The ever-growing glut of great new TV, movies, books, music, comics, and podcasts can be a lot to keep up with. So we here at Vox Culture — where our current obsessions include an endlessly fun ’90s nostalgia mashup, the first trailer for Call Me by Your Name, and a wonderful interview with Billie Lourd — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are nine items to consider for your pop culture queue.
Watch: Todrick Hall’s “4 the 90s” tribute is an impeccably executed ode to the music of the decade
As far as internet content goes, it doesn’t get much more pandering than medleys of popular ’90s songs. But singer/dancer/all-around entertainer Todrick Hall always goes the extra mile or seven when it comes to his YouTube music videos (see: his 2016 visual album Straight Outta Oz), so it’s no surprise that his “4 the 90s” video overdelivers in a big way. Featuring a slick vocal arrangement that bounds at top speed from teen pop to R&B to grunge staples of the era, the medley finds Hall in perfect four-part harmony with himself, chair-dancing his way through some era-appropriate choreography (and wearing four different era-appropriate outfits, to boot). Good luck getting through it without bobbing along to all the nostalgic goodness. —Genevieve Koski
Watch: Call Me by Your Name gets a gorgeous first trailer
Earlier this year, Call Me by Your Name premiered at Sundance and sent the festival and the critics who screened it into a swoon. This week, we got our first glimpse of the gay love story, starring Armie Hammer and newcomer Timothée Chalamet, and it looks absolutely stunning. The only downside is having to wait until November to finally see it. —Alex Abad-Santos
Listen: this gospel setting of the “I’m reclaiming my time” meme is the year’s best viral novelty song
Rep. Maxine Waters’s (D-CA) repeated declaration that she was “reclaiming my time” at last week’s House Financial Services Committee hearing launched a thousand memes, but one was the clear winner: Mykal Kilgore’s gospel reimagining of the refrain.
Listen to the sweet, sweet harmonies on “Don’t read my résumé, ’cause I was there (I’m reclaiming my time),” and groove into the weekend on a strain of pure empowerment. This is the year’s novelty viral song to beat (sorry, “LaCroix Boi”). —Constance Grady
Read: Shade, The Changing Girl is the body-snatching, alien Heathers comic book you need in your life
Written by Cecil Castellucci and drawn by artist Marley Zarcone, Shade, the Changing Girl is the story of what happens when a vaguely emu-ish alien named Loma Shade finds herself in a quarter-life crisis and does what any alien in such a situation would do: inhabit the body of a teenage earthling. Unfortunately for Loma, the body she chooses belongs to one Laura Boyer, the meanest girl in high school. DC Comics recently released the first six issues of Shade as a collected edition, and they’re well worth catching up on. —AAS
Listen: Aminé’s debut proves he’ll be around for a while
Portland rapper Aminé first made waves with the slow-burning, André 3000-indebted single “Caroline” last year. And now his debut album, Good for You, has established the 23-year-old as a dexterous, left-field creative committed to moving beyond his breakout single (and making sure you know how to correctly pronounce his name). The album is joyous and buoyant, with starry guest turns from Kehlani, Ty Dolla $ign, and Nelly. But it’s Aminé’s acerbic wit that steals the spotlight and makes him an ever-engaging frontman, as he rewards devoted listeners with barbs about his newfound fame that are both refreshing and funny (“White girls love me like my first name Coachella,” on “Yellow,” is particularly pointed). As many young rappers try their hand at the verbal equivalent of asemic writing, Aminé’s commitment to expertly articulating his experiences and intentions (as well as his name) is especially welcome. —Grant Rindner
Arbitrary Stupid Goal is a bittersweet love letter to a lost Manhattan
Tamara Shopsin grew up running in and out of her family’s business in Greenwich Village. First it was a corner store, and then, when rent went up, it became a restaurant. (Shopsin says it was because her dad figured the profit margin on soda fountains was insane, and a restaurant would sell more soda than a corner store.)
To her family, the business was always known as “the Store,” but to the rest of the world, it was Shopsin’s, the legendary institution that Calvin Trillin wrote a love letter to in the New Yorker. JFK hung out there, and so did John Belushi. Some people have suggested that Shopsin’s father, Kenny, was the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, a claim to which Kenny takes great offense: The Soup Nazi used a steam table, but Kenny cooks each soup to order.
Shopsin’s memoir is a tender elliptical remembrance of her childhood at the Store, and of Greenwich Village when it was, she writes, “still a village,” where “everyone knows who we are.” —CG
Watch: In a Heartbeat is a sweet LGBT animated love story that will make your heart sing
In A Heartbeat is the kind of feel-good story that’s easy to love. But what really sets the four-minute short film apart is the way it wordlessly depicts what it’s like to have a crush on someone. When a young boy develops feelings for one of his male classmates, his heart literally pops out of his chest to pursue the object of his affection — and threatens to accidentally out him to the rest of the boys’ school in the process. It’s a sweet journey through the physical roller coaster of burgeoning attraction that speaks volumes about the universality of love. —Abbey White
Read: Patti Smith honors Sam Shepard with a beautiful essay about their friendship
When Patti Smith met Sam Shepard four decades ago, she thought he was just a shaggy drummer with a “cowboy mouth.” It was only after the two struck up a friendship based on mutual admiration for literature that she learned he was also (already!) a renowned playwright.
Smith’s remembrance of Shepard — which the New Yorker published August 1, the day after Shepard’s death at age 73 — is bruising and gorgeous, painting a portrait of a man who “liked being on the move,” who could recite “reams of Beckett off the top of his head,” who made Smith understand the rich colors of the Southwest just by describing them. It’s a beautiful essay, and well worth the few minutes it takes to read it in full, but here’s a taste:
“Gogol was Ukrainian,” he once said, seemingly out of nowhere. Only not just any nowhere, but a sliver of a many-faceted nowhere that, when lifted in a certain light, became a somewhere. I’d pick up the thread, and we’d improvise into dawn, like two beat-up tenor saxophones, exchanging riffs.
Read: Sarah Paulson interviews Billie Lourd about her mother and grandmother, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
It’s more than understandable that Billie Lourd didn’t want to speak publicly after the sudden, sequential deaths of her mother, Carrie Fisher, and grandmother Debbie Reynolds last December. In fact, she owes us exactly nothing when it comes to sharing her grief. But Lourd’s first in-depth interview since they died — conducted for Town & Country by none other than actress Sarah Paulson — is thoughtful and generous.
She and Paulson have a great rhythm, swapping stories about Fisher and Reynolds that paint vivid pictures of the women they both clearly so admired so much. And fittingly for someone who grew up in the Fisher-Reynolds household, the interview is also funny, revealing Lourd to have a dry wit and game enthusiasm:
Sarah Paulson: I remember standing in the Red Room off the bar in the house and your mom saying to me, “You’ve got to find the funny, Paulson. If you don’t find the funny, you’re doomed.”
Billie Lourd: Oh, it’s so important. If life’s not funny, then it’s just true — and that would be unacceptable. Even when she died, that was what got me through that whole thing. When Debbie died the next day, I could just picture her saying, “Well, she’s upstaging me once again, of course — she had to.”
Read the full interview for more insights on Lourd’s future in acting, Reynolds’s insistence that Lourd “put an act together” to revive the “dying art,” and Fisher’s love of late-night Sharper Image shopping sprees. —CF