This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- Our very own gay Carrie Bradshaw.
- The new Beyoncé song that everyone should listen to.
- Can’t get over this one news item from the week.
- A first-hand account on why Marvel sucks.
- Ben Affleck, always nailing it.
The Best Song on Beyoncé’s New Album
I cannot wait to listen to Beyoncé’s new album as it was intended to be experienced—on a dance floor at a club, surrounded by revelers.
Let’s be real about it: I will not be at any club this weekend. I will be playing Renaissance at a respectable volume from my Spotify-with-ads account, while doing some shoulder-dancing in the kitchen as I wash some dishes.
But the glory of Renaissance, which Allegra Frank correctly praised in her Daily Beast review as an ode to queer dance-floor anthems and the Ballroom scene of the ’80s, is that it’s the first piece of music in a long time to make me at least consider doing something wild like “leaving my apartment”—and that is huge. Beyoncé really said, “Don’t worry about monkeypox, my children. I got you.” Perhaps Renaissance has musical inoculation powers.
I would like to personally thank Beyoncé for giving us a reason to feel alive this summer with this album. I would like to thank her for keeping said album to a tight hour-long running time, because nobody has time for anything longer than that in this climate. And I would like to especially thank her for “Alien Superstar,” the standout track from the album, and the song that, if we had any taste at all, should skyrocket into a massive hit and be our collective obsession for the year.
Like most of Renaissance, the remarkable thing about “Alien Superstar” is how it manages to sound both unshakably familiar, like it had already been the soundtrack of some formative moment of joy you’ve experienced in your life, and completely fresh and game-changing. It’s the kind of song that can make you feel like you’re a different person when you’re listening to it—someone who might even be a little more fun and fabulous.
The moment it launches with its pulsing clanks and thumps, your body starts to reflexively convulse. Whatever the musical equivalent is of a vocal strut, Beyoncé works her spoken-word verse like a runway, spitting through lines about how she’s the baddest bitch in the room, and no one else compares. Your spirit starts to catch fire until something new and unfamiliar starts to waft off of you like smoke. Is it—could it be—self-confidence? Dare you feel a little bit of arrogance, some deserved ego? Might you even be tempted to demand attention on a dance floor? Could you even be feeling yourself?
“Alien Superstar” is tailor-made for a Ballroom battle, and I can only imagine how poignant and invigorating it would be to watch. But it’s also a fantastic blend of unabashedly queer and irresistibly accessible.
Yes, I want to hear this at a gay club. I also want to hear it while I’m walking down the aisle at CVS. It’s the kind of song that deserves to be an event, a celebration anthem. But it’s a lifestyle. I think that’s what the ethos of this song is. We’re all “U-N-I-Q-U-E,” but we’re no longer looking at that as a reason to be exclusionary. Bring on the alien superstar invasion. We’ve been here all along. We just needed Beyoncé to beam the spirit out of us.
This Is Total Bullshit
In times like these, I’m reminded of the night I put my decorative Golden Girls party plate in the microwave and it caught on fire. It was stressful. I thought my life was on the line. It was, literally, flamingly gay. There was intense, unmooring trauma, and then life moved on.
I’m worried that this is how I, and perhaps a collective “we,” have resigned to feel as we weather certain other, flamingly gay traumas that are in the news—we whip up a righteous frenzy on social media, but then kind of move on. I thought about this following the news this week that Republican congressman Glenn Thompson voted against codifying same-sex marriage into law, and then three days later attended his gay son’s wedding.
It was an attention-grabbing example of the hypocrisy and complacency that surrounds what increasingly resembles an inevitable threat: the stripping back of rights, and our willingness to be OK with that.
No one wants a person whose job is to write 1,200-word pieces about a funny scene from The Real Housewives to start preaching about politics, and I won’t—except for the fact that my existence and desire to be open about it is still political. That there are debates and concerns about rolling back legal protections for the LGBT community is horseshit. We shouldn’t assume that everything’s going to be fine. What have these last years taught us, if not that things unequivocally are not going to be fine?
Another Reason to Think Marvel Sucks
When critics complain about the Marvel takeover of pop culture, the fact that, overwhelmingly, this is the only content people watch and care about, they’re called elitist, pretentious, or out of touch. Mostly, they’re considered spoilsports. These are things that people love and give them joy. Why try to ruin the fun?
That’s why I’m such a fan of the article that ran on Vulture this week: “I’m a VFX Artist, and I’m Tired of Getting ‘Pixel-F–ked’ by Marvel.”
The piece gives incredible insight into what’s always been one of the most frustrating things about Marvel: These are projects that rely on special effects to an exhausting degree, especially since, so often, the effects are just plain ugly. It turns out that’s because, as the person in the article alleges, the studio treats its special-effects team like garbage, with ridiculous expectations and little resources. Again, a weird position to take when your movies are 99.9-percent special effects!
It’s a fascinating read.
This Is the Summer Vibe
Ben Affleck, forever serving the exact right vibe. Look at him napping in that chair. He is the moment.
What to watch this week:
Sharp Stick: Lena Dunham’s latest exploration of sexual coming-of-age is messy and unflinching in all the right ways. (Fri. in theaters)
Uncoupled: Scratches every Emily in Paris/Sex and the City itch. (Fri. on Netflix)
Resurrection: Rebecca Hall never misses. Pay her some respect. (Fri. in theaters)
Industry: This was last year’s “cool people are talking about this show but you’ve never seen it” series. Time to fix that! (Mon. on HBO)
What to skip this week:
Surface: As always, Gugu Mbatha-Raw deserves better. (Fri. on Apple TV+)
DC League of Super-Pets: Even for a kids’ movie/commercial cash grab, this one is surprisingly cynical. (Fri. in theaters)
The Daily Beast’s Obsessed
Everything we can’t stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.