Top Picks: Phoenix's 'Ti Amo,' HBO's 'The Words That Built America,' and more

The Bulgarian History Podcast provides a deep dive into the history of the Balkan nation, director Raoul Peck uses James Baldwin’s writing for his documentary 'I Am Not Your Negro,' and more top picks.

Summer sunshine

Phoenix conjures up all the sunshine they can possibly muster in this stormy world, just in time for summer. On Ti Amo, the veteran French pop rockers do everything well: infectious melodies, dance-ready beats, percolating synths, crunchy guitars, and stadium-worthy dynamics. Frontman Thomas Mars’s expressive falsetto vocals rival the glory days of the Beach Boys’ Wilson brothers. It’s the feel-good album we need right now.

Little-known history

The Bulgarian History Podcast provides a deep dive into the history of the Balkan nation. American Eric Halsey, who currently lives there, guides listeners through the power struggles of the European country. You can find episodes at

Courtesy of HBO
Mike Pence and Alexandra Pelosi

Historic words

As the Fourth of July holiday arrives, HBO’s new program The Words That Built America examines the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution, with figures ranging from President Trump, Mike Pence, Morgan Freeman, Paul Ryan, Barack Obama, and Meryl Streep reading the texts. It premières July 4 at 7 p.m. and will also be available on HBO Now and HBO Go. 

New York’s past

Those who remember the Big Apple of bygone days or those who are intrigued about how it appeared during past decades will want to check out The New Yorker’s recent video Eighty Years of New York City, Then and Now. The intriguing clip shows film of various parts of New York in the past alongside footage of the same areas today. You can find the video at

Baldwin’s eloquence

Director Raoul Peck uses James Baldwin’s writing on the death of three of Baldwin’s friends – Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X – as well as various excerpts from Baldwin’s essays for his documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writes that the film shows that “we are the poorer for not having [Baldwin’s] troubling eloquence in these troubled times to bear witness.”

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