Culture Movies/TV

The 20 Best Animated Horror Movies

We realize most folks are used to getting their annual dosage of scares via live-action films.

But those same Halloween frights can also come your way in animated form. If you do your research, you’ll come upon a laundry list of animated horror movies that provide legit frights and also offer up some more light-hearted moments of the spooky variety. In order to get you all in the Halloween spirit, we collected 20 of the very best animated horror movies for you all to enjoy. Turn out the lights, pull up to the couch with a bowl full of treats, and get extra comfortable as you enjoy some cartoony horrors.

And hey, some of these flicks are even good for the young ones to enjoy. Now let’s get into all the spooky stuff!

1. ‘ParaNorman’

ParaNorman is the sort of film that holds a great deal of appeal for teenage viewers and their curious parents who’ll no doubt watch it with them. It’s all about a young kid named Norman that’s a spirit medium (someone who’s able to talk to the dead) – he’s forced to use his powers to save his small Massachusetts community from a witch’s curse. This stop-motion animated film touches on the topic of death with great care and entertains in the process.

Watch on Netflix
2. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

Jack Skellington is a whole legend and shall forever be treated as such. That iconic character has become a staple of everyone’s childhood thanks to his amazing starring role in this animated movie classic. The Nightmare Before Christmas takes viewers on a wild ride through “Halloween Town” and “Christmas Town” as Jack becomes obsessed with taking over Santa’s signature holiday. A whole lot of warm and funny moments ensue as Jack runs into a huge obstacle in the form of Oogie Boogie and his young troublemakers.

Watch on Disney+
3. ‘Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island’

Everyone is pretty used to Scooby-Doo and the gang encountering supernatural baddies that are really conniving humans behind the mask. In the case of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, viewers are treated to a more sinister threat in the form of undead pirates on a remote island. This Scooby-Doo animated film sticks out as a strong watch due to its darker tone, gorgeous animation, and engrossing plot. If you loved the original Scooby-Doo cartoons, then you’ll most definitely appreciate everything on offer here.

Watch on Boomerang
4. ‘Monster House’

Every neighborhood has that one creepy old house that gives off the spookiest vibes whenever you stare at it too long. Monster House takes that whole belief and turns it into a highly entertaining watch. Mitchel, Spencer, and Sam are the three curious tykes at the heart of this film that make an attempt to thwart an evil house before it harms all the young trick and treaters in the neighborhood. Just imagine an animated version of The Goonies with a horror theme attached to it and you’ll have a good idea of what this film is all about.

Watch on Netflix
5. ‘Corpse Bride’

How would you and your loved ones react to you marrying a dead woman? Corpse Bride delves into that wild possibility with a film that features the voice talents of Johnny Depp and Emily Watson. Johnny’s character gets dragged down to the underworld after wandering into the forest in a bid to practice his wedding vows. After finding out that his living wife is set to get wed to a surly individual, he fights to find a way to get back above ground and get out of his newfound relationship with a dead woman. If you love Tim Burton films, then you’ll get a kick out of this one.

Watch on HBO Max
6. ‘Seoul Station’

Zombies. Lots and lots of bloodthirsty, rampaging zombies. That’s what you can expect to see when you finally sit down to watch this gory film unfold. Seoul Station follows a desperate father that’s on the lookout for his missing daughter. Right in the middle of discovering her whereabouts and the problematic life she now lives, he gets caught up in the madness surrounding an ongoing zombie outbreak. Anyone who’s already sat through the equally exciting Train to Busan needs to see this prequel film.

Watch on Tubi
7. ‘Coraline’

It’s easy to understand how someone can come to despise their current standing in life and the depressing world they inhabit. This film follows a young woman named Caroline that has those very same sentiments – her world becomes all the better once she comes upon a hidden door that transports her to a much better rendition of her world. But when she comes to learn that this new world’s inhabitants don’t want her to leave, Caroline must escape their wrath and get to the bottom of its baleful mysteries.

Watch on YouTube
8. ‘Wicked City’

Now you’ll wanna make sure the younglings are fast asleep while you watch this one. It’s a pretty wild anime that pits a hard-nosed human and a femme fatale demon against an army of multidimensional monstrosities. And why are they handling this tough task, you ask? Because they’re responsible for protecting an important diplomat that’s the key to eternal peace between Earth and the Black World. Wicked City is an anime gem that features mind-blowing visuals and some jaw-dropping fight scenes to boot.

Watch on Tubi
9. ‘Vampire Hunter D’

The goth vibes are so strong with this one. And if you’re an avid anime watcher, then you have to put Vampire Hunter D on your watchlist. This film will bring you to a downtrodden world that’s on its last legs of humanity. A skilled swordsman that’s half-vampire named D is called into action to put down a vampiric demon lord that attacked a local village girl. As D heads into that evildoer’s castle, he’s forced to clash with a huge swath of supernatural threats.

Watch on YouTube
10. ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’

If the original Vampire Hunter D captured your imagination, then you’ll most certainly get caught up in all the hoopla surrounding Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. D makes his welcome return here to take on another seemingly insurmountable task – seek out a vampire nobleman who’s responsible for kidnapping a young woman. The visuals for this one are far superior to its predecessor, so you’ll enjoy all the frantic battles that occur on-screen even more.

Watch on YouTube
11. ‘Fear(s) of the Dark’

Horror anthologies are always the move for folks looking to get a different taste of every corner of the genre. Fear(s) of the Dark takes that route and does it in animated form, of course. Six stories are put in place here and they vary from a tale centering on a spirit samurai to a young woman dealing with an insect lodging itself into her body. This French black-and-white animated movie offers striking visuals, quality voice acting, and true scares that play on everyone’s biggest fears.

Watch on Sling
12. ‘Frankenweenie’

What if the brilliant Victor Frankenstein used his science to bring back his lost pet instead of creating the familiar monster named after him? Frankenweenie tackles that wild plot within a heartwarming movie that’s perfect for young and old viewers alike. Victor and his reanimated dog Sparky reunite, but things go awry once Victor’s friends look to revive a whole swath of other dead animals. You’ll definitely want to see how Victor and his pup fixes their mess in this gorgeously animated film.

Watch on Disney+
13. ‘Justice League Dark’

We rarely get to see the supernatural side of the DC Universe get its shine on the small and big screen. Justice League Dark brings that intriguing corner of DC’s superhero realm into focus and excels because of it. Batman is forced to join forces with John Constantine’s band of magic wielders in an attempt to eliminate an overwhelming plague. The character dynamic that plays out between everyone leads to some tense moments, plus the violence factor is high enough to satiate action movie buffs.

Watch on HBO Max
14. ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’

The childhood tales derived from “The Wind in the Willows” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are combined into this wonderful retro Disney film. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad takes viewers on a journey with Mr. Ichabod Crane as he looks to make the wonderful Katrina his girl. But with the threat of a neighborhood bully and the dreaded Headless Horseman in his midst, that goal might be too tough to attain. And with Mr. Toad, you’ll get to get an outside view of the wild ride he embarks on with his three anthropomorphic buddies.

Watch on Disney+
15. ‘City of Rott’

Don’t judge this gory book by its cover – City of Rott’s unique style of animation goes hand in hand with its blood-soaked moments. After Earth’s water supply becomes overrun by a mysterious parasite, the hated beings that come from its eggs turn humans into flesh-eating zombies. Meanwhile, an old man named Fred sets out on a grand journey to find some new shoes (yeah, we’re serious). The only problem is he needs to wade through the zombie apocalypse with his trusty walker alongside him to do it.

Watch on YouTube
16. ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman’

Bagdasarian Productions and Universal Cartoon Studios produced three horror-themed Alvin and the Chipmunks films. And the best of ‘em all revolves around the infamous werewolf that’s derived from cinematic history. Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman sees the lovable trio get embroiled in a mystery concerning their new neighbor, Mr. Talbot, who they think is the horrifying Wolfman. Madness and hilarity ensue as the truth becomes clear behind the source of the werewolf epidemic in the Chipmunks’ hometown.

Watch on YouTube
17. ‘Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter’

The creative ensemble of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins is responsible for gifting the comic book medium with Watchmen, which is a genre-defining tale that has been recognized as essential reading. One of the better side sales emanating from the Watchmen universe is this one. Tales of the Black Freighter follows a mariner whose lucky enough to survive an attack from a pirate crew attached to the infamous Black Freighter ship. That survivor’s trek back home in an effort to warn the locals about the pirates that have attacked him is filled with plenty of terror and unrelenting carnage.

Watch on Apple TV+–under-the-hood/umc.cmc.3yxvi2lxb0m7w3r0epvkx6hk3?action=play
18. ‘Watership Down’

Based on the 1972 novel by Richard Adams, this British animated adaptation offers a quality rendition of a story revolving around a rebellion within a community of rabbits. Things go super left and get really dark quickly as those rabbits encounter a wealth of dangers, which includes rival rabbits that want to stop them from leaving and even a rat-filled graveyard. The path to freedom is filled with plenty of strife and uncomfortable images during your time spent with Watership Down.

Watch on HBO Max
19. ‘Perfect Blue’

The life of a pop idol turned actress can be quite stressful. Perfect Blue explores that major career change through the eyes of a young woman named Mima Kirigoe. Her life shockingly takes a turn for the worst once a stalker begins targeting her. Mima’s grip on reality becomes unglued as she deals with the high price of fame and her unwanted suitor. Perfect Blue hits all the right notes as an animated psychological thriller.

Watch on YouTube
20. ‘To Your Last Death’

Just imagine this scenario – your father and a sinister being known as the Gamemaster put your life in peril via a game that people actually place bets on. After becoming the lone survivor of that game, a young woman goes back in time thanks to a supernatural entity’s aid in order to rescue her loved ones from the horrible outcome of that game. To Your Last Death is certainly a wild ride help up by the vocal talents of Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise, and even William Shatner.

Watch on Tubi
Culture Movies/TV

Marvel’s Eternals’ Characters: Who Are All the Heroes in This MCU Movie?

Within the world of Marvel Comics, the Eternals don’t have the same high profile as, say, the Avengers. But neither did the Guardians of the Galaxy before they made their debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the things Marvel Studios has excelled at is taking lesser-known characters and turning them into household names, and that’s exactly what they’re hoping to do with these ancient, super-powered figures with the recently announced Eternals movie, which comes out in November 2021.

The Eternals are an offshoot of human evolution, the result of experimentation by the Celestials, a technologically advanced alien race. The Celestials came to Earth 5 million years ago and, through interacting with early humanity, created two super races: the perpetually youthful Eternals and their evil counterparts, the suitably named Deviants. 

The Eternals promises to be one of the most diverse MCU titles to date, with a talented ensemble cast. Here’s everything you need to know about who’s who.

Sersi (Gemma Chan)
Getty Images

Gemma Chan joins a roster of fellow actors like Alfre Woodard and Mahershela Ali who have been in multiple Marvel movies, albeit playing different characters. Chan first appeared in Captain Marvel as Minn-Erva but was so liked that Marvel brought her back on to play Sersi, one of the leaders of the Eternals.

Sersi is an Eternal that has grown attached to the human race during her time on Earth and becomes one of their biggest defenders. She has the ability to manipulate matter and has been in love with Ikaris for centuries.

Ikaris (Richard Madden)
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Richard Madden

Born more than 20,000 years ago, Ikaris has been present for much of Earth’s history and was even mistaken for a divine messenger back in Biblical times. He is the father of Icarus from Greek mythology, and he took his son’s name to honor his memory after that infamous ill-fated flight. Like all the Eternals, Ikaris’s life force is strengthened by cosmic energy, making him immune to disease and aging. He also shares his fellow Eternals’ abilities to absorb and emit blasts of energy, heal swiftly from any injury, levitate and teleport. It is widely rumored that Ikaris will be the first openly gay superhero in the MCU. 

Thena (Angelina Jolie)
Chris Delmas/Getty Images
Angelina Jolie

It’s been 16 years since Angelina Jolie last played Lara Croft, but her long-awaited return, as a hero, to the action-fantasy genre promises to be worth it. Jolie will play Thena, whose wisdom and skill in battle often lead to her being mistaken for the Greek goddess Athena, who also appears as a character in Marvel Comics. Thena is smart, having studied with history’s greatest intellectuals, in addition to being a mighty warrior—she wields a bow and a spear that release intense heat and light to incapacitate her opponents.  

Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry)
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Brian Tyree Henry

Less is known of Phastos and his origins than the other Eternals, except that he is incredibly averse to battle. He is, however, a genius technologist and inventor—imagine the wonders Tony Stark could have created with an unlimited lifespan and you’re in the right ballpark. Phastos’s weapon of choice is a hammer that fires bolts of energy. Sound familiar? 

Ajak (Salma Hayek)
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Salma Hayek

As has become something of a habit among immortal beings who hang out on Earth, Ajak has previously been worshiped as a god. The Aztecs and Incas believed him to be a sky deity on account of his ability to fly. Ajak is the leader of the Eternals, and while depicted as male in the comics, has been gender-swapped for the movie. “This movie will allow those who have never felt represented in movies—in this case, superheroes—to be represented,” Salma Hayek recently said. 

Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for MTV
Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista

Like the other Eternals, Kingo has spent centuries on Earth. In his case, that time was spent in Japan, where he learned the way of the Samurai and became a master swordsman. In the comics, Kingo’s talent for combat led to him becoming a Hollywood action movie star—a transition which, in a case of life imitating art, comedian Kumail Nanjiani is now also undertaking. In addition to his Eternal powers, Kingo fights with a sword forged by Phastos that can cut through any material, including, presumably, vibranium.

Dane Whitman (Kit Harington)
Getty Images

Kit Harington reunites with his Game of Thrones co-star Richard Madden in this film and Harington will be playing Dane Whitman, aka Black Knight.

Whitman is not an Eternal but rather a human warrior who wields a mystical sword in order to fight evil. In the comics, Whitman fought beside the Eternals numerous times and at one point, even became romanticially involved with Sersi.

Makkari (Lauren Ridloff)
Chris Delmas/Getty Images
Lauren Ridloff

Makkari has spent more time on Earth among humans than the other Eternals, and as such has interacted with some of history’s most notorious figures, from the Roman Emperor Nero to Vlad the Impaler. He also claims to have been present during the Trojan War and at the Alamo, and to have taught Elvis Presley how to play guitar. The movie version of the character will also be gender-swapped. Lauren Ridloff, who is deaf, will play Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the MCU.

Sprite (Lia McHugh)
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth and Lia McHugh

Although just as old as the other Eternals, Sprite is trapped in the form of a child. He is known for using his powers to cause all kinds of mischief, which is why he also happens to be the reason behind a lot of fairy lore on Earth. He apparently inspired Shakespeare to write the character of Puck into A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sprite is the third character who, while depicted as a boy in the source material, will be played by a girl onscreen.

Gilgamesh (Don Lee)
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Don Lee

The strongest of all the Eternals, Gilgamesh is a worthy match for Thor in the comics. He has trained in practically every martial art and possesses incredibly heightened senses and reflexes. He has gone by many names throughout history, including Hercules, on account of his superhuman strength, and the Forgotten One. He eventually assumed the title of Gilgamesh after the heroic king from Babylonian mythology. Gilgamesh will be played by Don Lee, whose international breakout role came in the 2016 South Korean action horror movie Train to Busan.

Druig (Barry Keoghan)
Getty Images

Barry Keoghan is perhaps best known for his role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, but he will join the superhero genre with this role.

He’ll be playing Druig, an Eternal who uses cosmic energy to control people’s minds. He has become distant from his fellow Eternals due to his disagreement over their interactions with humans.

Culture Music

45 Perfect Rap Lyrics for Your Next Instagram Caption

Gone are the days of quirky captions like, “Orange you happy to see me” and explanations of what is actually happening in a photo. With Instagram’s Apple Music story collab, Spotify integration and new live lyrics feature, Instagram has become an outlet for finding and sharing music. What better caption to give your next vacation photo, holiday album or thirst trap than a line from a popular rap song?

1. I’m the big dawg, my nickname is Scooby

Flo Milli, “Beef FloMix”

2. Made in the projects, slave to my progress

Brockhampton, “Ben Carson”

3. I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch

Lizzo, “Truth Hurts”

4. I just made 100K, it was quicker than a Vine

Lil Uzi Vert, “Sanguine Paradise”

5. I don’t wanna change, cause I’m good where I’m at

Drake, “Money in the Grave”

6. Swag on max, got no legs, bitch, I’m floating

Schoolboy Q, “Floating”  

7. You won’t flinch when camera’s flashing, flashing

Frank Ocean, “In My Room”

8. You’re my number one, with the lemonade

Kanye West, “Closed on Sunday” 

9. She wanna fuck with me, but I don’t got the time

DaBaby, “Vibez”

10. I’m the highest in the room

Travis Scott, “Highest in the Room” 

11. Big boy diamonds, ice on me changin’ the climate

Kodak Black, “Big Boy Diamonds” 

12. I just stick to my paper like a stapler

Young M.A, “BIG”

13. How you look so perfect on your worst days?

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, “Swervin”

14. Young smart black nigga, finna buy some stock

KYLE and Lil Yachty, “Hey Julie”

15. I’m buying the building of every door that closed on me

Drake, “Omerta”

16. Seems like all the models just be fallin’ in my DMs

21 Savage, “Immortal” 

17. She’s a walking bag of money, she’s a masterpiece

Gucci Mane, “Big Booty”

18. Never wanted you to stay too long, just wanted you to show me off

Summer Walker, “Playing Games” 

19. Too much dip on my chip

Chance the Rapper, “Groceries”

20. I ain’t tryna make new friends, got requests still pendin’

DaniLeigh, “No Limits”

21. I cannot hide in hills of California because / These hills have eyes and I got paranoia

Machine Gun Kelly, “I Think I’m OKAY”

22. If it don’t make money, it don’t make sense

City Girls, “Where The Bag At”

23. ’Cause you make my earth quake

Tyler the Creator, “EARFQUAKE”

24. My bitches hustle, make money together / Your bitches birds and they flockin together

Megan Thee Stallion, “Cash Shit”

25. Everything litty, I love when it’s hot

Young Thug, “Hot”

26. I paid five thousand for my fit, I’m not fitting in

Teejayx6, “Dark Web”

27. So now I ball like Kobe

2KBABY, “Old Streets”

28. I need to not measure my success in precious jewels

Guapdad 4000, “Iced Out Gold Chain”

29. I know you think that Brad Pitt is hot, but you know I’m hotter

Foggieraw, “Harry Potter”

30. I’m a force to be reckoned, I’m God’s perfection

Pop Smoke, “Tunnel Vision”

31. I know you want this for life / Taking pictures with all my ice

Lil Yachty, “One Night”

32. Motherfucker, I’m ill, not sick / And I’m okay, but my watch sick

Lil Wayne, “A Milli”

33. Climb up from nothin’, I turned them rags into them riches

645ar, “4 Da Trap”

34. Asked me if these diamonds, nah bitch, these some rhinestones

Zack Fox, “Jesus is the One (I Got Depression)”

35. Yeah my money’s so tall that my barbies gotta climb it

Nicki Minaj, “Monster”

36. Y’all keep takin’ losses, all I know is win, uh

Q Da Fool, “Win”

37. Make ya float, I’m the GOAT, you don’t smoke what I smoke

10k.Caash, “West Coast Cure”

38. You know my racks tall like a center

Key!, “Pull Up”

39. If I’m getting money, then you know we all got a plate

Rico Nasty, “Smack A Bitch”

40. I ain’t tryna die young, so I gotta ride with one

Roddie Rich, “Die Young”

41. Una casa en Miami y la otra en LA

Natanael Cano, “Dime Pa’ Que”

42. You got nothin’ to prove, you the king of this shit

Sheff G, “No Suburban, Pt. 2”

43. Ran up twenty million, told the Devil, “Keep the luck”

Young Thug, “Franchise”

44. I walked in the meetin’, label seen a dollar sign

Mulatto, “Muwop”

45. Because I’m way too big / Way too big to be fucking with you

Burna Boy, “Way Too Big”

Culture News

The 20 Best Viral TikTok Challenges (So Far)

Once something goes viral, it demands the attention of everyone young and old. And once that viral sensation takes off on TikTok, you’ll get caught up in all the hoopla too.

TikTok’s global success has led to a flood of hashtags that have been represented and produced in video form. Every year, a select number of these social media movements demand the most attention and light a creative spark in participants. Musical challenges based on hit songs and artists, mind-blowing tricks and outlandish scenes inspired by hilarious catchphrases are just some of the ways in which TikTok users spend their time. This year we’ve seen a vast array of such examples and we’ve compiled the ones that stood out the most.

1. ‘Old Town Road’ Challenge

Lil Nas X’s Billboard hit single “Old Town Road” got the ultimate push from the popular social media platform. The hip-hop/country hybrid tune became the soundtrack for countless “Yee Yee Juice” and “Yee Haw” challenge vids that saw users morph into flashy cowboys and cowgirls. “Old Town Road” is the undisputed song of the year, thanks in part to the TikTok community’s love for catchy tunes, lassos and spiffy belt buckles. The song’s historic rise to fame is due to its domination of the TikTok stratosphere.

2. ‘Beautiful People’ Challenge

Ed Sheeran’s warm personality is infectious. And his fan base regularly celebrates his inspiring acoustic soundtrack. When he hopped on the TikTok challenge trend to push his Khalid-featured song “Beautiful People,” everyone took notice and joined in. Millions of views later, the world was treated to a slew of heartwarming vids full of people championing the beautiful friends and family in their lives. This is the type of TikTok challenge you can safely show off to your grandparents without any concerns. Just be prepared to let a few tears loose once everything’s said and done. This challenge is definitely a tearjerker.

3. ‘Obsessed’ Challenge

Mariah Carey’s 2009 “Obsessed,” an ode to overly thirsty admirers, unexpectedly resurfaced this summer. A bunch of folks who are old enough to remember the tune (and plenty of younger people) featured the song as their backup track during choreographed TikTok dance challenges. Carey even participated in the challenge herself when her car broke down. Her approach to the challenge was a bit off, but it’s her song so she can do whatever she wants with it. We’re just happy to see an R&B classic get adopted by a whole new generation on TikTok.

4. ‘Respect the Drip’ Challenge

When your stepmom can’t appreciate your highly coordinated outfit, you need to find a place to vent. TikTok users adopted a line in which a frustrated dude lamented his stepmom Karen’s disapproval of his latest attire. And once that hilarious diatribe reached its final line, those same users displayed their most drip-worthy fashion for the world to see. Now Karen has no choice but to show love for folks dressed like bunny rabbits, nuns and ballerinas. And to be honest, some of the clothing combinations put on display for this challenge were way fresher than we anticipated. “Respect the drip, Karen.”

5. ‘Me Versus’ Challenge

Life is a daily struggle. As soon as you step out that front door, a curveball comes your way that disrupts your mood and stresses you to no end. The “Me Versus” challenge personified the very moments that destroy us a little more inside every time they happen. Ever attempt to smash a bug inside your home, but it hauls ass and ends up running right at you? Can’t stand the fact that your local McDonald’s can’t seem to get the ice-cream machine to work? Felt dumb because your grade-school math knowledge couldn’t help you calculate the correct change during your cashier days? This challenge offered seconds-long scenarios like these.

6. Art Project Challenge

TikTok’s user base thrives on creativity. Whenever a new trend takes over, you’ll easily find yourself spending countless hours watching some of the most innovative videos ever produced. This challenge sticks to a simple concept: Showcase your finest artwork and give people a glimpse into your overall creative process. Once this challenge took off, users were treated to videos full of beautiful paintings, wonderfully crafted signs, custom clothing and more cool displays of modern-day art.

7. DNA Test Challenge

Lizzo has garnered plenty of fanfare thanks to her eccentric approach to music videos and her penchant for crafting self-loving tunes that mash up varied genres. One of the year’s most memorable lines came from her song “Truth Hurts,” which goes like this: “Just took a DNA test—turns out I’m 100% that bitch.” That Dylan hot fire-worthy bar inspired TikTok users to lip-synch the line and deliver their DNA results in comedic fashion. Beside people finding out they’re 100% ogre or hippo, proud folks repped their DNA reveals with pride.

8. ‘School Bathroom’ Challenge

Everyone knows the school bathroom isn’t solely used to, you know, empty one’s bladder. It’s a place where kids converge to settle disputes about growing fandoms, trade juicy secrets and generally goof off while their teachers wonder about their whereabouts. TikTok took the concept of school bathroom activities further once users began turning such a simple place into an entertainment haven. Short-form videos of kids using their school bathroom as a dance floor, a place to practice one’s singing talents and a private club party flooded TikTok. And they all proved that a school bathroom could be transformed into anything you want it to be.

9. The Renegade Challenge

When in doubt, do the “Renegade.” Created by fourteen year-old Jalaiah Harmon, the ATL native started one of the biggest challenges of 2020 so far. The ‘Renegade’ was literally everywhere at the beginning of the year, and contained fifteen dance moves to a section of K Camp’s song ‘Lottery.’ In order to master the challenge, one has to be a super skilled dancer. Everybody from Bella Thorne to Kourtney Kardashian got in on the ‘Renegade.’ Even Oprah had to take a stab at describing it. K Camp ended up giving the teenager a personal shoutout, and Harmon performed the song at this year’s NBA All-Star game.

10. The Flip The Switch Challenge

For those that were wondering would it would be like to temporarily trade places with another person, the ‘Flip the Switch’ challenge answered those questions (sort of). The concept was relatively simple, find another person (a lot of people used their significant others), and dance to Drake’s song ‘Non Stop.’ In order to successfully do the challenge, one person would start off dancing (while the other person was in the background), and while dancing that person would turn the light off. Upon the light switching turning on, the roles would be reversed with the participants also reversing positions and outfits (like the video above). The challenge was originally created by Dallin and Bella Lambert, and even had celebrity couples like J-Lo and Alex Rodriguez joining in.

11. The Celeb Look Alike Challenge

Let’s face it, we’ve all pretended to look like Justin Bieber or Beyoncé at some point, but what if we told you there were some people in the world that actually looked like celebrity doppleganger’s? Well that’s exactly what happened with the ‘Celeb Look Alike’ challenge earlier this year. The concept was an easy one. TikTok users just simply asked their friends/followers which celebrity they looked the most like. From there, they would take the most popular answer, and create a video showcasing the comparison. At one point, the ‘Celeb Look Alike’ challenge had close to 2 Billion Views, and was a fun way to pretend to be a celebrity for a few seconds.

12. The Wipe it Down Challenge

One of the biggest TikTok challenges of this Spring was the ‘Wipe Me Down’ challenge. For this one, all you had to do was wipe down a mirror with a cleaning supply (preferably one meant for windows) three times, and on the fourth wipe, “swipe” yourself into an alternate reality for a split second. The challenge was set to the tune of “Wipe it Down” by BMW Kenny, and had over 21 million views at one point, giving people a chance to experiment with their alter egos.

13. The Walk in Challenge

The ‘Walk in Challenge’ was the epitome of boredom during peak quarantine. The objective was for ladies to catch their significant others off guard by walking in naked when their partners least expected it (preferably while they were playing a video game or watching T.V.). The challenge started in March when TikTok user Lindsey Bear walked in on her boyfriend naked while playing Call of Duty. The challenge took off with the ladies trying their absolute best to distract their partners from getting their “kills,” making it one of the most hilarious trends of the year so far.

14. The Level Up Challenge

The ‘Level Up’ challenge continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. For this go round, Tik Tok users would build a wall using toilet paper (maybe that’s why there was a outage), and would film either their dogs or themselves jumping over the “wall.” With each successful jump, you had to increase the layer of toilet paper until you (or your dog) finally failed. The challenge was set to Ciara’s ‘Level Up,’ and got millions of views worldwide.

15. The Plank Challenge

There isn’t a single person in the world that likes “planks.” Even the most athletic people in the world despise them, so it was only right that the TikTokers would create a “Plank” challenge. For this challenge you could ride solo, or have a friend do it with you. The goal was to do various different plank challenges in 15 or 30 seconds (60 seconds if you were really about that workout life). This hellish challenge had everybody reminiscing about their school gym days.

16. The Blinding Lights Challenge

The Weekend’s song ‘Blinding Lights’ is one of the top songs of 2020, so it was only natural that a challenge would come from it. The concept was relatively simple as users would come up with their own choreography for the hit song. Many people took advantage of the 1980’s feel that the song had, making the challenge even more fun. With ‘Blinding Lights’ still making its rounds on the charts, it’s never too late to get in on the action.

17. The Stand Up Challenge

For the adventurous daredevils out there, the ‘Stand Up’ challenge was the ultimate test of agility and balance. This challenge involved two people, and started with one person lying on their stomachs, with their partner standing on their backs. From there, the person lying on the ground would gradually stand up to match the beat of whatever song was playing. With each upward movement, the person standing on their back would continue to hop up with them until they were eventually standing up on the other person’s shoulders. This challenge required a lot of strength, and while some succeeded, some failed, sparking a lot of viral moments.

18. The Flour Challenge

Family gets on your nerves sometimes (especially in a pandemic), so people had to find a way to let those frustrations out. Thus sparked the ‘Flour Challenge.’ In this one, two lucky family members would stand or sit in front of a bag flour on a table. Another family member (most of the time a parent or a sibling), would stand behind the participants, dipping their faces in the flower as an answer to certain questions (for example, questions about who was the messiest, most annoying, etc.) The challenge was hilarious, but a pain to clean up afterwards.

19. The Tootsie Slide Challenge

Drake has had a way of making challenges since ‘Hotline Bling’, and the hitmaker did it again this past Spring with the ‘Tootsie Slide Challenge.’ The song itself seems almost made for TikTok, as Drake spells out exactly what you have to do. The Rap version of the Hokey Pokey, you put “your right foot up, and slide with your left foot,” then you put your “left foot up, and slide with your right.” Easy enough, and very fun for participants.

20. The Savage Challenge

Megan Thee Stallion already had a hit on her hands when she released ‘Savage.’ However when Beyonce hopped on the track, the song went to another level. While the ‘Savage Challenge’ had already started, the challenge exploded even more once the remix came out. The choreography for this challenge showcased everyone’s sassy, moody, and nasty side, and now has close to a billion views on TikTok.

Culture Music

Movies About Musicians: 25 Biopics to Watch Now

Bohemian Rhapsody’s stunning box office success made at least one point clear: Music biopics are far from relics of the past.

Through these riveting films, larger-than-life icons are humanized, criticized, idolized and even memorialized. Music biopics bring real stories to life, evoking nostalgic memories with unforgettable tunes and performances. Most recently, Elton John’s musical biopic Rocketman exceeded its projected opening and landed in the No. 3 spot in the U.S./Canada market.

Future biopics are already on the horizon for a number of artists, including Aretha Franklin, Judy Garland, Céline Dion, and David Bowie. But don’t forget about the amazing slate of music biopics already available. Take a look back at 25 of the best, featuring recent releases as well as beloved classics.

1. ‘Rocketman’ (2019)

Before Elton John became one of the most successful recording artists ever and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, among other accolades, he was a young piano prodigy living in London. Rocketman recounts the star’s struggles with addiction and coming to terms with his sexuality. The film also highlights the memorable music, energetic performances and theatrical costumes that secured John’s immutable greatness in pop rock history.

Available on: Amazon Prime

2. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (2018)

Freddie Mercury’s tumultuous rise to fame is riddled with conflict, sex, drugs and, of course, Queen’s legendary rock music. Rami Malek’s Academy Award-winning performance as Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody presents the musician’s rise to fame and the personal toils that threatened his reputation. With spectacular music sequences to tunes you know by heart, the 2018 hit fully deserves a viewing.

Available to Rent on: Amazon Prime

3. ‘The Runaways’ (2010)

The Runaways chronicles the formation of the rock band of the same name and the turbulent relationship between bandmates Cherie Currie and Joan Jett. The two are united by an unshakable dream of rock stardom, but as the band attains more notability Currie’s drug addiction becomes increasingly afflicting. The film beautifully portrays the vulnerable moments and musical experiences that would eventually propel Jett to start her own band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Available to Watch on: Netflix

4. ‘Walk The Line’ (2005)

From humble beginnings on a cotton farm in Arkansas, Johnny Cash made an astonishing journey to become a country music icon. The 2005 film delves into many aspects of Cash’s life—his childhood trauma, Air Force service and troubling addictions—including his romance with June Carter, a role that won Reese Witherspoon an Academy Award.

Available to Watch on: HBO Max

5. ‘Selena’ (1997)

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez lived only 23 years, but her life story is immortalized in the 1997 film Selena. Jennifer Lopez scored her breakthrough role as the Queen of Tejano music. A young Selena starts singing with her father’s band to form Selena y Los Dinos and begins a romance with guitarist Chris Perez. She eventually evolves into an influential artist and icon in the Mexican-American community, remembered for her music, fashion and untimely death.

Available to Rent on: Amazon Prime

6. ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’ (1993)

Tina Turner’s personal history is one of trials, tribulations and breakthroughs. What’s Love Got to Do With It? follows young Anna Mae Bullock’s early life coping with her unstable family. Turner finds eventual solace in Ike Turner’s band and she soon begins a romantic relationship with Turner, which descends into chaos after their marriage. Angela Bassett brings Turner’s remarkable story to life in the 1993 film.

Available to rent on: Prime Video

7. ‘The Doors’ (1991)

Jim Morrison’s legacy as the lead singer of The Doors is depicted in the 1991 film of the same name. Val Kilmer plays “The Lizard King” himself, emphasizes the problematic drug usage and alcohol addiction that led to his exit from the band. Morrison’s life epitomizes the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle that afflicted many of the genre’s most legendary musicians.

Available to watch on: Amazon Prime

8. ‘La Bamba’ (1987)

Before he was known as Ritchie Valens, Richard Steven Valenzuela led a normal life in Los Angeles, playing music and eventually finding fame. The film represents Valens relationships with his girlfriend Donna Ludwig and brother Bob Morales. The 1987 movie outlines the events that led to his appearance on American Bandstand and his fateful addition to the Winter Dance Party tour.

Available to Watch on: Hulu

9. ‘Sid and Nancy’ (1986)

Sex Pistols band member Sid Vicious enters into a chaotic relationship with groupie Nancy Spungen. Already heroin-addicted herself, Spungen engages in heroin use with Vicious, whose relationship with his bandmates eventually starts to decay. Vicious and Spungen’s relationship progresses from unstable to explosive over the course of this dramatic film.

Available to Rent on: Amazon Prime

10. ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ (1978)

Buddy Holly’s extraordinary story unfolds in the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story starring Gary Busey. Jesse Charles, Ray Bob Simmons and Holly form a trio called The Crickets, quickly gaining traction in the rock ’n’ roll sphere. The film details the band’s evolution and Holly’s immeasurable influence on the music industry.

Available to Rent on: Amazon Prime

11. ‘Jimi: All is By My Side’

Jimi Hendrix was an anomaly when it came to his uncanny ability to play the guitar. Andre 3000 of Outkast fame can also be considered a one of a kind artist whose music transcends conventional genre trappings. Jimi: All Is By My Side placed the lauded ATLien in its starring role and gave viewers an inside look at Jimi’s humble beginnings. Andre proved his acting chops were more than up to snuff as he portrayed Jimi to perfection and relived his earliest triumphs as a musician.

You can watch this film on Tubi and iTunes.

12. ‘Get on Up’

The late Chadwick Boseman has appeared on the big screen as a Marvel Comics superhero, a Supreme Court Justice, and an African American baseball legend. He also played the role of one of the most prolific American soul singers of all time, James Brown. Boseman’s vocal delivery and mannerisms mimicked James Brown to near perfection in Get on Up. What makes this film so memorable is its fourth wall breaking sequences that saw James speak directly to the audience as he broke down his most monumental moments.

You can catch this film on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play Movies & TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

13. ‘Miles Ahead’

Don Cheadle made his feature-length film directorial debut with Miles Ahead, a strong biographical journey that took viewers on a wild ride through the life of jazz great Miles Davis. This cinematic experience bounced around different points of Davis’ life as it showed just how dedicated he was to get his musical career back to its most prominent state. Davis’ inner demons weren’t glossed over thankfully, which made his eventual redemption all the easier to root for.

This film can be seen via Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and iTunes.

14. ‘Ray’

This next selection is definitely worth a watch or two simply because it was awarded an Oscar award for Best Actor (Jamie Foxx). It was also given high accolades and additional awards by the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics’ Choice institutions. Jamie Foxx’s moving performance as the iconic rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles was monumental at the time of this film’s release. And its inspirational story of making your way in this world despite one’s physical shortcomings is immensely effective.

Ray can be viewed on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play Movies & TV, and Vudu.

15. ‘Jersey Boys’

If you’ve seen the Jersey Boys Broadway play, then you need to make sure you also watch the big-screen adaptation of the same name. Clint Eastwood directed and produced this touching biopic about the musical group by the name of The Four Seasons. It’s fascinating to witness what initially brought the group to unfathomable heights of fame, what ended up leading to their initial breakup and what it took to bring them back together.

Jersey Boys can be seen on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and Netflix.

16. ‘Nowhere Boy’

While Nowhere Boy doesn’t get into much of John Lennon’s most memorable years alongside The Beatles, it does offer a closer look at his teenage upbringing. This film follows Lennon’s fruitful (and sometimes stressful) relationships with his mother Julia Lennon and his aunt Mimi Smith. It also gives viewers a look at what led to Lennon’s infatuation with rock ‘n’ roll music in the first place and the earliest incarnation of The Beatles.

You can check out this film on iTunes and Vudu.

17. ‘Roxanne Roxanne’

Roxanne Shante became hip-hop royalty once she grabbed the mic and gave the world “Roxanne’s Revenge.” This groundbreaking moment is just one of the many instances that will keep your eyes glued to the screen during a viewing of Roxanne Roxanne. Watching Roxanne’s tough home life unfold is an eye-opening experience, as is her hip-hop ascension and early interactions with a future MC by the name of Nas.

Roxanne Roxanne can be seen exclusively on Netflix.

18. ‘8 Mile’

While not a beat for beat biopic about Eminem’s life, it’s as close to one as we’re ever going to see. 8 Mile is a legendary film that’s easily quotable and recognizable by even non-rap fanatics. Eminem stars as Jimmy Smith Jr., an up and coming battle rapper who goes through hell and back in order to become something greater within his home city of Detroit. The closing rap battle contested between B-Rabbit and Papa Doc is replay worthy material.

8 Mile can be seen on YouTube, Google Play Moves & TV, Vudu, iTunes, Hulu, Sling TV, and Starz.

19. ‘Straight Outta Compton’

NWA stands tall as one of music’s most impactful hip-hop acts. Their songs gave the rest of America a closer look at the many hardships that came with living in Southern Los Angeles. Straight Outta Compton provides a thorough look at what went into the formation of the group, how they dealt with all the controversy that came from their music, and what led to them coming apart at the seams. Straight Outta Compton was a box office smash at the time of its release and it’s easy to see why after just one complete viewing.

You can watch this film on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

20. ‘The New Edition Story’

You can’t deny just how amazing New Edition’s catalog of hits is. Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant, and Johnny Gill were young heartthrobs that maintained their relevance for decades. BET’s biopic miniseries about the R&B group was a nationwide event during its debut and still makes fans out of viewers who were once clueless about them. The New Edition Story is a well-put-together biopic that perfectly encapsulates the reign of one of the best boy bands in American history.

You can check out this biopic miniseries on BET’s main website.

21. ‘The Bobby Brown Story’

BET made sure to offer fans of the last entry on this list a worthy follow-up. And this time, it focused on R&B’s undisputed bad boy Bobby Brown. The Bobby Brown Story picks up right after the young singer gets kicked off the road tour due to his problematic behavior as a member of New Edition. This miniseries then gives us a look at the rise, fall, and subsequent redemption arc of Bobby Brown. To see a man like Bobby experience so much physical and mental anguish and still come out on the end of it all with his life still intact is amazing.

This biopic is a BET website exclusive.

22. ‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story’

TLC has a special place in the heart of all those late 80s and early 90s babies. Their youth filled energy and mass appeal made them household names and one of music’s most likable R&B starlets. CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story summarizes the rise to superstardom the young trio experienced. But it also provides some insight into the many horrors of the music industry and how it takes advantage of the ones you’d least expect. But in the end, TLC’s legacy remains intact and is evidenced by the final sequence of events this biopic includes.

You can check out this film via BET+ on Amazon.

23. ‘I’m Not There’

I’m Not There takes Bob Dylan fans on a journey through his life and breaks it down in an interesting manner. Six actors play the role of the iconic singer-songwriter and portray the many different facets of his varied personas. The film goes in and out of Dylan’s many personalities, but makes sure to offer a deep look at how each of them shaped Dylan into the legend he is today. To get a full understanding of the genius behind “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” I’m Not There is a must-see.

This film can be seen via iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play Movies & TV.

24. ‘La Vie En Rose’

French singer Edith Piaf’s life ended prematurely. But before she left this world, she left an indelible mark on the world with her angelic voice. La Vie En Rose is a cinematic review of Piaf’s life and the career she built up during her reign of excellence. Her passing was connected to years of alcoholic abuse and drug addiction, which is touched upon in this biopic in full. But Piaf’s triumphs are detailed just as much as her inner demons, which makes this film the best look at the chanteuse’s life.

La Vie en Rose can be seen on iTunes, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.

25. ‘The Pianist’

The Pianist is not only a biopic about a musical stalwart. It’s a war drama that delves into the horrors of the Holocaust. The main topic of this film is Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, a man known for his many recordings and contributions to polish radio. During his time spent in Warsaw alongside his family, Szpilman was forced to survive the many horrors of the Holocaust. This film details the hardships Szpilman experienced and the amazing music he produced in the midst of all that madness.

You can watch The Pianist on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Culture Music

50 Summer Instagram Captions For Your Next Post

The summer is here and that means one thing… well, it means a few things, but one of those is that you’ll need some captions for your new Instagram posts. To give you a hand, we’ve compiled a list of fifty lines from some of our favourite songs at the moment that double as great captions for that latest selfie. Whether you need something feel-good, something to throw shade or something to celebrate, we’ve got you covered.

1. “Worked for everything you see, baby”

Drake, ‘Greece’

2. “This is not a gimmick, please don’t push me to the limit”

SiR, ‘Rapper Weed’

3. “I’ma man up, ain’t no man down, you see I don’t give no fucks now”


4. “I cannot give you a pass if you play with my money or family or friends”

Drake, ‘In The Cut’

5. “Never need a bitch, I’m what a bitch need”

The Weeknd, ‘Heartless’

6. “Easy money sniper, check my K/D, I ball like KD”

AJ Tracey, ‘West Ten’

7. “Best make me believe it, believe you won’t deceive me”

Rihanna, ‘BELIEVE IT’

8. “Know I grew up in the mud, the top is not enough”

Kanye West, ‘Wash Us In The Blood’

9. “It’s safe to say I earned it, ain’t no n*gga gave me nothing”


10. “You can’t talk like I talk ‘cause you ain’t been where I been”

JAY-Z, ‘Ghost Of Soulja Slim’

 11. “Taking me for granted, I can tell”

Drake, ‘Lie To Me’

12. “If I drop dead, I’ll be hard to replace”

NAV, ‘Turks’

13. “Through the trials and tribulations, I found my way out”

Juice WRLD, ‘Life’s A Mess’

14. “I make it rain in this bitch, I make it snow in this bitch”

Drake, ‘Not Around’

15. “I don’t work jobs, bitch I am a job”

City Girls, ‘Jobs’

 16. “I don’t fuck with snakes except Kobe the Mamba”

Lil Wayne, ‘Scottie Pippen’

17. “I did some wrong, but I’m always right”

Pop Smoke, ‘For The Night’

18. “I don’t text quick ‘cause I ain’t thirsty”

Megan Thee Stallion, ‘Girls In The Hood’

19. “Always stay ahead of haters, let ‘em hate, but never let a traitor penetrate your circle”

Eminem, ‘The Adventures Of Moon Man & Slim Shady’

20. “Reporting live from the other side of America”

Meek Mill, ‘Otherside Of America’

21. “I’m on some ‘fuck a retweet’, most people are sheep”

J. Cole, ‘Snow On Tha Bluff’

22. “Zeroes on zeroes on zeroes, that’s what my bank account balance say”

Jack Harlow, ‘WHATS POPPIN’

23. “Ain’t nobody ever gave me shit, I had to take this shit”

Freddie Gibbs, ‘Baby $hit’

24. “If you wanna have a good time, leave it to me”

Wiz Khalifa, ‘Slim Peter’

25. “When I shoot my shot, it’s the Kawhi way, it’s going in”

Drake, ‘Pain 1993’

26. “We heard that your wave went dry, we flooding the drought”

Travis Scott, ‘THE SCOTTS

27. “I don’t really do much really, I just pull up with a whole lot of swag”

YG, ‘Swag’

28. “I’m normal during the day, but at night turn to a monster”

Juice WRLD, ‘Godzilla’

29. “Early twenties, but I want fifties, hundreds, not pennies, I need plenty”

Drake, ‘Deep Pockets’

30. “I won’t never sell my soul and I can back that”

Roddy Ricch, ‘The Box’

31. “Men lie, women lie, so do numbers”

Royce 5’9, ‘Overcomer

32. “Go hard all year, I don’t care, I’m going all in”

Lil Baby, ‘All In’

33. “No more new friends, don’t bring the hype here”

Travis Scott, ‘TKN’

34. “Ego death is where you find happiness, that’s the only way you find happiness”

Ty Dolla $ign, ‘Ego Death’

35. “It ain’t that bad, it could always be worse”

Mac Miller, ‘Good News’

36. “Blue, yellow, green, pink, white, I ain’t ‘bout to judge, motherfucker, live life”


37. “The other day I was broke, came back in designer”

Tory Lanez, ‘Staccato’

38. “They keep hating but still watching, check the boards, I’m still topping”

Nicki Minaj, ‘TROLLZ’

39. “I would not sell my soul for a billion”

Offset, ‘Cap’

40. “I was obsessed with money, now I’m obsessed with the progress”

Headie One, ‘Rose Gold’

41. “Look at my status, no, I’m not bragging, no, I’m not average”

Quavo, ‘Snitching’

42. “I won’t stop ‘til I’m where I wanna be in line”

Kid Cudi, ‘Leader Of The Delinquents’

43. “Y’all often anxious, lost in y’all thoughts and I don’t relate, so keep that energy away from me”

Tyler, The Creator, ‘Something To Rap About

44. “Some days I don’t know up from down, life gets so crazy but I can’t turn my back right now”

Lute, ‘Life’

45. “Swear to God, I hate when a n*gga lie, ‘specially when I gave you my energy”

Mickk Jenkins, ‘Frontstreet (Freestyle)’

46. “I had to turn into a fiend, that shit turned me to a beast”

2 Chainz, ‘Devil Just Trying To Be Seen’

47. “You made me new, you took me through, you woke me up”

Frank Ocean, ‘Dear April’

48. “I’m flexing for life, I know I be on some crazy shit”

Summer Walker, ‘SWV’

49. “All this time on my hands, might as well cancel our plans, yeah, I could stay here for a lifetime”

Ariana Grande, ‘Stuck With U’

50. “Been past ‘em, I know that’s the reason why they all big mad and they always have been”


Culture Movies/TV

The Samurai Films That Inspired ‘The Mandalorian’ Are Better Than ‘The Mandalorian’

Nostalgia addicts have been rapt with Disney’s streaming service, but the breakout success of the new network has by far been the new Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian. The popularity of the new show, which has already broken streaming records, was pretty predictable given the American public’s insatiable craving for all things from a galaxy far, far away.

The Mandalorian has exceeded expectations in its first batch of episodes by presenting new faces for the growing franchise—and catalyzing endless memes to boot. But cinephiles were quick to notice that the basic concept of the show isn’t exactly original. A roaming, hyper-skilled assassin pursued endlessly by attackers while simultaneously protecting a young and vulnerable child? If you’re a samurai film aficionado, the source of inspiration for the new show is quite obvious: Lone Wolf and Cub, a series of manga written by Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima and later adapted into six films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama in the 1970s (and an eventual TV series after that) is an obvious influence for the new space opera side story.

Lone Wolf and Cub tells the story of Ogami Ittō, a professional executioner whose wife is killed through a labyrinthine series of betrayals that prompts him to swear allegiance only to Hell in a quest for revenge against the shogun who ordered his partner’s killing. But the wandering warrior refuses to abandon his 3-year-old son and takes the child along with him on his bloodthirsty ordeal. Ogami survives as an assassin-for-hire as his he travels the countryside, getting closer and closer to the emperor responsible for ruining his life.

At first glance, this isn’t exactly the same as The Mandalorian, whose eponymous hero does not decide to protect what fans have affectionately dubbed “Baby Yoda” out of a desire for retribution. But the themes and motifs are quite apparently similar: Can this hardened killer learn to care for a creature so weak? What are the ramifications of witnessing such violence for these young children? Can Ogami or The Mandalorian ever truly escape from their hunters—and will their souls be devoured by darkness along the way?

The Mandalorian with Baby Yoda.

Samurai films have always been cited as an influence on the Star Wars franchise, along with serial sci-fi series like Flash Gordon and spaghetti Western cinema, which, in turn, had also been inspired by samurai films. But never has the connection been so glaring as between The Mandalorian and Lone Wolf and Cub, which often resemble each other not only thematically but cinematographically. Like The Mandalorian, Lone Wolf and Cub films are abundant with scenes of the titular ronin walking through an existentially barren landscape, or outnumbered by ornately clad villains. The melodrama of the fight scenes in each series is counterbalanced with more quiet moments of contemplative pastoral scenery. 

And already it’s been easy to pick up a few details of where the plot is heading having rewatched the Japanese movies: Baby Yoda has already been made useful in battle, as did the young Daigoro, whose stroller was equipped with secret blades—and in the later films hidden firearms. Like a main villain in the second Lone Wolf and Cub film, Gina Carano’s character in episode 4 came prepared with an iron fist-type weapon. And like Ogami, The Mandalorian is finding it increasingly difficult to abandon his adorable counterpart, setting up for further adventures down the line.

Mapping the world of Edo-era Japan onto extra-planetary affairs is not without orientalizing or exoticizing elements, as suddenly classes of actual historical fighters become transmogrified in The Mandalorian into literal aliens. Ironically, this transformation has now also occurred in reverse, with Star Wars recently adapted into a kabuki theater production in Japan—meaning that maybe the relationship between American sci-fi and Japanese aesthetics is more symbiotic than parasitic and that the discourse of cultural appropriation doesn’t exactly apply here.

So, you might be asking, which series is better? If you’re not familiar with the slow pacing of decades-old ultra-violent movies, the Lone Wolf and Cub films can feel like a bit of a slog. They’re certainly far more filled with sexual violence and gore, although the bloodshed looks more campy than horrific these days. Which is to say: the Lone Wolf films are undoubtedly more adult—the world of feudal Japan is far from the kid-friendly universe of Star Wars. But once you’ve watched The Mandalorian’s predecessor, it’s hard not to see precisely how derivative the new show actually is. Lone Wolf and Cub is undeniably more historically important and intellectually curious, given its widespread influence, but what viewers prefer will largely boil down to personal taste.

Culture Music

‘Visit Us, But Come Help’: Luis Fonsi on How Music and Tourism Help Puerto Rico Recover

“Music brings people together—it unites people, and you can bring your message across through music a lot better. I think it’s our duty to have a voice, have an opinion and give back,” global superstar Luis Fonsi, whose smash hit “Despacito” memorably reached meteoric heights in 2017, recently told ONE37pm in Puerto Rico. 

By the end of August 2017, no one was having a better year than Fonsi: “Despacito,” featuring Daddy Yankee was the most-watched video in YouTube history at the time, the song had already spent more than three months atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a nice push from the “Despacito” remix featuring Justin Bieber and Fonsi’s home of Puerto Rico was attracting nearly 170,000 non-residents to the island that August. Less than a month later, Hurricane Maria made landfall, crippling the island and changing Fonsi’s foreseeable future.

“I’m the ambassador of tourism for Puerto Rico, and we were shooting all of these commercials saying, ‘Hey come visit us.’ Then, all of a sudden, it became ‘Come help us.’ So, the message of that campaign changed quite drastically to ‘Come visit us, but come help,’” Fonsi said.

More than 2,900 people died as a result of the hurricane, which caused $90 billion worth of damages. Thousands are still living under blue tarps because their homes have yet to be fixed. ONE37pm traveled to Puerto Rico in November 2019, two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the area, to chat with Fonsi before he spoke at the Marriott #LoveTravels Beyond Barriers Summit at The St. Regis Bahia Beach about how the Latin music explosion helped give visibility to this island’s tragedy, how music has helped its recovery and how the most devastating natural disaster to hit Puerto Rico ended up being a wake-up call for the residents of the island.

A Wake-Up Call
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A contractor helps apply a FEMA tarp to a home damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

From city workers in San Juan to the coffee farmers of Mameyes Abajo in Puerto Rico, they all saw the hurricane that killed thousands and displaced tens of thousands more in the same way: as a wake-up call.  

“If you would ask a Puerto Rican any time before Hurricane Maria, they’d tell you, ‘To us hurricanes were an excuse to play dominoes. Category 3 coming. Make sure you have beer, ice and dominoes.’ That’s how we grew up. That’s our culture,” Fonsi said. “Hurricane Maria was completely different. It’s not funny anymore. People realized how important it is to be prepared with more than just beer and dominoes.”

Nearly everyone you speak to in Puerto Rico has a different story of how the hurricane claimed the lives of loved ones. Isabel Rullán, cofounder and executive director of the ConPRmetidos nonprofit organization helping the recovery efforts, remembers her aunt’s partner dying after a hospital’s lack of electricity forced him to sit in the waiting room for two days in a coma after suffering a stroke. The low-income community of La Perla—where the “Despacito” music video was filmed—was ravaged. Much of the scenery that gave the music video an authentic vibe was reduced to discarded rubble for much of the past two years.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
The damaged La Perla neighborhood four weeks after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Before the hurricane, Fonsi stated in an interview a week after Maria, he had planned to donate musical instruments and a music room to the dilapidated barrio by Christmas 2017. After the devastation, he started a foundation focused specifically on La Perla to rebuild houses and other recovery work. 

“It started as a recovery. First, it was cleaning it up. We did a public laundromat, so everyone could wash their clothes. We brought generators in from Florida. So, little by little, I’ve been trying to give back. Now, we’re trying to make Puerto Rico more beautiful than it already is,” Fonsi said. 

Fonsi is not alone in helping the underserved areas of Puerto Rico. Community leader Francisco “Tito” Valentín is responsible for the operation of COSSAO, Puerto Rico’s only free health clinic in Utuado, a village sandwiched between mountains in central Puerto Rico. COSSAO was established by Dr. Antonia Novello, who is a former U.S. surgeon general and Puerto Rico native. The clinic, which runs on Sonnen solar energy, has free physical therapy, pediatric care and emergency ambulance services with dentistry services coming in the future.

Just getting to the clinic required nimbly traversing narrow roads near deep cliffs and weaving through paths that went from paved roads to dirt paths indistinguishable between someone’s front yard and the road. It’s a scary fact that this is the nearest medical facility for one of the largest municipalities in Puerto Rico for miles.

Musicians Continue to Help
Gladys Vega/Getty Images
Luis Fonsi and Ricky Martin talk to media in 2017.

The revitalization of the lush environments, picturesque beaches where the sunset kisses the Atlantic Ocean and a cornucopia of delectable foods are integral to Puerto Rico’s recovery. In 2017, tourism accounted for 7 percent of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product (GDP), amounting to roughly $2.5 billion. The number of daily flights in and out of Puerto Rico decreased from 130 before the hurricane to just 20 directly following the hurricane. Partly because of “Despactio” and the song’s immense international appeal, Fonsi was named the ambassador of tourism for the U.S. territory. The Puerto Rican singer views events like the inclusive #LoveTravels as a part of the island’s road to recovery. 

“To be able to have events like this and bring people from all over the world to get to know this island is the best way to recover. Tourism is the best medicine for Puerto Rico,” Fonsi said.

Fonsi and other musicians like Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny and Lin-Manuel Miranda have stepped in where the government has not. Hurricane Maria caused an estimated $90 billion in damages. President Trump virulently claimed in July that Congress “foolishly” gave $92 billion to Puerto Rico and the country, which he says was “squandered away or wasted, never to be seen again.” According to federal data, as of September 2019, Puerto Rico has been allocated a little more than $43 billion.

A La Perla resident

We had aid from private agencies and artists like Luis Fonsi, but we didn’t get a lot of help from the federal government, the island government or the mayor’s office.

“We need to make sure we receive the funding that we deserve,” Rullán said. “The amount of Puerto Ricans that served in the Army in the United States is very high. We pay taxes. Eighty-five percent of everything we consume is imported and has to go through the U.S. Maritime system, which is the most expensive one. So we have taxes on everything we eat. We deserve that money as much as any other state.

Rullán and ConPRmetidos have helped provide more than $4 million in grants to companies looking to help with the recovery. Rullán was simply a dedicated Puerto Rico resident before the lack of help the island received mobilized her into action. A lifelong member of the La Perla community said in a September 2018 interview that “we had aid from private agencies and artists like Luis Fonsi, but we didn’t get a lot of help from the federal government, the island government or the mayor’s office.”

Courtesy of Marriott’s #LoveTravels Beyond Barriers
ConPRmetidos founder Isabel Rullán.

Less than half a year after Hurricane Maria hit, hip-hop radio legend Angie Martinez, along with Rutgers University-Newark’s International Leadership Exchange Global scholars, helped deploy We Share Solar suitcases to schools and youth centers lacking electricity. Weeks after Maria made landfall, Fonsi’s “Despactio” collaborator Daddy Yankee donated $100,000 to the Food Bank of Puerto Rico, helping provide food for roughly 9,000 families in the impoverished Toa Baja community. 

The indie-pop duo of Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle, along with musician Ani Cordero, started the PRIMA Fund—Puerto Rico Independent Musicians and Artists Fund—to get emergency money to independent musicians on the island to pay rent and other expenses after the hurricane. 

Fonsi doesn’t attribute the Latin music explosion of 2017 with being the sole reason for the attention given to Puerto Rico during its recovery. There are definitely people outside of the music world lending helping hands. Fonsi, however, concedes that without Bieber’s surprise remix of “Despacito,” the song may not have attracted as much international attention because it is in a different language. 

“I think it did sort of kick a door wide open for Latin music to take the stage it needed to take,” Fonsi said. “Even without ‘Despacito,’ it was a big responsibility for me to help however I could at every level.”

Culture Movies/TV

Sterling K. Brown Sees ‘Waves’ as the Future of Blackness on Film in 2020

In a world where Julia Roberts portraying Harriet Tubman in a film was a serious suggestion by the head of a studio, authentic representations of Blackness still isn’t standard in Hollywood, regardless of the strides made this decade. 

To millions, Emmy-winning Sterling K. Brown is the lovable Randall Pearson on NBC’s hit show This Is Us. To those closest to him, he’s also a caring father who advises his pre-teen sons to embrace their tears instead of running from them to preserve their masculinity. Above all else, Brown is unapologetically Black. At a recent screening of his latest film, Waves, in New York City—hosted by the incomparable entertainer Phylicia Rashad—Brown told ONE37pm that the film is a sign of things to come for Black cinema.

Brown had almost turned down the role in Waves because of how protective he is of his Blackness. The Trey Edward Shults-directed Waves centers on an African American family coming to grips with the reality of their teenage wrestling prodigy, Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), going to prison after a tragic domestic violence incident. Brown, who plays Tyler’s father, Roland, understands the power of images in society and feared this film could send the wrong one.

“It made me wonder if we were putting something out into the world that was a negative image of young Black men,” Brown told ONE37pm. “I wanted to make sure this young man was a fully formed human being who is a good person who makes a tragic mistake.”

He was worried whether the film studio, A24, and the white director had the same sensitivity to the depiction of Blackness as he did. Before a single audience member saw Waves, he got his answer. The film’s creation process was a testament to what Brown feels will be more popular in cinema and TV in the upcoming decade: a more nuanced look at Blackness. The film came from a white director who had written it as part autobiography and part-fictional narrative yet wanted to cast an African American to play the role. He collaborated with young actor Kelvin Harrison Jr. in order to ensure the portrayal of Blackness was authentic and not inconsequential.

Sterling K. Brown to ONE37pm

I know when I get inundated with images that don’t properly reflect my experience in the world—that’s not us. That might be a part of us, but it’s not the totality of us.

“‘Trey knew ‘I couldn’t just plug him in by happenstance; I have to plug him in on purpose, and it’s going to change the way that I write this movie and I need his input. So, we have to write this thing together, so it is reflective of a young Black man’s experience and not just someone who happens to be Black,’” Brown said. 

Blackness is showcased in Waves without it being the sole driving force for the narrative, allowing the film to eschew common Hollywood tropes. Both major story arcs of the film revolve around two interracial relationships, yet the differences in races aren’t the defining quality of each relationship. We get only get brief glimpses of Tyler’s time in prison, as the film shifts its focus to his family’s struggle with coming to terms with the new reality they were thrust into by Tyler’s mistake. This is atypical of a film industry with a history of lauding and rewarding films of Black bondage while treating other types of depictions of Blackness with relative disregard. 

As the film’s title suggests, there’s this beautiful ebb and flow to the character development where a character the viewer thought they had a good read on suddenly changes, crashing expectations. Brown plays Roland with enough emotional rigidity of a father whose only focus is to develop his son into a great athlete, but not too much where his vulnerability in front of his neglected daughter is both believable and a heartwarming departure from the stoic Black father image that has permeated mainstream entertainment and Harrison’s own personal experiences with his father. Tyler’s sister, Emily (Taylor Russell), tries to reconcile the feeling that her brother was evil for his act with the innate forgiveness that defines family while navigating a love life after a trauma-induced identity crisis. It would do a grave disservice to readers, viewers and the film itself if we did not stress how Russell steals the show on Waves—the film could be the 25-year-old’s breakout performance.

Sterling K. Brown is a glowing example of how multifaceted Black people can be and he makes sure that comes across in whatever he acts in.

During the panel discussion following the screening, Brown said he first got the script for Waves from his agent in the middle of filming the third season of This Is Us. Brown juggled both gigs by shooting Waves on weekends and shooting This Is Us during the rest of the week.

The Black men Brown portrays onscreen are molded from pieces of who he is as a man. When Brown describes Harrison getting in shape for his Waves role as him getting “swole and out of control,” it reminds you of Randall’s loveable corniness. When Roland puts Tyler into a wrestling move to train him, Brown draws from his own personal past experience as a competitive wrestler in his youth. Brown is a glowing example of how multifaceted Black people can be, and he makes sure that comes across in Waves or whatever he acts in.

“I’m a Black person, and I know what I like to see on-screen. I know when I get inundated with images that don’t properly reflect my experience in the world, I’m like, ‘That’s not us. That might be a part of us, but it’s not the totality of us,” Brown said. “So, I’m interested in trying to make sure the panorama is fully expressed for Blackness on-screen.”

Culture Music

Music of the Month: 14 Standout Songs from November

Our final month of autumn was packed with tons of great projects, including standout releases from The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and FKA twigs. Artists like Trippie Redd, Berhana, Johnny Utah, Doja Cat, Allen Stone and Flipp Dinero also delivered compelling songs. Here are the best songs released in November 2019. 

1. “Heartless” by The Weeknd

After a one year break, The Weeknd is back with “Heartless.” For any OG fan, the track will feel vaguely familiar, with lyrics about sleeping with models and using drugs to deal with pain. The song opens with a very Metro Bommin’-esque beat, leading into Abel’s braggadocious wordplay about his financial success and favorable persona. With no talk about an album yet, reactivating his Instagram page to announce “Heartless” suggests one is in the works. Stay tuned.

2. “In My Room” by Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean is no stranger to taking breaks, but in November he blessed fans with another single to make up for the wait. “In My Room” comes just one month after his single “DHL.” In this song, Frank brags about his jewelry, finances and excessive shopping. Upbeat production, speedy wordplay and a catchy outro resonated well with fans. The track peaked at No. 85 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

3. “The Best” by Awolnation

It’s been an entire year since Awolnation released its third studio album, Here Come the Runts, and nine years since “Sail” changed the band’s popularity status forever. “The Best” is a dark and dreamy track with light electronic touches weaved into the post-chorus. The single’s lyrics explore striving for confidence amid insecurity and never achieving it fully. 

4. “Who Needs Love” by Trippie Redd

“Who Needs Love” is the third track on Trippie Redd’s A Love Letter to You 4 album. The project dropped on Nov. 22 and gained popularity instantly. In the song, the Ohio-born rapper verbalizes his disinterest in chasing love, a theme he’s explored in previous projects. Not afraid to admit that he’s going through it, Tripped Redd combines vulnerable lyrics with a melancholy beat, giving fans a lucid look at his inner feelings.

5. “Mary Magdalene” by FKA twigs

“Mary Magdalene,” a harmonically rich song with quotable lyrics, is the fifth track on Magdalene, FKA twigs’s second studio album. She explores the different historical perceptions attributed to Mary Magdalene, Jesus’s right-hand woman. FKA seduces listeners with her transcending and soft vocals, easily making this song an incomparable musical experience.

6. “I Been (Remix)” by Berhana ft. Boogie

The original “I Been” was released as the fifth track on Berhana’s first studio album, HAN, in October. The song has been revamped with a new verse from Compton, California-born rapper, Boogie. Joining forces for the first time, Berhana and Boogie blend their respective feel-good lyrics with a poetic solo, making for a satisfying collab. 

7. “How I Move” by Flipp Dinero ft. Lil Baby

With a fire feature from Atlanta rapper Lil Baby, “How I Move” is a boastful look inside Flipp Dinero’s financial success and luxurious purchases since rising to fame. Flipp Dinero became popular in 2018 after the release of “Leave Me Alone,” a track that went gold just two months after its debut and platinum a month later. “How I Move” is the second track from Brooklyn-born artist Flipp Dinero’s Love for Guala.

8. “Touch & Go” by Tinashe and 6LACK

In “Touch & Go,” singer-songwriter Tinashe and rapper-singer 6LACK come together for the first time to discuss attempts to mend a broken relationship without really putting in the effort to do so. The song is from Songs for You, Tinashe’s first studio album as an independent artist after her breakup with RCA Records. This smoothly produced, lyrically rich track with classical violin melodies will transport you to a late night R&B club with ease. 

9. “4Tounce” by Johnny Utah

Johnny Utah is an artist on the rise, back to prove he isn’t a one-hit-wonder. His single “Honeypie” grew a fan base and caught the attention of Genius earlier this year. “4Tounce” gives weight to the singer’s storytelling abilities as the lyrics focus on Utah’s desire for real, meaningful love as opposed to a meaningless casual encounter. This emotionally rich track is arguably Utah’s most passionate release yet. 

10. “Workin’ On It” by Meghan Trainor ft. Lennon Stella and Sasha Sloan

Singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor’s “Workin’ on It” is an ode to self-love and believing in the compliments people give. The lyrics are not only extremely quotable but also highly relatable. “Workin’ on It,” accompanied by vocals from Lennon Stella and Sasha Sloan, was released alongside “No Excuse” and “Wave,” giving fans a sneak peek into Meghan’s upcoming third album, Treat Myself, which drops Jan. 31. 

11. “Brown Eyed Lover” by Allen Stone

With a voice comparable to a mix of Stevie Wonder and John Mayer, R&B singer-songwriter Allen Stone blends upbeat funk with soulful ambiance. “Brown Eyed Lover” is the first track on the Washington-born musician’s third record, Building Balance. Combining sentimental lyrics with harmonious melodies and gospel-like background vocals, this love ballad is indulging and engaging, even if your lover doesn’t have brown eyes.

12. “Cyber Sex” by Doja Cat

In “Cyber Sex,” an empowered Doja Cat is outright straightforward in wanting to have cybersex with a lover. The first track from her second studio album, Hot Pink, is dripped in invigorating lyrics and playful beats. In the song’s NSFW video. Doja plays a pornstar-turned-engineer who manufactures her ideal suitor. Doja is not one to sugarcoat her desires and sexual desires. “Cyber Sex” is just one of the many tracks on Hot Pink that showcases her fearlessness. 

13. “Lil Quita” by Trapboy Freddy

If you aren’t from Texas, you might not recognize the name Trapboy Freddy, but the Dallas-born rapper is soon to be on your playlist after recently signing to Young Thug’s label and the release of his new single “Lil Quita.” Trapboy Freddy pays homage to his neighborhood Oak Cliff and the streets that raised him. The song samples a freestyle that went viral in the 2000s, creating nostalgic memories for anyone who grew up in neighboring Dallas cities during the time. With a similar production that can be credited to the D-Town boogie era, Lil Quita is a perfect example of a classic southern sound with a modern spin.

14. “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles

“Watermelon Sugar”—Harry Styles’s second release in 2019—gives fans a hint of what to expect on his sophomore album, Fine Line. The lyrics, which have not been denoted an exact meaning, recall a summer fling, involving delicious fruit. He is known to act on surprise, randomly dropping the song less than an hour before he performed it on Saturday Night Live.