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

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.