Awards season may be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean the entertainment world is taking a break. Far from it, this week’s pop culture highlights are actually some of the most exciting and surprising yet.
1. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU NEED A MIDWEEK PICK-ME-UP
Critics have accused her of displaying racial insensitivity, but Amy Schumer remains one of today’s most quotable comedians. Premiering on Netflix Tuesday (March 7), this stand-up special sees her tackle some of her favorite themes: love and relationships, binge drinking, and “the unknown terrain of being a newly famous woman who looks like someone you grew up with.” If the New Yorker hits top form here, expect to laugh hard and gasp often.
2. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU COULD USE SOME VA VA VOOM IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW
It’s always a thrill when the BBC’s flagship motoring show races back into action. Season 24, which begins on a new night, this Sunday (March 12) on BBC America at 8/7c, molds a new main presenting team from the last run’s leading lights: Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid. As ever, they’ll be traveling the planet in pursuit of an adrenaline rush, and testing out vehicles you’ll most likely see parked down the street. Buckle up and enjoy the ride, basically. New date. New night. New season!
3. WHAT TO LISTEN TO AS LOUDLY AS YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH
In October 2013, 16-year-old Lorde climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Royals,” becoming the youngest artist to score a number one on the chart since ’80s star Tiffany. Three and a half years later, she’s back with the first single from her hotly-anticipated second album, Melodrama. The New Zealander’s dusky drawl is unmistakable from the start, but “Green Light” surprises by taking Lorde’s poetic songwriting in a new, club-ready direction. It’s a bold and bracing comeback that leaves you wanting more.
4. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU HAVEN’T CAUGHT UP WITH K-STEW SINCE HER TWILIGHT DAYS
Since the Twilight franchise ended, Kristen Stewart has mainly picked intriguing indie projects like Clouds of Sils Maria, a French film which won her the country’s top acting prize. Opening in select theaters Friday (March 10), Personal Shopper reunites her with that film’s writer-director, Olivier Assayas, for a daring and idiosyncratic ghost story set in the glamorous world of Paris fashion. Stewart’s spooky, ambiguous lead performance continues her evolution into one of our most exciting young actors.
5. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOUR COLLEGE DAYS ARE A LONG, LONG WAY BEHIND YOU
First time feature director Gerard McMurray earned strong reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with his sparky frat house drama. Streaming exclusively on Netflix from Friday, Burning Sands explores the brutal and increasingly gruesome hazing rituals at a fictional historically black college in Virginia. McMurray’s tone is a little uneven, but his film benefits from plenty of energy and a talented cast that includes Moonlight‘s Trevante Rhodes and Empire‘s Serayah.
6.WHICH SONG TO ADD TO YOUR (SLIGHTLY EARLY) SPRING PLAYLIST
Though he’s a Grammy winner with his own Las Vegas residency, Calvin Harris has still scored a coup by recruiting Frank Ocean and white-hot rap group Migos for his new single. Thankfully, this classy dance-pop tune doesn’t squander their star power: as Harris supplies a warm piano-led groove, Ocean and Migos trade verses and exchange Picasso references. It’s serene listening whether you’re coasting along an open highway with the top down, or shoved into the corner of a packed subway train.
7. WHO TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER BECAUSE, WELL, SHE’S A LOT OF FUN
Michelle Visage began her career as a member of ’80s pop group Seduction, but she’s now known as a TV and radio personality. Since 2011, she’s been a panelist on Logo’s Emmy-winning reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race, where her chemistry with longtime BFF RuPaul shines bright. With a new season premiering this spring, it’s a nice time to check out her lively and diverting Twitter feed, which she also uses to speak out, eloquently, for LGBT rights.
8. WHAT TO LISTEN TO DURING YOUR NEXT COZY NIGHT IN ALONE
This super-literate British folk singer can command your attention with just her voice and a guitar. Sixth album Semper Femina features a slight refining of her approach as Laura Marling fully embraces femininity in her songwriting. “It’s me looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself,” she explained recently. Whatever your gender, though, this is a beautifully-crafted album which offers a rich and rewarding listen. It’s out Friday, but check out Marling’s spellbinding recent single “Wild Fire” for a taster.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF THE LAST SEASON OF SHERLOCK JUST WASN’T LONG ENOUGH FOR YOU
Since it launched in 2013, British crime drama series Ripper Street has been consistently well-written. It’s a shame this fifth season is the last, but the show’s final mystery is undeniably gripping. It follows a trio of friends in 19th century London — a detective, a surgeon, and a brothel owner — as they search for the man who murdered their close associate. Ripper Street begins its final run on BBC America tomorrow; don’t hold your breath for a neat and easy resolution.
10. AND FINALLY, WHICH IMPECCABLY-TIMED FASHION CAMPAIGN TO CHECK OUT
The day after Moonlight‘s unexpected and incredibly dramatic Best Picture victory at the Academy Awards, Calvin Klein unveiled a new underwear campaign featuring four of its stars. On the one hand, photographer Willy Vanderperre‘s black and white images of Alex Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, and Ashton Sanders resemble simple but stylish CK campaigns we’ve seen before. But on the other, given the film’s genuine socio-cultural significance, it feels like a bit of a moment.
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