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Voices Made for Television

Taylor Swift is getting her own streaming channel. Which other musicians should, too?

(Ringer GIF)

Monday, AT&T announced the creation of Taylor Swift Now, an all-Swift subchannel of the cable giant’s DirecTV Now streaming service. Which got us thinking: Taylor’s great and all, but which other pop stars should get their own streaming channels? Here, our staffers give their picks.

Young Thug Now

Victor Luckerson: At this point, Young Thug may be the most famous rapper Taylor Swift hasn’t pretended to be friends with, so let’s boost him to that next level of celebrity with his own channel. In between the requisite music videos, Thugger would host a fashion reality show called “America’s Next Top Thug” (all gender identities welcome, obviously). Steve Harvey would MC a Don’t Forget the Lyrics! spinoff featuring only Young Thug verses, with Tracee Ellis Ross competing as the first celebrity contestant. Instead of commercials, programs would be interspersed with one-minute slideshows of Young Thug’s most recent Instagram posts set to the song “Webbie.” Reruns of Atlanta would air every night from midnight to 6 a.m.

Cole World Television

Shea Serrano: Mine is called Cole World Television. It’s billed as “24 hours a day, every day, of nothing but J. Cole’s best songs.” And then when you click to that channel it comes on and it’s just nothing but empty static all the time, forever.

Lana Del Rey Now

Alyssa Bereznak: I’d like to see a Lana Del Rey Now channel. Programming would include: a Sandra Lee–esque show about how to recreate vintage L.A.-inspired tablescapes and the occasional flower crown, a live shopping network jam that exclusively sells flowy 1970s caftans, a Making the Band reality-competition reboot that requires budding musicians to live in the same trailer park where Lana got her start, late-night Pipilotti Rist videos set to “Music to Watch Boys To,” a DIY collage art show where a host with beehive hair shows you how to make art out of old Life magazines, and a weekly recurring program called Video Gaaymes, where Lana plays a new video game, by which she is generally mystified.

The Pretty Toney Network

Justin Charity: There is no such thing as “behind-the-scenes” Taylor Swift footage. Her whole life is the scene. Since age 9, she’s been immune to candor. This invasive, post-privacy sort of 24/7 backstage, days-in-the-life deal could only really work with someone whose life is a catastrophe of perplexing judgment, dramatic actions, and surreal articulations. That someone? Ghostface Killah. The Pretty Toney Network. Couples Therapy, but with 30-minute programming blocks dedicated to Dennis’s relationship with every other person in his life: his personal chef, his personal trainer, his mother, RZA, Action Bronson, Robert Downey Jr., the IRS, everyone. To break up all of this reality-confessional programming, I would trust Ghostface to host a game show where celebrity guests answer questions about white history.

Mariah Carey TV

Kate Knibbs: She’s already getting a docu-series but she deserves her own network. In addition to her upcoming reality show, Mariah would host a show called Do I Know Her?. The premise is simple: She would explain the pop stars she knows and does not know. It would be the best show on television. Every hour, on the hour, the channel would stream the greatest music video of all time, “Heartbreaker.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ay Bae Bae

Donnie Kwak: The princess of Korean entertainment is a 22-year-old K-pop idol named Suzy Bae. She is universally beloved in such an uncomplicated way that it’d be impossible to identify an analog in America, where we can only agree that we will never agree on anything, ever.

In Korea, a performer’s job is still very much oriented around customer service — thus, the more popular you are, the more accessible and fan-friendly you should be. (Whereas the inverse seems true in America.) So there is a lot of Suzy material to go around. I could imagine a Suzy channel that includes, but is not limited to, music videos of her ex-group Miss A; film appearances (modern and period); TV appearances in dramas (modern and period), variety shows, and guerrilla dating bits; award acceptance speeches; baseball first pitches, both home and abroad; highlights from archery competitions; slightly creepy iso-cams of live performances; choreographed dance practices; and 10 minutes of random fan interaction at a signing.

Alternatively, it could just be a running loop of Suzy-featuring commercials. We’d watch that, too.

Lil Yachty’s Mandatory Rap-History Lessons

Rob Harvilla: Join one of 2016’s most colorful and oblivious young stars on a Court of Public Opinion–ordered journey of discovery, as he is forced to stand in a long line outside a Supreme store and have salient facts about various OG rap legends shouted at him by enraged, confused 30- and 40-somethings. “MOBB DEEP’S ‘SHOOK ONES, Pt. II’ IS AN AMERICAN CLASSIC, YOU SKITTLE-HAIRED KNUCKLEHEAD,” etc. At every show’s conclusion, Yachty lovably recites/mangles all that information while struggling through the Koopa Airship level of Super Mario Bros 3. Every fourth episode is a dunk contest in which the only winner is you.


Alison Herman: The best thing about artists like Lorde is that they’re a gateway drug. In the grand scheme of things, of course, she’s only truly weird in the context of, like, Katy Perry — but as a dumb tween whose only exposure to music is the Top 40 in your group carpool, you don’t know that. Instead, she acts like a human Amazon recommendations tab, sending impressionable youth down the Kate Bush rabbit hole in the same way Lady Gaga surely pointed some people toward David Bowie (and, eventually, dismissing Gaga’s shtick as derivative of his). A Lorde-branded streaming channel would take this time-honored process and make it official, supplying #teens with a steady stream of David Lynch movies, Grace Jones videos, zine-making tips, and other aesthetic signifiers to distance yourself from your equally suburban but way more basic peers and prepare you for dorm room oneupsmanship. Lorde may be besties with Taylor IRL, but she makes for perfect counterprogramming.

(Apple Music)
(Apple Music)

Endless by Frank

Sam Schube: Remember “slow TV”? It was a half-trend for a minute: In 2009, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation aired BergensBanen minutt for minutt, a seven-hour-long video of a train traveling through Scandinavia. I thought of BergensBanen when Frank Ocean showed up in a livestream on his website to do carpentry, and I thought of him again when the Taylor Swift news was announced. She can have the glitz and the gloss, the major-cable-provider sheen. Endless by Frank will be decidedly lower-fi: less discrete programming than … a steady camera on a room full of two-by-fours, with Frank occasionally entering and screwing a few boards together. Or maybe a camera mounted to Frank’s beloved BMW as he spends two hours in L.A. traffic, BergensBanen-style. Or perhaps a live feed of Frank’s iTunes page, waiting until it updates with his next album. (You think “slow TV” is slow? Just wait for Frank’s Next Album TV.) It’ll be like the rollout for Blonde, only without an actual album release, and the crushing internet desperation that accompanies one. Endless TV will be extremely boring, and often uncomfortable. I think Frank will like it.

Styles P Twitter TV

Charity: I would also watch a live 24/7 cable broadcast of Styles P’s Twitter feed.