It’s been just four years since the last St. Vincent album, but as with so many things here in our never-ending pandemic purgatory, it already feels like a generation. The Dallas native, also known as Annie Clark, probed at the hollow cavities of her sudden celebrity on 2017’s Masseduction, a meta-pop exploration of all the anxiety and self-destruction and utter loneliness suffocating beneath her sexy, skin-tight veneer. In our current, sweatpants-cosseted age of social distancing, that album’s wry musings on sex and ennui now seem incredibly distant—what wouldn’t some of us give to feel so jaded and alone in the middle of a party full of big-city phonies, rather than just on the couch.
So it makes sense that St. Vincent’s next album, announced just this week, will take a slightly more nostalgic point of view toward those neon trappings. Daddy’s Home, due May 14, is a record that “collects stories of being down and out in downtown NYC,” as Clark says in a press release. “Last night’s heels on the morning train. Glamour that’s been up for three days straight.” She’s reaching back to a gritty, early seventies nadir of post–hippie idealism to capture our contemporary limbo. “We’re in the grimy, sleazy, trying-to-figure-out-where-we-go-from-here period,” Clark told Rolling Stone, and her new music reflects that with its nods to vintage Sly Stone and David Bowie at his cocaine-alien peak. Bowie is definitely all over the video for lead single “Pay Your Way in Pain,” a sexed-up-and-strung-out slab of bluesy funk that finds Clark, her hair cut into a shaggy blond bob, vamping in a Thin White Duke suit beneath a field of Soul Train-ready starburst filters.
And while all of this sounds about as far away from Texas as you can get, Daddy’s Home may actually be the closest Clark has come to joining her bicoastal pop persona to her secret Metroplex identity. As the title suggests, the album was largely inspired by her stockbroker father, who spent much of the past decade in a Texas prison on a twelve-year sentence for fraud. Clark, who wrote the 2011 album Strange Mercy about her family’s experience, says she used his 2019 release as a jumping-off point to write songs about the need for “compassion and empathy and change and redemption,” all born out of her frustration with the conditions of her dad’s incarceration and the U.S. penal system in general. As she tells The Guardian, it’s a record about looking for the basic humanity in “flawed people just doing our best to get by.” That’s a sentiment we can all understand, even two thousand miles from Manhattan—and if that’s not enough for you, apparently the album’s also got some pedal steel.
Emmanuel Acho Accepts This Rose On Behalf of Racial Reconciliation
Also creating positives out of negatives this week is Emmanuel Acho, a man who’s been a lot of things to Texas over the years—most of them related to football. But more recently, the Dallas-born University of Texas alum has found arguably greater acclaim as an activist. His YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, has become one of the web’s foremost forums on American race relations, spawning a bestselling book of the same name. It’s this role that has made Acho well suited for his latest gig: hosting The Bachelor’s upcoming “After the Final Rose” special, capping off a season of the long-running reality series that’s become one long, uncomfortable conversation in the wake of one contestant’s recently unearthed racist past. Acho will be filling in for longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison, who stepped away from the show after defending said contestant in an interview—and Acho says he plans to confront the controversy head-on.
“This is huge for me in the work for racial reconciliation, because it shows that in the midst of turmoil, racial turmoil, across one of America’s most-watched shows over the last two decades, I’m seen as a thought generator,” Acho told People. The appearance also represents the culmination of Acho’s lengthy, if somewhat tangential, relationship with The Bachelor franchise, which has twice asked him to compete on The Bachelorette. Acho’s friend, former contestant Rachel Lindsay, was also among those advocating for him to get the hosting gig. The March 15 special is already proving to be a star-making turn for Acho, and it promises to be highly watched, even among those who don’t keep up with the show—provided, as the 2019 Emmanuel Acho would agree, there’s not a game on.
Jonathan Majors Officially Makes the Jump to Leading Man
Acho’s fellow Metroplex star Jonathan Majors has similarly made confronting racism into compelling television with his role on HBO’s Lovecraft Country, a breakout performance that, along with 2019’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, put Majors on his current path to Marvel-movie megastardom. His rising star has also just landed him the lead in the upcoming 892, where he’ll play a Marine grappling with the return to civilian life, as well as with the lingering trauma of war. (The title presumably refers to the U.S. code on failure to obey orders, something that will likely play into the character’s ongoing torment.) Deadline notes that 892 marks the feature directing debut of Abi Damaris Corbin, and—along with Netflix’s upcoming star-studded western, The Harder They Fall—it similarly heralds the arrival of Majors as a leading man, a swift ascent that began just a scant four years ago when he joined the ABC miniseries When We Rise. Say, what did you accomplish over the past four years? That’s nice.
Take a Peloton Class with Megan Thee Stallion
Life has also moved pretty fast for Megan Thee Stallion since 2017, back when the Houston star was just an underground rapper angling for her shot on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop. Today, she’s an institution, as confirmed by this week’s launch of a series of Megan Thee Stallion–themed Peloton classes. Like a guest appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was in the 1960s, getting your music in the background of Peloton’s immensely popular bike rides and boot camps is the modern pinnacle of having “made it,” putting Megan in the rarefied company of the Beatles, Metallica, and her fellow Houstonian Beyoncé, and landing her potentially millions of sweaty and susceptible listeners. Peloton subscribers can access all of the Megan Thee Stallion classes as of today—and if you need an extra shot of empowerment before working on your core, there’s also Megan’s just-released Calvin Klein ad.
Megan Thee Stallion for Calvin Klein’s Spring 2021 Campaign.
Shot by Terence Nance. pic.twitter.com/JKYCbF9scF
— Tina Snow Updates (@theestallionhq) March 4, 2021
Watch Tye Sheridan Get Lost in Space
Tye Sheridan is also peaking this week—although unfortunately, not as an actor. The East Texas–bred X-Men star has had an off couple of years in terms of projects, and the just-released trailer for Voyagers suggests that streak is likely to continue. Sheridan stars alongside Colin Farrell and Lily-Rose Depp in the film about a group of attractive young people who are blasted into orbit aboard some kind of space station, then given an experimental dose of a weird blue something-or-other to determine whether psychoactive drugs will make them act crazy and horny. All their ensuing cosmic raves and space orgies inevitably descend into violence and madness, with the whole thing coming off like a mash-up of Gaspar Noé’s Climax, Claire Denis’s High Life, and the worst parts of every EDM festival. At least Sheridan looks like he had a good time?
Nick Jonas, Pedro Pascal, and Others Make Some Calls
If you’re of the belief that actors should be heard and not seen, then Apple TV Plus’s upcoming Calls may be the show for you. Adapted from the French series of the same name, it’s billed as an “auditory thriller”: each twelve-minute episode lays out a short-form mystery told entirely through the static-y recordings of phone conversations; it’s as if the frantic 911 calls on Dateline NBC got their very own show. You might recognize some Texan (and Texas-adjacent celebrities) buried somewhere beneath all the distortion. Dallas native Nick Jonas, Texas City’s Edi Patterson, San Antonio’s Pedro Pascal, and UT alum Mark Duplass number among the all-star cast, their voices represented on-screen solely by flickering sound waves and abstract lines. Apple promises that Calls is “unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before,” which is definitely true if you’ve never listened to a podcast.
Don Hertzfeldt and Jamie Foxx Lead the Annie Awards
Some slightly more traditional animation involving Texans is being recognized at the forty-eighth annual Annie Awards, which drew its nominees this week from a relatively scarce crop of new movies. This cleared the way for total domination from Disney/Pixar’s Soul, starring Terrell’s own Jamie Foxx as a jazzman lost in the afterlife, which picked up ten nominations, including Best Feature. Soul likely stands to trounce such limited competition as The Croods: A New Age and Pixar’s own Onward. In the category of Best Short Subject, perennial Annie contender Don Hertzfeldt garnered another nod for the latest episode of World of Tomorrow, his existential, droll-yet-heartfelt sci-fi series completed entirely within his Austin home studio. Winners will be announced via virtual ceremony on April 16.
Watch Post Malone Sing Hootie and the Blowfish to Some Pokémon
Provided there’s an Annie category for Best Short That Fills People of a Certain Age With Confusion and the Enervating Sense That Life Is Drawing Even More Rapidly to a Close, then Post Malone’s recent thirteen-minute romp through the land of Pokémon should be a lock for next year. The Grapevine rapper followed the lead of Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert by performing a virtual show to celebrate the Japanese franchise’s twenty-fifth anniversary, with Malone appearing (tattoos and all) in cartoon avatar form for a livestreamed show that found him singing his hits while floating over a frolicking Pikachu, then giving an undersea serenade to a noticeably nonplussed Jellicent.
The whole thing culminated in the debut of Malone’s latest single, a cover of Hootie and the Blowfish’s 1994 hit “Only Wanna Be With You” that found the die-hard Dallas fan tweaking the song’s lyrics to “the Cowboys make me cry,” while leaving anyone who’s old enough to remember the original song wondering what in fresh hell was going on. Malone’s rendition of “Only Wanna Be With You” will also be released as part of Pokemon 25: The Album this fall, joining Crocs, Bud Light, and Doritos in the arena of Malone-elevated things that mock your carefully cultivated sense of “taste” as old and irrelevant.
This Week in Matthew McConaughey
Malone’s fellow Doritos pitchman and occasional statesman Matthew McConaughey has his own virtual concert in the works. Sadly, it won’t feature the Austin actor dancing next to any cartoon monsters, but it still aims to bring some form of deliverance. This week, McConaughey built on his recent avowal to stage some sort of benefit for Texans who were left struggling by those devastating winter storms, announcing that he’ll host a show he’s calling We’re Texas. McConaughey promises the show will feature “some of the biggest talents in music with soulful performances and real-life stories from Texans that all speak to the heart of the Lone Star State,” though he’s yet to reveal anything more concrete than that, either in terms of confirmed participants or a date. However, he did debut a new We’re Texas logo, proving that graphic design is his passion.
We’re Texas – a virtual fundraising concert and event hosted by me for the people and places affected by Winter Storm Uni. We’ve got some of the biggest talents in music with soulful performances and real life stories from Texans that all speak to the heart of the Lone Star State pic.twitter.com/9vOgbfZEBD
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) February 27, 2021
Admittedly, all of that isn’t much to go on, but some credit is probably due to McConaughey for thinking about Texas at all—especially when, as the New York Post reports, he’s now got a $7.85 million “Hawaiian oasis” to escape to whenever he feels like it. McConaughey’s sprawling, six-bedroom campus on a golf resort in Kailua-Kona is said to boast a “barefoot elegance,” replete with outdoor kitchens, a bocce ball court, a private lanai outside every master suite, a massive 66-foot infinity pool, and—hopefully—some really good curtains that he can use to hide all of that stuff, whenever he makes another of his sympathetic video addresses to all the people back home.