Between movies, books, music, comics, podcasts, and the ever-growing glut of TV, there’s a ton of pop culture out there.
It can be a lot to keep up with. So we here at Vox Culture — where we’re currently into an infuriatingly compelling WikiLeaks documentary, new singles from long-dormant bands, and a deflating Pikachu — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are some items you should really consider adding to your culture diet this week.
Haim releases their new single “Right Now” with a one-shot video
The sister-rock group Haim, made up of guitar and keyboard player Alana, bassist Este, and guitarist and lead vocalist Danielle, released new music for the first time in nearly four years on April 27. “Right Now,” their haunting new track, opens with Danielle’s vocals, spare drums, and piano, and then spends four minutes layering instruments and voices from the rest of the band to create a driving, stirring song about desire.
The video was shot by director Paul Thomas Anderson in one long, continuous tracking shot, capturing every guitar’s creak and each woman’s footsteps and letting the band’s personality shine through. The sweeping camerawork is genuinely mesmerizing — it’s easy to get lost in this video. And the band followed it up by releasing another new song, “We Want You Back,” all in anticipation of the July 7 release of their album Something to Tell You — their first since 2013’s Days Are Gone. —Bridgett Henwood
Secret Empire is the comic book crossover of summer that everyone will be talking about
There is no comic book more divisive right now than Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna’s Secret Empire. The story builds on the idea that Captain America is a Hydra agent, and thrusts the plot into incendiary territory: a story where the Allies actually lost World War II and used a cosmic artifact to change the course of history. In short, Captain America has always been an agent of Hydra. Spencer and Acuna’s series has been loved and hated, but it’s also opened up a new dialogue about classic comic book creators, their characters, and who owns their legacy. —Alex Abad-Santos
Riverdale, the show that dared to ask, “What if Twin Peaks but also Dawson’s Creek but also Crimson Peak?” finishes its first season
You may have been skeptical when The CW first announced that it would be revamping the famously peppy Archie comics as a broody, sexy, noir-inflected teen soap, but in its first season, Riverdale has proven to be a campy delight. Angst! Musical numbers! The existence of a maple syrup sex-and-murder cult where, when you say, “Doesn’t that place seem a little incestuous and also all the red hair looks really fake?” the show reveals that the cult is into incest and also owns a closet with thousands of luxurious redheaded wigs! The most recent five episodes are all streaming on The CW’s website, but you can dive straight into Thursday night’s finale without worrying too much about the background. Even if you’ve seen every episode, there’s no way the show will ever make sense. But it will be nuts in the best possible way. —Constance Grady
Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide is a 90-minute journey through the wilds of mental illness
At one point in Career Suicide, comedian Chris Gethard casually refers to his performance as a “suicide show” in a disconcertingly offhand manner for such a loaded term. But it’s an accurate descriptor: Gethard’s one-man show (produced as an HBO exclusive film by the network’s current comedy whisperer, Judd Apatow) stitches together 90 minutes’ worth of anecdotes that all center, in some way or another, on his lifelong history of acute depression, anxiety, and the suicidal impulses they engender.
It sounds like weighty stuff — and it occasionally is, in the moments when Gethard steps to the back of the stage and the lights turn blue as he emotionally monologues about a pivotal moment or realization. But Gethard remains shockingly lighthearted through most of Career Suicide. He approaches mental illness and the treatment thereof with both respect and irreverence, a unique combination that somehow works and makes this “suicide show” bracing, poignant, and, yes, hilarious. Stream it now on HBO Go. —Genevieve Koski
Risk, a portrait of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is infuriating and unsatisfying in all the right ways
Laura Poitras (who directed the Oscar-winning Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour) spent six years making a film that does anything but lionize its complicated subject, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, having sought and received asylum there). Her uncompromising, commentary-free approach allows Assange to simply talk about his work and his ideas, as well as display the more unsavory aspects of his character: arrogance, egoism, and a misogyny that uncomfortably surfaces after sexual abuse allegations enter the picture.
But Risk, which is now in theaters, doesn't try to take Assange down either. Though Poitras disagrees with some of WikiLeaks’ actions, the director — whose work often critiques the secrecy of governments and institutions, as well as the surveillance state — also clearly appreciates WikiLeaks’ goals. —Alissa Wilkinson
This clip of a deflating Pikachu in a sea of dancing Pikachus should be a frontrunner for this year’s Best Picture
Forget summer blockbusters. Forget studio comedies. Forget thoughtful prestige dramas. The film to rule them all is this one:
It’s got everything: Comedy! Pathos! Dance! Song! Cuteness! And what holds it all together is its splendid, melancholy dramatic arc, though you’ll have to watch the clip in full to really get the effect. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll watch it three times in a row, and the cathartic effect is good for the soul. Five stars. —Alissa Wilkinson
LCD Soundsystem’s two new singles herald a full-on resurgence
In advance of their first Saturday Night Live performance ever on May 6, the beloved, recently reunited dance-punk band LCD Soundsystem dropped two new singles, their first new (non-Christmas) music since 2011 and a bellwether of what’s to come on a long-awaited reunion album. The two tracks, “Call the Police” and “American Dream,” are quintessential LCD Soundsystem: layered, brainy, and both clocking in at well over six minutes — with each and every second serving a sonic purpose.
“Call the Police” is a festival-set closer waiting to happen, building and building to a cacophonous, borderline euphoric climax that doesn’t quite obscure the track’s pointed lyrics. “American Dream” is slower and headier, but arguably the better of the two songs; a downtempo waltz featuring “shalang-a-lang” backing vocals, the ballad evokes a retro doo-wop feel that underlines leader James Murphy’s pained crooning (“In the morning everything’s clearer / When the sunlight exposes your age”). Murphy has promised the album containing the two tracks is imminent, and if they’re indicative of what’s to come, it’s gonna be a summertime scorcher. —GK
The podcast Rabbits is an eerie dive into a mysterious game
The fictional podcasts The Black Tapes and Tanis eventually got devoured by their own mythologies somewhere in their second seasons, but the first seasons of both had an eerie “I know this isn’t true, but it could be true” quality that served them well and made them addictive listens. They felt like urban legends happening to you in real time. Some of the folks behind those shows have resurfaced with their latest project, Rabbits, and everything about it is perfectly tuned to the eerie paranoia of living in 2017.
A young woman named Carly is horrified when her friend disappears without a trace, then begins digging into a game known only as “Rabbits” that her friend became obsessed with before her disappearance. The further down the rabbit hole Carly goes (I’m not even sure if that pun is intentional), the more she becomes convinced Rabbits is ancient — and potentially dangerous. It’s a fun premise, and even if this show, too, might peter out a year from now, it’s great fun in the moment. —Todd VanDerWerff