All the young dudes (hey dudes!)
Carry the news (where are you?)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up, come on)
Carry the news
Mars Brightest is a convergence point—a mixture of styles, performance shows (1), and generations. On this stage, Carole and Tuesday perform in the first half of round one, going head to head against OG Bulldog, a large, intimidating man who stylizes himself as a killer, and who slays with an odd weapon of choice: operatic rap (2). His loss to the duo is no surprise (though the way he loses perhaps is), and neither is the loss by the Fire Brothers, 99-year-old twin rockers, to the young vlogger, Pyotr. The old is swept away for the young. Similarly, the stage seems to be set for the latter half of the round, where at least one young contestant will make it through (Angela’s “battle” will be against Tuesday’s obsessive fan, Cybelle).
The question is, what message are these young people bringing? What news do they carry?
The message brought by Carole and Tuesday is immediately felt: authenticity. They are authentically “plain,” as one of the judges, the painfully direct Catherine, explains, and their music is authentic—soul music, in a sense, as the soulless robot dog judge, Shakti, states, and something meaningful because it was composed entirely by the duo, with nary an A.I. in sight. But why, and how, does that change the world, which is what the opening to each episode promises? The girls’ initial performance doesn’t receive any type of special reaction, so how do they get there from here?
Meanwhile, a series that lacks intensity starts to ratchet the tone up a bit. No true antagonist exists so far, other than the idea of automated music (and society), but Carole and Tuesday now have two strong competitors and the specter of a third who may both be talented and fearsome in another way. Pytor’s performance is surprising—his voice mature and musical, and his dance moves out of this world. Angela doesn’t perform, but we know that she has the drive, popularity, and a machine behind her. She also twists the girls with cruel words which, as Gus explains, shows her respect for them (Does she already believe that the duo will beat Pytor to advance to the finals?).
Cybelle is most engimatic of all, though. She invades Tuesday’s personal space and is obsessed with her, to the point that she knows next to nothing about the duo (She doesn’t even know Carol’s name)—she only cares for Tuesday. Once Cybelle gets Tuesday’s phone number, she texts her over and over. It could certainly be that she’s a stalker, but assuming that she’s talented enough to share this stage with the rest, perhaps there’s something more to Cybelle, sinister in another way.
No matter what Cybelle turns out to be, though, she’s there for business, just like the rest of the young contestants. They’re here for a reason and they are taking the audience—and the culture—somewhere. Mars Brightest and the music industry at large on the planet seem to be artificial and designed, but these contestants each represent something, even if that “something” is merely themselves. They have news to spread, and an audience waiting to hear it.
All the young dudes (I’ve wanted to do this for years)
Carry the news (There you go!)
Boogaloo dudes (How’d it feel?)
Carry the news
(1) The stars of American Idol are the judges, and the same with The Voice, though that show has maintained that talent is king. In Mars Brightest, the entire package does count (a la America’s Got Talent or American Idol), but unlike the former shows, in which the songs are the co-star, this competition has singers singing their own pieces, not covers, creating unexpected authenticity.
(2) Strings are no stranger to rap or hip hop (Gangsta’s Paradise comes to mind), so the combination of that style with opera doesn’t feel particularly off.