How to Feel About Every Upcoming Superhero Movie Part 2 – The Nebulous Maybes

It’s that time of year, when summer movie season (which is now just the last nine months of the year, and covers all the parts of the year that aren’t horror-movie season, and which tapers off a bit during prestige-movie season. As someone who remains the sort of dude who has a background in the field, and also who doesn’t particularly care about movies but feels compelled to write about them anyway, this sort of thing is catnip.

This year I’ve included movies that are announced (be it by studio, director, producer or what-have-you) without a clear intention about when or how they’re coming out, which films comprise part 2 here. Since these are more nebulous, I have also added a field to discuss the likelihood of the movie in question actually coming out.

Aquaman 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to Aquaman.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Aquaman wasn’t bad, and perhaps with the origin and world-building a little more out of the way, they can focus on, y’know, making it a compelling story, rather than a series of exposition-heavy conversations each of which is punctuated by an explosion and the entrance of a villain  1.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Aquaman was fine, but not great, and there wasn’t a lot in there that made me feel like there were a bunch more stories involving this character that I needed to see.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Sure. The first one made shedloads of money, and it’s not like DC has shown any willingness to give up on any of their franchises here.


WHAT IT IS: For awhile it was the definitely-happening project that was meant to be Joss Whedon’s entre into his DCU-running career. He was cancelled, and I haven’t heard anything about it since.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Batgirl has a devoted fanbase, and if you are among them, you know a great deal more about why this is exciting than I do. I am not among them, and I have no idea what there would be to look forward to here.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, in this case I’m waffling in the “toward-excitement” direction, since I don’t have any enthusiasm for the thing in my natural state. But she does inspire a truly impressive level of fandom, so there’s got to be something there, and it would probably something that could make it into a movie.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I don’t believe that it will.

Black Adam

WHAT IT IS: The Rock’s passion-project-attempt at making a big-time superhero movie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because who doesn’t love The Rock?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Black Adam sucks real bad, and this movie can’t apparently generate enough of its own momentum to actually move any closer to being finished. Also he’s traditionally a villain, so expect some revisionist antiheroing, which is one of the worst things about superhero stories in general.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Oh, probably, But it almost certainly won’t actually be any good.

Black Panther 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to Black Panther.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Black Panther was great.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I’m not really waffling, this will probably be good. I suppose the fact that it isn’t actually on the calendar is something. And there probably be any Kilmonger, and that’s kind of a bummer. But only kind of, and not enough to dampen my enthusiasm.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Of course it will.

Black Widow

WHAT IT IS: Proof that the characters of the original MCU aren’t all going away, mostly.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Scarlet Johannsson is reliably pretty good, and there’s a lot of potential in a superhero spy movie, if that’s what it ends up being.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: We know next to nothing about it, really, but there isn’t a lot to the Black Widow character as drawn in the movies, so it might be disappointing in its scope, if not its execution? I don’t really know.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Yes, especially after Captain Marvel made all the money in the world.



WHAT IT IS: What if Wolverine’s backstory and powers (minus Canada and the claws, respectively) was actually the backstory of a soldier-guy with a bunch of guns? WHAT THEN?
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I’m going to go ahead and say that you shouldn’t? Bloodshot wasn’t quite the dumbest of the grim-n-gritty guns-n-grimaces grimdark nineties comic book uh…”heroes” 2, but he was way up there. Once again I come at this as someone in the younger range of the target audience for this kind of nonsense the first time around 3, and can only say that of all the things we could try to bring back from the nineties, this should be way at the bottom of the list, if it indeed needs to be on the list at all.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I guess because Vin Diesel is attached, which could lead to an agreeably-daffy bullet-hell mayhem-fest. If it’s got a sense of humor and manages to be fun, it might work out.


Blue Beetle

WHAT IT IS: One of the throwbackier former-Justice League-ers could be getting his own movie! Blue Beetle is a dude in a suit 4 with gadgets, whose appearances in his own series and others’ were genuinely pretty fun, sometimes. This is meant to be the alien-robot-suit version of him, which makes him a little more like Iron Man than he ought to be, but also is the version that most people know.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: He very easily could be like a lighthearted Batman, which would be nice. Or, alternately, a wackier Iron Man.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The track record of superheroes who need to be lighthearted actually being lighthearted is pretty bad. It’s getting better, though, especially on the DC end, so maybe there’s hope!

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Almost certainly not, which also makes it easier to be optimistic about.


WHAT IT IS: One of the finest achievements in all of comicsdom, an epic fantasy story with a lot of visual flair and an appeal across all sorts of genres. I love Bone, you guys. It’s adorable and very funny, and exciting and parts of it are even scary. Great stuff. All-time great stuff, in fact. I’m reeeaaally stretching the definition of “superhero” to include it – it isn’t in any appreciable way, it’s pretty much high fantasy – because I love the comic so much and want to praise it publicly again.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it’s great, and it has a super-clean story that moves linearly and should be a snap to film. It’s being promoted as a trilogy, which is heartening, as it means they can leave all the good stuff in there.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It would also be super-easy to tone down one of the aspects that makes it so great 5, not to mention that its pace is a part of its genius, and that would be very easy to botch in a movie environment.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Well, it’s been rumored to be near happening for, oh, twenty-five or so years, so it seems pretty unlikely at this point.


WHAT IT IS: Somehow distinct from Bloodshot, Bloodstrike, Deadpool, Deadshot, Deathblow, Dethlok and Death’s Head, Deathstroke is a super-soldier (so also like Captain America, and not entirely unlike, say, Bloodshot) who I think wants revenge or something on the army.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because he’s going to be played by Joe Mangianello, which is something I guess.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I cannot think of a reason that this movie should exist, let alone a way in which it would be good. Maybe if Joe Mangianello is playing his character from Magic Mike, and this is what happens to him after the events of Magic Mike 2.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Actually, I really don’t think it will. Especially if the rest of the Gun Superhero movies that come before it don’t work.

Doctor Doom

WHAT IT IS: A colossally terrible idea, unless it’s a comedy.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: uh…at least a botched standalone Doctor Doom movie isn’t as bad as another botched Fantastic Four movie? Maybe you like Noah Hawley, who is the guy who claimed to be making it? I don’t know, man.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: What if it is a comedy? Like what if we’re not getting the classical Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four, but instead the wacky absurdist Doctor Doom from Squirrel Girl? That would be rad.


Doctor Strange 2

WHAT IT IS: Another Doctor Strange movie. Guess he was right about giving Thanos that time stone, then.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Benedict Cumberbatch is reliably charming, and the first one was fine.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: They burned through the more interesting Doctor Strange villains (all both of them) in the first one, and who knows where it goes from there? Plus, the first one wasn’t that good.


The Eternals

WHAT IT IS: A movie based on one of Jack Kirby’s weirder contributions, specifically his most self-cannibalizing 6 contribution to the Marvel Universe.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it’s going to star Angelina Jolie in some capacity. That’s something. The current MCU has a pretty good track record for figuring out how to make compelling stories out of characters who don’t exactly have super-well-known storylines (see specifically Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man).

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I was as into goofball-ass cosmic Marvel as anybody, and The Eternals were still never that compelling. The best character it yielded was Thanos, who I’m going to imagine is going to be off the table here, since his story will have been completed. So we could have a movie about…Ajax? Interloper? Cybele? Who even knows?

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: It’s already started being cast, so the likelihood isn’t non-existent, but man, I don’t know.

Extreme Universe

WHAT IT IS: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Hoo. It’s a Rob Liefeld shared-universe thing, presumably starring a bunch of teeth, a bunch of bulging muscles, many, many pouches, and zero feet.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, to his credit, Rob Liefeld seems to have a pretty good sense of humor about himself these days (see The Pouch), so it might be funny. It’s interesting to note how many of these tertiary-market superhero movies are saved by the notion that they could potentially be funny. More superhero movies should be funny in general, is what I’m saying.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Self-awareness and sense of humor aside, everything that would be pulled from as source material here (Youngblood, Brigade, Bloodstrike, etc.) is dumb dumb dumb. It’s going to be developed for Netflix by noted terrible-movie-abettor Akiva Goldsman. There’s no way it’s going to be good.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Netflix is going to find itself bereft of superhero entertainment soon, or at least with it stock of superhero entertainment greatly diminished, so I’m sure it’s going to happen, if only so they have something to stick up there. They need to make their quota or whatever.

The Flash

WHAT IT IS: The solo movie version of the guy who was the other other not-bad part of Justice League 7.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Again, Ezra Miller isn’t bad. It’s going to be a time travel movie, as far as we know. So that’s something. I’m really kind of scraping for this.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The Flash just isn’t that interesting. The tv show does good work with the character, but that just necessitates the movie being even more significantly different from it, and there just isn’t that kind of depth of field for the Flash. That said, I’m not an expert, so I’m willing to be wrong.


Green Lantern Corps

WHAT IT IS: Another swing at a Green Lantern movie, this time the entire Corps, so a weird team-up movie based around a character that didn’t work the first time around 8. Wee!

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, CG has come a long way since the last time they made a Green Lantern movie, so that’s something. This is another movie based around a title (and even more specifically this set of characters) that people love deeply, even if I’m not among them. So if it gets handled responsibly and treated fairly, it could end up a movie that a lot of people like.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, that “handled responsibly and treated fairly” thing is the real rub, and since its charms elude me even when the book was in the hands of John Broome 9, it’s something that is liable to elude me no matter what.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: It’s probably about 50/50, to be honest.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

WHAT IT IS: It’s the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first two are great, and after much hoopla, James Gunn is re-hired as the director, with the additional show of faith of delaying the filming until he’s done making Suicide Squad 2.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s probably going to be sans Gamora, who is probably dead for real (given that she died before the snap), and at the current pace with which Chris Pratt is losing his damn mind, it’ll be well into his case of the brain worms. Still and all, it’ll probably be fine.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: After all that hoopla, it would be super-weird if it didn’t.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

WHAT IT IS: It’s a uh…reboot of the movie that ended Sean Connery’s career.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it can’t possibly be worse than the original.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The source material is some of the most unjuustly overhyped work in all of comics, and I can’t imagine that there’s a way to even get a quality movie out of it in the first place.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

WHAT IT IS: It’s a uh…reboot of the movie that ended Sean Connery’s career.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it can’t possibly be worse than the original.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The source material is some of the most unjuustly overhyped work in all of comics, and I can’t imagine that there’s a way to even get a quality movie out of it in the first place.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Now this is where things are at least mildly interesting. This was announced a couple of years ago as a thing that Fox was doing to reclaim the series, but Fox has since been bought out. Now, this almost certainly means that this movie is as dead as Bram Stoker himself, but it would be interesting to see Disney put their weight behind it. The rights, however, if it doesn’t get made, might revert to WildStorm (and therefore DC, and therefore Warner Bros), which might make it more likely that it happens, and less likely that it will be worth talking about. I’m pretty sure, however, that this thing is just straight-up not happening.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Now this is where things are at least mildly interesting. This was announced a couple of years ago as a thing that Fox was doing to reclaim the series, but Fox has since been bought out. Now, this almost certainly means that this movie is as dead as Bram Stoker himself, but it would be interesting to see Disney put their weight behind it. The rights, however, if it doesn’t get made, might revert to WildStorm (and therefore DC, and therefore Warner Bros), which might make it more likely that it happens, and less likely that it will be worth talking about. I’m pretty sure, however, that this thing is just straight-up not happening.


WHAT IT IS: Jared Leto is going to play “the living vampire,” who sets out to cure himself of some kind of blood disease 10 and ends up, y’know, a vampire or whatever.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I think that Jared Leto has the capacity for goodness in him, if he can get over his “method acting”-borne harassment issues. Morbius actually had some cool comics moments, although they were mostly when he was on a team with Ghost Rider and Blade, so there’s potential there. One of those two even had a couple of good movies.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Ghost Rider is a much better and more cinematic character, and has had zero good movies, for starters. Also there are a paltry handful of good vampire movies in the world out of the hundreds of attempts, so that precedent is also against our boy here. Plus, I think Jared Leto has done good stuff, but not much of it. The batting averages involved here on all fronts are pretty low. But hey, it’s its own thing, so it might work out after all.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I think it will, yes.

New Gods

WHAT IT IS: Jack Kirby’s completely unhinged creative-control-granted superhero madness party, this time on film

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Ava Duvernay is going to direct it, which is exciting 11. There isn’t much else to know about it, but if it’s as visually distinctive (and one of the things that can absolutely be said about Duvernay’s last great big genre movie, A Wrinkle in Time, was that it was visually distinctive) and utterly bonkers as the comic book, then we could be in for a real treat.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s not the most coherent thing that was ever published, and Kirby was always more of a drawer than a writer, so there’s a lot of visual flair and not a lot of actually-engaging plot stuff. A bone-simple plot can sometimes be an asset in a situation like this, but it isn’t necessarily encouraging in and of itself.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I hope so! It’s got a director but no cast. Darkseid and Steppenwolf are already established presences in the DCU that are originally from New Gods, so we may have already seen some ground laid. Of course, who knows how connected DC is going to try to keep its movies anymore, so we may not have actually seen any of this as it will eventually be conceived, and this therefore could, in fact, not happen.

Plastic Man

WHAT IT IS: One of DC’s more joyful comedy-based superheroes. He’s stretchy and bendy and whatnot.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: If there’s any justice at all, he’ll be played by Ben Schwartz, which would be awesome.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Plastic Man’s comics are hell of dumb, and as much as I like Benny Schwa, he’s not actually been cast, so who knows what’s going on with it. If it happens, it’ll have to get a tone pretty specifically right in a way that’s very difficult, and I haven’t seen any evidence that that’s going to happen.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Probably not, thankfully

The Sandman

WHAT IT IS: Another one that stretches the definition of superhero pretty hard 12, this is sort of the Velvet Underground & Nico 13 of the comics world – it changed everything that it touched, and is generally part of the bedrock of serious comics fandom.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Individual storylines – A Game of You, The Doll’s House and Brief Lives 14 among them – are well-written and highly-filmable, despite the unwieldy nature of the whole project. Oh, and it doesn’t have Jared Leto involved with it anymore. That’s got to be a plus, right?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Sandman is huge and lumpy and unique to comics, and adapting even the more adaptable parts of it will still leave huge whacks of necessary table-setting and exposition. It’s meant to be a serial story, and it’s meant to be read, and I don’t see how it would survive translation.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Probably not. It really is a lot to chew, and I don’t know that there’s any real benefit to it, given that it doesn’t have a tonne of people clamouring for a film version.


WHAT IT IS: The first superhero movie anchored to an Asian-American lead. Shang Chi is the son of Fu Manchu, and himself a master martial artist.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Here we have both an opportunity to tell a story about Asian-Americans but also a nifty idea where the missing father of the protagonist is actually a villain. Also, I think he would be a cool addition to whatever the stable of Avengers is shaping up to be.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Disney has generally done well by its characters, which has surprised me 15 as often as not, so it will probably be fine on that front, but who knows what Marvel movies will look like by then?

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I think it’s all but official – it’s got a director and a writer and stuff.


WHAT IT IS: One of the more ridiculous nineties artifacts is getting another movie, this time directed by Todd McFarlane, the guy who wrote and drew the original comics.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because people like Spawn, I guess?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Spawn was awful. Also, the Venom movie wasn’t very good, and Spawn is just Venom 16 with a hell-based back-story, and, presumably, without Tom Hardy.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: It seems to be making progress, but I still kind of can’t believe that it’s going to happen.


WHAT IT IS: Superman’s cousin comes to the big screen!

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: People really like the currently-running tv show, and people also like the movie from the eighties, so it’s clearly possible to tell Supergirl stories on the screen that people like.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, a big part of what makes the tv show work is the casting, and they’re not going to use Melissa Benoist, so that’s kind of a problem. Plus, as with The Flash, the tv series is good enough that it’s not exactly leaving people begging for a re-interpretation, you know?

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I’m dubious, but it probably will. DC has to keep shoring up their properties somehow.

Venom 2

WHAT IT IS:The sequel to the aforementioned Tom Hardy antihero vehicle.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Uhhhhhhhhh…..Tom Hardy sure is handsome?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The first one was straight-up garbage? It was a dumb idea in the nineties that is officially out of non-dumb executions? I don’t know, there’s a whole lot of reasons to not be excited about this.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Sony doesn’t have a lot of hits as a film studio, and the first one made money, so it most assuredly will.


WHAT IT IS: I’m presuming this would have been Deadpool 3, or a spinoff thereof, about Deadpool, Cable, Domino, Firefist, and possibly Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The Deadpool movies are pretty good. Seemed like a sure bet.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Oh, who knows what parts of the X-movies are going to survive the purchase.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I have no idea. On the one hand, it’s a huge money maker and would seem to be dumb not to release. On the other hand, I don’t know how things work at what is now the biggest movie studio in human history.


WHAT IT IS: Again, operating under presumption, it’s probably a movie about the young lady from Logan, whose corresponding comic book character was named X-23.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: It’s a neat character.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: We know nothing about anything. The X-series has flirted with teasing Mr. Sinister as a big bad, and there’s some of that in Logan, and that would be cool,, but it isn’t happening, and there’s also a very high likelihood that that could be super dumb.

That’s it for the movies that may or may not ever exist, and tune in later in the week for an attempt to do this for television. Three parts is a lot of parts! This is a lot of words, guys!

  1. no, but seriously: nearly every scene in Aquaman ends with something blowing up, and the heroes being chased and/or having to punch something. It’s weird. 
  2. Here is a true story: my original writeup for this entry confused Bloodshot with Deathblow, who might actually have been the dumbest of the grim-n-gritty guns-n-grimaces grimdark nineties comic book uh…”heroes”. 
  3. I was nine when Bloodshot was introduced, and thus still spent most of my comic-book time reading Thor, Ghost Rider and Daredevil (two of which, now that I think about it, avoided unnecessary grimdark by heaping on the catholicism. Who’d have guessed?). 
  4. historical fun fact, he was a part of the Charleston Comics lineup, and thus was set to be one of the characters in Watchmen until DC decided that the Charleston characters were too valuable to burn off in that series. The Night Owl is, then, an expy of the Blue Beetle, and their metiers are the same. 
  5. e.g. lessening the humor to amp up the action, lessening the scariness to amp up the cuteness 
  6. The Eternals were basically a palette swap of his own New Gods series for DC, which yielded Darkseid, the current overvillain of the Justice League movies, and his own actual original version of Thanos, about which see below. Or, well, above, since this footnote is at the bottom of the page. 
  7. i.e. not Gal Gadot or Ben Affleck. NB that this opinion rather requires that you agree that Ben Affleck isn’t the problem with Justice League 
  8.  i.e. one of the Green Lanterns in question would be Hal Jordan, the one that nobody liked when Ryan Reynolds played him.  
  9. who also, now that I think about it, wrote issues of The Flash that were pretty good 
  10. it’s worth noting that Morbius started out as a (rare non-animal-themed) Spider-Man villain, and a whole bunch of those were driven to deformity and madness by accidents with science, often medical (see also: Doctor Octopus, The Lizard, The Vulture usually). It makes me think that if you were a sociopath and wanted a bunch of internet attention, you could really pitch Spider-Man as some sort of anti-medicine crusader to the anti-vax/anti-science crowd. I hope no one actually does this, that would blow. 
  11. she turned down Black Panther, so it would seem that this project was more appealing to her than Black Panther, which has got to mean something. 
  12. Although in a way it doesn’t – the run of comics includes a bunch of bottom-tier DC people, and the character himself is a sort of elaboration on a pre-superhero crime-fighter comic book hero. 
  13. by extension, Watchmen is its Fun House, riding the bike so hard the wheels come off, and The Dark Knight Returns is the Kick Out the Jams, managing to make the same destructive, power-trip ideas accessible. This metaphor does not extend to any of the creators, I’m afraid. It also doesn’t hold up in regards to their chornology. I make no apologies for my sloppy comparison.  
  14.  if the movie were to only adapt one of the collections, and that’s probably what would happen, I think Brief Lives is the most likely. Also this list of likely culprits does not include Season of Mists (too much religious weirdness, and also too many one-off characters, although it is amazing) or The Kindly Ones (which is actually the best of the collections, but comes at the very end of the story and sort of by its necessity precludes a sequel, which seems like something that isn’t going to happen). 
  15. You can, for example, in the history of this very column, see my trepidation about Black Panther develop and be assuaged over the years. 
  16.  Todd McFarlane created Venom first, and then decided that since he was moving to his own self-published creation, he could just do it again, this time with a cape and the devil and stuff. 

How to Feel About Every Upcoming Superhero Movie Part 1: The Definitely-Being-Released

It’s that time of year, when summer movie season (which is now just the last nine months of the year, and covers all the parts of the year that aren’t horror-movie season 1, and which tapers off a bit during prestige-movie season 2. As someone who remains the sort of dude who has a background in the field, and also who doesn’t particularly care about movies but feels compelled to write about them anyway, this sort of thing is catnip.

Ordinarily I only write about the movies and such that have a definite, confirmed release date so that the level of excitement (or non-excitement, as it were) can definitely be said to exist. But superhero movies are in a state of flux. Marvel and Fox have merged, meaning there is one fewer studio making the damn things, and a lot of the people who are interested in telling more interesting superhero stories have moved to television 3. On top of that, the DC movies have entered a weird state where it’s unclear if they’re still trying to maintain a single universe, or if they’re going to continue to let them drift apart into their own things.

I’m not good at prognosticating 4, but I will say that this is probably evidence tha thte cracks are starting to show in the hegemony of the superhero movie – the MCU as it stands is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, and while The Powers That Marvel have clearly laid down their breadcrumbs to keep going, it’s unclear how well this will work, and how well this sort of thing will continue to dominate.

But hey! I could be wrong and we could still be in for eighteen of these goddamn things a year! Who knows! Anyway, this year I’m writing about every superhero (or strongly superhero-adjacent, as there are some non superhero works below that seem superhero-ish) movie I can find positive evidence of the existence of.



WHAT IT IS: A reboot of Mike Mignola’s eternally-running comic about a demon that wants to kill monsters and crack wise.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the trailer makes it look cool, as does all the stuff we’ve actually seen in terms of costume and set and whatnot. Neil Marshall has an excellent track record, having managed to prove that he can juggle a bunch of characters (Doomsday), absolutely handle horror comedy (Dog Soldiers) 5 and create a genuinely terrifying atmosphere (The Descent), as well as putting nifty monsters in all three 6. David Harbour’s got charisma to spare, and there’s very little about Hellboy that isn’t wildly entertaining, so it’s probably got a good chance.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, the original movies leave some very big horns to fill. David Harbour seems good and all, but he’s probably not Ron Perlman. Hellboy lends itself to some deeply strange magic-inflected weirdness, and Marshall’s horror bona fides are more based in close-up grounded tension. But honestly, I bet it’ll be fine.

Avengers: Endgame

WHAT IT IS: The proverbial it 7. What the eleven years and twenty two movies have been building up to. The snap is undone, time is traveled, Captain Marvel Captains Marvellously and saves the universe, Captain America Captains Americanly and then probably dies. Thanos goes away. A magic glove is rendered merely an unusually heavy accessory.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I mean, it’s pretty hard not to be. The dominant force in pop culture reaches its climax. That’s a big deal. Even mechanically, the fact that Marvel managed more-or-less to sustain this story over however many dozen hours of movie time is impressive mechanically, and if they can manage the landing even reasonably well, it will be a heck of an accomplishment.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s always some trepidation about the landing – superhero stories are easier to keep in flight than to bring down to the runway – and this has some sky-high expectations. It’s also three goddamn hours long, and the first one was already overstuffed and had an awful lot going on, so the odds of everything ending satisfyingly seem a little low. Also, there’s like a dozen more Marvel movies in the pipeline (see below), so it’s hard to maintain much tension. I’ll probably still see it more than once.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

WHAT IT IS: The end of the current X-Men movie continuity, and, if Kevin Feige is to be taken at his word, the last X-Men movie for awhile (although, again, see below).

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The X-Men movies have gotten progressively more cartoonish and bizarre. This one appears to feature Sophie Turner as a haughty full-on villain for most of it, which is nice. The Dark Phoenix story is one of the stories that really put the X-Men on the map, although this version will be without Mastermind 8, so it has a lot of extremely likable crowd-pleasing history.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, I was the only person that liked Apocalypse. So that’s not a reason I’m waffling, but it’s a reason to waffle. Also, the Dark Phoenix story worked for selling the comics, but was the worst part of the X-Men United a bunch of years ago, so has already failed once as a movie. Plus, even with the willingness to get even stranger, the X-Men movies are still missing some of the elements (outer space! Mind control! Weird magic clone things!) that made the comic book version so cheerfully weird.


WHAT IT IS: The still-somehow-scheduled Channing Tatum Gambit movie! Gambit was the guy in the purple body armor and the trench coat from the cartoon. He has a cajun accent and makes things explode (largely playing cards) when he throws them. Lizzy Caplan is somehow in it. Hopefully not also doing a cajun accent.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Um. So. Gambit is a very popular character, certainly. People of a certain age liked him. Those people were alive and very young in the nineties, when the character was designed. No seriously, look at this fucking dude. He has, like, zero stories that are worth experiencing. But Channing Tatum is very charismatic, certainly. So maybe that’s the reason? Maybe it’s funny? I don’t even know, guys.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s a Gambit movie in 2019. That’s a bad idea. It would have been a bad idea in 1999. I’m not even waffling. I am straight-up dubious, guys. Straight-up dubious. I suppose I can take solace in the fact that there’s basically no way this movie is going to actually come out, let alone this summer.

Spider-Man: Far From Home


WHAT IT IS: Mainly it’s the thing destroying the tension of Infinity War. If it’s not just two hours of swirling ash, then obviously things are put back to normal. If it is two hours of swirling ash, I’ll be pretty happy about it anyway.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the first one was the best Spider-Man movie ever made for about eighteen months 9. It was as good as it could have been, and Tom Holland is a fantastic Peter Parker. It’s also the first MCU movie after whatever happens in Endgame, which means that it’s going to be our first glimpse into a world where half of everyone has died and come back. It’s also meant to be explicitly about the aftermath, which is neat.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s only been one good Spider-Man movie sequel ever, and this isn’t that. I’m not super worried about it, but there’s also the fact that it’s a double unknown quantity, and it seems like a logical place for the ball to be dropped.

The New Mutants

WHAT IT IS: Formerly an X-Universe spinoff movie, now it looks to be on of the dwindling relics of the end of the X-Universe films. It’s a horror movie about a new set of mutants (hence the title).

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: An x-mutant-themed horror movie sounds great, and the trailer looked fantastic. The comic book The New Mutants managed to look at some really interesting aspects of mutant-ness 10, before eventually morphing into the much less interesting, but way more tuff-nineties-goulash-y X-Force.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The trailer came out a long, long time ago, so clearly the studio doesn’t have a lot of interest in actually releasing it, especially in this post-merger world. It’s directed by the guy who directed The Fart in Our Cars, and that movie sucked big time. It was probably meant to set up a series and now almost certainly is not, which could lead to some ending weirdness. Still, though, it’s a horror movie!


WHAT IT IS: The Hangover guy is making a Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because at least Joaquin Phoenix is not Jared Leto

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: This looks like it was written by the worst kind of edgelord committee. The least-interesting part of the Joker is how he became the Joker, and we keep trying to tell that story, and it keeps not being very good. Even in the Tim Burton Batman, the parts where Jack Nicholson is not yet the Joker are not the good parts. I just can’t fathom being excited for this one. Although, again, at least Joaquin Phoenix isn’t Jared Leto.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

WHAT IT IS: A spin-off/sequel to Suicide Squad

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Margot Robbie was the best part of Suicide Squad. The cast is rounded out by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who’s great in everything) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (who was great on Friday Night Lights), which is pretty cool. DC had good luck with their other female-led superhero franchise, so maybe lightning will strike twice.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s still a lot of potential for it to be pretty awful, given that the source material was rarely particularly good, and it’s still DC, which has only recently started to shake their propensity for making over-serious, overstuffed movies full of bad ideas. Still, it’s probably fair to be cautiously optimistic.

Wonder Woman 1984

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the only unmitigatedly good DC movie so far 9

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Eh. I think that the DC movies are on something of an upswing, Joker-based decisions notwithstanding. This could be fine. Steve Trevor is coming back somehow, which is something, and Chris Pine is always delightful. Gal Gadot is still just dandy, the whole thing is probably going to work out.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The first one did have it’s third-act problems, and while it’s true that they’re similar problems to just about every big superhero movie (there’s got to be a showdown with a CGI villain, after all), it’s also true that in Wonder Woman it seemed especially pronounced, given the difference between most of the conflict in the movie up to that point and the final conflict. That’s a pretty minor concern, though, given that that hasn’t happened as often in the last couple of years, and also that even though that was the first movie’s problem, it wasn’t enough to make the movie less good in any appreciable way.

Suicide Squad 2

WHAT IT IS: At this point, this is the most out-there thing to try to predict about. It’s the movie that snapped up James Gunn in between him being fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and re-hired for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. It’s also the sequel to the most mixed-bag of the DC movies so far. The announcements about it have made it seem especially murky who might be coming back, but it appears that Jai Courtney and Margot Robbie are among them.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Guardians of the Galaxy was an unlikely success story, and James Gunn did a bang-up job with that. There are things about Suicide Squad that could be fun, we just aren’t seeing a lot of “fun” in general from DC to this point. Viola Davis is also rumoured to be coming back, and she was also good. Idris Elba is going to be involved, and I like him also.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Will Smith was the other best part of the first one, and he’s not in this one. I like Idris Elba (who is not replacing Will Smith as Deadshot, but is instead playing a so-far-unnamed character), but his presence in a movie is….not a reliable indicator of quality. Suicide Squad seems like it could work in theory, but even the original comic book source is not particularly good, so it’s always been better on paper than in practice.

The Batman

WHAT IT IS: The guy that directed Cloverfield and the two most recent Planet of the Apes movies is going to take on the masked detective.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Cloverfield is, if not great, then at least an excellent tight-action-in-a-big-city movie. The latter two Planet of the Apes movies are genuinely great, so Matt Reeves has his bona fides.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It currently doesn’t have a star? Ben Affleck has left the project, and while Reeves says filming began a month or so ago, there’s still no word on who is actually going to don the suit. There’s also reports that it’s going to have a bunch of villains in it, which has never once helped any superhero movie ever. Not even once.

Alright, that wraps it up for the movies that are definitely going to come out. Tune in in a couple of days for the movies that might, in fact, not exist. It’s very exciting!

  1.  which just ended 
  2. AKA Awards-Season, which also overlaps with horror movie season, because there can only be two types of movies I guess? 
  3. in the interest of word-count, I’m saving the tv stuff for part 3, with the not-confirmed movies comprising part 2 in a couple of days. 
  4. a thing I say literally every time I try to prognosticate 
  5. it’s not germane here, but he also proved that he could handle horror comedy for a budget of, like, whatever money he had in his pocket at the time of filming, which is also encouraging. 
  6. he may have also proven something with Centurion, but I haven’t seen it. Mea culpa.  
  7. yes, yes, there are no proverbs about “it”. Shut up. Also it’s not the literal It, which comes out at Halloween times and isn’t a superhero movie. Well, it kind of is with all the psychic whatnot, but I’m still not including it. Shut up again. That’s a double shut up. 
  8. who, for whatever reason, was not included when they made First Class, which included many of the other Hellfire Club characters. True story: when the X-Men cartoon did this story, they included the character, but never referred to him as Mastermind, which makes me wonder if there’s a weird rights thing I don’t know about. I can’t help but think that they’re related. 
  9. although they are getting better – Aquaman wasn’t so bad, after all.  
  10. a character who had powers that were useless in a fight, a displaced alien techno-virus, an artificially-aged witch person who had the powers of a demon and a magic sword and a werewolf comprise many of the members of the group. 

The 2019 ACM Awards

You know, we really give out a lot of awards. If you are a successful country music artist, especially, there are just piles and heaps of opportunities for you to win award after award. What do you suppose, say, Carrie Underwood does with all of them? Has she used them to build a shed 1?

Anyway, you get it. Another awards show. I’ve talked previously at great length 2 about how the problem with writing these things about country music is that there’s precious-little turnover, especially when compared to other genres, so I’ll not get into the whole thing here except to mention it for any first-time readers that happen across it.

Anyway, this awards show has a bunch of awards I’m not going to write about, because I have zero opinions about casinos or venues that I don’t attend. Oh, and I’m skipping songwriter of the year because even though it’s in my wheelhouse, more or less, I still find it difficult to deduce what the songwriters in question are nominated for, and in country music the songwriters generate a lot more material than in other genres/sub-industries.

Furthermore, I’ll be going through these quickly, so as to minimize the amount of time I have to spend getting frustrated at my own inability to come up with more words to say about each of these artists, especially as time goes by.

Music Event of the Year

I don’t know why this is called this, and it drives me crazy every time I write about these awards. I suppose I’d call it “team-up” in my head, but that’s what a childhood of comic books will do to you. Anyway, I kind of like “Drowns the Whiskey,” which surprises me somewhat, as I generally don’t like Jason Aldean. I suppose even a blind squirrel finds a dog’s butt sometimes.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jason Aldean, “Drowns the Whiskey” f. Miranda Lambert

Video of the Year

None of these are particularly interesting or inspiring, but at least the Brothers Osborne look like they’re having fun.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Brothers Osborne, “Shoot Me Straight”

Song of the Year

At some point I may have to talk about “Meant to Be,” but the powers that be have allowed me to continue avoiding that for yet another awards ceremony, which is great. Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” is a fine song, and an honorable nominee. But Kacey Musgraves is super-great, and “Space Cowboy” is especially super-great, and it’s the winner.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kacey Musgraves, “Space Cowboy”

Single of the Year

This is a pretty dire situation. I sort of like “Down to the Honky Tonk,” and it is, by the rough rubric we have here, the least bad song. But I do want to say this about “Most People are Good”: it is terrible. Like, it’s a melodically-dumb song with a chorus that never really kicks into gear, and the less I say here about the lyrics the more likely I am to be able to get through the rest of my life without trying to chew on my own eyeballs, but I appreciate how earnest it is. This is sort of how I feel about Luke Bryan in general. It’s pandering and terrible pabulum for middle-of-the-road mush-listeners, but goshdarn it it feels pretty genuinely all that. And something that sucks honestly and without pretense is the best of the things that suck. I mean, it’s not a winner, it’s a terrible stupid song, but I rather appreciate the attempt in and of itself.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jake Owen, “Down to the Honky Tonk”

Album of the Year

I’ve sort of come around on Eric Church. I still don’t listen to him of my own volition, but I’ve softened on what it is he’s doing, and I don’t hate it. I like Chris Stapleton well enough. He’d be praised a bit higher if he were in direct competition with anyone but Kacey Musgraves.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

New Duo or Group of the Year

I still only like LANCO of these options. I like their all-caps name.


New Male Artist of the Year

I am sad that Mitchell Tenpenny’s music doesn’t move me more, because his name is awesome. I mean, it’s not a very country-music sort of name, but it’s an all-time great name anyway. Shame, really. He should try to be as good as Luke Combs. It would make him better.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Luke Combs, who isn’t actually that good. But who also has a pretty good name, for all that.

New Female Artist of the Year

This one is actively the most difficult for me to decide on. I genuinely have no feelings. Like not even a “Well Luke Combs is a little better than the curve here” type of feeling. I guess Carly Pearce doesn’t actively put me to sleep. I guess.


Group of the Year

LANCO’s incursion is fine, but I still like Lady Antebellum more. Still and all, there have been several categories with more than one viable choice in them, and that’s kind of nice. Makes me hopeful, even.


Duo of the Year

There are definitely not two viable candidates in this category, and also I am concerned that LOCASH is trying intentionally to interfere with LANCO’s all-caps fanbase. Actually, given that one of them is “new” and the other is not, it’s probably the other way around, but LOCASH suck real bad, so I’m blaming them. Good job, Brothers Osborne! At least you seem to be having fun in that one video I mentioned earlier!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Brothers Osborne

Male Artist of the Year

I’ll say this: I spend most of these writeups whining about how terrible this all is. No one in this category is anything I’d call a favorite, but none of them are that bad, such as it is. It’s still a matter of “acceptable by degrees”, which isn’t great, but by the lax standards that this awards show generates within my heart, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches.


Female Artist of the Year

The female artist category isn’t necessarily better than the male artist category, but the highs (Kacey Musgraves) are much higher, even if the lows (Maren Morris) are also much lower. It’s nice, though. A relative pleasure to work through. I’m pretty happy about it, even though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion anyway


Entertainer of the Year

It is dumb nonsense that there are no women here. It is especially dumb nonsense that one of the women who isn’t here is Kacey Musgraves. That said, the winner is non-musical, because Luke Bryan is a delightful addition to American Idol and has, therefore, entertained me more than the rest of these people. He will, of course, not be present, because the ceremony airs directly opposite an episode of American Idol, but that would make it funnier anyway. 


And there you have it! We’ll be back in November to look at (I’m sure) this exact same basic set of people once more!

  1. by which I mean she probably can have built a shed out of awards, in which to keep all of the awards that were not directly used for construction materials.  
  2. and in many, many different writeups 

Best Records of March 2019

Solange – When I Get Home (In turning down and making quieter, more intricate music, Solange has once again made the most surprising record possible)

William Basinski – On Time Out of Time (it’s made of the sound of black holes consuming each other! It’s so cool!)

The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Shabaka Hutchings continues to make the best jazz music for dancin’)

Ex Hex – It’s Real (Most garage bands go hilariously radio-metal and it’s a reason to hold them in disdain, but not this time. No really. I promise.)

Wander – March (Sometimes some on-the-nose post-rock is just what the doctor ordered)

A Considered Prediction of Every Act to Play Woodstock 50

So we finally get to see, after all of the announcement and hype, what the lineup for the Woodstock that’s happening this summer is. I kick around talking about festival lineups every year, and then every year I decide not to get to it 1. For this, however, since I just did all the Woodstock stuff when it was announced, I decided to wade on in and pass some dang judgment.

There’s a pretty by-now-standard mix of pop stars, aging rock dudes, and probably just about as many original Woodstock folk as are willing and able (which is to say: not that many). It looks like it was assembled to appeal to a large denominator, and to consist of people who do this sort of thing fairly often, and are therefore reliable. It looks, in short, pretty dull.

That said, it probably doesn’t hold up any worse than any other Woodstock, even if it is kind of boring and seems pretty slapdash. So let’s take a look at how this might go!


John Sebastian

WHO HE IS:The former autoharpist for The Lovin’ Spoonful, and a veteran of a couple of other Woodstocks – he only didn’t play 99.

IS HE WORTH IT?: Dude wasn’t worth it in 1969, and he’s literally fifty years older now, so no I’m comfortable saying he is not.

Princess Nokia

WHO SHE IS: A very young emo rapper.

IS SHE WORTH IT?: I’m going to go with “no,” given that every word in that sentence except “a” seems to rule it out.

Anderson East

WHO HE IS: A white R&B dude who is not related to Dave East (a rapper) or Anderson Paak (a much better R&B singer)

IS HE WORTH IT: there is almost no way that he can be, no.

Michael Franti & Spearhead

WHO HE IS: An erstwhile Disposable Hero of Hiphoprosy, who’s also been a reggae dude for well over a decade now, and I think had a hit several years ago.

IS HE WORTH IT: He’s not even worth me looking up if he did, in fact, have a hit several years ago, so I can’t imagine standing in front of his playing.

Maggie Rogers

WHO HE IS: According to Wikipedia, she cites Carrie Brownstein, Patti Smith and Bjork as influences. Coincidentally, so do I. This would be great. We could talk about Bjork records while literally anything else happens, because it’s not like I’m going to be listening to her music.


The Head and the Heart

WHO THEY ARE: A sort of folk-rock band. They’re fine.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: They probably aren’t bad live, and “Down in the Valley” is a pretty cool song, so by the admittedly-loosened standards of this here Woodstock situation, probably yes.

Run the Jewels

WHO THEY ARE: Great rappers. One of them is also a great producer.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: Oh, sure. They’re great live and I’m sure they’re great in front of a huge crowd.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

WHO THEY ARE: Denver jam band. This is allegedly different from the other bands that Nathaniel Rateliff has been in, but I can’t pretend to be interested in why.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I don’t want to come off as needlessly pessimistic, but it’s entirely possible that they wouldn’t be that bad. I mean, not memorable or whatever, but probably fine.

John Fogerty

WHO THEY ARE: Another Woodstock veteran, and the dude that used to be in CCR.

IS HE WORTH IT: Yeah, probably, even though he’s fairly old. He wrote a bunch of great songs, certainly.

Robert Plant

WHO HE IS: He used to sing for the Honeydrippers. He made a record in the nineties with Jimmy Page, and another one twenty or so years later with Alison Krauss.

IS HE WORTH IT: God I don’t even know. The odds of hearing a Led Zeppelin song are pretty long, and the odds of wanting to hear one given his actual singing voice these days are somewhat lower.

The Raconteurs

WHO THEY ARE: Jack White and Brendan Benson’s recently-reconvened rock band.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: Oh, probably. While I’ve never seen them, I’ve seen Jack White and Brendan Benson separately, and they’re both great, so it seems likely.

The Lumineers

WHO THEY ARE: A Denver jam-folk-rock band that recently lost their cellist.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I don’t know what their cellist contributed, but I’m going go ahead and say “no, not without their cellist”.


WHO HE IS: Another original Woodstocker. I guess he can only play Woodstocks that John Sebastian plays, because he also has only missed 99.

IS HE WORTH IT: Not for the last several decades, no.

Miley Cyrus

WHO SHE IS: The oldest daughter of the guy who sang “Achy Breaky Heart”

IS SHE WORTH IT: I can’t imagine that she would be. Her televised live performances haven’t been much to write home about, and I’m not sure that being in front of a field full of many thousands of people is going to actually help matters any.

The Killers

WHO THEY ARE: Las Vegas’s premiere rock band of the late aughts.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: An internet acquaintance saw The Killers at a festival some years back and described the reaction to them playing “Mr. Brightside” as “the closest [he] would ever be being inside a riot”. So yeah, that sounds pretty good.


Taylor Bennett

WHO HE IS: Chance the Rapper’s little brother the rapper

IS HE WORTH IT: I have no idea. His music doesn’t do much for me as it is, but it might be fine, and it’s probably better than a nine hundred year old former rock star.

Soccer Mommy

WHO SHE IS: A very talented nineties-throwback power-pop lady

IS SHE WORTH IT: Oh yeah. I missed her the last time she came through Cleveland, and I wish I hadn’t all the time.

Emily King

WHO SHE IS: A rank-and-file R&B singer

IS SHE WORTH IT: Well, her recorded music doesn’t have much to make it memorable (I wasn’t aware, in fact, that she had even made a third record, but I suppose that’s on my attention more than it is on the music), but I suppose it’s possible that she pulls it out live. I dunno. The pickings are slim enough that I’d probably say “Sure”.

Rival Sons

WHO THEY ARE: There is a long tradition of unmemorable nothing-special blues-rock bands playing at Woodstock. Rival Sons are continuing in that tradition.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: Almost certainly not.

Country Joe

WHO HE IS: Oh for fuck’s sake. I guess you can’t have a Woodstock without Country goddamned Joe. Let’s here it for the fish cheer, everybody!

IS HE WORTH IT: No. Not now, not ever.

Margo Price

WHO SHE IS: A Jack White-affiliated country singer.

IS SHE WORTH IT: Yes. Her music is good, and I bet it works pretty well in the setting.


WHO THEY ARE: A pretty straightforward, if a little bland, rock band.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: Dawes are fine, and I’ve heard good things about them live, even though I’ve never made it out to see them myself, so I’d say yes. Why not?

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

WHO THEY ARE: A jam-adjacent folk-rock band that had a sort of hit with “Home” a bunch of years ago. If you’ve confused them with The Lumineers, that’s ok, I’m not entirely convinced they’re not the same band.


Gary Clark Jr

WHO HE IS: A blues-rock guitar guy.

IS HE WORTH IT: I’ve always enjoyed seeing him play when I’ve happened across it on tv. I’m sure it’s fine at a festival.

Leon Bridges

WHO HE IS: A neo-soul dude who came up via White Denim, which is an interesting bit of business, if nothing else.

IS HE WORTH IT: Sure, I like Leon Bridges a lot, and his thing was made for this sort of event.

Portugal, The Man

WHO THEY ARE: Wasilla, Alaska’s finest!

ARE THEY WORTH IT: No. They haven’t made a good song in a dozen or so years, and even in the early going it’s not like they were that good.

Greta Van Fleet

WHO THEY ARE: Well they’re not Led Zeppelin, I’ll tell you that.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: Of course not.

Sturgill Simpson

WHO HE IS: A genuinely pretty-weird country dude, which makes him a rare bird, indeed.

IS HE WORTH IT: Oh, absolutely.

The Black Keys

WHO THEY ARE: Recently reactivated Akron blues-rock band.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: They’ve always been good when I’ve seen them, I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Chance the Rapper

WHO THEY ARE: Chicago’s most positivity-oriented gospel-rapper

IS HE WORTH IT: Oh I bet he’d be a blast. He’s one of the ones I’d be genuinely sad to miss, in fact. If I were in fact going to be sad about missing any of this shitshow.

Dead and Company

WHO THEY ARE: Two of the surviving/still-interested members of the Grateful Dead, plus John Mayer. So if you ever thought that the main problem with the Grateful Dead was that John Mayer wasn’t involved, well, you’ve probably already seen them a dozen times anyway and don’t need me to tell you about them.



Cherry Glazerr

WHO THEY ARE: An actress/model-fronted rock band that appears to be making a big ol’ push to be real-life rock stars. Whee!


Pussy Riot

WHO THEY ARE: A Russian activist group/riot-grrl act

ARE THEY WORTH IT: Their entertainment value depends wildly on what they’re doing onstage at this particular event, but probably.

Hot Tuna

WHO THEY ARE: Two former members of Jefferson Airplane. True story: I thought that one of these dudes died a few years ago, but he did not!

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I can’t imagine them being worth it, no.

Canned Heat

WHO THEY ARE: Another veteran of previous Woodstocks, and another of those aforementioned nothing-special blues-rock bands.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I would do an awful lot not to sit through a Canned Heat performance, I can’t lie.

The Zombies

WHO THEY ARE: One of the all-time great first-time-around psychedelia bands. They were a part of the British Invasion, even.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I hear they still are, even though I haven’t been able to see it myself. I believe it, though.


WHO THEY ARE: A supergroup comprised of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Daucus and Julien Baker.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: The record is pretty good, and they’re all pretty good separately, so sure, I bet they’re worth it.

Earl Sweatshirt

WHO HE IS: One of the more lasting talents to come out of Odd Future, and a genuinely great rapper.

IS HE WORTH IT: Yes, although I won’t have seen him myself until a couple of months before this event. I’m still willing to bet heavily on it.

Judah and the Lion

WHO THEY ARE: Like…a novelty bro-folk band? I think that’s the best way to describe them.


Vince Staples

WHO HE IS: Probably my favorite currently-operating rapper.

IS HE WORTH IT?: He’s fantastic live, and while I would have some misgivings about his ability to come over to a festival crowd, I bet it would still work out.


WHO HE IS: An elder statesman of conscious rap.

IS HE WORTH IT: Yeah, probably

Courtney Barnett

WHO SHE IS: An Australian rock musician and another genuine actual genius.

IS SHE WORTH IT: Oh sure. This stuff was made for festivals, and she’s an amazing live act.

Young the Giant

WHO THEY ARE: They’re a rock band. I genuinely forget who they are, even though they’ve been famous for basically as long as they’ve existed, and I’ve therefore been aware of them for a decade.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I can barely remember they exist, I can’t imagine it’s worth standing in front of.

Janelle Monae

WHO SHE IS: R&B’s foremost pansexual cyborg

IS SHE WORTH IT: Probably! I get the impression that a lot of her onstage thing depends on the “show” aspect of it, so it might depend on how much stage production she can get out there, but I also fully acknowledge that this feeling is based on very little, and I could be entirely wrong. In any event, I bet it’s worth it to see.

Brandi Carlile

WHO SHE IS: A full-throated folkie whose most recent album did gangbusters business

IS SHE WORTH IT: I mean, she spent a long time garnering her fans and attention the hard way, which for a folkie means playing out in front of people, so at the very least she’s got enough experience for there to be a reasonable chance. I’m not sure that I’d ever enjoy it, but she’s better than most of what happens here.

Cage the Elephant

WHO THEY ARE: The band that did the song from Borderlands!

ARE THEY WORTH IT: I can’t imagine that they are. I think they did a daytrotter session years ago that I kind of hated, and being several years later in a giant field is probably not going to help matters much.


WHO SHE IS: A pop singer who is, to be frank, unusually high on this bill

IS SHE WORTH IT: There are many reasons to enjoy looking at Halsey, but I can’t imagine any of them translate to wanting to do so in such a context

Imagine Dragons

WHO THEY ARE: One of the few reliably hit-making rock bands left in the world.

ARE THEY WORTH IT: They might be a compelling act in a circus-trick giant-drum sense. I dunno.


WHO HE IS: Beyonce’s husband

IS HE WORTH IT: I’d imagine he can still deliver whatever it is you think you’d be looking for out of a Jay-Z performance in 2019

So now you know!

So there you have. Also, feel free to remember that whatever I say up there, none of this is worth it, and there’s (going on past happenings) a 33% chance it could end in everything being on fire!


  1. for a couple of reasons, first being that there are other people that do it, and they don’t start from the position that giant outdoor festivals are a stupid way to see a band, which makes them more credible and secondly that I listen to a lot of music, but have pretty well winnowed it down to what I actually am likely to enjoy, and so would have to spend a lot of time deep in the trenches figuring out a lot of undercard acts. Woodstock didn’t print their undercard acts, so I’m pretty well familiar with everyone here. 

The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards

Awhile back, I declared that there were some awards shows I was just never going to write about, and this was one of them. I did realize , however, that I cover a lot of things that are of interest to me, and not a lot of things that are decidedly not aimed at me. This is sort of by design – I don’t talk about awards aimed at marginalized/minoritized people because I’m not one of those things, and I don’t feel comfortable inveighing on them, especially in a jokey fashion that declares my favorite of the things involved the “Rightful” winner.

That said, I used to be a kid. It was a long time ago, but it totally happened, so this presents me with an award that is granted to/by a demographic that is outside my own but that I feel I am at least somewhat qualified to speak to the rightfulness of the winning-eligible selections, here.

So unlike the Teen Choice Awards, which occupy a more generalized sort of place, the Kids Choice Awards are specifically granted by the cable television network Nickelodeon. It is admirable how much restraint they are able to show by not pushing too much of their own content, which also brings to mind the also-paramount-owned MTV Movie awards. In fact, they’re very similar in most regards. I suppose that makes sense.

I have to suppose these things, because I have basically no experience with the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. I’ve always liked awards shows, and I must have watched them on occasion when I was a kid, but I don’t remember anything about them in particular, so this is basically a clean slate for me.

That said, this does present a pretty fantastic opportunity, because I genuinely love weird try-hard little awards shows, even though I have basically no idea what place or function Nickelodeon holds in the culture, either at large or among its theoretical target demographic of children.

Anyway, I’m skipping the international categories because they seem pretty specifically focused to the target audiences there, and I don’t want to compound any problems I may have in the first place with problems understanding what children on other continents are into.

How Do You Want to Help?

This category is well-intended and fine, but it also seems like advertising research? Which is also fine, I guess, as long as it gets people thinking about helping other people, which I’m foursquare in favor of. I’m saying even cold-hearted me can’t come up with anything to say about this other than undistinguished approval. Oh, except genuinely if we don’t figure out the environment there won’t be any animals, or schools, or, eventually people to be bullied/in need, so let’s get on the environment, yeah?

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I mean, they’re all rightful, but only one of them is about the fate of the literal planet so….

Favorite Social Star

I’m more than happy to cede this one to current events, and point out that Lilly Singh is so good at social media it got her a job as a queer woman of color on late-night television, so she’s the winner.


Favorite Gamer

I know nothing about this world at all, and I only ever hear about these people when they, say, scream racial slurs and/or get arrested, as a couple of the people here have been. This Markiplier dude seems ok, and hasn’t shouted racial slurs or been arrested, so I guess I’m safe naming him rightful, but man, I hope I don’t live to regret it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Markiplier, I hope

Favorite Video Game

My favorite of these is Marvel’s Spider Man because wheeeeee web-slinging and also beating up criminals but mostly the web-slinging. It’s so good, y’all. THWIPP.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Marvel’s Spider Man

Favorite Global Music Star

Well, I appreciate that they’re trying here, but this is not quite like the charity one, because it does one of my least favorite things: it makes “global” music into one homogenous mass. It’s exoticization, and it’s stupid. But I do like J. Balvin.


Favorite Social Music Star

You’ll never believe this, but even after as much research as I could muster, I still don’t care about any of these people.


Favorite Collaboration

It remains the case that in these all-encompassing, bit-of-everything awards shows, the music categories are frustraing and stupid. This is geared at theoretical children, so it’s especially so. But I do still kind of like “I Like It”. A little bit.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Cardi B, “I LIke It” (f J Balvin & Bad Bunny)

Favorite Breakout Artist

I don’t know the eligibility period for the Kids Choice Awards, but I’m happy that Cardi B is here, because I was really staring down the barrel of trying to figure out something nice to say about Billie Eilish otherwise, and that made me itch.


Favorite Song

I’m going to, out of circumstances beyond my control here, say something I never thought I’d say, and here it is: Ariana Grande has the best song in this field of people. She also has Nickelodeon ties, which I would think was weird except there’s no way they planned it this way, so I’m comfortable with it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”

Favorite Female Artist

At least the Kids Choice Awards err on the side of “obvious” so that I don’t have to do any more thinking than is required, but jeez, Beyonce is not in the same league as these folks. Good to see her here though.


Favorite Male Artist

Things  are a little tougher down here, but that’s only because the Beyonce of Male Artists is Drake, and that’s a pretty poor substitute. Nevertheless, he’s probably the one here that annoys me the least, even if he hasn’t made a record I’ve liked in a very long time.


Favorite Music Group

I feel like I have more to say about the strangeness of these categories, what with Migos being an entire order of magnitude better than any of the other groups in this field, but also I think it’s just a side-effect of greatness occasionally yielding great fame, or at the very least that occasionally some great gets famous, even if they aren’t related 1. Ah, well.


Favorite Cartoon

In the interest of moving this along, I’m going to assume that the best of these cartoons is SpongeBob and emerge with my sanity intact.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: SpongeBob SquarePants

Favorite TV Judges

The Four was such a baffling, infuriating several hours of television that I want it to win some kind of award, but honestly, the most entertaining the judges ever were happened when DJ Khaled completely checked out by the end of the second season. I’m not willing to call Meghan Trainor particularly good at anything, really. Anyway, the current judges on American Idol are the most entertaining part of it, especially in the early going 2, when the contestants themselves aren’t actually at all entertaining yet, so they should be the winners.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, American Idol

Favorite TV Host

Tyra Banks is, in a lot of ways, the consummate tv host, and also a total goofball, so I think she belongs here, especially since she’s the only person on America’s Got Talent that’s worth watching.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Tyra Banks, America’s Got Talent

Favorite Reality Show

On the one hand, I kind of like American Ninja Warrior, but if I’m being honest I rather wish that I liked it more. On the other hand, I do actually watch American Idol, even if I don’t remember anything about it once it’s over, so I probably wish I liked it less. What about combining them into a show about people who have to complete an obstacle course while singing? I think that sounds delightful, quite frankly, and I would watch it every day.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: American Ninja Idol Warrior’s Got Talent

Favorite Male TV Star

While it’s true that Neil Patrick Harris is the best one here, it’s also true that he’s not even the best male performer on A Series of Unfortunate Events – that’s Patrick Warburton. Nevertheless, since I completely invented a show for the last category, I guess I better play this one by the book.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Neil Patrick Harris, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Favorite Female TV Star

I either actively dislike or haven’t seen even a minute of every show in this category. I’m going to assume that Zendaya is the best one here, because Zendaya is the best generally.


Favorite TV Drama

I wonder if Nickelodeon still has any financial stake in the Netflix A Series of Unfortunate Events show. They produced or distributed or funded or whatever the Jim Carrey movie from awhile back, but I’m not sure if they still hold any part of the license. Whether it’s insider trading or not, it’s the best show in this category, so I’m happy to call it the winner. Yay!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Favorite Funny TV Show

Oooh! None of these shows are even remotely funny! I guess Modern Family used to be, so it’s the winner, but it’s kind of a winner emeritus because, well, that was a long time ago.


Favorite Female Voice from an Animated Movie

All of these are fine examples of fine work, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was my favorite movie of 2018, and is about to run the table on the animated categories, so there.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hailee Steinfeld, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Favorite Male Voice from an Animated Movie

I mean, it’s a shame, because this set of categories is among the strongest sets in the entire field of consideration, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Shameik Moore, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Favorite Animated Movie

Aaaaaand one more.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Favorite Butt-Kicker

After all that, I’m sad to say that there is no Spider-Man in this category, despite him kicking plenty of dang butts. This is all very silly. Danai Gurira did more actual butt-kicking than Zoe Saldana in their respective 2018 MCU appearances, so it goes to her.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Danai Gurira, Black Panther (but also in Avengers: Infinity War, even though she’s not mentioned in there, because come on, guys)

Favorite Superhero

Actually, it might just be an artifact of the way their website populates fields that people aren’t nominated for more than one movie, because Chadwick Boseman is only mentioned here in Black Panther also. Also there is no Spider-Man here, despite Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being the best superhero movie of 2018, if not of all time. This seems stupid.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Probably Chadwick Boseman, but really Shameik Moore should be here for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Favorite Movie Actress

Rihanna was the best part of Ocean’s 8 3, which does thorn this up a bit. But honestly, Zoe Saldana has figured out a very capable performance in a role that wouldn’t otherwise necessarily need or have one without her, so I’m happy to just keep giving it to her.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Zoe Saldana, Avengers: Infinity War

Favorite Movie Actor

This is where I break with my so-far-established tradition and confess that, in terms of who I liked the most as an actor in any of these movies, Chris Hemsworth runs away with it. He was great in Avengers: Infinity War. I would watch an entier movie of Thor’s Adventures with Rocket, yes sir I would.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers: Infinity War

Favorite Movie

Critic and podcaster Amy Nicholson has theorized that the reason for Saving Mr. Banks was to rewrite PL Travers’ actual life as a charitable, progressive, generally-admirable person so that Disney was able to cast themselves as being in the right w/r/t any of their Mary Poppins-related decisions, and that specifically it was teeing us up for this re-imagining of the idea. I place this idea here for two reasons: 1) there is no reason for Mary Poppins Returns to be nominated as the favorite anything ever, and 2) I have basically nothing to say here that I haven’t already said before.


  1. that’s not my least confusing sentence, but I assure you I know what I mean, so there. 
  2. which we are, as of the time of this writing 
  3. a movie that I liked quite a bit, contrary to public opinion. Fight me. 

The 2019 iHeartRadio Awards

So last year I started writing about the iHeartRadio music awards, for a couple of reasons: 1) it was brought to my attention what a goofy nonsense-fest it is, and 2) I thought that maybe it might not be long for the world. And indeed it may not be! But here it remains, shambling along to prop up the idea that the world’s largest radio owning-conglomerate is doing something culturally viable, and not dying a slow, public death!

So let’s have a look at whom they’re honoring, and mostly roll our eyes at how terrible this all is. Oh, and they didn’t print the nominees, but there are also categories for the “most thumbed-up” song and artist, as well as “Best Tour” and “Best Label”. For the first couple I get it – these are decided algorithmically and numerically, but the latter two should definitely be here. Also how is “Best Label” even a thing when there’s only three majors and they’re all in conflicting interest with iHeart Media? It’s almost like this entire awards show is a ridiculous sham!

Also I’d like to see the most thumbsed-down artist, to be frank. On to the nominees!

Favorite Tour Photographer

This is a new category, and the nominees are printed, even though the nominees for “Best Tour” are not, because this awards show does not, in fact, make any goddamned sense. Most of this is pretty dumb and uninteresting, but Ravie B is pretty cool. Beyonce has good taste in photographers, generally, but Ravie B is famous outside of her Beyonce work and is very good. So there you have it. This is a popular voted-category, so it’s liable to go to someone who takes pictures of Shawn Mendes, but that’s still not the right answer.


Song That Left Us Shook

This is another new category, and another one that’s voted on by the fans (which means it’s probably going to go the Ariana Grande song). None of these songs left me “Shook” as such. “This is America” had a great video. But actually the end of the video for the Sam Mendes/Khalid song “Youth” where you see all the kids from the video and their jobs and hear them talk and stuff is actually pretty moving, and while that isn’t part of the song, it’s still pretty much all I’ve got here, so in it goes.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Shawn Mendes and Khalid, “Youth”

Best Solo Breakout

This category consists of every non-Camila-Cabello member of Fifth Harmony and a woman who was in Girls Generation, and given that Camila Cabello is basically the only member of Fifth Harmony with any real reason to have listened to in the first place, I’m going to have to go with the woman who was in Girls Generation.


Cutest Musician’s Pet

First of all all of these are good boys. Every single one of them. Mooshu only loses points by belonging to a Chainsmoker 1. Hatchie, Asia and Gracie are about as good as little dogs can be. Edgar is a very distinguished gentleman and I’m happy to know about him. Goodwin is also among the top tier of adorable dogs. But this category (and my heart) belongs only to Piggy Smallz


Social Star Award

Guys there are too many people in this category and I don’t care about any of this, so I’m giving it to Trixie Mattel, who was once a guest on a podcast that I like and is therefore better than the rest of these people.


Best Music Video

Once again I find myself very happy that “This is America” is in the world, because I don’t even know why most of these things are nominated, let alone how to evaluate them against one another.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Childish Gambino, “This is America”

Best Cover Song

You know, I didn’t know that I was going to speed through these categories. I thought to myself “I bet I will have things to say about these people and about pop music, because this is a good opportunity to do so”. But nope. Halsey covered Juice WRLD. Charlie Puth covered Shawn Mendes. Et and also cetera. But actually there is a bright spot here: Khalid covered “Fast Car” and it is incredible. It solves the “Khalid’s songs aren’t as good as his voice” problem 2, which is nice, and is kind of why you’d want somebody to cover something in the first place.


Best Lyrics

I have made it a matter of record before, but will state again for the present situation: I am not a lyrics person. I have, however, a bunch of literature-examining training. Now, in a way this isn’t fair – lyrics are not the same as poetry 3, and while it’s possible to evaluate them outside of the songs in which they appear, it is also somewhat diminishing to the thign they represent. This category, then, is about as useful as “best bassline” or “best synth part” or whatever, in that it is examining a portion of a song, which is definitionally the combination of all the different bits. That’s fine. Everyone in the world cares more about lyrics than me, so I’m willing to go along with it for the sake of our purposes here, but it leaves me in the position of having to say that almost all of this is terrible. “Without Me” is a bad song with bad lyrics. “Consequences” and “Girls Like You” don’t have bad lyrics, but they’re not anything special. “God’s Plan” at least has some clever wordplay. It’s not good, but some of it is clever. “In My Blood” is probably the best lyric of the bunch, when taken as an example of one word following another with no additional context which, again, is a butt-stupid way to look at song lyrics. “Thank U Next” is also clever, and makes its point in an interesting way, I suppose, and since it also provides most of the thing you’d actually want to hear about a song that wouldn’t be at all interesting with different lyrics, it wins here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”

Best Fan Army presented by Taco Bell

I love when one category is sponsored in awards shows. It’s almost always the “Best New Artist” category and it makes me laugh all the time. As thought it wouldn’t be here without the gracious philanthropic vision of the fine folks at….Taco Bell. Ha! Anyway, this, like all “Best fans” categories, will go to BTS for the entire foreseeable future, for all the usual reasons.


Songwriter of the Year

Mostly this category is indicative of this entire awards show – by which I mean it’s full of lowest-common-denominator nonsense and stuff that the record-selling industry is trying to make happen – but I like Frank Dukes for two reasons. 1) He co-wrote some pretty good Frank Ocean songs 4 and 2) he almost has the same as Frank Dux, who was a highly entertaining nutbar. That’s about all I’ve got for this crop of people. I’m happy to be moving on.


Producer of the Year

Or I would have been happier to move on, if this category wasn’t somehow even worse. I guess it goes to Marshmallo because his music is fine, such as it is.


Regional Mexican Artist of the Year

In researching this last year, I found that I quite liked Calibre 50. Since I still only have two years very casual research to go on, it may come as no surprise to find that I still quite like Calibre 50.


Region Mexican Song of the Year

I’m not the only one, clearly, as I find myself with two Calibre 50 songs to choose from here. IT is not exaggerating to say that this makes this one of the most difficult categories, quite frankly.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Calibre 50, “Mitad y Mitad”

Best New Latin Artist

This one is hard, but I ended up going with Lele Pons, because I still miss her Vine. And Vine generally.


Latin Artist of the Year

I feel equally about J. Balvin, Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee, who represent the sort of triumvirate of American-penetrating Latin pop music. I guess I’ve never proclaimed Bad Bunny the rightful winner before, so I’ll give it to him this year.


Latin Song of the Year

These get harder as they get farther away from Calibre 50, I don’t mind telling you. I guess I like “Dura” the best of all of these.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Daddy Yankee, “Dura”

Best New R&B Artist

The “new artist” categories at the iHeart awards are simultaneously the hardest to evaluate and also the most sort of existentially hilarious – the radio wants to be able to break these people, but can’t, so they have to convince you that they’re right about them being the next big thing and….hoping that they’re right? It’s an amazing thing to consider, quite frankly. Anyway, I like H.E.R. fine.


R&B Artist of the Year

Ella Mai is up for best New R&B Artist and for R&B Artist of the year. That’s a tall order for a lady with one hit. I suppose this says everything important about the state of the Media Conglomerate Formerly Known as Clear Channel in 2019, though, doesn’t it?


R&B Song of the Year

I will say that I often remark about the dire quality of the work in these awards shows (or all awards shows, really), but it does make the prospect of figuring out which one of these is the most deserving pretty easy. In this case, though, it’s the pleasant-but-slight “Boo’d Up” butting up against a third-rate Miguel song in the form of “Skywalker,” so I went with the one that doesn’t have Travis Scott on it.


Best New Hip Hop Artist

It is strange that XXXTentacion’s entire thing happened so fast that he’d be up for best new artist anywhere, but there you have it. It’s a weird time to be alive. All of these people make truly terrible music, tho. Even without being a pretty deeply unsavory person, XXXTentacion made awful music. Lil Baby makes awful music. Lil Pump makes awful music. Juice WRLD makes ever-so-slightly-less awful music, and BlocBoy JB, well, he comes out of this looking very good. His music is still awful, just the least awful.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: BlocBoy JB (begrudgingly)

Hip Hop Artist of the Year

Kendrick didn’t do much more than produce the Black Panther soundtrack, but it’s still more of a contribution to hip hop than any of the rest of these dildos. I mean, Cardi B’s record is fine and all that, but I don’t think it’s enough to put her over the top. In this category I mean. More on her music (which, you may remember, I do like) later.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kendrick Lamar (somehow)

Dance Artist of the Year

It’s a banner year when this category has two artists I almost kind of like. I still think Calvin Harris is about as good as radio dance music gets, but I don’t hate Marshmello, and I’m calling this a kind of progress.


Dance Song of the Year

Calvin Harris is fine, and I’m on the record as sort of liking Dua Lipa, so “One Kiss” is the obvious winner here. Plus the video is fun.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Calvin Harris, “One Kiss” (f Dua Lipa)

Best New Country Artist

Back at the American Music Awards, this category went to LANCO because they didn’t have a Wikipedia page, and looking them up on Wikipedia just sent you to the page for an airline. That made me laugh. They probably also win here because their song isn’t that bad, but it might just be residual goodwill from the time when they lost their Wikipedia page to an airline. Heh.


Country Artist of the Year

Oh my god I can’t say the thing I say ever year about how these categories are all the same people every year because it’s the beginning of the year and if I start complaining about it now I’ll lose my mind before it’s time to stop but I CANNOT ANY LONGER CONSIDER WHETHER JASON ALDEAN IS BETTER THAN LUKE BRYAN OR WHATEVER OH GOD. At least I like Luke Bryan on American Idol. That’s something.


Country Song of the Year

I genuinely do not like any of these songs. Not even in my usual grumbly way, just in the way that all of these songs are terrible and I hate them. I appreciate Luke Bryan’s earnestness, even if his song sounds like it was written after he got hit in the back of the head with a shovel.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Luke Bryan, “Most People Are Good,” but it’s really a dreadful song. It’s just better than the rest of the songs here. Kind of. If you squint.

Rock Artist of the Year

I mean, the Country Song category was brain-meltingly bad, but at least it wasn’t this bad. For the first time in my life, I have to consider the fact that I would rather hear a Five-Finger Death Punch song than set myself on fire, which I can’t say for any of the other bands here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Five-Finger Death Punch, but I am seriously going to start gibbering with madness if things don’t turn up for this category soon.

Rock Song of the Year

Can we talk about this Bad Wolves cover of “Zombie”? It’s kind of the only thing in this category I find compelling. It’s obviously terrible. Like, all-time world-class terrible 5. It’s also in this category, and not in “best cover song”, and I’m not sure if that’s a vote of confidence or an insult. It’s also not actually even the best cover of “Zombie” released in the wake of Dolores O’Riordan’s death – that would be Vic Mensa’s cover, which rules – so it’s essentially nothing. Truly, this is the bottom of the barrel for inconsequential awards-show nominating.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Actually, I’m giving to Vic Mensa for his cover of “Zombie”, which also did not make “best cover version” and should have. It also was not nominated here.

Best New Rock/Alternative Artist

I guess what I’m wondering is this: what is the point at which the iHeart folks stop even pretending that there’s any such thing as rock music on the radio? They’re kind of doing it here – by merging it with “Alternative” here as they have, they have acknowledged that they can’t fill out a category without adding a bunch of synth bands anyway. I have no problem with this. I’m happy to cede that rock is not a major commercial force. It seems to be doing pretty well under those circumstances. Anyway, all of these bands are awful, but Billie Ellish has convinced a bunch of people that whatever she’s doing is worth hearing, and I appreciate that kind of marketing savvy.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Bille Ellish (who is very bad, but cannily-marketed)

Alternative Rock Artist of the Year

This is not quite as bad as the country song category, or the regular Rock artist category 6, but it’s still pretty dreadful. I think the dude from Imagine Dragons seems cool, but his band sucks real bad. I liked Portugal, the Man’s first record, but they suck pretty bad. Sucking pretty bad is better than sucking real bad, and the rest of the bands in this category are beneath consideration, so there you have it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Portugal, the Man

Alternative Rock Song of the Year

The cancer that is Weezer’s cover of “Africa” is, of course, mentioned here, because the world is terrible and I hate living in it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Marshmello, “Happier” (f Bastille)

Best New Pop Artist

Seriously, this is another of those awards shows where I seem to come strongly out in favor of someone (in this case Marshmello) despite the fact that I don’t actually even like them, they’re just better than the rest of the field.


Best Collaboration

I will say this for “The Middle” – it is a deeply unlikable song, but it also seems like it’s been around forever. I don’t know what sort of song-based alchemical magic that is, but I have transplanted that song to having been released, like, ten years ago, despite the fact that Maren Morris herself is, like, twelve. It doesn’t make me hate it less, but I acknowledge that there is a thing there. Anyway.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Cardi B, “I Like It” (f Bad Bunny and J Balvin)

Best Duo/Group of the Year

I have said here and elsewhere that if I had been much younger when twenty one pilots had started out, I would definitely not have been immune to their thing, and that sets them ahead of the rest of these people.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: twenty-one pilots

Male Artist of the Year

At least the presence of Kendrick Lamar here makes this one easy, and means I don’t have to say anything about any of these people.


Female Artist of the Year

Ariana Grande was more entertaining than most of these women, but her scream-singing gives me panic attacks. Dua Lipa makes some of the most interesting music of these women, but it’s not that interesting. That would be a real toss-up if it weren’t for the fact that Cardi B has them beat on both fronts.


Song of the Year

I think maybe it’s time to burn the entire radio industry to the ground.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The blazing inferno of justice.

  1. and, admittedly, gains most of his points because he’s still smol 
  2. a problem he shares with, charitably, 67% of the people in this category. 
  3. This is a weird thing to say and it probably makes some of the assembled all hackles-y, so I will footnote it thusly: I think that there are lyrics that do work as poetry, but the two things aren’t actually related. A good poem that is set to music may be a good poem, but most lyrics are meant as artifacts of the songs that they are a part of, and therefore have a different and separate job from the job of a song lyric. You can read some more of this when I wrote about Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize here, but the upshot is that good lyrics are functionalist (i.e. they exist most of the time to facilitate the singing of the song – which is the musical contribution of the vocalist), and poetry is the ends in and of itself, and that most musical acts that exist to prop up their own lyrics are pretty fucking terrible. 
  4. which actually happened outside of the period of interest for this awards show, and probably shouldn’t come up, but, y’know, it’s true anyway. 
  5. I thought this plenty at first, and then I saw the video, which if you haven’t seen it, is mind-blowing. It starts with an assertion that Dolores O’Riordan was going to come sing on it (I have not reason to believe that isn’t true, I guess), and ends with a quote about Dolores O’Riordan from….the singer of Bad Wolves. In between they, like, look real sad and have some models cosplay the original “Zombie” video. It’s amazing. 
  6. if you merged these two together, like they did in the song category, you might even have something like a reasonable list. Maybe. I mean, probably not this year. But maybe in theory. 

An Ordinal Ranking of Things That Turn 20

A now-annual tradition here at ONAT, as of this year, since I started doing it last year and now am doing it again! And this is how tradition is made, kids!

So all of these things came into existence in 1999, my sixteenth year, and here they are enumerated in order of how great it is that they happened. This is not every great thing, but this is the things that are inarguably, indisputably great, and without which the world would be somewhat darker. Thank you and goodnight.


Sleater-Kinney – The Hot Rock

Octavia Butler – Parable of the Talents

The Roots – Things Fall Apart

Ted Chiang – “The Story of Your Life”

Bonnie Prince Billy – I See a Darkness

The Iron Giant

Wilco – Summerteeth

Freaks and Geeks

Galaxy Quest

Terry Pratchett – The Fifth Elephant

Mystery Men

Good Eats

Jonathan Lethem – Motherless Brooklyn

Mogwai – Come On Die Young

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The Best Records of February 2019

Nivhek – After It’s Own Death/Walking in a Spiral Towards the House (It’s a surprise album by Liz Harris operating under another name! It is also super-great even by those already-high standards)

Teeth of the Sea – Wraith (most Teeth of the Sea records are great, and this one manages to smash together a bunch of different electronic genres, and also manage to squeeze in some rockin’. Very impressive stuff)

Theon Cross – Fyah (if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times: I do not have enough tuba jazz in my life)

Mandoline Orange – Tides of a Teardrop (much-ballyhooed, highly effective country music, which is always welcome)

Signor Benedick the Moor – Spirit Realm Final (we see the return of agressive SBthemoor here, although it’s also still weird as hell)

A Considered Look at Every Inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Part 10

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a place that I find, as an institution, vexing. The actual, physical hall of fame – the pyramidal building on the lake in Cleveland – is pretty cool, but it is spoken and thought of often as an intangible – as a sort of arbitrating body on the worthiness of the body of rock musicians. My thought, for many years upon surveying lists 1 and the like was to think that they have about a fifty percent success rate for getting it anything like right.

But what if it doesn’t? Previously I listened to and considered each of the best-selling albums of all time, and learned that they were considerably more of a mixed bag than I had thought 2. So what if the inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the same sort of deal?

And so it’s time to dive in and take a look at what the nominees and their enshrinement actually are.

Click the links for Part 1,Part 2,  Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 and Part 9 of this series.

Class of 2002

Isaac Hayes

WHO HE IS: The world’s foremost rhythm and blues scientologist, and the chef on South Park.

WHY HE’S HERE: He was instrumental in changing R&B, albeit not always in great ways. He also deserves full credit for being weird as hell, and inventing the cocaine-inflected long-jam-style R&B number.

AND…?: Despite all of that sounding pretty dire, I do actually like Isaac Hayes. I think most of what he influenced is lamentable, but his music itself is pretty good, and while it’s true that there are a few too many tinny, high-end-heavy long-ass songs in his middle career, he did lots of good work generally.


Brenda Lee

WHO SHE IS: An influence on rock and roll who’s up here with the performers because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a somehow-ahistorical museum. I know, I think it’s weird too.

WHY SHE’S HERE: She had a tonne of hits, it’s true, although it’s also kind of surreal that the one that has survived the most is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. She was a good singer, and had been very popular. She also has an absolutely crazy backstory about a singing career that started when she was, like, nine.

AND…?: Eh. She’s not the worst choice.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

WHO THEY ARE: Gainesville, Florida’s premiere rock band.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They sold an unfathomable number of records, and inspired the kind of cultish devotion among their fans that most bands can only dream of. They existed as a band for several decades with no significant drop in quality – they had hits for a very long time, and their fans (as far as I can tell) liked each of their albums. They were a touring and sales juggernaut, and they probably managed to inspire a bunch of people to pick up instruments and do some extremely-likable rocking.

AND…?: Extremely-likable they may have been, but I actually don’t like them. I mean, they’re fine. I’m not mad about it. I just don’t hear any of that stuff I mentioned in the other paragraph, and I’m not sure how other people do. To be honest, I find the rapturous reception of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ music to be utterly baffling.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Oh sure. I just don’t get it, that’s all.

Gene Pitney

WHO HE IS: A singer who became a songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, and by no means a rock and roll dude.

WHY HE’S HERE: He was an influence on a bunch of rock and roll dudes, but recorded after the period that the HOF decides influencer must be in, and I’m tired of harping on this. Anyway, he wrote a bunch of hits, sang and played on a bunch of hits, and was generally responsible for a bunch of hits.

AND…?: Oh, whatever. He was fine. His songs are fine. It’s all fine. I dunno. I just don’t see it.



WHO THEY ARE: Probably the first punk band 3, definitely the best New York punk band, probably the best punk band.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: Punk was, one way or another, an enormously influential development to the sound and approach of rock music. While the Ramones didn’t do this, it’s the set of venues/labels/allies that formed around post-Ramones punk rock that enabled the independent music scene to develop, and to continue to be present now. In a less-nebulous, more-immediate sense, they were responsible for injecting an appreciation for simplicity and for prizing communicative intention for musicianship (that is to say, making “what you mean” more important than “how you mean it”) into the rock discourse, and also for writing a bunch of super-great songs.

AND…?: Oh, I love the Ramones unreservedly and think they should be in every Hall of Fame that will have them.


Talking Heads

WHO THEY ARE: The most famous of the artier end of the original set of punk bands, and the subject of one of the most beloved concert films ever made.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They were instrumental in fusing a bunch of things to what would eventually be known as new wave – the uptown disco scene that sort of mutated out of the punk scene [^4], the eventual infusion of “World” music, and a level of easily-grasped musicianship and songwriting that meant they could have actual for-real hits and stuff, thus making them one of the most successful of the New York punk and post-punk bands.

AND…?: I have a somewhat complicated relationship to the Talking Heads. They were a singular, interesting, motivated band of talented artists and at least one genuine actual visionary, not to mention an absolute stone-cold killer rhythm section. They passed a bunch of different styles and ideas through their band in a way that made it seem coherent, and did so organically, without it ever seeming like they were just gluing parts onto their original conception. They deserve to be lauded for a high level of consistency across their entire run, even after having interpolated being rock stars into that, which is admirable. All of these things, on paper, mean that I admire the Talking Heads a great deal, and have thus listened to (as far as I’m aware) their entire recorded ouvre more than once in an attempt to find something about it to like, and I really don’t. There are songs that I like (although not that many), and I have said many times that I wish I could hear the things about the band that their fans hear, but I can’t, and I find their records to be sterile and kind of boring. I’m willing to admit this is my failing or whatever, I just have never been able to hang anything on their music.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Certainly, but with no real pleasure on my part.

Jim Stewart

WHO HE IS: The founder of Stax records

WHY HE’S HERE: Because he founded Stax records with this sister 4, which means he helped the world hear Booker T & the MGs (Stax’s house band), not to mention Otis Redding. Also early albums by Richard Pryor, for that matter, but that has less to do with Rock and Roll.

AND…?: It’s weird that his sister wasn’t inducted also, but I suppose that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his place as a non-performer.


Chet Atkins

WHO HE IS: The country gentleman! Mr. Guitar!

WHY HE’S HERE: He was an inveterate sideman (he’s inducted in the sideman category) who played on a bunch of country songs you probably know. He also made a bunch of records of his guitar playing, some of which are quite good 5.

AND…?: I like Chet Atkins. He has exactly zero to do with rock and roll, and he’s inducted as a sideman for acts that have not themselves been inducted, which seems weird to me, but hey, he did great work and he’s not the weirdest choice.


Class of 2003


WHO THEY ARE: Radio monsters and surprisingly durable karaoke favorites. The world’s most rockingest Australians.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They did a lot of rocking. They sold a bajillion copies and have a bunch of songs that continue to prop up rock radio stations as we speak. They’ve managed to achieve a sort of consensus status – no matter what flavor of rock music it is you’re after, you probably like AC/DC at least a little bit. They also managed to weather changing singers in midstream, which is no mean feat.

AND…?: I don’t love AC/DC – I can’t remember the last time I put them on recreationally – but if i’m somewhere where AC/DC is playing, then it’s probably the best thing that’s playing (i.e. because I’m listening to the radio or someone else’s bar jukebox picks), and I’m probably happy that they’re there.


The Clash

WHO THEY ARE: The British punk band with the most radio hits.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: The radio hits thing, probably. Although it’s worth noting that the Clash also sort of started the eventually drifting together of punk and country by pretending to be cowboys  6, and they were also pretty happy to bring the commingling of punk and reggae that was already peppered through British punk rock to the mass audience.

AND…?: I used to love The Clash. Like, deeply love them. I haven’t listened to them seriously in awhile, although I can happily listen to “White Man in Hammersmith Palais” just about any time.


Elvis Costello & The Attractions

WHO HE IS: British punk’s first New Dylan. He was in a loose collective with frequent collaborator Nick Lowe and I think Joe Jackson who were described as “angry young men” in some official capacity, and despite the fact that I have no idea why.

WHY HE’S HERE: He sold a bunch of records and wrote a bunch of songs that people like, and has been more or less the same him for four decades. That’s pretty cool.

AND…?: Elvis Costello is fine, even if the things I like about his music are not things that other people like about his music. I suppose it says something about the degree of depth therein or whatever. Good job, Elvis Costello.


The Police

WHO THEY ARE: The band that unleashed Sting upon an unsuspecting, undeserving world.
WHY THEY’RE HERE: Because people love them. They were the “new wave” band most willing to play ball, and thus got to be very successful. I suppose, musically, it’s something to have injected the already-suspect corpse of major-label post-punk 6 with all of the worst ideas from prog rock. It’s like…whatever the exact opposite of chocolate and peanut butter is. They did that, and I suppose that’s a thing.

AND…?: I do not like The Police, although I will say this: every once in awhile I will hear a Police song, and they generally have about a thirty-second section where I can kind of hear what they were going for and even admire aspects of it. And then the song goes back to being a Police song and I hate it again. I do think Stewart Copeland was one hell of a drummer, though.


The Righteous Brothers

WHO THEY ARE: The sixties vocal duo responsible for “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, which, in turn, is sort of the avatar of the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” thing.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They had a bunch of hits and sang real purdy. Plus the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” thing.

AND…?: I dunno, man. I guess. I always have a hard time with acts that are fine, and that made most of their reputation on their mechanical talent 7. I’m inclined to call this one in favor of the Righteous Brothers, but only barely.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED Yes, but only barely.

Mo Ostin

WHO HE IS: A record label dude.

WHY HE’S HERE: He worked for a bunch of record labels. He didn’t start any of them or own any of them, but he managed (?) or ran (?) or, you know, did stuff for a bunch of them.

AND…?: I do not think that the rock and roll hall of fame needs to be in the business of touting the importance of people who are, at best, completely tangential to the music. The people that founded important labels, I can sort of get behind, since the sale of this stuff is a part of the whole general RRHOF mien, but I think I draw the line there.


Benny Benjamin

WHO HE IS: The drummer for The Funk Brothers, and thus for a bunch of songs released by Motown.

WHY HE’S HERE: You know, I’m not sure. He was a fine drummer until he wasn’t, but Funk Brothers songs are generally marked by having a bunch of drummers on them – “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” for example, had three – and even then he was replaced by the end (i.e. by the time his drug problem incapacitated him) as often as he wasn’t.

AND…?: Oh, I think the Funk Brothers were underheralded geniuses, and his part in that probably can’t be understated, but I don’t know.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: I don’t believe so, no. Maybe ask James Jamerson. He was there.

Floyd Cramer

WHO HE IS: A prolific and remarkable session piano player in Nashville.

WHY HE’S HERE: He was part of the Nashville A-Team and popularized (if not invented) that thing where piano hits the wrong note and then slips into the correct note. This is hard to picture, except that if you picture someone playing “country” piano it’s probably the sound you’re thinking of.

AND…?: Floyd Cramer was great, and he certainly had an impressive body of work. Still not Rock and Roll, though.


Steve Douglas

WHO HE IS: The saxophone player from End of the Century

WHY HE’S HERE: Well, Phil Spector called him in to play on a bunch of records that weren’t Ramones albums, but that’s not important.

AND…?: I think he’s our first saxophonist? I’d have to look this up.


  1. also the centerpiece of the museum itself, for those that have never been there, is a very long video encapsulating each inducted class, with clips of performances by most of them and things like that, and is generally a pretty cool thing to behold. 
  2. although they did, as you can read here and going back from there, skew toward “pretty bad” 
  3. I’m no longer having this argument, so please feel free not to, unless you can bump into me ten or fifteen years ago. 
  4. who is not inducted, despite conributing two letters to the record label’s name – STewart and AXton 
  5. he made a wonderful collaborative record with Les Paul called Chester and Lester and a supremely weird record with Boots “Yakety Sax” Randolph and Floyd Cramer, for example. 
  6.  I keep putting “new wave” in quotes because it’s a useful term to separate the bands that stopped being punk by sanding all the edges off and doing videos and stuff for their shiny label-abetted records, like The Police, from other post-punk bands that were merely helping punk evolve, like The Fall. 
  7. see also: Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and, for that matter, The Police