Entertainment & Pop Culture
Entertainment and leisure activities have been a part of all cultures in one form or another since the ancient times, whether the activity in question involved participating in a dance performance, attending a Broadway show, going to a music festival, or watching a movie.
Featured content, May 27, 2020
Carlo Gesualdo: Murder, Witchcraft, Choral Music
This nobleman and composer led a troubled life and left behind some unsettling musical compositions.
#WTFact / Entertainment & Pop Culture
When Dylan “Went Electric”
More than 50 years after Bob Dylan shocked the folk music world by “going electric” people still don’t agree on what happened…
Companion / Entertainment & Pop Culture
Will We Ever Run Out of Sudoku Puzzles?
How do they keep making up new ones for the newspaper? Or have you been doing the same one over and over?
Demystified / Entertainment & Pop Culture
8 Funny Females of Saturday Night Live History
You might not know some of your favorites got their start on this sketch-comedy show.
List / Entertainment & Pop Culture
Still Singing Her Heart Out
A small woman with a big, big voice, Edith Piaf at 100 still says Paris at mid-century like no other chanteuse.
Spotlight / Entertainment & Pop Culture
Ballet, theatrical dance in which a formal academic dance technique—the danse d’école—is combined with other artistic elements…
Encyclopedia / Entertainment & Pop Culture
Chinese music, the art form of organized vocal and instrumental sounds that developed in China. It is one of the oldest and…
Encyclopedia / Entertainment & Pop Culture
History of the motion picture
History of the motion picture, history of cinema from the 19th century to the present. The illusion of motion pictures is…
Encyclopedia / Entertainment & Pop Culture
Entertainment & Pop Culture Quizzes
Composers & Their Music
Crazy for classical music? Compose yourself and find out how much you know about Handel, Mozart, Dvorák, and more.
Foods Around the World: Fact or Fiction?
Food can be more than just tasty. See what else you know about your favorite fare.
World Cuisine: Fact or Fiction?
Every culture has a story, and it’s often told through food. Find out who eats what--and why.
Music: Fact or Fiction?
Was Mozart murdered? Was Lady Gaga really born that way? And did the Jefferson Airplane start out as a classical music group?…
Are you a music master? See if you can answer these questions that span everything from reggae to reed instruments to "Eleanor…
Pop Culture Quiz
Are you a princess of Pop? The king of Culture? See if you’re an entertainment expert by answering these questions.
Pop Culture: Fact or Fiction?
Where did Legos originate? Was Marilyn Monroe married to a writer? And how much do you really know about the Muppets? Test…
Offbeat Rhythms: Understanding Reggae
You may be familiar with such songs as "One Drop" and "Three Little Birds," but do you know how many beats reggae music typically…
Rock Music and Rock ’n’ Roll
You may be familiar with Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, but how familiar are you with the first rock opera? Sift through…
Entertainment & Pop Culture Videos
Entertainment & Pop Culture Subcategories
Acting is a performing art that involves much more than just being able to cry on command. It requires the ability to react to imaginary stimuli and situations, to put oneself into another character, to create through performance a nonexistent event, and to repeat this performance at specified times and places. Actors exercise supreme control over their voice and their body and facial movements so as to effectively and believably convey the emotional experience of the characters they represent. Although theatrical productions, television, and movies each carry unique technical demands for the actor, skilled actors can move from one medium to another without a diminution of talent; celebrated actors such as Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, and Viola Davis have been outstanding in both film and theatre.
Comic Strips & Superheroes
Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man: in the early 21st century, these superheroes rose to staggering global prominence; movies featuring characters from Marvel Comics or DC Comics regularly drew in high global box office earnings, and the likeness of the characters could easily be spotted adorning clothing, toys, backpacks, cell phone cases, and much more. Prior to the rise of the modern comic books from which these characters sprung, there was their precursor: the comic strip. Comic strips first developed in Europe before they began appearing in the United States in the late 19th century. A monthly anthology of Sunday newspaper strips debuted in 1934, and this is acknowledged as the precursor to the conventional comic book. In June 1938 DC Comics introduced Superman, the character who truly launched the superhero genre.
Do you prefer tap dancing or ballet? Modern dance or line dances? The world of dance is expansive and covers a wide variety of styles and forms, ranging from simple spontaneous activity to formalized art or from a social gathering where everyone participates to a theatrical event with dancers performing before an audience. Dance is typically governed by the principles of aesthetic pleasure, self-expression, and entertainment, though these principles are not universally agreed upon by all dance groups. Regardless of ongoing debates about how to best define the art of dance, it remains true that dance is a universal language that can communicate emotions directly and sometimes more powerfully than words.
Entertainment Awards & Festivals
There may be no business like show business, but that doesn't mean that the people of show biz wouldn't like to be recognized with an award every once in a while. Honors like the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, and Tonys recognize outstanding work in film, television, and theater, whereas honors such as the Grammy Awards and the Juno Awards celebrate excellence in music. Additionally, annual film festivals around the world honor exceptional works and performances with awards such as the Cannes film festival's Palme d'Or and the Berlin International Film Festival's Golden Bear. Music festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival (in Switzerland) and Lollapalooza (in Chicago) feature performances by a variety of artists and groups.
The necessity of food for survival is something that all humans have in common, but the trends of diet and food consumption can vary considerably from region to region. Find out more about the ingredients, dishes, and drinks that fuel people around the world.
Leisure & Nightlife
When it comes to free time, everyone has his or her own activity of choice. While some may like to repose with a nice game of bridge, poker, or chess, others may find bungee jumping or bullfighting to be more engaging, and still others would rather opt for hiking or archery. Luckily, there's no shortage of leisure activities available for those who have the time, resources, and inclination to pursue them.
There's always been a certain sense of magic surrounding the movies. Even though movies are technically just a series of still photographs on film, projected in rapid succession onto a screen to create the illusion of actual continuous movement, good movies are remarkably effective at conveying drama and evoking emotion, and they allow spectators to immerse themselves in the world of the film. Emerging at the end of the 19th century, this art form became one of the most popular and influential media and was perhaps the first truly mass form of entertainment. Without movies, we wouldn't have such iconic movie quotes as "We'll always have Paris" (Casablanca, 1942), "Here's Johnny!" (The Shining, 1980), and "Why so serious?" (The Dark Knight, 2008).
Movie, TV & Stage Directors
Although directors are often "invisible" to the audience in plays, shows, and movies (Alfred Hitchcock and his film cameos being one notable exception), they play an important role by controlling the evolution of the theatrical or dramatic performance. When there are actors involved, the director often oversees and shapes their performances as well. Although the auteur theory holds that the director is the major creative force in a performance, the role of the director actually varies a great deal, not only according to the medium in question but also according to the extent to which he works with actors.
Rosin up your bows and get to work on those sonatas! Classical music utilizes a wealth of different musical forms, including the symphony, concerto, and fugue, among many others. It can be written for musical instruments (such as an orchestra or a string quartet) or for vocal groups (as in choral music). Most of the best-known composers of classical music worked during the last 600 years in the Western tradition; even people disinclined to seek out classical music may recognize passages from some of these composers' standout works, such as Ludwig van Beethoven's "Für Elise," Antonio Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," and Georges Bizet's "Haba?era" (from the opera "Carmen").
Music, Contemporary Genres
Hey, what's that sound? Music pervades many aspects of contemporary everyday life; it appears in commercials, blares from speakers in stores and restaurants, accompanies commuters on the way to work, and energizes gym-goers when their motivation is flagging. Music festivals such as Lollapalooza (in Chicago) and the Sziget Festival (in Budapest) attract enormous crowds by featuring an extensive lineup of musicians over several days. Today's music can be divided into any number of categories and subcategories, encompassing genres such as pop, jazz, rock, alternative, country, electronic, rap, and much more.
Why do the opening notes of Beethoven's famous "Symphony No. 5" sound strong and driving rather than leisurely and soothing? The answer can be found by turning to music theory, the study of the concepts and compositional methods involved in the creation of music. Music theory examines musical qualities such as timbre, tone, pitch, and texture, as well as compositional elements such as rhythm, dynamics, tempo, and much more. And do you have perfect pitch like Mozart? If you do you can usually hear a melody, then sit at the piano and tickle the ivories or strum the strings of a guitar and play it by ear. A song—or any piece of music—is made up of two or more parts, or sections, which together create the whole of the composition. A ritornello, for instance, is a melodic sequence that “returns” multiple times throughout the composition. Harmony, the musical scale, how chords are formed, and the musical notation necessary to allow other musicians to play a piece of music are all parts of the musical education you’ll need to be a pro in the field.
Not everyone is gifted with an exceptional singing voice. That's where instruments come in! The principal types of musical instruments are percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic instruments. Musical instruments have been used since the earliest times, and modern technology has in many cases simplified or improved the construction of instruments, while mechanization has made possible the mass production of instruments of all kinds. It remains true, however, that the production of an instrument of the highest quality still demands the highest degree of individual skill.
Television & Radio
Is it true that video killed the radio star? When broadcast radio came into prominence early in the 20th century, it delighted the public by providing news and entertainment with an immediacy that had been unimaginable beforehand. Radio developed into the first electronic mass medium, but broadcast radio's popularity was eclipsed by television, which appeared about 1945. Television, which was originally conceived as a potential medium for education and interpersonal communication, ultimately evolved into a vibrant broadcast medium that offered a diverse slate of news and entertainment to people all over the world. By the early 21st century, the Internet made it possible to watch TV anywhere, anytime, on small portable devices.
There's no business like show business! Nothing quite matches the immediacy and electricity of a live dramatic performance, a fact which may help explain why the art form has persevered from its ancient origins up through the present day. During the 20th century, live theater demonstrated an unexpected tenacity in the face of tough competition from film, television, video, the Internet, and other media. Some works can be given full expression only by stage representation; this is why, despite economic challenges, limited technical resources and funding, and the logistical problems of touring, live theater is likely to continue captivating audiences, as it has done for centuries.