Music

Danny Brown - "Ain't It Funny" (Singles Going Steady)

Boy, this video starts out like a lark, and then 17 or so dark left turns later we're left contemplating both the nature of entertainment and our all-too-fragile mortality.

Andrew Paschal: The second season of Mr. Robot featured a scene similar to the "Ain't It Funny" music video, with the characters locked in a twisted black comedy version of an old-school sitcom. Both clips vacillate between funny-creepy and actual creepy, using humor while also inverting and dissecting that humor. Danny Brown is excellent as always about highlighting substance abuse as the mental health problem it is while pointing out the way artists are in some ways encouraged to self-destruct for public entertainment. [8/10]

Paul Carr: Danny Brown loops the loop of lunacy on this choice cut from last year’s Atrocity Exhibition album. His unhinged, rapid-fire rapping is perfectly framed by rough and bumpy beats featuring slashes of piercing, distorted brass. It comes across as the paranoid ravings of someone who has spent far too long inside covering his furniture in tin-foil. However, the sound is so intense, and the lyrics are spat so persuasively that before long you’re happy to pop your cell phone in the fridge and join him. After all, too much sanity is madness anyway. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Manic energy meets bitter irony in Danny Brown’s and Jonah Hill’s video for Brown’s “Ain’t It Funny”, a darkly dizzying track about hard drug abuse. It’s a genius take on the subject, with Brown at a perfectly uncomfortable level of hyperactivity and a video that takes the hokey, cheerful look of a retro sitcom and covers it with anguish and gore. It’s a well-crafted statement that packs a horrifying punch and might be the most emotionally wrenching a couple of giant foam prescription drug bottles have ever been. Sharp and bleak, with a gripping beat. [9/10]

Steve Horowitz: This is a seriously funny video that illustrates the point of the rap. Listening to lyrics about overindulging and addiction has become a staple of popular music and has been for decades. It's not unusual to witness a performer croon about his or her problems to an audience who laughs in response. This takes on the issue head on. But of course, it does not and cannot provide an answer. If humor is watching someone slip on a banana peel, no one thinks about the trip to the emergency room and the physical therapy that follows. Brown's lyrics and acting do a great job of reminding the audience that one person's comedy is another one's tragedy. His words make this clear, and his lesson is a worth noting. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: An all-out, more-is-more affair from Brown, using overloaded synths and rapid-fire rhymes to create a sense of chaos and confusion. The Jonah Hill-directed video is a fun dig at sitcom culture, and Brown is obviously having a blast. Not much subtlety here, which is probably the point. [7/10]

Mike Schiller: Boy, this video starts out like a lark, and then 17 or so dark left turns later we're left contemplating both the nature of entertainment and our all-too-fragile mortality. We get there by way of a typically frenetic Danny Brown rap from last year's difficult-listening masterpiece Atrocity Exhibition, where it's made obvious that what Brown is ranting about here is clearly not funny at all. Director Jonah Hill's sitcom setup is appropriate and disconcerting, at points both obvious (animate drug containers that eventually kill Brown) and subtle (few of the subtitles match the lip-readings), and the song, as quick as it happens, leaves quite a mark. [8/10]

Scott Zuppardo: One of the darkest semi-star-studded videos I've ever seen. Chaotic production like when the anvil falls on Looney Tunes cartoons, Brown's bars are loaded, and Jonah Hill is a slick director. Who knew Xanax bars carried blades?!? [8/10]

SCORE: 8.14


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Culture

Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.

Music

Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".

Music

Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.

Music

Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.

Music

The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.

Music

Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.

Books

For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?

Music

Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

Music

Becky Warren Shares "Good Luck" and Discusses Music and Depression (premiere + interview)

Becky Warren finds slivers of humor while addressing depression for the third time in as many solo concept albums, but now the daring artist is turning the focus on herself in a fight against a frightful foe.

Music

Fleet Foxes Take a Trip to the 'Shore'

On Shore, Fleet Foxes consist mostly of founding member Robin Pecknold. Recording with a band in the age of COVID-19 can be difficult. It was just time to make this record this way.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.