The Month in Pop Entertainment: July 2013

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013)

Blockbusters, summer TV, and a lot of music prove that there's more fun to be had in July than just the 4th.

July is a big month in the music world, as so many major releases are hitting the shelves that discussing them warrants a separate PopMatters article. See: Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for July 2013

But the next 31 days also feature some TV debuts, big box office hits, and America’s most patriotic holiday. So get comfortable. Open a cold one, and enjoy July's offerings.

Despicable Me 2 July 3rd

If you’ve been wondering why little yellow minions have been popping up in NBC advertisements and insurance commercials, it’s because they’re all back for more craziness in the sequel to the 2011 box office hit. The plot revolves around wannabe supervillain Gru and his three adopted daughters, but people will really be flocking to see what those adorable gibberish-spouting mutants will do next.

The Lone Ranger July 5th

Disney has spent millions of dollars making this update of the classic cowboy legend, featuring Armie Hammer as the masked man and Johnny Depp as his faithful friend, Tonto. Be prepared for racing horses, an epic train crash, and a woman with a shotgun for a leg.

Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail album July 7th

Hip-hop fans have been eagerly anticipating the 17th album from Mr. Beyonce himself, which has been promoted via Samsung commercials. Up to one million cellphone buyers will receive a free download three days before the national release date, but that won’t affect how Billboard places it on the charts.

Backstreet Boys In A World Like This album July 30th

It was 20 years ago last week when the Backstreet Boys officially got together as a group, but their voices haven’t aged a bit. On this release, the ultimate '90s boyband co-write songs about their personal lives and welcome back original member Kevin Richardson after an eight-year absence.

Robin Thicke Blurred Lines album July 30th

The star of the most annoying music video of the summer (No, it won’t be embedded here!) brings out more R&B-flavored catcalls on his sixth album. A deluxe edition featuring five extra songs will be available at Target stores.

RED 2 July 19th

Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Mary-Louise Parker are back as formerly retired secret agents who team up to defuse a nuclear weapon. The original was better than expected, and plans are already underway for a part three.

A Capitol Fourth (PBS) and Macy’s 4th Of July Fireworks Spectacular (NBC) July 4th

Only two major networks chose to celebrate Independence Day this year. Starting at 7pm Central, NBC will be featuring live performances from Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, and a fireworks display choreographed by Usher. PBS offers their formal event live from the nation’s capital at the same time, but reruns it later depending on your location. They will have performances from Barry Manilow, American Idols Candice Glover and Scotty McCreery, and John Williams scoring a piece from his Lincoln soundtrack.

NBC’s Siberia (July 1st, 9pm central) and Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls (July 8th, 9pm central)

NBC tries the wilderness survivor route with two new shows about facing the elements. In Siberia, 16 “reality show contestants” are dropped in the Siberian wilderness and told some startling information. Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls is a more traditional reality show, featuring the Discovery channel host as a mentor to twenty contestants roughing it in the wilds of New Zealand’s South Island.

Teen Beach Movie July 30th

Disney Channel’s homage to the Frankie & Annette movies of the '60s stars Austin & Aly’s Ross Lynch and The Foster’s Maia Mitchell as two teens who become trapped in a Beach Blanket Bingo-esque movie. On DVD two weeks after making its television debut, it’s shaping up to becoming the next High School Musical.

Mariah Carey The Art of Letting Go album July 23rd

Mimi has been riding high on the charts with her duet with Miguel, “Beautiful”, and her resulting album will feature more duets and collaborations with some of the biggest names in the business. Originally scheduled for release during her tenure as an American Idol judge, industry bigwigs will be keeping an eye out for whether the experience will help or hurt her sales.





Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.


Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.


Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.


2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.


Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez


Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.


"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.


The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.


Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

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