2012 mid-year musts: Yes, really

We're halfway through the year. If you're not up to date with the must-know movies, music, books and TV, we'll help

Topics: 2012 Mid-Year Musts,

2012 mid-year musts: Yes, really

YES, REALLY (Because culture should be fun, take these things seriously)

LISTEN Adam Lambert, “Trespassing.” Adam Lambert is one of the few pop stars with the chops to craft cohesive albums, not just indelible singles. “Trespassing” is a sleek collection encompassing retro-minded funk, slinky disco, hi-NRG techno, robo-pop and soulful ballads. More impressive is Lambert’s versatility: He’s such a talented vocalist, he can handle sensitive tunes and dance-floor jams without missing a beat. On the kaleidoscopic synth-pop surge “Broken English,” he channels a young Simon LeBon; on “Shady,” he pants, vamps and seduces over an inimitable liquid groove from Nile Rodgers. And the album’s glammy title track, which sounds like “Another One Bites the Dust” at Studio 54, more than validates his side gig as Queen’s lead singer. – Annie Zaleski

WATCH There are those who hate “New Girl” out of hand, because the adorkable Zooey Deschanel drives them wild and not in a good way. But what started out at as The Zooey Is a Strange Wide Eyed Helpless Creature Show has changed into one of the best, funniest ensemble sitcoms on television, buoyed along by Zooey, who has gamely pulled back on her shtick, and the two superb actors who play her male roommates Schmidt and Nick (Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson, respectively). The preening Schmidt and the broken Nick are perfectly cast supporting characters, and they have helped make “New Girl” huge-hearted, ridiculous and hilarious, however you feel about Zooey. And when you’re done with “New Girl” you can catch up on the other best late-20, early-30-something comedic ensemble on TV, the fast-talking, slightly deranged crew of “Happy Endings,” featuring Brad and Jane, the best married couple on TV, played by the high-strung Damon Wayans Jr. and the even more high-strung Eliza Coupe. – Willa Paskin

WATCH “Thank You Hater!” A witty retort to trolls everywhere, Isabel Fay’s saucy ode to bottom-feeding commenters is the most satisfying thing anyone who’s ever been scorched online will ever watch. When she cheerfully croons to all the “sexually aggressive, racist, homophobe, misogynistic, cowardly, illiterate, wastes of human skin” out there, it’s like balm on all the burns. Best of all, proceeds from the sale of the song go to the Beat Bullying campaign. Not a moment too soon. – Mary Elizabeth Williams



LISTEN Usher, “Looking 4 Myself.” R&B superstar Usher touted the idea of “revolutionary pop” as he was making “Looking 4 Myself.” “I’m a consumer of culture and love mixing styles and inspirations, both in my music and my style,” he told Stylelist by way of explanation. His seventh album does show remarkable agility — and complete willingness to subvert any and all genre restrictions. The title track has a smooth Hall & Oates vibe; with help from Swedish House Mafia, “Euphoria” and “Numb” cull from Swedish technopop; “What Happened To U,” appropriately, channels Prince; and a techno-fied sample of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” snakes through “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” Even tracks that emphasize Usher’s most potent talent — that would be a heavenly falsetto — eschew convention. Minimalist digital ephemera blips through “Climax,” while “I Care 4 U” has dubstep-inspired stutter-step production and “Twisted” is a rhythm-buckled soul revue. Wildly creative and nuanced. – Annie Zaleski

WATCH “Chico & Rita.” An animated film in Spanish that’s absolutely not for kids (unless your kids are good with R-rated sexy time), this dazzling tale of lost love and musical revolution posed an insuperable marketing challenge for North American audiences, and remains the year’s biggest undiscovered delight. If Paul Gauguin had ever collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie, this would be the result: From the brilliant tropical colors of postwar Havana to a wintry, monochrome Manhattan (and onward to Hollywood, Paris and Las Vegas), “Chico & Rita” is a wonderland of visual delights, driven along by the finger-popping jazz, Latin and pop score from 93-year-old Cuban musical legend Bebo Valdés. But please don’t convince yourself that “Chico & Rita” is some niche product for animation buffs and Latin-jazz fans; the niche for this wondrous work (from Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba and the artist-designer team of Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando) includes anyone who’s interested in music or art or love or movies or Cuba or America or the cultural history of the 20th century. It’s that good; in fact, it’s that great. (While the DVD won’t be out until September, you can get the terrific soundtrack now, on MP3 or CD.) –Andrew O’Hehir

FOLLOW Jenny Holzer, Mom. What, another parody Twitter account? We know, but there’s just too much irresistible genius in the reinvention of the woman who’s been dispensing short-form wisdom electronically since before the dawn of social networking as an all caps everymom. Now if only we could project “MISTAKES AREN’T MISTAKES IF YOU LEARN FROM THEM SO I HOPE YOU LEARNED SOMETHING FROM THAT HAIRCUT” and “YOUR VOICE CAN FELL WALLS AND IF YOU DON’T STOP I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND” projected across the walls of our children’s bedrooms. – Mary Elizabeth Williams

MORE MUSTS! Read the other parts of this series:

  • Part Five — EXTRA CREDIT (You’ll be the cool name-dropper if you can talk about these)
  • Part One — URGENT (Watch now or you won’t know what people are talking about)
  • Part Two — ESSENTIAL (As good as your cool friends say)
  • Part Three — WORTH IT (Because you can’t spend all your time playing Words With Friends)

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>