Overrated/Underrated: Hootie returns, and Netflix’s alternate view of Poland in ‘1983’
‘1983’: A grim, vaguely paranoid bit of alt-history along the lines of “The Man in the High Castle” that imagines a world where the Iron Curtain never fell and, curiously, Al Gore was elected president. Netflix’s first Eastern European production is set in a Poland that fell into a totalitarian regime after terrorist attacks during the show’s title year. Each episode is directed by Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland, and the show’s imaginary 2003 doesn’t lay its alternate reality on too heavily, instead relying on its mix of revolutionaries and sympathetic officers for a tense mystery well-suited to our own current reality.
Andrew Bird’s ‘Bloodless’: It’s been a while since we’ve heard from this indie singer-songwriter, who’s become easy to take for granted since albums like 2007’s “Armchair Apocrypha” established him as a distinctive voice for eclectic chamber folk. Sharply capturing the fraught nature of 2018, his new single “Bloodless” simmers behind a slow, haunted rhythm while Bird’s echoing voice warns of a war that’s “bloodless for now.” It’s smoky soul music, and if there’s a line that better captures this moment than “the best lack all conviction, and the worst keep sharpening their claws,” it hasn’t been written yet.
The return of Hootie: One of the more inexplicable success stories of the ’90s, Hootie & the Blowfish are mounting a reunion tour (though the band, despite not releasing any music for roughly 13 years, insists it never broke up). This is good news for ’90s nostalgia completists, who between lead singer Darius Rucker’s country solo career and the band’s inactivity never properly commemorated previous anniversaries of the band’s 1994 breakout “Cracked Rear View.” But trust someone who lived through this band’s heyday: We are not ready for them to again become the go-to goofy band name for the late-night comedy circuit.
A Prince jukebox musical: Prince’s estate continues making decisions both good (releasing “Piano & a Microphone 1983”) and bad (those credit card commercials) since his 2016 death. Word is that Universal has begun exploring a “Mamma Mia”-style movie musical using Prince’s music. While this was probably an inevitability — and a case can be made that if anyone’s catalog holds enough stories to support four or five such movies, it’s Prince — the idea of someone building a narrative around “Sign o’ the Times” feels beneath his regal stature. Besides, if people want to see Prince in a musical, he made a few of his own.
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