Movie Review | ‘Out’

Disney and LGBTQ+ theme content has not always been positive. The “Love, Simon” spin-off was shipped off to Hulu instead of Disney+ due to feeling that it wouldn’t appropriate for families to watch with their children. While I rolled my eyes hard at this, their subsidiary Pixar produced an LGBTQ+ for their short film series on Disney+ streaming platform just in time for Pride month.

“Out” is a nine-minutes short written and directed by Steven Hunter, who is best known for animating “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” It’s the first Disney and Pixar movie to feature a gay main character and on-screen same-sex kiss. The short is apart of Pixar’s “SparkShorts” series on Disney+. The series is a program present by Pixar employees where they have six months and a limited budget to produce short films. These short films are personal and based on personal experiences. “SparkShorts” and the program was created to produced new filmmakers.

“It’s somewhat based on my coming-out story, and yet it’s nothing like my coming-out story,” Steven told Entertainment. Weekly, “I was trying to make a film for my 17-year-old queer self, the guy who needed to see something of himself in a film,” 

The film follows Greg as he and his boyfriend Manuel are boxing up Greg’s home for a move. Greg’s parents surprise him by showing up at his doorstep. Greg hides his life with Manuel as Manuel leaves through the backdoor due to him not being out with his parents. As he tries to keep his parents from finding out that he’s gay, he and his dog end up switching places due to a magical cat and dog.

This film is adorable. When I first watched it, I wasn’t too sure about it because of Disney’s past with LGBTQ+. The story is something that hit homes for everyone LGBTQ+ has to deal with – Coming out. It deals with it sweetly. Because it’s an animated film, the director was able to take a different approach to the coming out theme. We have never seen a “Freaky Friday” take to it. I mean, there are not that many films to deal with coming out, but that is beside the point.

My biggest complaint with it isn’t with the content of the film but rather how it sugar-coated for Disney. The film has a PG rating. The rating is because of the fact two men kiss in the movie. I don’t see how why parent guidance would be needed just because of the kiss. There are many worse animated things that Disney has on Disney+ than two men kissing. Frankly, the film is more of a G rating.

The PG rating just perpetuates the notion that being LGBTQ+ isn’t right. You don’t need to have a conversation with your kids about being gay unless they are. It’s not something you need to talk about like it’s a lesson. Now if they are being homophobic, then that is something that needs to be addressed. But treating two people of the same gender as something parents need to discuss with their children is wrong. While Disney made a step in the right direction with “Out,” the rating isn’t.

There is also a pacing issue with the film. It is trying to get much information and tell the store in under 10 minutes. The film starts well, and then it kind of rushes in the middle and once Greg switches bodies with his dog. It is not a big pacing issue, but it seemed like they wanted to spend more time with Greg in his dog’s body but ran out of time and had to wrap it up. I also want to know more about the magical dog and cat. That was just random. There is probably no meaning behind them besides just being a plot device to how Greg and his dog traded bodies.

Verdict

“Out” is an excellent short film that I think everyone needs to watch, whether they are LGBTQ+ or not. It is just a sweet film that we need more of it in the media. I hope that Disney and Pixar do more LGBTQ+ movies/series, only without the slightly problematic rating. I do wish that the film was longer because it has a slight pacing issue. “Out” is currently available only on Disney+

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Single Review | ‘Mood Ring (By Demand)’

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It’s been four years since the one and only Britney Spears graced us with a single. The last single we got was “Slumber Party,” a collaboration with Tinashe from Britney’s ninth album “Glory.” It is only fitting that her first single in 2020 would be the Japanese bonus track from “Glory.” Yep, you read that right. A track that was recorded five years ago is now released as a single.

Click here to read the review for Britney’s “Glory”

I’ve turned some hearts into stone
And I can’t hide it no more

“Mood Ring” was released as a gift to Britney’s fan after the campaign #JusticeForGlory successfully got Britney’s ninth to the number one spot on the iTunes pop album charts. Britney also gave the standard edition of “Glory” a new album cover, which was frankly much need. The release of the song as a shock to all as Britney posted about to her Instagram less than 12 hours prior to its midnight release.

New cover for “Glory”

The song was produced by DJ Mustard. “Mood Ring” was also now dubbed “Mood Ring (By Demand).” The song is a sultry and sex dance-pop number with a touch of EDM. Melanie Fontana and Jon Asher wrote the song with Britney in mind. Melanie and Jon channeled the energy that Britney’s 2001 classic and iconic song “I’m A Slave 4 U.”

“We consistently asked ourselves, “What would ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ Britney do in 2016?” Melanie said to Billboard.com, “That’s where our heads were at. And that shines through on the track.”  During an Instagram Live, Melanie showed off the demo that originally pitched to The Chainsmokers. The Chainsmokers sinned and turned it down due to it being “too girly.”

The vocals on the song are some of the best vocals that we have gotten from Britney in years. They were reminiscent of her early work. “Baby One more More time” and “Oops!… I Did It Again” was more vocal-heavy in comparison to what she released after.

“Producing her vocals, I went for the natural, nostalgic sound of Britney with a modern edge to it,” Jon said, “I was referencing “Oops!… I Did It Again” with the phone-like filter I put on her adlibs, some of her runs and the bridge.” “Mood Ring” is actually Britney’s favorite song off of “Glory.

“This is incredible! ‘Mood Ring’ is one of my favorite songs on Glory, it’s so vibey and sexy,” Britney told Billboard.com exclusively.

Thoughts on the song

I was hoping for a new song that we haven’t heard before and kicked off a new album, but I’ve come to expect things like this as a Britney stan. I’ve had this song part of my Britney catalog for years and it’s always one of those songs where I’ll listen to it but it’s not one I will seek out. I’m not big on this track. I do think it’s a perfect track vocally. I’m not a fan of the production. It feels like it should drop that beat and pick up but it doesn’t. It’s just a slow burn and it works for the feel. The lyrics are extremely catchy. Especially the chorus.

I do hope that Britney and her team actually give Mood Ring the full single treatment as “Glory” is one of the most underrated album in her discography. People slept on the singles and while “Glory” made it number three on the Billboard Hot 200, it’s often overlooked. “Mood Ring (By Demand)” made it to the number one spot on the iTunes chart on release date.

Verdict

“Mood Ring (By Demand)” is a decent song. I love the vocals and the catchy lyrics from it. The production on it isn’t bad. I get it’s a slow burn sex bop but I just wish it would have a little more bark to its bite. The song does perfectly sum up the overall feel of “Glory” and I’m glad that it’s getting the light of day. I just hope that RCA Records, Britney’s label, actually gives the full single treatment to it and it’s just not something to keep Britney’s fans happy. I do recommend the song just for how catchy it is.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande save 2020 with ‘Rain on Me’

During these troubling times filled with economic uncertainty and unbridled social woes, there are two things America needs right now: Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. On Friday, May 21, Lady Gaga and Ariana released their collaboration from Lady Gaga’s upcoming sixth album “Chromatica” to light into the world.

I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive

“Rain on Me” is a dance-pop song that was written by Lady Gaga and Ariana along with a lot of other people. There’s a lot of writers on this song, like a lot of pop songs. The song came about after Gaga and Ariana had a conversation. This is also probably due to “Rain on Me” sampling the Gwen McCrae song “All This Love That I’m Giving.”

The single cover

“I sat with her and we talked about our lives. It’s two women having a conversation about how to keep going and how to be grateful for what you do.” Gaga told Paper magazine. She also hinted that she collaborated with Ariana by telling the magazine that she “collaborate with a fellow female pop star, who has similarly experienced immense trauma while in the public eye.” Everyone saw past that hint because the internet happened. It wasn’t confirmed until May 15th when Ariana and Gaga posted about “Rain on Me” on their social media.

“Rain on Me” could be considered to be the sister song to Ariana’s 2018 single “No Tears Left to Cry.” The song is about letting go of pain and just embracing it. Gaga said during her May 21 interview with Zane Lowe that the lyric “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive, rain on me” was a metaphor for the tears and alcohol that she was using to numb her pain. Yep, this song is super deep, like all good pop songs.

Thoughts on the song

Honestly, I’m not huge on the song. “Rain on me” starting to warm up on me, but I still not a big fan. It reminds me of a song that you would hear at the end of the anime as the credits roll. I kind of wish they would let the beat drop more and let the little anime creature loose. That would make the song stand out more.

I can still admit that the song is a banger. “Rain on Me” is going to be the song of the summer. I also see this song becoming an LGBTQ+ anthem, especially with Ariana and Gaga’s popularity and support of LGBTQ+. Besides the 90s anime feel to the song, it also reminded me of something that we would have heard on Gaga’s first two albums, “Fame Monster” and “Born This Way.” Especially with the spoken words on in the bridge. It’s the Gaga that we’ve been waiting to have back

The vocals on the song are what you would expect from Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. It feels like Ariana is holding back. There are parts, especially after the bridge, where you know that Ari would normally belt it but, the belting isn’t there. There a start of it, but it just never takes off. You could say the same for Gaga as well. It’s like they are trying to let each other shine and not overshadow.

The Music Video

The video for “Rain On Me” takes place in Gaga’s “Chromatica” universe, which got set up in the video for her first single “Stupid Love.” Taking place in the future, factions have dance battles to reign supreme and bring love into the world. There’s no tie into the video for “Stupid Love,” at least that I could tell.

Gaga and Ariana are dancing in the rain and looking iconic with their gangs. Gaga has a knife in her leg for reasons. She also cosplays as Ariana in the end. Spoiler: She nails it. The video is simple and just visually appealing. It works for the video, especially during this time of quarantine. I just wish I understood what is going on.

Verdict

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

While I’m not a massive fan of the song, I cannot deny that Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me” is a bop. The lyrics are deep and meaningful with an excellent dance beat that will let you keep on dancing until the world stops ending. I do wish that the beat was bigger for the song as well as the vocals didn’t sound like both singers were holding back. The video is also very well done and is visually stunning. I do recommend checking out the video and the song. It’s worth the listen, especially for your summer playlist.

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Album review | Selena Gomez ‘Rare (Deluxe Edition)’

While 2020 has sucked a big one, at least the music of 2020 has been outstanding. It also gave us our first full-fledge Selena Gomez album since 2015. It’s been five years since the former Disney star blessed the world with a full-length release. Up until this point, we were just served singles. Some were good, and some were meh. None were bad. So let’s talk about her third album, “Rare.”

Click here to check out reviews for Target bonus tracks:

Bad Liar“|”Fetish“|”Back to You“|”It Ain’t Me

Of course, she was sad
But now she’s glad she dodged a bullet 

Originally released on January 10, 2020 “Rare” is the third solo album, from Selena Gomez. The original release contained 13 songs, which her previous singles being bonus tracks from Target. She re-released the album with four new tracks: “Feel Me,” “Boyfriend,” “She,” and Souvenir” on April 9th.

Before new tracks

“Rare” is probably Selena’s strongest album to date, besides “Stars Dance.” It takes the best parts of her last album, “Revival,” and focuses more on that. The album was produced by the way too many people.

According to the Wikipedia pages, this album had about 26 producers credits. It kind of shows as there’s no one set genre and its kind of all over the place with its sound. It’s not a bad thing, nor it’s not a good thing. It’s a step in the right direction on refining her sound. The tracks are more mature, like her and her sound. Positive news: This is the first album where I can honestly say, I don’t think Justin Beiber had anything refers in the lyrics besides “Look at Her Now.”

While “Bad Liar” and “Fetish” are available for the Target bonus tracks, I think it was a step in the wrong direction not to include them on this album as regular tracks. They do fit this album with the overall feel of the album. “Back to You” slightly provides it, but the fact that “Wolves” and “It Ain’t Me” as a bonus just doesn’t make any sense. They are more Stars Dance era and just don’t help to end the album right. It might be a Pop/Dance album, but it’s not an EDM influenced Pop/Dance album.

Speaking of the bonus tracks, just adding them to the end is just lazy. Like at least mix them in actual tracklist. You could have quickly figure out how to include them. It would help the flow better than just randomly ending on “Wolves.”

After new tracks

With the edition of the new tracks, Selena changed up the tracklisting. This lead to some questionable choices in the flow of the album. The deluxe version starts with “Boyfriend” and then goes into “Lose You to Love Me.” At first, I was like, “this is random but okay.” When you listen to the two songs together, it’s a mood. They do make the album better and the fact they rearranged besides the bonus tracks.

Did “Rare” need these tracks? Nope, honestly, adding these tracks was more of just fan service that wasn’t needed. These tracks were songs that the fans wanted and were probably meant to boost sales. But they didn’t do anything to help back the album besides flow. I’m glad that these songs got put out into the world, but they easily could have been put as an EP.

Verdict

“Rare” is the best album from Selena so far. The album is more mature and takes the best of her previous albums and just makes it better. There’s not any replay value to it. It’s not going to say that the songs are catchy. But this isn’t a dance album, nor is it something that’s you are going to want to listen to on repeat. I’ve only listened to the album a handful of times, and I’m okay with that. I do recommend this album as it’s a great pop album.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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