Image: Emmanuel Hapsis / Calendar icon courtesy of Vexels
Are you feeling defeated? Demoralized? Just plain confused? Yeah, us too. That's why we've decided to share with you, dear reader: our weekly roundup of what got us through this week.
Look, we don't have big answers about what the “role of art” is supposed to be right now. All we know is that sometimes it inspires us, sometimes it distracts us, sometimes it makes sense of things, and sometimes it makes us laugh. Sometimes it simply reminds us that beauty can still exist in this world — an important thing these days.
We'll check in here each Friday with all the joy, distraction and catharsis that saved us. Without further ado: here's what got us through this week.
The Hell-Yeah Pep Talk of Dua Lipa's "New Rules"
There’s no denying that “Despacito,” which just tied Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s record for most weeks at number one, will go down as the 2017 Song of the Summer. But when I look back on this weird Nazi-plagued summer, I’ll remember another song: Dua Lipa’s “New Rules,” which essentially is a series of commandments on how to quit the fuccboi in your life. For example, “Don't be his friend / You know you're gonna wake up in his bed in the morning / And if you're under him, you ain't getting over him.” No lies detected. And the music video is just as on-point, with its depiction of a slumber party sisterhood keeping each other in check. Press play and forget about whatever apocalyptic thing just happened for a few minutes. Repeat as necessary. —Emmanuel Hapsis
Being Kinda Surprised by 'The Emoji Movie'
I know, I know. Hear me out. My eight-year-old daughter and I originally went to see The Emoji Movie in order to laugh at, in her words, the “crappiest movie ever made.” (Irony knows no age limit in 2017.) But something unexpected happened partway through. I started to feel... intellectually challenged? The story veered into complex conditions like emotional repression and falsified happiness, with understated commentary on phone addiction and brain synapses. My daughter leaned over and whispered: “This movie is actually kind of good, Dad.” I'm not saying The Emoji Movie was art, or even good. I'm just saying that I was shocked, but in a good way, which felt so intensely foreign after being shocked, for months, in varying bad ways. —Gabe Meline
Reading a... 994-Page Paperback Fantasy Novel?!
I’m not a fantasy girl. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, I never played Dungeons & Dragons. I prefer visions of the future; sci-fi’s my jam. But with my heart rate spiking with each push notification alerting me to another near-apocalypse, sci-fi’s become a bit too real.
The thing that got me through this week is a cube-like paperback with Bible-thin pages and characters with names like Kvothe, Alveron and Vashet. It’s Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book in his Kingkiller Chronicle -- a sweeping fantasy tale narrated by the aforementioned Kvothe, an expert in all things except being concise.
Reading on the N-Judah earlier this week, a stranger tapped me on the shoulder and raised his own copy in greeting. “It’s better than his first one!” he said. I nodded and smiled, thrilled more by the fact that humans can still interact with one another -- in person -- at such a simple, friendly level, than by the prospect of a “better” journey through Rothfuss’ fantasy realm. But as I read voraciously, I grudgingly, ultimately, accept that I have this author, and his 994-page book, to thank for that reminder. —Sarah Hotchkiss
La Santa Cecilia's Touching Tribute to Juan Gabriel
Como quisiera, que tu vivieras / Que tus ojitos jamas se hubieran cerrado nunca y estar mirandolos / Amor eterno e inolvidable
Among all the disaster that 2016 brought us, saying goodbye to glittery grandfather “JuanGa” was one of the toughest. Ask any Mexican kid about Juan Gabriel, and you'll usually start seeing pink, shimmering tears well up in their eyes. He taught all of us queer Latinx kids that not only could we make Mexican music our own, but we could also be as kinky, sexy, and critical of machismo as we wanted to be. La Santa Cecilia’s tribute to Juan Gabriel — "Amor Eterno," re-released on the anniversary of his death — could not have been more perfect, and left many fans reminded of their eternal love for our patron saint of glittery, queer rebellion. —Lina Blanco-Ogden
Playing Paramore's "Hard Times" Over and Over
I revisit the "Hard Times" music video whenever I need an uplifting three-minute jam session. It’s one of those songs where you go from thinking, “Huh, this is sorta catchy” to “Oh my god I can’t stop listening to this song and this song only.” Their entire new album After Laughter is an utter masterpiece, with themes perfect for longtime fans and our own stumbling journey into adulthood. The band’s willingness to freely disclose struggles with mental health and depression in their music is comforting, needed, and inspiring — plus, I dare anyone to watch Hayley Williams’ dancing in the video and resist the urge to join in. —Katherine Manley
Janet Mock's Cover Story on Kim Kardashian
I’m not a proponent of the Kardashian empire’s expansion, but Interview magazine’s Kim Kardashian cover story gave me life for a detail I didn't expect: Janet Mock’s byline. Now better known as an advocate for trans rights, Mock first made a name for herself as a pop culture reporter and editor at People. After July’s Breakfast Club fiasco — where Mock was subjected to invasive questions one should never ask a trans person — it’s refreshing to see her name in the headlines again for her journalism. Mock is a savvy, incisive interviewer, and she managed to get some interesting answers out of the typically neutral Kardashian about the evolving concept of celebrity in the age of social media. But mostly, it’s just great to see Mock doing what she does best without being scrutinized or objectified because of her gender identity. She's a vital voice in media -- and this week reminded me of how those voices need to be protected. —Nastia Voynovskaya
A Reality-Bending Dance from Fredrik Lund-Hansen
I love dance and weird treatments of image, and I love the colors and the feelings and the movement. Everything about this inspires me to make more dance videos. —Claudia Escobar
Trying to Dance Like a Stripper to Nick Hakim's "Needy Bees"
Here at KQED I'm known as the punk guy. But what my co-workers don't know is that I absolutely love slow jams — I'm secretly addicted to smooth melodies and drum beats. That's why I can't stop listening to Nick Hakim's "Needy Bees," which is the slowest, sexiest and trippiest track I've heard in a long while. Like many of my new favorite songs, I heard it on 'Insecure' -- it played during a sex scene, of course -- and it’s been essential to my survival as I’ve spent the week battling insomnia. Just don’t look at me when it comes on the stereo -- its earworm melody and pulsating backbeat make me dance in a way no one should witness. —Kevin L. Jones
For arts stories you won’t read anywhere else, come to KQED’s Arts and Culture desk.