Matthew Munhall | Monday, September 28, 2015
What a time to be alive and to be a pop culture fan. The Internet has altered not only how pop culture is distributed, but increased the sheer amount that is available to be consumed. Content is no longer limited by the number of screens at a movie theater or the space available on a record store shelf; the amount of content is as vast as the Amazon servers on which it is likely hosted. It’s the age of peak TV, of new Netflix shows every two weeks and of streaming services with millions of songs.
More than ever, sifting through these endless options can be a daunting task, especially for busy college students. Enter Scenecast, a new podcast from the Observer Scene staff. Each week, a think tank of Scene writers will discuss a topic from the pop culture zeitgeist. Our writers watch, read and listen to more media than is probably healthy, and this podcast will be another vehicle for sharing that knowledge, often in more depth than is possible in print. In just under 30 minutes, you can have a grasp on what our staff is thinking about each week and why it is important to the cultural conversation.
The Scene staff often has wildly different opinions on a topic and sometimes these differences in opinions make it to publication. I gave a mixed review to Taylor Swift’s “1989”; the rest of the Scene staff named it the 11th best album of 2014. Scene editor Miko Malabute recently called “What Do You Mean?” Justin Bieber’s best song, while writer Matt McMahon thought that honor should go to a slowed-down version of “U Smile.” Yet, more often than not, these debates are restricted to our weekly staff meetings and our individual Twitter feeds. Scenecast will give listeners an insight into the debates between some of the University’s most intelligent, analytical pop culture critics.
The first episode of Scenecast, which is available now on Soundcloud, focuses on the state of pop music in 2015. The other Scene writers and I grapple with the question of which pop stars are able to garner consensus appeal in the digital age. We discuss who we think should headline the Super Bowl halftime show, as well as the selection criteria used by the NFL. Finally, we have a conversation about Erin McAuliffe’s recent piece on female pop music, debating whether Top 40 hits can be provocative and progressive works of art.
Future episodes will continue to delve into other pop culture topics. Next week, we will take on Kanye West’s “808s & Heartbreak,” which at the time was seen as a bizarre left-turn in the rapper’s career, but seven years later has come to be regarded as widely influential on rap music. In the coming weeks, the Scene staff will discuss the fall TV season and our favorite Halloween movies, as well as, one can only hope, new albums from Rihanna and Frank Ocean.
Our conversations on Scenecast will attempt to sift through all of the noise and focus on what is important to the cultural conversation. When you need an opinion on the TV show everyone is watching or the best new music of the week, Scenecast will have you covered.
Listen to the first episode of Scenecast on Soundcloud now or listen live every Thursday at 6 p.m. on WVFI.