‘Black Panther’ And The Evolution Of The Movie Soundtrack

Photo via Marvel.


Of all the praise that has rightfully been thrown at Black Panther, special mention has been given to its accompanying soundtrack album. The story of its inception—Kendrick Lamar being brought in to do one track, seeing an early cut, and deciding to get the gang together to do the whole thing—already feels like Hollywood folklore, a testament to the impact of such a film that it can inspire the biggest hip-hop star in the world to drop a new record in collaboration with several other luminaries of the genre, and have it stand alongside the rest of his output. Damn.

The use of pop music to augment a film’s soundtrack, either in opposition to or conjunction with a score, feels like a '90s thing—Quentin Tarantino offsetting his hyper-aware pastiche-y flicks with cuts from his own record collection, or the sonic blueprint of '90s teen movies such as 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, and American Pie, all of which heavily utilized slick, radio friendly college rock. However, it was the New Hollywood era of the '60s and 70s when this trend began—"Everybody’s Talkin’" in Midnight Cowboy; "This Is the End" in Apocalypse Now, "Born to Be Wild" in Easy Rider. This intertextuality scarcely existed before, when original scores would help guide a movie’s rise and fall. Pop songs do something different entirely, playing on the audience’s assumed knowledge of the song in order to blur the lines between the world of the film and the world of the viewer.

Marvel has form here already, with Star Lord’s mixtape of retro bangers playing such a key role in Guardians of the Galaxybut Black Panther doesn’t appropriate existing work, it’s created something new. In that sense, it’s more like another film of the New Hollywood era, The Graduate, which relies heavily on Simon and Garfunkel’s music to help create its languorous atmosphere. In that example, the songs are used in the same way a score would be; think of the way "The Sound of Silence" is returned to intermittently throughout the film, effectively used as a theme to reflect Benjamin Braddock’s quarter life crisis, deployed at the film’s climax to guide our interpretation of the ending. With the film’s other main song, "Mrs Robinson," you have a defacto tie-in tune, no different to Justin Timberlake’s "Can’t Stop the Feeling" from Trolls, or Toy Story’s "You’ve Got a Friend."

However, there’s no suggestion that Simon and Garfunkel exist in the world of The Graduate, the music is used non-diegetically, purely for the audience. This is not the case with Black Panther. In a scene where Ulysses Klaue attempts to sell vibranium in a casino in Busan, the ensuing car chase between Klaue and his henchmen, and T’Challa and the Wakandans begins with Klaue introducing the soundtrack to the scene directly, putting "Paramedic!" on in his car before gunning it through the streets. Kendrick therefore not only helps create the world for us, he is present within the film itself.

We’re talking about the invention of a new role in cinema here, that of a musical curator or producer, rather than a composer. The Coen Brothers tried a similar approach with their Odyssey-inspired O Brother, Where Art Thou?, bringing in Americana producer T-Bone Burnett for the soundtrack. His enlisting of the vanguard of alt-country combined with more familiar names from the genre—Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris—would go on to win Album of the Year at the Grammies, and have an immeasurable influence on the genre’s public reception as a whole. More recently, Lorde curated the soundtrack of The Hunger Games. Kendrick’s role here is along the same lines.

The concept of the cinematic universe wasn’t really discussed prior to Marvel’s hostile takeover of summer blockbusters. Franchises that existed before didn’t worry about how each film related to the next, each was a stand alone piece, but with the ever-increasing web of movies and TV shows that make up the MCU, each with its own set of cultural references, the discussion around cinema has changed. A director’s vision now not only extends to the what’s in the scene, but what’s beyond it too. With respect to Black Panther, the choice to have Kendrick Lamar curate the soundtrack in such an all encompassing, bespoke way is a cinematic choice as much as it is a stylistic, or marketing choice.

The common thread between The Graduate; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; The Hunger Games; and now Black Panther is one of world building. However, here it has a much more subtle, long-lasting effect. Hip-hop has a propensity for references and easter eggs, remixing pop-culture and, maybe more than any other genre, grounding songs in the present. It makes perfect sense that there would be a hip-hop record about Wakanda, because if hip-hop existed in the world of the film, the country would be a huge reference point, a touchstone from which you could speak about politics, glamour, power, ambition. Given the film’s success, it’s unlikely this will be the nation’s last appearance in the genre. With Kendrick’s help, it may have become a new part of hip-hop’s vocabulary.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.