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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    There was a noticeable lack of Will Smith in Jimmy Fallon’s spot-on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opening to start off his week in Los Angeles. Sure, he managed to bring some of the show’s original players back together (and yes, Carlton’s still got it), but the big star of the show was nowhere to be seen. Did he have other obligations, or was he perhaps above the whole “reunion” thing?

    Turns out, Fallon had other plans for him.

    Instead of playing a small part in a bigger thing, Smith joined Fallon for a separate segment in which they played around with an iPad app that let them layer vocal recordings. That in itself took time and preparation, but once they got everything in place, Will Smith took over the segment.

    He might not perform as often anymore, but he’s still got it.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    Magic Johnson may be a man of many talents, but even he has his limits when it comes to his latest venture.

    While Johnson, one of the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, usually likes to learn the trade of every project he takes on, that desire stops short of baseball. Johnson, like many of us, tried to play as a kid but was told to give it up after he refused to stand in the batting box. He had the rather reasonable fear that he would get hit with the baseball.

    Johnson joined Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night, and instead of baseballs, Kimmel brought out the wiffle ball and bat to get the Dodgers co-owner up to speed in that department. The sentiment about old dogs and new tricks might be true for most people, but it turns out if you throw enough balls at someone, they will hit one of them eventually—it’s just a matter of when.

    Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube


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    Pop star Sia, she of 2014’s inescapable hits “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart,” has a good chance of taking home a Grammy this Sunday. Her talent for writing a solid pop song goes back years: You probably didn’t know she wrote or co-wrote songs for Rihanna (“Diamonds”), Beyoncé (“Pretty Hurts”), Britney Spears (‘Perfume”), David Guetta (“Titanium”), and Rita Ora (“Radioactive”). If you saw her recent SNL appearance, you know her music is very much a performance.

    But when it comes to her own songs—specifically “Chandelier,” as dissected on the lyric annotation site Genius—Sia has been giving a different kind of performance.

    A little less than a year ago, Sia, who is a verified user, started adding her own annotations to the “Chandelier” entry on Genius, as The Guardian's Alex Hern discovered

    It's not unheard of for artists to swoop in an annotate songs, but Sia's are poetry, really. Totally using "oopsy on the shag front" in reference to all regrettable sexual encounters from here on out. 

    H/T Alex Hern | Photo via Charlie Llewellin/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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    For weeks, the Internet has been gripped with excitement as it watched celebrity BFFs Chris Evans and Chris Pratt get serious about sports. What began as friendly football trash talk on Twitter soon turned into an all out Super Bowl bet with heroic stakes

    If Pratt's Seahawks won, Evans vowed to don his Captain America costume and make the rounds at Seattle Children's Hospital. If Evans' Patriots took home the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Pratt pledged to transform into Star-Lord and spread some smiles at Christopher's Haven in Boston. 

    With stakes this high, there was no way these Chrises could simply watch the game from the comfort of a couch, so the twosome ventured out to Phoenix, Ariz., to take in the Super Bowl in person. The duo even posed for a few photos during the game, showing that no matter the victor, there would be no hard feelings between these besties.

    But when it comes to making good on a wager, the Star-Lord wastes no time. Though the final minutes of the game saw victory slip from the Seahawks' fingers, Pratt was all smiles on Friday morning when he arrived at Christopher's Haven in full Guardians of the Galaxy regalia. While he didn't sport a Tom Brady jersey as promised, the actor served up plenty of smiles while posing alongside kids and families decked out in their Patriots best. 

    Not wanting to miss a chance to gloat about Malcolm Butler's stellar interception, Evans made the rounds as well. Even though he wasn't in costume, the Captain America actor took time to pose for pictures with pint-sized fans and sign some shields for a few brave kids.

    When two epic Chrises combine their powers for good, everyone wins. Since Evans is such a good sport, the two have promised to head west and make the rounds at Seattle Children's Hospital together.

    Although the epic #SuperHeroBowl bet is coming to a close, we'll always have the photos and tweets to look back on fondly as we dream about this heroic friendship. 

    Photo via Chris Pratt/Facebook


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    Baz Luhrmann is the latest filmmaker to be snapped up by Netflix, signing on to direct a 13-episode hip-hop drama set in 1970s New York City.

    Luhrmann is known for making opulent, heavily choreographed movies like Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby. His Netflix series, The Get Down, sounds like it will be another work in his trademark style, following a gang of South Bronx teenagers as their story unfolds among iconic landmarks like CBGBs and Studio 54. THR describes the show as "a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco."

    It's likely that the combination of Baz Luhrman (who is white and Australian) and South Bronx hip-hop teens may raise a few eyebrows, but Netflix seems unbothered. The joint presidents of programming said in a statement, "There is no better filmmaker and storyteller to draw us into this world of the forgotten and oppressed residents of the Bronx who rose up and fought back to create and define culture and music for decades to come."

    Considering the mixed reception for Luhrmann's more recent movies, The Great Gatsby and Australia, there's a strong possibility The Get Down may turn out to be a glitzy kind of trash TV. However, this show is still something of a coup for Netflix, which is currently well ahead of Amazon when it comes to original programming. Luhrmann is an impressively high-profile hire, and there's always an audience for musical dramas.

    Photo via Christine Zenino/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)


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    In an online space where more and more viral videos are proven to be fake or staged, it’s become harder to find the magic on YouTube.

    For the most part, that magic is what you’d see on a Vegas stage or read about in a Harry Potter book. When it comes to YouTube, it’s that thin line of creating content without making it feel too contrived or scripted. Despite how many thousands or millions of people watch, you have to be authentic. Actual magic videos, in the forms that we know, have probably been around YouTube for years, but we never really paid much attention to them.

    At least that was until we were thrown into the world of magical YouTube when it came to Warped Tour last year.

    YouTube success is all luck of the draw, and it’s no different for Chris Mitchell (who goes by Christopher James on YouTube), who’s been blowing the minds of people he performs for and his subscribers for months now, after he went viral with a little help from Reddit.

    “It was just the most surreal thing in the world,” he told the Daily Dot.

    By the time James had arrived at Warped Tour with his friends and fellow YouTube magicians Calen Morelli and Evan Cloyd of Disturb Reality, he had already dabbled in YouTube by posting a few magic videos, something he hadn’t really considered doing until recently. They all went with the idea of doing magic for the crowd, but nobody could’ve predicted what happened.

    After connecting with a couple of reporters from Substream Magazine to get past security, where they did some magic tricks for some of the bands, Substream then gave them tickets for another show, where they got backstage to do more magic tricks. Once Reddit discovered it (along with an earlier video in Compton), the rest was history.

    James had always been interested in magic as a kid, but his budding career came to a halt after attempting a trick for his class as part of a book report on Harry Houdini during which he accidentally got pantsed by his second-grade teacher—a story in which he goes into detail in one of his vlogs.

    “He’s like, ‘Try to get out of this one!’” he said. “So I was dangling in front of my classroom in my whitey tighties, and I was so embarrassed I was like, ‘I’m never doing magic again!’ He put me down, I tried to run away but I fell because my pants were still up my ankles.”

    That changed close to a decade later after meeting Shawn McMaster, a magician who performed at a restaurant James’s family frequented. He had just moved to Simi Valley, Calif. with his family, so he didn’t know that many people yet. After watching McMaster perform for the customers, James went straight to YouTube; he knew he wanted to perform magic.

    After only a few months, he started to perform at the restaurant himself, and his list of tricks grew by using a mix of tricks from other people and making some up on his own. Soon enough, he applied to the Magic Castle and got in on the first try, which he described as feeling a bit “like Harry Potter.”

    He’s cut off from the magic community, which is largely in Las Vegas, but he’s close in proximity to Los Angeles, where much of the YouTube community is located. James says he prefers close-up magic over stage magic, as he’s able to connect with people on a smaller level, but how does that translate to YouTube—a platform that’s not really made for magic of any scale?

    With the participatory nature of magic today, it can be a lot harder for it for people passively watching on a screen, but for him, that’s a challenge he relishes.

    “Online it’s a little bit different because you lose that personal one-on-one connection,” James said. “So I think that’s the biggest obstacle that I’ve come across with magic on videos, but it’s a fun obstacle to come around because I’ve never had to come around it before. That’s one thing about magic: getting around it and making the impossible possible.”

    He loves magic, but he doesn’t want to be defined by it. He’s expressed an interest in acting and has started making vlogs. There, he’s able to answer subscriber and fan questions, tell stories, and talk to the audience without having to rely on a pack of cards, something he usually has on hand. He’s full of stories, which his manager Andrew Graham joked usually start with “I did magic, and then I got free stuff.”

    But now he’s expanding his horizons. Starting today, James will be hosting Strange But True News on DreamWorksTV starting Jan. 30, a YouTube show which will feature different oddities in the world; one episode will focus on all the different ways children have pulled out their teeth.

    It has nothing to do with magic, but DreamWorksTV and AwesomenessTV are excited to have him on board in this new capacity.

    “There’s something about Chris that felt like he jumps out of the screen and you connect to him,” AwesomenessTV Creative Executive Judy Meyers told the Daily Dot.

    It’s not something James’s fans are used to, but despite branching out, magic will always be a part of his life and his channel—and the reactions make it worth it.

    “Being able to do magic and bringing someone back to that same feeling as when they were a kid is the coolest art form to perform,” he said.

    Screengrab via Christopher James/YouTube


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    Joe Penna explores the boundaries of space and time in his latest film, Beyond, released this week on his MysteryGuitarManYouTube channel.

    While many other YouTube celebrities are taking advantage of more traditional movie-release methods—from Shane Dawson's Not Cool to Cameron Dallas' ExpelledPenna is sticking to YouTube, at least for now. His first short film on the site, Instant Getaway, garnered rave reviews, but Beyond is an even deeper and more complex take on similar themes.

    Like with Instant Getaway, Beyond deals with travel through time and space, although this newest short film focuses on a man who inadvertently receives a form of immortality as he tries to reverse its effects.

    Without spoiling too much, the film takes several surprising turns in the latter half, culminating in a meditation on destiny.

    As Penna told the Daily Dot on the set of the film last year, immortality and the mythology of that trope were fascinating to him.

    "People see vampires as these sexy beings, but if you think about what a vampire’s life would be like, everyone would be dying around them,” he explained. “They can't sustain meaningful relationships and would probably become very anti-people for long periods of time. You could ask them, ‘What did you do for the last 10 years?’ and they could say, ‘Stayed in bed.’ At least that’s how I feel. I wanted to get a little more ground and explore those ideas of time travel and immortality."

    Beyond, which runs for 41 minutes, received over 250,000 views in the first day alone and got a premiere at YouTube Space L.A. It's clear that Penna's rabid fan base is embracing the film. While they normally know Penna for his artistic videos as MysteryGuitarMan, he has increasingly been making the transition to genre-defining director for the YouTube set. While he's said he's in no hurry to move from YouTube to the big screen, it's definitely within his sights.

    Screengrab via MysteryGuitarMan / YouTube


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    If you want to get your hands on Connor Franta's coffee, you better move fast.

    Franta, a popular vlogger who most recently made headlines with an emotional coming out video on his YouTube channel, has launched his own specialty small batch coffee line, Common Culture Coffee, with a limited release of his first flavor online for only 48 hours. With 4.1 million subscribers vying for a cup, it'll be sure to go fast.

    Franta was a member of the defunct YouTube supergroup Our2ndLife until last summer. Members of the group have all branched out to different ambitions, from music to new collaborative video efforts. Franta made inroads with branding his own items before, cracking the Billboard Top 200 with a compilation album of his favorite upcoming tunes. At the time he alluded to other consumer-facing ideas for his brand when talking to The Daily Dot in November.

    "I’ve always loved design; I’ve always loved coffee," Franta teased.

    The debut selection from Common Culture Coffee is a "single origin Guatemala coffee, a light to medium roast with notes of fig and honey and a balanced taste for any palate," according to a press release. The line will be distributed through LA Coffee Club and new offerings will be released seasonally. Franta will donate $1 per bag to The Thirst Project, an organization that raises money for freshwater wells in developing nations. Franta raised $230,000 last year to build a well in Swaziland. 

    “Coffee has always been a significant part of my life,” said Franta in a press release. “For me, it’s a chance to start my day and gather my thoughts - it’s fuel for my creative process. I wanted to share my love of coffee with a wider audience and also continue to raise money for The Thirst Project through Common Culture Coffee.”

    If you're itching for a taste and can't wait for shipment, limited samples will be available at the Playlist Live YouTube convention in Orlando this weekend.

    Photo via Common Culture Coffee


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    Sorry, Kim Kardashian. Step aside, Jon Stewart. All previous attempts to "break the Internet" are null and void.

    The world lost its collective shit last summer when leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities hit the Internet. Well, it's happening again, but this time, it's on purpose.

    Vanity Fair's March issue will feature a full (ahem) spread with JLaw, including this lascivious shot the magazine posted to its Instagram.

    We're not sure how the Internet will survive this latest attempt to break it, but this certainly doesn't help:

    The three-time Academy Award nominee is reportedly "in early talks" to star alongside male counterpartChris Pratt in Passengers, a love story set in space.

    Photo via HotGossipItalia/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    BY SAHIL PATEL

    GoPro wants to be a media company. It’s already got a nice headstart with a YouTube channel that reaches 2.7 million subscribers, and distribution partnerships with Xbox, LG, and Virgin America. Soon, the company will expand that reach by launching a channel on the Roku streaming platform.

    The company said it plans to debut a GoPro channel on Roku later this spring, delivering on-demand content produced by GoPro as well as user-generated clips shot by people using its cameras.

    The launch will net GoPro distribution one of the most popular TV streaming platforms in the U.S. Last September, Roku announced that it had topped 10 million sales in the U.S.

    When it launches on Roku, the GoPro channel will come with featured playlists that offer premium content like “Deep Sea” and “Full Throttle,” as well as popular videos favorited or recently watched by users. Expect to see content from the company’s media partnerships as well. (For instance, the camera-maker recently announced a deal with the NHL to shoot live content from games using GoPro cameras on the ice—and on occasion—strapped to players.)

    There will also be a “product discovery” element on the GoPro channel, which will tell users which GoPro products were used to “get the shot.” Which goes to show, while wanting to be a media company, GoPro is still well aware that it’s main source of revenue is getting people to buy its stuff.

    Photo via Pete Prodoehl/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Facing a field of tens of thousands of podcasts and millions upon millions of episodes, how do you find the diamond in the rough? Podcasting as a whole is an incredibly competitive field, and only a distinguished few can reach successful download numbers.

    But consider the added degree of difficulty for comedy podcasts: Material can’t be pre-prepared, with every joke quick and off-the-cuff… but no audience in the room to gauge reactions from. One comedy podcast that pulls this off is The Comedy Button.

    The Button’s team of five began putting out weekly episodes of their “nerd pop culture podcast” in 2011, after successfully shattering a Kickstartergoal of $6,000 more than six times over. The hosts berate one another while discussing life stories in a remarkably deep and genuine way, and the format has struck a chord with its listeners: Four years later, the show continues to grow, and it now boasts a massive 500,000 downloads a month and is bringing in over $19,000 a month on Patreon, all for what Scoville describes as “not our day job”—and it shows no signs of waning.

    I was able to sit down with co-hosts Brian Altano and Max Scoville over Skype to get some insight on what makes The Comedy Button such a winning formula.

    Altano describes The Comedy Button rather succinctly: “It’s like hanging out with your friends, but I think that we kind of actually nail that.” And it’s true: Very few shows can really pull off “hanging out with friends” in such a way that merely listening in is entertaining. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier pull this off rather well on their show Smodcast. There are far too many podcasts out there that try to be overly bold and brash but fail at creating something as genuine with the same level of harmony.

    But really, success lies in the incredibly personal relationship the five co-hosts have with their fanbase. Fans have followed these men through firings, hirings, breakups, and marriages. For all intents and purposes, many have grown up right alongside the cast, and vice versa: “We’ve kind of grown with that audience” says Altano. “It’s like if The Breakfast Club was all dudes,” Scoville adds.

    By the very nature of living life on the air, it’s not always pure comedy, though. “It’s very personal; it’s not always funny. Sometimes it’s really sad and awful,” Scoville explains of the more difficult-to-tell stories. But funny or tragic, all of the gang’s stories are honest, sprouting naturally from their casual back-and-forth bantering. “We don’t really plan anything,” Scoville says. As a result, the show feels very impromptu, but that’s what makes it interesting. It doesn’t try to fall back on tentpole segments found in other podcasts, and each episode feels different from the last.

    Throughout the entire interview, there was a clear beat and rhythm that the two were dancing along to. Altano and Scoville can engage themselves in these verbal gymnastic routines, and if one stumbles, the other is there to pick up the pace and bring back the ebb and flow.

    Most telling, however, was how Altano analyzed life and the world around him. Being a comedian, he looks at the world with a slightly skewed perspective, always seeking the good, the funny, or the bad from what many of us take as normal or mundane. “The fact that we’re even talking right now is amazing,” he exclaimed. “You could have just sent me an email, [but] you’re like, ‘I wanna Skype with you,’ and that’s amazing.” That kind of go-getter, do whatever’s necessary attitude is the frame of mind Altano wants to keep throughout the show.

    It definitely shows. The crew constantly belittle one another for not pushing to succeed in various aspects of their lives. While cohost Scott Bromley was unemployed, for example, the team definitely called him out on his funk and pushed him to get back in the game. When cohost Anthony Gallegos was laid off from his job, the others would not let up on comparing him to a hippie. It was both good entertainment and a nice dose of inspiration.

    So, sure, there’s plenty of swearing and raunchy humor, but Altano really does want to create an environment in which the positive is pushed forward. For those fans who find themselves struggling through a particularly difficult part of their lives—saying to themselves, “Hey, how the fuck do I get through this?”—Altano wants to reassure them that “it’s OK, we did that too, and it sucked, and it was horrible, but it’s OK on the other side.’”

    Ultimately, the reason the show works so well is because the cast genuinely has fun creating it. “We’ve always said that if the audience went away, we would keep doing it,” says Altano. And quite honestly, I believe him. The show is just as therapeutic to its hosts as it is to its fans. “I love the idea of us getting old together,” says Scoville as he gives his thoughts on the future of the show. And that’s the beauty of The Comedy Button. It’s five friends doing a podcast for no other reason than that they want to. It’s a creator-fueled fever dream come true.

    Photo via The Comedy Button


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    Art imitates life, and who hasn’t been yelled at by their friends for burying themselves in a smartphone while hanging out? What a good idea for a TV show.

    Nerdist’s teaser for a reboot of the classic Friends television show necessitates a change in wardrobe, obviously, but the budget for new clothes might be covered by cheaper rates for the actors. Did you know that actors get lower rates for non-speaking roles?

    Nerdist’s reboot might be one of the lowest-budget television shows of all time.

    Screengrab via Nerdist


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    To paraphrase Jurassic Park: God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates robots, robots fight each other, man watches while eating nachos.

    During BattleBots's two-year run, it always seemed a little weird that the show was on Comedy Central. Watching robots fight each other isn't inherently funny—at least, not in the same way watching Jon Stewart rip into GOP hypocrisy or that show where puppets made prank phone calls were inherently funny. What made the show's placement on the network make even the slightly semblance of sense was that a large segment of robots on the show simply didn't work. They immediately fell apart at their opponent's first thwack; they spin wildly out of control for no reason; sometimes, they didn't even move at all.

    The show's robots all had a homemade and it was kind of funny to watch that either break or not work in the first place.

    More than a dozen years after BattleBots went off the air in 2002, the show is coming back. Deadline reports that ABC is teaming with the producers of the original series to bring BattleBots back as a reality show this summer.

    Bots on the new show will still be homemade, but the choice of venue may be significant. Technology has advanced considerably since 2002. The robots fighting on ABC may not be as quirky and funny as the ones on Comedy Central. These robots may turn out to be closer to Terminator than Short Circuit.

    ABC has reportedly ordered six episodes of the show.

    Here's a countdown of the top ten BattleBots moments to get you excited:

    H/T Deadline | Photo by Paulolenz/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) 


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    From the title alone, you can tell that Melanie’s Marvelous Measles is going to be a wild ride.

    Written by Stephanie Messenger, this book basically amounts to propaganda for the anti-vaxxer movement. The titular Melanie contracts measles despite being vaccinated, which proves vaccines don’t work. Meanwhile, her unvaccinated friend stays healthy due to her habit of drinking melon and carrot juice. 

    In the words of its publisher, Melanie’s Marvelous Measles is meant to “educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully.” 

    Apparently, “history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body.” Yes, that’s right, measles is beneficial, which is presumably why the book’s cover art shows Melanie frolicking in the sunshine while covered in a measles rash.

    Ironically, the title seems to be a parody of George’s Marvelous Medicine, written by well-known pro-vaccination advocate Roald Dahl.

    Confusingly, the book originally appeared with a badge for Amazon’s “Best Children’s Books of 2014,” and Amazon has now quietly removed that badge from its page. (A former Amazon employee says the badge was likely just a link to the actual list and did not signify Melanie’s Marvelous Measles was on it.) This may be a result of the massive number of negative reviews it’s accrued over the past few weeks, all from people mocking the book’s anti-vaccination message.

    “Thanks to Melanie's Marvelous Measles I now have an easy reader guide that makes me eldest feel less down about the fact he's been crippled from Polio,” writes one Amazon reviewer, while another commenter suggests a list of potential sequels: “Andy’s Amazing AIDS, Carol’s Calm Coma, Adelia’s Addled Alzheimer’s.”

    And that’s just the one-star reviews. 

    Like many controversial books, most of Melanie’s reviews are either one or five stars, but we were expecting the handful of “positive” reviews to be more, well, positive. Instead, it’s more of the same. 

    One sarcastic five-star review reads:

    After contracting polio, measles, and smallpox, my wheelchair-bound, scar-ridden body has never made me feel more alive! My life motto has always been, What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", which is why I've also decided to not wear seatbelts and to type this up while driving.

    Of course, just in case you’re getting too optimistic here, there are still a fair few anti-vaxxers commenting to support the book, including one conspiracy theorist railing against “big Pharma.”

    Let’s be real here: As a result of the current measles outbreak that began in Disneyland, there have been more than 100 confirmed cases across 14 states, 10 of which allow parents to opt out of vaccinations. But hey, perhaps if you read Melanie’s Marvelous Measles and make sure your kids drink some melon juice, they’ll feel better about the oncoming epidemic.

    This story has been updated to clarify the meaning of the “Best Books of 2014” badge.

    Photo via Amazon/Melanie’s Marvelous Measles


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    If you've ever watched an awards show with your out-of-touch parents, you'll appreciate this video.

    Jimmy Fallon has filmed a Grammys edition of his Mom & Pop Quiz segment, asking middle-aged parents simple questions about stars like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. And oh boy, are their answers embarrassing. 

    Imagine someone asking your dad to recite the lyrics to "Anaconda," and then imagine it taking place on camera, with you standing right beside him as he says, "Your anaconda don't want none... unless it's a rabbit." 

    One mom thinks Justin Bieber's fans are called "Bieber Boys."

    We're also getting a dark, dark look at what dads think haters are gonna do. According to Taylor Swift, the answer is obviously "hate, hate, hate." But if you ask a dad, the answer is apparently "beat you up" or "die." 

    Stay chill, dads.

    Photo via The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon/YouTube


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    HLN's Mara Raphael tries to stump the stars of the highly anticipated Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul on the red carpet with trivia questions from the new show. 

    Screengrab via the Daily Share/YouTube


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    Welcome to the Daily Dot's live coverage of the 57th annual Grammy Awards. It's music's most high calorie night, and one for undeserving winners, mismatched performances, and the sort of polluting excess that makes the world hate America. Get ready for misguided music snobs publicly denouncing the winners of a competition world famous for not getting its historical benchmarks correct with respect to who goes home with hardware. Feel the rhythm. Feel the ride. Get on up—it's Grammy time.

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    The 57th annual Grammy Awards found a watercooler moment about 90 minutes into the otherwise routine Sunday telecast. At least in terms of an unexpected, transcendent gig with an eye toward social justice: 24-year-old singer-songwriter Hozier was paired with rock icon Annie Lennox and the duo performed smash 2014 gay rights anthem, "Take Me to Church," followed by 1956 Screamin' Jay Hawkins hit, "I Put a Spell on You."

    Hozier reportedly dropped the tuning for his hit from E minor to D minor, and Lennox took it from there with howling, reverberating renditions.

    The duet almost didn't happen. But after insistence from show producer, Ken Ehrlich, the two got in a room Thursday.

     "I wasn't quite seeing it, initially... I think he was a little nervous, to be honest with you," Lennox toldUSA Today. "I'm always a little bemused by that, because I'm really not anybody to be afraid of." 

    Screengrab via CBS


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    John Oliver returned to Last Week Tonighton Sunday with a eulogy to RadioShack.

    The electronics chain is filing for bankruptcy after decades of supplying us with batteries, transistor radios, remote-control toys, and similar items that most people now either buy online or don't need at all.

    As Oliver pointed out, the news media had been oddly upbeat about RadioShack's demise, which he didn't think was a laughing matter. Over 4000 stores are either shutting down or turning into Sprint outlets, leaving RadioShack employees out of work. The punchline is that RadioShack seems irrelevant to 21st century life, but John Oliver had a bone to pick with news anchors laughing at the company's slow decline. 

    And that's how his eulogy turned into an expletive-filled PSA from RadioShack HQ.

    Welcome back, John Oliver. We've missed you.

    Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/YouTube


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    Beck won Album of the Year for 2014's Morning Phase on Sunday during the 57th annual Grammy Awards. Unsurprisingly, Kanye West did not agree with the Academy's decision. 

    In a callback to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, West stormed the podium in protest of the results. This time, however, he just smiled and walked away. It was a moment that both expressed frustration at Beck's victory over Beyoncé and poked fun at West's own penchant for absurd fits of deadly serious artistic indignation.

    America laughed along with him. But after the Grammys, in an interview with E!, West made it clear that the results legitimately upset him.



    It's worth reiterating how comically and historically bad the Grammys are at capturing any sort of meaningful zeitgeist with respect to the handing out of awards. Beck became a generation-X icon 20 years ago and has written at least six better, more vital albums than Morning Phase. The LP sold 300,000 copies worldwide (mostly from Starbucks displays, I'd wager), whereas the eponymous Beyoncé record it defeated on Grammy night sold 5 million copies.

    The Academy lives to use Album of the Year as a reward for aggregate bodies of work. Since 1998, this award has gone to grey artists such as Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Ray Charles, U2, Herbie Hancock, and Robert Plant.

    But it has also gone to white pop acts like Adele, Taylor Swift, and indie dad rockers Arcade Fire. African-American artists with hip-hop roots are often restricted to compartmentalized categories like Best R&B Performance. Couple that with a bubbling pre-ceremony concern that white rapper Iggy Azalea would serve as a genre stand-in on the acceptance podium, and African-American music fans were understandably uneasy about who went home with what.

    When Azalea lost out on all four of her nominations, in fact, there was veritable social media celebration.

    After Beck's upset win, West echoed a common sentiment among hip-hop and R&B fans.

    Even Bey herself seemed to enjoy West's principled stand as it happened.

    But public attacks over arbitrary statues are difficult for mainstream audiences to sympathize with, especially when the losers are still multi-billionaires with more houses than the rest of us will ever even visit. 

    West had enjoyed a massive night prior to his dissenting opinion, performing alongside Paul McCartney and even making up with the woman he'd originally ambushed post-award so long ago, Taylor Swift.
    At least West let Beck finish.

    Photo via wfuv/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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