To stave off possible boredom while at home, every week Marhaba delves into the wonderful world of popular culture to find the best new TV series, movies, books, and music.


Based on the popular podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway, music documentary Song Exploder returns to Netflix for season 2 on 15 December. The four episodes include interviews, behind the scenes studio footage and clips from the archives. First up is Grammy Award-winning mega pop star Dua Lipa, who talks about the making of Love Again from the album Future Nostalgia. She is followed by The Killers, who discuss When You Were Young, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails who breaks down Hurt, and lastly, Natalia Lafourcade about the history of her hometown Veracruz in Mexico in Hasta La Raíz. With the podcast having aired more than 190 episodes already, it looks likely that there will be more interviews coming to the small screen in the future.


The late Chadwick Boseman’s final film appearance was in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom which debuts on Netflix on 18 December, following a limited theatrical release. The film stars Boseman alongside Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and is produced by his good friend Denzel Washington, who had paid for Boseman to attend the British American Drama Academy in England as a student. Set in the 1920s, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom follows Davis as the eponymous lead, the legendary ‘Mother of the Blues’, who arrives late to a recording session and proceeds to fight with her white manager over control of her music. The already fraught situation is compounded by ambitious musician Levee (Boseman), who due to his own plans for musical dominance, sets in place a series of stories and lies that will thereafter alter everyone’s life. The film has received international acclaim with both performances praised – many reviews have stated that Boseman’s final performance is quite possibly one of his best.


This Week’s Top Choices to Watch, Read and Listen to

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is the sequel to his hugely successful debut Ready Player One, latterly made into a movie. The sequel was first announced in 2015, but Cline didn’t start writing it until 2017, after the success of the movie. Released at the end of November 2020, it debuted at number one on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has been named one of the best books of the year by Washington Post and a best of the month pick by Amazon. The book features the same characters in a different storyline, as main protagonist Wade Watts battles to solve a new riddle on a scavenger hunt in the virtual universe, and still has the pop culture references that were adored from the first book. It was later revealed that Steven Spielberg, who co-wrote the screenplay for the movie with Cline, had also been instrumental in the writing process for Ready Player Two.


This Week’s Top Choices to Watch, Read and Listen toOut for release on 18 December is the 18th studio album by living legend Sir Paul McCartney. A continuation of sorts to previous solo efforts McCartney in 1970 and McCartney II in 1980, McCartney III was recorded while in ‘rockdown’ in early 2020, with the singer-songwriter playing all the instruments. It started out life as something to do while at home writing music, evolving into an 11-track album. It is obvious from the first listen that McCartney had the time of his life making this album – it is every bit as good as the two previous releases, his voice is still strong and unmistakable, and it is just simply a feel-good collection of tracks. McCartney III will be released on CD, vinyl and digital formats, with a number of limited editions available.

Author: Sarah Palmer

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