Pete Beat is an old. Pete Beat published an IRL electro punk zine called backklash from 2001-2011. Pete Beat is a failed Twitter comic, a recovering Real Housewives troll, election of 2016 survivor and Ersa’s new pop columnist.
Hello, my fellow olds!* (*olds being my term for elderly millennials, “Generation Y” types, anyone over 35 who is even remotely culturally savvy, and honestly even you young people under 30 who are just so tired all of the time – you secretly identify as Old).
Many blessings to you from me! I am spending my summer in a totally alternate timeline. I was able to travel to this dimension using a 32-bit Nintendo warp whistle I got on eBay from this 48-year-old woman in West Pennsylvania named Donna, who used to be a coal miner but had to quit due to emphysema. Now she’s selling all of her dead adult son’s cool 80s memorabilia to pay for her health insurance and prescription opioids after he was suddenly killed in a 4Chan-related prank gone wrong. Sucks for her but amazing luck for me! I warped the fuck out of your timeline and settled down in a beachside villa in Alternate 2018. It is so lovely to be over here in this alternate timeline but I am missing all of you, my darlings!
In this timeline, Jem and the Holograms are a real band and very popular, but SOPHIE is even huger than they are! D*nald Tr*mp isn’t president here–we don’t even have a president in this timeline. Instead, we are ruled by a world government council of benevolent Trolls dolls based in Iceland and New Zealand, and everything is totally fine! We do have a Speaker of the House here and he is a cartoon racist dog–so while not everything is totally perfect, overall Alternate 2018 is so amazing and I love it here probs never coming back lol xoxo
In the spirit of service on to others, or what we here in Alt 2018 call “being chill to other people just because,” I am here to save you some time and give you a quick, no-bullshit rundown of what you need to be doing with your precious spare time this summer. We Olds of today may not be part of the Greatest Generation, but we are certainly the Busiest and Most Tired Generation of All Time! We spend a lot of time working and commuting and a lot of energy thinking of excuses to get out of doing anything social just so we can have FIVE FUCKING MINUTES TO BREATHE during the day, am I right?
Well, if you can’t stay sane, you can at least stay cool, right? Here are a few hot summer recommendations, BECAUSE I KNOW YOU ARE BUSY AND SO AM I.
SOPHIE – Immaterial
Christine and the Queens – Girlfriend
Here in my alternate 2018 timeline, I’ve warped over to for the summer, genderqueer/freak-pop artists are all the rage at the top of the charts. It’s fucking refreshing as hell. As such, SOPHIE and Christine and the Queens are battling for the Song of the Summer. In all the trendiest Alternate 2018 clubs and cafes and vintage video arcades, the friendly competition between SOPHIE and Christine has polarized the population of this parallel nation!
“Immaterial” is sort of the culmination of everything SOPHIE has been building toward in her brief but utterly impressive career. It is explosive, propulsive, electrifying. SOPHIE’s talent is for completely deconstructing pop tropes and then re-imagining them piece by piece into something familiar but completely monstrous, all in the space of three minutes. On “Immaterial” she delivers on this delirious, bouncy technopop confection that I cannot get enough of. Here in this dimension, the song comes with an accompanying 54-page glossy magazine fashion spread/essay on gender theory, as well as its own signature dance move. I’ll show it to you if/when I come back.
Christine and the Queens is another forward-thinking, queer-pop project and “Girlfriend” deserves to be as fucking huge as a the equally French/funky “Get Lucky” was all those good summers ago. “Girlfriend” is slinky, seductive, both hot & bothered and yet cool & aloof. You absolutely need to take a minute and watch Christine and the Queens (her amazing backing dance troupe) perform this live, it’s televisual pop art theater and completely engrossing.
Will “Girlfriend” swoop in and steal the #1 song from “Immaterial” on the Alternate Dimension Charts?? No offense, your timeline’s little song of the summer “One Kiss” is a bop and all and we do love it here, but I am so glad we don’t have to deal with all of the other burdens from the bullshit of living in your Main Timeline!
POSE on FX
I love this show so damn much on so many levels. If you haven’t seen the iconic 1991 Jenny Livingston documentary, Paris is Burning well you obviously didn’t sit next to me in film school because that and Yugoslav black wave are basically all I ever talked about ever. Just kidding! I never talked to any of the other assholes in my film classes.
Anyway, Paris is Burning is essential watching for a myriad of reasons, and I would argue it is a prerequisite for entry into the drama, tragedy, and glamor of the subculture at the center of Pose. Ryan Murphy’s sprawling soap welcomes us to the world of the late 80s drag balls, and by extension, to a largely underrepresented part of the LBGT community of New York City at the time. Pose takes us on an elaborate, stylized journey into the heart of this space, told to us in a longform soapy drama that is executed with a great deal of heart and integrity. Some have criticized certain elements of the show, but I think it is absolutely perfect, and I am honestly not always the biggest fan of all of Ryan Murphy’s projects. I tend to either fully love or completely despise his series, and Pose is one I have wholeheartedly embraced.
The melodrama may turn off some, but Pose is at its core a soap opera, and as such it effectively legitimizes and revitalizes the genre with every elaborately constructed moment. Through melodrama, Pose is able to translate complex emotional and social issues in a way that makes is more accessible. There’s a reason that soap operas were some of the first places we saw openly homosexual characters presented in an honest way on screen–a genre like the melodrama/soap opera the viewer is connected to the content because of its exaggerated emotional core. In this case, it allows the audience to really feel the emotional complexities and social dynamics that define these characters’ lives in a way some of us had not previously considered.
Dominique Jackson (Elektra Abundance) may be described by some as overly campy, but by that standard then so were Joan Collins, Heather Locklear, Susan Lucci, et al. I would argue that formal acting technique isn’t that important when it comes to an iconic soap diva. Perfected craft is not the most important thing in the genre of the soap. What is far more important is conveying certain archetypal, emotionally driven forces of creation–representations of almost godlike womanhood of which the soap diva serves as an avatar through a variety of signifiers. In particular, the ability to deliver that force which we call “fierceness” with absolute conviction in the perfectly constructed setting matters above all else.
For every second of Pose that is overly emotional, melodramatic, or (ugh) “artificial,” it is matched by the splendor of the way the narrative shines a light on stories that were long overdue their representation on screen. I find it ironic that out of everything broadcast on the Fox empire’s airwaves, the show that best embodies family values is Pose. And blessings to them for renewing the show. I can’t wait for what season 2 has in store, particularly given the rise of the very Misfits-esque House of Ferocity.
The Break With Michelle Wolf on Netflix
I am sorry, but whatever negative things you think about Michelle Wolf’s Correspondents Dinner set is likely just the result of brainwashing because you probably didn’t watch the entire thing yourself. It was unflinchingly hilarious. In fact, if you didn’t watch the whole damn thing, go do it now. Then listen to her interview with Teri Gross on Fresh Air from the Monday after the event. THEN go back and watch every clip of her on YouTube, especially her appearances with Seth Meyers, and then binge watch the entirety of her Netflix show, and THEN we can have a conversation about whether Michelle Wolf is hilarious and worthy our time. Go ahead, I’ll be waiting here, watching my favorite sketch of hers until I have it memorized. “I can’t eat! Don’t you know I’m under INDICTMENT?” is my go-to quote of the year thus far.
Terror Jr – Heaven Wasn’t Made For Me
Just as I was about to drop this column, goth bop icons TERROR JR dropped a brand new song! Check out their new single, Heaven Wasn’t Meant For Me, immediately! If you aren’t familiar with Terror Jr (and more specifically, my fanatical devotion to them), they are a top secret social experiment pop project with a slick, cooly defined sound. I recommend Terror Jr neophytes move backwards through their discography: Bop City 3, Bop City 2, Come First (Based God Remix) and then the original Bop City. They have a ridiculously rich catalogue of songs, considering they’ve only been around for a minute. Frontwoman Lisa Terror is a rather crafty lyricist, and they have developed a distinct sound and never fail to deliver on hooks.
Sigrid – Schedules
Get yourself acquainted with my favorite new queen of Nordic pop, Sigrid. She is basically perfect in every way. She is extraordinarily talented as a songwriter and singer, has yet to release a bad song, and her recent mini album called Raw, makes the case that she’s the new Robyn–and maybe the new Carly Rae Jepsen as well! And trust me when I say that I do not make such claims lightly. Check out the last installment from this project, “Schedules,” and then work your way through her short but stellar discography.
HOLYCHILD – Wishing You Away
No group embodies the rhythm, spirit, and pulse of Alternate 2018 like LA alt-pop duo HOLYCHILD. They always craft very catchy songs, but with sharp, often dark lyrics that starkly contrast with their big, sunny sound. Wishing You Away might casually sound like a breakup song at first, but a deeper listen to the lyrics reveals a more tragic tale of abandonment and loss.