Grammys and Oscars and drone shots, oh my! Once again we are covering a lot of territory in this week's Friday Five selections. We've got a big time (for us) new music release, some awards-nominated art, and some selections by everyday artists just like us. So whether you're looking to fill out your weekend playlist, pick a movie, or start a Youtube deep dive, look no further than Friday Five, Volume 11.
G. Love & The Special Sauce
“Beach Hip-Hop” was a booming genre in the late-90’s and early-2000’s, and one of artists leading the charge was G. Love & the Special Sauce. Now, in 2021, he’s back on our radar because he is up for his first ever Grammy this Sunday. His album The Juice got nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and if you’re looking for some funk to add to your weekend playlist, look no further. The nomination sent us back into their discography, too, which gave us some jams that fit right into our normal weekend vibe. After all, their most-played song on Spotify is literally called “Sunday Vibe.” G. Love notably discovered Jack Johnson, and Johnson’s first big feature “Rodeo Clowns” was definitely on our click-wheel iPods back in the day. Now, G. Love is signed to Johnson’s label Brushfire Records, and is clearly still putting out music that people vibe with, even in 2021. We don’t pay much attention to the Grammys, but it’s fun to see an artist from our youth finally get some recognition.
JayByrdFilms - Right Up Our Alley
Bold, long, single-take tracking shots are all over the place in popular media today, from True Detective to 1917 to The Revenant. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still blown away by long takes that push boundaries. This week, an absolutely wild drone shot by cinematographer Jay Christensen took the internet by storm. Christensen posted a video taken from a drone flying through a bowling alley, passing between bowlers and through doors and, eventually, down the lane. It is breathtaking, and totally captivating - you can’t take your eyes off of it. As it went viral, the shot also caught the eye of multiple big-name directors; James Gunn even talked about bringing Christensen to London to work on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. III. We love to celebrate incredible art, and the precision on this drone shot is absolutely mind-blowing. Prepare to watch it multiple times, because it’s too incredible to only see once.
Eric Hutchinson - "The Best Part"
For the second week in a row, we got a new Friday release that instantly went on repeat on Spotify. As expected from Eric Hutchinson, “The Best Part” is laid back, with a chill guitar and rhythm part that immediately helps you start to unwind. Hutchinson’s vocals on the track are pretty interesting, too, and killer trumpet and piano parts just complete the sonic experience. It’s very upbeat, which, as we mark the year-anniversary of the start of quarantine, felt pretty important. Hutchinson singing “I believe we’re only getting started on the best part” is exactly the vibe we need heading into the weekend.
Unreal Engine MetaHumans
Here at King Penguin, we are super interested in all of the innovations going on in 3D animation. One of the advancements catching our eye lately is Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman creator. Unreal Engine is a digital creation platform that has been recently responsible for a number of popular video games, and for the incredibly realistic characters populating them. The platform is free for creators to use, which has lowered the barrier to entry a bit - you just pay royalties once your project starts making money. It’s so cool to see such high-level animation democratized like this, and as designers that are working in the 3D space, we can’t wait to dive further into all the possibilities that Unreal Engine offers. Who knows, maybe you’ll see some MetaHuman characters in a King Penguin project in the not-too-distant future.
Another week, another Oscar-worthy film cracking the Friday Five. This week, it is Nomadland, a movie that is quickly becoming a favorite to take home a bunch of Academy Awards in April, including Best Picture. Nomadland tells the story of a woman, played by Frances McDormand, living in her van as she travels around the country, looking for work. It is beautifully shot, featuring majestic landscapes in the American West, and really makes the geography part of the story. Frances McDormand gives a stellar acting performance, and real-life nomads also played fictionalized versions of themselves in the film, which brought in an increased sense of realism. The movie, and especially writer/director Chloe Zhao, has absolutely cleaned up at every major award show already, most notably the Golden Globes. As we approach Oscar season, you can cross off a leading contender by venturing into the American West from the comfort of your couch.