This week’s pop culture highlights cover all the emotional bases. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp, you’ll cringe… and you might just end up feeling romantic.
1. WHAT TO WATCH WHETHER YOU HAVE A DATE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY OR NOT
Don’t worry, this Netflix special premiering Tuesday (February 7) is a little bit tongue-in-cheek. Sure, Michael Bolton will be belting out soft rock hits like “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You,” but we’re also promised “absurdist adventures” featuring guest stars Maya Rudolph, The Lonely Island, Fred Armisen and Randall Park. Netflix says the special “serves one very important purpose: to get people in the mood to make love,” but it’s safe to presume they’re in on the joke too. Hopefully.
2. WHAT TO WATCH WITH A LARGE CUSHION TO HIDE BEHIND
Ricky Gervais created David Brent, a well-meaning but socially inept middle-manager, for the original BBC version of The Office. Some 13 years since the final episode, he’s revived the character for this feature-length film premiering Friday (February 10) on Netflix. It follows Brent as he pools his savings and tries to make it as a rock star with terrible songs called “Free Love Freeway,” “Equality Street,” and “Please Don’t Make Fun of the Disabled.” Life on the Road never quite matches the exquisite awkwardness of the original British sitcom, but cringe-comedy fans will find plenty to savor.
3. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU LIKE A HIGH-STAKES LOVE STORY
Opening in theaters Friday, this superior British film is based on a true story of brave interracial love. Selma’s David Oyelowo plays Seretse Khama, a Botswanan prince who falls in love with white English office worker Ruth Williams (Gone Girl‘s Rosamund Pike) after they meet in ’40s London. Both families scheme to end a relationship they disapprove of, but the young couple persevere. A United Kingdom isn’t 2017’s most innovative biopic, but director Amma Asante tells an important story with a steady hand and a sympathetic eye.
4. WHAT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO’S GOING THROUGH A BREAK-UP
Underrated Canadian singer Nelly Furtado returns next month with The Ride, her first album in nearly five years. This intriguing teaser track, released last week, shows the Grammy-winner hasn’t lost her knack for a big sticky, pop hook. “The cold hard truth is I can make it without you,” Furtado sings over synth-funk beats that sound made for strutting along to. A rousing and very welcome return.
5. WHAT TO WATCH BECAUSE YOU’RE GONNA MISS THEM WHEN THEY’RE GONE
Since it launched in 2012, Lena Dunham‘s comedy series has often split opinion. Fans appreciate the relatable way it shows four very different women trying to build careers in New York City, but critics have claimed the show has a major diversity problem. Though both groups are probably right, there’s no denying Girls has been consistently fresh and provocative. Beginning Sunday (February 12) on HBO, this sixth season is definitely the last, so tune in to find out whether Dunham gives any of her flawed but endearing characters a happy ending.
6. WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM BECAUSE SHE’S THE OG RAP QUEEN
Since joining Katy Perry at 2015’s Super Bowl halftime show, Missy Elliott hasn’t rushed her comeback, and last year’s Fall Out Boy collaboration, an awkward cover of the Ghostbusters theme song, was hardly a career highlight. But she’s just dropped “I’m Better,” a slick new single, and a documentary about her incredibly influential rap and production career is on its way. So all in all, it feels like the right time to reconnect with the woman we called “queen of rap” long before Nicki Minaj came along.
7. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR FASHION
Amazon Prime’s race to catch Netflix continues with this sumptuous period drama, which looks nearly as expensive as The Crown. The Collection takes place in a haute-couture Paris fashion house in the ’40s, but the elegant surroundings conceal some surprisingly grimy storylines involving a dead body, dark secrets and lots of duplicitousness. Ignore the odd wayward French accent and this eight-part series premiering Friday is a smart, stylish treat.
8. WHAT TO WATCH WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN HANDLE A BIT OF GORE
Keanu Reeves played a retired hitman on a revenge mission in 2014’s John Wick, a sleek and infectious action flick that deservedly became a sleeper hit. This sequel opening in theaters Friday promises a similar mix of thrills and spills. Exact plot details are on lockdown, but we know Reeves’ John Wick travels to Rome to square up to “some of the world’s deadliest killers.” Factor in a strong supporting cast that includes Laurence Fishburne, Common and rising star Ruby Rose, and John Wick: Chapter 2 looks like another satisfying slab of high-octane escapism.
9. WHO TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER BECAUSE HE TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
Whether he ends up winning the series or not, Boy George has been a surprise highlight on NBC’s The New Celebrity Apprentice. The hat-loving Culture Club singer is refreshingly frank and funny on Twitter too. When a follower recently called him “the only real celebrity” left on the show, George retorted: “I’m actually an artist, musician. Celebrities turn up to events with expensive handbags! Lol!” Well, he’s not wrong, is he? You can also catch up with George over on Bravo, he’s now hanging out with the real housewives of Beverly Hills.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO LISTEN TO, EVEN IF YOU CAN’T REMEMBER THEM FROM BACK IN THE DAY
After racking up five number one dance hits in the ’90s and ’00s, U.K. funk crew Jamiroquai seemed to slink away quietly. But “Automaton,” their first new song in six years, is quite a comeback track; inspired by “the rise of artificial intelligence and technology in our world today,” it’s a brilliant sci-fi disco tune with echoes of electro-pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder. It’s definitely one to whack on next time you need to raise your energy levels.
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