary and finds an audience outside of twenty-somethings.


Tuesday, June 21 2011

To Be Or Not to Be Isn’t the Only Question: The Nature of Being in ‘Synecdoche, New York’

By desperately trying to create an authentic piece of art, Caden Cotard, the central character in Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York, ends up dooming himself to live what Heidegger calls an inauthentic life.


Thursday, May 19 2011

When Greed Is Good

The economic system has only one purpose, which is to create wealth. In the market’s language, this is the only “good". If evil exists, then it must be loss, which is the opposite of the good. For Gordon Gekko, this is the only morality which exists.


Thursday, May 12 2011

Unity: Bob Marley’s Legacy and the Global Uprising

On the 30th anniversary of his death, has Bob Marley's activist legacy been overshadowed by a manufactured Legend?


Monday, February 14 2011

Defending The Trick of Disaster: Neil Young’s ‘Trans’, Reconsidered

Nearly 30 years later, Trans remains the most baffling, bizarre, and misunderstood project in Neil Young’s oeuvre. Here’s why it’s great.


Wednesday, February 9 2011

Spiderland: The Experience of Sleep

In an uncanny way, Spiderland expresses our experience of sleep and musically contains all of its characteristics as noted by sleep researchers, moving from the uplifting and bizarre logic of dreams through to the possible psychosis that sleep resembles, while on the way touching on its sensory and restorative aspects.


Sunday, November 7 2010

Offensive to Muslims? Give Me a Break.

I didn't have much faith in something as colorful, fun and, yes, decidedly feminine as Sex and the City to begin with, and the reviews stubbed out any remaining hope I had for this movie. Not only was it purported to be bad, but it was also deemed unacceptably offensive to Muslims. How could they all be wrong?


Thursday, February 25 2010

J.D. Salinger and Jethro Tull: The Coming of Age Story Soundtrack

I’m not certain if it says more about J.D. Salinger, Jethro Tull or me, that when I think of the ultimate coming-of-age treatise from the trenches, it’s not a novel but a trio of albums.


Sunday, February 21 2010

Return to Piano Island: The Blood Brothers, Revisited

Emerging from the West Coast punk scene in the late '90s, the Blood Brothers helped redefine hardcore before abandoning the genre in favor of a damaged brand of art pop all their own.


Tuesday, October 20 2009

Magazine: The Correct Use of Soap

Magazine's The Correct Use of Soap is such a wayward, iconoclastic record, so willfully out of kilter with its own time, that its sound-world and emotional landscape remain unique in pop.


Wednesday, September 30 2009

Hey Buddy, Got a Spare Time Machine? Ask Pepe Deluxé

The day will come when Spare Time Machine is revered as the masterpiece it is by the crowd it deserves. Luckily, Tomi Paajaanen and James Spectrum have this happy pill to keep them sane until that day arrives.


Thursday, September 17 2009

No Sympathy for the Devil

Over time, "Sympathy for the Devil" has been treated with huge fanfare and has become the common denominator fan favorite, but in actuality "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" gets to the core of what the Rolling Stones were.


Monday, September 14 2009

In Circles: Sunny Day Real Estate Reconsidered

In anticipation of a reunion tour, the two albums produced by the original Sunny Day Real Estate lineup get remastered and repackaged with extra tracks and expanded liner notes. They are ripe for revisiting.


Wednesday, July 8 2009

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um 50th Anniversary (Legacy Edition)

Mingus Ah Um sounds like the 20th Century: it is a self-portrait of a man who helped define the direction of post-bop jazz, commenting on the country that created him.


Tuesday, May 26 2009

Remembering the Orphan: Final Fantasy VIII

Warts and all, the ambitious push to expand video game storytelling found in Final Fantasy VIII deserves a closer look at this too-often neglected franchise entry.


Tuesday, May 5 2009

Who Needs an Oscar Anyway?: Mickey Rourke’s Homeboy

Dismissed as too depressing in 1988, Mickey Rourke's self-penned turn in Homeboy brings an aura of sorrow more nuanced and poetic than that of his celebrated performance in The Wrestler.


Sunday, March 15 2009

Jigsaw Falling Into Place: Revisiting Radiohead’s ‘90s Output

With deluxe reissues of Radiohead's first three albums in stores next week, PopMatters takes a look back at Pablo Honey, The Bends and Ok Computer.


Thursday, February 26 2009

It Starts with an Earthquake: R.E.M.‘s Monster

I have spent half my life being an R.E.M. fan, and I’ve consumed just about every album in their catalogue. So, at this point, I feel confident saying that Monster is unfairly maligned, and truly stands as one of their best.


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