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Battling Hollywood temptation in radio musical form.

Battling Hollywood temptation in radio musical form. (photo)

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Sparks — brothers Ron and Russell Mael — is a cult band who haven’t stopped being odd for nearly 40 years now. Depending on who you believe, Queen stole their hysterical falsetto in the ’70s. After making 1974’s “Kimono My House” (one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite albums) they got bored of glam and became minor disco stars, hooking up with Giorgio Moroder to put out “No 1 Song In Heaven.” With their sarcastic lyrics, high-pitched vocals and (of late) minimalistic song structures, the brothers keep on annoying 95% of the people who hear them and tickling the other 5%. Obviously, I’m in the latter camp.

Now Sparks has pulled off their weirdest project yet: an hour-long musical about Ingmar Bergman. “The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman” — done for Swedish National Radio — is made up of 24 songs following an extremely weird plot that has Bergman going into a multiplex after collecting the Palme d’Or for “Smiles Of A Summer Night” in 1956, seeing a Hollywood movie and exiting back out into Hollywood.

Sinister intrigues follow as the studios try to get him to work for them; “Work of art can also work / for some Midwest creepy jerk,” one exec sings. They take him to the commissary and point out how happy Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder et al. are, but Bergman isn’t convinced. He tries to escape, is pursued by cops and all seems lost — until Greta Garbo helps him get back to Sweden through another movie.

The musical’s been recorded both in English and in Swedish, though only the Swedish version is accessible right now. You can stream it here up through September 12th. (The English version will be released on vinyl in October.) On first listen, it’s my least favorite thing Sparks has done this decade — the music is choppy, and the musical doesn’t seem to cohere — but it’s worth a listen for novelty value alone. That I don’t speak Swedish doesn’t help, but I did catch “Method acting ist idiotisk,” which isn’t that hard to figure out.

Incidentally, if you’ve never seen the video for Sparks’ “Dick Around,” you can really annoy people with it. This is the most cat masks you’ll ever see in a video, guaranteed:

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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