BTS at the Billboards

Was I screaming in joy Sunday night when K-Pop group BTS won their first American Award at the Billboard Music Awards? Yes. Yes I was. Loud enough to frighten my dog actually. Not only was this a major win for BTS but this marks the first time a K-Pop group has even been nominated for anything at the Billboards.

So here are some basics on the new K-Pop sensation; there are seven members, Jin, Yoongi, J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, V and Jungkook. They’ve been active since 2013 in BigHit Entertainment, one of the smaller and lesser known music companies in South Korea. BTS’ widespread fame really picked up within the past year with songs like “Fire,” “Blood, Sweat & Tears” and “Not Today”. While their lyrics are stunning, their music videos are equally impressive.

Continue reading “BTS at the Billboards”

Challenging the Literary Canon

After years of being assigned books to read for school, have you ever wondered why the same authors find their way onto every English teacher’s syllabus? I can still remember most of the books I was assigned in high school, throughout my years of Honors and AP English classes. As a freshman, I can recall reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My sophomore English syllabus emphasized Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Victor Hugo. Junior year was my AP Language course, which consisted primarily of analyzing speeches from great men of times past, such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

All of the works I have mentioned so far were authored by white men. I can only remember women and/or non-white authors being a significant part of my class curriculum during my senior year. That year, we were treated to an entire unit on Toni Morrison. Song of Solomon by Morrison was even our summer reading assignment. Later in the fall, we were tasked with writing a research paper on Morrison and her writing. But, it’s tragic that Morrison is one of the only black writers I can remember being taught in high-school. Why should a school English curriculum only emphasize one type of author? White, male, straight, cisgender — why is that considered the story worth reading?

When somebody mentions the literary canon, they are referring to the set of authors or works seen as the epitome of greatness. The books you are exposed to in middle and high school typically belong to this canon. That canon overwhelmingly features authors from those categories I already mentioned. This is how we all end up reading and reminiscing over the same “sacred” works. That isn’t to say, though, that there isn’t value in reading Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare. It’s just that we need to make an effort to allow other voices to be heard too.

Race, gender and sexuality are three areas where this diversity is most lacking. As already mentioned, most famed authors are white, straight, cisgender men. Writers who don’t fall into those categories rarely garner that same recognition, yet representation in literature and the arts is incredibly important for marginalized groups. It is important then that as consumers of media we make room for those marginalized voices.

Undergraduate Students for Publishing, a student organization at Emerson, recently hosted a speaker series titled Decolonize the Canon. As its name suggests, speakers at the event spoke about challenging the lack of diversity in the accepted literary and art canons — not only in regards to what artists receive recognition, but as well as what stories they are allowed to tell. Different ideas were discussed, including the importance of challenging what is perceived to be art and the importance of representation in literature. 

Knowing that the accepted canon typically only features certain authors of certain backgrounds, it is necessary to challenge that canon. Engage with the works of authors of diverse backgrounds and experiences and encourage a more inclusive literary canon. As readers, that’s the least we can do.

Adventures in Creating New & Differentiated Identities

We all know that every company in existence has a certain brand – a look, a message, a name, a logo which are components of the brand’s identity. However, brands can go even further than companies: almost every music artist has created their own specific brand identity that coincides with their musical identity.

Continue reading “Adventures in Creating New & Differentiated Identities”

Is Music Therapeutic?

Are you happy? If you are, find a song that will reflect all of those positive emotions. For me, my song choice would be Shut Up and Dance by WALK THE MOON.

Continue reading “Is Music Therapeutic?”

Surviving Festival Season: Concerts, Tours and All

You’ve waited for months, ever since you saw the lineup and qued up your computer in class to be the first to buy tickets. Congratulations, you’ve finally made it! The summer concert season is in full swing.

A huge gathering of artists sharing their craft for appreciative audiences, what is more beautiful than that? Reaching for your wallet to purchase that CD or band tee to find it missing from bag, is that beautiful too?

Here are some tips and tricks to surviving the concerts and tours with more than you showed up with.

  1. The Perfect Bag

I wish I could tell you all to wear a fanny pack with little locks on them, but even I refuse to do that. I know all of my belongings would be safer, but my pride would be ruined. There’s a certain appearance for each concert and festival one tries to create and attain and we’re not going to just ruin that for fanny packs.

People argue constantly on which is better, a purse or a backpack? When in all reality, if you choose wisely and use smartly, both are very effective and safe.

The first rule in choosing a bag: nothing open. I know you can get things easily, but so can others. Secondly, nothing loose. If your backpack is longer than your back, you’re not going to feel anything going on back there. The same goes for purses, tight straps across your body or smothered into your side. It’s like being your own doorman to your gear, you’ll know exactly who is going in and out of the realm of your possessions. And third and lastly to conquering your safety bag when swaying with hundreds of others to the beat, never keep your wallet easily accessible. At the bottom of your bag is best. If it’s not easy for you, it won’t be easy for anyone else. It’s not like you can’t get it, but you’re being smart about it.

  1. What to Bring?

Let’s think about this for a moment, truly consider the situations and scenarios you most definitely will be faced with and the one’s that could potentially happen. You’re going to get thirsty, fact. You’re going to want money, fact. It will be loud and bright, fact. So a bottle of water is needed, your wallet without a doubt, some ibuprofen would be smart, and sunglasses as well.

You could fall or spend the concert being kicked by overly-enthusiastic audience members so a small first aid kit with cleansing wipes and band-aids is smart. Did you check the forecast the day before? Is rain in your future or wind or shine? Plan accordingly.

The two final things to remember, make sure you have room for basic items you’ll also have to carry around as well. This includes house keys, car keys, back-up phone chargers and some memory cards. And under it all, you should find your wallet.

  1. What to Wear

I understand there is a fashion of tours and concerts, but weather is still a factor. Especially if it’s all day long, if you’re standing, and outside in the sun all day and night. Light and comfortable is best, even better if worn right from the start. If not, have options available. Wearing heels on grass for 8 hours isn’t practical, I don’t care what Sex & The City says. You start out in heels; you better bring flats with you.

Layers are great for winter, during testing seasons and for summer as well. Light layers, like a bandeau, a tank top and sweater are recommended. When it’s scorching and you’re boiling, you’re set until the wind comes flying your way and even then you’re set.

Make-up however, I know you don’t want to go out without it, it’s such a perfect photo opportunity, but if you’re smart, you shouldn’t have a problem. Wearing light coverage concealer, loose powder and sure long lasting products on your eyes will be best. Make sure not to touch your face often, especially if you’re sweating. Otherwise instead of being miraculous with the band, you could be smeared or breaking out from the sweaty make-up being re-absorbed into your pores. And even if all of that didn’t persuade you, how about the fact that the less you wear on your face, the easier it will be to breathe and, as a result, keep yourself cool.

Now go out and enjoy the music!

Beating the Rainy-Day Blues

Waking up to the serene pitter-patter of rainfall on the window, or the somehow even more calming deep rumbles of a powerful storm can make it difficult to get up for the day ahead. So we stay in bed for 5 more minutes, checking Instagram or Facebook, until it turns into a whole day of movies and snacking (which isn’t always a bad thing.) For some, the rain might be what gets you going, but if not – when there are errands, and emails, and the to-do list is beginning to run into your line of vision, there needs to be a way to dump the rainy-day blues.

Listen to Music

One of the most motivating factors I’ve found to help in any situation is music. Music is a versatile force, and there’s a track for any feeling, mood, purpose or function. It’s easy to be tempted to let Bon Iver’s peaceful sound set the mood for the day. What a day like this needs is a completely energy-packed playlist. A playlist that’ll make you want to get up and dance, or sing your heart out is what’ll get the day moving, even if you do have to cool it down later in order to focus.

Get Motivated

A lot of the challenge is getting yourself into the mental state of working. In order to be productive it’s important to truly want the outcome that each task is working towards. Give yourself a reason to get up and be productive, instead of playing candy crush for three hours. Think about the brownie points you’ll score with your boss if you get that bit of extra work done. Envision yourself in a Nike commercial, running, lifting, and doing your best work. Feel yourself getting smarter before you even start studying for that big test. Anytime you feel as if you could stay for just a few more minutes in your comfy bed, think about how pleasant it will be when you’re creating your best self.

Remain Healthy

Of course a lot of the struggle is being physically prepared for the day as well. If you haven’t gotten yourself a good night’s sleep, and a belly full of nutrients, then it’ll be a little harder to pull the covers off. So always make sure that you’re taking care of your body above all else! You need it healthy to be successful, and nothing should come before that.

Be Physically Engaged

Physical engagement at the beginning of the day can also help to get your brain in focus! That doesn’t mean you have to drag yourself to the gym and run a 5k before you start your day. Simple getting up and stretching out, maybe doing a bit of yoga, or some quick push ups could be wildly beneficial to your physical and mental well-being. You’ll not only feel energized, but proud of yourself for actually going through with it. If you do decide to go a little harder and work up a sweat, a shower will also help you get mentally prepared for the day ahead!

So throw on pump-up tunes, do some jumping jacks, and envision the outcome! If all else fails, our good ol’ friend coffee will be there to pick you right up.

12 Not-to-Be-Missed Music Remixes

In honor of our “Remix Issue” launching in just a couple of weeks, our co editor-in-chief, Marlo Jappen, shares her top 12 favorite music remixes! 

Releasing a cover takes guts. It sets the artist up for comparisons, criticism and the oft-repeated phrase: “Nothing beats the original.” But, music hits us all in different ways and remixes capture that. In anticipation of Atlas’ “Remix Issue, ” I rounded up 12 of my favorites.

1) Kiesza, “What is Love?” (Haddaway)

Kiesza’s powerful vocals give the song a sense of depth and emotion that’s lacking from the bland 90s original.

 2) The Weekend, “Drunk in Love”(Beyoncé)

Queen Bey should never be covered.  The Weekend, however, proves you should never say “never.”

3) A Day to Remember, “Over My Head” (The Fray)

What happens when a metal band covers The Fray? Excellence.  Pure, head banging excellence.

4) The White Stripes, “Jolene” (Dolly Parton)

Jack White’s passionate, haunting rendition lends a rock-and-rock edge to the country anthem.

5) Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee” (Kris Kristofferson)

A few days before her death, Joplin recorded this single and it became her only one to hit number 1. Her raw talent is on full display here, but I can’t help but wonder how she only topped the charts once.

 6) Lorde, “Don’t Tell ‘Em” (Jeremih)

I can’t listen to this song just once. Lorde’s hypnotic singing—and awkward dance moves— will lure you into pressing “Replay.”

 7) Yo Preston and Kelly Kiara “Love Yourself” (Justin Bieber)

I hate to admit it, but I’ve jammed to Bieber’s version. But, Preston and Kiara’s take is unique because it shows how there are two sides to every story. Bonus: You can listen to it in public without being judged.

 8) Johnny Cash, “Hurt” (Nine Inch Nails)

I was under the impression that this was a Cash original. If that’s not a sign of an effective cover, I don’t know what is.

 9) Bayside, “Movin’ Out” (Billy Joel)

Both artists hail from New York and they won’t let you forget it. That’s about the only similarity this punky garage band shares with legend Billy Joel.

 10) JoJo, “Marvin’s Room” (Drake)

“Marvin’s Room” reminds us how music is an ongoing conversation. Whatever happened to JoJo? She’s releasing her latest album, “Mad Love,” sometime this year. In the meantime, I revisit her oldies-but-still-goodies.

11) Keri Hilson,”Turn My Swag On” (Soulja Boy)

Hilson’s killer confidence stands out in this empowering song. Her version brings a touch of girl power that makes it her own.

12) Blake Shelton, “Footloose,” (Kenny Loggins)

“Country” is the yellow Starburst of the music world. So many people are adamant about disliking it, which is why it fosters a vibrant, tight-knit community. When a country artist breaks the wall by covering a mainstream song—even if it’s a tune from a delightfully cheesy 80s flick— the result is distinct and memorable.

 

From Then Til Now: How Our Taste In Music Has Changed

Sometimes when I’m out and about, I’ll hear a song playing that brings me back to a different time in my life. Whenever I hear “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston, I feel like I’m a 12-year-old again at sailing camp. It’s funny how music can have such a powerful effect on us–it can plunge us into our memories at any time, completely without warning.

I’ve always been fascinated by what makes our taste in music change. I think a lot of it has to do with what we’re brought up listening to–what’s on the radio when we’re kids, what our parents play around the house, what our friends are into. Maybe the songs that stick out in our childhood memories the most are what mold our tastes for the future. Most of the music I listened to when I was in middle school is no longer in the rotation, but I can’t help but wonder. If I hadn’t listened to those specific artists, would I still have found the ones I listen to now?

I got the idea for this blog post over spring break when I was looking through some stuff in my room. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a rather embarrassing artifact of my pre-teen years–a CD whose title I prefer not to divulge for fear of being booed off this nonexistent stage. Later, I opened a drawer and discovered my old CD player. It was pink with little flowers on it and, at the time, was my prized possession. On many an afternoon of my youth, you could find me lying face down on my bedroom floor. Headphones on and CD player in hand, I was lost in my own little world.

Though most of the contemporary music I listen to has changed since then, I still find myself listening to a lot of what my parents played when I was a kid. Steely Dan, James Taylor and The Beatles are still in my top favorites, while Fergie has unfortunately been bumped to the bottom of the list. (Though I still know most of the words to Fergalicious.)

In order to try and understand this evolution of taste, let’s take a look at what was playing on the radio when we were kids. Assuming that the pivotal time in which we began to bond with certain artists happened when we were pre-teens, then we should look at what was popular in 2007–a memorable year for all of us. Perhaps taking a tour through what was popular at that time in our lives would remind us why we liked those songs in the first place. If we go back to our roots, we might be able to make some connections to what we listen to now.

Take a look at the Top 10 Songs of 2007:

1 Beyonce Irreplaceable
2 Rihanna feat. Jay-Z Umbrella
3 Gwen Stefani feat. Akon The Sweet Escape
4 Fergie Big Girls Don’t Cry
5 T-Pain feat. Yung Joc Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)
6 Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats
7 Plain White T’s Hey There Delilah
8 Akon feat. Snoop Dogg I Wanna Love You
9 Nelly Furtado Say It Right
10 Fergie feat. Ludacris Glamorous

If you’re curious, here are the Billboard Top 100 from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

You probably recognize some of your old favorite songs from those lists, and even if they weren’t your favorites, they will no doubt take you back to simpler times. It’s interesting to look at how much tastes have changed from then to now. The evolution of Justin Bieber alone is fascinating enough. The evolution of pop music over the last 10 years has been a wild ride–I can only imagine how things will have changed by the time the next decade has gone by.

Every so often, it’s good to look back on the past. I wouldn’t be listening to Alt-J and Radiohead if I hadn’t been exposed to hundreds of artists before them who molded my taste into what it is today. I think the main force that decides our taste is what we are exposed to as kids, so we have our parents to thank for most of what we listen to. I’d like to personally thank my mom and dad for encouraging my love of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, without whom I would not be who I am today. Whatever you grew up listening to, whether it was 70s soft rock, 80s pop, 90s grunge or something else entirely, those are the roots that have guided you into adulthood. Keep them close, and never forget where you came from.

Please enjoy this Throwback Playlist I made on Spotify composed of some classic middle school jams from 2005-2009. Happy reminiscing!

Free Things You Can Do in Colleges Around Boston

Boston is America’s #1 College Town. It’s a phrase that has sold many a student to coming to the city in their pursuit of higher education. Besides the contribution of new undergraduates, many of these schools give the public a chance to share in the knowledge that goes on behind closed doors. You can take advantage of that by going to any of these events that are free and open to the public.

Stargaze at the Boston University Observatory

14122296866_8d08cfc483_z

Wednesday is the worst day of the week, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. Every Wednesday night, Boston University opens it’s Coit Observatory to the general public to see the night sky through telescopes, as well as learn more about astronomy. Harvard also has a free Observatory night, but only on a monthly basis.

Go to a Harvard lecture 

Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-harvard-boston-university-parc-leeroy

Getting into Harvard as a student is one thing, but going to a lecture is surprisingly easy. Harvard University hosts a range of lectures open to the public from many of it’s schools. The entirety of lectures available can be seen on the university’s event website.

Enjoy a concert in the park from Berklee student musicians 

5073413021_da987084af_z

The Summer in the City events by Berklee College of Music combines two great things: the outdoors and free music. The series involves Berklee students performing at parks all over Boston for free, playing pop, rock, jazz, Latin and other kinds of music. Who knows? It might be a chance to see the next John Mayer of Esperanza Spalding before they hit it big.

Take a class with former Governor Michael Dukakis at Northeastern University

6961145730_3b7bed7c92_z

I know, I know, the last thing any college student wants is another class added to their courseload. But whatever happened to learning for the sake of learning? The Myra Craft Open Classroom at Northeastern University lets members of the public learn about a specific subject from experts on the topic and participate in a panel discussion after class lectures. The Open Classroom is hosted by Professor Barry Bluestone and former Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis. The fall 2015 course is focused on studying the transformational decade of the 1960’s. Attendees can go to as many or as little classes as they like, as long as they register beforehand online.

See a free movie at Emerson College

9921539605_e2f23fcbcd_z

Taking place at our very own Emerson College, the Bright Light Series showcases free films in the Bright Family Screening Room. From blockbusters such as Mad Max: Fury Road to documentaries such as She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, the variety of genres offered ensures everyone can find a movie they like. Screenings are followed by a discussion, usually with someone involved with the movie or a faculty member.

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Warning: mild spoilers below

I remember the first time I watched Pitch Perfect. I was crammed into a friend’s basement with about 12 other people, most of whom had watched it already. It was the night before my first SAT prep class. The basement was hot and everyone was screaming, but as soon as the movie started the entire room fell silent.

I remember the first time I watched Pitch Perfect 2. I was sitting alongside three of my friends in a dark movie theater and none of us had seen it yet. This was the first time seeing most of them since I got back from college. The theater was packed and everyone was yelling at whoever could hear us to raise the volume, but as soon as the movie started the entire room fell silent.

I think that’s the cool thing about watching movies. You can always remember where you were and who you were with when you first saw a movie. Different movies act as milestones, especially if it’s a series of movies. The movies you watch come at different points in your life. I watched the first movie as a junior in high school, and then the sequel my freshman year in college. A lot of things about my life changed, but the movies stayed a constant.

I was really excited for Pitch Perfect 2 and for the most part it didn’t disappoint. I thought the plot of the first one was a little more solid. This plot was a little all over the place. The Bellas wanted to win the World’s Acappella Competition and that was really all that was driving the plot. I felt like a lot of the relationships outside of the Bellas were undeveloped. Jesse and Beca were still dating, but since a large focus of the movie was on the Bellas this time and not the Treblemakers, the only time we ever saw him was during two scenes with the Treblemakers and then a few scenes where he was with Beca. They introduced a new character, Emily, who was very cute and a good singer and they partially developed a romance with her and Benji from the Treblemakers by adding a few scenes where they were both too awkward to hold a coherent conversation and then kissed at the end of the movie.

That was probably my biggest complaint about the movie. The rest of it was quite good. I enjoyed the music a lot from this one. I thought the campfire rendition of “You’re Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone” was really good and made me very nostalgic. The Bellas capture a kind of friendship that I’m sure a lot of the audience members will be able to relate to no matter their age. They may fight, but at the end of the day they’re all family and they love each other. The scene when they were all in the tent singing and laughing, as well as when they were all around the campfire talking about what they were going to do after college and how they were going to miss each other made me think of my own friends.

I thought the German group, Das Sound Machine, was incredible, though I was a little confused as to why they were singing in English when the rest of the groups at the World’s were singing in their own languages. The music, like I said before was really good. The Bella’s version of “Flashlight,” by Jesse J, was another one of my favorite songs, and I was a little upset to find that their version of it is not on the soundtrack.

I left this movie, wanting another movie but knowing that since the Bellas have all graduated from college we’re probably not getting another one. I really enjoyed this movie and recommend it to people of all ages. It’s definitely a movie I would go see again.