Music

Black Atlass - "Haunted Paradise" (Singles Going Steady)

"Haunted Paradise" is an unintentional treat, a delightful confection of idiocy, bad taste, and hubris. A classic of its kind.

Dustin Ragucos: It's a half and half with the Weeknd and Lana Del Rey, one where a droplet of Enrique Iglesias mixed its way into the concoction. All three artists are good in their merits. However, the combination in "Haunted Paradise" feels faux and forced. The vocals are, at their worst, grating, but not a nasally emo kind of grating. [4/10]

Paul Duffus: OK, some honesty: I laughed pretty hard at this, so much so in fact that I had to check that "Haunted Paradise" and its accompanying video aren't actually an intentional parody of classic and contemporary R&B cliches. But no, apparently this is real and unironic.

It's hysterical: the quavering voice, the overwrought delivery, the dry ice, the comical garb, a beach (there's a beach!). It's wonderful, reminiscent of a Samberg/Timberlake send-up. In fact maybe it's the ivory whiteness of Mr Atlass' get-up or the lack of self-consciousness on display in this horror show of naffness, but in tone it's also quite a lot like David Brent's video for his commercially ill-fated cover of "If You Don't Know Me By Now>.

Whether he's rolling around in dry ice or walking back and forth through dry ice, it's clear that BA is very… what? Sad? Angry? Horny? His solemn demeanor and sniveling voice indicate that he's definitely pretending to feel something. From the lyrics it's not certain what though. They're nonsense, a series of half-comical stock pop phrases, things like "I wanna feel that beat", "I don't wanna go home", and "You know I want forever". By the way don't forget to throw in the word "love" when a line doesn't quite fit. It was invented solely to solve problems of scansion.

The best couplet is probably: "Living in a haunted paradise / The weather's so warm in the sky at night". Why is that second line so bothersome? I mean, the weather is in the sky. It's down here too, but it's certainly up in the sky. How can you tell it's warm up there though? Maybe that's it. Or maybe I've just never really considered the precise altitude of weather before. Perhaps that's the sign of great poetry? It makes you re-evaluate things, rearranges your brain slightly. It's either the sign of poetry or that you've been inhaling air-freshener.

"Haunted Paradise" is an unintentional treat, a delightful confection of idiocy, bad taste, and hubris. A classic of its kind. [1/10]

Steve Horowitz: Going home is overrated unless one is living in dire circumstances. It’s not paradise. Black Atlass confuses real feeling with pain. Sure they can be the same, but they are not always equal. It’s not enough to reach out, like the man in the video, one needs to take risks. I don’t hear or see much of that here. [5/10]

John Garratt: Lord, does anyone have any Bombay Sapphire? I don't want to drink it, I just need to the bottle so I can administer my own concussion. If there's any silver lining to be had, it's that this guy had the good sense to misspell his stage name the way that he did. [1/10]

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

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