'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping' Satirizes Contemporary Pop Music Scene

While the current incarnation of Saturday Night Live remains a mere shell of what the show used to be, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, the trio behind the program’s digital shorts and the threesome also known as the recording group/comedy act the Lonely Island, emerged as a bright spot when they were regularly contributing to SNL.

Their 2005 video for “Lazy Sunday,” a song that masterfully referenced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, cupcakes, Mr. Pibb, Red Vines and Matthew Perry for starters, suggested the trio’s ability to produce top-tier satire.

Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone team up once again for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a new comedy that opens areawide tomorrow. While the film doesn’t possess much of a plot, it does introduce a slew of outlandishly satirical tunes that would make Weird Al (who has a cameo in the movie, by the way) proud.

The film centers on one Conner4Real (Samberg), a Justin Bieber-like pop star who’s becoming hugely popular after breaking free from the boy band the Style Boyz and embarking on a solo career with fellow Style Boyz Owen (Taccone). But when Conner’s new album doesn’t sell as well as his previous album and tickets to the tour in support of it aren’t selling well either, he starts to panic. So Conner, who has something like 30 people on his personal payroll (including a guy whose job consists of kicking him in the balls just to give him "perspective") recruits up-and-coming rapper Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd) to provide tour support.

The move helps sell tickets, but a wardrobe malfunction that may or may not be one of Hunter’s pranks threatens to derail things once more, and Conner kicks Hunter off the tour and cancels dates, predictably drowning his sorrows in booze. It’s not giving anything away to say the climax comes as the Style Boyz contemplate a reunion despite the fact that Conner and former Style Boyz pal Lawrence (Schaffer) can’t seem to resolve their differences. The movie's ending won't surprise anyone.

Throughout the film, we hear from real-life rock and hip-hop starts such as Usher, 50 Cent and Questlove, who speak to Conner’s musical significance. Celebrities such as Seal, Carrie Underwood and Simon Cowell make cameos as well.

The songs play an essential role too. “Equal Rights,” a duet with P!nk, satirizes Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and finds Conner rapping “not gay” while he promotes the importance of accepting others for who they are.

The film might not live up to its aspirations as a Spinal Tap for the 21st century, but it’s pretty damn close. 

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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