American Idol Goes Back to the Future

American idol

American Idol is back. On a new network (ABC), and sporting three new celebrity judges (Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan). That’s a quick summary of what’s changed. What hasn’t changed? Well, almost everything else. After a two-year hiatus, ABC’s reloaded version of Idol is almost exactly the same reality singing competition it was […]

Continue Reading

R.I.P. CDs


I bought a CD last night. (Rock guitar instrumentalist Joe Satriani’s latest release, if you must know. But I digress already.) I bought it because even though I listen to tons of music digitally (streaming, and in my 15-year-old iTunes library), I just like having a real, physical copy of my music. It’s tactile. Reliable. […]

Continue Reading

An Open Breakup Letter to Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake performing during the Super Bowl LII Pepsi Halftime Show in 2018

Dear Justin Timberlake (can I still call you JT?), I am writing to inform you that we’re through. I’m breaking up with you. Let me back up. I realize it’s been awhile since we last talked. In fact, I know that this is actually the first time. You don’t know me from Adam, and that’s […]

Continue Reading

Pop Culture’s Top 10 Movers and Shakers (2017 Edition)

Movers and shakers

The outgoing year is often depicted as an old, tired man with a beard down to his knees. But this year, that depiction felt all too true. With all the natural disasters and political unrest and international crises afoot, 2017 probably made us all feel older than we should. Back in the day, many folks […]

Continue Reading

Culture Clips: Time’s Person of the Year Is a Hashtag Movement

Each December, speculation builds about who Time magazine will select as its Person of the Year. That tradition that dates back to 1927, when Charles Lindbergh was selected as the inaugural honoree (according to Wikipedia’s entry on the subject.) Past recipients include almost every U.S. president since then (with the notable absence of Gerald Ford), […]

Continue Reading

The Invasion of the Christmas Carols

Christmas music

Many of us mark our seasons by firsts: the first robin of spring, the first sunburn of summer, the first interception by our terrible quarterback of the fall. The Christmas season is no different—or, at least, so mall music supervisors tell us: It begins with the first Christmas carol playing in the vicinity of cash […]

Continue Reading

Culture Clips: Distracted to Death?

Today’s vehicles are packed with more safety and collision-avoidance technology than ever before. But traffic-related deaths in the United States have nevertheless risen sharply over the last two years, up 14.4% after decades of generally trending downward. Curiously, certain kinds of folks are increasingly prone to be involved in fatal car accidents than others: pedestrians, […]

Continue Reading

Lecrae: ‘The Lord Chastens Whom He Loves’


Editor’s Note: Rapper Lecrae’s new album, All Things Work Together, drops today (Plugged In will review it soon). With featured mainstream performers such as Ty Dolla $ign, the album appears to be a departure for the Christian rapper, and a bid to increase his reach into the secular music world. But while Lecrae might not […]

Continue Reading

Culture Clips: The Dragon and the Swift edition

Game of Thrones dragon

On Sunday night, two television titans squared off against each other in a clash of old and new, awards-show glitz against prestige-TV glam. It wasn’t even close. Despite going head-to-head against MTV’s once-vaunted Video Music Awards show, HBO’s salacious sensation Game of Thrones set yet another high-water ratings mark, drawing 12.1 million viewers for its […]

Continue Reading