Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

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.

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'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.

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

Disney

"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.

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Comedian Artie Lange's '@midnight' appearance canceled over racial remarks on Twitter

Cari Champion, Host Of ESPN 2's First Take

Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Time Warner Cable

Cari Champion, Host Of ESPN2's "First Take," at Highline Stages on Jan. 31, 2014 in New York City.

SiriusXM's The Jason Ellis Show Live From Hooters In New York

Anna Webber/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Comedian Artie Lange visits SiriusXM's The Jason Ellis Show Live From Hooters In New York at Hooters on Oct. 22, 2014 in New York City.

BNP Paribas Open

Harry How/Getty Images

Victoria Azarenka (R) of Belarus speaks to Cari Champion of the Tennis Channel at the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour All Access Hour during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2010 in Indian Wells, California.

DIRECTV'S Seventh Annual Celebrity Beach Bowl - Game

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images For DirecTV

Comedian Artie Lange (L) and rapper Snoop Dogg attend DIRECTV'S Seventh Annual Celebrity Beach Bowl at DTV SuperFan Stadium at Mardi Gras World on Feb. 2, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Echo Bridge Entertainment Presents "Artie Lange's Beer League"

Brad Barket/Getty Images

(L-R) Ralph Macchio, Cara Buono, Artie Lange and Howard Stern arrive at the world premiere of "Artie Lange's Beer League" at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Sept. 13, 2006 in New York City.


Comedian Artie Lange, best known for spending almost a decade on "The Howard Stern Show," had a scheduled appearance on Comedy Central's "@midnight" canceled after making racially-charged remarks about an ESPN host on Twitter.

Tuesday morning, Lange tweeted a series of tweets saying that "the chick on ESPN's First Take is so ... hot" and described an extensive sexual fantasy about that host, Cari Champion. Lange's fantasy included Lange as Thomas Jefferson and Champion as his slave, and had tweets that tagged Champion's Twitter handle.

Those opposing Lange's comments tweeted about what Lange said with the hashtag #iSupportCari. ESPN repudiated Lange's comments, issuing a statement to BuzzFeed:

"His comments were reprehensible and no one should be subjected to such hateful language. They objectify and demean one of our valued employees under the thin guise of 'comedy' and are offensive to all of us. We will not dignify them with any other comment."

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Upright Citizens Brigade opens new Los Angeles comedy theater on Sunset

Liezl Estipona

The new Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on Sunset Boulevard.

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has carved out a big place in the Los Angeles comedy scene, with a popular comedy training program and performers who regularly turn up in TV and film. Now they're expanding that influence with a new theater and training center on Sunset Boulevard, while continuing to put on shows at their old Franklin Avenue location.

The new 85-seat theater (smaller than UCB Franklin's 120-seat theater) has been having semi-secret shows the last couple of weeks as they ramp up to a full schedule starting Monday, Nov. 3. The grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 1 includes an invite-only party and three shows with limited public seats set to be distributed on Twitter. Those shows include Amy Poehler joining her UCB brethren for two of the theater's signature "Asssscat" shows.

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