The summer is known for movie sequels, and Take 2 is not immune to them. So consider this post the flipside of the one published in May when nearly every music video had a Hollywood actor in it. Some actors are not limiting themselves to a video cameo and are instead venturing into the recording studio.
Last week, “Avengers: Infinity War” star Scarlett Johansson released her second recording with indie rocker Pete Yorn titled, “Apart.” The five-track EP comes eight years after their first full-length album, “Break Up.” Their debut came during the wave of “boy musician-girl actor,” twee-sounding duos like Zooey Deschanel M. Ward’s She & Him in the same scope as the White Stripes, the Kills, Sleigh Bells, and Cults. “Break Up” had an upbeat, folky vibe with Johansson’s sultry voice paired with Yorn’s guitar skills and lyrics. In a 2009 interview, Yorn said he reached out to Johansson to make an album in the style of ye-ye masters Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. The songs were exactly like the title, a series of break-up songs suited for swaying along with the low-key drumbeats and chords. The first track, “Relator,” received heavy radio airplay in Europe.
Johansson has also sung on soundtracks for movies in which she was starring, including “The Jungle Book,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Sing.” She was the vocalist on the Oscar-nominated song, “Before My Time,” from the documentary “Chasing Ice,” and she released an album of Tom Waits covers, “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” in 2008. In 2015, she was a member of a supergroup the Singles featuring Holly Miranda and Haim’s Este Haim and released the song, “Candy.” However, a legal matter over the group’s name stopped it in its tracks.
On “Apart,” the sound is more sophisticated, with hard-hitting instruments and pronounced vocals. “Bad Dreams” was picked as a single for the EP, and the overall sound is reminiscent of later 1990s rocks and steps away from the twee vibes. Think if Sheryl Crow and Chris Martin decided to perform together. The art of the break-up is alive and well, but there’s more of a pop flavor to it. The five songs don’t have the same overall mood as “Break Up” had, but the composition suggests a more mature sound. The EP is streaming on Amazon and Spotify.
Also living that dual-career life this summer is Donald Glover. Presently in theaters as Lando Calrissian in “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Glover is making bigger waves these days under the moniker of Childish Gambino. In May, following an applauded hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live,” Glover/Gambino released the video to “This is America.” (warning: language) The video takes on mass shootings, police-involved fatalities and portraits of black America over time as Gambino performs shirtless with a group of young people in school uniforms. The lyrics recall how cellphones are tools for fighting injustice, how gun rights are protected with care and how in the middle of chaos and decay, many will dance around what is happening.
Since its May 3 debut, “This is America” has been viewed more than 232 million times on YouTube and was certified platinum last week by the Recording Industry Association of America.
In an interview with i-D, Glover and “Solo” co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge revealed the track was played on the Millenium Falcon during filming and that Chewbacca is a huge fan of the song.
This is not his only musical accomplishment this year nor does this side of Glover’s talent stop here. In January, Gambino performed for the first time at the Grammys, having five nominations, including record and album of the year for his third album “Awaken, My Love!” He scored a win for traditional R&B performance for “Redbone.” Gambino had two previous nominations in 2015 for best rap performance for “3005” (warning: language) and rap album for “Because the Internet.” Gambino’s debut album, “Camp,” was released in 2011.
The fourth untitled album is said to be Glover’s last as Gambino. There is no release date as of yet, but a North American tour is set to start Sept. 6 outside Atlanta, Georgia. The tour includes a stop in Philadelphia on Sept. 18.