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Obsessions, by EDGE

Thursday May 1, 2014

Welcome to Obsession, by EDGE: a new monthly feature where the editors of EDGE share a few things they've be fawning over the past month, new or old or in between.

In its first feature, arts and entertainment editor Bob Nesti and national news editor Jason St. Amand detail their love for "Bates Motel," the possible song of the summer and a women simply known as V.

"Bates Motel"

Bob Nesti: Next Monday is the season finale of the second season of this A&E’s "Bate’s Motel," which keeps getting better and better. When it premiered a year ago, its premise seemed gimmicky: take Norman Bates (yes, that Norman Bates from "Psycho") and make him a contemporary teen with a smothering mom and a bad-boy older brother. They move to the Northwest to resettle after the mysterious death of Norman’s father and buy a dilapidated motel with a creepy Victorian house on the hill -- a setting long familiar to Hitchcock fans from his classic 1960 film. But as it developed, the series found its own creepy voice while honoring its source material. In fact, what makes it so good is how cleverly it dovetails with the original, showing how Norman Bates became the homicidal killer Anthony Perkins played so brilliantly in the original film. Here, British actor Freddie Highmore captures Norman’s growing psychosis with a mix of innocence and menace and as his mother (appropriately named Norma) Vera Farmiga brings human dimensions to what could easily be a caricature of an overbearing mom. With the look and feel of "Twin Peaks," this series is earning a place in the hierarchy of first-rate television series.

Ariana Grande - "Problem" feat. Iggy Azalea

Jason St. Amand: "Problem," rising R&B/pop star Ariana Grande’s lead single off her upcoming untitled sophomore album, has only been out for three days, but it’s a song I have probably listened to 30 times. It completely rules my life right now. Everything from Grande’s sexafied single cover to the "Mr. Saxobeat" inspired horn section, to Australian rapper Iggy Azalea’s questionable verse, to rapper Big Sean’s backing vocals that remind us that the Ying Yang Twins’ "Wait (The Whisper Song)" exists, is amazing. The strength of "Problem" is the way Grande, 20, is able to weave her influences in a seamless 3-minute track. And unlike other Grande jams, like last year’s "Baby, I" and "The Way," "Problem" does not show off the young singer’s four octave vocals; the Mini Mariah’s voice isn’t the show stopper here, but that’s OK and I don’t think many fans have a problem with Grande toning it down: The single is poised to be her most successful song yet, rocketing to iTunes’s number one spot in less than 40-minutes, beating out a record previously held by Taylor Swift and her 2012 single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which hit the coveted top position in 50-minutes. "Problem" is also in a great position to become The Song of the Summer, facing off against Azalea’s Charli XCX-featuring "Fancy" and Lana Del Rey’s sleepy ’60s inspired "West Coast." Time will tell which song ends up soundtracking the next few months, but "Problem" has the best chance -- not because of its acclaim or chart success, but because at its core, it’s simply a really good song.

V. Stiviano

BN: The most curious personality in the current Donald Sterling/Los Angeles Clippers controversy is V. Stiviano, born Maria Vanessa Perez, the inquisitive voice on the infamous phone call where Sterling’s racist attitude is revealed. She was the 80-year old billionaire’s mistress, but obviously had some sort of bone to pick with him and appears to set him up in the incriminating phone call. If that was her intention, she’s succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Yet unlike other protagonists in this kind of sordid, TMZ scandal, has kept a low profile -- indeed, a fashionable one. When she went out in public this week (to court, no less, for a hearing in a DUI arrest from 2012 when she was stopped while driving a red Ferrari given her by Sterling), she wore a mirrored visor over her face. Perhaps she was sending a message to the casting team of the new "Star Wars" movie. Whatever the reason, she’s been sort-of seen and definitely not heard in the controversy. She’s also being cast as the villain of the story by some on the right who are (no doubt) shocked... shocked by her tactics. Whether she’ll turn up on cable next remains to be seen, but if there’s someone ready for a prime time reality series, it’s Stiviano.

Oil Pulling

JSA: Getting perfectly white teeth is a real pain in the ass. Whitening strips are expensive and annoying, and probably not all that good for you, and toothpaste with extra whitening hardly shows any results (at least for me). One day, while listening to a podcast I tune into regularly, I heard one of the hosts mention oil pulling in passing. It’s a natural way of getting your teeth to their pearly whitest; a method some celebrities, like GOOP creator and new single lady Gwyneth Paltrow and actress Shailene Woodley swear by. What is oil pulling exactly? It’s a bit gross, but if you don’t have a terrible gag reflex and have 20-minutes to spare, it may be worth checking out: Basically, oil pulling is taking a spoon full of the semi-solid coconut oil, chewing it and swishing it vigorously in your mouth for 20-minutes a day for the rest of your life. Coconut oil has a nutty, slightly, well, coconut taste to it. The sensation is a bit strange at first but after a few days of doing it, I found myself not thinking twice. The theory behind oil pulling is it’s great for oral health; a natural way of removing toxins in your mouth, giving you fresh breath and stronger gums all while whitening your teeth. I’ve done it for about two weeks and did see some results - I saw my aunt recently and she commented on how white my teeth look. But I’ve stopped swishing the oil for the last two weeks or so, after a few days of forgetting. I found 20-minutes to be a little too long, but I may get back into the habit. Note: Oil pulling is not a substitute for brushing teeth!


BN: Riding a bicycle around town, it is easy to get distracted by a look of a pedestrian; even easier these days with the upshot in fashionable looks that is the hallmark of the hipster. Millennials with curled moustaches looking like their Victorian great-great-great grandfathers; chubby women evoking the self-conscious fashions that Lena Dunham wears on "Girls;" twinks in white shirts and red bow-ties looking like they walked off a fashion shoot in Williamsburg. It’s everywhere, especially in Boston where the median age is somewhere around 25. It is also reflected in a smug attitude that screams individuality in a sea of fashionable conformity. Whatever. It’s shaping the style of the decade and the affected generation.

Todd Terje - "It’s Album Time"

JSA: It may not feel like spring right now, but the warm months are right around the corner. And an album that has helped me get through these unseasonably chilly and rainy last few weeks, and is also getting me to salivate for the upcoming days where I don’t need to wear a coat, is Norwegian producer Todd Terje’s debut "It’s Album Time." Over the last few years the talented Terje has slowly released blissed out tracks leading up to his LP, including the space-funk jam "Inspector Norse" and the nu-disco/house showstopper "Strandbar." On "Album Time" Terje pushes his limits with 12 addictive songs, most clocking in over 5-minutes, including the electrified boss nova "Svensk Sas" and single "Delorean Dynamite," a throbbing sexy beat-driven song with gliding synths that can soundtrack a night out at a club in Ibiza or a late night drive alone. "Album Time" is a whole lot of fun as Terje covers a range of emotions, like on his touching cover of Robert Palmer’s "John and Marry," featuring Roxy Music lead singer Bryan Ferry. It’s a complex record that comes off as effortless; an instant classic.


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