Video & Audio: It's-a me, I'm-a Cathy
Plus: It's not like I wanted to add 400 words to Everything Everywhere All at Once discourse, but here we are
DJ Patrick Muniz, Pet & Bobii, MC Buraga: “Pique, Piquezin X Cintura Ignorante”
The hardest song of 2022, with guns reloading and relentlessly on-the-beat MCs emphasizing the sheer inevitability of favela life, and the melodic interest provided by uh Taylor’s “Red”.
Kelsea Ballerini ft. Kenny Chesney: “Half of My Hometown”
One I failed to notice in 2020: a McAnally et al. joint that’s more equivocal than most “high openness people be like this, low openness people be like that” constructions, with even the half of Knoxville who got out of Knoxville and may not have even voted for Trump still giving lip service to maybe going back someday. The song’s generosity of spirit is so great that Kenny Chesney gets a feature credit for doing fjuck all.
Blxckie, Lucasraps: “Big Time Sh’lappa”
Two South African rappers, unusually rhythmically adept. Migos triplets are just the starting point: Blxckie goes off on all kinds of small variations, while Lucasraps effortlessly switches to speed syncopation and back.
The most straightforwardly pleasurable track on this Helsinki quartet’s mostly straightforward fourth album. Tenor Jarno Tikka plays the main melody in two octaves, drummer Okko Saastamoinen taps out high-reverb patterns with relentless logic, everyone has a good time pretending it’s the late Fifties.
MC Pipokinha, DJ MT7: “Fala Fala”
Pipokinha’s an influencer/cancellation magnet; her controversies this month have been getting oral during a concert and boasting about being paid better than teachers. This is the second (that I know of) Super Mario-themed beat she’s yelled over, and the better one, with the boing as rhythm section and the coin collection pitch-shifted to provide the barest of melodies. She’s pushed “can’t rap” to new extremes and got away with it, though she didn’t get away with that teachers comment.
JD Allen: “You Don’t Know Me”
Allen eases out the Ray Charles etc. chestnut quite faithfully in a low register and understated tone, while Charlie Hunter and Gregg August pluck understated counterpoints to show that well we know you, bro.
Doechii ft. SZA: “Persuasive”
Kind of a nothing hip-house confection, but you can see how hard Doechii is working to make you appreciate the pleasure of her company and her weed, and just when she does, SZA arrives already stoned on a higher THC strain and steals the song. Star power’s still a thing!
The Phasing Octopus: “Nostromo”
I don’t retain anything about EDM subsubgenre names, so I don’t know (and only slightly care) if there’s already a name for this Birmingham, AL producer’s combo of old school rave pleasures with the jerkier, higher-uncertainty rhythms that came out of Chicago last decade. I’m much more ashamed to say I haven’t read Nostromo so I don’t know if this has anything to do with Conrad.
Tyler Childers: “Way of the Triune God” (Hallelujah version/Jubilee version/Joyful Noise version)
He recorded three versions of his gospel album, which was a good excuse for me not to listen to any of them in full. Still, it does have its purpose in explicating the nature of the Trinity: supposedly no-nonsense but low-key actually pretty fun version, with-horns for extra suffering version, completely unnecessary third version.
Cécile McLorin Salvant: “Wuthering Heights”
Heathcliff it’s me and I’m solidifying into a corporeal form aaaaaand now I’m gone again
Alhaji Waziri Oshomah & Madam Hassanah Waziri and Her Velvet Voice: “My Luck”
A 1983 connubial bliss song by devout Muslim highlife musicians, who sing like they’re the luckiest couple in Edo State. They’re still musicking together forty years later, so maybe they were right.
On Everything Everywhere All at Once, because no one else has written about it the way I’d like people to think about it
Look, I didn’t want to have to write about this, partly because it’s so microtargeted to me that I was the only one in the theater who laughed at the “Story of a Girl” reference, partly because I tried being a movie critic in my twenties and got exhausted until I remembered I liked music better. But. It’s been weird that nobody on social media wants to discuss Everything Everywhere All at Once as an Asian-American and specifically a Chinese-American work, except from the not-unimportant but critically trivial “representation” point of view, as if this was a demographically shifted version of Blacula or something.
Anyway, in the I Can’t Believe I Have to Say This Department, the movie is (EXTREMELY EXPLICITLY) about intergenerational relations in immigrant and again specifically Chinese diasporic families, and implicitly about competing methods of identity construction. You’ll have to take my word that the early scenes with mother-child scolding-in-lieu-of-affection reproducing grandparent-mother passive-aggressiveness are barely exaggerated. But unlike so many non-immigrant treatments of the subject, there’s no question of the cycle continuing—her kid’s queer, for goodness’s sake. For better or worse, Asian-American millennials and near-millennials have found a way to make identities that aren’t so dependent on their forebears by collaging pieces of popular and semipopular culture: cinematic multiverses, Hong Kong mo lei tau comedy, one-hit wonder Nine Days’ turn-of-the-millennium MTV staple. This isn’t unprecedented: Charles Yu’s novel Interior Chinatown proceeds from a similar idea, although since it’s literary fiction, the book places a much higher priority on being cool—no googly eyes or anything.
The philosophical showdown the movie sets up for its final act ends up a walkover. Once Evelyn is given the opportunity to contain multitudes, she’s forced to admit the younger generation’s method of constructing a self out of everything everywhere etc. is superior for the purpose of self-actualization. This is potentially the least convincing part of the movie, because I have never seen an older Chinese person admit their kids are right, but Michelle Yeoh gets it across without having to say it. In return, Joy merely has to accept that a life founded in large part upon absurdities doesn’t totally lack meaning. (Traditionally, this is something that just about everyone admits when they turn 30, but millennials are pushing this back a bit.) Also, on the median, families are good and we should be nice to each other, but unless you’re on Twitter a lot you know that already. In its faith in the ultimate meaningfulness of localism, Everything resembles nothing less than a liberal It’s a Wonderful Life—obviously richer, unless the long-lost alternate ending has George beating Potter with a dildo, but similarly corny. May it play on TV every Lunar New Year.