This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
Lights Out in Memphis
We talk a lot about the MTV generation, but we ignore the VH1 generation.
We’re the geriatric millennials (gross) whose parents thought MTV was “too rude.” We are the ones who still play The Corrs’ “Breathless” on loop. Who can recreate every moment of Céline Dion’s “That’s the Way It Is” music video. Who think that life is grand, as long as Rob Thomas is still making music.
It’s the VH1 generation that is attached to Lisa Marie Presley’s music career.
It’s gut-wrenching that Presley, the daughter of the King, died this week after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest. As an entertainment writer and editor, my mind shot in so many different directions: Her father! Michael Jackson! Nicolas Cage! Just trying to be her own entity!
I remember when she came out with her single, “Lights Out,” in 2003. There had to have been big record label muscle for it to make it onto the VH1 portion of my “scarfing down a Pop Tart before driving to school” morning ritual.
I know it’s the era of nepo babies, but there was something about the song’s success that didn’t seem “gifted” to her in that way. It engaged in our fascination with her father, and worked through what it’s like to come from her background and be expected to be famous, regardless of your talent or ambition.
Watching the music video is a strange experience. She looks so much like her father, and her vocal stylings are gruff and guttural like his—yet also uniquely hers. Throughout the song, she reckons with her legacy. “Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis,” she sings, directly engaging with her family history. “That’s where my family are buried and gone,” goes another line. As the song ends, she sings, “Little son of a bitch from Memphis.”
It all just felt so…cool. A lot of times, when children of rock stars dip their toe in performance, music or otherwise, it’s so cringey. But there was an art to what Lisa Marie was doing. A point. And, it was good.
I think one of the reasons this death is hitting so hard is that there’s a generation who, obviously, idolized Elvis. And then he had a daughter? Those fans could have been his family? But in “Lights Out,” Lisa Marie telegraphs what it was like to be that person. It’s a bit like Prince Harry and Spare: getting to know what it’s like to be inside the palace, or Graceland’s, walls.
The wonderful thing about Lisa Marie is that she did get to leave her mark. She got to say what she needed to get out, in this case, through song. And she took ownership of her own journey, as well all should: “I guess I fell off on my own.”
The Perfect Acceptance Speech
This is a newsletter about what I’m obsessed with, so it would be negligent not to mention Jennifer Coolidge’s Golden Globes speech. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve probably watched it 100 times. It’s gone viral, so it’s all over my Twitter feed, Instagram Stories, and group text messages. I watch it each and every time I come across it. It brings me such joy.
I consider myself an expert in awards speeches, having spent years during the insomniac hours of 1 am to 3 am devouring every Oscars, Golden Globes, Tonys, and SAG Awards speech on YouTube, over and over again. Coolidge’s for The White Lotus was perfect. It was so funny. She did the beautiful thing where she told stories, and in her stories were her thank yous.
It also made me realize my new goal in life: to have someone talk about me on national television with the same emotion that Jennifer Coolidge talked about Mike White.
The “Beastiest” Show of All Time
I have worked at The Daily Beast for an amount of years that I will not share, because it might lead to you discovering my age. (I’m 26, always and forever.) But it is with certitude and legacy knowledge that I say that there has never been a television series that has come to my attention that is more “Beasty” (as we like to say in-house) than this.
Stormy Daniels, the former porn actress who allegedly had an affair with ex-president of the United States Donald Trump and compared his penis to a mushroom, is hosting a reality dating competition for older gay men, called For the Love of DILFs. Welcome to 2023.
There are two kinds of people: those who did not know that pop star Sara Bareilles wrote the score for a Broadway musical called Waitress, and those who so deeply cherish one song from that show, “She Used to Be Mine,” that they consider it to be another human emotion, like sadness or regret. I have seen videos of, no exaggeration, at least 50 people singing this song. But to see Bareilles herself perform it with Brandi Carlile? Be right back. I need to run to Costco to buy a pallet of Kleenex boxes.
What to watch this week:
Velma: As if they’d do gay Velma from Scooby-Doo and I wouldn’t watch immediately? (Now on HBO Max)
Servant: M. Night Shyamalan stan here. Sorry not sorry. (Now on Apple TV+)
The Last of Us: This show is going to be huge. Start watching. (Sun. on HBO)
What to skip this week:
A Man Called Otto: Even Tom Hanks can’t save a movie this bad. (Now in theaters)