7 Things, Features

Flow Machines, Noonie and The Long Con That Is Season 4 of Arrested Development: 7 Things We’re Into This Week

Named after the glorious, if negligibly inaccurate Miley Cyrus song, The Sympathizer HQ delivers to your computer and phone screens (or iPad–if you’re that guy) a spanking new column. A weekly round-up, “7 Things” presents you with 7 things we’ve been into this week–songs, records, books, podcasts, both old and new. You’ll never be left not knowing what to do with your weekend again.


Thing 1: Flow Machines’ “Mr. Shadow”

The Uncanny Valley is a phenomenon where a humanoid figure that looks almost, but not quite, human causes unease, fear, or even revulsion in the viewer. It’s the sense that things just aren’t quite right, like with this incredible yet unsettling android. Flow Machines, the artificial intelligence songwriting project of Sony CSL Research Laboratory, is the uncanny valley of the music world. Flow Machines draws from a database of music to create a song based on what a human composer wants it to sound like; for example, Flow Machines’ other song, “Daddy’s Car,” is done in the style of the Beatles. On the other hand, “Mr. Shadow” is “a composition in the style of American songwriters such as Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Cole Porter,” although it’s up to personal interpretation whether it’s successful in its mimicry. The song’s strange, computerized warblings sound too perfectly pitched to be real, so it’s equal parts disturbing and fascinating. I don’t know if I like it, but it’s pretty amazing either way. The songs are still mixed and mastered by humans, but maybe in fifteen years there won’t be a need for songwriters anymore, because we’ll just have computers doing the work. Then we’ll sit at our computers and listen to music written by computers. This is the future, and the future is weird. – Ruby Johnson

 Thing 2: Noonie


I first recall spotting Noonie Bao’s name in CRJ’s Emotion credits— essentially the best first impression anyone could make. But it wasn’t until just recently that I saw her name again, on a Charli XCX Insta post, and decided to do some real digging. Turns out Noonie isn’t just a writer (she is a great one, though, and even has a new track out with MØ this week called “Drum,” co-written by Charli). Noonie also has her own stuff, and it’s about as great as you would expect coming from a Swedish redhead who’s written for Carly. I’m currently drooling over Noonie’s songs “Pyramids,” “Reminds Me,” and “Criminal Love.” Her vids are dope too so be sure to check those as well! – Krista Caproni 

Thing 3: The Long Con that is Season 4 of Arrested Development


Okay, so we all know season four of Arrested Development sucks. Like, it’s really not very good. It doesn’t even suck in the way that things can suck and be GOOD bad. It’s just a pale imitation of the earlier seasons (shouts out to Rebel and Anyong, for trying their damnedest). HOWEVER: the presence of the boy band song, “Go Away, Get Away,” in every available crevice, in every scene, in sneakier and more elaborate places as the plot develops, only for the BIG REVEAL at the end, is one of the greatest long cons in a series full of them, and possibly one of the greatest long cons in television history. – Brook Pridemore

Thing 4: Jai Wolf’s “Indian Summer”

I was recommended this upbeat track this summer by a friend and it’s literally all I’ve been listening to since. GoPro made a beautiful ad using this as its background track, SoundCloud has synced this in my “Related Tracks,” and Brittany Snow from Pitch Perfect even made a cutesy romantic video for this. There’s a reason it’s called “Indian Summer” and it’s evident from the opening vocals, which are sung in what I can only relate to the opening of “La La La” by Naughty Boy. Such a fun, bright, dancey song! I dare you to sit still during this song, it just cannot happen! In fact, you can see exactly why GoPro used this song in their ads, because Indian Summer gives you an incredible light-headed feeling of “you can do anything” while you dance around your living room in your PJs with a silly smile on your face on a rainy day. Even the lyrics are so soul poppingly aspirational! The Hindi lyrics (heavily distorted electronically) literally translate to “you’ve taken me to the moon, my friend” Excuse me while I go discover a new world with this as my anthem. – Keerthana Batchu 

Thing 5: Netflix Original Easy


Netflix’s new show Easy is the best representation of sex I have seen on TV in years. Exploring the sex lives of people in Chicago, it delves into various kinds of sexual relationships. And it’s also super tight because it discusses ethical non-mognomany, the politics of privacy and queer couples. If you feel like binging some shit this weekend, go for it. – Siya Bahal

Thing 6: The Official Paisley Park Tour


Seeing October usher in the “official Paisley Park tour,” of Prince’s famed home/complex made me think; is a cash grab reminiscent of the Elvis Presley/Graceland ATM the best we can do for the ultra-private superstar? Can’t we just do a respectful archival music release program? I mean…this? Bleah! – Steve J/ AllMusicBooks.com

Thing 7: Alice Sebold’s Lovely Bones


The Lovely Bones is a novel that bewitches its most dedicated readers. I still find myself dangling from the edges of its last few lines, still vividly remember sobbing in hotel rooms, mourning the poetry of destruction. I remember subjecting myself to its stark reality over clear skies and open waters. Over the ever-intrusive sunlight. If you’re ever looking to find beauty in thoughtless tragedy, this book is for you. I’d recommend, however, having a box of tissues by your side for Alice Sebold’s words leave you completely and utterly defeated. – Cevenly


October 14, 2016

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