Why It’s Finally Time to Get Rid of Music Charts

I discovered record charts in junior high school. Trying, yet again, to be cool, I started listening to Z-100, the local New York City Top 40 station. I was shocked to learn that all of pop music could be reduced to 40 songs. It seemed way too small. At the time, it felt like Madonna must have had 50 top-10 hits all by herself. I eventually found my way off of Top 40 into the heavy metal parking lot that was suburban Queens in 1988, but I remained fascinated by the idea of record charts and how something as personal and as expansive as music could be distilled to a chart position. It’s why I read with interest about Rolling Stone delaying the launch of their own music chart, which was supposed to use an algorithm to figure out and weight what people are actually listening to nowadays. Music charts used to be simple things. (And they sure as hell didn’t get sued by pissed-off DJs.) People either bought a single/album, or they listened to it on the radio. Now, as Rolling Stone has learned, it’s gotten more complicated. There’s streaming. There are online radio stations. There are podcasts. And […]

The Matrix Was Prescient About the Online World, But Also the Real World

There’s a tension at the heart of The Matrix. The film frames its machine-forged digital ecosystem as a prison, as a lie intended to keep humanity docile. It’s the work of an authority that means to tame us. But the Matrix itself is also a world of unlimited possibility, one where you can look cooler than the real world would ever allow, do what no flesh-and-blood human ever could, and see and feel and experience things that simply aren’t possible outside of this virtual space. The film quickly establishes a tug-of-war between the truth but meager subsistence the real world offer and the blinding but comforting falsehood of the world made out of ones and zeroes. The inherent push and pull between those two realms keeps The Matrix resonant 20 years later. Granted, certain elements of the film feel dated, like the phone-centric imagery that made sense in an age of dial-up but seems quaint in an era of ubiquitous connectivity. And yet, beyond the movie’s stunning action, intriguing and adaptable premise, and philosophical bent, the thing that makes the film remain so potent and prescient in 2019 is how that essential dichotomy it presents is still with us. Because […]

Luke Perry Redefined Cool and Slayed My Heart

“I always felt like something of an outsider, but I identified with people on the screen.” –Luke Perry Hearts didn’t just stop at the sight of Luke Perry; they doubled, at least for this writer. As a young and easily confused six-year-old, seeing Dylan McKay show up on the third episode of Fox’s Beverly Hills 90210 was confounding. Here was this loner, this rebel, this real James Dean type, who was a complete juxtaposition from the rest of the hunks — from Jason Priestley’s kindhearted braniac Brandon Walsh to Ian Ziering’s insufferable Steve Sanders. He defined “slacker chic”: he was effeminate, he wore his heart on his sleeve, and he won over the coolest of the West Beverly girls. It was an instant first sell, too. When we first meet Dylan, he’s literally surrounded by bolts of electricity as he slinks out of the shadows of West Beverly’s computer lab. From there, he scares off two jocks, gets Brandon to cut school, cruises around in a vintage Porsche convertible with a copy of Byron, surfs the big waves, breaks the big boards, and orders hamburgers in his millionaire father’s hotel suite with some Beverly babes. Though, as we all learn […]