Music

Eminem - "Phenomenal" (Singles Going Steady)

For some reason it's reassuring that horrifyingly expensive, indulgent videos are not just the preserve of the fancy young starlets.

Dustin Ragucos: The repeated "phenomenal" and that random bit of singing right after Randall Park asks whether Eminem knows how to drive the car make the song feel like it's a parody of a tame track by the rapper. It's a song from a soundtrack (Southpaw), yes, but there's nothing very special about "Phenomenal". Enjoy the video for all its novelty. That John Malkovich part already has a room in my heart. [5/10]

Paul Duffus: For some reason it's reassuring that horrifyingly expensive, indulgent videos are not just the preserve of the fancy young starlets. Forty-plus year old rappers from ye olde '00s can get in on the act too. It's nice to know that there's no age discrimination in the music industry when it comes to the activity of throwing bundles of money into a wood-chipper, which is what "Phenomenal"'s utterly baffling video amounts to. Apologies for the obviousness, but as John Malkovich who makes a cameo in this seven-minute space-out epic says, the whole thing is "impressive, impressive but pointless".

I'll always like Eminem. At his best, predictably the The Marshall Mathers LP, he created art that not only hit certain cultural buttons of the time but will likely endure the ages. "Phenomenal" is another "Eye of the Tiger"-type of up-and-at-'em rallying cry and it is also from a movie soundtrack, but it's no "Lose Yourself". Woozy beats, a decent hook, ok rhymes. It's good, but we know he's capable of great. [7/10]

Evan Sawdey: Once Stephen Colbert kept pronouncing it as "phenomenaw" in his Only in Monroe interview with the rapper, the song lost all dramatic pretenses, which is fine, 'cos it was struggling like a tenderfooted featherweight to begin with. [3/10]

John Garratt: If I woke up in a dystopian hospital only to realize that I was Eminem, I too would be in a violent mood. And to think -- once upon a time people praised this guy's knack for coupling together odd rhyming schemes. He also provoked his share of controversy. All we're left with are some reheated Matrix clichés. I'm off to my cryogenic freeze appointment; wake me when this shit finally gets old. [4/10]

Kevin Korber: You’re not phenomenal, Em. You’re boring and repeating yourself, and no guest star-laden, “cinematic” music video could ever make your weak shit sound fresh again. Let it go, dude. [3/10]

Timothy Gabriele: This video must be how investment banker or mass shooter sees themselves, just constantly pacing their way through a series of competitors and arbitrary villains in their path, thyself the center of the known universe. As Raylan Givens once said, “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” But nevertheless, Mr. Mathers has included enough self-help pap to assist his fellow narcissists through any potential crisis of confidence; “Nothing’s gonna stick until you apply yourself”, “you gotta give more than you get”, “I’m feeling myself”, “I am a giant”, and, as the song constantly reminds us “I am phenomenal”. Sheesh, maybe he should just stop making John Malkovich slum it in shit like this and go coach a high school lacrosse team already. [2/10]

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.

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Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

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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.

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Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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