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Next Big Thing: Netflix's 'Dynamite,' Swedish singer Leon's pop pipes

Swedish pop singer Leon is shown in a handout photo.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Sony Music
May 22, 2016 - 6:00 AM

The weekly Next Big Thing column highlights what's bubbling under the surface in entertainment with a look at rising stars in the world of music, as well as standout TV shows, movies and web series that would be a shame to overlook.

SWEDEN SPEAKS

While pop music doesn't officially have a homeland it might as well hail from Sweden.

The country has given rise to some of pop's most infectious songs through entertainers like ABBA, Ace of Base, and more recently, Tove Lo and Avicii.

If you're placing bets on the country's next rising star then consider Leon, a 24-year-old chanteuse from Stockholm with a pocketful of unforgettable pop tracks.

Her fusion of Motown spirit with hooky bass guitar and electo-riffs carry through her debut EP "Treasure," which includes at least three potential hits: the title track, "Nobody Cares" and "Tired of Talking."

The latter song, which serves as her debut single, tells the story of putting the kibosh on a toxic relationship.

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PEEK AT TEENAGE GIRL ANGST

The complexities of young womanhood rarely get their due on the big screen, which is why "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" feels almost revolutionary in its execution.

Set in San Francisco during the mid-1970s, the drama follows Minnie, a 15-year-old cartoonist who is aggressively pursuing her sexual awakening while documenting her life on a tape recorder.

A chance encounter with her mother's boyfriend begins with flirting but quickly leads to sex. Unbeknownst to her mom, played by Kristin Wiig in an understated performance, the affair continues as Minnie tries to decrypt her own emotions and define happiness as she moves into adulthood.

"The Diary of a Teenage Girl" is a frank portrayal of female sexuality which also explores the effects of adults who never evolve into selflessness.

Based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, the film won the best first feature award at the Independent Spirit Awards last year. It's available to stream on Netflix.

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SURREAL REALNESS

Netflix has been churning out their "original series" for well over a year now, but none have owned the word "original" quite like Maria Bamford's "Lady Dynamite," which launched on the streaming service on Friday.

The comedian is probably best known for her guest spot on "Arrested Development," in which she played a recovering meth addict trying to launch a career as a method actor.

"Lady Dynamite" is similar in spirit — one half wacky showbiz satire and another half insightful study of Bamford's struggles with depression and bipolar disorder.

Early in the series it seems like the two perspectives might not mesh, but Bamford quickly finds her voice by throwing barbs at conventional television concepts, while using extended flashback sequences to unearth the motivations of her character.

What makes "Lady Dynamite" stand out is how Bamford's character is conscious of her own flaws, but still constantly struggles to keep them in check.

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News from © The Canadian Press , 2016
The Canadian Press

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