Adele, Beyonce and … John Oliver?

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Sunday in what some officials said was an attempt to challenge Donald Trump’s policy towards the nation. Iran demonstrated its might on Friday in a dramatic parade to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s revolution and diplomatic break from the United States.

But none of that matters because …

QUEEN BEY.

Last night’s 59th Grammy Awards exhibited its usual glitz and glam as the nation’s most recognizable pop stars joined together to celebrate all the music that dominated radio waves in 2016. Plus Sturgill Simpson.

And while I’m increasingly convinced that Grammy officials choose nominees by getting drunk and googling “Top Musicians 2016,” I will admit that the show did provide a nice distraction from the usual doom and gloom news surrounding our current administration and the world’s response to it (see: first paragraph).

chance-the-rapper

Because the Grammys are so largely watched and even serve as many people’s refresher course to today’s music scene, it does fortunately provide some deserving artists with the necessary platform into national, if not global consciousness.

Artists like Chance the Rapper.

I’m admittedly ignorant towards hip-hop because it simply just doesn’t appeal to me, but Chance the Rapper won me over during his ESPYs tribute to Muhammad Ali last summer. I learned that, despite his stage name, Chance the Rapper is as much a singer as he is a rapper. But most of all, he is a lyricist.

Chance won two major Grammy Awards and showcased his abilities in an energetic, soulful show-capping performance. The average music listener knew who he was, but now everyone witnessed his talent.

Other than that, we watched Adele boldly stop her live tribute to George Michael to start over after a dysfunctional start.

Beyonce

We saw the members of Twenty One Pilots remove their pants before walking on stage to accept an award, and then share an endearing story about how they pledged years ago while watching the Grammys to go pants-less if they ever ended up winning anything.

We saw CBS severely overestimate the universality of the lyrics of “Sweet Caroline” in a Carpool Karaoke sketch that fell flat.

And we saw Beyonce do … something. While I like to think of myself as verbally creative and imaginative, I’m severely lacking an artistic gene, and thus any symbolism behind 21-pilotsBeyonce’s performance completely went over my head. But it was visually stimulating, and she sounded great.

So, in conclusion, Beyonce’s the queen, we’re all inferior, she probably should’ve won Album of the Year over Adele, and I’ll leave it at that.

At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that Adele and Taylor Swift will spend the next 20 years alternating who wins the most Grammy Awards annually. Next year, it’s all T-Swizzle.

But the evening couldn’t be completely devoid of politics. Around the same time the Grammys neared its end, HBO saw the welcome return of John Oliver and his brilliant show Last Week Tonight.

His segment, focusing on Donald Trump’s clear disconnect from reality, is a must-watch for any American. It’s been extremely evident to see how much Trump lies, but John Oliver has a way of condensing a topic to make it so bright-as-day that you can’t possibly deny it. It’s the 30-minute release that Trump opponents have been waiting for, and it’s objectively insightful.

I guess that means if Beyonce is the queen for music lovers, than John Oliver is the king for us political nerds?

My life clearly needs more excitement.

Perhaps I’ll go to work tomorrow pantsless, Twenty One Pilots style.

That’s it. I’ve decided. I’m doing it.

And by pantsless, I mean wearing corduroy pants and an argyle sweater.

Bad Boy 4 Life.

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2016: let the reflection begin

For the sake of future children everywhere, I hope that that the person who writes the authoritative textbook on history for students decides to go from 2015 straight to 2017.

Between the iconic celebrity deaths, the Chicago Cubs defying order and reason by winning the World Series, and of course, the rambunctious presidential election that resulted in one of the most unpopular president-elects in our nation’s history, it’s safe to say that most people won’t be too upset to turn the calendar over in a few weeks.

But first, as in all years, December is all about reflection.

It’s the time when we review the events of the last 12 months with year-end lists, award nominations, and of course, Time’s selection of Person of the Year.

Before I spoil the major surprise by revealing who that person was, let’s first talk about Tuesday’s nomination announcements for the Teen Choice Awards — I mean, Grammys.

I don’t know If I am becoming more out of touch with today’s popular music, but I have never been more dumbfounded by Grammy nominations than this year.

Four of the five best album nominations belong to Beyonce, Adele, Justin Bieber and Drake.

beyonce-lemonade2

How in the world is this an accurate reflection of the best music that our nation has to offer? Those are the best albums of the year?

If the Grammys wants to cater to a younger audience and pay homage to the music that makes the biggest dent on the radio and in album sales, then fine, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But we need to recalibrate what exactly the Grammys is. It’s not the best music. It’s the most talked about music.

The fifth person in that category, by the way, must have surprised the majority of people who were expecting it to be rounded out by some one like Frank Ocean or Kanye West.

It’s Sturgill Simpson, a folk/alt-rock musician whose 2016 album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, is actually pretty damn good. I’d recommend listening to the track “Welcome to Earth (Polywog),” which should give you a decent idea of what the man is all about.

I laugh when I think about all the teenagers who must have tweeted their confusion over who Sturgill Simpson is on Tuesday morning. Although, in their defense, he was just as surprised as everyone else.

And Time Person of the Year. Obviously it was Donald Trump. There’s no denying that notrump-time-poty man played a bigger impact in global conversation this year than him — even if readers preferred Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hey, Hitler and Stalin (twice!) were also Time Persons of the Year. Just sayin’.

This selection is so obvious that it’s not even really news. If you have to make a Trump Meter of the top news stories involving Donald Trump, it wouldn’t even crack the top 10, following his potential policy-shifting phone call with Taiwan, his spontaneous lambasting of Boeing and his selection of a climate-change dissenter and a WWF founder to his cabinet.

And that’s all in the last six days.

If Trump is the Person of the Year in 2017, 2018 and 2019, too, well then future historians might as well just leave out this entire half-decade when they write the next textbook.

Obama left office in 2017 … and then it was 2021.

They’ll buy that.

This Rachael Ray-Beyonce controversy was so predictably American

Since most of my friends know I have an interest in politics, one of the most common questions I receive nowadays is, “Why are people voting for Trump? What are they thinking?”

Even as I write this, Trump has won not one, not two, but five primaries tonight — in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.

Well, here’s the answer: most people aren’t thinking. They just don’t flat out understand the dire consequences of electing Trump the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. They don’t realize that people in other countries already view the U.S. as a laughingstock because we’re voting for him.

I try so hard to believe that, in the end, Americans will come to their senses. That they’re really smarter than we give them credit for.

I want to believe it so bad.

And then something happens that makes me realize that, yeah, Americans just aren’t that smart. Look no further than what happened immediately following the release of Beyonce’s new album, “Lemonade,” on Saturday.

Beyonce Lemonade

The album, which contains the single “Formation” that got people all riled up a couple months ago, is apparently imbued with dark intimations of the singer’s marital struggles with her husband, Jay-Z.

But what’s really the talk of the town is the alleged mistress Jay-Z has apparently had an extramarital affair with, who Beyonce indirectly targets in the album. Her name is Rachel Roy, a fashion designer.

Now it’s only natural that this combative album would motivate Beyonce’s fan base — which has the cringe-inducing nickname of the Bey Hive — to defend their favorite musician .

So they did what any angry person would do in 2016. They went after Rachel Roy’s Instagram. Except for one small problem.

Many of them got the wrong Rachel.

Instead of Rachel Roy, an Internet tirade was launched against Rachael Ray, the celebrity Rachael Ray.jpgchef.

Never mind that the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other, besides having similarly sounding names. Never mind the fact that a woman who spends most of her life in a studio kitchen baking a quiche for housewives’ entertainment probably would never be involved in an illicit love affair with the world’s most renowned rapper. Never mind that Rachael Ray spells her name RACHAEL.

The Internet created Rachel vs. Rachael, the world’s shittiest sequel to Kramer vs. Kramer.

You see? This is America. These are the people who we so curiously wonder why they are voting for Donald Trump.

We may be the most powerful and influential country in the world. But our electorate doesn’t necessarily reflect that.

Take this as a lesson. If you wonder why Americans think the way they do, remember the tale of two Rachels.

None of which, sadly, involved Rachel from Friends.

Now that is a chick Jay-Z would go for.

Uh oh. Beyonce upset some white folk.

Two days after Super Bowl 50, the talk of the town has not been about the moderately entertaining, defensively driven football game between the Broncos and Panthers, nor has it been about Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest quarterback of this generation who probably has tossed his last pass.

It’s about Beyonce.

And now, it’s not uncommon for Beyonce to be at the center of national consciousness. Heck, she hasn’t fully left my brain ever since she wore that revealing, half-torn yellow dress in the music video for “Survivor” in 2001 when she was still a member of Destiny’s Child.

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But throughout her wildly successful, iconic career, Beyonce typically stays off the radar when she’s not performing. She doesn’t do many interviews. She hasn’t really made any type of public declaration in support of any major cause — unless you count her fervor for jumpin’ jumpin’ at the club — and she’s rarely spotted out with Jay-Z showing public displays of affection, unlike most celebrity couples.

So I think that’s what made what happened on Sunday even more surprising.

On the grandest stage of all, with all of America watching, Beyonce sent a political message. Her performance paid homage to the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers as well as Malcolm X while she sang a song she released a day earlier in a music video that alludes to Hurricane Katrina victims, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

Basically, it was all about black female empowerment. And it’s gotten some white people mad.

And it’s hilarious.

Since the dawn of time, music has been about expression. Artists embrace their identity, Beyonce show.jpgtheir heritage, their upbringings, and yes, their race. That’s what makes it art.

It was OK when Bob Dylan sang his anti-war agenda in the ’60s. It’s OK for Macklemore to chime in on gay marriage. But when Beyonce chooses to sing about a current social issue that is backed by independent data, people choose to attack her rather than confronting the real issue at hand.

How dare she embrace her individuality! Maybe she should take her cue from Ke$ha and stick to singing about how, tik tok, on the clock, the party don’t stop. Woah oh oh OH. That’s much more stimulating.

Just listen to Jessica Williams spit straight fire on Monday night’s episode of the Daily Show. You can’t really make a point much better than she does.

Socially conscious musicians did not start with Beyonce’s halftime performance at Super Bowl 50 last Sunday.

And now that I think about it, I actually think “Tik Tok” — released in 2009 — was a well-timed musical manifesto forewarning people that the clock was ticking on the economy. Ke$ha predicted the global recession! No wonder their is a dollar sign in her name!

I always knew she was more brilliant than we gave her credit for.

Peyton Manning’s last hurrah, Super Bowl Babies and Coldplay’s vanishing act

It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for me to sit and enjoy a game of football knowing what we know now about concussions and the damaging effect that repeated blows to the head has on player’s long-term sanity.

That being said … YESTERDAY WAS SUPER BOWL 50 PEOPLE. BREAK OUT THE HEAVY ARTILLERY AND CRUSH THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF THE OTHER TEAM AS HARD AS YOU CAN. BASH THEIR SKULLS AND SHOW NO MERCY! KILL KILL KILL.

Woah. Sorry about that. I don’t know what just happened.

On what has become the most American of nights, all of us, football lovers or not, sit on our couch on Super Bowl Sunday and ignore the fact that everyone we see on the screen will probably have early onset dementia in their 50s.

Super Bowl 50

But let me not get too preachy here. Football players know the risks. And with the knowledge that exists now, young people can at least make their own informed decisions as to whether they wish to pursue the sport.

Honestly, a better script couldn’t really have been written for the game. Peyton Manning, one of the most successful, well-liked and marketable players in the sport’s history, is now able to go out on top. It’s your classic storybook ending.

A defensive battle throughout, the game itself was actually pretty boring. None of the offenses never got in a groove. It doesn’t mean it was a bad game — it just wasn’t exciting.

And the commercials were not much better. The only one that actually made me laugh was a T-Mobile ad featuring Drake.

On the opposite end of the coin, the most cringeworthy commercial was one by the NFL itself, with its “Super Bowl Babies” campaign, which not-so-implicitly celebrated unprotected sex following two most likely drunk football fans immediately following their favorite team’s Super Bowl win. And for some reason, Seal was a part of it.

The commercial probably caused many people born in December to enter into a deep and horrifying trance as they pondered the reason and cause for their existence.

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And finally, the halftime show. I know that Coldplay is not universally loved, but I’m a fan. They make pretty good music and who hasn’t blasted the song “Fix You” during a time in their life when they were in dire need of an emotional pick-me-up?

That being said, though Coldplay was featured as the headliner, they very clearly played second fiddle to Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

I have no problem with those two — in fact, they were pretty awesome on Sunday — but, if you’re going to announce a headlining act, shouldn’t they be the most prominently featured part of the performance? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, the halftime show needed more Coldplay.

And even when they re-entered the performance with a closing rendition of the aforementioned “Fix You,” the NFL missed a golden opportunity to let former NFL players with CTE sway arm-in-arm around the stage.

Oh well. Despite the savagery, the brain trauma and the NFL’s blatant disregard for their players’ safety, you know we will all be back, one year from now, for Super Bowl 51.

And nine months later will come the Super Bowl babies.