Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

'Serial': Listening to the music that propels the true-crime podcast

Serial podcast

The "Serial" podcast icon.

NPR's "Serial" podcast has continued to exert its dominance in the podcast world, with a huge number of listeners and continued buzz on social media. They recently posted more of one of the most mesmerizing pieces of the show: The music.

Indie rocker Nick Thorburn, aka Nick Diamonds, wrote the show's theme song and other music used on the show. Listen to that below:

Mark H. Phillips writes much of the original score for the show. Together, Thorburn and Phillips provide an eerie ambient bed which host Sarah Koenig talks about whether Adnan Syed killed his girlfriend over, keeping spines tingling every Thursday morning. Listen to Phillips' compositions below:

"I think MailChimp did it," Thorburn told HuffPost Entertainment. The music of Thorburn and Phillips will keep audiences listening for the real killer.


'Battlestar,' 'Knight Rider,' 'Magnum PI' creator Glen A. Larson dies; watch clips of his iconic shows

Tom Simpson/Flickr Creative Commons

A still from the original "Battlestar Galactica."

Glen A. Larson, the writer-producer who created "Battlestar Galactica," "Knight Rider," "Magnum, P.I." and other classic television shows, has died, the Hollywood Reporter reports. He was 77.

The native Californian, who died in Santa Monica, had a long resume of hits which also included "B.J. and the Bear," "Quincy M.E.," "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" and "The Fall Guy." Larson also worked on "The Six Million Dollar Man," "It Takes A Thief" and more. He died Friday night at Santa Monica's UCLA Medical Center of esophageal cancer, according to the Hollywood Reporter, citing Larson's son James.

Edward James Olmos, who played Admiral William Olmos on the modern reboot of "Battlestar Galactica," tweeted his condolences:

Edward James Olmos tweet

Larson was criticized for taking the concepts used in many of his shows from popular films at the time. Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison called Larson "Glen Larceny." Author John Kenneth Muir points out the pattern of small-screen copies, including "Alias Smith and Jones" coming out after "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "McCloud" following "Coogan's Bluff," "B.J. and the Bear" following Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way but Loose" and, most famously, "Battlestar Galactica" capitalizing on the success of "Star Wars."


YouTube launches new Music Key streaming service as artists look to pull music

YouTube Music Key beta

YouTube Music Key (via YouTube)

YouTube's video announcing their new YouTube Music Key premium service.

YouTube's long been the dominant force in video, but now they're trying to take over the music world. Wednesday, they launched the beta version of YouTube Music Key, a new premium subscription service set to compete with the likes of streaming music services like Spotify and Rdio.

The headline features include being able to listen to music ad-free, to keep that music going in the background on mobile and being able to enjoy that music offline. They're also expanding YouTube music features outside of users of the service, with new music-based sections on their site and apps, including trending music, playlists and more. One key feature in this expansion: they're making it easier to listen to full albums, rather than just individual songs, including official music videos and audio.

While streaming music has become popular with a lot of music fans, those inside the industry haven't been as quick to embrace it, complaining that it devalues their own music and that they aren't receiving fair compensation. Taylor Swift recently made headlines by pulling her music off of Spotify, and music industry veteran Irving Azoff told the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that he was prepared to remove his clients' music from the service. Azoff argues that YouTube hasn't made all the deals necessary to legally stream all the music they want to. Azoff's clients include Pharrell, the Eagles and others.


'Serial': The hottest podcast with the most spot-on parodies

Serial podcast

The "Serial" podcast icon.

The "Serial" podcast, hosted by "This American Life" producer Sarah Koenig, is all that the media-obsessed can think about right now. For those who haven't listened, it's a story told in weekly podcast format about whether Adnan Syed killed his high school ex-girlfriend in 1999 — and it's the number 1 podcast on iTunes.

This week, that discussion has reached a fevered pitch online, including a series of spot-on parodies starting to make the rounds, and podcast advertising company Podtrac tells the Wall Street Journal that each "Serial" episode has 1 million listeners. Some minor spoilers — as much as you can spoil a podcast about a true crime story — below.

Comedians Will Stephen, Zach Cherry and Paul Laudeiro created a parody that delicately pulls apart the style of the show. Their targets include everything from Koenig's meandering curiosity to the MailChimp sponsorship that opens each show, along with the absurdity of the intense questioning about a case from 15 years ago.


Disney gives Episode VII a name: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' — here are all the best jokes


"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" logo.

It was announced on Twitter Thursday that the new Star Wars movie has finished principal photography, and the announcement brought with it a name: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Star Wars tweet

Disney pre-hashtagged it for everyone with #StarWarsVII — though the episode number isn't part of the announced title — and #TheForceAwakens, the film's new subtitle. It's a name that nods to the fact that the Star Wars franchise has laid dormant since the prequels, and longer than that in the hearts of fans distressed at the more kid-friendly approach of those prequels.

While not one of those official hashtags, fans on Twitter quickly started having fun with "#RejectedStarWarsTitles," with the most popular angle taking shots at the idea that it sounds like the Force was in bed and needs to wake up — the Atlantic put together a list of 19 of them and noted the joke was being made by basically everyone on Twitter. And because the Onion's new Clickhole is the go-to for pop culture parody, they wrote "7 Ways They Could Totally Screw Up The New 'Star Wars' Movies" which include misspelling the title and making fun of the disabled.