The CF Guide to Underrated Pop Culture: Summer 2016

A few things you should be watching and listening to, IMHO.
Publish date:
carly rae jepsen

Photo credit: ELLE.

Ok, disclaimer. My tastes are in some ways, to use a phrase I despise, "basic". I love Taylor Swift, "Pretty Little Liars," Starbucks, and avocado toast. AND I'M PROUD.

Still, like everyone, I have my own eclectic combo of interests, and as a pop-culture junkie I pride myself on having the scoop on some great entertainment that some others don't.

So this guide is in no way meant to be full of music, shows, and movies that no one has ever heard of. Rather, it's a bit of me ranting, raving, and recommending reasonably popular things that deserve a second look or a little more credit.

Here's hoping that some of my under-appreciated faves can spice up your summer playlists and Netflix queues. 

Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

IMHO, Carly is the most underrated pop singer out there. While many dismiss her as just the viral sensation behind "Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae is so much more. She's the bubblegum pop star we need and deserve.

I love that she isn't afraid to be as bouncy and poppy as possible. While many artists curate their sound to be "cool," Carly is unapologetically bright and bubblegum. She makes the music you're afraid to admit you want to listen to, but absolutely do --jumpy, fun, and full of clever lyrics.

As a starter kit to becoming a Carly fan beyond "Call Me Maybe," I recommend checking out her tunes "Run Away With Me," "Turn Me Up," and "This Kiss."

Summer song: "American Girl" by Bonnie McKee

This an oldie but a goodie, released late in the summer of 2013. If it had come out a tad earlier it would have had serious song of the summer potential that year. But I still love to blast it today.

Bonnie McKee is one of Katy Perry's BFFs and co-writers -- yup, she's behind "California Gurls," "Wide Awake," and more. She also has writing credits on all-time-fave pop songs like Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," Kesha's "C'Mon," and Leighton Meester's "Your Love's A Drug."

So it's no surprise that her biggest solo single is awesome.  And I daresay its lyric, 

"I told him I got a plan and I'm gonna dominate/and I don't need any man to be getting in my way/but if you talk with your hands we can negotiate"

can rival even the best lines of "Teenage Dream."

TV show: "Bates Motel"

bates motel

Photo credit: A&E.

I suppose this isn't the time or place to go on a rant about this amazing, critically beloved show/miniseries (it's 10 episodes a year on A&E) not getting any acting or best drama series Emmy noms this year. But suffice to say that rant is deserved.

In a nutshell, this dark, thrilling, and somehow still romantic and hilarious show is a prequel to the Hitchcock movie, "Psycho." It follows a teenage Norman Bates and his overbearing mother as they start up the motel and experience all the chaos that leads up Norman becoming...well, a serial killer. And in a time when most TV fans can point at the screen of their favorite show and totally call what's going to happen next, this show repeatedly leaves me having to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Freddie Highmore (yes, the kid from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"), Vera Farmiga (from "Up in the Air"), Max Theriot (yes, the hot guy from all your favorite childhood movies), and the rest of the cast blow my mind with their acting weekly. And if that's not enough incentive, Rihanna is joining the cast next season.

You can catch up with the first three seasons on Netflix and this year's fourth (and possibly best-ever) season on iTunes and Amazon. Do it before the final season starts next March!

Netflix binge: "Grace and Frankie"

grace from grace and frankie

Photo credit: ELLE.

This Netflix sitcom, currently on its second season, may not be exactly underrated, but I included it here because I don't think it's an obvious go-to for the college age group. Just because the characters are older, that doesn't mean this show isn't hilarious and relatable.

The basic plot is that Jane Fonda's Grace and Lily Tomlin's Frankie are forced into friendship after their husbands announce that they are gay and in love with each other. They also have to learn how to relate to their exes and their adult children in a totally new way. There are serious moments, but the one-liners are LOL-worthy.

This is a great one to binge-watch this summer with your mom, if she doesn't mind a little raunchy humor.

Rom com: "Friends With Kids"

scene from friends with kids

Photo credit: ELLE.

My unconventional choice for an all-time favorite romantic movie. No, not "Titanic" or "The Notebook." No one dies in this one.

The cast of this indie rom-com is largely made up of the cast of "Bridesmaids," plus the adorable Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt as BFFs who decide to have a kid together. Hilarity and drama obviously ensue. It's perfect for anyone who has ever fallen in love with their best friend, and let's face it, who hasn't?

DCOM: "Radio Rebel"

radio rebel poster better size

Photo credit: Amazon.

I feel like it's kind of a basic pillar of college girl life in 2016 to have a chill night where all you want to do is watch a Disney Channel Original Movie from your youth and eat junk food. 

While most of my friends resort to the always-amazing "Cadet Kelly," "High School Musical," or "Camp Rock," this Debby Ryan flick is the perfect upbeat, fun, girl power movie for a study break.

Like all the best DCOMs, "Radio Rebel" features an outcast making a name for herself, a cute guy, and danceable music. Debby Ryan's character has a secret radio persona that's undermining her school's unfair rules and cool clique. It's got a little rock and roll, a little "Hannah Montana," and a little "Mean Girls." What could be better?

What do you think?

Are you a fan of these picks? What are some of your pop-culture faves that don't get enough credit? Are you going to check any of these out? Let me know in the comments!

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