We are about four weeks in 2018 so I’ve had some time to give thought to my personal media consumption of 2017. Aside from the big news covered all around Internet, these are some personal takes on a number of stories I wanted to highlight on my blog:
The Weinstein Effect
I don’t think I have ever witnessed a shake up in power dynamics in the media of such magnitude after the publication of the investigative works on Harvey Weinstein by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twoheyand at The New York Times and Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker magazine this past fall.
The film producer has been accused of both sexual harassment and assault by +80 female victims over the past three decades; since then, the media industry has responded with significant support to those allegations and the promise of protecting employees in the workplace from the mean-spirited by introducing no-tolerance policies against sexual misconduct and other threatening behaviors.
The Weinstein effect has undeniably triggered an important conversation on how the entertainment industry –and other industries– must tackle problems caused by negligent individuals; immediate solutions have been listening and caring about victims in minorities involved in questionable situations to avoid further misconduct from the troubling individuals, but it’s not enough.
Ultimately, our greatest task as professionals after the fall of Harvey Weinstein (and other terrible people) must be constantly questioning our actions and the consequences of what we put out in the world as well as reflecting on how to create a more diverse, non-harmful work environment for everybody.
This update on the Sundance Film Festival code of conduct summarizes it all:
For all the artists and art lovers who are Sundancing this weekend, #Sundance has a 24-hour live hotline this year for violations of harassment and discriminatory codes of conduct. Please make note. #TimesUp pic.twitter.com/JU47MzbQOW
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2018
Jack Antonoff-Induced Pop
2017 saw the return of many musicians I respect. Two of my personal favorite records were impressive comebacks by Lorde and St. Vincent with the albums Melodrama and Masseduction, respectively.
Lorde’s rushed raise to fame after the release of overplayed hits like Royals and Team from her debut album Pure Heroine felt as a peaked too soon moment at the start of her career. Years laters, the expectations for her follow-up work are overshadowed by her massive cultural footprint from 2013, but hey, Melodrama exceed all our expectations in 2017.
Melodrama is a brave step in Lorde’s career, as she engraves a fresh new persona through her words and cranks up her producing abilities on every track; all driven by the anxieties of a 19-year-old dealing with love, self-doubt and life expectations as a young adult. The songs Supercut, Liability and Perfect Places are superb examples of those themes and are among my favorites, they will make you feel.
It’s been said the album Masseduction marks St. Vincent’s move into pop. Annie Clark’s new album was conceived to impressively combine St. Vincent’s rockstar identity with an electropop dose, the contrast created here sounds astonishing and continues to polish the artistry in her overall work.
The tracks Los Ageless, Fear the Future and Young Lover are among my favorites.
All of the visuals attached to Masseduction are also works of art on their own. If you watch all three highly stylized music videos and promotional material accompanying the album you’ll see a cohesive attempt to support the artist’s migration to pop: the Los Ageless music video is a great example of this.
It was also announced this year that Annie Clark would direct a female-led adaption of The Portrait of Dorian Gray for Lionsgate. She’s a total art-rock star now.
Both of these albums were co-produced and partly written by Jack Antonoff from fun. and Bleachers fame. His contribution to pop over the years has been quite significant considering his collaborations with artists like Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles and Tegan and Sara.
The Search for Everything
The release of John Mayer’s seventh studio album The Search for Everything last year was preceded by the confusing plan by the artist himself to publish sets of new music throughout 2017 as a buildup to the new, full-length album. The strategy came and went as only two four-track extended plays were released in January and February respectively, followed by the official announcement of The Search for Everything release date for later in the Spring.
The idea of having new John Mayer music every month sounded too good to be true, especially for streaming service subscribers, as new music can be put into our earholes the moment the clock hits midnight on any given Friday. However, the logistics of producing, mixing and putting out Mayer’s music at this pace for the rest of the year would’ve undoubtedly compromised the overall quality and, logistically, it’d never would’ve worked out.
The release of The Search for Everything felt anti-climatic, stained by the odd extended play sneak peek formula, as two-thirds of the songs in the album were already out in the world.
That said, John Mayer’s new record is a mixtures of genres built around a celebrity relationship break-up postmortem that I’ve listened on repeat for the first half of the year. It’s John Mayer making a pastiche out of his body of work on a mellower tone; imagine if 2005’s Continuum and his outlandish folk phase had a baby, now add some bland words to the mix –I still have your shampoo in my shower, in case you want to wash your hair– and you get The Search for Everything.
The album was also accompanied by The Search for Everything Wolrld Tour (i.e. 56 four shows in America and a limited eight-shows run in northern Europe), that I had the privilege to attend in beautiful Stockholm. Divided in three parts, the concert had a full band act, John Mayer playing solo and the John Mayer Trio featuring Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan. The solid 22-song setlist went through some great material from his previous efforts that were seamlessly combined with songs from his new album.
2017 also saw Mayer’s full embrace of social media with some of my favorite moments coming from his Instagram live feeds covering a variety of topics such as his appreciation for Miles Davis’ music and his relationship with Columbia Records over the years.