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What’s up with you? Oh, me? Literally nothing, apart from thinking about how the sun won’t set after 7 p.m. again until next March. Time to get out the old SAD lamp, I guess.
I’m just going to try to focus on the things we can celebrate, though. I’m going to a wedding this weekend, and the weather is going to be perfect for cheering on people who love each other. Speaking of which, Elamin Abdelmahmoud’s column this week is about director Kevin Smith revealing that Ben Affleck’s wedding speech was really long. Like, 12 pages long. (If you’re talking about J.Lo, you’d better come prepared, that’s all I’ll say.)
Rina Sawayama’s new album dropped yesterday, so I wrote about the Charli XCX song “Beg for You,” which the Japanese British pop star features on. “Beg for You” came out in the winter, but it has true summer vibes (according to me). Yeah, I’m holding on to the sun for dear life.
Yours as ever,
Estelle Tang, deputy culture editor
This week, director Kevin Smith revealed in an interview that Ben Affleck’s wedding speech was “like a 12-page speech” that he described as “breathtaking.” I have been utterly delighted by the confirmation that Affleck is privately a verbose and forthcoming fella, because we simply don’t hear him say much in public. Sure, he got animated defending Islam on Bill Maher, and he was heartfelt and generous about sobriety on Howard Stern a few months ago, but these occasions are few and far between. In the era of a million celebrity podcasts, Affleck has made himself relatively scarce. Instead, much of his presence has hinged on images, mostly taken by paparazzi.
We mostly don’t know what made it into Affleck’s speech, except one thing: He quoted himself. Last week, Jennifer Lopez said in her newsletter that he cited the 2016 movie Live by Night, which he wrote and directed, in his wedding address. “This is heaven. Right here. We’re in it now,” was the quote — a simple sentence that J.Lo describes as “one of [her] favorite lines that Ben wrote.”
Live by Night was — how do we put this delicately — uh…a flop. The adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel follows a gangster in an existential rut. Before its release, expectations were high, but it performed poorly at the box office and with critics. Yet none of this seems to matter to ol’ Ben, who deployed his own art at his own wedding.
Perhaps Affleck has never felt the need to be publicly emotive because he saves it for the people close to him. Perhaps he makes art that is earnest and deeply felt and doesn’t care much about its financial performance or critics’ reviews. Or, as Smith put it, “That’s one of my favorite things about Ben; he’s his own biggest fan.” How many of us can say the same about ourselves? —Elamin Abdelmahmoud
Right now, I have two things on my mind: the end of summer (sob) and Rina Sawayama (awesome). Steffi Cao wrote a cool profile of the pop star this week on the occasion of her new album Hold the Girl, and reading it made me want to go back to Sawayama’s collaboration with Charli XCX.
“Beg for You” came out in January and was featured on Charli’s spring album, Crash, but I’ve ended up listening to it a lot over the past few months. Initially, there’s something familiar in the melody, like wandering through a funhouse, catching the tiniest glimpses of something you think you recognize. That’s because the song interpolates Swedish singer September’s 2007 single “Cry for You,” which itself references a raindroplike synth line from Bronski Beat’s ’80s hit “Smalltown Boy.” All this decades-old yearning gets extruded through Charli and Rina’s Xennial brattitude to become a beautifully ragey little love rant.
It also exemplifies one of my favorite pop tropes: two girls on a lark. Like the title brashly announces, this is a horny song about missing someone. The lyrics could easily be a dialog between lovers; the real-life context supports that reading, since Sawayama is pansexual and Charli’s music is compulsory on any dancefloor within half an inch of a queer person. But to me — and this might have something to do with my feeling reflective about a strange, surprisingly joyful summer — their rapport feels more like mutual amplification than entreaty. They also look like twin witches in the music video, dancing in sync as they summon something (?) out of a pool of blood (???). With Charli in one ear and Rina in the other, “Beg for You” feels like two niche legends feeding off each other’s energy and riffing themselves into a dance-pop Transformer, especially when they close the track out with a delicious, hyperbouncy breakdown of the chorus.
You know what it feels like to belt the song of the summer out a car window with your friends? It’s camp vibes. It’s eating french fries on a trampoline. It’s pouring the rest of your beer into the river because it’s warm. It’s laughing so hard with your friends that you can’t remember what the joke was at all. Hope you all had some summer moments like that too. —Estelle Tang
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