Rick Ross, Fiona Apple, and Eight Other Artists Who Deserved a Best Original Song Nomination

The category for Best Original Song is always a bit of a mess. The songs are rarely judged on how they sound; the importance is, of course, how the song fits into the film for which it was written. This year’s nominees are representative of the usual fare. There’s the popular choice (Adele’s "Skyfall," which will likely win, as it should), the new song for the big-budget musical adaptation (the unnecessary "Suddenly" from Les Misérables), and then there are the forgettable tunes (I didn’t even know what Chasing Ice was before today, much less the song from it). It’s a shame, really, because there were plenty of good tracks included in the list of 75 eligible songs. Here are a few that probably will have a longer shelf life than "Pi’s Lullaby."

Karen O – "Strange Love" (from Frankenweenie)

Fiona Apple – "Dull Tool" (from This is 40)

Rick Ross – "100 Black Coffins" (from Django Unchained)

John Legend – "Who Did That To You" (from Django Unchained)

Sunny Levine – "No Other Plans" (from Celeste and Jesse Forever)

Arcade Fire – "Abraham’s Daughter" (from The Hunger Games)

The Bootleggers feat. Emmylou Harris – "Cosmonaut" (from Lawless)

Florence + The Machine – "Breath of Life" (from Snow White and the Huntsman)

Katy Perry – "Wide Awake" (from Katy Perry: Part of Me)

The Black Keys / RZA – "The Baddest Man Alive" (from The Man With the Iron Fists)

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Two Gorgeous New Books Explore The Unconscious and Inevitable

Sleep, according to those who don’t like to do much of it, is just practice for death. Two terrific new monographs, one from German fashion photographer Jork Weismann and the other by Mexican crime photographer Enrique Metinides, contemplate both the nightly practice for the afterlife and the real thing.

Weismann’s slightly ridiculous book, Asleep at the Chateau, (Damiani, $50) is, predictably, a series of portraits of celebrities asleep at the Chateau Marmont. The Chateau, for those uninitiated into the mysteries of show biz, is a Hollywood hotel where celebrities go to do drugs and contemplate the importance of their lives. It has a nice pool.

The images are pretty and provide insights into the lives of the dozers. Eva Longoria sleeps nude. So does, somewhat less attractively, Purple magazine’s Olivier Zahm. Lizzy Caplan sleeps with her sunglasses on. John Hodgman sleeps with his glasses off. RZA sleeps with a blunt in his hand, and Patti Smith (pictured above) evidently finds James Joyce a snooze.

If sleep is shallow death and celebrities inhabit the shallow depth, 101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides (Aperture, $50) plumbs more profound pools. Metinides, often called the Mexican Weegee, spent his career photographing crime scenes for Mexican nota roja, the daily papers whose pages drip with victims’ blood. This book consists of 101 of the most striking selections from his gruesome oeuvre.


The slumber from which his subjects suffer was rarely arrived upon gently and never in a less–than–spectacular manner. Perhaps one of the best images—if best can be a word used in connection with human calamity—is the portrait of Adela Legarreta Rivas, a Mexican journalist killed in an automobile accident in 1979. Rivas, the book notes, was on her way to a press conference, her hair and make–up done, when she was struck by a white Datsun.

Many of the other images from the book depict the notably less manicured: Buses aflame, car crash victims impaled, the shot atop the irregular crimson outflow of blood. Most of the images are of the dead, but some, including one Metinides shot in flagrante delicto of a supermarket shootout, push the viewer into the uncomfortable position of feeling awe at the capturing of a moment, admiration of the beauty of it, and horror at the human misery it depicts.

Though Metinides has slowed down with age, a new generation of Mexican photojournalists have had more than enough carnage to capture. There have been 5,037 murders in Mexico so far this year alone. But taken as an unlikely pair, these books drive home the point that death can visit you anywhere; in a car, the street, the supermarket, or even at your suite at the Chateau Marmont.

RZA, Black Keys Battle for Title of ‘Baddest Man Alive’

It won’t be long now before RZA’s first feature film, martial arts celebration The Man With The Iron Fists, sucker-punches its way into theatres, but the anticipation is cranked up ever so slightly with each new release from the film’s stacked soundtrack. Last week, we heard “White Dress,” a new cut from Kanye West that channeled RZA’s production as well as West’s earlier work, and now, RZA reunites with his Blackroc collaborators, The Black Keys, for “The Baddest Man Alive.”

The track itself, a bluesy, boozy, introduce-a-strutting-antihero-with-sunglasses sort of affair, will be appealing to Blackroc fans, but the real fun comes not with the song itself but the music video. Here, RZA, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney swap samurai swords for more edible instruments of battle, duking it out in a fancy restaurant’s kitchen by tossing lettuce, throwing French fries and tossing heads of lettuce. If the movie itself looks half as cool or is half as much fun to watch, then RZA should be very proud of himself.

Kanye West Returns To His Old Self For “White Dress”

After the underwhelming G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer compilation, we were beginning to wonder what would become of Kanye West’s music. But fans, especially those who weren’t as keen on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, will dg his track for the soundtrack to upcoming martial arts flick The Man With The Iron Fists, directed by Wu-Tang’s RZA, the closest track he’s released in a while to the aesthetic that made him famous. "White Dress" is a slow-burner with the sort of intoxicating vintage soul sample that RZA loves and that was all over The College Dropout, not to mention references to high-end fashion and occasionally showing off his sense of humor ("tell Peaches light the herb ‘cuz we just reunited"). Have a listen below and take yourself back to 2003 (#rememberthe00s?). 

Sex and Swordfights: ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ Soundtrack is As Hot As the Trailer

As if you needed yet another reason to praise the coolness that is the RZA. The founding Wu-Tang member, sonic scientist, Grammy winner, cerebral über-producer, and author can now put writer-director-actor and purveyor of awesomeness on his already impressive resume with The Man With the Iron Fists–his feature film directorial debut.

For the pulp-ish martial arts flick (staring Russell Crow and Lucy Liu, and “presented” by the King of the B Movie, Quentin Tarantino) RZA enlisted Eli Roth to handle the co-writing duties and asked his oh-so-cool musically inclined pals to help with the epic soundtrack. Featuring a track list consisting of a new Yeezy song, a sick collaboration with the Black Keys and the RZA himself, and joints from Talib Kweli, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Corinne Bailey Rae, the aural accompaniment to the movie might be better than the flick itself, right? I guess you haven’t watched the kick-ass trailer that visually tantalizes with gravity-defying stunts, artful blood spilling, and enough s-e-x to break up the sometimes-gratuitous fighting. Thankfully, if sex and violence isn’t your thing, the soundtrack is available on October 23, a week before the movie’s release.

Trailer for RZA’s ‘The Man With the Iron Fists’ Features A Whole Lot of Knives

Wu-Tang Clan founding member RZA is a stranger to neither martial arts nor the film industry. From the ’70s and ’80s kung-fu flicks that inspired the early efforts of the Wu to his acting appearance in Ghost Dog to his scoring Ghost Dog and Kill Bill, the genre has inspired plenty of great work from the producer / actor / writer / emcee / composer. RZA’s upcoming directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, is a further celebration of the martial arts film, and from the red-band trailer released today, it looks pretty sweet.

Iron Fists, which he also co-wrote with Eli Roth, reunites him with Kill Bill maestro Quentin Tarantino (who "presents" the film) and Lucy Liu, to whose Kill BIll character RZA wrote an ode for the soundtrack. Joining them are Russell Crowe, WWE wrestler Dave Bautista and another favored Tarantino actress, Pam Grier. RZA plays the blacksmith of a town in feudal China forced to make weapons. When power, money and rivalries lead to the seven clans breaking out in war, it’s up to the blacksmith to restore peace to the village. In between Point A and Point B, from what can be gleaned from the trailer, there’s a lot of clinking of steel, removal of already-skimpy clothing, cartoony fake blood spurts, lots of explosions and sweet, gravity-defying combat scenes. Sounds like a good time. 

And here’s RZA’s "Ode to O-Ren Ishi-ii" from the Kill Bill: Vol 1 soundtrack:

A$AP Rocky, Missy Elliott, More to Headline Rock The Bells

Old and new will be battling it out for command of audiences at this year’s Rock The Bells Festival, which announced a formidable lineup for dates in San Bernadino, Calif. (Aug. 18th and 19th), Mountain View, Calif. (Aug. 25th and 26th) and Holmdel, New Jersey (Sept. 1st and 2nd). Tickets go on presale Friday and general sale Saturday, May 19th.

Composer and member of the Wu-Tang Clan RZA and festival regular Supernatural share hosting duties while the likes of fellow veterans Nas, Ice Cube, E-40, Too $hort, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane and Prodigy will top the bill. Relative newcomers performing at the festival include Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller, 2 Chainz, Yelawolf and Tyga.

Among the most exciting acts are Missy Elliott, making her live-performance comeback following the release of her first album in seven years, Block Party, in June, along with her longtime musical sidekick Timbaland in a joint performance. Method Man and Redman will unite to perform Blackout in its entirety, not the first time the festival has seen well-established rappers perform their most iconic works (Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Nas’s Illmatic being among them).

All five original members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will perform together for the first time in nearly 20 years to perform their standout album, E. 1999 Eternal, as well as a tribute to the late Eazy-E. Well, the news of a Bone Thugs reunion is as good of a time as any to revisit Bone Pugz-N-Harmony’s classic rendition of "1st of Tha Month." Enjoy.

RZA: A Pop Culture Retrospective

Pitchfork is reporting that RZA — rapper, actor, and leader of the Wu-Tang Clan — will be making an appearance in the music video for the song “Giving Up The Gun,” Vampire Weekend’s latest single. According to Emmett Malloy, the video’s co-director, the video is about a “bizarre-o tennis match” between RZA, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil Jon, and Joe Jonas: “We lit shit on fire. We had RZA presiding over the tennis match. Lil Jon came down to give some tennis tips. Jake Gyllenhaal drank himself out of the competition; Joe Jonas tried, but did not succeed. There was a lot of rigorous competition, pyrotechnics, and a little bit of milk to cap it all off.” This will undoubtedly be epic. To wet your appetite for the video, a list of the most surreal, odd, and hilarious RZA clips.

Although RZA’s early career was all about mastering the rise of the Wu-Tang Clan — it was his five year plan that launched the group out of Staten Island and into rap stardom — in recent years RZA has turned his energies towards acting and comedy. He’s appeared on-screen with everyone from Bill Murray to Dave Chappelle to Seth Rogan and the results have been undeniably entertaining.

Coffee and Cigarettes

Parks and Recreation Skit

Funny People

Deck The Halls

Wu-Tang Financial

Can you wait for the Vampire Weekend video? I cannot wait for the Vampire Weekend video.


The video is here!

Links: Kate Gosselin to Plague Your TV Some More; RZA on ‘Parks & Rec’

● Kate Gosselin will be back on reality TV, with a show that explores her doing “different jobs and tasks, showing how she performs in different environments.” Except the different environments will all be media fishbowls and circuses. [Perez] ● New Domino’s ad cops to how bad Domino’s pizza is. Company hopes honesty is endearing enough for customers to continue ignoring bad pizza. [Gawker, Slate] ● Man desperate to be a nerd all of his life has glasses tattooed onto his face. [Ypsilon2]

● Watch scenes from the new meta-Matt Leblanc comedy, Episodes, about being Matt Leblanc. You didn’t know you missed him saying “How you doin’?” did you? [Vulture] ● The next sci-fi literary mashup will be Android Karenina. Still waiting for Room With a View of Monsters. [AgentM] ● From the amazing brain of ?uestlove, what if Wu Tang’s RZA auditioned to be Leslie Knopes on Parks & Recreation? Only good things. [Buzzfeed]