September 24, 2023

On the Radar: Michael Jackson Biopic, Taylor Bennett, Gorillaz, + More

What’s on my mind this week? Michael Jackson movies, new Gorillaz, and the awesomeness of Biffy Clyro. This and more On the Radar.

New Michael Jackson biopic in the works

The King of Pop
Michael Jackson

As a Michael Jackson fan I love movies and documentaries about the King of Pop. When I was little, my favorite movie to watch was the six hour miniseries Jacksons: An American Dream on VHS. To this day, it’s one of the best biopics on the Jackson family. Others have tried and failed, looking at you VH1’s Man in the Mirror. Now, Lifetime is getting on board and working on a new Jackson movie. Tentatively titled Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, the movie follows Jackson’s final years seen through the eyes of his bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard. Currently on board for the film is Navi, considered the “world’s best Michael Jackson impersonator.”

Navi is actually pretty good, but Lifetime doesn’t have the best reputation for biopics. So far they’ve produced the dreadful Whitney Houston film, the notoriously bad Liz Taylor movie, and one on Toni Braxton. They may pull in ratings, but the movies themselves suck with low production values making them feel hastily put together. Chances are this movie is going to be bad, but we can at least hope it’ll be so bad it’s entertaining. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Recently, Sky Arts came under fire when it announced the premiere of its comedy series Urban Myths, which featured an episode poking fun at Michael Jackson. The problem wasn’t the lame jokes itself; it’s that Joseph Fiennes was picked to portray the singer. After the trailer for the episode was released online, many cried out questioning Jackson being played by a white man. Even Jackson’s daughter spoke about it calling it “blatant disrespect.” In a smart move, episode has since been pulled. Are people still really getting off on making fun of Michael Jackson?

Biffy Clyro on repeat

If you remember, last week I told you guys about the new mp3 player I got for Christmas and how it’s re-introducing me to so many artists I didn’t have on my phone. One of them is Biffy Clyro. I’m not the biggest fan of theirs but I do appreciate their quirky, blended take on hard rock. Though they have plenty of fans in the states, they have a massive following overseas. They never seemed to find footing here, which is a shame. Their music, especially their early stuff, manages to stand out from typical formulaic rock music. And though their later releases are on the generic side, they’re still pretty solid, especially with frontman Simon Neil’s unmistakable vocals.

Biffy are constantly popping up in my shuffle ever since I got the mp3 player. Songs like “Black Chandelier” and “Glitter and Trauma” put a huge smile on my face. I remember how I endlessly listened to them when I first discovered the band. But there are plenty of other tracks I’m not as familiar with that keep playing. And it’s a blast. I get to hear all the different sides of this band I somehow forgot during my musical dry spell. I recommend giving them a listen and maybe start with what is probably their best album, Puzzle.

Biffy Clyro are actually heading out on a North American tour this year in support of their new album, Ellipsis. Dates kick off March 24 in Las Vegas and wrap up April 15 in Washington, DC. The Scottish group will makes their way to Chicago April 5 to play the House of Blues. Tickets are on sale now.

Gorillaz finally drop new music

Last year, when Gorillaz collaborator Jamie Hewlett said the band would come out with a new album this year, I wasn’t completely sold. I’ve heard the same thing from other artists. In the end, they didn’t pull through for one reason or another. It seems the Gorillaz will keep their word. They revealed their new song “Hallelujah Money” this past week, their first in five years. They announced the anti-Trump song on Twitter saying “Dark times – u need someone to look up to. Me. Here’s a lightning bolt of truth in a black night. Now piss on! New stuff won’t write itself.”

Right off the bat you can tell it’s a Gorillaz song with the odd, atmospheric instrumentation and sleepy vocals of 2-D. It’s a bit weird, but Benjamin Clementine’s unique vocals add a haunting air to the track. It’s enough to give you goosebumps. Check out the song and it’s unnerving video above.

It’s exciting to finally hear some new stuff from Gorillaz. Not only that, it’s a smart commentary on what’s about to happen to the US i.e. Trump. It feels good to have the Gorillaz back. Now, let’s hope that new album actually does come out this year.

Joey Jordison opens up about Slipknot departure

In December 2013, Slipknot revealed Joey Jordison, the famous masked drummer, left the band. It didn’t take long for Jordison to quickly comment he didn’t leave suggesting he was fired instead. Since then, the rest of the members have been quiet about the situation. Seeing as Jordison was my favorite member, I was shocked and sad to learn about his absence. Though Slipknot’s album without him, .5: The Gray Chapter, was stellar, his drumming style was still missed.

The whole thing remained a mystery until June 2016 when the drummer revealed his battle with transverse myelitis. While accepting an award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods award, Jordison tearfully detailed his battle with the rare disease, which affects the nervous system. The illness left him unable to play the drums and left his future in music uncertain. But after months of rehabilitation he combated the illness and is now back to making music. So the question remains: why did Slipknot fire him?

Turns out, Jordison doesn’t even know as he revealed in a new interview with AXS. Speaking about it he said “When someone’s in the hospital — be it a family member or anyone that has something wrong with them — if you love ’em, then you visit them. I didn’t get visited by anyone. And next thing you know, I got exited from the band. And I don’t know why. I don’t understand what the deal was.”

This revelation makes the other members look pretty bad. There are numerous stories about bands waiting for one member to recover, so they can make music once again. Def Leppard waited for Rick Allen and he lost his freaking arm! Booting Jordison from the band due to his illness is pretty shady, especially since he’s still making music. He’s gone on to form the bands Scar the Martyr and Vimic. Maybe we’ll get word from other Slipknot members to shine light on this mystery. For now, it’s great to see Jordison back up and doing what he loves.

Taylor Bennett and iLoveMakonnen show who they really are

aahh fest
Taylor Bennett at Aahh Fest. Photo: Jeremy Franklin

It’s 2017; you’d think any stereotypes or stigmas against LGBTQ folk wouldn’t be running rampant. But sadly, they are, especially in this time when a bigot is taking over Washington. Two rappers made their voices heard to be true to themselves and squash stereotypes. First, Taylor Bennett, Chance the Rapper’s brother, announced he’s bisexual. He made a series of Tweets regarding his sexuality saying “I do recognize myself as a bisexual male & do & have always openly supported the gay community & will keep doing so in 2017. #ThankYou.” This was followed by an outpouring of love and support from both fans and peers.

Later in the week, Atlanta rapper iLoveMakonnen took to Twitter to announce he’s gay saying it was time for him to come out the closet. Both men deserve a round of applause. Coming out may not be as big of a deal as it was 20 years ago, but it’s still important for a lot of people. Also, it goes against the stereotype that rappers aren’t gay. There’s always been this stigma that rappers are hardcore, badass, and tough. Therefore, they can’t be gay.

These men, along with others in the community, disprove this and lead the way for others in the community to be open and honest. And in Bennett’s case it shows bisexuality is common. Though we’ve made great strides in the LGBTQ community, bisexuality is still looked down upon. Either people who identify as such are views as lying or being promiscuous. It’s enough to make others who identify the same to hide who they really are. Now, other bisexual folk have pop culture models to look to and show they’re not alone. It’s important to have supporters in the LGBTQ community from all walks of life. Good going guys; I wish nothing but happiness.