Happy Halloween!: My Top Ten Villain Song List

Since everyone and their brother was doing a review of scary movies for Halloween, I decided to do something a little different and list my favorite villain songs. I’ve always been inordinately interested in the villains, even when I was a kid. I think I had picked my favorite villain in a Disney movie before I picked my favorite princess (it was Ursula, naturally). I’ve also been a huge fan of music, so villain songs are something I’ve thought about a lot. This list is a result of that thought, but also completely based on my own preferences and no real objective criteria.

So, without further ado, the list:

10. Madam Mim’s “Mad Madam Mim’s”

Madam Mim is volatile, arrogant, and has more than one screw loose. Her song encapsulates that personality as she feels compelled to show off all her awesome transformations even though she fully intends to eat poor Arthur in the end. I love this song because it makes me laugh and for Mim reveling in both her evilness and being “an ugly old witch.” Plus, I think this is the villain I would be if I were a Disney villain. She’s more silly than devious and she turns into a DRAGON. Done and done.

9. Rasputin’s “In the Dark of the Night”

Despite it’s historical inaccuracies, Anastasia is a wonderful movie on all counts, but Rasputin’s song is a stand out. The song style is appropriately creepy, building to an epic crescendo as Rasputin leaves purgatory to complete his curse on the Romanov family. As with other Don Bluth movies, there are elements that make this scene in a kid’s movie actually scary (what with the human skeletons forming the pillars of Rasputin’s cave and him summoning actual demons). Still, my favorite thing about this song are the little touches like the deep voiced beetle providing the “Find her” echoes toward the end and Rasputin putting on the Anastasia wig. Also, Jim Cummings is amazing as evidenced by the fact that he sang this song and also plays the voice of Tigger. Talk about versatile.

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5 Reasons Why Columbo’s Wife is a Cool Lady

Anyone who has watched Columbo (everyone should; it’s on Netflix instant streaming), knows that he talks about his wife a lot. She never actually shows up in the series, but she is still a constant presence known only through the Leiutenant’s references to her. But, if you pay attention, you start to realize that Mrs. Columbo is actually a really cool person, who is actually more interesting than some other female characters who DO appear on screen (I’m looking at you, Dawn).

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What’s up with that?

So, in tribute to this elusive lady, here are five reasons why Mrs. Columbo is cool¹:

1. She’s super smart

When Columbo was solving the murder at the Mensa group, the murderer gave him a limited information puzzle to solve to test his IQ. According to Columbo, he couldn’t solve it, but Mrs. Columbo could. Also, Columbo talks to her about his cases and she’s given him the solution in several instances.

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My Monday Pop Obsession: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Now presenting the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED.

It’s a different tone than the first Avengers, which was much more…well…cheery, I guess. There was a more light-hearted mood, even in the trailer. This one, though, is all intense all the time. Ultron looks and sounds truly terrifying and the did you see all the anxious/devastated/furious faces?! Captain America’s SHIELD WAS BROKEN, guys! This movie means serious business.

Also, good job setting the trailer to that eerie version of Pinnochio’s “I Got No Strings.”  That definitely won’t haunt my dreams tonight.

“Forever” Tackles Gentrification and Steps in a Pile of White Savior Complex

Warning! This post contains instances of nitpicking (and spoilers). Proceed at your own risk.

Have you seen Forever? It’s only on it’s sixth episode, so you’d be forgiven for having missed it. The premise is this: an immortal medical examiner in New York City solves murders with his trusty cop sidekick. I’m really enjoying it so far, though I have to wonder when the whole “protagonist is involved in every major historical event” will become too implausible to be borne.

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Starring Mr. Fantastic from The Fantastic Four

In the fifth episode, Henry, the aforementioned immortal, is trying to solve the murder of a black man in Alphabet City. It quickly becomes apparent that this man was fighting against the arrival of a new, shiny set of million-dollar apartments in the poor neighborhood he lived in, and it appears that the developer building the new apartments is the murderer.

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Matthew McConaughey has a Sad about Losing the Word “Redskins”

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In an interview with GQ (presented with the tagline “We keep getting older, and he just stays the same age”), Matthew McConaughey chimed in on the debate surrounding the name of the Washington Redskins football team:

What interests me is how quickly it got pushed into the social consciousness. We were all fine with it since the 1930s, and all of a sudden we go, “No, gotta change it”? It seems like when the first levee breaks, everybody gets on board. I know a lot of Native Americans don’t have a problem with it, but they’re not going to say, “No, we really want the name.” That’s not how they’re going to use their pulpit…

It’s not going to hurt me. It’s just… I love the emblem. I dig it. It gives me a little fire and some oomph. But now that it’s in the court of public opinion, it’s going to change. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will.

The poor thing! He’s going to lose some “oomph” because he can no longer treat a race of people as mascots for his football team.

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Here’s a sad song on a tiny violin.

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My Monday Pop Obsession: Sleepy Hollow

What do you get if you cross the X-Files with Supernatural and throw in a lot of Revolutionary War references? Why, my favorite new show Sleepy Hollow of course!

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The show follows the adventures of Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills. Ichabod is the most well-connected soldier in the American Revolution who was put into stasis in the 1700s only to wake up in modern times. Abbie is a no-nonsense cop with a troubled past. Together, they try to stop the biblical end of days from arriving and do battle with the four horsemen of the apocalypse. They get help from Abbie’s guerrilla-fighting, badass sister, the police chief, and Ichabod’s wife, who is a witch and was, for a time, trapped in purgatory.

I know it reads like the most ridiculous thing ever, but trust me, it works.

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Blood Waterfalls and Re-Victimization in Maroon 5’s “Animals”

This blog is not very old, but so far, I’ve only criticized things that I do not like. I’ve never been a fan of the Washington, D.C. football team, and though I recognize that Meghan Trainor’s songs are catchy, I’m not a fan of her, either.

But I am a fan of Maroon 5. I downloaded “She Will Be Loved” from Napster and I root for Adam Levine’s team on the “The Voice.” So I was incredibly disappointed when I finally watched the video for their new song “Animals.”

Upon first listen, it sounds like a pretty normal Maroon 5 song. The lyrics by themselves are also open for interpretation. There’s some creepiness, but it could be interpreted as a song about a toxic relationship.

Take this for example:

You can find other fish in the sea
You can pretend it’s meant to be
But you can’t stay away from me

It could be about a girl who can’t get over her boyfriend despite the boyfriend being bad for her.

But then, you watch the music video (trigger warning for scenes of stalking and implied violence):

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My Monday Pop Obsession: Sia’s “Chandelier”

Since I’m going to be complaining about pop culture a lot, it seems only fair to talk about some things I love. I’ll try to make it regular thing. This week, it’s Sia’s song “Chandelier” and especially the accompanying music video.

The key to a good music video, in my opinion, is to do something interesting without getting in the way of the song. A lot of music videos are just there. It’s an excuse to put the artist in a variety of outfits and have them lip-synch into a camera. They’re fine, but just powerfully uninteresting and forgettable.

What I love about the “Chandelier” video is how much it complements the song while also being so simple at the same time. The choreography is amazing, beautiful and silly and frenetic all at once, and the dancer, Maddie Ziegler, is phenomenally talented. Picking a stark, run down room as the setting reflects an underlying sadness. Together, the video creates a sense of vulnerability that actually made me listen to the lyrics more closely and realize that the song is not just about partying your face off.

For example:

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn?
I push it down, push it down

Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight

Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

Despite the chorus’ focus on swinging from the chandelier and pounding shots, the entire song makes it clear that the partying is an attempt to escape from an inner desperation. The beauty of the video is that it enhances this aspect of the song without pounding you over the head with it.

The best example of this in the video actually comes in the last shot, where the Ziegler puts on a fake smile and practices her curtsy before sending the video with a long shot on her standing, in the dark, in the doorway. It’s a beautiful, forlorn moment without a single fake tear in sight.

It might have been a risky move to make music video focused entirely on a contemporary dance routine without the actual singer making an appearance. But it worked out perfectly. Together, the video and the song stand out as an amazing work of art.

Redskins Fans: Debate is Defamation and Racism is Honorable

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In case you haven’t heard, there’s a football team based in Washington, D.C. called “The Redskins.” You may also have heard that the name is a racial slur. Seriously, it’s a dictionary-defined offensive term.

Recently, the Daily Show did a segment on the issue that collected some of the arguments for keeping the name and revealed some of the fans’  hypocrisy. Let’s take start with a quote from one of them.

If the name is changed, and I have children someday, what will I pass on to them?

How about you pass on your misplaced sense of persecution? Or, you could buy a new shirt with the new logo and pass that down to your kids. Or pass down your love of football and let your kids buy their own merchandise. Really, though, the questions you should be more concerned about is whether you want your kids to have a father who cares more about keeping his sweatshirt up to date than the disenfranchisement of an entire people.
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Meghan Trainor’s Songs are Not Empowering

Since the idea for this blog arose from discussing Meghan Trainor’s songs with a friend, it seems only fitting to make that the topic of the first post. If you’d like to know more about what this blog will be about or my general feelings about pop culture, view the “About” tab up top. Though, if you’re reading now, I hope you stick around and leave a comment below.

With that out of the way, on to the show.

Meghan Trainor is the bubbly pop singer who rocketed to stardom with the “body-acceptance” anthem “All About the Bass.”

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She’s all about the pastels, too.

The song is incredibly catchy and dance-worthy, but it’s…well…problematic as well. It both denigrates skinny body types while continuing to base the worth of a female’s body on whether it appeals sexually to a man.  More than that, there are some race implications that suck hard-core. Namely, a white woman should not be singing about “bringing booty back” while  using black women as marginalized accessories in her video. Black and latino women, by the way, actually did bring booty back.

But that song has been talked about enough (and analyzed much better than I could). I’d like to talk about another Meghan Trainor song that should finally cement her as completely uninterested in female empowerment. This song is unimaginatively titled “Dear Future Husband” and tells her future husband how he should treat her if he ever wants to have sex again.

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