JOHN CUBED – Keith Urban, 2015

Note: Today’s review comes to you by request of a close friend who actually hates me. I could have gone my entire life without listening to “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” or even knowing it existed. But this is an objective critique, not a roast.* So with teeth clenched and a bottle of wine freshly uncorked, let’s get to work.

Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” (or as I’m going to call it herein, “John Cubed”), is the strangest self-aggrandizing and groupthinky piece of music I have heard since the North Korean national anthem. But while it is clearly intended as a celebration of the culture that accompanies country music, it falls short emotionally, instead exposing a commercial titan of the industry who still doesn’t fully understand the genre he attempts to dominate, much less the nation with which he wants to assimilate. Continue reading

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GIRLS OF RIYADH – Penguin, 2005

goRiyadhMy boyfriend gave me this book as a graduation gift, pitching it as “Sex & the City, but for Saudi Arabia.” In fact, the TIME review on the back reads much to the same effect. But likening Girls of Riyadh to the late-90s television show really only works as far as the synopsis. Yes, both stories revolve around four women of unlikely wealth, all struggling to sort out their love lives. And yes, both stories are set in worlds I don’t really understand: one is an outdated cosmopolitan society rampant with classism and crippling gender roles, and the other is Saudi Arabia. But beyond these very skeletal elements, Girls’ heroines and Carrie Bradshaw simply don’t compare. Continue reading