You can learn a lot about a person from their favorite music. For example, if you look through my March ‘18 Spotify playlist, you can learn that I’ve been repressing my latest existential crisis with excessive partying. Shuffling through Marina and the Diamonds, Are You Satisfied? to Tyler, The Creators, I Ain’t Got Time! to Lorde’s, Liability, and back around to Charli XCX’s I Got It, clearly I’ve been on a rollercoaster of highs and lows this month.
A lot of that stems back to being in a creative rut. The hard part about being a visionary with absolutely no talent is feeling the need to create and put out into the universe, but not feeling confident enough to actually put out the work. It’s a cycle of feeling frustrated that I’m not expressing my creative needs, creating something to express it, hating it, throwing it out, and then going back to phase one of frustration. And instead of sitting myself down and forcing myself out of this rut, I’ve just been becoming bff’s with four lokos.
luv feeling like im 16 again < 3
But my current love-hate relationship with creating music isn’t the point of this post. Going back to my first statement, you can learn a lot about a person from their favorite music.
Over the past weekend I hung out with a new group of people, just to find out that they all completely despise any form of pop music. Including Lorde and Charli XCX. tragic.
I love pop music. Pop girls especially. A pop girl could breathe and I’d be like ‘okay, wig’
In blurbs in some of my articles, I’ve stated that my favorite item in my possession is my copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This is not a joke. I legitimately carry the game everywhere I go, so just in case the need arises, I can play Oblivion. This video game means so much to me, and I carry quite the sentimentality with the game series. (Did I mention I am a fan of the Elder Scrolls?)
However, it has been a long time since I’ve played Vanilla Oblivion. I still play the game today, but in modded form with updated graphics, coding, and gameplay changes. I wanted to review the game in a retrospective lens and see how it has held up 12 years after its original release. With that in mind, I popped in my copy of Oblivion and started a fresh new character.
When Oblivion first released, the graphics were lauded for being cutting edge, even photo realistic. This was a huge deal, especially with an open-world game, which usually lacks in the graphics department. Oblivion was released in 2006, so the next generation of game consoles at the time (Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii) were just released. These graphics on Oblivion pushed the limits of these systems already, and fans and critics alike were blown away with the graphics of the landscape, NPCs and items.
My first impression of the graphics were much better than I thought. I expected to pan the awfulness of the graphics; instead, I was blown away with how well the graphics have held up in the twelve years it has existed. Oblivion’s overall graphics have a stylized approach that has stood the test of time. It is more akin to a storybook about a medieval landscape more so than a realistic world, and I think that is why the graphics looks so tight after all these years.
There is one aspect of the graphics that has aged poorly: the NPCs. Many fans of the game will make fun of the NPCs of Oblivion. The human races look like potatoes, the elves look like sweet potatoes, and the beast races (specifically the orcs) look like Shrek. This is all well and true, and I completely agree with my fellow fans. Despite all of this, the NPCs are very charming and are at least good to laugh at how bad they were designed. They honestly look ridiculous and there are many memes on how bad they look. Then again, it just adds to the overall humor to the game’s community. Continue reading “Retrospective Video Game Review for the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”→
2017 was easily a successful year for Top Dawg Entertainment.
With SZA’s rise to stardom with her debut album “CTRL” that as an album, showcased a woman’s growth throughout to becoming an individual that is more independent and requiring less validation from others. Many of the songs did very well on the charts and SZA is now on the forefront for the label with great potential to be a great artist. Also with legendary artist: Kendrick Lamar dropping his 4th LP: “DAMN.” that solidified the artist’s ability to delivery from all forefronts of Hip-Hop. “DAMN.” was easily his most successful album in terms of sales to date with many tracks such as DNA, LOVE, and HUMBLE charting very high on the Billboard Hot 100. The way Kendrick was able to appeal to a more mainstream audience without sacrificing his quality of music was incredible.
Three jobs and twenty one credit hours have kept me off of UIC Radio’s front page this semester, much to the dismay of my twelve readers (I ❤ you guys & gals). A busy spring also kept Nick V, Cheech, and me from sitting down in the same room together for about two months. When we finally found overlapping free time, we spent the better part of two hours animatedly talking about Syria, Chicago’s water, and the prison system. But between catching up and conversations eventually bleeding into politics, I managed to ask a few questions and listen to some phenomenal answers.
I wanted to interview the FreeFAM founders for a second time. Last fall, they’d impressed me with their business-minded approach to their genre. Without sacrificing individuality and independence, they seek to create a brand to support all kinds of artists. Coming from a city with a music culture that’s very “out-for-yourself,” their message is refreshing. FAM is in the name.
An obligatory catch-up is needed first, as these guys have not sat still since the last time they visited UIC Radio’s studio. They’ve been playing gigs, traveling, and working with producers like CB Mix, credited on Chance’s Coloring Book. They’re working with LRG to create clothing and Pat Banahan of Lost TV to make videos. The group just released a music video for Bless the Bottles, (my personal favorite so far) featuring the same BMW I8 King Louie and Vonmar used in their own video. They even played a show at College of DuPage, which only sounds mildly impressive until you learn COD won’t back anyone without a tax ID and business number. They even have a website. FreeFAM is officially in business.
On Tuesday, I asked Nick V and Cheech about branding. I wanted to know what audience FreeFAM would draw as a full-blown music label complete with t-shirts and dispensaries. Both brothers said “local” immediately. They don’t want to limit themselves to Chicago, but their focus is building up a platform to support all members of music production. Their circle includes engineers and videographers, animators, and even a few family members for legal counsel. The want anyone who’s drawn to an image of family, brothers, positive moves, and a platform that’s there to serve their clients. Cheech commented that “non-threatening artists” are what resonate in Chicago today.
Nick said he wants people with energy. “Energy to party, to help, to create.” He’s got a vision of FreeFAM as a charity and force for good in Chicago. We inevitably broke into ranting about senators and bills, but Nick had a ton to say about water quality. It was endearing and inspiring and had me walking home thinking how one could add water filters to a music label…But that’s beside the point.
I asked about brands that could “make or break” an artist. Lil Wayne and Cash Money were brought up, as was Future, who got in a legal battle with his manager and was forced to release two albums ahead of time so he could start making his own money. Some artists get caught promoting BS; Cheech brought up the Fyre Festival flop. But Jay-Z’s own streaming website was mentioned as a positive. “It all depends on if a brand will encourage or control you,” Nick told me. A label obviously wants a return on investment and will have to control an artist’s image if money is lost. So who’s got their label working for them? Cheech laughed at this thought and brought up Kanye. “His label has been taking so much money from his music. Someone’s been making 50% off all of his songs.”
Controlling the artist is beyond the aims of the Freedom Family. Both brothers explained respect for their artist is the only reason they’d sign someone, and there’s no need to control someone they respect. They don’t intend to cultivate a brand that interferes with music production or limits the evolution and development of an artist.
“At the end of the day, music is the most important. But music won’t be heard without branding.” Other groups have PR people to handle web pages, social media, and scheduling. But for FreeFAM, “It’s just me and Cheech,” Nick says. The work is taking a toll; Nick V’s been off social media and left with what sounds like carpal tunnel in his hands and a prescription for range-of-motion exercises. “Shouldn’t be constantly posting, anyway,” he admitted. I told him not to worry about it. “It’s always nice to hear from family.”
“this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry; this is me spilled out on paper.”
Typically on this blog you’ll find album reviews and updates on everything new in the music scene, but for right now I would like to do something different and talk about a book.
Books and albums are pretty similar. They’re both a form of art, they both tell stories, and they both can be used as a mental crutch.
I’ve recently finished reading the new book, Note To Self, written by Connor Franta. Connor Franta is a YouTuber, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a LGBTQ+ philanthropist. This is Connor’s sophomore book following his memoir, A Work In Progress.
Note To Self is a collections of poems, memories, thoughts, and essays that come from a deep and vulnerable place. Connor Franta allows readers to see the world from his perceptive as he opens up about love, heartbreak, and dealing with mental illness. Note To Self gives us an interior look into Connor’s life that cannot be seen online.
This book is real. A lot of these pages I read with a heavy heart and truly could empathize with Connor. I found myself reading a line and thinking, “ouch, that really hits close to home.”
But then there were the pages that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. They were reminders that I’m not alone with my feelings, and to always keep an open heart and an open mind.
Connor Franta wrote this book for himself (hence the title) as a way to reflect on his past few years. Through this self-reflection, Connor has opened a gateway for readers to come in and find their own meanings and to find comfort. Through the highs and the lows, this book made me feel something; it was something I could relate to and something I could find a sense of ease in.
I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of this book. It’s a great read, and it offers a little something for everyone. You can buy a copy of Note To SelfHere.
I also had the pleasure to meet Connor Franta at the Chicago stop of his book signing. I will also be attending the Note To Self Tour in Milwaukee, which includes visuals from the book created by Connor, and a Q&A and discussion session. You can buy tickets for the tour Here.
The incredibly talented Australian pop star, Troye Sivan, surprised his fans with a surprise performance at the 2017 Coachella music festival.
Sivan joined DJ Martin Garrix on the Sahara Stage during his set to drop their new song together, “There For You.”
This is the first piece of new music that we have gotten from Sivan since his 2015 debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
Sivan has been hinting on his Twitter that a new album is in the works, and new music will be coming our way in the, hopefully, near future.
“There For You” is a brilliant song with a beautiful message. It’s pop heavy and radio-ready, and while it may be a great song to bop to, the lyrics hold a lot in them.
“I got you, I promise
Let me be honest
Love is a road that goes both ways
When your tears roll down your pillow like a river
I’ll be there for you
But you gotta be there for me too”
Communication is the most important thing in any relationship. You cannot expect someone to always be there for you, if you cannot be there for them. Communication, and as stated in the song, love, goes both ways. One sided relationships are toxic and unfair and I cannot stress this enough.
“There For You” is a song I feel like everyone can relate to at some point in life, and songs like this are perfect to find comfort in. Sweet and soft.
With that being said, I cannot wait to hear what Sivan has planned for his sophomore album.
As a longtime fan of Troye Sivan (and a fan of music and talent in general,) it’s been an emotional ride watching Sivan go from posting quirky videos on YouTube, to preforming on the iconic Coachella stage.
It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something, and you want your dream bad enough, hard work and dedication pays off, and living the life you’ve always dreamed of, is possible.
Lana Del Rey – the goddess of dark pop –has done it yet again
On Mistajam’s BBC Radio 1 show, Lana Del Rey premiered the title track from her soon-to- be-released LP, Lust For Life, featuring The Weeknd.
Lana and Abel have teamed up in the past with Prisoner,Stargirl Interlude, and Party Monster; the two just mesh well together. Their eerie, silky vocals complement each other in the best way, and they proved that to be true yet again with the 1960’s inspired Lust For Life.
Lust For Life serves a sensual vibe, with layered synths, and honey-like vocals. As someone who has been a fan of Del Rey since Born To Die, I can honestly say I am satisfied with the new release and cannot wait to hear what is yet to come.
In February, Del Rey released the first single from Lust For Life, Love, as well as its video. There has not been a confirmation yet on when her fifth LP will be released, but you can read her interview with Courtney Love for more details here.
The Gorillaz just released a new song called Let Me Out as I type this. My phone buzzed and everything. But more on that in a bit.
It took me a few days of listening to collect my thoughts on the four songs off Humanz we’ve witnessed so far. I’ve got mixed feelings about all of them, but they’ve only made me want to hear more. We know how the Gorillaz operate; the album is a message, so getting bits of it at various intervals isn’t satisfying. It’s like eating a steak dinner over the course of a week. But they put enough thought into their art to make it worth a six-year wait. And that’s why I love the Gorillaz.
We know we haven’t got the full story yet. Let’s recap:
–Hallelujah Money: 1/19/17
–Saturnz Barz: 3/23/17
–We got the Power: 3/23/17
–Let Me Out: 4/6/17
Hallelujah Money was released at an interesting time, all by itself. It drew tons of criticism for being “un-Gorillaz,” and its critics were further criticized for being critical. I have a few thoughts on this that you’ll likely want to hear, seeing as you’re reading my blog: The Gorillaz work hard to not have a typical style. In fact, their style is that they don’t have a style; they experiment outside of their genre. It adds mystique and rejects structured normativity and it’s what drives fans crazy with delight. All I can think is when fans listened to Hallelujah Money and thought, That doesn’t sound like the Gorillaz, they really meant was, That doesn’t sound like Plastic Beach.
My other opinion on this matter is that you can be a fan of something without loving everything about it. Example: I think the US is pretty neat, but I also wish we didn’t have a Cheeto as president. If you’re one of the people worried you’re not a Gorillaz fan because you don’t like what you’ve heard of Humanz, or if you’re on the opposite end telling others they’re not Gorillaz fans because they don’t like what they’ve heard of Humanz, cut it out.
But back to its release date: January 19th, 2017. The day before the presidential inauguration. The Gorillaz’ music has always been attune to what’s going on in the world at the time, and though it was written several months before the election, the creators admit that afterwards, the album took on a new meaning. I won’t badger you with my analysis of the significance of its release date and it’s lyrics; I’ll provide a few of my favorite lyrics here and leave that to you (and if you can tell me what the Spongebob wail at the end of the song means, you get bonus points).
Next up is Ascension. I’m not an EDM person, so I’m not a fan of this one, but it sure does have some killer lines. Albarn himself said in an interview that Humanz is a “party, club record,” but it has a “weird darkness about it.” Saturnz Barz is what really got me. The video was crammed with references to horror films, likely the work of Jamie Hewlett, who’s a huge fan of the classic thrillers. The main theme of the Clint Eastwood video and the ends of Rock the House‘s video are inspired by the horror genre. As it’s clear most of the visual budget was diverted to the Saturnz Barz video, I’d recommend watching it multiple times. There are tons of hidden gems in the details, the first being a creepy face in the basement window appearing only four seconds in!
We got the Power and Andromeda came next, judging by the corresponding music videos. Though similarly to Ascension‘s video, it’s clear the creatives didn’t invest as much as they did in Saturnz Barz. This is surprisingly common for the band. Tomorrow Comes Today‘s video was done in two weeks, as Jamie forgot he had a deadline for the project after animating other videos for their Gorillaz album.
I was intending to weigh in on Let me Out, but I’ve only listened to it three times. As any Gorillaz fan knows, that’s not nearly enough if you want to understand the song. Their music is so intricate and thought out, enjoyment comes with familiarization of each album.
This is why I’m excited for the end of the month. Three weeks doesn’t sound like too short, but stand by! Humanz will be released on April 28th.
For those of you who have been tuning in to my show Midnight with PearlGirl and Sonia Universe, it’s not a surprise that my buddy Sonia and I are now BIG fans of K-pop. For those of you who haven’t been tuning in, SURPRISE! We love K-pop!
Over the past few months, we’ve experienced a lot of emotions from getting sucked into the world of Korean pop music. We’ve listened to K-pop music nonstop at our apartment and on our show. We’ve obsessed over our favorite groups on tumblr, twitter, and facebook. We even started planning a potential trip to see one of our favorite groups, BTS (Bangtan Boys), perform when they come to the US for their Wings Tour.
It’s been a very happy three months of living and breathing K-pop. Now, it’s time for us to take the next step in our journey… by hosting a 4 hour-long K-pop show on Midnight!
Tomorrow, we will be dedicating our entire show to playing our favorite K-pop tunes and discussing K-pop with our friends. So join us from 2-6pm on UIC Radio to hear us geek out about our favorite groups, music videos, live performances, K-pop celebs, and Korean dramas on-air! What better way to end this crazy semester?
In case you’re in dire need of some K-pop right this second, here’s a few of our favorite K-pop (and other K-genre!) songs that you can check out below!
Halloween is just around the corner. For the average Joe it’s just a spooky holiday where you dress up in funky garbs and pass out on candy or drinks. But for all of my fellow Halloweenies, we have been prepared for the pumpkin carving, house decorating, and most importantly, the horror movie marathons.
Here are five films that are on different spectrums of spooky, but are all great in their own right!
1. Scream (1996)
“What’s your favorite scary movie?” sneers Ghostface, the franchise’s murderer. Wes Craven’s classic slasher, Scream, happens to be one of mine. The film revolves around the town of Woodsboro, California, when it suddenly becomes the hunting grounds for a serial killer who targets 90’s teen archetypes. Craven satires horror cliches in a perfectly comedic, bloody mess – but nothing is predictable about the ending.
2. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
You may know Joss Whedon of Firefly or The Avengers fame, but the comic nerd of a director has a twisted dark side too. The Cabin in the Woods also plays on horror tropes and takes a critical eye on the torture porn branch. Five college students, who all fit the bill of jock, slut, nerd, stoner, and virgin, plan a weekend getaway at a deserted cabin in the woods. That introduction alone should already set up that things don’t turn out well. It doesn’t, and how it gets that bad is what makes this film a cult favorite.
3. The Exorcist (1973)
A Halloween list cannot be complete without William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Centered on two priests exorcising a possessed 12 year old, this movie’s simple premise is iconic. Forty years ago this terrorized people so much that some movie critics said they couldn’t understand who would see this movie for pleasure. People left the premiere in either pure anxiety or extreme fear. Take caution: you probably will end up the same way if you are not a seasoned horror watcher.
4. The Babadook (2014)
Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is another jarring fright fest. After the death of her husband, Amelia struggles to maintain her life with Sam, her son. When Sam preoccupies himself with an imaginary friend from a book called Mister Babadook, the titular creature starts to take a sinister form. Touching on a common youth experience and combining it with psychological troubles of adulthood, the film pokes a nerve at growing up. This Australian psychological horror has since become a cult favorite and the target of many fan theories.
5. Hocus Pocus (1993)
If you braved the previous scarring scare and need something light, a signature Disney film can do the trick. Being a 90’s kid, I was lucky to have Disney original movies that gave me the heebie-jeebies as I learned a lesson. Hocus Pocus follows the Sanderson Sisters’ quest to gain absolute youth by stealing children’s souls, and Max Dennison trying to prevent his sister from being the next target. The eight year old me learned about stranger danger and to never wander in creepy abandoned houses, but the twenty one year old me plays it for the nostalgia.
Now build your pillow fort, grab your sweets, turn off the lights, and get ready for those jump scares!